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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 causes, enemies to each other. Each will exal: its own chiefs, each will boast the valour of its men, or the beauty of its women, and every claim of superiority irritates competition; injures will sometimes be done, and be more in
Mountainous countries commonly contain the original, at least the oldest, race of inhabitants, for they are not easily conquered, because they must be entered by narrow ways, exposed to every power of mischief from those that occupy the 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, or the desire of enjoying in security the more fruitful provinces.
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 warlike, because by their feuds and competitions they consider themselves 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.
whatever they are not obliged to protect.
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 parts of a country change their language. The By a strict administration of the laws, since mountaineers then become a distinct nation, cut the laws have been introduced into the High off by dissimilitude of speech from conversation lands, this disposition to thievery is very much with their neighbours. Thus in Biscay, the repressed. Thirty years ago no herd had ever original Cantabrian, and in Dalecarlia, the old been conducted through the mountains without Swedish, still subsists. Thus Wales and the paying tribute in the night to some of the clans; Highlands speak the tongue of the first inhabi-but cattle are now driven, and passengers travel, tants 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.
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.
without danger, fear, or molestation.
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 dispersed.
Such seems to be the disposition of man, that whatever makes a distinction produces rivalry. England, before other causes of enmity were Mountainous regions are sometimes so remote found, was disturbed for some centuries by the from the seat of government, and so difficult of contests of the northern and southern counties; access, that they are very little under the inso that at Oxford the peace of study could for a fluence of the sovereign, or within the reach of 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
easily executed, nor perhaps very safely promulgated, among men, ignorantly proud and habitually violent, unconnected with the general system, and accustomed to reverence only their own lords. It has therefore been necessary to erect many 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 expedient 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,
will preserve local stories and hereditary prejudices. Thus every Highlander can talk of his ancestors, and recount the outrages which they suffered from the wicked inhabitants of the next valley.
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 High ander 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 our part. He left us near little notice on 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
future travellers, and were ferried over to the isle of Sky. We landed at Armidel, where we were met on the sands by Sir Alexander Macdonald, who was at that time there with his lady, preparing to leave the island and reside at Edinburgh.
Armidel is a neat house, built where the Macdonalds had once a seat, which was burnt in the commotions that followed the Revolution. The walled orchard, which belonged to the former house, still remains. It is well shaded by tall ash-trees, of a species, as Mr. James the fossilist informed me, uncommonly valuable. This plantation is very properly mentioned by Dr. Campbell, in his new account of the state of B itain, and deserves attention; because it proves that the present nakedness of the Hebrides is not wholly the fault of nature.
As we sat at Sir Alexander's table, we were entertained, according to the ancient usage of the north, with the melody of the bagpipe. Every thing in those countries has its history. As the bagpiper was playing, an elderly gentleman informed us, that in some remote time, the Macdonalds of Glengary having been injured, or offended, by the inhabitants of Culloden, and resolving to have justice or vengeance, came to Culloden on a Sunday, where, finding their enemies at worship, they shut them up in the church, which they set on fire: and this, said he, is the tune which the piper played while they were burning.
true, and that, in some places, men may buy them, and in others make them for themselves; but I had both the accounts in the same house within two days.
Many of my subsequent inquiries upon more interesting topics ended in the like uncertainty. He that travels in the Highlands may easily saturate his soul with intelligence, if he will acquiesce in the first account. The Highlander gives to every question an answer so prompt and peremptory, that skepticism itself is dared into silence, and the mind sinks before the bold reporter in unresisting credulity; but if a second question be ventured, it breaks the enchantment; for it is immediately discovered, that what was told so confidently was told at hazard, and that such fearlessness of assertion was either the sport of negligence, or the refuge of igno
If individuals are thus at variance with themselves, it can be no wonder that the accounts of different men are contradictory. The traditions of an ignorant and savage people have been for ages negligently heard, and unskilfully related. Distant events must have been mingled together, and the actions of one man given to another. These, however, are deficiencies in story, for which no man is now to be censured. It were enough, if what there is yet opportunity of examining were accurately inspected and justly represented; but such is the laxity of Highland conversation, that the inquirer is kept in contiNarrations like this, however uncertain, de-nual suspense, and, by a kind of intellectual reserve the notice of a traveller, because they are trogradation, knows less as he hears more. the only records of a nation that has no historians, and afford the most genuine representation of the life and character of the ancient Highlanders.
Under the denomination of Highlander, are comprehended in Scotland all that now speak the Erse language, or retain the primitive manners, whether they live among the mountains or in the islands; and in that sense I use the name, when there is not some apparent reason for making a distinction.
In Sky I first observed the use of brogues, a kind of artless shoes, stitched with thongs so loosely, that though they defend the foot from stones, they do not exclude water. Brogues were formerly made of raw hides, with the hair inwards, and such are perhaps still used in rude and remote parts: but they are said not to last above two days. Where life is somewhat improved, they are now made of leather tanned with oak-bark, as in other places, or with the bark of birch, or roots of tormentil, a substance recommended in defect of bark, about forty years ago, to the Irish tanners, by one to whom the parliament of that kingdom voted a reward. The leather of Sky is not completely penetrated by vegetable matter, and therefore cannot be very durable.
