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future travellers, and were ferried over to the true, and that, in some places, men may buy isle of Sky. We landed at Armidel, where we them, and in others make them for themselves; were met' on the sande by Sir Alexander Mac- but I had both the accounts in the same house donald, who was at that time there with his within two days. lady, preparing to leave the island and reside at Many of my subsequent inquiries upon more Edinburgh.
interesting topics ended in the like uncertainty. Armidel is a neat house, built where the Mac- He that travels in the Highlands may easily satudonalds had once a seat, which was burnt in rate his soul with intelligence, if he will acthe commotions that followed the Revolution. quiesce in the first account. The Highlander The walled orchard, which belonged to the gives to every question an answer so prompt and former house, still remains. It is well shaded peremptory, that skepticism itself is dared into by tall ash-trees, of a species, as Mr. James the silence, and the mind sinks before the bold refossilist informed me, uncommonly valuable. porter in unresisting credulity; but if a second This plantation is very properly mentioned by question be ventured, it breaks the enchantment; Dr. Campbell, in his new account of the state for it is immediately discovered, that what was of Britain, and deserves attention; because it told so confidently was told at hazard, and that proves that the present nakedness of the He- such fearlessness of assertion was either the brides is not wholly the fault of nature. sport of negligence, or the refuge of igns
As we sat at Sir Alexander's table, we were rance. entertained, according to the ancient usage of If individuals are thus at variance with themthe north, with the melody of the bagpipe. selves, it can be no wonder that the accounts of Every thing in those countries has its history. different men are contradictory. The traditions As the bagpiper was playing, an elderly gentle- of an ignorant and savage people have been for man informed us, that in some remote time, the ages negligently heard, and unskilfully related, Macdonalds of Glengary having been injured, Distant events must have been mingled together, or offended, by the inhabitants of Culloden, and and the actions of one man given to another. resolving to have justice or vengeance, came to These, however, are deficiencies in story, for Culloden on a Sunday, where, finding their ene- which no man is now to be censured. It were mies at worship, they shut them up in the church, enough, if what there is yet opportunity of exawhich they set on fire: and this, said he, is the mining were accurately inspected and justly retune which the piper played while they were presented; but such is the laxity of Highland burning.
conversation, that the inquirer is kept in copiiNarrations like this, however uncertain, de-nual suspense, and, by a kind of intellectual re serve the notice of a traveller, because they are trogradation, knows less as he hears more. the only records of a nation that has no histo In the islands the plaid is rarely wom. The rians, and afford the most genuine representa- law by which the Highlanders have been obliged tion of the life and character of the ancient to change the form of their dress, has, in all the Highlanders,
places that we have visited, been universaily Under the denomination of Highlander, are obeyed. I have seen only one gentleman comcomprehended in Scotland all that now speak pletely clothed in the ancient habit, and by him the Érse language, or retain the primitive man- it was worn only occasionally and wantonly. ners, whether they live among the mountains or The common people do not think themselves in the islands; and in that sense I use the name, under any legal necessity of having coats; for when there is not some apparent reason for they say that the law against plaids was made making a distinction.
by Lord Hardwicke, and was in force only for In Sky I first observed the use of brogues, a his life: but the same poverty that made it then kind of artless shoes, stitched with thongs so difficult for them to change their clothing, hinders loosely, that though they defend the foot from them now from changing it again. stones, they do not exclude water. Brogues The fillibeg, or lower garment, is still very were formerly made of raw hides, with the hair common, and the bonnet almost universal; but inwards, and such are perhaps still used in rude their attire is such as produces, in a sufficient and remote parts: but they are said not to last degree, the effect intended by the law, of abolishabove two days. Where life is somewhat im- ing the dissimilitude of appearance between the proved, they are now made of leather tanned Highlanders and the other inhabitants of Britain; with oak-bark, as in other places, or with the and, if dress be supposed to have much inbark of birch, or roots of tormentil, a substance Auence, facilitates their coalition with their fel. recommended in defect of bark, about forty years low-subjects. ago, to the Irish tanners, by one to whom the What we have long used, we naturally like; parliament of that kingdom voted a reward, and therefore the Highlanders were unwilling to The leather of Sky is not completely penetrated lay aside their plaid, which yet to an unprejuby vegetable matier, and therefore cannot be diced spectator must appear an incommodious very durable.
