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ministers to abolish stated observances, because | arrival of a beggar on an island is accounted a they continued the remembrance of the former sinistrous event. Every body considers that he religion. We, therefore, who came to see old shall have the less for what he gives away. Their traditions, and see antiquated manners, should alms, I believe, is generally oatmeal. probably have found them among the papists.
Canna, the other popish island, belongs to Clanronald. It is said not to comprise more than twelve miles of land, and yet maintains as many inhabitants as Rum.
Near to Col is another island called Tir-eye, eminent for its fertility. Though it has but half the extent of Rum, it is so well peopled, that there have appeared, not long ago, nine hundred and fourteen at a funeral. The plenty of this island enticed beggars to it, who seemed so burdensome to the inhabitants, that a formal compact was drawn up, by which they obliged themselves to grant no more relief to casual wanderers, because they had among them an indigent woman of high birth, whom they considered as entitled to all that they could spare. I have read the stipulation, which was indited with juridical formality, but was never made valid by regular subscription.
We were at Col under the protection of the young laird, without any of the distresses which Mr. Pennant, in a fit of simple credulity, seems to think almost worthy of an elegy by Ossian. Wherever we roved, we were pleased to see the reverence with which his subjects regarded him. He did not endeavour to dazzle them by any magnificence of dress: his only distinction was a feather in his bonnet: but as soon as he appeared, they forsook their work and clustered about him; he took them by the hand, and they If the inhabitants of Col have nothing to give, seemed mutually delighted. He has the proper it is not that they are oppressed by their landdisposition of a chieftain, and seems desirous to lord; their leases seem to be very profitable. continue the customs of his house. The bag-One farmer, who pays only seven pounds a year, piper played regularly, when dinner was served, has maintained seven daughters and three sons, whose person and dress made a good appear-of whom the eldest is educated at Aberdeen for ance; and he brought no disgrace upon the fa- the ministry; and now, at every vacation, opens mily of Rankin, which has long supplied the a school in Col. lairds of Col with hereditary music.
The tacksmen of Col seem to live with less dignity and convenience than those of Sky; where they had good houses, and tables not only plentiful, but delicate. In Col only two houses pay the window-tax; for only two have six windows, which, I suppose, are the laird's and 1 Mr. Macsweyn's.
The rents have, till within seven years, been paid in kind, but the tenants finding that cattle and corn varied in their price, desired for the future to give their landlord money; which, not having yet arrived at the philosophy of commerce, they consider as being every year of the
We were told of a particular mode of undertenure. The tacksman admits some of his inferior neighbours to the cultivation of his grounds, on condition that, performing all the work, and giving a third part of the sced, they shall keep a certain number of cows, sheep, and goats, and reap a third part of the harvest. Thus, by less than the tillage of two acres, they pay the
rent of one.
There are tenants below the rank of tacksmen, that have got smaller tenants under them; for in every place, where money is not the general equivalent, there must be some whose labour is immediately paid by daily food.
A country that has no money, is by no means convenient for beggars, both because such countries are commonly poor, and because charity requires some trouble and some thought. A penny is easily given upon the first impulse of compassion, or impatience of importunity; but few will deliberately search their cupboards or their granaries to find out something to give. A penny is likewise easily spent ; but victuals, if they are unprepared, require house-room, and fire, and utensils, which the beggar knows not where to find.
Yet beggars there sometimes are, who wander from island to island. We had in our passage to Mull the company of a woman and her child, who had exhausted the charity of Col. The
Life is here, in some respects, improved beyond the condition of some other islands. In Sky, what is wanted can only be bought, as the arrival of some wandering pedlar may afford an opportunity; but in Col there is a standing shop, and in Mull there are two. A shop in the islands, as in other places, of little frequentation, is a repository of every thing requisite for common use. Mr. Boswell's journal was filled, and he bought some paper in Col. To a man that ranges the streets of London, where he is tempted to contrive wants for the pleasure of supplying them, a shop affords no image worthy of attention, but in an island it turns the balance of existence between good and evil. To live in perpetual want of little things, is a state not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation. I have in Sky had some difficulty to find ink for a letter; and if a woman breaks her needle, the work is at a stop.
