Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

formed. In nations, where there is hardly the tion with a delightful contrariety of images. use of letters, what is once out of sight is lost Without is the rough ocean and the rocky land, for ever. They think but little, and of their few the beating billows and the howling storm: thoughts, none are wasted on the past, in which within is plenty and elegance, beauty and gayety, they are neither interested by fear nor hope. the song and the dance. In Raasay, if I could Their only registers are stated observances and have found an Ulysses, I had fancied a Phæacia. practical representations. For this reason an

DUNVEGAN. age of ignorance is an age of ceremony. Pageants, and processions, and commemorations, At Raasay, by good fortune, Macleod, so the gradually shrink away, as better methods come chief of the clan is called, was paying a visit, into use of recording events, and preserving and by him we were invited to his seat at Dunrights.

vegan. Raasay has a stout boat built in Nor. It is not only in Raasay that the chapel is un- way, in which, with six pars, he conveyed us roofed and useless; through the few islands back to Sky. We landed at Port Re, so called which we visited we neither saw nor heard of because James the Fifth of Scotland, who had any house of prayer, except in Sky, that was curiosity to visit the (slands, came into it. The pot in ruins. The malignant influence of Cal- port is made by an inlet of the sea, deep and vinism has blasted ceremony and decency to-narrow, where a ship lay waiting to dispeople gether; and if the remembrance of papal super, Sky, by carrying the natives away to America. stition is obliterated, the monuments of papal In coasting Sky, we passed by the cavern in piety are likewise effaced.

which it was the custom, as Martin relates, to It has been, for many years, popular to talk catch birds in the night, by making a fire at the of the lazy devotion of the Romish Clergy; over entrance. This practise is disused; for the the sleepy laziness of men that erected churches, birds, as is known often to happen, have changed we may indulge our superiority with a new tri- their haunts. umph, by comparing it with the fervid activity of Here we dined at a public-house, I believe the those who suffer them to fall.

only inn of the island, and having mounted our Of the destruction of churches, the decay of horses, travelled in the manner already described, religion must in time be the consequence; for till we came to Kingsborough, a place distinwhile the public acts of the ministry are now guished by that name, because the king lodged performed in houses, a very small number here when he landed at Port Re. We were can be present; and as the greater part of the entertained with the usual hospitality by Mr. islanders make no use of books, all must ne- Macdonald, and his lady Flora Macdonald, a cessarily live in total ignorance who want the name that will be mentioned in history, and if opportunity of vocal instruction.

courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with From these remains of ancient sanctity, which honour. She is a woman of middle stature, soft are every where to be found, it has been conjec- features, gentle manners, and elegant presence. tured that, for the last two centuries, the inha

In the morning we sent our horses round a bitants of the islands have decreased in number. promontory to meet us, and spared ourselves This argument, which supposes that the churches part of the day's fatigue, by crossing an arm of have been suffered to fall, only because they the sea. We had at last some difficulty in were no longer necessary, would have some coming to Dunvegan : for our way led over an force, if the houses of worship still remaining extensive moor, where every step was to be taken were sufficient for the people. But since they with caution, and we were often obliged to alight have now no churches at all, these venerable because the ground could not be trusted. In fragments do not prove the people of former travelling this watery flat, I perceived that it times to have been more numerous, but to have had a visible declivity, and might without much been more devout. If the inhabitants were expense or difficulty be drained. But difficulty doubled, with their present principles, it appears and expense are relative terms, which have diffenot that any provision for public worship would rent meanings in different places. be made. "Where the religion of a country en To Dunvegan we came, very willing to be at forces consecrated buildings, the number of those rest, and found our fatigue amply recompensed buildings may be supposed to afford some indi. by,our reception. Lady Macleod, who had lived cation, however uncertain, of the populousness many years in England, was newly come hither of the place ; but where by a change of manners with her son and four daughters, who knew all a nation is contented to live without them, their the arts of southern elegance, and all the modes decay implies no diminution of inhabitants. of English economy. Here therefore we settled,