and cumbersome dress; for hanging loose upon My inquiries about brogues gave me an early the body, it must flutter in a quick motion, or specimen of Highland information. One day I require one of the hands to keep it close. The was told, that to make brogues was a domestic Romans always laid aside the gown when they art, which every man practised for himself, and had any thing to do. It was a dress so unsuitthat a pair of brogues was the work of an hour. able to war, that the same word which signified I supposed that the husband made brogues as a gown, signified peace. The chief use of a plaid the wife made an apron, till next day it was told seems to be this, that they could commodiously me, that a brogue-maker was a trade, and that wrap themselves in it when they were obliged to e pair would cost half-a-crown. It will easily sleep without a better cover. occur that these representations may both bel In our passage from Scotland to Sky, we wera
wet for the first time with a shower. This was there is a cairn upon it. A cairn is a heap of the beginning of the Highland winter, after stones thrown upon the grave of one eminent for which we were told that a succession of three dignity of birth, or splendour of achievements. dry days was not to be expected for many It is said, that by digging, an urn is always found months. The winter of the Hebrides consists of under these cairns; they must therefore have little more than rain and wind. As they are sur- been thus piled by a people whose custom was rounded by an ocean never frozen, the blasts that to burn the dead.' To pile stones is, I believe, a come to them over the water, are too much soft- northern custom, and to burn the body was the ened to have the power of congelation. The Roman practice; nor do I know when it was salt loughs, or inlets of the sea, which shoot very that these two acts of sepulture were united. far into the island, never have any ice upon them, The weather was next day too violent for the and the pools of fresh water will never bear the continuation of our journey; but we had no reawalker. The snow that sometimes falls, is soon son to complain of the interruption. We saw in dissolved by the air, or the rain.
every place, what we chiefly desired to know, This is not the description of a cruel climate, the manners of the people. We had company, yet the dark months are here a time of great dis- and if we had chosen retirement, we might have tress; because the summer can do little more had books. than feed itself, and winter comes with its cold I never was in any house of the islands where and its scarcity upon families very slenderly pro- I did not find books in more languages than one, vided.
if I stayed long enough to want them, except one
from which the family was removed. Literature CORIATACHAN IN SKY.
is not neglected by the higher rank of the Hebri. The third or fourth day after our arrival at dians. Armidel, brought us an invitation to the isle of It need not, I suppose, be mentioned, that in Raasay, which lies east of Sky. It is incredible countries so little frequented as the islands, there how soon the account of any event is propagated are no houses where travellers are entertained in these narrow countries by the love of talk, for money. He that wanders about these wilds, which much leisure produces, and the relief given either procures recommendations to those whose to the mind in the penury of insular conversation habitations lie near his way, or when night and by a new topic. The arrival of strangers at a weariness come upon him, takes the chance of place so rarely visited, excites rumour, and general hospitality. If he finds only a cottage, quickens curiosity. I know not whether we he can expect little more than shelter; for the touched at any corner, where fame had not cottagers have little more for themselves; but is already prepared us a reception.
his good fortunc brings him to the residence of a To gain a commodious passage to Raasay, it gentlernan, he will be glad of a storm to prolong was necessary to pass over a large part of Sky. liis stay. There is, however, one inn by the seaWe were furnished therefore with horses and a side at Sconsor, in Sky, where the post-office is guide. In the islands there are no roads, nor any kept. marks by which a stranger may find his way.
At the tables where a stranger is received, The horseman has always at his side a native of neither plenty nor delicacy is wanting. A tract the place, who, by pursuing game, or tending of land so thinly inhabited must have much wild cattle, or being often employed in messages or fowl; and I scarcely remember to have seen a conduct, has learned where the ridge of the hill dinner without them. The moorgame is every has breadth sufficient to allow a horse and his where to be bad. That the sea abounds with rider a passage, and where the moss or bog is fish, needs not to be told, for it supplies a great hard enough to bear them. The bogs are avoided part of Europe. The isle of Sky has stags and as toilsome at least, if not unsafe, and therefore roebucks, but no hares. They send very numethe journey is made generally from precipice to rous droves of oxen yearly to England, and thereprecipice; from which if the eye ventures to fore cannot be supposed to want beef at home. look down, it sees below a gloomy cavity, Sheep and goats are in great numbers, and they whence the rush of water is sometimes heard. have the common domestic fowls.
