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of Sky spoke with commendation; but Mr. Maclean said, he did not use it, because he could make the text more intelligible to his auditors by an extemporary version. From this I inferred, that the language of the translation was not the language of the isle of Col.
He has no public edifice for the exercise of his ministry; and can officiate to no greater number than a room can contain; and the room of a hut is not very large. This is all the opportunity of worship that is now granted to the inhabitants of the islands, some of whom must travel thither perhaps ten miles. Two chapels were erected by their ancestors, of which I saw the skeletons, which now stand faithful witnesses of the triumph of Reformation.
man provoked him, to lay hands upon him, and push him back. He entered the tent alone, with his Lochaber axe in his hand, and struck such terror into the whole assembly, that they dismissed his uncle.
When he landed at Col, he saw the sentinel, who kept watch towards the sea, running off to Grissipol, to give Macneil, who was there with a hundred and twenty men, an account of the invasion. He told Macgill, one of his followers, that if he intercepted that dangerous intelligence, by catching the courier, he would give him certain lands in Mull. Upon this promise Macgill pursued the messenger, and either killed or stopped him; and his posterity, till very lately, held the lands in Mull.
The alarm being thus prevented, he came un
days never wholly unprovided for an enemy. A fight ensued, in which one of their followers is said to have given an extraordinary proof of activity, by bounding backwards over the brook of Grissipol. Macneil being killed and many of his clan destroyed, Maclean took possession of the island, which the Macneils attempted to conquer by another invasion, but were defeated and repulsed.
The want of churches is not the only impediment to piety; there is likewise a want of mi-expectedly upon Macneil. Chiefs were in those nisters. A parish often contains more islands than one; and each island can have the minister only in its own turn. At Raasay they had, I think, a right to service only every third Sunday. All the provision made by the present ecclesiastical constitution, for the inhabitants of about a hundred square miles, is a prayer and sermon in a little room, once in three weeks: and even this parsimonious distribution is at the mercy of the weather: and in those islands where the minister does not reside, it is impossible to tell how many weeks or months may pass without any public exercise of religion.
GRISSIPOL IN COL.
After a short conversation with Mr. Maclean, we went on to Grissipol, a house and farm tenanted by Mr. Macsweyn, where I saw more of the ancient life of a Highlander than I had yet found. Mrs. Macsweyn could speak no English, and had never seen any other places than the islands of Sky, Mull, and Col: but she was hospitable and good-humoured, and spread her table with sufficient liberality. We found tea here as in every other place, but our spoons were of horn.
The house of Grissipol stands by a brook very clear and quick; which is, I suppose, one of the most copious streams in the island. This place was the scene of an action, much celebrated in the traditional history of Col, but which probably no two relaters will tell alike.
Some time in the obscure ages, Macneil of Barra married the lady Maclean, who had the isle of Col for her jointure. Whether Macneil detained Col, when the widow was dead, or whether she lived so long as to make her heirs impatient, is perhaps not now known. The younger son, called John Gerves, or John the Giant, a man of great strength, who was then in Ireland, either for safety or for education, dreamed of recovering his inheritance; and getting some adventurers together, which in those unsettled times was not hard to do, invaded Col. He was driven away, but was not discouraged, and collecting new followers, in three years came again with fifty men. In his way he stopped at Artorinish in Morvern, where his uncle was prisoner to Macleod, and was then with his enemies in a tent. Maclean took with him only one servant, whom he ordered to stay at the outside: and where he should see the tent pressed outwards, to strike with his dirk; it being the intention of Maclean, as any
Maclean, in his turn, invaded the estate of the Macneils, took the castle of Brecacig, and conquered the isle of Barra, which he held for seven years, and then restored it to the heirs.
CASTLE OF COL.
From Grissipol, Mr. Maclean conducted us to his father's seat; a neat new house erected near the old castle, I think, by the last proprietor. Here we were allowed to take our station, and lived very commodiously while we waited for moderate weather and a fair wind, which we did not so soon obtain, but we had time to get some information of the present state of Col, partly by inquiry, and partly by occasional excursions.
Col is computed to be thirteen miles in length, and three in breadth. Both the ends are the property of the Duke of Argyle, but the middle belongs to Maclean, who is called Col, as the only laird.