Some of these dilapidations are said to be and did not spoil the present hour with thoughts found in islands now uninhabited, but I doubt of departure. whether we can thence infer that they were ever Dunvegan is a rocky prominence, that juts out peopled. The religion of the middle age is well into a bay, on the west side of Sky. The house, known to have placed too much hope in lonely which is the principal seat of Macleod, is partly austerities. Voluntary solitude was the great old and partly modern; it is built upon the rock, art of propitiation, by which crimes were effaced, and looks upon the water. It forms iwo sides of a and conscience was appeased : it is therefore small square: on the third side is the skeleton of a not unlikely, that oratories were often built in castle of unknown antiquity, supposed to have places where retirement was sure to have no been a Norwegian fortress, when the Danes were disturbance.

masters of the islands. It is so nearly entire, Raasay has little that can detain a traveller, that it might have easily been made habitable, except the laird and his family; but their power were there not an ominous tradition in the fawants no auxiliaries. Such a seat of hospitality, mily, that the owner shall not long outlive the amidst the winds and waters, fills the imagina- 1 reparation. The grandfather of the present

laird, in defiance of prediction, began the work, use; and the family is now better supplied from but desisted in a little time, and applied his a stream which runs by the rock, from two money to worse uses.

pleasing waterfalls. As the inhabitants of the Hebrides lived for Here

we saw some traces of former manners, many ages in continual expectation of hostili- and heard some standing traditions. In the ties, the chief of every clan resided in a fortress. house is kept an or's horn, hollowed so as to This house was accessible only from the water, hold perhaps two quarts, which the heir of Maotill the last possessor opened an entrance by leod was expected to swallow at one draught, stairs upon the land.

as a test of his manhood, before he was perThey had formerly reason to be afraid, not mitted to bear arms, or could claim a seat among only of declared wars and authorized invaders, the men. It is held that the return of the laird or of roving pirates, which in the northern seas to Dunvegan, after any considerable absence, must have been very common; but of inroads produces a plentiful capture of herrings; and and insults from rival clans, who, in the pleni- ihat, if any woman crosses the water to the optude of feudal independence, asked no leave of posite island, the herrings will desert the coast. their sovereign to make war on one another. Boetius tells the same of some other place. This Sky been ravaged by a feud between the tradition is not uniform. Some hold that no two mighty powers of Macdonald and Macleod. woman may pays, and others that none may Macdonald having married a Macleod, upon pass but a Macleod. some discontent dismissed her, perhaps because Among other guests which the hospitality of she had brought him no children. Before the Dunvegan brought to the table, a visit was paid reign of James the Fifth, a Highland laird made by the laird and lady of a small island south of a trial of his wife for a certain time, and if she Sky, of which the proper name is Muack, which did not please him, he was then at liberty to send signifies swine. li is commonly called Muck, her away. This however must always have which the proprietor not liking, has endeavoured, offended, and Macleod resenting the injury, without effect, to change to Monk. It is usual whatever were its circumstances, declared, that to call gentlemen in Scotland by the name of the wedding had been solemnized without a bon- their possessions, as Raasay, Bernera, Lock Buy, fire, but that the separation should be better a practice necessary in countries inhabited by illuminated; and raising a little army, set fire clans, where all that live in the same territory to the territories of Macdonald, who returned a have one name, and must be therefore discrimivisit, and prevailed.

nated by some addition. This gentleman, whose Another story may show the disorderly state name, I think, is Maclean, should be regularly of insular neighbourhood. The inhabitants of called Muck; but the appellation, which he the isle of Egg, meeting a boat manned by thinks too coarse for his island, he would like Macleods, tied the crew hand and foot, and set still less for himself, and he is therefore addressed them adrift. Macleod landed upon Egg, and by the title of Isle of Muck. demanded the offenders; but the inhabitants This little island, however it be named, is of refusing to surrender them, retreated to a ca- considerable value. It is two English miles long, vern, into which they thought their enemies un- and three quarters of a mile broad, and conse likely to follow them. Macleod choked them quently contains only nine hundred and sixty with smoke, and left them lying dead by families English acres. It is chiefly arable. Half of as they stood.