But there seems to be in all this more alarm But as here is nothing to be bought, every than danger. The Highlander walks carefully family must kill its own meat, and roast part of before, and the horse accustomed to the ground, it somewhat sooner than Apicius would prefollows him with little deviation. Sometimes scribe. Every kind of flesh is undoubtedly exthe hill is too steep for the horseman to keep his celled by the variety and emulation of English seat, and sometimes the moss is too tremulous markets; but that which is not best may be yet to bear the double weight of horse and man. The very far from bad, and he that shall complain of rider then dismounts, and all shift as they can. his fare in the Hebrides, has improved his deli
Journeys made in this manner are rather ledi-cacy more than his manhood. ous than long. A very few miles require several Their fowls are not like those plumped for sale hours. From Armidel we came at night to Coria- by the poulterers of London, but they are as good tachan, a house very pleasantly situated between as other places commonly afford, except that the two brooks, with one of the highest hills of the geese, by feeding in the sea, have universally a island behind it. It is the residence of Mr. Mac- fishy rankness. kinnon, by whom we were treated with very These geese seem to be of a middle race, beliberal hospitality, among a more numerous and tween the wild and domestic kinds. They are elegant company than it could have been sup- so tame as to own a home, and so wild as someposed easy to collect.
times to fly quite away. The hill behind the house we did not climb. Their native bread is made of oats, or barley. The weather was rough, and the height and of oatmeal they spread very thin cakes, coarse steepness discouraged us. We were told that and hard, to which unaccustomed palates are not
easily reconciled. The barley cakes are thicker foreigners, but foreign cookery never satisfies z and softer ; I began to eat them without unwil. Frenchman. lingness ; the blackness of their colour raises Their suppers are like their dinners, various some dislike, but the taste is not disagreeable. and plentiful. The table is always covered with In most houses there is wheat flour, with which elegant linen. Their plates for common use are we were sure to be treated if we staid long often of that kind of manufacture which is enough to have it kneaded and baked. As nei- called cream-coloured, or queen's ware. They ther yeast nor leaven are used among them, their use silver on all occasions where it is common bread of every kind is unfermented. They make in England, nor did I ever find a spoon of horn only cakes, and never mould a loaf.
but in one house. Å man of the Hebrides, for of the women's The knives are not often either very bright diet I can give no account, as soon as he appears or very sharp: They are indeed instruments of in the morning, swallows a glass of whiskey; which the Highlanders have not been long acyet they are not a drunken race, at least I never quainted with the general use. They were not was present at much intemperance; but no man regularly laid on the table, before the prohibition is so abstemnious as to refuse the morning dram, of arms, and the change of dress. Thirty years which they call a shalk.
ago the Highlander wore his knife as a comThe word whiskey signifies water, and is ap- panion to his dirk or dagger, and when the complied by way of eminence to strong water, or dis pany sat down to meat, the men who had knives tilled liquor. The spirit drunk in the North is cut the flesh into small pieces for the women, drawn from barley. I never tasted it, except who with their fingers conveyed it to their once for experiment at the inn in Inverary, when mouths. I thought it preferable to any English malt bran There was, perhaps, never any change of pady. It was strong, but not pungent, and was tional manners so quick, 90 great, and so genefree from the empyreumatic taste or smell. ral, as that which has operated in the Highlands What was the process I had no opportunity of by the last conquest, and the subsequent laws. inquiring, nor do I wish to improve the art of We came thither too late to see what we expectmaking poison pleasant.
cd, a people of peculiar appearance, and a sysNot long after the dram, may be expected the tem of antiquated life. The clans retain little breakfast, a meal in which the Scots, whether of now of their original character; their ferocity of the lowlands or mountains, must be confessed temper is softened, their military ardour is extinto excel us. The tea and coffee are accompa- guished, their dignity of independence is denied not only with butter, but with honey, con- pressed, their contempt of government is subserves, and marmalades. If an epicure could dued, and their reverence for their chiefs abated. remove by a wish, in quest of sensual gratifica- of what they had before the late conquest of tions, wherever he had supped he would break their country, there remain only their language fast in Scotland.