My inquiries about brogues gave me an early specimen of Highland information. One day I was told, that to make brogues was a domestic art, which every man practised for himself, and that a pair of brogues was the work of an hour. I supposed that the husband made brogues as the wife made an apron, till next day it was told me, that a brogue-maker was a trade, and that a pair would cost half-a-crown. It will easily occur that these representations may both be
In the islands the plaid is rarely worn. The law by which the Highlanders have been obliged to change the form of their dress, has, in all the places that we have visited, been universally obeyed. I have seen only one gentleman completely clothed in the ancient habit, and by him it was worn only occasionally and wantonly. The common people do not think themselves under any legal necessity of having coats; for they say that the law against plaids was made by Lord Hardwicke, and was in force only for his life: but the same poverty that made it then difficult for them to change their clothing, hinders them now from changing it again.
The filibeg, or lower garment, is still very common, and the bonnet almost universal; but their attire is such as produces, in a sufficient degree, the effect intended by the law, of abolishing the dissimilitude of appearance between the Highlanders and the other inhabitants of Britain; and, if dress be supposed to have much influence, facilitates their coalition with their fellow-subjects.
What we have long used, we naturally like; and therefore the Highlanders were unwilling to lay aside their plaid, which yet to an unprejudiced spectator must appear an incommodious and cumbersome dress; for hanging loose upon the body, it must flutter in a quick motion, or require one of the hands to keep it close. The Romans always laid aside the gown when they had any thing to do. It was a dress so unsuitable to war, that the same word which signified a gown, signified peace. The chief use of a plaid seems to be this, that they could commodiously wrap themselves in it when they were obliged to sleep without a better cover.
In our passage from Scotland to Sky, we were
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 salt loughs, or inlets of the sea, which shoot very far into the island, never have any ice and the pools of fresh water will never bear the upon them, walker. The snow that sometimes falls, is soon dissolved by the air, or the rain.
Roman practice; nor do I know when it was that these two acts of sepulture were united.
continuation of our journey; but we had no reaThe weather was next day too violent for the son to complain of the interruption. We saw in the manners of the people. We had company, every place, what we chiefly desired to know, and if we had chosen retirement, we might have had books.
This is not the description of a cruel climate, yet the dark months are here a time of great distress; because the summer can do little more than feed itself, and winter comes with its cold and its scarcity upon families very slenderly pro-I did not find books in more languages than one, vided.
CORIATACHAN IN SKY.
The third or fourth day after our arrival at Armidel, brought us an invitation to the isle of Raasay, which lies east of Sky. It is incredible how soon the account of any event is propagated in these narrow countries by the love of talk, which much leisure produces, and the relief given to the mind in the penury of insular conversation by a new topic. The arrival of strangers at a place so rarely visited, excites rumour, and quickens curiosity. I know not whether we touched at any corner, where fame had not already prepared us a reception.
To gain a commodious passage to Raasay, it was necessary to pass over a large part of Sky. We were furnished therefore with horses and a guide. In the islands there are no roads, nor any marks by which a stranger may find his way. The horseman has always at his side a native of the place, who, by pursuing game, or tending cattle, or being often employed in messages or conduct, has learned where the ridge of the hill has breadth sufficient to allow a horse and his rider a passage, and where the moss or bog is hard enough to bear them. The bogs are avoided as toilsome at least, if not unsafe, and therefore the journey is made generally from precipice to precipice; from which if the eye ventures to look down, it sees below a gloomy cavity, whence the rush of water is sometimes heard.
I never was in any house of the islands where if I stayed long enough to want them, except one from which the family was removed. Literature dians. is not neglected by the higher rank of the Hebri
countries so little frequented as the islands, there It need not, I suppose, be mentioned, that in are no houses where travellers are entertained for money. He that wanders about these wilds, either procures recommendations to those whose habitations lie near his way, or when night and weariness come upon him, takes the chance of general hospitality. If he finds only a cottage, he can expect little more than shelter; for the cottagers have little more for themselves; but if his good fortune brings him to the residence of a gentleman, he will be glad of a storm to prolong his stay. There is, however, one inn by the seaside at Sconsor, in Sky, where the post-office is kept.
At the tables where a stranger is received, neither plenty nor delicacy is wanting. A tract of land so thinly inhabited must have much wild fowl; and I scarcely remember to have seen a dinner without them. The moorgame is every where to be had. That the sea abounds with fish, needs not to be told, for it supplies a great part of Europe. The isle of Sky has stags and roebucks, but no hares. They send very numerous droves of oxen yearly to England, and therefore cannot be supposed to want beef at home. Sheep and goats are in great numbers, and they have the common domestic fowls.