As it is, the islanders are obliged to content themselves with succedaneous means for many common purposes. I have seen the chief man of a very wide district riding with a halter for a bridle, and governing his hobby with a wooden curb.
The people of Col, however, do not want dexterity to supply some of their necessities. Several arts which make trades, and demand apprenticeships in great cities, are here the prac tices of daily economy. In every house candles are made, both moulded and dipped. Their wicks are small shreds of linen cloth. They all know how to extract from the cuddy oil for their lamps. They all tan skins and make brogues.
As we travelled through Sky, we saw many cottages, but they very frequently stood single on the naked ground. In Col, where the hills opened a place convenient for habitation, we found a petty village, of which every hut had a little garden adjoining; thus they made an appearance of social commerce and mutual offices, and of some attention to convenience and future supply. There is not in the Western Islands any collection of buildings that can make pre
tensions to be called a town, except in the isle of Lewis, which I have not seen.
If Lewis is distinguished by a town, Col has also something peculiar. The young laird has attempted what no islander perhaps ever thought on. He has begun a road capable of a wheel carriage. He has carried it about a mile, and will continue it by annual elongation from his house to the harbour.
Of taxes here is no reason for complaining; they are paid by a very easy composition. The malt tax for Col is twenty shillings. Whiskey is very plentiful; there are several stills in the island, and more is made than the inhabitants
The great business of insular policy is now to keep the people in their own country. As the world has been let in upon them, they have heard of happier climates and less arbitrary governments; and if they are disgusted, have emissaries among them ready to offer them land and houses, as a reward for deserting their chief and clan. Many have departed both from the main of Scotland and from the islands; and all that go may be considered as subjects lost to the British crown; for a nation scattered in the boundless regions of America, resembles rays diverging from a focus. All the rays remain, but the heat is gone. Their power consisted in their concentration; when they are dispersed, they have no effect.
It may be thought that they are happier by the change; but they are not happy as a nation, for they are a nation no longer. As they contribute not to the prosperity of any community, they must want that security, that dignity, that happiness, whatever it be, which a prosperous community throws back upon individuals.
| parts there is now reason to fear, that none will stay but those who are too poor to remove them. selves, and too useless to be removed at the cost of others.
Of antiquity there is not more knowledge in Col than in other places; but every where something may be gleaned.
How ladies were portioned, when there was no money, it would be difficult for an Englishman to guess. In 1649, Maclean of Dronart in Mull, married his sister Fingala to Maclean of Col, with a hundred and eighty kine; and sti pulated, that if she became a widow, her jointure should be three hundred and sixty. I suppose some proportionate tract of land was appropri ated to their pasturage.
The disposition to pompous and expensive funerals, which has at one time or other prevailed in the most parts of the civilized world, is not yet suppressed in the islands, though some of the ancient solemnities are worn away, and singers are no longer hired to attend the procession. Nineteen years ago, at the burial of the laird of Col, were killed thirty cows, and about fifty sheep. The number of the cows is positively told, and we must suppose other victuals in like proportion.
Mr. Maclean informed us of an old game, of which he did not tell the original, but which may perhaps be used in other places, where the reason of it is not yet forgot. At New-year's eve, in the hall or castle of the laird, where, at festal seasons, there may be supposed a very nu merous company, one man dresses himself in a cow's hide, upon which other men beat with sticks. He runs with all this noise round the house, which all the company quits in a counterfeited fright; the door is then shut. At New-year's eve there is no great pleasure to be had out of doors in the Hebrides. They are lis-sure soon to recover from their terror enough to solicit for readmission; which for the honour of poetry, is not to be obtained but by repeating a verse, with which those that are knowing and provident take care to be furnished.
The inhabitants of Col have not yet learned to be weary of their heath and rocks, but attend their agriculture and their dairies, without tening to American seducements.
There are some however who think that this emigration has raised terror disproportionate to its real evil: and that it is only a new mode of doing what was always done. The Highlands, they say, never maintained their natural inhabitants: but the people when they found themselves too numerous, instead of extending cultivation, provided for themselves by a more compendious method, and sought better fortune in other countries. They did not indeed go away in collective bodies, but withdrew invisibly, a few at a time; but the whole number of fugitives was not less, and the difference between other times and this, is only the same as between evaporation and effusion.