and their poverty. Their language is attacked In the islands, however, they do what I found on every side. Schools are erected, in which it not very easy to endure. They pollute the English only is taught, and there were lately tea-table by plates piled with large slices of some who thought it reasonable to refuse them Cheshire cheese, which mingles its less grateful a version of the holy scriptures, that they might odours with the fragrance of the tea.
have no monument of their mother-tongue. Where many questions are to be asked, some That their poverty is gradually abated, cannot will be omitted.“ I forgot to inquire how they be mentioned among the unpleasing consequenwere supplied with so much exotic luxury. Per- ces of subjection. They are now acquainted haps the French may bring them wine for wool, with money, and the possibility of gain will by and the Dutch give them tea and coffee at the degrees make them industrious. Such is the fishing season, in exchange for fresh provision. effect of the late regulations, that a longer jour
Their trade is unconstrained; they pay no cus- ney than to the Highlands must be taken by him toms, for there is no officer to demand them ; whose curiosity pants for savage virtues and bare whatever, therefore, is made dear only by impost, barous grandeur. is obtained here at an easy rate. A dinner in the Western Islands differs very
RAASAY. little from a dinner in England, except that, in the place of tarts, there are always set different At the first intermission of the stormy weather preparations of milk. This part of their diet we were informed, that the boat, which was to will admit some improvement. Though they convey us to Raasay, attended us on the coast. have milk, and eggs, and sugar, few of them We had from this time our intelligence facilitaknow how to compound them in a custard. ted, and our conversation enlarged, by the comTheir gardens afford them no great variety, but pany of Mr. Macqueen, minister of a parish in they have always some vegetables on the table. Sky, whose knowledge and politeness give him Potatoes at least are never wanting, which, a title equally to kindness and respect, and who, though they have not known them long, are now from this time, never forsook us till we were pre one of the principal parts of their food. They paring to leave Sky, and the adjacent places. are not of the mealy, but the viscous kind. The boat was under the direction of Mr. Mal
Their more elaborate cookery, or made dishes, colm Macleod, a gentleman of Raasay. The an Englishman, at the first taste, is not likely to water was calm, and the rowers were vigorous ; approve, but the culinary compositions of every so that our passage was quick and pleasantcountry are often such as become grateful to When we came near the island, we saw the other nations only by degrees ; though I have laird's house, a neat modern fabric, and found read a French author, who, in the elation of his Mr. Macloed, the proprietor of the island, with heart, says that French cookory planses ell many gentlemen, expecting us on the beach.
We had, as at all other places, some difficulty in sixty winter in Rona, under the superintendance
teen miles, and the breadth two. These coun-
by neglect; for the laird has an orchard, and
When it was time to sup, the dance ceased, not evident, it is not uniform. That which is
I inquired the subjects of the songs, and was frogs with a Frenchman, or on horse-flesh with
tion want what it might have? Why are not
to raise roebucks in Raasay, but without effect.
three shillings and sixpence to a guinea, a sum
otters, and weasels. The foxes are bigger than
them ever to attain; and Mr. Maclean, the heir of which the first possessors of this island lived Col, a man of middle stature, informed me that from the present time, is afforded by the stone he once shot an otter, of which the tail reached heads of arrows, which are very frequently the ground, when he held up the head to a level picked up. The people call them elf-bolts, and with his own. I expected the otter to have a believe that the fairies shoot them at the cattle. foot particularly formed for the art of swim- They nearly resemble those which Mr. Banks ming; but upon examination, I did not find it has lately brought from the savage countries in differing much from that of a spaniel. As he the Pacific Ocean, and must have been made by preys in the sea, he does little visible mischief, a nation to which the use of metals was unand is killed only for his fur. White otters are known. sometimes seen.