Col is not properly rocky; it is rather one continued rock, of a surface much diversified with protuberances, and covered with a thin layer of earth, which is often broken, and discovers the stone. Such a soil is not for plants that strike deep roots; and perhaps in the whole island nothing has ever yet grown to the height of a table. The uncultivated parts are clothed with heath, among which industry has interspersed spots of grass and corn; but no attempt has been made to raise a tree. Young Col, who has a very laudable desire of improving his patrimony, purposes some time to plant an orchard; which if it be sheltered by a wall, may perhaps succeed. He has introduced the culture of turnips, of which he has a field, where the whole work was performed by his own hand. His intention is to provide food for his cattle in the winter. This innovation was considered by Mr. Macsweyn as the idle project of a young head, heated with English fancies; but he has now found that turnips will really grow, and that hungry sheep and cows will really eat them.
By such acquisitions as these, the Hebrides | country have been accurately related, every mile may in time rise above their annual distress. maintains more than twenty-five. Wherever heath will grow, there is reason to think something better may draw nourishment; and by trying the production of other places, plants will be found suitable to every soil.
Col has many lochs, some of which have trouts and eels, and others have never yet been stocked; another proof of the negligence of the islanders, who might take fish in the inland waters when they cannot go to sea.
This proportion of habitation is greater than the appearance of the country seems to admit; for wherever the eye wanders, it sees much waste and little cultivation. I am more inclined to extend the land, of which no measure has ever been taken, than to diminish the people, who have been really numbered. Let it be supposed, that a computed mile contains a mile and a half, as was commonly found true in the menTheir quadrupeds are horses, cows, sheep, and suration of the English roads, and we shall then goats. They have neither deer, hares, nor rab-allot nearly twelve to a mile, which agrees much bits. They have no vermin except rats, which better with ocular observation. have been lately brought thither by sea, as to other places; and are free from serpents, frogs,
The harvest in Col, and in Lewis, is ripe sooner than in Sky, and the winter in Col is never cold, but very tempestuous. I know not that I ever heard the wind so loud in any other place; and Mr. Boswell observed, that its noise was all its own, for there were no trees to in
Here, as in Sky, and other islands, are the laird, the tacksmen, and the under-tenants.
Mr. Maclean, the laird, has very extensive possessions, being proprietor, not only of far the greater part of Col, but of the extensive island of Rum, and a very considerable territory in Mull.
Rum is one of the larger islands almost square, and therefore of great capacity in proportion to its sides. By the usual method of estimating computed extent, it may contain more than a hundred and twenty square miles.
Noise is not the worst effect of the tempest; for they have thrown the sand from the shore It originally belonged to Clanronald, and was over a considerable part of the land, and it is said purchased by Col; who, in some dispute about still to encroach and destroy more and more pas-the bargain, made Clanronald prisoner, and kept ture; but I am not of opinion, that by any sur-him nine months in confinement. Its owner veys or landmarks, its limits have been ever fixed, represents it as mountainous, rugged and barren. or its progression ascertained. If one man has In the hills there are red deer. The horses are confidence enough to say, that it advances, no- very small, but of a breed eminent for beauty. body can bring any proof to support him in de- Col, not long ago, bought one of them from a tenying it. The reason why it is not spread to a nant; who told him that as he was of a shape greater extent, seems to be, that the wind and uncommonly elegant, he could not sell him but rain come almost together, and that it is made at a high price; and that whoever had him close and heavy by the wet before the storms should pay a guinea and a half. can put it in motion. So thick is the bed, and so small the particles, that if a traveller should be caught by a sudden gust in dry weather, he would find it very difficult to escape with life.
There are said to be in Barra a race of horses yet smaller, of which the highest is not above thirty-six inches.
The rent of Rum is not great. Mr. Maclean For natural curiosities, I was shown only two declared that he should be very rich, if he could great masses of stone, which lie loose upon the set his land at two-pence halfpenny an acre. ground; one on the top of a hill, and the other The inhabitants are fifty-eight families, who conat a small distance from the bottom. They cer- tinued papists for some time after the laird betainly were never put into their present place by came a protestant. Their adherence to their old human strength or skill; and though an earth-religion was strengthened by the countenance of quake might have broken off the lower stone, and rolled it into the valley, no account can be given of the other, which lies on the hill, unless, which I forgot to examine, there be still near it some higher rock, from which it might be torn. All nations have a tradition, that their earliest ancestors were giants, and these stones are said to have been thrown up and down by a giant and his mistress. There are so many more important things of which human knowledge can give no account, that it may be forgiven us, if we speculate no longer on two stones in Col.
the laird's sister, a zealous Romanist, till one Sunday as they were going to mass under the conduct of their patroness, Maclean met them on the way, gave one of them a blow on the head with a yellow stick, I suppose a cane, for which the Erse had no name, and drove them to the kirk, from which they have never since departed. Since the use of this method of conversion, the inhabitants of Egg and Canna, who continue papists, call the protestantism of Rum the religion of the Yellow Stick.