This is plausible, but I am afraid it is not true. Those who went before, if they were not sensibly missed, as the argument supposes, must have gone either in less number, or in a manner less detrimental, than at present; because formerly there was no complaint. Those who then left the country, were generally the idle dependants on overburdened families, or men who had no property, and therefore carried away only themselves. In the present eagerness of emigration, families, and almost communities, go away together. Those who were considered as prosperous and wealthy, sell their stock and carry away the money. Once none went away but the useless and poor; in some
Very near the house of Maclean stands the castle of Col, which was the mansion of the laird, till the house was built. It is built upon a rock, as Mr. Boswell remarked, that it might not he mined. It is very strong, and having been not long uninhabited, is yet in repair. On the wall was, not long ago, a stone with an inscription, importing, that if any man of the clan of Maclonich shall appear before this castle, though he come at midnight, with a man's head in his hand, he shall there find safety and protec tion against all but the king.
This is an old Highland treaty, made upon a very memorable occasion. Maclean, the son of John Gerves, who recovered Col, and conquered Barra, had obtained, it is said, from James the Second, a grant of the lands of Lochiel, forfeited, I suppose, by some offence against the state.
Forfeited estates were not in those days quietly resigned; Maclean, therefore, went with an armed force to seize his new possessions, and I know not for what reason, took his wife with him. The Camerons rose in defence of their chief, and a battle was fought at the head of Loch Ness, near the place where Fort Augustus now stands in which Lochiel obtained the vic
tory, and Maclean, with his followers, was defeated and destroyed.
The lady fell into the hands of the conquerors, and being found pregnant, was placed in the custody of Maclonich, one of a tribe or family branched from Cameron, with orders, if she brought a boy, to destroy him, if a girl, to spare her.
Maclonich's wife, who was with child likewise, had a girl about the same time at which lady Maclean brought a boy; and Maclonich, with more generosity to his captive, than fidelity to his trust, contrived that the children should be changed.
Children continue with the fosterer perhaps six years, and cannot, where this is the practice, be considered as burdensome. The fosterer, if he gives four cows, receives likewise four, and has, while the child continues with him, grass for eight without rent, with half the calves, and all the milk, for which he pays only four cows when he dismisses his dalt, for that is the name for a fostered child.
Fosterage is, I believe, sometimes performed upon more liberal terms. Our friend, the young laird of Col, was fostered by Macsweyn of Grissipol. Macsweyn then lived a tenant of Sir James Macdonald in the isle of Sky; and thereMaclean being thus preserved from death, in fore Col, whether he sent him cattle or not, time recovered his original patrimony; and in could grant him no land. The dalt, however, gratitude to his friend, made his castle a place at his return, brought back a considerable numof refuge to any of the clan that should think ber of Macalive cattle, and of the friendship so himself in danger; and as a proof of reciprocal formed there have been good effects. When confidence, Maclean took upon himself and his Macdonald raised his rents, Macsweyn was, posterity the care of educating the heir of Mac-like other tenants, discontented, and resigning lonich. his farm, removed from Sky to Col, and was established at Grissipol.
These observations we made by favour of the contrary wind that drove us to Col, an island not often visited; for there is not much to amuse curiosity, or to attract avarice.
This story, like all other traditions of the Highlands, is variously related; but though some circumstances are uncertain, the principal fact is true. Maclean undoubtedly owed his preservation to Maclonich; for the treaty between the two families has been strictly observed: The ground has been hitherto, I believe, used it did not sink into disuse and oblivion, but con- chiefly for pasturage. In a district, such as the tinued in its full force while the chieftains re-eye can command, there is a general herdsman, tained their power. I have read a demand of who knows all the cattle of the neighbourhood, protection, made not more than thirty-seven and whose station is upon a hill from which he years ago, for one of the Maclonichs, named surveys the lower grounds; and if one man's Ewen Cameron, who had been accessary to the cattle invade another's grass, drives them back death of Macmartin, and had been banished by to their own borders. But other means of profit Lochiel, his lord, for a certain term; at the ex- begin to be found; kelp is gathered and burnt, piration of which he returned married from and sloops are loaded with the concreted ashes. France; but the Macmartins, not satisfied with Cultivation is likely to be improved by the skill the punishment, when he attempted to settle, and encouragement of the present heir, and the still threatened him with vengeance. He there-inhabitants of those obscure valleys will partake fore asked, and obtained, shelter in the isle of Col.