this little dominion the laird retains in his own Here the violence of the weather confined us hand, and on the other half, live one hundred for some time, not at all to our discontent or in and sixty persons, who pay their rent by exported convenience. We would indeed very willingly corn. What rent they pay we were not told, have visited the islands, which might be seen and could not decently inquire. The proporfrom the house, scattered in the sea, and I was tion of the people to the land is such, as the particularly desirous to have viewed Isay; but most fertile countries do not commonly maintain. the storms did not permit us to launch a boat, The laird having all his people under his immeand we were condemned to listen in idleness lódiate view, seems to be very attentive to their the wind, except when we were better engaged happiness. The devastation of the small-pos, by listening to the ladies.

when it visits places where it comes seldom, is We had here more wind than waves, and well known. He has disarmed it of its terror suffered the severity of a tempest, without en- at Muack, by inoculating eighty of his people, joying its magnificence. The sea being broken The expense was two shillings and sixpence a by the multitude of islands, does not roar with head. Many trades they cannot have among so much noise, nor beat the storm with such them, but upon occasion, he fetches a smith from foamy violence, as I have remarked on the coast the isle of Egg, and has a tailor from the main of Sussex. Though, while I was in the He- land six times a year. This island well de brides, the wind was extremely turbulent, I served to be seen, but the laird's absence left us never saw very high billows.

no opportunity The country about Dunvegan is rough and Every inhabited island has its appendant and barren. There are no trees except in the or- subordinate islets. Muck, however small, has chard, which is a low sheltered spot surrounded yet others smaller about it, one of which has with a wall.

only ground sufficient to afford pasture for three When this house was intended to sustain a wethers. Biege, a well was made in the court, by boring At Dunvegan I had tasted lotus, and was in the rock downwards, till water was found, which danger of forgetting that I was ever to depart, though so near to the sea, I have not heard till Mr. Boswell sagely reproached me with my mentioned as brackish, though it has some hard sluggishness and softness. I had no very forcible ness, or ocher qualities, which make it less fit for I defence to make; and we agreed to pursue ous

journey. Macleod accompanied us to Ulinish, | however, I am by no means persuaded. This where we were entertained by the sheriff of the was so low, that no man could stand upright in island.

it. By their construction they are all so narrow,

that two can never pass along them together, ULINISH.

and being subterraneous, they must be always Mr. Macqueen travelled with as, and directed damp. They are not the work of an age much our attention to all that was worthy of obser- ruder than the present; for they are formed with vation. With him we went to see an ancient as much art as the construction of a common building, called a dun or borough. It was a cir- hut requires. I imagine them to have been cular enclosure, about forty-two feet in diame places only of occasional use, in which the ter, walled round with loose stones, perhaps to islander, upon a sudden alarm, hid his utensils the height of nine feet. The walls are very or his clothes, and perhaps sometimes his wife thick, diminishing a little towards the top, and and children. though in these countries stone is not brought This cave we entered, but could not proceed far, must have been raised with much labour. the whole length, and went away without Within the great circle were several smaller knowing how far it was carried. For this rounds of wall

, which formed distinct apart- omission we shall be blamed, as we perhaps ments. Its date and its use are unknown. Some have blamed other travellers; but the day was suppose it the original seat of the chiefs of the rainy, and the ground was damp. We had Macleods. Mr. Macqueen thought it a Danish with us neither spades nor pickaxes, and if fort.

love of ease surmounted our desire of knowThe entrance is covered with flat stones, and ledge, the offence has not the invidiousness of is narrow, because it was necessary that the singularity. stones which lie over it, should reach from one Edifices, either standing or ruined, are the wall to the other; yet, strait as the passage is, chief records of an illiterate nation. In some they seem heavier than could have been placed part of this journey, at no great distance from our where they now lie, by the naked strength of as way, stood a sheltered fortress, of which the many men as might stand about them. They learned minister, to whose communication we were probably raised by putting long pieces of are mueh indebted, gave us an account. wood under them, to which the action of a long Those, said he, are the walls of a place of reline of lifters might be applied. Savages, in all fuge, built in the time of James the Sixth, by countries, have patience proportionate to their Hugh Macdonald, who was next heir to the unskilfulness, and are content to attain their end dignity and fortune of his chief. Hugh, being by very tedious methods.