The only popish islands are Egg and Canna. This island is very populous. About nine- Egg is the principal island of a parish, in which, and-twenty years ago, the fencible men of Col though he has no congregation, the protestant were reckoned one hundred and forty; which is minister resides. I have heard of nothing cuthe sixth of eight hundred and forty; and pro-rious in it, but the cave in which a former genebably some contrived to be left out of the list.ration of the islanders were smothered by MacThe minister told us, that a few years ago the leod. inhabitants were eight hundred, between the If we had travelled with more leisure, it had ages of seven and of seventy. Round numbers not been fit to have neglected the popish islands are seldom exact. But in this case the autho- Popery is favourable to ceremony; and among rity is good, and the error likely to be little. If ignorant nations ceremony is the only preserto the eight hundred be added what the laws of vative of tradition. Since protestantism was computation require, they will be increased to extended to the savage parts of Scotland, it has at least a thousand; and if the dimensions of the perhaps been one of the chief labours of the
ministers to abolish stated observances, because | they continued the remembrance of the former religion. We, therefore, who came to see old traditions, and see antiquated manners, should 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.
arrival of a beggar on an island is accounted a sinistrous event. Every body considers that he shall have the less for what he gives away. Their alms, I believe, is generally oatmeal.
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 seemed mutually delighted. He has the proper disposition of a chieftain, and seems desirous to continue the customs of his house. The bagpiper played regularly, when dinner was served, whose person and dress made a good appear-of ance; and he brought no disgrace upon the family of Rankin, which has long supplied the 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, 1 suppose, are the laird's and 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 seed, 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.
If the inhabitants of Col have nothing to give, it is not that they are oppressed by their landlord; their leases seem to be very profitable. One farmer, who pays only seven pounds a year, has maintained seven daughters and three sons, whom the eldest is educated at Aberdeen for the ministry; and now, at every vacation, opens a school in Col.
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 pracA country that has no money, is by no means tices of daily economy. In every house candles convenient for beggars, both because such coun- are made, both moulded and dipped. Their tries are commonly poor, and because charity wicks are small shreds of linen cloth. They requires some trouble and some thought. A all know how to extract from the cuddy oil for penny is easily given upon the first impulse of their lamps. They all tan skins and make 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
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 | parts there is now reason to fear, that none will of Lewis, which I have not seen. stay but those who are too poor to remove themselves, and too useless to be removed at the cost of others.
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.
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 stipulated, that if she became a widow, her jointure should be three hundred and sixty. I suppose some proportionate tract of land was appropriated 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
The inhabitants of Col have not yet learned to be weary of their heath and rocks, but attend their agriculture and their dairies, without lis-sure soon to recover from their terror enough to 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.
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.
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 Ι state.
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 cither 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 Forfeited estates were not in those days quiwho had no property, and therefore carried etly resigned; Maclean, therefore, went with away only themselves. In the present eager- an armed force to seize his new possessions, and ness of emigration, families, and almost com-I know not for what reason, took his wife with munities, 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
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 protection, made not more than thirty-seven years ago, for one of the Maclonichs, named Ewen Cameron, who had been accessary to the death of Macmartin, and had been banished by Lochiel, his lord, for a certain term; at the expiration of which he returned married from France; but the Macmartins, not satisfied with the punishment, when he attempted to settle, still threatened him with vengeance. He therefore 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 seem 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 half 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
who knows all the cattle of the neighbourhood, and whose station is upon a hill from which he surveys the lower grounds; and if one man's cattle invade another's grass, drives them back to their own borders. But other means of profit begin to be found; kelp is gathered and burnt, and sloops are loaded with the concreted ashes. Cultivation is likely to be improved by the skill and encouragement of the present heir, and the inhabitants of those obscure valleys will partake 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 farm 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. Without 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 breath, we spent the night not very elegantly nor plea santly in the vessel, and were landed next day