The power of protection subsists no longer; but what the law permits is yet continued, and Maclean of Col now educates the heir of Maclonich.
There still remains in the islands, though it is passing fast away, the custom of fosterage. A laird, a man of wealth and eminence, sends his child, either male or female, to a tacksman, or tenant, to be fostered. It is not always his own tenant, but some distant friend, that obtains this honour; for an honour such a trust is very reasonably thought. The terms of fosterage scem to vary in different islands. In Mull, the father sends with his child a certain number of cows, to which the same number is added by the fosterer. The father appropriates a proportionable extent of ground, without rent, for their pasturage. If every cow brings a calf, half belongs to the fosterer, and half to the child; but if there be only one calf between two cows, it is the child's, and when the child returns to the parents, it is accompanied by all the cows given, both by the father and by the fosterer, with balf of the increase of the stock by propagation. These beasts are considered as a portion, and called Macalive cattle, of which the father has the produce, but is supposed not to have the full property, but to owe the same number to the child, as a portion to the daughter, or a stock for
of the general progress of life.
The rents of the parts which belong to the duke of Argyle, have been raised from fifty-five to one hundred and five pounds, whether from the land or the sea I cannot tell. The bounties of the sea have lately been so great, that a faim in Southuist has risen in ten years from a rent of thirty pounds to one hundred and eighty.
He who lives in Col, and finds himself condemned to solitary meals, and incommunicable reflection, will find the usefulness of that middle order of tack smen, which some who applaud their own wisdom are wishing to destroy. With out intelligence, man is not social, he is only gregarious; and little intelligence will there be, where all are constrained to daily labour, and every mind must wait upon the hand.
After having listened for some days to the tempest, and wandered about the island till our curiosity was satisfied, we began to think about our departure. To leave Col in October was not very easy. We however found a sloop which lay on the coast to carry kelp; and for a price which we thought levied upon our necessities, the master agreed to carry us to Mull, whence we might readily pass back to Scotland.
As we were to catch the first favourable breat, we spent the night not very elegantly nor pleasantly in the vessel, and were landed next day
at Tabor Morar, a port in Mull, which appears | The consequence of a bad season is here not to an unexperienced eye formed for the security scarcity, but emptiness; and they whose plenty of ships; for its mouth is closed by a small was barely a supply of natural and present need, island, which admits them through narrow chan- when that slender stalk fails, must perish with nels into a basin sufficiently capacious. They hunger. are indeed safe from the sea, but there is a hollow between the mountains, through which the wind issues from the land with very mischievous
There was no danger while we were there, and we found several other vessels at anchor; so that the port had a very commercial appearance.
All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own, and if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.
Mr. Boswell's curiosity strongly impelled him to survey Iona, or Icolmkill, which was to the early ages the great school of theology, and is supposed to have been the place of sepulture for the ancient kings. I, though less eager, did not oppose him.
The young laird of Col, who had determined not to let us lose his company, while there was any difficulty remaining, came over with us. His influence soon appeared; for he procured That we might perform this expedition, it us horses, and conducted us to the house of Dr. was necessary to traverse a great part of Mull. Maclean, where we found very kind entertain-We passed a day at Dr. Maclean's, and could ment, and very pleasing conversation. Miss have been well contented to stay longer. But Maclean, who was born, and had been bred, at Col provided us horses, and we pursued our Glasgow, having removed with her father to journey. This was a day of inconvenience, for Mull, added to other qualifications a great the country is very rough, and my horse was but knowledge of the Erse language, which she had little. We travelled many hours through a tract, not learned in her childhood, but gained by black and barren, in which, however, there were study, and was the only interpreter of Erse the reliques of humanity; for we found a ruined poetry that I could ever find. chapel in our way.