so near his wish, was impatient of delay; and If it was ever roofed, it might once have had art and influence sufficient to engage been a dwelling, but as there is no provision for several gentlemen in a plot against the laird's water, it could not have been a fortress. In life. Something must be stipulated on both Sky, as in every other place, there is an ambi- sides; for they would not dip their hands in tion of exalting whatever has survived memory blood merely for Hugh's advancement. The to some important use, and referring it to very compact was formally written, signed by the remote

ages. I am inclined to suspect that in conspirators, and placed in the hands of one lawless times, when the inhabitants of every Macleod. mountain stole the cattle of their neighbour, It happened that Macleod had sold some catthese enclosures were used to secure the herds tle to a drover, who, not having ready money, and flocks in the night. When they were driven gave him a bond for payment. The debt was within the wall, they might be easily watched, discharged, and the bond redemanded; which and defended as long as could be needful; for Macleod, who could not read, intending to put the robbers durst not wait till the injured clan into his hands, gave him the conspiracy. The should find them in the morning.

drover when he had read the paper, delivered it The interior enclosures, if the whole building privately to Macdonald, who being thus informed were once a house, were the chambers of the of his danger, called his friends together, and chief inhabitants. Íf it was a place of security provided for his safety. He made a public feast, for cattle, they were probably the shelters of the and inviting Hugh Macdonald and his confedekeepers.

rates, placed each of them at the table between From the Dun we were conducted to another two men of known fidelity. The compact of place of security, a cave carried a great way conspiracy was then show and every man conunder ground which had been discovered by fronted with his own name. Macdonald acted digging after a fox. These caves, of which with great moderation. He upbraided Hugh many have been found, and many probably both with disloyalty and ingratitude ; but told remain concealed, are formed, I believe, com- the rest that he considered them as men deluded monly by taking advantage of a hollow, where and misinformed. Hugh was sworn to fidelity, banks or rocks rise on either side. If no such and dismissed with his companions; but he was place can be found, the ground must be cut not generous enough to be reclaimed by lenity ; away. The walls are made by piling stones and finding no longer any countenance among against the earth, on either side. It is then the gentlemen, endeavoured to execute the same roofed by large stones laid across the cavern, design by meaner hands. In this practice he which therefore cannot be wide. Over the roof, was detected, taken to Macdonald's castle, and turfs were placed, and grass was suffered to imprisoned in the dungeon. When he was hungrow; and the mouth was concealed by bushes gry they let down a plentiful meal of salted or some other cover.

meat; and when, after his repast, he called for These caves were represented to us as the drink, conveyed to him a covered cup, which, cabins of the first rude inhabitanto, of which, I when be lifted the lid, he found empty. From

that time they visited him no more, but left him | tempest on the rocks. Towards the land are to perish in solitude and darkness.

lofty hills streaming with waterfalls. The garWe were then told of a cavern by the seaside, den is sheltered by firs, or pines, which grow remarkable for the powerful reverberation there so prosperously, that some which the presounds. After dinner we took a boat to ex- sent inhabitant planted, are very high and thick. plore this curious cavity. The boatmen, who At this place we very happily met with Mr. seemed to be of a rank above that of common Donald Maclean, a young gentleman, the eldest drudges, inquired who the strangers were ; and son of the laird of Col, heir to a very great exbeing told we came one from Scotland, and the tent of land, and so desirous of improving his other from England, asked if the Englishman inheritance, that he spent a considerable time could recount a long genealogy. What answer among the farmers of Hertfordshire and Hampwas given them, the conversation being in Erse, shire to learn their practice. He worked with I was not much inclined to examine.

his own hands at the principal operations of They expected no good event of the voyage; agriculture, that he might not deceive himself for one of them declared that he heard the cry of by a false opinion of skill, which if he should an English ghost. This omen I was not told find it deficient at home, he had no means of till after our return, and therefore cannot claim completing. If the world has agreed to praise the dignity of despising it.

the travels and manual labours of the czar of The sea was smooth. We never left the shore, Muscovy, let Col have his share of the like apand came without any disaster to the cavern, plause, m the proportion of his dominions to the which we found rugged and misshapen, about empire of Russia. one hundred and eighty feet long, thirty wide This young gentleman was sporting in the in the broadest part, and in the loftiest, as we mountains of Sky, and when he was weary with guessed, about thirty high. It was now dry, following his game, repaired for lodging to Tabut at high water the sea rises in it near six feet. lisker. At night he missed one of his dogs, and Here I saw what I had never seen before, lim- when he went to seek him in the morning, found pets and muscles in their natural state. But as two eagles feeding on his carcass. a new testimony of the veracity of common fame, Col, for he must be named by his possessions, here was no echo to be heard.