The number of this little community has In Raasay they might have hares and rabbits, never been counted by its ruler, nor have I obfor they have no foxes. Some depredations, tained any positive account, consistent with the such as were never made before, have caused a result of political computation. Not many years suspicion that a fox has been lately landed in the ago, the late laird led out one hundred men island by spite or wantonness. This imaginary upon a military expedition. The sixth part of a stranger has never yet been seen, and there people is supposed capable of bearing arms: fore, perhaps, the mischief was done by some Raasay had therefore six hundred inhabitants. other animal. It is not likely that a creature so But because it is not likely that every man able ungentle, whose head could have been sold in to serve in the field would follow the summons, Sky for a guinea, should be kept alive only to or that the chief would leave his lands totally gratify the malice of sending him to prey upon defenceless, or take away all the hands qualified a neighbour: and the passage from Sky is wider for labour, let it be supposed, that half as many than a fox would venture to swim, unless he might be permitted to stay at home. The whole were chased by dogs into the sea, and perhaps number then will be nine hundred ; or nine to a then his strength would enable him to cross. square mile; a degree of populousness greater How beasts of prey came into any islands, is than those tracts of desolation can often show. not easy to guess. In cold countries they take They are content with their country, and faithadvantage of hard winters, and travel over the ful to their chiefs, and yet uninfected with the ice: but this is a very scanty solution ; for they fever of migration. are found where they have no discoverable Near the house at Raasay is a chapel unroofed means of coming.
and ruinous, which has long been used only The corn of this island is but little. I saw as a place of burial. About the churches in the the harvest of a small field. The women reaped islands are sme!! squares enclosed with stone, the corn, and the men bound up the sheaves. which belong to particular families, as reposito The strokes of the sickle were timed by the ries for the dead. At Raasay there is one, I modulation of the harvest-song, in which all think, for the proprietor, and one for some coltheir voices were united. They accompany in lateral house. the Highlands every action which can be done It is told by Martin, that at the death of the in equal time, with an appropriated strain, which lady of the island, it has been here the custom to has, they say, not much meaning; but its effects erect a cross. This we found not to be true. are regularity and cheerfulness. The ancient The stones that stand about the chapel at a small proceleusmatic song, by whi the rowers of distance, some of which, perhaps, have crosses galleys were animated, may be supposed to cut upon them, are believed to have been not have been of this kind. There is now an oar- funeral monuments, but the ancient boundaries of song used by the Hebridians.
the sanctuary or consecrated ground. The ground of Raasay seems fitter for cattle Martin was a man not illiterate : he was an than for corn, and of black cattle I suppose the inhabitant of Sky, and therefore was within number is very great. The laird himself keeps reach of intelligence, and with no great difficulty a herd of four hundred, one hundred of which might have visited the places which he underare annually sold. Of an extensive domain, takes to deseribe ; yet with all his opportunities, which he holds in his own hands, he considers he has often suffered himself to be deceived. the sale of cattle as repaying him the rent, and He lived in the last century, when the chiefs of supports the plenty of a very liberal table with the clans had lost little of their original influ. the remaining product.
The mountains were yet unpenetrated, is supposed to have been very long no inlet was opened to foreign novelties, and inhabited. On one side of it they show caves the feudal institutions operated upon life with into which the rude nations of the first ages re- their full force. He might therefore have distreated from the weather. These dreary vaults played a series of subordination and a form of might have had other uses. There is still a government, which in more luminous and im. cavity near the house called the oar-cave, in provea regions have been long forgotten, and which the seamen, after one of those piratical have delighted his readers with many uncouth expeditions which in rougher times were very customs that are now disused, and wild opinions frequent, used, as tradition tells, to hide their that prevail no longer. But he probably had not
This hollow was near the sea, that no- knowledge of the world sufficient to qualify him thing so necessary might be far to be fetched; for judging what would deserve or gain the atand it was secret, that enemies, if they landed, tention of mankind. The mode of life which could find nothing. Yet it is not very evident was familiar to himself, he did not suppose unof what use it was to hide their oars from those, known to others, nor imagine that he could give who if they were masters of the coast, could pleasure by telling that, of which it was, in his take away iheir boats.
little country, impossible to be ignorant A proof much stronger of the distance at. What be hos neglected, cannat now be per