The isle of Mull is perhaps in extent the third It is natural, in traversing this gloom of desoof the Hebrides. It is not broken by waters,lation, to inquire, whether something may not nor shot into promontories, but is a solid and compact mass, of breadth nearly equal to its length. Of the dimensions of the larger islands, there is no knowledge approaching to exactness. I am willing to estimate it as containing about three hundred square miles.
be done to give nature a more cheerful face; and whether those hills and moors that afford heath, cannot, with a little care and labour, bear some thing better? The first thought that occurs is to cover them with trees, for that in many of these naked regions trees will grow, is evident, because stumps and roots are yet remaining, and the speculatist hastily proceeds to censure that negligence and laziness that has omitted for so long a time so easy an improvement.
To drop seeds into the ground, and attend their growth, requires little labour and no skill. He who remembers that all the woods, by which the wants of man have been supplied from the Deluge till now, were self-sown, will not easily be persuaded to think all the art and preparation necessary, which the georgic writers prescribe to planters. Trees certainly have covered the earth with very little culture. They wave their tops among the rocks of Norway, and might thrive as well in the Highlands and Hebrides.
Mull had suffered, like Sky, by the black winter of seventy-one, in which, contrary to all experience, a continued frost detained the snow eight weeks upon the ground. Against a calamity never known, no provision had been made, and the people could only pine in helpless misery. One tenant was mentioned, whose cattle perished to the value of three hundred pounds; a loss which probably more than the life of man is necessary to repair. In countries like these, the descriptions of famine become intelligible. Where, by vigorous and artful cultivation of a soil naturally fertile, there is commonly a superfluous growth both of grain and grass; where the fields are crowded with cattle; and where every hand is able to attract wealth from a distance, by making something that promotes ease or gratifies vanity, a dear year produces only a comparative want, which is rather seen than felt, and which terminates commonly in no worse effect than that of condemning the lower orders of the community to sacrifice a little luxury to convenience, or at most a little convenience to necessity. Plantation is naturally the employment of a But where the climate is unkind, and the mind unburdened with care, and vacant to futu ground penurious, so that the most fruitful rity, saturated with present good, and at leiyears produce only enough to maintain them-sure to derive gratification from the prospect of selves; where life, unimproved and unadorned, posterity. He that pines with hunger, is in fades into something little more than naked ex- little care how others shall be fed. The poor istence, and every one is busy for himself, with-man is seldom studious to make his grandson out any arts by which the pleasure of others may rich. It may be soon discovered why, in a be increased; if to the daily burden of distress place which hardly supplies the cravings of any additional weight be added, nothing re-necessity, there has been little attention to the mains but to despair and die. In Mull the dis-delights of fancy; and why distant convenience appointment of a harvest, or a murrain among is unregarded, where the thoughts are turned the cattle, cuts off the regular provision; and with incessant solicitude upon every possibility they who have no manufactures, can purchase of immediate advantage. no part of the superfluities of other countries.
But there is a frightful interval between the seed and timber. He that calculates the growth of trees, has the unwelcome remembrance of the shortness of life driven hard upon him. He knows that he is doing what will never benefit himself; and when he rejoices to see the stem rise, is disposed to repine that another shall cut it down.
Neither is it quite so easy to raise large woods
To Ulva we came in the dark, and left it be fore noon the next day. A very exact descrip tion therefore will not be expected. We were told, that it is an island of no great extent, rough and barren, inhabited by the Macquarrys; a clan not powerful nor numerous, but of antiquity, which most other families are content to reverence. The name is supposed to be a depravation of some other; for the Erse language does not afford it any etymology. Macquarry is proprietor both of Ulva and some adjacent islands, among which is Staffa, so lately raised to renown by Mr. Banks.
as may be conceived. Trees intended to pro- | were very liberally entertained by Mr. Mac duce timber must be sown where they are to quarry. grow; and ground sown with trees must be kept useless for a long time, inclosed at an expense from which many will be discouraged by the remoteness of the profit, and watched with that attention, which in places where it is most needed, will neither be given nor bought. That it cannot be ploughed is evident: and if cattle be suffered to graze upon it, they will devour the plants as fast as they rise. Even in coarser countries, where herds and flocks are not fed, not only the deer and the wild goats will browse upon them, but the hare and rabbit will nibble them. It is therefore reasonable to believe, what I do not remember any naturalist to have remarked, that there was a time when the world was very thinly inhabited by beasts, as well as men, and that the woods had leisure to rise high before animals had bred numbers sufficient to intercept them.