But as here is nothing to be bought, every family must kill its own meat, and roast part of it somewhat sooner than Apicius would prescribe. Every kind of flesh is undoubtedly excelled by the variety and emulation of English markets; but that which is not best may be yet very far from bad, and he that shall complain of his fare in the Hebrides, has improved his deli
But there seems to be in all this more alarm than danger. The Highlander walks carefully before, and the horse accustomed to the ground, follows him with little deviation. Sometimes the hill is too steep for the horseman to keep his seat, and sometimes the moss is too tremulous to bear the double weight of horse and man. The rider then dismounts, and all shift as they can. Journeys made in this manner are rather tedi-cacy more than his manhood. ous than long. A very few miles require several hours. From Armidel we came at night to Coria- by the poulterers of London, but they are as good Their fowls are not like those plumped for sale 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 liberal hospitality, among a more numerous and elegant company than it could have been supposed easy to collect.
The hill behind the house we did not climb. The weather was rough, and the height and steepness discouraged us. We were told that
These geese seem to be of a middle race, between the wild and domestic kinds. They are so tame as to own a home, and so wild as sometimes to fly quite away.
Their native bread is made of oats, or barley. Of oatmeal they spread very thin cakes, coarse and hard, to which unaccustomed palates are not
easily reconciled. The barley cakes are thicker foreigners, but foreign cookery never satisfies a and softer ; I began to eat them without unwil- Frenchman. lingness; the blackness of their colour raises some dislike, but the taste is not disagreeable. In most houses there is wheat flour, with which we were sure to be treated if we staid long enough to have it kneaded and baked. As neither yeast nor leaven are used among them, their bread of every kind is unfermented. They make only cakes, and never mould a loaf.
A man of the Hebrides, for of the women's diet I can give no account, as soon as he appears in the morning, swallows a glass of whiskey; yet they are not a drunken race, at least I never was present at much intemperance; but no man is so abstemious as to refuse the morning dram, which they call a shalk.
Their suppers are like their dinners, various and plentiful. The table is always covered with elegant linen. Their plates for common use are often of that kind of manufacture which is called cream-coloured, or queen's ware. They use silver on all occasions where it is common in England, nor did I ever find a spoon of horn but in one house.
The knives are not often either very bright or very sharp. They are indeed instruments of which the Highlanders have not been long acquainted with the general use. They were not regularly laid on the table, before the prohibition of arms, and the change of dress. Thirty years 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 brandy. It was strong, but not pungent, and was free from the empyreumatic taste or smell. What was the process I had no opportunity of inquiring, nor do I wish to improve the art of making poison pleasant.
There was, perhaps, never any change of national manners so quick, so great, and so general, as that which has operated in the Highlands by the last conquest, and the subsequent laws. We came thither too late to see what we expect. cd, a people of peculiar appearance, and a system of antiquated life. The clans retain hitle now of their original character; their ferocity of temper is softened, their military ardour is extin
Not long after the dram, may be expected the breakfast, a meal in which the Scots, whether of the lowlands or mountains, must be confessed to excel us. The tea and coffee are accompa-guished, their dignity of independence is denied not only with butter, but with honey, conserves, and marmalades. If an epicure could remove by a wish, in quest of sensual gratifications, wherever he had supped he would breakfast in Scotland.
In the islands, however, they do what I found it not very easy to endure. They pollute the tea-table by plates piled with large slices of Cheshire cheese, which mingles its less grateful odours with the fragrance of the tea.
pressed, their contempt of government is subdued, and their reverence for their chiefs abated. Of what they had before the late conquest of their country, there remain only their language and their poverty. Their language is attacked on every side. Schools are erected, in which English only is taught, and there were lately some who thought it reasonable to refuse them a version of the holy scriptures, that they might 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 consequen were 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 jourTheir 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 barwhatever, therefore, is made dear only by impost, barous grandeur. is obtained here at an easy rate.
A dinner in the Western Islands differs very little from a dinner in England, except that, in the place of tarts, there are always set different preparations of milk. This part of their diet will admit some improvement. Though they have milk, and eggs, and sugar, few of them know how to compound them in a custard. Their gardens afford them no great variety, but they have always some vegetables on the table. Potatoes at least are never wanting, which, though they have not known them long, are now one of the principal parts of their food. They are not of the mealy, but the viscous kind.
Their more elaborate cookery, or made dishes, an Englishman, at the first taste, is not likely to approve, but the culinary compositions of every country are often such as become grateful to other nations only by degrees; though I have read a French author, who, in the elation of his heart, says, that French cookery pleases all
At the first intermission of the stormy weather we were informed, that the boat, which was to convey us to Raasay, attended us on the coast. We had from this time our intelligence facilitated, and our conversation enlarged, by the com pany of Mr. Macqueen, minister of a parish in Sky, whose knowledge and politeness give him a title equally to kindness and respect, and who from this time, never forsook us till we were pre paring to leave Sky, and the adjacent places.
The boat was under the direction of Mr. Mal colm Macleod, a gentleman of Raasay. The water was calm, and the rowers were vigorous; so that our passage was quick and pleasant.— When we came near the island, we saw the laird's house, a neat modern fabric, and found Mr. Macloed, the proprietor of the island, with many gentlemen, expecting us on the beach.—