hearing that our intention was to visit lona, of We then walked through a natural arch in fered to conduct us to his chief, Sir Allan Macthe rock, which might have pleased us by its lean, who lived in the isle of Inch Kenneth, novelty, had the stones, which encumbered our and would readily find us a convenient passage. feet, given us leisure to consider it. We were From this time was formed an acquaintance, shown the gummy seed of the kelp, that fastens which being begun by kindness, was accidente itself to a stone, from which it grows into a ally continued by constraint; we derived much strong stalk,

pleasure from it, and I hope have given him no In our return we found a little boy upon the reason to repent it. point of a rock, catching with his angle a supper

The weather was now almost one continued for the family. We rowed up to him, and bor- storm, and we were to snatch some happy interrowed his rod, with which Mr. Boswell caught a mission to be conveyed to Mull, the third island cuddy.

of the Hebrides, lying about a degree south of The cuddy is a fish of which I know not the Sky, whence we might easily find our way to philosophical name. It is not much bigger than Inch Kenneth, where Sir Allan Maclean resided, a gudgeon, but it is of great use in these islands, and afterwards to Iona. as it affords the lower people both food and oil

For this purpose the most commodious station for their lamps. Cuddies are so abundant, at that we could take was Armidel, which Sir some times of the year, that they are caught like Alexander Macdonald had now left to a gentlewhite bait in the Thames, only by dipping a

man who lived there as his factor or steward. basket and drawing it back.

In our way to Armidel was Coriatachan, where If it were always practicable to fish, these we had already been, and to which therefore we islands could never be in much danger from were very willing to return. We stayed however famine: but unhappily, in the winter, when so long at Talisker, that a great part of our jourother provision fails, the seas are commonly too ney was performed in the gloom of the evening. rough for nets, or boats.

In travelling even thus almost without light through naked solitude, when there is a guide whose conduct may be trusted, a mind not na

turally too much disposed to fear, may preserve From Ulinish our next stage was to Talisker, some degree of cheerfulness; but what must be the house of Colonel Macleod, an officer in the the solicitude of him who should be wandering Dutch service, who in this time of universal among the crags and hollows, benighted, ignopeace, has for several years been permitted to be rant, and alone ? absent from his regiment. Having been bred to The fictions of the Gothic romances were not physic, he is consequently, a scholar, and his so remote from credibility as they are now lady, by accompanying him in his different thought. In the full prevalence of the feudal places of residence, is become skilful in several institution, when violence desolated the world, languages. Talisker is the place beyond all that and every baron lived in a fortress, forests and I have seen, from which the gay and the jovial castles were regularly succeeded by each other, seem utterly excluded ; and where the hermit and the adventurer might very suddenly pass might expect to grow old in meditation, without from the gloom of woods, or the raggedness of possibility of disturbance or interruption. It is moors, to seats of plenty, gayety, and magnifisituated very near the sea, but upon a coast cence. where no vessel lands but when it is driven by a tale, if giants, dragons, and enchantment be ex.

Whatever is imagined in the wildest

TALISKER IN SKY.

cepted, would be felt by him, who, wandering in Their agriculture is laborious, and perhaps the mountains without a guide, or upon the sea rather feeble than unskilful. Their chief mawithout a pilot, should be carried, amidst his nure is seaweed, which, when they lay it to rot terror and uncertainty, to the hospitality and upon the field, gives them a better crop than elegance of Raasay or Dunvegan.

those of the Highlands. They heap sea-shells To Coriatachan at last we came, and found npon the dunghill, which in time moulder into a ourselves welcomed as before. Here we stayed fertilizing substance. When they find a vein of two days, and made such inquiries as curiosity earth where they cannot use it, they dig it up, and suggested. The house was filled with company, add it to the mould of a more commodious place. among whom Mr. Macpherson and his sister Their corn grounds often lie in such intricacies distinguished themselves by their politeness and among the crags, that there is no room for the accomplishments. By him we were invited to action of a team and plough. The soil is then Ostig, a house not far from Armidel, where we turned up by manual labour, with an instrument might easily hear of a boat, when the weather called a crooked spade, of a form and weight would suffer us to leave the island.