When the islanders were reproached with their ignorance or insensibility of the wonders of Staffa, they had not much to reply. They had indeed considered it little, because they had always seen it; and none but philosophers, nor they always, are struck with wonder, otherwise Sir James Macdonald, in part of the wastes than by novelty. How would it surprise an of his territory, set or sowed trees to the num-unenlightened ploughman, to hear a company of ber, as I have been told, of several millions, expecting, doubtless, that they would grow up into future navies and cities; but for want of inclosure, and of that care which is always necessary, and will hardly ever be taken, all his cost and labour have been lost, and the ground is likely
to continue an useless heath.
sober men inquiring by what power the hand tosses a stone, or why the stone, when it is tossed, falls to the ground!
Of the ancestors of Macquarry, who thus lie hid in this unfrequented island, I have found memorials in all places where they could be expected.
Inquiring after the reliques of former manners, I found that in Ulva, and, I think, no where else, is continued the payment of the mercheta mulierum; a fine in old times due to the laird at the marriage of a virgin. The orial-ginal of this claim, as of our tenure of borough English, is variously delivered. It is pleasant to find ancient customs in old families. This payment, like others, was, for want of money, made anciently in the produce of the land.Macquarry was used to demand a sheep, for which he now takes a crown, by that inattention to the uncertain proportion between the value and the denomination of money, which has brought much disorder into Europe. A sheep has always the same power of supplying human wants, but a crown will bring at one time more, at another less.
Having not any experience of a journey in Mull, we had no doubt of reaching the sea by daylight, and therefore had not left Dr. Maclean's very early. We travelled diligently enough, but found the country, for road there was none, very difficult to pass. We were ways struggling with some obstruction or other, and our vexation was not balanced by any gratification of the eye or mind. We were now long enough acquainted with hills and heath to have lost the emotion that they once raised, whether pleasing or painful, and had our mind employed only on our own fatigue. We were however sure, under Col's protection, of escaping all real evils. There was no house in Mull to which he could not introduce us. He had intended to lodge us, for that night, with a gentleman that lived upon the coast, but discovered on the way, that he then lay in bed without hope of life.
We resolved not to embarrass a family, in a time of so much sorrow, if any other expedient could be found; and as the island of Ulva was over against us, it was determined that we should pass the strait and have recourse to the laird, who, like the other gentlemen of the islands, was known to Col. We expected to find a ferry-boat, but when at last we came to the water, the boat was gone.
We were now again at a stop. It was the sixteenth of October, a time when it is not convenient to sleep in the Hebrides without a cover, and there was no house within our reach, but that which we had already declined.
While we stood deliberating, we were happily espied from an Irish ship, that lay at anchor in the strait. The master saw that we wanted a passage, and with great civility sent us his boat, which quickly conveyed us to Ulva, where we
Ulva was not neglected by the piety of ancient times; it has still to show what was once a church.
In the morning we went again into the boat, and were landed on Inch Kenneth, an island about a mile long, and perhaps half a mile broad, remarkable for pleasantness and fertility. It is verdant and grassy, and fit both for pasture and tillage; but it has no trees. Its only inhabitants were Sir Allan Maclean and two young ladies, his daughters, with their servants.
Romance does not often exhibit a scene that strikes the imagination more than this little desert in these depths of western obscurity, occupied not by a gross herdsman, or amphibious fisherman, but by a gentleman and two ladies, of high birth, polished manners, and elegant conversation, who, in a habitation raised not very far above the ground, but furnished with unexpected neatness and convenience, practised all the kindness of hospitality, and refinement of courtesy.