which to me appeared very incommodious, and

would perhaps be soon improved in a country OSTIG IN SKY.

where workmen could be easily found and easily At Ostig, of which Mr. Macpherson is mi- paid. It has a narrow blade of iron fixed to a nister, we were entertained for some days, then long and heavy piece of wood, which must have, removed to Armidel, where we finished our ob about a foot and a half above the iron, a knee or servations on the island of Sky.

flexure with the angle downwards. When the As this island lies in the fifty-seventh degree, farmer encounters a stone, which is the great the air cannot be supposed to have much warmth impediment of his operations, he drives the blade The long continuance of the sun above the hori- under it, and bringing the knee or angle to the zon, does indeed sometimes produce great heat ground, has in the long handle a very forcible in northern latitudes; but this can only happen lever. in sheltered places, where the atmosphere is to According to the different mode of tillage, a certain degree stagnant, and the same mass of farms are distinguished into long land and short air continues to receive for many hours the rays land. Long land is that which affords room for of the sun, and the vapours of the earth. Sky a plough, and short land is turned up by the lies open on the west and north to a vast extent spade. of ocean, and is cooled in the summer by a per The grain which they commit to the furrows Pelual ventilation, but by the same blast is kept|thus tediously formed, is either oats or barley. warm in winter. Their weather is not pleasing. They do not sow barley without very copious Half the year is deluged with rain. From the manure, and then they expect from it ten for one, autumnal to the vernal equinox, a dry day is an increase equal to that of better countries: hardly known, except when the showers are sus- but the culture is so operose that they content pended by a tempest. Under such skies can be themselves commonly with oats; and who can expected no great exuberance of vegetation. relate without compassion, that after all their Their winter overtakes their summer, and their diligence, they are to expect only a triple inharvest lies upon the ground drenched with rain.crease ?' It is in vain to hope for plenty, when The autumn struggles hard to produce some of a third part of the harvest must be reserved for our early fruits. I gathered

poseberries in seed. September ; but they were small, and the husk When their grain is arrived at a state which was thick.

they must consider as ripeness, they do not cut, The winter is seldom such as puts a full stop but pull, the barley: to the oats they apply the to the growth of plants, or reduces the cattle to sickle. Wheel carriages they have none, but ive wholly on the surplusage of the summer. make a frame of timber which is drawn by one In the year seventy-one they had a severe sea- horse, with the two points behind pressing on son, remembered by the name of the Black the ground. On this they sometimes drag home Spring, from which the island has not yet re- their sheaves, but often convey them home in a covered. The snow lay long upon the ground, kind of open pannier, or frame of sticks, upon a calamity hardly known before. Part of their the horse's back. cattle died for want, part were unseasonably sold Of that which is obtained with so much diffito buy sustenance for the owners; and, what I culty, nothing surely ought to be wasted; yet nave not read or heard of before, the kine that their method of clearing their oats from the husk survived were so emaciated and dispirited, that is by parching them in the straw. Thus with they did not require the male at the usual time. the genuine improvidence of savages, they de Many of the roebucks perished.

stroy that fodder for want of which their cattle The soil, as in other countries, has its diver- may perish. From this practice they have two sities. In some parts there is only a thin layer petty conveniences; they dry the grain so that of earth spread upon a rock, which bears nothing it is easily reduced to meal, and they escape the but short brown heath, and perhaps is not ge- theft of the thresher. The taste contracted nerally capable of any better product. There from the fire by the oats, as by every other are many bogs or mosses of greater or less ex- scorched substance, use must long ago have tent, where the soil cannot be supposed to want made grateful. The oats that are not parched depth, though it is too wet for the plough. But must be dried in a kiln. we did not observe in these any aquatic plants. The barns of Sky I never saw. That which The valleys and the mountains are alike dark- Macleod of Raasay had erected near his house ened with heath. Some grass, however, grows was so contrived, because the harvest is seldom here and there, and some happier spots of earth brought home dry, as by perpetual perflation to are canable of uillage.

prevent the mow from heating.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »