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Full text of "A voyage to the Hebrides, or western isles of Scotland; : with observations on the manners and customs of the Highlanders."

BANCROFT 
LIBRARY 

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 




VOYAGE TO THE HEBRIDES, 



OR 



WESTERN ISLES OF SCOTLAND; 



WITH 



OBSERVATIONS 



ON THE 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE HIGHLANDERS. 



BY L. A. NECKER DE SAUSSURE, 

HONORA R V PROFESSOR OF MINERALOGY AND GEOLOGY IN THE ACADEMY OF GENEVA J 

MEMBER OP THE SOCIETY OF PHYSIC AND NATURAL HISTORY OF GETUEVA ', 

HONORARY MEMBER OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON, 

AND OF THE WERNERIAN SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH, &C. 



LONDON : 
PRINTED FOR SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS & CO. 



1822. 
\ Price 3,v. 6d. sewed, or 4s. in boards.) 



LONDOff: 

BHACKF.LL AND AUROWSMITH, JOHNSON'sCOIRT . 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 



Pago 



Castle of Linlithgow. — Falkirk : celebrated for two famous Battles. — 
Bannockburn. — Stirling Castle. — Callender. — Roman Camp. — 
Trosaclis. — Comparison between the Mountains of Scotland and 
Switzerland. — Ben Lomond. — Dreadful Massacre of the Colqu- 
houns at Glen-Fruin. — Inverary. — Castle and fine Estate of the 
Duke of Argyle. — Church of Glen-Orchy, and ancient Tombs. — 
Oban. ------ 1 21 

CHAPTER II. 

FROM OBAN TO STAFFA. 

The Lady's Rock. — Castle of Aros. — The Macdonalds, Kings of the 
Isles-. — Flora Macdonald and Prince Charles Stuart. — Ulva-House. 
— -Staffa.— Cave of Fingal - 22—32 

CHAPTER III. 

ISLE OF IONA, AND RETURN TO STAFFA. 

Monastery of I-Colm Kill. — Interesting Antiquities in Iona 

Ridiculous Story related by Pennant. — " World's End Stones." 

Highland Dance. - 32 — 14 

CHAPTER IV. 

FROM ULVA TO COLL AND TIREE. 

Port of Tobermory. — Proofs of the Existence of the great Current 
from the Shores of America to the Hebrides, &c. - - 44 — 49 

CHAPTER V. 

FROM COLL TO CANNA. 

Scour Eigg. — Horrid Cruelty exercised by the Macleods against the 
Macdonalds. — Portrait of an ancient Highlander. — Isle of Rum. — 
Compass Hill. — Protestants of the Golden-headed Cane. - 40— 56 



CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VI. 

FROM CANNA TO SKY. 



Page 



Kilbride House. — Benbecula. — Reception of a Clanronald. — St. 
Hilda. — Isle of Sky. — Talisker House. — Cullen Mountains. — De- 
parture from the Hebrides. — Isle of Eriskay ; famous for being the 
Landing-place of Prince Charles Stuart. - 57 — 64 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Author's Observations on the Manners and Customs of the Scot- 
tish Highlanders. ----- 65 — 94 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Remarkable Changes in the Manners and Customs of the High- 
landers ------ 95—115 

Conclusion - - - - - -116 



LIST OF ENGRAVINGS. 

■ 

Finp-al's Cave ----- Frontispiece 

Stirling Castle - - - - 4 

Inverary - - - - - -18 

The Scour of Eigg from the East - - - 50 
from the South-East - - - 54 



JOURNEY TO THE HEBRIDES. 



CHAPTER I. 

Castle of Linlithgow. — FalJcirk: celebrated for two famous 
Battles. — Bannockburn. — Stirling Castle. — Cullender. — 
Roman Camp. — Trosachs. — Comparison between the Moun- 
tains of Scotland and Switzerland. — Ben Lomond. --Dread- 
ful Massacre of the Colquhouns at Glen-Fruin. — Inverary. 
— Castle and fine Estate of the Duke of Argyle. — Church 
of Glen-Orchy, and ancient Tombs. — Oban. 

I had long contemplated a visit to the Isle of Staffa, the far- 
famed Cave of Fingal,and the other islands ; which, being but 
little known, would furnish a rich store of curious observation. 
The peculiar aspect of nature in these northern regions, and 
the original and engaging manners of their inhabitants, com- 
bined to promise me a journey replete with the most interesting 
subject-matter. As soon as my arrangements would allow, I 
set out alone, with no settled plan : but in order to lose no time, 
and profit by the remaining fine weather, I made towards the 
port of Oban, where I was to embark. 

On the 6th of August I left Edinburgh for Stirling. The 
route lies through Linlithgow, a small, ancient, and indifferently 
built town. The ruins of the ancient castle of Linlithgow, situate 
a short distance from the town, hers- appear in a picturesque 
point of view ; they command the summit of a little hill 
covered with groups of fine trees, whilst a large pool of clear 
and limpid water bathes the foot of the hill, reflecting in its 
waters all the traits of this captivating picture. An. ancient 
gothic church is built at the side of the castle, formerly the 
residence of the kings of Scotland : a crowd of interesting 
recollections rush upon the mind on beholding these ruins. 
It was here that Mary Stuart was born ; it was here, at a 
more remote period, her ancestor, James IV. on going to the 

Voyages and Travels, Vol. VIII. b 



2 Journey to the Hebrides. 

church to perform his devotions before joining his army, saw 
an old man clothed in a blue robe, who, approaching him, 
strongly exhorted him to renounce his projects, and threatened 
him with evil and calamity if he persisted in his intention of 
fighting against the English. This man suddenly disappeared, 
leaving the king in the firm persuasion that he had witnessed a 
supernatural apparition, and that God himself had sent St. 
Andrew or St. John to dissuade him from a battle which might 
become so fatal to Scotland. James, notwithstanding these 
warnings, persisted in his intention of penetrating into England 
at the head of his armies; but having encountered the English 
at Flodden Field, on the 4th of September, 1513, he lost his life 
on that fatal day, in which perished the greatest part of the 
Scottish nobility. 

Six miles further I passed through Falkirk, another small 
ancient town, which now presents an animated scene of com- 
mercial industry : there was here at this time a great cattle fair, 
to which the people Hock from all parts of Scotland. This 
town has been the scene of two battles recorded in history. 
The first took place on the 22d of July, 1296. Edward 1. 
King of England, commanded the English army ; he came 
with the intention of conquering Scotland, after this country 
had, by the talent and bravery of William Wallace, the Scot- 
tish hero, shaken off the yoke of England. The Scottish 
nobles, having at their head Gumming of Badenoch, were 
entrenched before Falkirk, and, although very inferior in 
numbers to the English, they depended on their courage in 
defending that independence which they had just obtained, 
and awaited the attack. Unfortunately for them, Wallace, 
who alone would have been able to lead them on to victory, 
fatigued with the jealousy of more powerful nobles, resigned 
the command of the army, and had only under his orders a 
small body of troops devoted to their ancient chief. Valour 
could not resist numbers, and the English obtained a decisive 
victory. The Scots, driven from the field of battle, were 
pursued with great slaughter. " Never," says Hume, " did 
t he Scots suffer so severe a loss; never, in any battle, was their 
country so near its ruin." Wallace, by Lis military talents, 
and his presence of mind, succeeded in saving his small body 
of men, and retired in good older behind the river Carron, 
Thus a feeble remnant was preserved, around which new 
defenders of the liberties of Scotland wciv afterwards destined 
to unite. 

The second battle was that of Falkirk, which proved a more 
glorious result for the Scottish jarmies. On the 1 7 tb of January, 
1740, this battle was gained by the Pretender over the English 



Journey to the Hebrides. 3 

array, commanded by General Hawley ; the action took place 
on a waste plain, a mile from the town. Prince Charles Ed- 
ward, after the victory of Prestonpans, wishing to profit by the 
surprise which his first success had caused among his enemies, 
and by the ardour which he had inspired among his soldiers, 
entered England, seized upon Carlisle, and, meeting with no 
resistance, advanced as far as Manchester. A profound con- 
sternation reigned in England, the partisans of the King were 
afraid that the Pretender would enter London before the army, 
collected in great haste in the southern provinces, would be 
ready to act. However, Prince Charles was not without 
doubts; the succour promised by France did not arrive; the 
expectations he had formed of reinforcements from the English 
jacobins proved fallacious, the partisans of the Stuarts in Eng- 
land were very few, and these dared not declare themselves. 
His own troops, deceived in their prospects, began to murmur. 
The English army, on the contrary, was reinforced daily, and 
the Duke of Cumberland had returned with the troops which 
he had commanded in Flanders. In these alarming circum- 
stances, the Prince, after holding a council of war, decided 
instantly to regain Scotland as promptly as possible, and to 
retreat without risking the hazard of an engagement in England. 
He displayed in this retreat still more ability than in his former 
victory. Pursued by a numerous army, harassed on his flanks 
by bodies of cavalry, he preserved the strictest discipline 
in his small troop, and retreated in good order through 
the enemy's territories as far as the frontiers of Scotland. 
He was there joined by fresh supplies of Scottish troops, 
which Lord Lewis Gordon had raised in the mountains. 
The Duke of Cumberland, after taking Carlisle, returned 
to London, leaving the command of the English army to 
general Hawley. The young Prince Charles having collected 
all his forces, seized upon the tower of Stirling, and besieged 
the castle where the English garrison had retired. General 
Hawley, with the intention of assisting so important a place, 
advanced from Edinburgh towards Stirling : Prince Charles 
also seemed disposed to march to encounter the English. He 
did not wait to be attacked, but marched onward, and sur- 
prised the English before they had time to take up their 
position. The attack began on the part of the Scots by a 
sharp fire, which threw the English line into disorder ; but the 
victory was not complete until the Highlanders, throwing 
away their guns, took sword in hand, and with loud shouts 
rushed into the midst of the enemy, who immediately gave 
w-ay. The loss of the royal army was very considerable : 
their whole artillery, colours, and extensive ammunition. 



4 Journey to the Hebrides. 

were left on the field of battle. Night having arrived, Hawley 
set fire to his camp, retreated to Linlithgow, and from thence 
10 P^dinbnrgh, having to deplore the loss of several brave 
officer-. In this battle the Highlanders proved themselves, as 
formerly, terrible in the attack, and intrepid during the action; 
and on this occasion their triumph was not sullied by any 
excess. 

After passing through Falkirk, the road continues under an 
aqueduct bridge belonging to the canal which joins the gulph 
of the Forth with that of the Clyde. Whilst our coach pro- 
ceeded under the arch of the bridge, a small sloop was sailing 
in the canal over our head. A thousand fine points of view 
present themselves over the whole of this route, through a cul- 
tivated and woody country. At some distance on the right 
are the numerous buildings of the Carron foundry, which have 
the appearance of a small town, and rise in the midst of a 
plain surrounded by woods of fir, and watered by the beautiful 
river Carron. This foundry is celebrated for its short cannons 
employed in the navy, which have taken the name of Car- 
ronades, from the place where they have been manufactured. 

Some miles further, we arrived at the small hamlet of Ban- 
nockburn, celebrated in history for the memorable victory 
which Robert Bruce, with 30,000 brave Scots, gained in 1304, 
over Edward II., of England, who came with the ambition of 
conquering Scotland, at the head of an army of 100,000 men, 
composed of English, Flemish, and Gascons. This battle, in 
which the English army was completely destroyed, secured 
Scotland its independence, and Bruce, the sovereignty of 
the kingdom which he had just delivered. These places are 
classic ground for the Scots. The fields of Bannockburn, of 
Loucarty,* and of Largs, are, to them, what the celebrated 
fields of Morgarten, Sempach, and Morat, are to the Swiss. 
As the Swiss have had their William Tell, and their Winkel- 
reid, the Scots have had their Wallace and their Bruce ; these 
heroic names — these places in which the mind retraces the tamed 
deeds of the ancient d< fenders of their liberty, are still dear to 
them. Such glorious recollections keep alive the national 
spirit among them ; the historians, poets, and novelists even, 

* Thi battle of Loncarty, ;t small village near Terth, took place at the 
mmei t of the eleventh century, between the Scots anil tin- Dane*. 

The lattei i ul already obtained the victory, ^lnn the peasant, Hay, who 
worked in a neighbouring field, seizing the y< ke <>t his oxen for his weapon, 
presented himself i . i his sons before the flyii S ts, and having rallied 
them, he c< oducted them to victory. The King of Scotland, in recompence 
for his valour, created Hay Earl oi land, winch noble family exists still in 
r day. 







t?3 







Journey to the Hebrides. 5 

have seized upon these scenes, and have animated their works 
by the transports of their patriotism. 

Stirling (where I stopped a day), is situated on an eminence 
surmounted by a strong castle, built like that of Edinburgh, 
on the summit of a perpendicular rock of black basalt. From 
the exterior, the aspect of this town is picturesque, but it is 
old, and the interior is irregularly built ; the streets are narrow, 
have no pavement, and the houses are very lofty. The town 
of Stirling presents nothing remarkable, with the exception of 
its ancient gothic cathedral. The castle is very large, and 
encloses within its walls a palace, formerly inhabited by the 
Scottish Kings. The architecture of this palace is by no means 
tasteful ; the exterior is loaded with several grotesque and 
ridiculous statues. The fortress is kept in good order, and 
guarded by a company of veterans. It is one of the four 
castles which, by the treaty of Union, have been preserved. 
Its batteries are supplied with several pieces of heavy ar- 
tillery. 

The view from the summit of the rock, is as remarkable for 
its extent, as for the variety of objects which it embraces. On 
the east extends a fertile plain, well cultivated, and here and 
there covered with woods, country seats, and farm houses. 
The river Forth forms a serpentine, of innumerable windings, 
in this beautiful country. The picturesque ruins of the abbey of 
Cambus Kenneth rise in one of the peninsulas which surround 
the river. The plain is still prolonged to the west of Stirling, 
and from all sides, small hills, adorned with woods, agreeably 
diversify the scene. To the north, the view is intercepted by 
the chain of elevated Ochiel Hills, at the foot of which is a 
rock very similar to the Salisbury Craigs ; but here thickets 
of small trees, of beautiful verdure, crowning its summit and 
adorning its base, give it a very picturesque aspect. In fine, 
to the north-west, the mountains of Ben Ledi and Ben Lo- 
mond, form the groundwork of this superb picture. 

August 7. — At an early hour this morning I arrived at 
Callender, a village situated at the entrance of the Highlands, 
and about nine miles from Stirling, after having traversed a 
country of a very varied aspect, on the banks of the Teith. 

Callender is built at the foot of Ben Ledi, a steep and barren 
mountain, about 3000 feet above the level of the sea. We 
here easily perceive by the aspect of the country, which be- 
comes wilder, by the height of the mountains, and by the cos- 
tume of the inhabitants, all clothed in the ancient Scottish 
costume, that we had passed the boundary which separates the 
High from the Lowlands. 

Before leaving Callender, I went to see a spot which is 



6 Journey lo ike Hebrides. 

shown to strangers as a Roman camp, on (be banks of the 
Teith. Although this kind of bank or dyke may have regu- 
larity sufficiently rare in the works of nature, I cannot help 
thinking, that the river alone has been at all the expence of 
this construction. At Callender 1 quitted the coach which 
brought me from Stirling, and I set out on foot conducted 
by a guide, dressed in a Highland kiU, and wrapped in a large 
plaid, which he used as a knapsack to carry my luggage. My 
intention was to visit Loch Kathrin, to pass from thence to 
Loch Lomond, and after ascending to the top of Ben Lomond, 
to take the great route which leads to Oban. 

After crossing the Teith over a fine bridge, I followed a 
narrow road, between the small lake Venachar on one side, 
and the mountain of Ben Ledi on the other. Loch-Venachar 
is nearly six miles in length, by one and a half in breadth ; its 
banks are marshy, and the lake not being surrounded with 
trees, has a monotonous and unpleasing appearance; a narrow 
isthmus of land separates it from that of Auchray, which, al- 
though still smaller, is much more picturesque. It is only 
two miles in diameter ; its banks are entirely covered with 
shrubs of the most delightful verdure ; and two little islands, 
adorned with small trees, rise in the bosom of its calm and 
pure waters. The hills called Trosachs, seem to close up the 
valley at the western extremity of the lake ; and behind these 
small hills, in the midst of which spring up thickets of trees, 
we perceive, rising to a great height, the imposing mass of 
Benivenow, a steep and barren mountain, which terminates 
this brilliant perspective. 

After having coasted along Loch Auchray, we arrived at 
the foot of the Trosachs, where it was difficult to foresee how 
we were to continue our route; since this chain of hills com- 
pletely closes the valley comprised between Benivenow and 
Benneon. Formerly, travellers could only pass the Trosachs 
by scaling the rocks by means of long ladders ; at present a 
carriage road leads over the hills and the woods as far as 
the banks of Loch Kathrin. We amused ourselves, in wan- 
dering through these solitary retrials, where trees of all kinds 
grouped together in a thousand forms, issue from the cre- 
vices of the banks ; the rugged and sharp surfaces of the rocks 
are adorned with a multitude of plants of moss and fern ; the 
weeping birch trees, here and (Ik re, raise their ivory trunks 
above (he others, and gracefully droop their slender branches, 

clothed with leaves of fine green, which the least breath of 

wind puts in inolion; whilst the beech, varnish, and sorb trees, 

form thick groves, which afford a reheat to a multitude of 

singing birds. Among this concert, we did not hear the sweet 



Journey to the Hebrides. 7 

voice of the songster of our woods ; the nightingale, inhabit 
ing mild countries, dreads the cold of the northern regions, 
and does not visit Scotland. The thrush replaces it ; and this 
bird, which is not heard in spring, nor in summer, in the south 
of Europe, animates the forests of the north, by its melo- 
dious and varied warbling. Thus Linnaeus has, with reason, 
called it Turdus Musicus. 

If the unlooked-for spectacle of such fine vegetation, in a 
country where nature appears to have raised so many obstacles 
to the growth of trees, causes an agreeable surprise ; how 
much more additional pleasure will the traveller feel, when, 
after having cleared the narrow defile of the Trosachs, he 
arrives on the banks of Loch Kathrin ; which justly passes 
for being the most picturesque of all the lakes in Scotland. 
I shall not attempt here to describe this lake, — so pure, so 
tranquil, and so solitary, — the outlines of which, gracefully 
designed, are cut into long promontories, flying one behind 
the other, and dividing the lake into small basins of multi- 
plied forms. No language can describe these small islands, 
nor that assemblage of trees and rocks, whose image is re- 
flected in the mirror of the waters, and those perspectives are 
so varied that they appear changing in proportion as we ad- 
vance ; whilst the wild mountain of Benivenow constantly 
presents its barren sides, and its summit crowned with rocks, 
as an invariable ground-work to these enchanting panoramas.'-'? 

I followed the northern bank of the lake for the space of 
three miles ; beyond that, the prospect takes the appearance 
of an immense sheet of water in the midst of a narrow and 
barren valley. I returned by the same road. A party 
of English travellers had just arrived on the banks of the 
lake ; their carriage was waiting their return from the Tro- 
sachs ; some scaled the rocks ; some sketched the remarkable 
points of view, while others again threw their lines into the 
lake to catch small salmon trout. Jn the midst of these 
mountains, lakes, and alpine torrents, I, for a moment, ima- 
gined myself in Switzerland. In travelling, we amuse our- 
selves in comparing the most attractive objects, with those 
which resemble them in our native country. Thus, Loch 
Kathrin appeared to me, the portrait in miniature of the Lake 



* Sir Walter Scott, in his elegant Poem of The Ladi) of the Lake, has 
placed the scene of his romance on the banks of Loch Kathrin, and he has 
described in his verses the charm of this fine country, with such truth and 
originalty of colouring, that in reading that work after having quitted Scot- 
land, I experienced with renewed vigour the sensations I felt on beholding 
these beautiful scenes. 



8 Jour /try to the Hebrides. 

of Lucerne, with its gulpbs, its bays, and its assemblage of 
rocks, woods, and lengthened promontories. 

It may probably be supposed, that the great difference be- 
tween the height of the mountains of Scotland and those of 
Switzerland would prevent all comparison as to the aspect of 
these two countries ; however, it is not so. I have already 
said how much we may be deceived as to the height of moun- 
tains, above all, when they are bare, and cut into bold forms. 
It is also worthy of remark, that the highest mountain seen 
from its base, does not hold a place in a vertical line, pro- 
portionate to its real elevation ; consequently, notwithstanding 
the difference of height, the mountains of Scotland, seen from 
the valleys open at their feet, produce as much effect as the 
highest in Switzerland. In fine, although the Scottish moun- 
tains are less elevated above the level of the sea, than the 
highest mountains of the Alps, yet as the latter rise above 
an elevated ground, whilst the former have their bases at the 
very level of the sea, there is in reality less difference in their 
height, to the eye of the observer, than might be imagined. 
Another source of illusion which induces a comparison be- 
tween the views of the Highlands and those of the Alps of 
Switzerland, is the relative proportion of the ol j cts compos- 
ing the landscape, being pretty much the same in both coun- 
tries. Thus, in the alps where the mountains are very lofty, 
the valleys are very wide, and the lakes very extensive. In 
Scotland the narrow vallies, and the small lakes, are propor- 
tionate to the height of the mountains ; the enormous forests, 
seen in Switzerland, commanding at great elevations, the inac- 
cessible summits of the rocks, are represented in Scotland by . 
mass?s of small trees or shrubs, which produce an analogous 
effect in the landscape. Consequently, if our views in Swit- 
zerland present an ensemble more stupendou i and striking, in 
grandeur and majesty, no where to be equalled, the views of 
Scotland are, perhaps, mere picturesque, taking this word in 
its true sense ; viz. that they offer subjects for a picture more 
agreeable to the painter, and more varied and graceful in 
their features. Scotland bas not, like Switzerland, the 
mountains covered with eternal snow; those peaks of bold 
and light granite, which, by the beauty of their outline, and 
the contrast which they produce, with the brilliant verdure of 
the valleys, give to all the distant places so striking au effect : 
but it has in compensation, lakes abounding with islands oi 
all forms and dimensions; it has the Atlantic Ocean, its isles, 
and interior gulphs, which give a peculiar beauty to the first 

round-vi ork of the landscape . 
I reluctantly left the banks of Ihe charming Loch-Kathrin, 



Journey to the Hebrides. 9 

and directing my steps towards the south, I passed the hills of 
Atichray, which form the continuation of the mountain of 
Benivenow ; during all this route, which is nearly six miles, 
we travelled in the midst of a high and thick heath. Nothing 
can be more solitary and more deserted than these hills. The 
lofty pyramid of Benivenow rises alone above the thickets of 
dark heath which extend as far as the eye can reach. Having 
descended the length of a hollow road, dug by a torrent, I lis- 
tened with pleasure to the conversation of my guide, a sensible 
man, who appeared to me better informed as to the state 
of the country, its policy, and the war, than persons generally 
to be met with among men of the same class. At last the open 
country presented itself, the heath disappeared, and we entered 
into the valley of Aberfoyle, a beautiful open tract of country, 
fertile, w r ell cultivated and watered with limpid streams. The 
handsome village of Aberfoyle is surrounded with trees, fields 
and meadows, and I here found a very passable inn for so re- 
tired a place. 

8tfi August. Leaving Aberfoyle at an early hour, I di- 
rected my steps towards the west, by ascending the valley in- 
to which the Forth runs, which is here only a shallow brook. 
I passed by the banks of the two charming lakes called Loch- 
Ards, in the waters of which the surrounding mountains are 
reflected as in a mirror. Upper Loch-Ard is one of the hand* 
somest basins I ever saw, surrounded on all sides by green 
meadows, groves, and picturesque rocks ; it is bounded at the 
extremity by the lofty mountain of Ben-Lomond, the bases of 
which it waters. The district of Monteith, in which I travelled 
from Callender, is, perhaps, the most romantic portion of 
Scotland ; a multitude of small lakes of varied aspects occupy 
the bottom of the vallies, and the sides of the mountains are 
covered with flourishing vegetation. After passing the Loch- 
Ards, we entered into a wild glen, without verdure or trees, 
which terminates at the foot of Ben-Lomond. Here I found 
a small farm-house, similar to a chalet of the Alps ; the pea- 
sants inhabiting it, hastened, in the most obliging manner, to 
offer me cheese and milk. i\fter resting some minutes in the 
hut, I began to ascend Ben-Lomond, following up a steep hoi] 
low road, of difficult access, along a torrent. The slope 
of the hill is very rapid, and is entirely covered with a woodv 
heath,, forming a thick mass, through which we made 
our way. The ascent of this long mountain is thus rendered 
very fatiguing; but on arriving at the summit, the traveller is 
amply repaid for his trouble, by the beauty of the scenery which 
suddenly bursts forth on his view. 
The position of Ben-Lomond is particularly favourable for the 

Voyages and Travels. No. XL1V. Vol. VIII. c 



10 Journey io the Hebrides. 

extent of rtre prospect, being placed on the first line of the chain 
of the Grampians ; it rises perpendicularly 3, 000 feet above 
the plains of the Lowlands, and commands the surrounding 
mountains on the north and on the west. A circle of nearly 
one hundred and fifty miles in diameter is at once presented to 
the view of the spectator, who, placed on this point, embraces 
at a single glance nearly the half of Scotland ; at this height, 
and in so immense an horizon, minute objects disappear, but 
the whole scene is as remarkable for its variety as for its 
grandeur. In the south and in the east, a vast plain, fertile, 
cultivated and studded with innumerable towns and villages, 
extends to a great distance, and terminates at the horizon by the 
blueish chain of the hills of Galloway. The eye follows the 
course of the Clyde in all its extent; the Forth, the Teith, and 
a thousand other less remarkable rivers water this fine country, 
in the midst of which are seen the basaltic masses, commanded 
by the Castles of Dumbarton, Stirling, and Edinburgh. The 
hills, which surround the latter city and the rock of its castle, 
are lost in the distance, and appear only as small prominences 
on an even surface. The light clouds of smoke which rise 
above Glasgow alone indicate the site of that great city. 
Greenock is nearer; we see the Clyde enlarging, opening and 
then mixing itself with the unlimited ocean, in the large bay 
which bears its name. In the midst of this fine gulph I again 
saw the Islands of Arran and Bute, which I had visited some 
months before ; at a still greater distance appeared the conical 
rock of Ailsa as a point at the extremity of the liquid plain, 
and the long peninsula of Cantyre, between the gulph of Clyde 
and the Atlantic Ocean. If we turn towards the north and 
the west, we behold a very different prospect; long chains of 
wild, dark and dreary mountains are displayed in successive 
lines. I counted towards the north ten ranges of these moun- 
tains, and only seven towards the west ; the nearest of them, 
which already darkened the brown colour of the heath which 
covered them, are separated by vallies equally as dark and un- 
cultivated : further on, the rows lie closer, and are at length 
lost in a blueish vapour. A multitude of small lakes are scat- 
tered in the vallies, and even as far as the tops of the moun- 
tains. 

Some mountains more elevated and barren still attract at- 
tention ; these are the heights of Ben-Lodi, Beniwnow, Ben- 
Law< rs, and at the north, Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in 
Great Britain, at an elevation of nearly 1000 feet above the 
level of the sea. Behind the western chains, we still see the 
Atlantic Ocean extending to a distance, from which issue the 
hies of Mull, lsla, and that of Jura, all covered with moan- 



Journey io the Hebrides. 1 1 

tains. If we are desirous of resting our eyes, fatigued with 
wandering over such an immense field, we must look at our 
feet, and we shall see nearer, on one side, the verdant vallies of 
Monteith and their charming lakes, Loch-Ards, Lock-Mon- 
teith and Loch-Kathrin ; and on another side, the beautiful 
Loch-Lomond, whose calm and limpid streams bathe the foot 
of Ben-Lomond. Here we command a view of this lake to its 
full extent, the several islands which adorn it, and its banks 
covered with rich vegetation. 

In approaching the precipice, I saw a large brown eagle (Falco 
FuLvus) fly off at a little distance. This fine bird had probably 
built its nest in the midst of these inaccessible rocks. It came 
hovering round me, by which I could examine it completely at 
my ease. I spent a great part of the day on the summit ; and in 
contemplating the prospect from this magnificent point, I felt an 
interest in surveying the sites with which I was already ac- 
quainted, and which gave rise to a thousand interesting recol- 
lections ; I amused myself also in observing those I was about 
to visit; and the sight of the Hebrides, whither I was going, 
gave me fresh zeal, and made me anticipate further pleasure. 

The weather was delightful, and the sky was perfectly 
serene, during the whole of the morning; but in the afternoon, 
1 observed at a distance light clouds rising towards the west. 
I saw them gradually advancing, and form into columns of 
rain, concealing first the Isles of Mull and Jura, and after- 
wards the remotest hills of the main land ; in drawing nearer 
to the place where I stood, this curtain became still darker, 
and the sky still more portentous ; the storm approached us 
with incredible rapidity, it soon reached the mountains which 
bounded Loch-Lomond to the west; in a few moments it 
cleared the valley, and we in our turn were enveloped in the 
stormy cloud, which poured down torrents of rain. 

The brilliant spectacle with which I had been enraptured 
but a few minutes before had now vanished. The rich plains, 
the lakes interspersed with little islands, the innumerable moun- 
tains, the sea, with its gulphs and islands, had all disappeared : 
immersed in a thick mist, I scarcely saw the distance of a few 
feet around me. I then quitted this elevated station to descend 
the length of the western declivity of the mountain, and after a 
long and tedious route through heaths and marshes, I arrived 
on the banks of Loch-Lomond at the small hamlet of Rouer- 
denan. Here I quitted the guide who had conducted me from 
Callender, and crossed the lake in a small boat. The rain 
ceased as suddenly as it came on, and the sun was just setting 
when I embarked. After a short but charming sail, and a walk 



J 2 Jourmij to the Hebrides. 

of nearly three miles on the enchanting banks of this fine lake 7 
I arrived at Luss. 

I had a letter for the pastor of Luss, Dr. Stuart, a distin- 
guished naturalist and fellow-traveller of Pennant, and of 
Lightfoot, author of the " Flora Scotica :" he had many years 
ago, with these two learned individuals, travelled over a great 
part of the Hebrides. Wishing to enjoy the conversation of 
this intelligent gentleman, and the hope of receiving useful 
directions from him for my journey ; — in short, the curiosity I 
had to visit the environs of Luss and the banks of Loch-Lo- 
mond, induced me to accept the obliging solicitations of Dr. 
Stuart to pass the Sunday (9th of August) with him. I had 
no reason to regret my resolution in any respect ; I learned in 
his company many curious details on the natural history of the 
mountains and islands of Scotland, and on the manners and lan- 
guage of their inhabitants. 

The parsonage is a small house en the banks of the lake, 
surrounded with fine orchards and beautiful gardens. Dr. 
Stuart showed me his botanical garden, where be has collected 
a great number of plants from Scotland and the northern 
countries of Europe. As the weather was very fine, I took a 
boat to visit the largest of the isles of the lake, Inch Sta- 
vannach, or Monk Island. It is a small rock, and partly 
covered with trees. From thence we have two views very 
different in character, and equally remarkable. To the south, 
Loch-Lomond extends like a large sheet of water, surrounded 
by small hills, covered with abundant vegetation, and in the 
midst of this liquid plain a multitude of islands appeared here 
and there as if floating on the surface. This landscape is cheer- 
ful and agreeable. To the north, nature presents a more rigid 
aspect ; the lake becomes narrower and confined by high 
mountains, having at a distance the appearance of a river; 
one or two small islands are only seen on the plane. The banks 
of the lake are also covered with woods and meadows, but the 
trees and verdure no longer flourish on the sides of the naked 
and barren mountains which surround it. 

My boatmen did not fail to point out to me the curiosities of 
the country. Here, on a small steep island, are the ruins of a 
tower formerly inhabited by a robber, who made frequent in- 
cursions into the neighbouring domains of the lake, and into 
the fine estate of Koesdue, belonging to the Chief <>t' the ( 'olqu- 
houns, pillaging and laying lords anil vassals under contribution. 
In another island was formerly a convent of religious nuns, 
which has given it the name it now bears. Inch ( Yaillaeh, or the 
Isle of Old Womeu. Jn a third there exists an establishment 



Journey to the Hebrides. 13 

destined as a retreat for insane persons belonging to rich families. 
In short, they detailed to me the war between the two clans of 
Colquhoun and Macgregor, showing me all the places where 
the principal events of the contest took place. The account of 
so many battles, marked by traits of unheard-of cruelty and 
ferocity, is found consigned in the private histories of the 
families and of the Scottish tribes. From such authorities, 
more authentic than those of the boatmen of Luss, I will re- 
late in a few words the most striking circumstances of those 
feudal expeditions, which are characteristic of the times and 
manners of that warlike people. 

In the year 1602, after a protracted quarrel between Allastor 
Macgregor, chief of the powerful tribe of that name, and the 
Laird of Luss, Sir Humphrey Colquhoun, they were anxious 
to treat for peace, and agreed to meet for that purpose in the 
valley of Glen Fruin, on the banks of Loch-Lomond. The 
two chiefs arrived at the place of rendezvous, each escorted 
by a considerable troop of his vassals, well armed, and ready 
to terminate the difference by combat, should they not agree on 
the conditions of peace. They disputed, and a terrible combat 
ensued ; the Macgregors were victorious, two hundred of the 
Colquhouns were killed, and a still greater number fell into the 
hands of their enemies ; the Laird of Luss took refuge in one 
of his castles ; whither he was pursued by the Macgregors, taken 
and massacred. Many youths of the first families in Scotland, 
who were receiving their education at the College of Dum- 
barton, went to Glen Fruin to witness the battle. The Col- 
quhouns, in order to protect them, shut them up in a barn ; but, 
after the victory, the Macgregors broke open the doors, and 
massacred the whole of these unfortunate young men. 

The King of Scotland being apprized of this act of atrocious 
cruelty, and being much irritated against the clan Gregor, the 
most turbulent of all the tribes of the mountains, decreed the 
total destruction of the clan, proscribed even the very name of 
Macgregor, spread fire and slaughter throughout all the coun- 
try which these rebellious vassals inhabited, and chased like 
ferocious beasts, with dogs, all those who were concealed in the 
mountains. Macgregor was taken, conducted to Edinburgh, 
and decapitated, with eighteen of his comrades. Those of the 
Macgregors, who were enabled to escape punishment, changed 
their name and fled to the Continent. Notwithstanding all the 
severity of this decree, and although it was renewed by the 
Parliament of Scotland under the reign of William III., the 
tribe of Macgregors re-appeared as powerful as ever in the re- 
bellions of 1715 and 1745, and has continued from that time to 
form part of the Scottish clans. 



14 Journey to the Hebrides. 

The Macgregors always denied the participation of their 
clan in the murder of the Chief of the Colquhouns, as well 
as in the still more horrible one of the } r oung students of 
Dumbarton : they accused the Laird of Luss with having 
treacherously conspired against the lives of those of their 
tribe who were negociating for peace at Glen Fruin ; they 
also pretended, that the proscription of the tribe, and of their 
name, was less owing to the excesses by which they had 
rendered themselves culpable, than to the pity which the 
widows of the Colquhouns killed at the battle of Glen Fruin 
inspired in the breast of King James VI. These widows, it is 
said, sallied forth to the number of sixty, to demand an 
audience of the King at Stirling, each mounted on a white 
horse, and carrying at the point of a lance the bloody clothes 
of her husband ; a spectacle well calculated to excite the 
indignation and vengeance of the monarch. 

The environs of Luss are considered very salubrious ; the 
inhabitants live to an advanced age, and are but seldom visited 
with sickness. Pennant, in his work, gives striking examples 
of their longevity ; he mentions the ages of six old men at 
the time when he visited Luss, the youngest of whom was 
eighty-six years, and the oldest ninety-four. 

August 10. — I quitted Luss, and the hospitable roof 
of Dr. Stuart, with regret, to take the route for Inverary. 
I wandered along the shores of the lake, enlivened with the 
morning sun. Its banks are covered with groves, whilst bold 
and picturesque mountains rise in the back-ground ; but it is a 
gloomy picture to see such beautiful foliage about to fall under 
the pitiless hatchet of avaricious proprietors, who have already 
stripped the greater part of these banks of their finest ornament. 

1 regretted passing the charming village of Tarbet, placed 
on a small promontory, and in the most agreeable situation: the 
houses are clean, well constructed, and separated from each 
other by small orchards of line trees. I quitted at this place 
the banks of Loch-Lomond, and entered a small valiey, planted 
with trees, well cultivated, and a mile and a half in length. At 
the extremity of the valley is Arroquhar, a house sur- 
rounded with gardens and lofty trees; at first sight it may 
be perceived, that Arroquhar has not always been an inn, as at 
present; it was, in fact, a few years ago, the residence of the 
Chief of the Macfarlanes. Loch-Long, which environs it, is 
not like Loch-Lomond, a lake of cheerful and peaceable water, 
surrounded with venlan( and woody banks, since we no 
longer see here the shrubs dipping in the calm and pure waters. 
Loch-Long consists of salt water, being a narrow and Long arm 
of the sea, stretching among barren and naked mountains; no 



Journey to the Hebrides. 15 

tree grows near its banks ; the steep rocks, which the ebbing of 
the tide leaves exposed, are here and there supplied with ulva 
and fucus, which spread a sea odour to a great distance. 
Among these primitive mountains, which bound the arm to the 
north and to the west, I remarked that which bears the name 
of Arthur's Seat, or Cobler's. The top of the mountain is at 
present terminated by a crest, fantastically notched. The lake 
of Arroquhar is little more than a mile and a half in width ; I 
crossed it in a long boat, and was much amused by seeing a 
troop of porpoises pursuing the herrings. These fish seemed 
to roll on a level with the water, sometimes disappearing 
altogether, at others elevating their backs and thick fins above 
the surface. 

I rejoined the great route on the other side of the lake, but 
was not able to find a guide at Arroquhar, as all the men were 
at the herring fishery : having met some waggoners at the small 
inn near which I disembarked, who were going to Cairndow, 
I put my luggage into the waggon, and journeyed with them. 

The valley of Glen-Coe, by its severe and desart aspect, 
recals to the mind the most elevated defiles of the Alps, and if 
we saw it covered with snow, we might imagine ourselves 
passing St. Bernard. In this narrow passage we did not see a 
single tree ; on all sides nothing is to be seen but masses of 
rocks in immense heaps. The declivities are not covered with 
heath (a rare thing in Scotland), but with a short and shaggy 
turf, furnishing another resemblance between Glen-Coe and 
our Alpine passages. 

Before the memorable year 1745, it was scarcely possible for 
a traveller to find a path to penetrate into the valley ; at present 
there is a line road, forming part of the great line of military 
routes, commenced after the rebellion, by General Wade. The 
object of the English government, in facilitating the entrance 
into the mountains and valleys, until that period inaccessible, 
w r as more securely to render itself master of the enterprising 
and formidable people who inhabited them. At the most 
elevated point of the road is a place so arranged as to afford a 
convenient seat for the traveller ; an inscription invites him to 
rest himself, and to acknowledge his gratitude— " Rest, and be 
thankful." A little further we pass near a small solitary lake, 
commanded from all parts by barren rocks. There Glen Kin- 
glas commences, a valley equally as wild as Glen-Coe. We 
afterwards arrived at Ardinglass, the fine estate of Sir Archibald 
Campbell. It is the entrance to the country of the Campbells : 
this clan has the Duke of Argyle for its chief, who has always 
been celebrated for his attachment to the House of Hanover. 
The family of Argyle has always embraced the Whig party ; 



16 Journal) to the Hebrides. 

thus, we find, that in 1715 and 1745 the Campbells were 
fighting with the English army, against the other Highlanders, 
attached to Prince Charles Edward. 

I stayed the night at St. Catherine's, a small inn, situated on 
the banks of Loch-Fine, another salt water lake, parallel to 
Loch-Long. Like the latter, it penetrates much in advance 
into the land, under the form of a long and narrow gulf. Its 
banks are not so wild, nor its mountains so high, and their 
forms are less rugged. From St. Catherine's we see Inverary 
on the opposite side of the lake. This small burgh, with the 
castle of the Duke of Argyle, which rises in the middle of a 
fine park — the plantations of lofty trees — and the neighbouring 
mountains surrounded to their summit with thick forests of fir, 
— the whole together forms an enchanting scene. The weather 
was very favourable for the enjoyment of so agreeable a pros- 
pect, and the calm surface of the sea, reflecting the rich hues of 
the sky on a fine summer's evening, presented a fascinating 
groundwork to the beauty of the picture. 

The sun had scarcely set, when the lake was covered with 
an innumerable multitude of small boats, which directed their 
progress towards the end of the gulph, for the herring fishery 
during the night. It was an animated spectacle to see so 
many boats covered with nets and tents, lashing with rapidity, 
some with their small sails hoisted, others aided by a great 
number of rowers, who made the air resound with their 
songs. 

August 11. — I was awoke at break of day by the bagpipe 
of the fishermen, who after passing the night on the gulph, 
came to take their morning repast at St. Catherine's. I crossed 
Loch- Fine, and landed at Inverary. This burgh presents a 
scene worthy of the pencil of Vernet; its port was filled with 
small vessels and fishing boats, and others were arriving every 
moment : the pier was covered with fishermen, who brought 
the fish caught during the preceding night to the fishmongers 
and inhabitants of the burgh, who came to purchase. Inverary, 
although inconsiderable! is, notwithstanding, the capital of 
Argyleshire, one of the most extensive counties of Scotland, 
but very thinly populated. One of the finest ornaments of this 
place is the estate and castle of the Duke of Argyle. The 
avenues leading to the castle are equally remarkable for their 
magnificence: a large causeway, in form of a quay, and sup- 
ported on the sea side by a wall of porphyn , l< ads to an 
elegant bridges built also of porphyre, taken from the open 
quarries in the park itself. From thence we see the imposing 
mass of the castle rising above a bill, blooming with verdure. 
Tins edifice, when seen at a distance, produces a fine effect 



Journey to the Hebrides. 17 

above this beautiful grass-plot, but appeared heavy and massive 
when we approached nearer to it: we could riot determine to 
what kind of architecture it belongs. The foJt'r huge towers, 
the angles of which are flanked, the turret .armounting the 
castle, and the battlements, are of a golhi'c style, whilst the 
windows are rather Moorish. The stone with which the castle 
is built contributes also to give it a ludicrous appearance ; it 
is a species of the talc genus, or pot-stone, of a clear green. 
With the exception of a grand vestibule, with two flights of 
stairs, the interior of the building appeared to me no way in 
harmony with the exterior. It is true, the furnishing of it was 
not yet finished. In the vestibule, or hall of entrance, I re- 
marked two charming groups of statues from Italy ; but I 
was astonished not to find, in the castle of one of the 
greatest noblemen of Scotland, a single picture worthy of 
remark. I could not, however, sufficiently admire the beauty 
of the gardens and the park, as well as the situation of the 
castle : trees of the finest shape forming groups on the green 
turf; groves surrounding the grass-plot, and plantations ex- 
tending to a considerable distance on the hills. A beautiful 
winding brook crosses the whole extent of the park, and flows 
among the thickets of trees and shrubs, whose branches bathe 
in its limpid waters. 

The Duke of Argyle has not excluded strangers from seeing 
his fine estate. Every individual may, without permission — 
without being watched by gate-keepers or avaricious Ciceronis^ 
perambulate at leisure every part of his domain, and take up 
his abode there, without any one offering him the least inter- 
ruption. This privilege gives the humble individual an idea 
of independence, that adds much to his enjoyment. The 
stranger, in wandering through this place, may imagine him- 
self the master of these extensive woods, green turfs, and beau- 
tiful lake ; and no importunate object tends to dispel such 
illusions. Thanks to the liberal proprietor of this enchanting 
paradise : this is a noble instance of liberality, which well 
merits the imitation of all country gentlemen. 

I much wished to see the herring fishery, and waited with 
impatience till the evening, especially, as I was informed that 
a whale of a considerable size had entered Loch-Fine, and was 
pursuing the innumerable shoals of herrings. A storm came 
on in the evening, which obliged me to relinquish my project. 

August 12. — Wishing to reach Oban with all possible 
speed, I endeavoured to procure a coach to Inverary, but it 
was impossible to find one ; neither cart nor horse, nor vehicle 
of any kind. An English gentleman, travelling over the moun- 
tains, seeing my embarrassment, obligingly offered me a seat 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. d 



18 Journey to the Hebrides. 

in his carriage, as far as Bunawe; this circumstance procured 
me the society aT intelligent persons and the pleasure of their 

conversation. ; ,,. 

We left lir. i"V;y at an early hour, and travelled through a 
barren and deserted valley ; the weather was dull and rainy, 
and the route extremely monotonous. After proceeding several 
miles, the aspect of the country changes, and another lake pre- 
S( nts itself, viz. Loch-Awe. This lake, like the preceding ones, is 
long, narrow, and surrounded with high mountains. Its direc- 
tion is also the same, from south-west to north-east ; but it only 
communicates with the sea by the river which runs out of it. 

On seeing this succession of lakes similar and parallel to 
each other, some of salt water and others of fresh, the idea is 
irresistible, that the latter have themselves been, at a compara- 
tively recent period, gulphs of the ocean ; a few fathoms only 
from the level of the sea, has sufficed to break up the commu- 
nication between these waters and those of the gulph. The 
latter, shut up in an isolated basin, would, by the lapse of 
time, have lost their saltness, when the salt had been drawn 
towards the sea by the rivers. It is thus tha' I account for 
the lakes of Lomond and Awe becoming reservoirs of fresh 
water, instead of being arms of the sea, as formerly. Perhaps 
a small retreat of the ocean would also suffice to change into 
lakes the salt gulphs of Loch-Long and Loch-Fine. 

Loch Awe, towards its northern extremity, encloses a group 
of small islands ; one of them, more woody than the others, 
is surmounted by the picturesque ruins of the castle of Awe. 
On the bank opposite to the one we were travelling on, rise 
the high and majestic mountains called Kruachan Bens. The 
storm, which beclouded the landscape with a black and 
sombre tinge, gave an imposing and sublime appearance to the 
whole of these ruins, as well as to the barren and deserted 
mountains, and this dreary lake. 

We soon arrived at the extremity of the lake, where stand 
the gothic ruins of the great castle of Kikhurn: Sir Colin 
Campbell, one of the Scottish knights who sallied forth to 
attack the infidels, built this vast edifice on his return, in 1480. 
This brave knight, one of the ancestors of the Earl of Breadal- 
bane, belonged to the order of St. John of Jerusalem ; his ex- 
ploits entitled him to the surname of Great, and the High- 
landers still call the Dukes of Argyle " the sons of the (Jreat 

Colin," Mhie Caillan Mhor. Further on, the fertile valley of 
Glen Orchy bursts in view. This narrow anil well cultivated 
defile, abounding with vill and watered bv a fine rivulet, 

is an a '/ret able contrast with the sharp rocks which surround it 
on all sides. The Church of Glen ( Irchy, built on an eminence, 



Journey to the Hebrides. 19 

is itself a picturesque object at a distance. The eldest son of 
the family of Breadalbane derives his name from this district. 
We stopped at the little village of Dalmaly, situated at the en- 
trance of the valley. 

The ancient tombs which surround the church engaged our 
attention for some tiuie : the figures which cover them, al- 
though very rudely sculptured, are not without interest, being 
strongly characteristic of the costumes of the country in the 
middle ages. Many warriors, celebrated in olden time, lie 
buried under these stones ; they are represented by rude sculp- 
tures, some on foot, others on horseback, all armed with 
large swords and shields, and wearing the philibeg, the ancient 
Scottish tunic. Their descendants still live in these mountains ; 
they carefully preserve the tombs of their forefathers, and 
proudly point out to strangers the places where their warlike 
ancestors repose, and where the tradition of their exploits is 
transmitted from generation to generation. 

Curiosity led me to pay a visit to the blacksmith Macnab, 
to see the MSS. of the poems of Ossian, which, according to 
report, were long possessed by his family. I saw the old man, 
but not the manuscripts ; they had long ago been sent to Edin- 
burgh, for the use of the members of the Highland Society. He 
showed me the ancient armour of his ancestors, for he gloried in 
a long succession of them, all blacksmiths like himself. This 
family inhabited the same cottage upwards of four hundred 
years. In the ages of feudalism, they handled successively 
the hammer and the sword. 

One of the ancestors of Macnab had been employed in build- 
ing the castle of Kilchurn, and many of them, no doubt, contri- 
buted to defend it against the attacks of the enemy's clans. 
What appalling vicissitudes in human affairs ! The castle of that 
powerful lord , of that once formidable chief, is now deserted and 
in ruins ; whilst the hut of the humble vassal still exists, and 
has never changed its masters. This long succession from 
father to son, who have followed without interruption the 
same profession, and in the same place, is considered as a high 
mark of respectability. If they cannot boast, as other men in a 
more exalted sphere, of famous names,and of illustrious warriors 
among their ancestors, it is to be presumed that integrity, 
irreproachable conduct, and hereditary adherence to the vir- 
tues and duties of an obscure state, have insured to subsequent 
generations the protection of their chiefs and the laws. 

These examples of ancient families in an inferior rank of life, 
are by no means rare among the Highlanders. Whilst I was 
walking in the park of Inverary, I met a Highlander, who, 



20 Journey to the Hebrides. 

with the natural cariosity of these people, came to ask me 
what country I belonged to, and whither I was going? After 
satisfying him, I put the same questions to him ; he replied, 
" I am going to that cottage which you see there between 
those trees high above, on the hill : we have lived in it 
during the three hundred years that we have been vassals of 
the Duke of Argyle." 

We pursued our route, with fine weather, near Kilchuru castle, 
and having again reached the banks of Loch-Awe; we fol- 
lowed the northern bank of this lake, by a charming route, in 
the form of a cornice on the slope of Kruachan-Bens. Here the 
mountains raise their cragged summits ; below us we saw the 
lake, and its fine woody and verdant isles reflected in its tran- 
quil waters ; by degrees the basin grows narrower, the moun- 
tains on both its banks contract, they soon appeared to unite, 
and a rapid current indicates that the lake is become a river. 
We soon found another lake, viz. Loch-Etive, a gulph of the 
Atlantic Ocean, confined between two mountains, whose forms 
are altogether Alpine and picturesque. It was late when we 
arrived at Bunawe, where we were obliged to sleep. 

August 13.— I reluctantly quitted my amiable fellow-tra- 
vellers, who continued their route in the mountains, and I hired 
a carriage to conduct me to Oban. The weather was rainy, 
the country barren and deserted ; the road winds on the banks 
of Loch-Etive, and the appearance of the soil changes ; there 
are no more high mountains, but little hills, which, by their 
number and forms, do not ill resemble the waves of the sea. 

I passed near the Connal Ferry ; this short and narrow ca- 
nal, by which Loch-Etive communicates with the sea, presents 
a singular phenomena in the ebbing and flowing of the tide. 
When the tide flows, it rises rapidly to a great height, and 
runs with violence into this canal where it forms a rapid tor- 
rent. The surface of the waters of Loch-Etive being still 
much under that of the sea, as the motion ascending has only 
been able to communicate with it through this narrow pas- 
sage, the waters of the canal rush down in the form of a cas- 
cade into the lake, till the moment when the lake and the sea 
become of the same level, which takes place a little after 
high water. The contrary effect happens when the tide ebbs, 
the sea retiring very rapidly, the level of the hike is then 
above that of the ocean, and it takes a certain time to 
empty itself by the narrow canal ; a strong current settles 
from the lake to the sea, and forms into a cascade in an op- 
posite direction to that which took place six hours before. 
A passage boat, however, has beeD e>lablisliL'd in a place 



Journey to the Hebrides. 21 

which appears very dangerous, but it only plies in the hours 
when the sea has reached its greatest height, or has retreated 
to its lowest level. 

Some miles farther, on the right, we passed the ruins of the 
castle and chapel of Dunstaffnage, an ancient royal residence, 
built on a peninsula; tradition attributes the foundation of 
this fort to a Caledonian King, contemporary with Julius 
Caesar. These gothic masses produce a fine effect in the midst 
of so wild a country. From thence I began to perceive the 
Atlantic Ocean, and the long island of Lismore, whose form 
is like that of a small hill ; it appeared to me covered with 
woods, but this was an illusion ; for although it is pretty fer- 
tile in rye and pasturage, yet no trees grow there. 

I arrived at Oban, where I met some young Scotsmen of 
my acquaintance, who were going to visit the Isle of Staffa ; 
they had been waiting two days for a favourable wind to em- 
bark ; we instantly agreed to travel together. 

Oban is a fishing village, situated on the sea-coast, it has 
a pleasing appearance of cleanliness and comfort ; the trade of 
the Hebrides with the mother country, which is almost entirely 
transacted at this port, keeps the inhabitants employed. The 
sea here forms a vast bay, protected against every wind by a 
multitude of small and large islands, and calculated to receive a 
fleet of a hundred ships of the line ; thus, those vessels which 
make the voyage of the north, when overtaken by a tempest, 
lay at anchor in great security in the Bay of Oban. 

I was struck with the beauty of the view which this bay pre- 
sented. Opposite is the little Island of Kerrera, covered with 
basaltic rocks, and heath, cut into the form of benches ; and 
behind this island rise the conical summits of the mountains of 
Mull. Lismore appears to the north-west, and over an adja- 
cent plain rise the ruins of the tower of Dunolin. The sun 
was setting behind the Isle of Mull, fringing the clouds with 
purple and gold, and colouring all the islands with a thousand 
varied and brilliant hues. The sea, as smooth as glass, was 
tinged with the same rich colours, and reflected the small 
vessels lying at anchor in the bay, whilst the tranquillity of the 
waves formed a pleasing and agreeable picture, presenting a 
very different aspect from the idea I had formed of the Atlan- 
tic Ocean in these latitudes. 



22 Journey to the Hebrides. 



CHAPTER II. 

FROM OBAN TO STAFFS. 

Adventure of the Lady 1 s Rock. — Castle of Aros. — The Mac- 
donalds, Kings of the Isles. — Flora Macdonald and Prince 
Charles Stuart. — Ulva-House. — Staffa. — Cave of Fingal. 

August 14. — The weather being very fine, we took a large 
open boat at Oban, provided with rowers; the wind although 
favorable was slight, and we advanced but slowly. Leaving 
on our left the uncultivated and rocky Island of Kerrera, and 
on our right, first, the venerable castle of Dunolin, and, after- 
wards, the fertile Lismore, (the name of which, in Gaelic, 
signifies a large garden,) we arrived in the sound or strait of 
Mull ; it is a long and narrow canal, which separates the 
mountains of the Isle of Mull from those of the main land ; and 
the navigation in so confined a place, and so sandy, is often 
dangerous. Having entered the sound, we saw nothing but 
the barren, uncultivated, and rocky mountains of the Island 
of Mull: these mountains are entirely covered with heath, and 
not even the smallest bush is to be seen ; during the space of 
three hours, we scarcely saw a miserable hut on this barren 
and deserted coast ; the other side did not present a more agree- 
able perspective, in the hills and the rocks of Morvern, the 
ancient domain of Fingal. This country, celebrated by Os- 
sian for the grandeur of its forests, and to which he has given 
the epithet of " the woody Morvern," has lost all its beauty. 
At this day, there are scarcely a few young trees to be seen 
— the descendants of those noble oaks — of those venerable firs 
represented by the Caledonian Bard, as displaying their light 
foliage amidst these masses and piles of rocks. 

The breeze which impelled us now ceased to blow, the 
boatmen took to their oars, but we advanced with difficulty, 
having a strong tide against us, which descends the canal with 
such violence, as to give to the sea the appearance of a rapid 
river ; it strikes with great force against the breakers along 
the coast, against the sandy banks of the strait, and covers 
them with foam and spray. We passed by the foot of the 
hills of Mull, on which stands the old castle of Duart. It is 
the abode of one of the tribe of Maclean, still numerous 
in the Isle of Mull, and its heavy gothie turret well ac- 
corda with the gloomy aspect of nature, in this district. 
Near the castle rises on a level \>ith the water the small island 



Journey to the Hebrides. 23 

or rock, called Lady's Rock ; tbe following, according to tra- 
dition, is the adventure which has given it this name. Maclean, 
Lord of Duart, having married a sister of the Earl of Argyle, 
and, suspecting his wife of infidelity, he exposed her on 
this rock to be devoured by the monsters of the ocean, or en- 
gulphed by the tide. This lovely and unfortunate victim of 
the jealousy of Maclean, saw the waves approaching, which 
were about to bury her in the deep, the sea having already 
reached the summit of the rock ; when a fortunate chance 
brought a boat into the strait, in which was Argyle himself. 
The cries of a female led him towards the rock ; he recog- 
nized his sister, saw her about to perish, and having rescued 
her, he conducted her to his castle. He did more ; he avenged 
her wrongs by killing her persecutor in a desperate combat, 
fought in the presence of the King of Scotland. 

A great quantity of sea birds were swimming in numerous 
groups in the strait, and resting themselves on the Lady's Rock, 
and on the small rocks adjoining ; these groups were princi- 
pally composed of penguins, turtle-doves, and sea-gulls. 

Along the coast for some distance is a narrow pathway at the 
foot of the mountains, on which we saw, from our boat, some 
inhabitants of the Isle passing from time to time. 

After sailing ten hours we entered into the little bay of 
Aros, where two Norwegian vessels were then lying at an- 
chor, and we disembarked in the Isle of Mull en rocks of 
a fine black basalt, covered by a meadow of sea plants of 
various species. I felt much pleasure on finding myself at last 
in the Hebrides, and reflecting that I should shortly behold 
the famous Isle of Staffa. 

On whatever side we turned our eyes, we saw nothing but 
rocks and heath without a single tree. Aros is only a misera- 
ble hamlet consisting of three or four houses, constructed in the 
same way as all those of the Highlands. A house of better ap- 
pearance is occupied by the steward of the Duke of Argyle, 
to whom Aros and its environs belong. 

We saw on a rock of basalt in a heap, situated on the banks 
of the sea, the remains of the Castle of Aros, formerly inha- 
bited by the Macdonalds, kings of the isles. Somerled, ances- 
tor of these insular princes, was, in the twelfth century, the first 
of that family who possessed the sovereignty of the Hebrides. 
Before him these Isles, first subjected to the kings of Scotland, 
were governed by a Norwegian viceroy. One of these vice- 
roys profiting by his distance from the metropolis, declared 
himself independent, and fixed himself in the Isle of Man. 
Somerled, already powerful in the province of Cantyre, and be- 
come still stronger by his marriage with the daughter of Olave, 



24 Jouryiey to the Hebrides. 

king of Man, seized upon the Hebrides and a part of the 
county of Argyle, there established his dominion, and styled 
himself king of the Isles. His successors had to struggle 
against the pretensions of the kings of Scotland, England, and 
Norway ; sometimes happy and independent, and at other 
times subjected and tributary to one of these great monarchs ; 
the kings of the Isles nevertheless preserved the sovereignty 
of the Hebrides, and there maintained their sway. 

In the fourteenth century the Macdonalds, descendants of 
Somerled, made a successful effort to gain the independence 
of the kingdom of the Hebrides. Having acquired considerable 
possessions in the mother country, these powerful chiefs, at the 
head of their warlike bands, often alarmed the king of Scot- 
land, with whom they considered themselves upon an equality. 
The Stuarts, when seated on the throne of England, still paid 
every respect to these formidable vassals of the crown, which 
shews what power the Macdonalds exercised at that time in the 
mountains and Isles; but the revolution of England, and the 
increasing strength of the monarchy, considerably reduced 
their strength. 

The descendants of the kings of the Isles, although deprived 
of their feudal power, still possess very extensive property 
and considerable influence in this part of Great Britain. 
The Clan-Donald, divided into three branches, has no longer a 
single chief like the other tribes. One of the branches acknow- 
ledges Lord Macdonald for its chief, w r ho possesses a great 
part of the Isle of Sky ; another, Macdonald of Clanronald, to 
whom several isles belong, besides a considerable district in 
the main land; the third, Macdonald of Glengarry, w r hose 
very extensive domains are situated in the centre of the 
county of Inverness. 

In the wars of 1715 and 1745, the Macdonalds proved them- 
selves zealous defenders of the Stuarts. They were seen to the 
number of 1500 following the standard of their ancient kings. The 
family of Clanronald rendered the most eminent services to the 
young pretender, after his defeat at Culloden, when he wandered 
as an outlaw in the isles of the Hebrides. A young and beautiful 
lady of this family, made herself particularly remarkable for 
her romantic attachment to that unfortunate prince. In the sum- 
mer of 1746, Flora Macdonald, aged 24 years, learning that 
prince Charles had lied into the Hebrides pursued by a troop of 
English soldiers, she hastened full of enthusiasm towards him, 
and fearless of the rigour of the laws which condemned to 
death whoever should receive or protect the royal outlaw, she 

Bhared his dangers, and accompanied him when he braved the 

fury of the ocean in an open boat; she then followed him into 



Journey to the Hebrides. 25 

the wild glens, where be retired to conceal himself from the 
pursuit of his enemies. She conducted him across the moun- 
tains by almost impervious paths, and braved the fatigues and 
the inclemencies of the severest climate; she frequently went 
alone undisguised, in order to ascertaiu the march of the Eng- 
lish, and flew towards those whom she knew were attached to 
the cause of the Stuarts, hazardously to solicit assistance, 
which was never once refused. The Prince, under the disguise 
of a female servant, accompanied Flora, and passed, in the 
midst of those who pursued him, as a domestic attached to the 
service of this young lady. The latter twice succeeded by her 
presence of mind in saving his life, and rescuing him from im- 
minent danger. After having been twice taken, she succeeded in 
joining the prince and placing him in safe hands ; but soon after, 
victim of her generous devotion, she was taken by the English 
and conducted as a prisoner to London, where she was de- 
tained for a year. At last, delivered from her captivity, she 
returned to Scotland, where she remained during her life, and is 
to this day the object of the admiration and respect of the whole 
Scottish nation. 

We did not stop at Aros, intending that evening to reach the 
Isle of Ulva, and stay at the house of Mr. Macdonald, pro- 
prietor of the Isle of Staffa. I had the pleasure of his ac- 
quaintance at Edinburgh, where he politely invited me to visit 
him in his Island. We were told, at Aros, that we had only six 
miles to go in order to cross the Isle of Mull, and reach the 
narrow passage which separates that land from Ulva; but the 
miles here are double the length of the English miles, as I 
found to .my sorrow, so that we had full twelve miles to 
walk. The part of Mull which we passed through is a nar- 
row, uncultivated, and almost deserted valley, between high 
and steep mountains ; and during the whole of this journey we 
only discovered three or four scattered hats. After a march of 
six miles we arrived at an eminence, from whence we perceived 
at our feet a large lake, surrounded by lofty and pictu- 
resque mountains, called Loch-Nagheal, an arm of the sea, 
which penetrates very far into the Isie \ on the opposite shore, 
the imposing mass of the hill of Benmore particularly attracted 
our attention, being the highest summit of Mull, terminating in 
a pointed cone. The route we followed was only a narrow 
stony path, and very fatiguing. We passed a hut, and being 
thirsty, we halted for refreshment. It was eleven o'clock at 
night, the door was open, and the whole family were asleep in 
the kitchen. A peat fire was burning in the middle of the 
room, which was so filled with smoke, that it was a long 
time before we could distinguish any object. At last we per- 
Voyages and Travels. No. XLIV. Vol. Will, e 



26 Journey to the Hebrides. 

ceived a bed, in which was an old man and his wife; their 
children were scattered from one side of the room to the other, 
and slept on piles of peats, mats, nets, or sheep-skins. As 
soon as they perceived us, they rose, and eagerly came to- 
wards us; we explained to them the motive for so late a visit. 
by asking for a glass of milk or water. Two large wooden 
bowls of milk were speedily brought, but it was v. ith great diffi- 
culty that we prevailed upon these poor people to accept some 
remuneration. 

Continuing our journey on the eminence we soon saw in the 
ocean the Isle of Ulva, beneath us. We had to descend a sharp 
high hill, before reaching the banks of the sea. Owing !<> the 
darkness of the night we lost our path, and severally wandered 
groping along, some descending from one side, and some from 
the other, without well knowing where we were going, through 
rocks and briers, at the risk of every moment breaking our 
necks, or rolling into the sea beneath us. However, we sur- 
mounted these difficulties, and safely arrived ou the shore. 
But this was not all; it was still necessary to cross the small 
strait, about the distance of a gun-shot, which separates Ulva 
from Mull. There was no boat on our side, the passage-boat 
being in the Isle of Ulva. After calling very loudly, we suc- 
ceeded in waking a boatman, who came towards us in a small 
skiff. It was midnight when we crossed, and I observed, for 
the first time during this passage, that the sea was covered 
with a multitude of brilliant sparks, resembling stars. 

We were conducted to Ulva-House, belonging to Mr. Mac- 
donald ; all was closed, as at such an unseasonable hour 
no visitors were expected. At that time we were not aware 
of there being an inn in the Isle of Ulva. 

157/i August. On going to salute our hosts, we were not 
a little confused at the trouble which our arrival the evening 
before had occasioned; but the most cordial welcome, and the 
politeness with which we were received, soon put us at east'. 
Many travellers, abusing the hospitality which they receive, 
have thought proper to publish their observations on the in- 
mates of the families in which they have had the good fortune 
to be admitted. The greater part, warmed by gratitude to their 
hosts, have thought it worth while to enrich their books 
with interesting portraits, and with the recital of little incidents 
which the society furnishes. These details and peculiarities 
certainly render a work more piquant and more amusing; but 
is it not. to be frared that tin- most merited eulogiums wound 
the modesty and delicacy of those who are the objects iA' 
them, when they are exposed, against their will, to the notice 
of the public. 



Journey to the Hebrides. 27 

The situation of Mr. M acdonalcTs house is so remarkable that 
I was astonished at first sight of it; the edifice is built in a 
handsome style, and presents a singular contrast with the as- 
pect of the surrounding country. Firs have been planted on 
the barren rocks which environ the house ; and notwithstand- 
ing all the obstacles of this climate to the growth of trees, the 
latter appear to succeed very well. A beautiful cascade preci- 
pitates itself from the top of these rocks, and falls on the bank 
of the sea, forming a fine object in the landscape. From the 
windows of the house we could plainly perceive the mouth of 
Loch-Nagheal, opposite to which Ulva is situated. This 
gulph, interspersed with islands, washes the foot of lofty 
and barren mountains, the most remarkable of which is Ben- 
more. This enormous mass raises its pyramidal summit to 
the height of nearly 2700 feet above the level of the sea; 
and its steep declivity is every where covered with heath and 
marshes. '1 he top of Benmore is almost always enveloped 
with clouds, which the winds bring from the sea. 1 have 
often seen also, in a fine evening, the setting sun colouring the 
heath-covered summits of the mountains with the richest tints 
of violet and purple; nothing is then more magnificent than 
the contrast of the brilliant colours of the mountains with the 
dark grey of the basaltic hills and the deep green of the ocean. 

The want of trees in all these grand prospects, instead of 
having an unpleasing effect, rather give these rocks a charac- 
ter of grandeur well according with the majesty of nature in 
these regions. We must not expect to find smiling land- 
scapes in these deserted districts, nor the richly adorned banks 
of the lakes of Switzerland ; — no groves of olives, flourishing 
oaks, citrons, or palm trees, embellish the declivities, bathed by 
the peaceful waves of the Mediterranean Sea, under an always 
clear and serene sky. It was feasible enough to endeavour to 
plant trees in the places which immediately environ Ulva- 
House, but there were many obstacles to contend with; not 
only the violence of the winds and the humidity of the climate, 
in a country where it rains more than three quarters of the 
year, oppose the success of plantations, but it likewise ap- 
pears, that the sea air is liable to check the grow T th of trees. 
When a rock or wall shelters the young trees, they flourish for 
a time; but as soon as their upper branches grow above the 
shelter they begin to fade, and the tree decays. Mr. Mac- 
donald has planted a great number of firs and larch, at the 
foot of the high rocks which protect his house from the west- 
erly and southerly winds ; the trees being still young, and con- 
sequently not lofty, they have, as yet, succeeded admirably ; and 
if these trees can resist the sea air and impetuous winds, they 



28 Journey to the Hebrides. 

will one day form a charming amphitheatre round the habita- 
tion ; thus, a dreary and barren bill, which now presents bold 
lines of rocks and heath, will be changed into a well-wooded 
hill. Fine grass-plots, and a large garden containing fruit and 
vegetables of every kind, immediately surround the house. 

August 17. — The sky being serene, I considered myself for- 
tunate in being able, so soon alter my arrival at Ulva, to set 
out for Staffa, with favourable weather: many travellers, con- 
stantly thwarted by rains, the winds, and the sea, find them- 
selves obliged, after waiting several days, to quit Scotland 
without reaching that island, even after having approached so 
near. We embarked at an early hour in the boat which had 
been prepared for us; the piper accompanied us with his bag- 
pipe, and the echoes of the neighbouring rocks resounded with 
the noisy sounds of the pibroch, or the March of Clanronald. 
Every laird in the Hebridej his piper, who accompanies 

him in his sea excursions, or plays the marches of his tribe 
during his repasts, while he remains in his castle. We were 
regaled with this music at Ulva Mouse every day during dinner, 
and although the piper was placed outside of the house, it was 
almost impossible to hear the conversation. 

After a passage of fifteen miles in* wo hours we arrived at 
Staffa, the place I had so long wished to behold. We de- 
scended from the boat on high basaltic rocks, in round masses. 
The loose stones and blocks of basalt on which we marched, 
by their number, immense size, and spherical form, indicate 
the force of the ocean, which continually besieges this isle, and 
breaks in pieces the hardest rocks. On this shore are embarked 
and disembarked the herds which are brought every spring into 
the isle, and taken away at the commencement of autumn ; 
this operation is attended with considerable dauger and dif- 
ficulty. 

We ascended at first by a gentle acclivity to the summit of 
the isle: its surface does not form a plain, as it appears at a 
distance; but the ground is disposed into small risings, which 
present varied undulations. A fine meadow covers the whole 
summit, where sheep find an excellent pasturage. The view 
of the ocean and of the neighbouring isles from this spot, is at 
once grand and imposing. 

However, we had not yet seen any basaltic pillars, and 
wen anxiously looking for the Cave of Fingal; but our boat- 
niiii reserved us this pleasure for the last, knowing that after 
having seen that fine cavern every thing in the isle would, in 
comparison, possess very feeble interest. They showed us the 
vestiges of a hut, in which a family formerly lived during 

h 1 1 ars, lor the purpose of watching the Qocks; they were 



Journey to the Hebrides. 29 

the oDly inhabitants of this isle. Sir Joseph Banks and M. 
Faujas speak with horror of the wretchedness of this miserable 
abode. At present the hut is destroyed, and the island is com- 
pletely deserted. 

One of the boatmen who conducted us passed a part of his 
youth in this solitary habitation, and the account he gave of 
the life of inquietude and anguish which he led there deeply 
affected us. He recollected with terror those sad moments in 
which his companions and himself heard nothing around them 
but the howling of winds and agitated billows. 

When the tempest began to rage on the sea, which is the 
case for more than three-quarters of the year, the wind then blew 
with such violence, that every moment they were afraid of 
seeing the house carried away like the leaf oil a tree. The sea 
rolled its immense waves with such intense furv, that in break- 
ing against the shore, floods of foam gushed out upon the enor- 
mous rocks which surrounded the isle, and entirely inundated 
it. The waves, forcing a passage into the Cave of Fingal, and 
the other caverns of the isle, struck against the walls with a 
noise resembling thunder. Staffa was shaken by the shocks of 
the furious sea, as by an earthquake. In the evening, whilst 
these poor men, seated in their miserable hut, have been lis- 
tening with alarm to the terrible commotion of the elements, 
they have often seen the very rock on which their peat fire was 
burning move with the ground which trembled under their 
feet at every shock of these mountains of water, which seemed 
as if they would have reduced the whole isle to atoms. We 
might wish to have for a moment witnessed such a scene, to 
judge of the entire power of the ocean ; but the bare idea of 
men living there for eight years filled us with horror. 

We again descended to the sea-shore near the place where we 
had disembarked, and we arrived on a small promontory entirely 
• composed of basalt, the long and very irregular prisms of 
which are disposed nearly horizontally, or at least are only 
straight at their two extremities, on one side towards the sea, and 
the other towards the interior of the isle. We ascended along 
these pillars as on a staircase, and on reaching the summit of the 
rock, an astonishing spectacle presented itself to our eyes. We 
saw from every part nothing but basaltic prisms displayed in 
every possible form ; some vertical, others horizontal, or 
inclined in every direction, and under an infinity of angles. 
However, this mixture of so many directions and different 
inclinations does not produce the effect of a confused mass. 
The prisms are formed in distinct groups, in which each pillar 
has a parallel direction to those which accompany it. Each 
group, thus composed of pillars perfectly regular, having 



80 Journey to the Hebrides, 

all an uniform position, presents a very regular ensemble ; but 
each has its particular forms, and does not resemble those which 
environ it. 

Marching from pillar to pillar, we descended towards a small 
cavern, called Clamshell Cave, near which we perceived the 
Isle of Booschalla, which a narrow canal of no great depth se- 
parates from Staffa. At length, we arrived at the entrance of the 
Cave of Fingal. I shall not repeat here the circumstantial details 
which preceding travellers have given, on the form, the height, 
and the diameter of the pillars. The descriptions of Sir Joseph 
Banks and of M. Faujas have appeared to me generally exact, 
and those to whom the short sketch which I am about to give 
of this wonderful cavern does not appear sufficient, I refer to 
the works of the celebrated naturalists, above-mentioned. 

Figure to yourself a vault of 250 feet in depth, and 117 in 
height ; supported on each side by close groups of prisms, 
some with six faces, others with seven or eight sides, rising 
vertically to a height of more than 50 feet, preserving always 
the most perfect regularity. On entering the Cave of Fingal, 
we felt an indescribable impulse of admiration. The grandeur 
and majestic simplicity of this vast hall, the obscurity which 
reigns there, and which increases still more the solemnity of 
the basaltic pillars, the rolling waves striking against the walls, 
and which in breaking against the bottom of the cavern pro- 
duce a noise at times similar to the rolling of distant thunder, 
the echoes resounding from the vault repeating and prolonging 
all the sounds with a kind of harmony ; — all these features united 
produce in the mind a sensation which invited us to meditation 
and to religious awe. 

The greatest silence reigned amongst us, each fixed on some 
piece of pillar; absorbed by the imposing view which we 
enjoyed, we could hardly cease contemplating the black walls 
of the cavern, the vast ocean, the mosaic pavement, and the 
ocean, which is seen prolonging at a distance across the gothic 
arch which forms the entrance of the vault. If all these united 
objects excited a lively interest in us, although previously pre- 
pared by the descriptions of former travellers, and the fame which 
it has acquired, what must have been the surprize and rapture of 
Sir Joseph Banks, when, on the simple report of an English 
gentleman, whom he met in the Isle of Mull, he discovered, we 
may say, Staifa and its cavern ! Travelling through the He- 
brides on his way to Iceland, Sir Joseph, (accompauied by the 
Bishop of Linkoppinck, the learned Troil), was induced to 
turn aside a little from his route to view this remmkable island, 
which was then only known by very few persons; he went to 
it, by daybreak, and finding himself at the foot of those 



Journey to the Hebrides. 3 1 

superb natural colonnades, he saw the Cave of Fingal, illumed 
by the first rays of the sun. So unexpected a sight naturally 
excited the greatest enthusiasm in the illustrious travellers. 
How were they to announce to the world this original dis- 
covery ; in what terms were they to paint their impressions, and 
describe this wonder, in a manner so as to give a just idea of it. 
The remembrance of the finest antique temples, of the most 
majestic gothic cathedrals, presented itself to their mind ; they 
compared the master-pieces issued from the hand of man with 
the fantastic works of nature, and both, in contemplating this 
simple and noble architecture, the outlines of which have been 
traced by no human hand, turned with contempt on those 
baubles (for that is their expression) which the most exquisite 
art has been able to produce. Notwithstanding I perfectly 
comprehend the sentiment which called forth such a com- 
parison, I cannot entirely concur with their opinion. The 
perfect regularity of each basaltic pillar of which these rocks 
are composed, may, it is true, recal in the first instance the idea 
of architecture; but this simile must not be carried too far, as 
it cannot be supported by profound examination. 

The great natural monuments may, like this, present regu- 
larity in their details, but there is never symmetry in the 
whole ; there always reigns an infinite variety, a certain pic- 
turesque disorder, which is like the seal of nature ; to wish to 
compare them with the works of men, is, if I may so express 
myself, to mar the object of our enthusiasm, since it is to invite 
us to judge of it by the rules of art. The two kinds are so dif- 
ferent, that I cannot see how the admiration for the one could 
prevent the enjoyment of the other; and I am not of the opinion 
of Troil, who says, that when we have seen Staffa, we can no 
longer admire the colonnades of the Louvre, of St. Peter's at 
Rome, or of Palmyra. 

In addition to the pleasure I experienced from the beauty of 
the cave, were several impressions which added still more to its 
charm. Among these are the sentiments excited by its situ- 
ation in the midst of a tempestuous sea, and sheltered from the 
destroying hand of man in a small isle, for a long period un- 
known, and continually beaten by floods and tempests : the idea 
of the possibility that subterraneous fires might formerly have 
contributed to its formation : the distant view of the isle of 
lona: but, above all, the idea recalled to the mind by the name 
of Fingal ! Fingal, Ossian, and his bards assembled perhaps 
in former times under these vaults ; the heavenly music of their 
harps accompanied the sound of their voices, and mixing with 
the hoarse winds and waves, it has perhaps more than once re- 
echoed through these cavities. Here they sung their wars and 



32 Journey to the Hebrides. 

their victories ; here they commemorated the deeds of those 
heroes whose shades their imagination depicted to them by the 
pale light of the moon at the entrance of this solitary cavern! 
Whilst we were indulging in theser efiections, the pipet, who 
entered the cave with us, made it resound with the wild and 
powerful notes of his bagpipe; this instrument well accorded 
with the character of the scene, and the notes prolonged by 
the echoes, produced an effect altogether analogous to that of 
an organ in pealing through the vaulted aisles of a vast cathedral. 



CHAPTER III. 



ISLE OF IONA, AND RETURN TO STAFFA. 

Monastery of I-Colm-Kill. — Interesting Antiquities in lona. 
• — Ridiculous Story related by Pennant. — " Worlds End 
Stones." — Highland Dance. 

On quitting Staffa, we directed our course towards the 
Isle of lona, which lies about fifteen miles to the south. We 
enjoyed first, an extensive prospect along the basaltic range, 
extending from the Isle of Booschalla as far as the Cave of the 
Cornwrants, situated to the west of the Cave of Fingal. 

The wind having fallen, our boatmen took to their oars. 
Joyous and animated by their Gaelic songs, and by the 
whiskey, which we poured out to them in bumpers, they ran 
over a space of fifteen miles in two hours. We entered into 
the Sound of lona, an arm of the sea, scarcely a mile and 
a-half wide, and three miles long ; it separates the Jsle of 
Mull on the east, from the small Isle of lona or I-Colm-Kili 
on the west. We soon perceived on our right, the ruins of 
the ancient cathedral of I-Colm-Kill, and afterwards the vil- 
lage, or collection of huts, in which all the inhabitants of this 
small isle reside ; this place, seen from the sea, appears in the 
form of an amphitheatre. 

A little before we arrived, the piper, according to custom, 
played one of the marches of the Macdonalds, and soon a 
number of the inhabitants, men, women, and children, sallied 
forth ; while some remained at the door of their huts, and 
others advanced to the shore to see us Land. We leaped on the 
shore, and were presently surrounded by a multitude of chil- 




n r ./i'jld. SruJp! 




Saussures Voyage to the Hebrides. S3 

dren, presenting us small pebbles of a yellow serpentine, hard 
and transparent, which they gather on the sea shore. 

These stones, known by the name of lona Pebbles, are 
much sought after by lapidaries, who cut them for ornamental 
jewellery. The schoolmaster, who is at the same time steward 
of the Duke of Argyle, the proprietor of lona, and to whom 
these two offices give the first rank in the island, offered him- 
self as our Cicerone; but, before proceeding further, it may 
be proper to give a sketch of the history of this interesting 
island. 

It appears, from the most ancient chronicles, that before 
the establishment of Christianity in that portion of Great Bri- 
tain, the Isle of lona was the abode of a College of Druids, 
and that it bore the name of Irtish Druinish, the Druids 1 Isle. 
It may also be conjectured, that the Ithona of Ossian, a name 
signifying, Isle of Waves, was the isle known at present un- 
der the same name ; for in the Gaelic language, the th not 
being sounded, Ithona is pronounced lona. After the arrival 
of St. Columban, and his pious disciples, had conferred a great 
celebrity on this isle, among the northern christians, it took 
the name of I-Colm-Kill, or isle of the burying ground of 
St. Columban. At present, it is called indifferently I. lona, 
or I-Colm-Kill. 

We must not confound St. Columban, the founder of the 
Abbey of lona, and the first christian preacher among the 
wild Caledonians, with a saint of the same name and coun- 
try, who, in the commencement of the seventh century, 
founded the celebrated Abbey of Luxen in Franche Comtpe. 
It is very probable that the latter, who lived half a century later, 
was one of the disciples of the religious order of I-Colm-Kill. 
However this might be, the elder St. Columban was born in 
Ireland, and having embraced Christianity, he was remarkable 
for the austerity of his manners. Irritated by the persecu- 
tions which he experienced, or urged on by an ardent zeal for 
the propagation of Christianity, he quitted Ireland, his native 
country, vowing not only that he would never return, but 
even that he would never establish himself within sight of that 
island. Having entered into a large boat, with some new con- 
verts, who partook of his zeal and his projects, he abandoned 
himself to the winds, which drove him towards the Hebrides ; 
he landed at first on the Island of Otransay, but having re- 
marked, that from the top of the hills of this isle the Irish 
shore was still perceptible at a distance, he hastened to re-em- 
bark, and at last arrived at lona, where, according to the 
Saxon historian, Beda, he fixed himself in the year 565. Bri- 
dius, who reigned at that time over the Picts, being converted 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. F 



34 Saussure\ Voyage to the Hebrides. 

by him to Christianity, gave him this island for the establish- 
ment of a convent; here Columban founded an abbey of regu- 
lar canons, of whom he was the first abbot. Respected and 
venerated throughout Scotland for his piety and learning, he 
raised Aydanus to the throne, and placed the crown on his 
head with his own hauds. " The authority of this man," says 
Buchanan, " was at that time so great, that neither the kings 
nor the people would enter upon any affair, without having 
first taken his advice." Having left Iona, in order to crown 
Aydanus, he profited by the occasion to address exhortations 
to the king and the nation, prescribing to them their mutual 
duties; and after having conjured them to remain faithful to 
the worship of the true God, he returned to his monastery. 
He again quitted it, a few years after,, to appease a terrible 
war which was then raging between the Scots and the Picts ; 
the sway which his virtues and talents gave him, even over 
the ferocious minds of these northern barbarians, displayed 
itself in this manner on all important occasions. After having 
crowned Aydanus, he instructed Eugenius, the son of this 
king, who was to succeed him, and endeavoured to inspire 
him with a taste for letters — the love of peace and religion. 
He died in the beginning of the seventh century ; his death 
was to the King Aydanus, already oppressed with years and 
sorrow, a loss which he did not survive. 

Notwithstanding this event, the kings of Scotland endowed 
this abbey more richly than ever ; a female convent was esta- 
blished ; a number of small isles were given to these monaste- 
ries, and 1-Colm-KilL became the sepulchre for sovereigns, 
and the most powerful nobles of the mother-country and the 
isles. Faithful to the doctrine and precepts of their founder, 
the monks of Iona, at the same time that they preached to 
these uncivilized tribes the dogmas of -the christian religion, dis- 
sipated by their learned labours the thick mist of ignorance 
and error which, at that epoch, reigned over all the north of 
Europe. In this state of obscurity, one of the smallest isles 
of the wild Hebrides shone alone with a brilliancy, which it 
was one day destined to spread to a distance, and afterwards 
to see extinguished in its own bosom. 

Numerous missionaries set out from this interesting commu- 
nity, for the purpose of diffusing the light of the gospel and 
the knowledge of letters among the remotest, aud at that 
time the most barbarous regions. Many of these missiona- 
ries penetrated into Gaul, juto the countries of Germany, 
bordering on the Rhine, and even into the Alps of Switzerland ; 
there founded monasteries, Subject to the laws and discipline 
of I-Colm-Kill, and under the jurisdiction of its abbot, as far 



Sauesure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 35 

as regarded spiritual matters. Among the holy missionaries 
of Iona, I shall o«aly mention St. Gallus, who, in 614, esta- 
blished a monastery, in the place where the abbey and the 
town of St. Gall, in Switzerland, now stand ; and St. Colum- 
ban, the second of that name, founder of several convents in 
France, and in particular of the fine Abbey of Luxen, in 
Franche-Compte. All the ecclesiastical historians agree in 
rendering homage to his courage, learning, and piety. 

During this time, those of the monks who remained in the 
Abbey of Iona divided their time between prayer, study, 
and the cultivation of the land ; accustoming the wild islanders 
to derive their subsistence rather from the culture of the soil 
than from the wearisome and precarious occupation of the 
chase. The labours of the mind also occupied these laborious 
cenobites ; a rich library was formed in the convent, where 
were found collected, besides the works of the monks them- 
selves, the archives and registers of the Kingdom of Scotland, 
and many important manuscripts. It also appeared, from 
what Boethe says, that this library received from the Scottish 
sovereign, a considerable chest of manuscripts, which Fer- 
gus II., who accompanied Alaric and his Goths to the plunder 
of Rome, had taken in that capital of the world. Such 
learning and virtue, in so barbarous an age and country, in- 
spired the people with veneration for the monastery of Iona, 
and those who inhabited it ; many of the monks w T ere placed 
in the rank of saints, and their names figure in legends at this 
day ; but what will be believed with more difficulty, is, that 
the isle itself has been canonized, and adored under the name 
of St.-Columb-Killa : of this, however, we are assured by 
the judicious Pennant. Is ;t not more probable, that the name 
of the isle has been confounded with that of St. Columban, 
and that this holy man has been at once adored under these 
two denominations? 

All these titles to the homage and admiration of the faith- 
ful, did not prevent the Court of Rome from pronouncing 
strong censures against the canons of Iona, who, observing that 
the laws of the monks of the west differed from those of the 
Roman church as to the tonsure and the celebration of Easter, 
Pope Gregory sent into Scotland, an ignorant and fanatical 
Augustine friar, as legate, in order to reclaim the Christians of 
Caledonia to the obedience of the Holy See. Buchanan justly 
deplores the fatal effects of this mission, which, on account of 
some slight differences in the ceremonial, changed a pure and 
enlightened religion for a multitude of. superstitious and useless 
practices. 

An invasion of the Danes in 807, was still more fatal to the 



36 Saus8ure y s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

Abbey of I-Colm-Kill ; many of the monks were massacred, 
the rest took to flight, and the monastery remained several 
years abandoned and deserted. After the expulsion of these 
devastating hordes, it was restored to its ancient destination; 
benedictines of the Order of Clugny replaced the canons, and 
lived in possession of I-Colm-Kill until the Reformation. At 
a later period, the Bishop of Sodor and Man established his 
residence at Iona,and contrary to the ecclesiastical usages, then 
in vogue, this prelate subjected himself to the supremacy of 
the abbot of I-Colm-Kill. In short, the Reformation put an end 
to the ancient splendour of this small isle, as the monks were 
not only expelled, but the religious edifices were devastated 
and left in ruins. The tombs of so many monarchs, prelates, 
and chiefs of Hebridean tribes, abandoned to the destructive 
nature of the elements; the churches and chapels, in part 
destroyed, still attest the fanatic zeal of the sectaries of Knox ; 
and the Isle of Iona, formerly so celebrated and enlightened, 
but now ignorant and semi-barbarian, presents a sad monu- 
ment of human vicissitudes. The library, in which so many 
documents on northern history were found collected, has nut, 
if we may credit some authors, been totally destroyed ; a 
considerable portion was transported to the Scottish College of 
Douay in France, and another to the Scottish College at 
Rome. Should these ancient works have again escaped the 
revolutionary vandalism of our era, we may justly expect 
some interesting discoveries on many important and obscure 
points of the history of the middle ages. 

The family of Argyle, at the epoch of the Reformation, or 
rather that of the abolition of episcopal dioceses, entered into 
possession of several domains which had belonged to the 
clergy in that portion of Scotland, and loua now forms part 
of the vast domains of the Duke of Argyle. 

This isle is three miles long, and its greatest breadth does 
not exceed a mile and a half: it is divided into small farms, 
which the inhabitants hold from the Duke of Argyle. The 
population of Iona amounts to 350 souls. • The houses, in- 
stead of being placed on the farm grounds, are all built in the 
form of a village, in the eastern part of the isle. Thus the in- 
habitants live very near each other, and often at a consi- 
derable distance from the place they cultivate: this custom is 
justly considered as disadvantageous to themselves, and to the 
prosperity of the isle in general. It fosters idleness, and con* 
sequently misery, and I was painfully struck, on arriving at 
Iona, to see the indolent maimers of its inhabitants; some 
among them, it is true, ,-ire attached to fishing, the environs 
furnish a prodigious quantity of fish. < )n all sides there are 



Sauseure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 37 

shelves, in which swarm various kinds of the cod fish, flounder, 
&c. These fish are, in general, of an excellent quality, and 
attain a considerable size ; but if the fisheries are not more en- 
couraged than they are at present in the isles of Scotland, 
fishing will only, at the most, be able to support the bare ex- 
istence of the inhabitants, instead of being the means of fur- 
nishing an abundance of provision. 

We now pursued our ramble towards the monuments of 
antiquity in this small isle. We particularly remarked, in the 
middle of the village, a cross placed upright, such as is generally 
seen in catholic countries. It is called St. John's Cross ; it is 
composed of thin stone, of an elegant form, and there are still 
to be seen the remains of sculptures, in bas-relief, with which it 
was covered, but which time has partly destroyed. If we are 
to believe tradition, 360 similar crosses were formerly raised 
round the cathedral of I-Colm-Kill ; there exist, at this day, 
only two, all the rest having been destroyed at the epoch of the 
Reformation. What appears to me surprising, is, that the two 
which remain were spared : I cannot conceive the cause, and 
no reason is given for that preference. 

On leaving the village, we arrived at the ruins of a chapel 
consecrated to St. Oran, a disciple of St. Columban: the walls 
are still entire, but there is no roof. Near this chapel is to be 
seen the famous burying-ground which encloses the bones of 
so many illustrious dead. In this little spot, surrounded by 
walls, and in a great part covered with grass, are the tombs of 
forty-eight Scottish kings, from Fergus II. to Macbeth, four 
kings of Ireland, and eight kings of Norway, or, which is 
more probable, vice-roys, who governed the Hebrides during 
the time these islands belonged to Norway. No inscription or 
exterior decoration indicates the tomb of any of these mo- 
narchs. Donald Monro, Dean of the isles, who travelled over 
the Hebrides in 1549, says, at that time, in the midst of the 
burying-ground, where are interred the chiefs of the Hebridean 
nobility, three mausoleums were elevated at no great distance 
from each other ; on the western face of each was a stone, 
bearing an inscription, which indicated its destination. That 
of the middle was entitled Tumulus Regum Scotice, another 
Tumulus Regum Hibernice, and the third, Tumulus Regum 
Norvegice. 

But not even the trace of these monuments now exists, and 
in the multitude of tombs with which the ground is covered, 
we sought in vain for those of the kings. It is probable, how- 
ever, that their coffins still exist, but they are, perhaps, de- 
posited in subterraneous vaults, the entrance to which is un- 
known, but which may be one day discovered. The school- 



38 Saussures Voyage to the Hebrides. 

master, who accompanied us, pointed out to us a stone of red 
granite, on which a large cross is sculpkired, without any in- 
scription. This tomb is of granite (all the others are of a grey- 
free stone), and it is said that a king of France was interred 
there. Several modern travellers have spoken of this king 
without once mentioning his name ; this circumstance ap- 
pears to me very doubtful, and the more so, as neither the 
Dean of the isles, nor Buchanan, who has copied him, make 
any mention of it in their descriptions of the burying-ground 
of Iona. 

If the tombs of the kings are no longer to be found, those of 
the Hebridean chiefs are there in great number, and many more 
might be seen if care was taken to pluck up the grass which 
covers a great part of these tomb-stones. It is much to be re- 
gretted that more attention is not paid to keeping in repair, and 
preserving the interesting antiquities, which are contained 
in Iona. 

The greater part of these stones are ornamented with sculp- 
tures, either in alto or bas relief; some are entirely covered 
with arabesques, or fantastic ornaments in the gothic style; 
others are engraven with armories : in short, there are some in 
which are seen represented warriors on foot and horseback, 
players on the harp, dogs, stags, and other animals ; nearly all 
of them have Latin inscriptions, written in gothic characters. 
Among these rudely constructed monuments, by which we 
may judge of the state of the arts at so remote an epoch, and 
in countries which are yet in a state of barbarism, we particu- 
larly remarked three tombs contiguous to each other ; on each 
lies a full sized figure, in a sleeping posture, representing a 
warrior in complete armour, and clothed in the antique cos- 
tume of the Gaels. 

Pennant mentions these warlike statues, and attributes them 
to three chiefs of the tribe of Maclean ; viz., Maclean of Loch 
Boay, Maclean of Durat, and Maclean of Coll. These three 
figures, although rudely sculptured, may be considered worthy 
of notice, as they give a perfect idea of the costume of the 
ancient Hebridean chiefs. 

We entered the chapel of St. Oran by a small gothic door, 
by the side of which the holy basin may still be seen : the 
interior of this small building is filled with tablets, covered 
with ornaments and inscriptions in gothic characters. Here 
lie several of the chiefs of the divers clans or tribes who inha- 
bited these islands. We noticed a stone which forms the tomb 
of a Clanronald, chief of the Macdonalds, and that of a Mac- 
kinnon, chief of the Clan Alpin, a tribe renowned for its an- 
tiquity, and from its reckoning among its chiefs many of the 



SauBSure's Voyage to. the Hebrides. 39 

most ancient Scottish kings. On these stones are sculptured 
the claymore^ or long two-handled sword, which the Gaels 
formerly used, as well as the ancient Swiss ; also the shield, 
emblazoned with the arms of the warrior. In short, in the 
middle of the chapel, the stone was shown us which covers the 
grave of St. Oran : it is entire, and without any inscription. 
In speaking of the chapel of St. Oran, Pennant relates the fol- 
lowing story : — 

" The legend, 11 says he, " informs us, that this edifice was 
the first which St. Columban endeavoured to build, but a ma- 
lignant spirit caused the walls to fall down according as they 
were built. After a consultation among the monks, it was de- 
cided, that the wails would not be solid until a human victim 
was interred under them. Oran, a companion of the saint, 
generously devoted himself, and was interred. At the end of 
three days St. Columban had the curiosity to cast a last look 
upon his ancient friend, and caused the earth which covered him 
to be removed, when, to the great surprise of all the assistants, 
Oran arose, and began to reveal the secrets of his prison ; he 
declared, that every thing which had been said of hell was 
only a pleasantry ; but Columban was so shocked with his 
impiety, that he very prudently ordained him to be again com- 
mitted to the earth. Poor Oran was engulphed, and thus for 
ever ended his gossipping." 

Pennant has gone laboriously out of his way to relate a 
story so absurd, and so contrary to the character of St. Co- 
lumban. It is clear that this tale is of modern invention ; for 
Buchanan, who detested the monks, would not, had he known 
it, have spoken in such honourable terms of St. Columban, and 
of the pious and learned monks of I-Colm-Kill. 

The ruins of the cathedral have nothing remarkable in them ; 
they, however, serve as a contrast, by recalling the splendour 
of this edifice with the dreary and barren aspect of the isles 
and rocks which surround it. This church, as well as other 
■gothic cathedrals, is built in the form of a cross, in the middle 
of which rises a square massive tower, and without ornament. 
The whole of this edifice, and those which surround it, are 
built of red granite from the neighbouring bank of the Isle of 
Mull. I cannot conceive where Dr. Johnson was able to find 
traces of Roman workmanship in a building evidently gothic, 
and above all, in an island into which the Romans have never 
penetrated. The architecture of the Cathedral, if we except 
the great window towards the east, does not display, however, 
those light and varied forms, those innumerable and often 
elegant details, which the great gothic monuments present in 
other parts of Great Britain : here, all is heavy and massive. 



40 Sauss lire's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

The interior of the church is, however, more carefully worked 
than the exterior ; we still see there the colonnades terminating 
by arches, which separate the lateral chapels from the body 
of the church ; the chapiters of the pillars are short and thick, 
and contain rude representations, in bas relief, from some pas- 
sages of the holy scriptures, such as the expulsion of our first 
parents from paradise, as well as fantastic arabesques and im- 
perfect designs. There are also to be seen in the church, the 
tombs of two abbots of Iona, of the names of Mackinnon and 
Mackenzie, or Mackenneth ; both are represented in a sleep- 
ing position on their tombs, and attired in their pontifical 
robes, with mitres on their heads and crosses in their hands. 
The statue of the first of these prelates is in a remarkable state 
of preservation ; and although the epitaph, which is engraven 
in gothic characters round the grave-stone, bears the date of 
the year 1500, this figure appears recently sculptured. 

At the foot of the walls of the abbey we were shown the 
stone which covers the grave of St. Columban, but it bears no 
inscription nor sculpture. Near it is a statue of black marble, 
in a mutilated state, which is called the Black Rock. The 
chiefs of the Hebridean [tribes laid their hands on this block 
when pronouncing the oath of allegiance to the sovereign of 
Scotland. We also remarked the beautiful cross, named the 
Cross of St. Martin, or Maclean. It still stands before the 
entrance of the church, its form is elegant, and it is sculptured 
on both sides; one bearing fantastical ornaments, the other 
representing the serpent and Adam and Eve receiving the 
apple. 

Our guides would not allow us to quit these ruins without 
showing us the dacha brath, or " world's end stones," which 
are deposited in a part of the wall between the cathedral and 
the burying-ground of St. Oran; these are three stone balls, 
contained in a basin of the same material. The tradition is, 
that the end of the world will arrive when the basin shall have 
been completely worn by the friction of the balls ; and it is 
in order to hasten that solemn moment, that all who come to 
Iona believe themselves obliged to whirl round the ball three 
times in the direction of the sun's course. 

We cannot be astonished, that a people naturally super- 
stitious, should attach ideas of fatality to these ruins and 
tombs, and to so many monuments which recal the vanity of 
all human grandeur : thus, we find that the inhabitants of Iona 
greatly surpass in credulity those of the Hebrides. The idea 
of the " world's end stones 1 "' is ancient, and appears to have 
prevailed at the time that the monks inhabited the abbey. Ac- 
cording to Mr. Sacheveral, governor of the Isle of Man, who 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 41 

visited Iona in 1G88, there were, within the abbey, three fine 
globes of white marble placed in three stone basins, which 
w r ere the objects of the same belief as the dacha brath of the 
present day, and were destroyed by order of the protestant 
synod of Argyie. An ancient Gaelic prophecy, which is still 
repeated, shows the idea of the Hebrideans as to the superiority 
of the small isle of Iona over all the neighbouring countries, 
and of the part it was to act in that terrible moment, when a 
new deluge would inundate the earth. According to this 
prediction, when all the surrounding isles, when Ireland itself 
shall have disappeared under the waters, the holy I-Colm-Kill 
will still proudly raise its head, during the period of seven 
years, above the liquid plain. 

Beyond the village are to be seen the ruins of two convents 
of canons and canonesses, the bare walls of which still remain ; 
we were shown the chapel of one of these convents, and some 
tombs of abbesses, monks, and priests. The stones, half co- 
vered with earth and turf, are loaded with sculptures and in- 
scriptions in gothic characters. If the view of these mauso- 
lea of the middle ages, in the dreary churches of remote 
centuries ; if these great figures, extended on their tombs with 
clasped hands, their countenances turned towards heaven, and 
their prostrate bodies, produce a strong and solemn impression 
on the mind of the traveller, who surveys the gothic vaults of 
edifices still consecrated to worship and to prayer, how much 
more will he experience, when he contemplates these rude mo- 
numents amidst a mass of ruins, in a wild and barren country, 
and on the banks of a boundless sea ; — when he sees the ground 
strewed with grave-stones, exposed to the atmosphere from the 
time the vaults which enclosed them have ceased to exist; — 
when, in fine, the sea winds, by agitating the stalks of the 
nettles and wild grass, discover, at times, the great figure of 
an old warrior, or the immoveable statue of a venerable 
prelate ! 

On viewing the ancient I-Colm-Kill, so changed and so 
fallen, I was overcome with melancholy reflection ; thus we 
involuntarily look back to the past ; — we seek to efface, by re- 
flection, the ravages of time; — to re-establish those ruined 
edifices, and wish to see them again, such as they were 
formerly with their pious inhabitants. In these churches and 
convents, formerly enriched by the gifts of sovereigns, where 
precious metals and rich stuffs once decorated the altars, and 
vaulted roofs re-echoed with the sacred melody of organs, we 
no longer hear any sounds but the rolling of the floods, and the 
howling of the winds, through ruins and deserted cloisters. 
Formerly, at every hour of the day, and even night, the Eternal 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. g 



42 Saussures Voyage to the Hebrides. 

was adored in Tona ; but, at this day, worship is no longer 
celebrated, and the inhabitants are obliged to go to the church in 
the Isle of Mull, at a distance of several miles. Ignorance and 
idleness have succeeded labour and study, and the gardens, 
which were formerly cultivated by the friars, are now become 
waste. Formerly, a vessel, when navigating by night in the 
canal of Iona, was guided by the sound of the bells of the 
abbey ; whilst the glimmering lamp which burned in the cell 
of a monk, — laboriously occupied in copying an ancient manu- 
script, served as a beacon to the pilot to direct him in these 
dangerous latitudes. Overtaken by the tempest, or wrecked 
upon the rocky shore, he was sure to find an hospitable asylum 
and consolation amongst these good fathers, — remedies for all 
his misfortunes. At present, the poor inhabitants of Iona would 
willingly share all they have with a straDger in distress, but 
they have scarcely sufficient for their own wants. 

Strangers have often testified their regret on seeing the in- 
habitants of this place, so well known for their religious habits 
in former times, compelled to go out of their isle to a place of 
worship. Pennant, Johnson, and Knox, have strongly ex- 
pressed their surprise at this striking contrast; and they have 
also deplored the want of the means of instruction for youth. 
This latter circumstance, at least, has been taken into conside- 
ration, and at present I-Colm-Kill possesses a school ; the 
master who directs it appears to be a well-informed man. I 
was agreeably surprised to hear him speak of Mont-Blanc, in 
Switzerland, of its ice and perpetual snows, and address to 
me some very sensible questions on objects so remote from these 
districts. 

We promised to reward our boatmen for their past zeal, by 
treating them with a dance at Iona, in the evening, as dancing 
is the favorite amusement of the Hebrideans of all ages. They 
brought us a fiddler, and we invited the inhabitants of the 
village to a dance in our hut. We much admired the gaiety, 
the liveliness of their national dances, and the address with 
which they avoided the deep holes of the ground on which 
they leaped. The luxury of floors is unknown here, and in the 
interior of the houses the inhabitants still tread on a damp and 
rough soil. We plied the dancers with toddy, and in the in- 
tervals between the reels tin y sung several Gaelic songs in full 
chorus. Although these songs, as well as those we heard 
on the sea, consisted of a solo and chorus, they differed little 
in the rhyme, but the words were different ; (he airs composed 
to be sung on the water, and accompanied by the noise of the 
oars, are called jorrams, the others bear the name of Oran 
luathdidk, and are only SUDg on land to amuse the workmen 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 43 

in their labours ; they are a soecies of ballads, or recitations of 
adventures, sometimes heroic or tragical, and at other times of 
a comic and burlesque character. 

The men and women seated themselves in a circle and 
joined hands, or held, in couples, the end of a handkerchief, 
with which they kept time during the chorus. Two of our 
boatmen, who were the leaders, made all kinds of grimaces and 
apish tricks whilst singing, striking themselves on the head 
one against the other with all the dexterity of Italian buffoons, 
while the rest of the company were convulsed with laughter. 
This scene greatly amused us, and we were astonished to see, 
under so foggy an atmosphere, in so dreary a climate, a people 
animated by that gaiety and cheerfulness, which we are apt to 
attribute exclusively to those nations who inhabit the deligl £ful 
countries of the south of Europe. 

It required all the fatigue of a long journey, replete 
with a thousand interesting scenes, to enable us to pass the 
night in our miserable abode ; some of our party were glad 
to find a wretched bed, without either mattrass or sheets ; 
others were obliged to content themselves with a bed of straw 7 , 
spread on the cold damp ground. 

August 18. At an early hour we quitted our miserable bed, 
and again embarked on our return to Ulva. The waves threw 
upon the coast the wrecks of several ships. These wrecks 
belong by right to the Duke of Argyle, as grand admiral of 
Scotland, but he generally yields them up to the proprietors of 
the isles on which they have been found, which at times pro- 
duces a considerable revenue to the latter ; since, by these 
means, they not only acquire a great quantity of w r ood and 
iron-work, which are valuable in the Hebrides, but frequently 
some casks of wine, forming part of the cargo of vessels lost in 
the Atlantic. The sea brings also, we were told extraordinary 
foreign seeds and fruits. From what they said, I suppose they 
meant the American fruits, of which several travellers have 
spoken, and the arrival of which, on the coasts of the Hebrides 
and Norway, has been often mentioned, as a proof of the 
existence of a great current which crosses the Atlantic, from 
the eastern coasts of America to the shores of the northern 
countries of Europe. 

After passing near the rocks of Inch-Kenneth, we returned 
to Ulva, where we had the pleasure of engaging Mr. Mac- 
donald, the brother of Clanronald, who was at Ulva-House, to 
accompany us in our visit to the isles, which belonged to his 
brother. During the last three days of my residence at Ulva- 
House, English travellers w T ere continually arriving. They all 



44 Saussures Voyage to the Hebrides. 

wished to see Staffa, which is generally the term of their 
maritime excursions, and passed by Ulva, most of them alight- 
ing at Ulva-House. 



CHAPTER IV. 

FROM ULVA TO COLL AND TIREE. 

Port of Tobermory. — Proofs of the Existence of tlie grct 
Current from the /Shores of America to the Hebrides, i\c. 

j&jkgust 28th. It was with much regret I quitted Ulva- 
House, and took leave of its amiable inmates. Mr. Mac- 
donald gave me letters of recommendation to all the proprie- 
tors of the isles which we were about to visit ; he also took 
care to procure^ us excellent horses and a guide to conduct us 
to Tobermory, across the mountains to the north of Mull. 
We set out pretty late in the morning, and witnessed the 
manner by which horses are conveyed across the strait of Ulva ; 
they are fastened by the head to the boat, which they are also 
compelled to follow by swimming. Having arrived in the 
Isle of Mull, we mounted on horseback, and first passed 
through the fine farm of Laggan-Ulva ; by following a narrow 
path along the shore, we passed near the cascade seen from 
Ulva-House. This cascade, already rendered exceedingly terrific 
by the height of the basaltic rock from which it rushes, had been 
much swollen by the late rains. A few miles further we 
passed the beautiful estate of Torloi«k, on our right, belonging 
to Mrs. Clephan-Maclean. The house is a handsome structure, 
and stands on a line eminence clothed with verdure, and 
covered with trees and shrubs. Having reached Balachroi, a 
small village belonging to Mr. Maclean of Coll, we next 
passed over a chain of hills covered with heath, and arrived at 
a narrow and dreary lake, designated in the map by the name 
of Loch-Friza, surrounded by barren and deserted mountains. 
After climbing up a second chain of hills, and discovering 
other lakes as dreary as the former, tin: fine Port of Tobermory 
suddenly burst upon our view, and it was not without an 
agreeable surprise that we saw the charming village of that 
name, which, by the beauty of its situation, the cleanliness and 
even elegance of the bouses, strongly contrasted with the uncul- 
tivated regions we had jusl quitted. Tobermory signifies in 
Gaelic, Mary> Will, and was formerly celebrated lor a foun- 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 45 

tain consecrated to the virgin. It is a small town situate at 
the northern extremity of the Isle of Mull, and owes its ex- 
istence to the efforts (unfortunately too feebly supported,) of 
the Society for the Encouragement of Sea Fishing in the He- 
brides. When Pennant and Knox visited these isles, the Port 
of Tobermory was not in existence ; for both travellers, who 
speak with admiration of the beauty of the bay, take no notice 
of the village. It is probable that what is at present a small 
town, then much resembled those poor hamlets which are 
every where seen in the Isle of Mull, and was too insignificant 
to attract the attention of travellers. At the present day a line of 
elegant stone houses, of two stories, and covered with slate, rises 
between a hill and the bay. A handsome quay, of hewn stone, 
separates them from the sea, and allows trading vessels to ap- 
proach the shore, so as to load and unload their cargoes. At To- 
bermory we found a good inn and shops, seldom to be met with 
in these districts ; there is altogether an air of comfort and 
cleanliness in this place, which is very rare in the Hebrides. 
The prohibitory laws which exist in Scotland, particularly 
those relative to commerce and to the manufactory of salt, are 
the principal and notorious causes of the deplorable state of 
the fishery in the Hebrides, and why this sea port, which was 
intended to develope the industry of the inhabitants and dif- 
fuse abundance in this part of Mull, has not produced such 
effects, is rather irreconcileable. The united efforts of the He- 
bridean proprietors, and of the Society for the Encouragement 
of Fishery, have not yet succeeded in obtaining from the legis- 
lative powers the revocation of those laws so strongly called 
for by all the islanders. 

The bay of Tobermory has acquired some celebrity in his- 
tory, by the shipwreck of the Spanish frigate, the Florida, 
w r hich belonged to the famous Armada. It is said that the 
body of the vessel still remains at the bottom of the water ; 
several persons have been often employed to draw up the 
effects which it contains, and many precious articles have been 
discovered. I saw in the house of Colonel Maclean, in 
the Isle of Coll, some specimens of very fine foreign 
wood, which has been obtained from this vessel, and con- 
verted into chimney ornaments. I was assured also, that at 
the time of the shipwreck of the Florida, in 1588, some 
Spanish horses, w T hich were on board, succeeded in escaping 
aud gaining the shore; that they had multiplied in the Isle 
of Mull, and that the intermixture of this foreign race, with 
that which previously existed in the country, had pro- 
duced the beautiful species of small horses which are now 
seen in Mull, and which are more esteemed than all others in 



46 Xaussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

the Hebrides ; I cannot, however, vouch for the truth of this 
statement. 

August 30/ h. We set sail for the Isle of Coll, and after 
having sailed six hours, in the finest weather, we cast anchor 
in the small bay of Brakalla. Leaving our vessel, we took 
the small boat and landed on the rocks, from whence we pro- 
ceeded towards the house of Mr. Maclean, the proprietor of 
Coll, whom I had the pleasure of knowing in Edinburgh. We 
learned with great regret, that he had set out with his family, 
the evening before, for the Isle of Sky. Mr. Maclean's 
steward, who came out to meet us, hastened to invite us, in 
the name of his master, to fix our abode at his house as long 
as we staid at Coll. He offered to accompany us wherever 
we chose, and was in every way anxious to make himself 
agreeable to us. 

The house of the Laird of Coll is modern, elegantly 
built, and situated at some distance from the bay ; we still per- 
ceived, on the banks of the sea, the ruins of the ancient Castle 
of Coll, the former residence of the family of Maclean before 
the new house was built. The apartments are not spacious, 
but they are very convenient, and furnished with much taste 
and neatness. There is a good library, which is a valuable 
object for a family, who often pass the whole year in a place 
bereft of all the pleasures of society. 

The Isle of Coll is destitute of those grand scenes which dis- 
tinguish the Hebridean landscapes; having no high and pictu- 
resque rocks or mountains, the absence of all kinds of trees is 
also still more felt. Although the land is in general barren, it 
is nevertheless, in many places, covered with fine meadows 
and rich pasturage. Mr. Maclean possesses, to the westward 
of his house, a vast plain which produces hay of an excel- 
lent quality ; I witnessed the harvest which had just com- 
menced ; this rural occupation, which every where presents 
an animated scene, has a more pleasing effect in the Hebrides, 
as it is to be met with there. Agriculture and fishing occupy 
the inhabitants, whose number is upwards of a thousand. 
In all our walks we had ample reason to congratulate our- 
selves with their hospitality. The Gaelic language is more 
generally spoken than the English, and many of the inhabi- 
tants do not understand the latter. The following may be 
considered as a striking instance of the scrupulous attachm< nt 
of the inhabitants to the custom of remote ages. When a 
Btranger enters the hut of a peasant, and asks for milk, the 
man or woman fills a wooden bowl, and after having iirst 
tasted it, presents it to the applicant. This is a method of 
convincing him that the drink contains nothing pernicious in 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 47 

it; such a precaution might have been necessary when the 
armed clans were engaged in interminable and cruel wars, and 
when a Highlander, on entering a strange hut, was ignorant 
whether it was the dwelling of a friend or an enemy. 

Mr. Maclean is not the sole proprietor of Coll ; the Duke of 
Argyle possesses a third, in the northern part of it. The 
greater part of the inhabitants belong to the tribes of Maclean 
and Campbell. The isle is divided into two parishes, each of 
which has its church and school. 

At Coll we clearly ascertained the existence of the great cur- 
rent, which, after sweeping the coasts of America, runs through 
the Atlantic, and beats the western coasts of the northern coun- 
tries of Europe. Every winter foreign seeds and pieces of 
American wood are thrown upon the shore. I saw at Mr. 
Maclean's house the entire trunk of a mahogany tree which 
had been thrown on the coast by the current; I was also 
shown a beautiful tortoise-shell and two or three cocoa-nuts, 
which the sea had thrown up, and which are preserved as 
curiosities. 

September 3d. We set out at an early hour, accompanied by 
Mr. Maclean, the steward, in order to visit the Isle of Tiree, 
situated to the south of Coll. These two isles are separated 
by a strait of five miles in breadth, in the midst of which the 
little Isle of Guna is situated. Having reached the southern 
extremity of Col!, we took a small boat which two boatmen 
drew with great difficulty from the sand in which it was 
wedged. The canal between Coll and Guna is very narrow, 
and dangerous, from the quantity of sand-banks and shallow 
places with which it abounds; and our boatmen were fre- 
quently obliged to jump into the water to push the boat from 
the sand-banks. Having surveyed the Isle of Guna, consisting 
entirely of rocks of gneiss, we were an hour in reaching Tiree, 
after sailing with very fine weather and a calm sea. 

Tiree presents the most agreeable appearance after passing 
a rampart of sands which border the shore. It is, undoubt- 
edly, the most fertile and cultivated of all the Hebrides ; its 
length is twelve miles, and its greatest breadth, three. This 
isle belongs entirely to the Duke of Argyle, and the num- 
ber of the inhabitants is upwards of 2,400. The northern 
part where we landed is, like the south of Coll, very sandy ; 
we passed by the foot of several high banks of sand, formed 
by hurricanes, but soon reached a fertile region, covered with 
meadows and cultivated lands, where barley, oats, clover, 
and potatoes grow r to great advantage. One half of the sur- 
face of Tiree is worth cultivation. The small villages which 
we passed through, appeared to me cleaner and more com- 



48 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

pact, than those of the other isles; the habitations are better 
constructed, and the roofs built with more care. The walls 
of the houses are extremely thick, and tastefully built with 
stones placed together without any cement. A multitude of 
plants, of a fine foliage, grow in the interstices of the stones, 
and overshadow the entrance into the houses with a canopy of 
the finest green. In other respects, the interior of these habi- 
tations generally resembles the huts of the Hebrides. 

We entered a village situate on the eastern coast, where 
a small port, with a fine pier, has been built. The vessels of 
Scotland and Ireland engaged in the coasting trade may refit 
here, in case of bad weather, and find the necessary articles 
to repair their damage. We saw several sloops in the port, 
waiting a favourable wind. From thence we entered a plain, 
of three square miles in surface, the largest and most level 
plain in the Hebrides, and which is every where adorned by 
the finest verdure. We passed through a part of it in order to 
arrive at the farm of Balaphaitrich, belonging to Mr. Camp- 
bell. The house is small, but built in a good style, and 
stands on the western side of the isle, on the banks of the 
sea, and at the entrance of the great plains on the sea shore. 

In the south of the isle, we perceived a rock, on which 
an innumerable multitude of sea birds build their nests. No 
species of serpents or reptiles is known here. I asked one of 
the natives if there were any wild animals. " Yes," he re- 
plied, " we have a great quantity of rats, which commit much 
damage ; the rat is the largest, and perhaps the only wild 
quadruped in Tiree." 

In the winter of 1806, a storm cast ashore at Tiree no 
less than eighty young whales, the largest of which measured 
twenty feet in length; but the inhabitants not being provided 
with the necessary articles to collect the oil, could only derive 
a very small profit from it. 

We passed the rest of the day and night at Balaphaitrich, 
where Mr. Campbell received us with all the hospitality of 
the ancient Hebrideans. Duriug the repast, which lasted all the 
evening, a peasant, successor of the ancient bards, came and 
seated himself near a window, and sung, or rather recited, in 
a monotonous tone, several Gaelic poems, very different from 
the wild Jorrams, as the latter have at least in their discor- 
dant harshness, a peculiar expression, which is not altogether 
without its attractions. 

September 4th. We quitted Balaphaitrich in order to re- 
turn to Coll, accompanied by Mr. Campbell and Mr. M'Coll, 
pastor of the Isle of Tiree, who accompanied us as far as the 
village, where we found a boat ready to cross the strait. Be- 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 49 

fore embarking we stopped a few minutes in a hut. An old 
man, who lived there, recited to us the fragment of a Gaelic 
poem, which Mr. M'Coll translated to me in English ; I at 
once recognized, from the literal translation which he gave 
me, that the subject was the death of Oscar, such as has been 
published by Macpherson in the First Book of Temora. I 
particularly remarked the touching episode of the two dogs, 
Bran and Luath, howling at the feet of the heroes who had 
just expired. 



CHAPTER V. 

FROM COLL TO CANNA. 



Scour Eigg. — Horrid Cruelty exercised by the MacLeods 
against the Macdonalds.— Portrait of an ancient High- 
lander. — Isle of Rum. — Compass Hill. — Protestants of the 
Golden-headed Cane. 

September 8th. We set sail from Coll at 10 o'clock, with 
a slight wind from the north-west. The weather was very 
fine ; and having cleared the bay, we enjoyed a most en- 
chanting prospect. On the north we saw the Isles of Rum 
and Eigg, towards which we steered ; and on the east, the 
Isle of Mull and its high mountains. Whilst we slowly pro- 
ceeded, with a slight wind, along the eastern coast of Coll, 
we perceived, at a little distance from us, the back of an 
I enormous whale. Our sailors estimated its length from fifty 
to sixty feet ; it showed itself two or three times in succes- 
sion, and then disappeared altogether. I had never before 
seen a whale, and this one did not appear to me of an extra- 
! ordinary size ; but having before me such objects for com- 
j parison, as the sea, immense mountains, and entire islands, it 
is by no means extraordinary that this animal appeared to me 
less than it really was. 

The night, although fine, was very cold, and we easily 

^perceived, by the temperature of the air, that we were sailing 

| in a latitude far advanced towards the north ; we had in fact 

passed the 57th degree of latitude. Having descended into 

our cabin, we found a good peat fire, and after a light repast, 

we retired to rest, and slept until the moment the sailors roused 

;us to announce that we bad anchored in a small bay of the Isle 

of Eigg. It was one o'clock in the morning when we stepped 

Voyages and Travels. No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. h 



50 Sau8sure\s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

into the boat. By the light of the stars, we could distinguish 
the bay, surrounded nearly on all sides with rocks; and the 
mountain of Scour Eigg, the highest summit of the isle, rising 
like an imposing shadow above our heads. 

Guided by our sailors, we groped, in the dark, across the 
rocks, till we came to two or three huts ; when we knocked 
at the door of one of them. An old man rose to admit us ; 
and notwithstanding the early hour, he gave us a hearty re- 
ception. A large bottle of whiskey, and some bread and cheese, 
were immediately set before us ; and during this frugal repast, 
a small neat chamber was prepared for us, where we slept. 
Clanronald is the proprietor of the Isle of Eigg, and we re- 
solved not to inform our host, till the next day, that he had 
the good fortune to lodge the brother of his Laird ; fearing 
that were this known sooner, we should not have had a mo- 
ment's repose. The good old man was a Macdonald, an 
ancient soldier ; he had fought at the battle of Quebec, and by 
the side of General Wolfe. He also recollected, in his infancy, 
following his father at the battle of Culloden, where he served 
in the army of Prince Charles Stuart. 

September 9th. The secret was already discovered before 
we arose, and the good man, who had learned from the sailors, 
that the brother of the chief of the Macdonalds was in the 
house, hastened, as soon as we were dressed, to pay his respects 
to him ; his wife clasped him in her arms, and our breakfast, in 
some degree, proved the effects of their joy, for they gave 
us all they possessed. These good people never once kept 
their eyes off Mr. Macdonald, and more than once blessed 
the happy day on which he entered their hut. 

Accompanied by our host, we commenced operations by as- 
cending the Scour Eigg, which is, as I have said, the name of 
the highest summit of the isle. The rocks, of which the Scour 
Eigg is formed, rise gradually from the western part of the 
Eigg, in the form of an inclined angle, its highest elevation 
being towards the east ; this angle is suddenly terminated 
by a precipice of many hundred feet. From the base of this 
immense rock, the ground descends by a gentle declivity to- 
wards the sea. I cannot give a better idea of the figure of 
the angle which forms the summit of Scour Eigg, than in 
comparing it to the crest 6i an ancient helmet ; and the ground 
under the rock to the helmet itself. From the hut of Mac- 
donald, which is on the eastern side of the isle, we had, looking 
westward, the view of Scour Eigg in the foreground. From 
this situation, the mountain presented a most singular appear- 
ance, and resembled an mormons tower, rising to a great 
height above all the surrounding hills. These hills are 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 51 

every where covered with thick heath, except in the hollow 
and steep places, where the rock is here and there bare. 
On this rock, are thousands of small regular pillars, form- 
ing the long ridge which bound the Scour Eigg, extending 
from east to west, to a length of nearly two miles. Having 
reached the eastern part of the ridge, on the summit of the 
perpendicular rock which terminates it, we suddenly burst 
on a most magnificent view. Standing on the top of this 
rock, we were surrounded on the north, the east, and the 
south, by deep precipices. The wind blew hard, which 
would not allow us to remain here long, to enjoy, as much 
as we wished, so fine a panorama, which the serenity of the 
sky enabled us to discern in its full extent. 

Among the numerous caverns on the sea-shore, there is one 
which is but too celebrated in the history of this small isle. 
The Macleods, a tribe who inhabited the Isle of Sky, having 
had a quarrel with the Macdonalds of the Isle of Eigg, re- 
solved, according to the custom of those warlike tribes, to 
terminate their difference by the force of arms. Having formed 
a project of attacking the Macdonalds by surprise, in their isle, 
and of attaining the most decisive revenge, they collected all 
their boats, and filled them with armed men. Favoured by the 
wind, this formidable expedition set sail, and soon appeared 
in sight of the Isle of Eigg. The Macdonalds, alarmed at 
the approach of an enemy, so superior in numbers, despaired 
of being able to resist by force, and began to conceal them- 
selves in a cavern of their isle, the entrance to which could 
not easily be discovered, being low and overgrown with 
briers. The Macleods disembarked in the Isle of Eigg, but 
to their great surprise, finding their project defeated, that the 
isle was deserted, and all the inhabitants had disappeared, 
they re-entered their boats, and again set sail for the Isle of 
Sky. In the interval, the Macdonalds judged that it was now 
time to leave their retreat : they imagined that the Macleods 
w r ere entirely gone, and sent one of their party to a neighbouring 
rock, in order to watch the progress of the enemy. From an 
elevated spot, the spy was soon discovered by the small flotilla, 
which instantly turned round. Suspecting that the inhabitants 
of Eigg had found some retreat in their isle, the Macleods 
again disembarked. The imprudent Macdonaid, seeing them 
return, entered into the cavern ; but unfortunately, the trace 
of his foot-steps, on a recent fall of snow, indicated to their 
enemies the fatal cavern ; they approached towards it, and 
being unable to enter it by force, they conceived the horrible 
design of suffocating at once the w T hole of these unfortunate 
people. They kindled an enormous fire at the entrance of the 



52 Sautis lire's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

cavern, the smoke of which, driven by the wind, soon filled 
the interior, and destroyed ail those who were within ! This 
atrocious act is well calculated to afford an idea of the hatred 
which formerly existed between those island savages. 

We could not at first perceive the entrance to the cavern, 
which was concealed by briers and thorns ; it is so low, that 
we were obliged to crawl on our hands and knees, in order to 
penetrate into it; but after advancing a short distance, we 
found ourselves in a spacious cavern. Having lit a flam- 
beau, we penetrated as far as we could into this long and 
narrow cavern. The sight of the walls, still blackened by the 
smoke, and, above all, the quantity of human bones and 
skulls scattered on the ground, were for us too striking proofs of 
the truth of that horrid catastrophe ; and the effect produced 
on us by the unexpected discovery of these human skulls, 
and the horror which momentarily overcame us, can be easier 
imagined than described. 

We employed the rest of the day in visiting the farm of 
Laig, occupied by one of Clanronald's farmers, named also 
Macdonald, to whom we had a strong recommendation, as 
being a representative of the ancient Highlanders, &c. pre- 
serving all their manners and customs to this day : we soon 
perceived this by the cordial reception which the good old 
man gave us. He detained us to dinner, but before the cloth 
was laid, he made us drink a full glass of whiskey to the 
health of each. The dinner was simple, but very good. From 
the time we left Ulva we had not tasted bread till now, having 
been accustomed to eat oatmeal cakes : thus nothing was 
wanting for our comfort. Our host related to us many in- 
teresting stories of Prince Charles, respecting whom he could 
not speak without visible emotion. He designated the Duke 
of Argyle and the Karl of Breadalbane by the simple appel- 
lations of Breadalbane and Argyle. It was not, however, with 
him a mark of familiarity or of disdain: but he followed the 
ancient Scottish custom of designating nobles, proprietors, or 
farmers, by the names of their fiefs, their domains, or their 
farms, without adding that of their family or any other title. 
According to this custom, the boatmen of Mr. Macdonald, of 
Staffa, whether in speaking of, or addressing themselves to him, 
called him simply Staffa, as the most respectful title. 

When the old man mentioned the Campbells, we discovered 
in his conversatiou some traces of that animosity which for- 
merly existed between the two tribes. But to hear him, all 
the peerS of the kingdom wen 1 nothing by the side of Clan- 
ronald, his chief, whose name was repeated every instant in his 
conversation. Upon the whole, nothing was more singular 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 63 

than his whole deportment ; it was the tone, the manners of 
an epoch which had long passed away, and of a generation 
almost extinct. 

After dinner, according to custom, he gave several toasts ; 
the first was to the King, the second, in a bumper, to Clan- 
ronald. He also diverted us greatly by singing some Gaelic 
songs ; and as he was famed for knowing the airs of the bag- 
pipe better than any professed piper, we begged him to give 
us some specimens. He then sung some pibrochs, with all 
their difficult passages, pleasingly imitating with his voice the 
sound of the bagpipe. 

The greatest curiosity at this good man's house was a Gaelic 
manuscript, which, he told us, was written by his grandfather. 
It was the only manuscript of this kind which I had yet seen, 
and was written in peculiar characters, long since out of use. 
I could not ascertain the contents of this manuscript, but at 
least I was convinced that the Gaelic, whatever may be said of 
it, was formerly a language possessing very peculiar cha- 
racters. 

On our departure, the good old Laig accompanied us to the 
door of his house ; there, filling a glass of whiskey, he first 
drank himself, and then pouring out a bumper to each in suc- 
cession, we emptied it, at the same time testifying our gratitude 
for his hospitality. This little ceremony is a very ancient custom 
denominated Door Drink (Deoch an Dorus), and is similar to 
the parting cup amongst the natives of Switzerland. After 
taking leave of our excellent host, we returned to the pastor of 
the Isle of Eigg, who had kindly invited us to accept of his 
house during the time that we remained in the isle. 

Sunday, September 13. We were conducted to an ancient 
ruined chapel, enclosing numerous tombs ; these tombs are 
sculptured like those of Iona, and all bear the arms of the 
Macdonalds. I returned to the parsonage in order to prepare 
for our departure, and to pack up and label the specimens of 
minerals which I had collected ; but, to my extreme regret, this 
circumstance gave great offence to the inmates of the house, it 
being Sunday. But the people were still more shocked when 
they learned that Mr. Campbell was gone out to collect some 
mineral substances, although to avoid all reproach he had not 
taken a hammer with him. Such is the strictness of custom 
in this part of Scotland, that every thing having the least ap- 
pearance of labour is strictly proscribed on that day. 

The Isle of Eigg is about five miles long, and three broad ; 
its population is 400 souls. Mr. Macdonald, the proprietor of 
Eigg, possesses no house where he can reside. A steward 
manages his domain, and levies the annual contributions from 
the great farmers, or tacksmen, who here, as iu all parts of th e 



54 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

Highlands, hold leases, directly from the proprietor, of the 
portions of land which are cultivated by cottagers, to whom 
they under-let, together with a hut, and some acres of land for 
their own use. The parish in which Eigg is situated consists 
of the Isles of Muck and Canna, which renders the pastors 
charge equally painful and dangerous. Nothing can be more 
satisfactory than the manner in which Mr. Maclean, as well as 
other ministers of isles, fulfil this difficult vocation. Although 
his residence is at the Isle of Eigg, he does not neglect his 
pastoral duties in the other isles belonging to his charge. He 
exposes himself to the dangers of storms and perilous seas, in 
order to visit his parishioners at Muck and Canna, whenever 
the winds permit him ; and this respectable ecclesiastic even 
braves the most stormy seas, in an open boat, in order to ad- 
minister the consolations of religion to those pious souls com- 
mitted to his charge. 

I learned with astonishment that nearly one half of the in- 
habitants of the Isle of Eigg profess the Catholic religion. 
They have a priest of their own persuasion, and a church which 
is consecrated to them. This priest is a Scotsman, who has 
been educated in France. Although the inhabitants of the 
two kinds of worship live on good terms with each other, I 
nevertheless heard in this small island several animated dis- 
cussions on religious controversy. This is a subject of con- 
versation which is treated with much warmth and spirit, but 
without bitterness or intolerance. We heard, with surprise, a 
repetition of arguments, and a kind of logic, which, in all the 
rest of Europe, have for many ages become obsolete. 

September 14. Although the wind blew violently from the 
north-west, we set sail from the Isle of Eigg. The roaring of 
the winds, and the waves striking with fury the sides of our 
small vessel, and seeming at every moment ready to dash it in 
pieces, the noise of the pump, which was continually working, 
and the surges breaking over our heads, did not fail giving us 
some uneasiness, and, above all, when we heard the cries of the 
sailors, whom the tempest had prevented hearing each other. 
However, towards evening, as we approached the Isle of Rum, 
the wind abated a little, and the sea being lower, I went upon 
deck, and witnessed the North Sea, at the approach of wiuter, 
in all its severity. 

We had near us, on the west, the high and wild mountains of 
the Isle of Hum ; on the north, the fine mountains of the Isle 
of Sky, with their tops covered with snow. The sea rolled its 
high billows, and broke against Che rocks; whilst innumerable 
BigbtB of sea-gulls, penguins, and other birds inhabiting the 
icy seas, were swimming, plunging, and Hying, forming groups 
similar to swarms of bees, in all directions where shoals of 



Sausstire^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 55 

herrings, swimming at the surface of the waters, presented an 
abundant and easy prey. In the centre of these groups of 
noisy birds, we saw from time to time rising above the water, 
the enormous back of a whale, which was also in pursuit of 
herrings. Our vessel, which passed more than once through 
these groups of birds, never alarmed them ; they flew in the 
midst of our rigging, uttering plaintive cries, without fear or 
suspicion, whilst one or two whales, infinitely larger than our 
vessel, rolled from one side to the other, raising their immense 
backs, of a brownish colour, and surmounted by a large mass 
of flesh, which serves them for fins. The Hebrideans do not 
engage in whale-fishing, it being too daugerous in such latitudes. 
Whale-fishing can only be practised in large seas, remote from 
land and isles. The sun-fish is sometimes pursued in the 
Hebrides ; but not having seen this animal, I cannot say to 
what species it belongs. 

At nine o'clock in the evening we entered the Bay of Kinloch 
(Isle of Rum). There we cast anchor, and landed at a small 
village, where we intended passing the night. 

Colonel Maclean, of Coll, is sole proprietor of the Isle of 
Rum. The number of inhabitants is 443, all of whom are 
Protestants. It is said, that when the ancestor of Mr. Maclean 
took possession of the Isle of Rum, all the inhabitants were 
Catholics. The new proprietor, a zealous Protestant, seeing 
that the Catholic worship was established in one of his do- 
mains, entered the church one Sunday, during mass, and 
having driven out all the inhabitants who were assembled 
there, he shut the door, put the key into his pocket, and threat- 
ened with his golden-headed cane all those who dared to return 
to hear mass : from that moment all the inhabitants of Rum 
embraced the Protestant religion. The other Hebrideans, when 
alluding to this new mode of conversion, have continued ever 
since to call them the Protestants of the Golden-headed Cane*. 



* It is curious to reflect what trifling circumstances have occasioned the 
change or preservation of the established religion in certain places of Europe. 
At the time the Reformation penetrated into Switzerland, the government of 
the principality of Neufchatel, wishing to leave to the inhabitants an entire 
liberty of conscience, voted in each parish for and against the adoption of 
the new mode of worship. In all the parishes, except two, the majority of 
suffrages declared for the Protestant communion. The inhabitants of the 
small village of Creissier also assembled, and finding their votes equal, they 
were at a loss how to act. One of the inhabitants being found absent, viz. the 
shepherd who guarded the flocks on the mountains, they sent tor him, in order 
to decide by his vote this important question ; but he, being no friend to 
innovations, gave his voice in favour of the established religion, and thus this 
parish remains Catholic to the present day, in the midst of the Protestant 
cantons. 



66 Saussure^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

The islanders of Rum are reputed the happiest of the He- 
brideans ; both on account of the low rent which Mr. Maclean 
receives for his farms, and because the isle furnishes a great 
number of large and small cattle, which supply them all with 
meat. Their principal occupations are the care of cattle, 
fishing, and the gathering of sea-weed, which they burn for 
the purpose of extracting alkali. 

After remaining all night in the village, the next morning we 
got into a fishing-boat, in order to pass over the narrow 
canal which separates Rum from the Isle of Canna. We 
landed near the house of Mr. Macneil, of Carina, who super- 
intends the island for the proprietor, Mr. Macdonald, of Clan- 
ronald. Mr. Macneil received us with that cordial hospitality 
which is every where to be met with in the Hebrides, and we • 
found in his house an excellent abode for the night. 

What chiefly excited my curiosity in Canna was the Com- 
pass Hilly celebrated by all the seamen of the country for its 
action on the needle of the compass. We begged Mr. Mac- 
donald to conduct us to it, and our sailors brought the compass 
from the vessel. After passing from terrace to terrace, and 
from rock to rock, as far as the top of Compass Hill, we tried 
our compass. In the first moment, and when we laid it on the 
ground, the needle turned towards the north ; but on following 
along the ridge of the hill we reached a spot where the com- 
pass began to deviate, and the needle soon lost all magnetic 
power ; we saw it sensitively point to the south, north, east, or 
west. Further, it indicated only the south-west; further still, 
the south ; and at last we saw it again take its accustomed 
position towards the north. This phenomenon is owing to the 
quantity of magnetic iron which the basalt of this hill con- 
tains, in such a quantity, that a morsel detached from the basalt 
is at times sufficient to move the needle: it is also owing to a 
vein of magnetic iron in the interior of the rock. This phe- 
nomenon, besides, is far from being so remarkable as I was led 
to believe from the accounts of the country people, and those 
of ancient authors : it was also pretended that the effect of this 
hill was felt at a distance, and that mariners, navigating in the 
arm of the sea between Sky and Canna, saw the needle of their 
compass turning itself against the latter island. 

I have nothing particular to say respecting the inhabitants of 
Canna, the number of whom amount to ^UO. They are all 
Catholics, with the exception of two or three families, among 
whom is that of Mr. Macneil, who profess the reformed re- 
ligion. 



Saussure^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 57 

CHAPTER VI. 

FROM CANNA TO SKY. 

Kilbride House. — Benbecula. — Reception of a Clanronald. — 
St. Kiida. — Isle of Sky. — Talisher House. — Cullen Moun- 
tains. — Departure from the Hebrides. — Isle of Eriskay ; 
famous for being the Landing-place of Prince Charles 
Stuart. 

September 17. Our sailors came at an early hour in the 
morning 1 to inform us that the weather was fine, and the wind 
slight, but blowing towards Long Island. Curiosity to see 
this island, and the pleasure of traversing a country which no 
traveller had yet visited, made us forget the distance, the 
advanced state of the season, the uncertainty, and perhaps the 
danger of returning. We gave orders to ^et all ready, and 
immediately embarked. We coasted some time along the 
basaltic rocks of the south of Canna, then, after doubling that 
island, we steered towards the west, where we perceived the 
blue hills of South Uist, like a mist in the horizon. We were 
eleven hours at sea, and during this long but agreeable passage 
vve saw nothing worthy of attention, with the exception of two 
or three vessels, in full sail, coming from Norway or the Baltic, 
and destined for the south. We arrived at sun-set on the 
banks of Long Island, which is an assemblage of different isles, 
Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, &c. all similar in appearance, and. 
separated from each other by narrow arms of the sea. We now 
reached the small isle of Eriskay, a rock about a mile in 
diameter, on which are some houses and pasturage, where 
Mr. Macdonald, of Boisdale, proprietor of a part of South 
Uist, breeds some cattle. 

We there met the proprietor himself, for whom his brother, 
Mr. Macdonald, of Staffa, had given me a letter : we met with 
the most friendly reception from him ; he offered us places in 
his boat to repair with him to his abode at Kilbride-house, in 
the Isle of South Uist. He was at first, on seeing us at a 
distance, astonished at the appearance of strangers in this 
district ; before even knowing who we were, his reception was 
at once pofite and hospitable. He conducted us to the shore, 
where his boat was waiting to convey us across the dangerous 
strait of Eriskay ; but the beauty of the weather, the serenity 
of the sky, and the perfect calmness of the sea, removed all 
idea of danger. 

The Isle of Eriskay has acquired great celebrity among the 
Voyages and Travels, No. XL1V. Vol. VIII. i 



58 Saussitred J 'oyage to the Hebrides. 

classic sites in the history of Scotland. It was there that Prince 
Charles disembarked, in June, 1745, when he arrived from 
France, in a brig of eighteen guns, and repaired to the western 
coast of Scotland, followed only by seven intrepid com- 
panions, with some arms and a little money. Like a brave 
hero, this prince, with such slender means, began the expedi- 
tion which at first was so brilliant, buc ended in so disastrous 
a manner. After the battle of Culloden had ruined all his 
hopes, he was seen an exile and a fugitive wandering in the 
same isles where he had formerly presented himself as a war- 
rior thirsting for glory and battle. The inhabitants of these 
isles, not less heroic for their noble and generous attachment to 
their unfortunate prince, than for the valour with which they 
had aided his triumph on the fields of Falkirk and Giadsmuir, 
braved the greatest danger in order to rescue their prince from 
the troops which pursued him from isle to isle, and from cot- 
tage to cottage. 

We landed at Kilbride, a handsome country-seat, situate 
on the sea-coast, in the southern part of the Isle of Uist. Mr. 
Macdonald now introduced us to his family ; no words can 
describe the pleasure a traveller feels when, in the midst of 
these retired and wild countries, he finds himself, as if by 
enchantment, transported into the most amiable and elegant 
society, where he might imagine himself at the extremity of the 
world, and far from every vestige of civilization. These are 
contrasts which particularly strike the stranger who travels 
through the Hebrides. For upwards of six weeks the inmates 
of Kilbride-Househad received no intelligence from the rest of 
the world ; thus we had many public events to relate, of which, 
but for our accidental arrival, they would for a time have 
remained in ignorance. The want of communication with the 
mother-country, is, perhaps, the greatest inconvenience ex- 
perienced by the resident proprietors, and in no place is this 
inconvenience more felt than in this portion of Long Island, 
■where, for want of regular packet-boats, a person may be 
{several months in succession without the arrival either of let- 
ters or friends. As a proof how far the inhabitants of the He- 
brides are in arrear for news, we could not find, during the whole 
of our journey, a newspaper of a later date than that which 
appeared in Edinburgh, on the evening of my departure from 
that city. 

The country surrounding Kilbride-] louse is perhaps one of 
the most barren and uninteresting to be met with; there are no 
trees, and hardly any verdure; scarcely any thin-;- is to be 
seen but rocks and Bands; yet, notwithstanding, thanks to (he 
sea, we there enjoyed an interesting prospect. At the west, we 



Saussure^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 59 



"O 



saw the unbounded ocean, as no land rises between this island 
and the continent of America. At the south, the strait of 
Eriskay appears like a large river strewed with rocks and 
isles; beyond this rises the Isle of Barra, and several other 
small islands of sand, among which, that surmounted by the 
venerable ruins of the ancient Castle of Weavers, is particularly 
to be remarked. In fine, at a short distance from the house, 
we could see, at the east and at a distance, the Isle of Canua, 
and those of Rum and Sky, with their bold and picturesque 
mountains. Thus a residence in these wild places still pre- 
sents to the lover of nature many sites capable of inspiring his 
rapture and admiration. 

September 19th. We travelled through the Isle of Uist, in 
order to reach Benbecula, and during a route of nearly twenty- 
one miles, we scarcely saw more than three or four villages, or 
rather assemblages of poor huts, so thinly is this large island 
peopled. In fact, a surface of twenty-one miles in length, and 
nine in breadth, contains only 2500 inhabitants. Of all the 
Hebrideans, these islanders are the wildest, and civilization ap- 
pears to have made but little progress among them. They 
only speak Gaelic, and do not understand a word of English. 
They still preserve all the customs, manners, and superstitions 
of the ancient Highlanders. The women wear the ancient cos- 
tume, which I did not meet with elsewhere. It consists of a 
short petticoat of grey woollen, similar in shape to the High- 
land kilt, or to the short petticoat of the female peasants of 
Gougisberg, in Switzerland. Their feet and knees are naked, 
and the calves of their legs are covered with pieces of grey 
woollen stockings. The upper part of the body is clothed 
with a mantle or bodice, and above that they wear a small 
cloak of striped stuff of various colours. This dress is not 
altogether unbecoming, and would suit handsome women ex- 
tremely well. The women of South-Uist have not how- 
ever a single fine feature ; their coarse faces appear dis- 
coloured by labour, whilst the greater part w r ear their flat and 
greasy hair hanging in long bunches over their foreheads and 
shoulders.* 



* The lower class of Highlanders are generally ugly, the characteristic traits 
of their figure are projecting cheek-bones, and clearness of the eyes and hair ; 
their physiognomy is in general fine and intelligent. With the exception of 
the inhabitants of certain vallies, famed for the beauty of their figure, the 
Highlanders are of small stature, but they are well proportioned, and their 
limbs are nervous and vigorous; those of the higher classes, particularly 
the females, in the beauty of their figure and complexion present a striking 
contrast to the ugliness of the peasants. One might believe that they were 
two distinct races. The very different kind of life of the two classes is per- 
haps the cause of this contrast in the figure. 



60 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

With this extraordinary plainness, they have, notwith- 
standing, an expression of candour and goodness, which is 
principally shewn in the hospitable reception they give to 
strangers; the reception which our fellow-traveller Mr. Mac- 
dobald met with surprised us. The northern portion of South- 
Uist, as well as Benbeeula, belong to Clanronald, and the in- 
habitants of these isles had never seen either the Laird or his 
brother. Their joy on seeing him cannot be described. As 
they knew he was in the midst of us, they threw themselves be- 
fore him, kissed his hand, surrounded his horse, and those who 
Avere not tall enough to reach his hand, embraced his legs with 
emotion and respect. The arrival of a Clanronald was for 
these, poor people an occasion for a national fete. The pride 
of our English fellow-travellers appeared to revolt at these 
demonstrations, which, according to them, seemed degrading 
to the dignity of man. For my part, 1 only considered them 
as a proof of an ardent and natural testimony of sincere at- 
tachment to a family, which from time immemorial protected, 
and were a blessing to the inhabitants of these districts; con- 
sequently, that respect and consideration which the .Scottish 
nobles formerly enjoyed in the midst of their vassals, did not 
emanate from a servile and interested sentiment, but from that 
profound admiration for the chief of their clans, which the 
parents took care to inspire in the minds of their children from 
their earliest infancy. 

We saw several of the inhabitants on the shore occupied in 
burning sea weeds, in order to extract alkali. For this pur- 
pose, they form in the ground, a square basin, the walls of 
which rise three feet above the soil, and in this basin the com- 
bustion takes place; when it is finished, they move the basin, 
and at the bottom is found a large cake of impure potash, 
mixed with ashes and earth. The sea weeds grow in such 
abundance on the shores of Long Island that, if we may credit 
the country-people, Clanronald derives 20,0001. sterling annu- 
ally from his isles of South-Uist and Benbeeula, by the sale of 
potash. A ton of impure potash sells at five pounds. 

We crossed, in a fishing-boat, the strait which separates South- 
Uist from Benbeeula, and repaired to the house of Clanronald, 
u fine modern building situate on the banks of the sea, and 
then inhabited by the steward. We could perceive from Clan- 
ronald's house, and about live miles to the westward of Ben- 
beeula, the small Isle of Incb-Na-Monich rising above the 
waters. From the top of the hills of Benbeeula, the famous 
St. Kilda may be seen, on a clear day, but the sky being covered 
wiU) thick foga we made do attempt to discern it. St Kilda, 
a small island, or rather a .high and steep rock, lies sixty miles 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 61 

to the west of Benbecula ; it is the westernmost of all the He- 
bridean isles, and is inhabited by a small colony of about 150 
souls, who live there almost without any communication with 
the rest of the globe. 

The perilous seas in these stormy latitudes, the innumera- 
ble difficulties which await vessels landing at the foot of 
those enormous rocks, prevent travellers visiting St. Kilda. I 
should have felt much pleasure in going there, but it would 
have been rashness to have undertaken in autumn a voyage, 
which is even formidable in the finest time of the year. In 
addition to this, we should have been several days at sea be- 
fore we could have reached this island, and it would have been 
necessary to have waited several days more for favourable wea- 
ther to embark; we should then have been obliged to quit our 
vessel, for there is no port in the Isle of St. Kilda, and conse- 
quently we must have trusted ourselves to the waves in an 
open boat, at the risk of seeing the ship which brought us 
driven, by the south-west winds, from the island where we 
should have been detained. 

All these circumstances prevented our visiting St. Kilda, 
which has till lately belonged to the chief of the tribe of Mac- 
leods, who levied there an annual rent, paid in oxen and sea 
birds' feathers, as well as in fish and small cattle ; for the 
simple inhabitants of that island were not aware of the 
use of money. One of these islanders some years ago em- 
barked for the East Indies, where, by his labour and industry, 
he succeeded in acquiring a considerable fortune ; on his return 
to England, his first wish was to re-visit his wild native 
country, and to share the wealth he had acquired among his 
compatriots ; for this purpose he addressed himself to the 
Laird of Macleod, and obtained from him the rock which 
contained all the objects of his affection. This interesting in- 
dividual, now proprietor of St. Kilda, justly commands respect 
and consideration throughout all this part of Scotland, by his 
virtues, and the benefits which he is continually bestowing on 
the companions of his infancy, now become his tenants. 

We quitted the house of Clanronald, to return to Kilbride, 
by the same route which we had followed the evening before ; 
but how great was our astonishment, when, on arriving at the 
southern part of Benbecula, we no longer saw the strait which 
we had the preceding day crossed in a boat. The tide was 
down, and the isles of Uist and Benbecula, formerly separated 
by an arm of the sea, now formed one and the same island. 
This remarkable fact may give an idea of the force and height 
of the tides in these western regions. The same phenomenon 
took place to the north of Benbecula, and the strait which 
separates that island from North-Uist remains also dry during 



62 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

{ow water. Thus, twice in twenty hours, South-Uist, Ben- 
becula, and North-Uist are united, and form only one long 
island ; and twice they are divided into three distinct islands. 

September 23rd. Having passed two days very agreeably 
at Kilbride, we reluctantly quitted the amiable family from 
whom we had experienced such hospitable treatment. The 
weather was foggy, and a violent south-west wind blew in 
squalls : this wind was very favourable to our reaching the 
Isle of Sky, where we intended going in the course of the 
day. At noon we set sail, proceeding at the rate of nine 
miles an hour, and at half-past five we arrived at the foot of 
the enormous rocks which surround the bay called Loch 
Brakadale. This bay is distant sixty miles from the strait of 
Eriskay. It advances some distance into the Isle of Sky, in 
the direction S.SW. and N.NE.; and its breadth, at its en- 
trance, is five miles. The isle to which we were going is 
classic ground ; the name of each rock, mountain, and lake, 
being connected with some fact related in the traditions of 
which the poems of Ossian form a part. Whilst we were 
entangled in this bay, the wind blew with increased violence, 
and we were in danger of running against a small vessel which 
was steering the same course. The master of this vessel 
told us that he came from Balachroi, in the Isle of Mull, 
in search of Mr. Maclean and his family, who were at Ta- 
lisker, and to bring them back to the Isle of Coll. We con- 
gratulated ourselves, on learning that we should still find Mr. 
Maclean at Talisker, and acquaint him wrlh the amiable re- 
ception which we received in his house during his absence. 

On our arrival at a lone house in Talisker, we sent our 
guide before us to solicit hospitality for strangers overtaken 
by the night, and wandering in an unknown country. We antici- 
pated the reply : in fact, we were invited in the politest manner 
into a small neat parlour, where three aged persons, and a youn^ 
man, were seated round a good fire. They hastened to offer us 
seats ; they next brought in tea, wine, and liquors ; and, iu 
truth, supplied us with every thing necessary for our comfort. 
At supper, we had the pleasure of hearing some very interesting 
conversation ; they gave us all the information requisite for 
our journey, entertained us with an account of the Isle of Sky, 
the antiquities and natural curiosities contained in this wild 
and poetic country, and the traditionary poems recited by 
the inhabitants ; they likewise entertained us with some 
amusing anecdotes respecting Dr. .Johnson, whom they very 
well recollected to have seen at the time of his Travels in the 
Hebrides. The anecdotes which we heard, fully justified the 
reputation for rusticity which that great lexicographer had 
acquired. Thus we separated for the night, without their 



11 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 63 

knowing who were the strangers whom they lodged under 
their roof, and without our having once thought of telling 
them. We found excellent beds, and after blessing our ge- 
nerous hosts, we retired to rest. 

September 24//*. At breakfast this morning, we hastened 
to repair our omission of the preceding evening, and to intro- 
duce ourselves to our hosts. The moment I said that I came 
from Switzerland, Mrs. Macleod (our hostess) testified the 
joy which she felt on seeing a native of that country. " For, 
said she to me, " I lived for a long time in Holland with 
my husband, who was colonel of a Scottish regiment in the 
service of that Republic ; and I knew many officers of Swiss 
regiments, with whom those of our regiment were always so 
intimate, that they used to call each other brother moun- 
taineers.* 

September 26th. Mr. Macleod, of Talisker, being informed 
of our arrival in the Isle of Sky, sent horses and a guide to 
conduct us to his house, and after two hours route on wretched 
roads, we arrived at Talisker- House, where we were received, 
(thanks to Mr. Maclean, of Coll, and thanks, above all, to 
Scottish hospitality,) as ancient friends. This fine house, sur- 
rounded with trees, is situated at the bottom of a little valley, 
which opens on the south upon the sea ; the environs are fer- 
tile, and well cultivated ; a small rivulet, which takes its 
rise in the rocky and basaltic hills in the neighbourhood, 
runs, winding around the house, after forming a beautiful cas- 
cade, at the foot of which the road passes. 

During dinner, the piper played, in the hall, on the bag- 
pipes, the Pibrochs, or marches of the tribe of Macleods ; and 
these romantic airs, for. a long time resounded in the vaults of 
the castle of Talisker. 

After taking leave of the amiable family of Talisker, and my 
fellow-travellers, I proceeded as far as the Cullen mountains, 
a name which is derived from the King Cuchullin, sung by 
Ossian, who reigned over the inhabitants of the Isle of Sky. 
I amused myself in the association of these sites with the 
ancient heroes who had once inhabited them, and of the 
bards who sung their exploits. I figured to myself, these in- 
spired poets, walking through the obscure and deep vallies, 



* I have here departed from the ruL», which I laid down, never to introduce 
the public into the domestic concerns of those families who received me into 
their houses; but the pleasure which I feel in making my countrymen par- 
take of the emotion which was excited in my breast by this amiable reception, 
given to a Swiss, will, I hope, serve as an apology ; it was besides, an occasion 
tor showing the true Scottish hospitality in all its perfection. 



64 Saussure*s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

their imagination revelling amidst these imposing scenes, and 
thinking they saw in the mists and light clouds which fly 
around these high mountains, the departed spirits of their 
forefathers and. heroes, still wandering near the places where 
they had long dwelt. It was an interesting task for me, to 
trace, in a country which presents such striking and sublime 
traits, the germs of poetry so strongly characteristic of its 
finest features. 

I continued my route, reflecting with regret that I was the 
next day to quit the interesting ground of the Hebrides : those 
islands which had afforded me so many hours of real enjoy- 
ment, and where I had found in all subjects, and above all, 
in objects of natural history, food more than sufficient for 
my curiosity. I regretted the more leaving those honest 
islanders who had received me so well, all of whom obliged 
me according to their means, constantly anxious to anticipate 
my wishes, and who, by their hospitality, succeeded in 
smoothing all the difficulties incident to foreigners in such 
wild, districts. I reflected with much satisfaction on what I 
had seen, and on what I had accomplished; I also felt, that 
had time and the season allowed me, I should have been 
able to have seen much more, and to have rendered these 
travels much more complete ; I lamented having been de- 
tained by the wind eight days, in the Isle of Coll, and five in 
the Isle of Eigg, whilst I could not stop in the Isle of Sky, 
which presents so many interesting objects hitherto undescribed. 
But the fine season was over, the continual rains of autumn, 
and the tempests, would have rendered my return dangerous, 
if not impracticable. The family of Mr. Maclean, of Coll, 
acknowledged to me the prudence of my departure, and only 
those remained in the isle who intended to pass the winter. 

Plunged in these reflections, I arrived, on a very dark 
night, at a lone house on the banks of the sea, which was 
called " Sconser Inn." Here I found a good fire, a neat 
chamber, an obliging host, and a good supper. 

September 21. My host, being informed by my guide of 
my intention of returning to the mother country, prepared a 
small fishing-boat, provided with two boatmen. The weather 
being calm, we set sail, and coasted along the northern shores 
of the Isle of .Sky. The sun was advancing towards the 
horizon, and with no small degree of sorrow, I saw the moment 
which was about to terminate my last navigation in the At- 
lantic Ocean. With painful emotion I bade a last adieu to the 
Hebrides, from which I was removing, probably, for ever; 
and, on quitting them, I implored heaven, with my most sin- 
cere prayers, for the happiness and prosperity of their worthy 
inhabitants. 



Saitssure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 6§ 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Author's Observations on the Manners and Customs of 

the Scottish Highlanders. 

The isolated state in which the Highlanders of Scotland 
have lived until the middle of the last century, — the little con- 
nexion which they have kept up with the rest of Europe, and 
even with the other parts of Great Britain, — their position in 
the midst of mountains, and in islands separated from the 
rest of the world by stormy seas, — are all circumstances pe- 
culiar to this nation, which have prevented it following the 
various gradations of civilization through which every country 
in Europe has successively passed. — In a region almost un- 
known, or at least forgotten by the rest of the world ; — in a. 
country which had never been subjected to the conquests, nor 
convulsed by the revolutions which have at various times 
changed the face of other countries, we should not be surprised 
to find that the manners, the customs, their ancient language, 
should have been preserved almost without any alteration, and 
transmitted from generation to generation, for ages, until the 
present day. 

The origin of the state of things in the Highlands at thai 
epoch, when by the suppression of a general rebellion the 
English power was definitively established in this country, is 
lost in the womb of time. In comparing the most ancient 
writers on this people, with the state of civilization, manners, 
and customs of these Highlanders at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, we are struck with the few changes which 
a lapse of many centuries has produced in their social economy. 
Whilst events, as general as they were striking, by their con- 
sequences, have divided the history of every country in Europe 
into three precise periods, known under the names of Ancient 
and Modern History, and that of the Middle Ages ; the people 
who inhabit the northern extremity of Great Britain reckon no 
more than two distinct periods, viz. their Ancient History, the 
beginning of which is lost in antiquity, and terminates at the 
gFeat revolution which that country experienced in 1745 ; and 
their Modern History, which is only begun, and which has, 
before the lapse even of a century, already presented the 
picture of changes, as astonishing as they are rapid, in the 
political and moral constitution of the country- 
It may be supposed, however, that the introduction of Chris- 
tianity in the sixth century of our era, and the Reformation 
adopted in the sixteenth century, must have been events oi 
Voyages and Travels. No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. k 



66 Salts sure' s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

sufficient importance to have considerably influenced the 
destiny and social state of these warlike people. We find, 
nevertheless, that the Reformation changed nothing in their 
civil and political organization, nor in the reciprocal relations 
of the chiefs and vassals. The domains belonging to the 
churches and convents experienced no more from that great 
revolution than a change of masters, without any thing new 
being introduced into their administration. From such an ex- 
ample, it is very probable, that the transition from Paganism, 
or the religion of the Druids, to Christianity, did not modify 
in a more marked manner the political state of the people ; we 
are besides ignorant of what they were before receiving the 
light of the gcspel, and consequently we cannot form an idea 
of the effect which the introduction of the Christian religion 
produced among them. The most ancient historical documents 
do not go farther back than that epoch ; and the times which 
preceded it may be regarded as the heroic and fabulous ages 
of Caledonian history. 

One single remarkable event appears distinctly in the 
obscurity of these remote ages ; viz. the vigorous and suc- 
cessful resistance which these warlike and savage tribes op- 
posed to the formidable armies of the Roman emperors. 
But Tacitus, who has transmitted to us the history of these 
wars, does not throw much light on the government, manners, 
and language of those hordes of barbarians, of whom he 
appears to have had but a very imperfect knowledge ; — hordes, 
which always resisting every conquest and invasion until the 
year 1745, preserved their independence and national character. 
We cannot, in fact, consider as a conquest the kind of homage 
which the Hebrides for some time rendered to the crown of 
Norway, as the interior state of the country does not appear to 
have experienced any revolution on that occasion, and as the 
Norwegian viceroy was generally some powerful Hebridean 
chief. The Danes, during their frequent incursions into the 
Lowlands of Scotland, sometimes passed the limits of the dis- 
trict of mountains; but they did not establish themselves, nor 
were they able to penetrate into the centre of these regions, at 
that time almost inaccessible. 

The uniform accordance between the earliest historians, 
until the middle of the last century, proves the unchanged man- 
ners and character of the Highlanders during a long succession 
of ages. Solinus and Isodorus, writers of the Lower Empire, 
represent the Scots as a warlike nation, frugal, inured to fatigue 
and privations, passionately fond of warlike games and the 
chace, and unceasingly taking up arms against their neighbours 
of the plain and the southern countries. Jean de Forduu, who 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 67 

wrote in the fourteenth century, has, as we have already said, 
judiciously distinguished the two different races who inhabit the 
High and the Low Lands of Scotland, and he has characterized 
that of the Highlanders by striking traits, which are also to be 
found in the description given by Buchanan in the sixteenth 
century, and in that of Pennant and more recent authors. The 
greater part of these traits are evident to the traveller even at 
this day, notwithstanding the great changes which have taken 
place at the epoch of the last rebellion. 

Wishing to give an idea of the social and political existence, 
and of the customs of this remarkable people, which until 
lately were but very imperfectly known, I have consulted 
Buchanan, Pennant, and an English Engineer, who in " Let- 
ters written from the North of Scotland towards the year 
1730," has given the most circumstantial details on the manners 
of the Highlanders. To these historical documents I have 
joined all the information which I have collected on this sub- 
ject, and my own observations on the mountains and islands, 
where the inhabitants still religiously preserve the habits of 
their forefathers. We shall, therefore, designate this people by 
the name of Gael, by which they are styled in their own lan- 
guage: they were called by the Romans, Caledonians ; by the 
historians of the middle ages, Scots; and by the English, 
Highlanders. 

Much dispute has already arisen on the origin of this people, 
but the most ancient historians agree that the Highlands were 
first peopled by a colony from a foreign country. Still, on this 
important question, a variety of opinions have been raised, at- 
tacked and defended with so much the more ardour, on the 
one side and the other, as the subject was obscure, and as no 
certain document could guide the historian through the dark- 
ness which envelopes these ancient times. For want of monu- 
ments, annals, or medals, some have had recourse to traditions, 
others have employed their own imaginations, and have formed 
the most absurd hypotheses, of which the following may be 
considered a specimen. It is said, that a certain Dioclesian, 
King of Syria, had thirty-three daughters, and that these 
daughters having killed their husbands on the day of their 
nuptials, were put by their father into a boat, and driven by 
the winds as far as the coast of Great Britain, an island at that 
time deserted, or inhabited only by evil spirits. From the 
union of these women with the demons was born a race of 
giants, who also 'inhabited the whole island, until the time 
when a certain man named Brutus, a descendant of ^Eneas, 
arrived there. This Brutus had involuntarily killed his father 
with a spade, and being obliged to quit his native country, he 



68 Sausxurv's royage to the Hebrides. 

was, by the advice of the oracle of Diana, confided to the sea 
and the winds, in order to find a near country. Having arrived 
in Britain after a voyage of ten years, and followed by a host 
of companions, he drove away the giants, and portioned out 
the island among his three sons, giving to Albanactus, Scotland ; 
to Cambrus, Wales; and to Locrinus the rest of the island, or 
England. It is impossible, on reading this tissue of absurdities, 
to conceive that au historian of good sense could seriously give 
to the world and defend such an opinion. 

Some. authors, abandoning the mythological and marvellous 
part, have lessened the absurdity of the tale. They have sup- 
posed that a colony of Egyptians, conducted by a chief named 
Gathel or Galyel, husband of Scota, daughter of the King of 
P^gypt, alter having embarked on the Mediterranean, visited 
the coast of Africa and the great islands of Italy ; and having 
passed the straits of Gibraltar, were established in Portugal, at 
that time a desart, the name of which, according to them, sig- 
nifies the Port of Galyel ; that Iber Scota, son of Galyel an ! 
Scota, disdaining a state of idleness, obtained permission from 
his father to take with him part of the colony, and arrived in 
Ireland ; and that, from thence, after a certain lapse of time, a 
part of the new inhabitants spread by the north of the island 
into the Hebrides and the western mountains of Scotland, which 
were not yet peopled, but were not long in being so, owing to 
new emigrations from the north of Ireland. 

Buchanan, Camden, and in fine, Gibbon, have supposed that 
the Gaels, as well as the other inhabitants of Great Britain, 
came originally from the Gauls; they are supported in this 
opinion by the connexion of manners and Language which 
exists between the Gaels and the ancient Gauls or Celtes. 
Allowing this idea to be probable, still in so difficult a matter 
we ought neither to be too hasty in forming an opinion, nor 
decide too peremptorily. The examination which we are about 
to make of the manners of the Gaels will furnish us^ith sonic 
interesting peculiarities of their connexion with certain cus- 
toms of the ancient people of the East; without pretending 
that such coincidences are sufficiently multiplied to authorize 
us to consider them as proofs, these resemblances are striking 
enough to d< s«rve consideration by those who, from Ik no forth, 
undertake the laborious and difficult task of elucidating the 

origin of the Gaels. Considering then the ancient tradition 
of the first inhabitants of this country having arrived from the 
East, and of the analogy of the Gaelic language to the Hebrew 
and other Eastern Languages, the opinion of those n ho consider 
Scotland to have been originally peopled by colonies of Gauls, 
still merits notice, in estimating the history of the pretended 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 69 

Gathel and Scota, as an allegory, destined to transmit by tra- 
dition the remembrance of the successive emigrations of the 
great nation of the Celtes, originally from the East, and to 
which the Gauls and the Gaels equally belonged. 

1 shall not pretend to engage in this labyrinth of discussion, 
nor shall I endeavour to decide which of the populations 
of Scotland and Ireland owes its origin to the other, a question 
some time debated between the antiquaries of both countries, 
and to which a national selfishness has attached much exag- 
geration and importance. 

Assimilated as they are by their geographical position, as 
well as by their manners and their language, the latter cf which 
can scarcely be considered a different dialect from the other, 
these two nations were for some time considered as compatriots, 
and equally belonging to the race of the Gaels : they are still 
distinguished in the Gaelic language as Gaels Albmich, or 
Gaels of Scotland, and Gaels Eirinich, or Gaels of Ireland. 
The name of Scotland was even in the middle ages given 
equally to the two countries; Ireland was called Great Scot- 
land to distinguish it from Little Scotland, which still preserves 
its name. 

This question appears to me so much the more idle, as in all 
times communications have existed between the north of Ire- 
land and the west of Scotland, by that chain of islands so near 
each other which extend between the two countries ; and as no 
monument nor any historical document can ever throw light on 
the successive emigrations which might have taken place from 
one coast to the other, we may interminably discuss this point 
of history. One of the principal characteristic traits which 
distinguishes the Gaels from all the people of Europe, is the 
interior and political regime which reigned among them. 
They were divided into a certain number of clans or tribes, 
each of which had its chief, and which were considered as 
forming communities, and almost small independent states. 

The name of clan in Gaelic signifies family or children. In 
short, all the members of the same clan bear the same name, and 
these names, ordinarily preceded by the word Mac, signifying 
son, seem to indicate still better that they all descended from one 
common stock : thus the Macdonalds were the sons of Donald ; 
the Macgregors the sons of Gregor, &c. The chiefs of these 
tribes or families were considered as descending in a direct Jine 
from the common stock, and representing the elder branch ; 
and the poorest, the lowest of the clan, boast of belonging to 
the chief by a degree of parentage more or less remote. This 
form of government, which may be called patriarchal, h?3 
given the people character, habits, and a manner of living 
altogether peculiar. 



70 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

The relations which existed between the chiefs and the mem- 
bers of the same clan imposed upon them reciprocal duties and 
obligations. To honour and love their chief, as their common 
father, as the representative of the gr*:at family, as the most 
ancient and the greatest of the name, was the first precept given 
by the parents to their children. In exalting the chief they 
knew it was raising the lustre of the family ; and as one of the 
greatest titles of glory for the poorer tribes was to be allied by 
blood to the powerful lord who marched at their head, they 
felt that the more they surrounded with honour and respect him 
who governed them by right of primogeniture, the more it 
would reflect eclat on the whole family, and on every indi- 
vidual composing it. The same sentiments induced them to 
show consideration and respect for the subaltern chiefs of the 
various branches which composed the clan. 

Thus their attachment was cemented : each man was always 
ready to shed his blood, to give his life, for the sake of his 
chief, for the honour of his tribe, and for the defence of each 
of its members. The most perfect obedience and confidence in 
their lord, was regarded as one of the most sacred and one of 
the greatest duties. The chief consequently possessed an un- 
limited authority over his tribe ; and if any one refused follow- 
ing him to battle, or to pay him the rent and taxes which he 
imposed at will in certain circumstances, that man dearly ex- 
piated his disobedience, being exposed to the severest treatment, 
and sometimes even scouted from the clan by common consent. 
To swear by the chief of the clan was one of the most so- 
lemn oaths among the Gaels, and the meanest individual of the 
tribe considered himself as personally insulted, if he heard any 
epithet in the least injurious to his chief: such an offence could 
only be effaced by blood. Similar provocations caused in- 
cessant quarrels among the neighbouring tribes. To demand of 
a Highlander the name of his chief, and thus to intimate to 
him that he had none, was the most pointed affront, and the 
anger caused by such an injury could only be atoned for by 
the life of the aggressor. On the other hand, the chief in some 
measure depended on the members of his clan for protection 
against every foreign aggression ; an insult given to the mean- 
est individual of the tribe w r as resented by the whole, as an 
outrage on the honour of the name and family : thus, the chief 
espoused all the quarrels of his subordinates, whatever was the 
justice of the cause. For the same reason, he would never 
sutler any foreign jurisdiction to pursue an individual of his 
clan. Powerful chiefs have often been known not only to re- 
fuse Scotlish officers of justice permission to seize those of 

(heir comrades who had manifestly hern guilty of some of- 
fence, but to make part and cause for them, and afford every 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 71 

defence in their power, without considering the nature of the 
offence of which they were accused. 

When one of his vassals was reduced to misery (which fre- 
quently took place in a country where the soil could not sup- 
port one half of the inhabitants, who were likewise unac- 
customed to labour) the chief was bound to provide for his 
subsistence; also, when expedient, he frequently remitted his 
poor farmers the rent of their farms, and their arrears. 

Liberality and hospitality towards the members of his 
tribe were indispensable qualities to the chief of a clan. In 
his ancient castle he had always a spacious hall, where several 
times in the course of the year he assembled all the men 
capable of bearing arms, and invited them to a grand festival. 
On such an occasion, when seated at the head of a long table, 
covered with rich viands, and surrounded by his nearest re- 
latives and inferior chiefs, he presided with becoming dignity 
at the banquet, at once patriarchal and military, where all the 
guests were armed and clad in the national costume, the colour 
of which being uniform among all those of the same name, in- 
dicated the tribe. Those of an inferior rank, who could find 
no place at the table of the chief, were equally well provided 
for at other tables; in fine, the poorest classes were admitted 
into the courts of the castle, and received a distribution of 
victuals. The whiskey flowed in great abundance, and the 
noisy sounds of the bagpipe re-echoed the warlike marches of 
the clan. The bards sung in extempore verses the exploits of 
their ancestors, the famed deeds of their tribe, and the praise of 
their lord and master. Such fetes contributed not a little to 
strengthen the attachment between the chief and his vassals, 
and to maintain the ardour which was excited for the honour 
and glory of the clan. 

With the view of inspiring still more consideration in their 
subordinates, and of maintaining their rank around the chiefs 
of other clans, as w^ell as of exalting their pride, already flat- 
tered by the testimonies of respect and admiration which they 
received, these petty princes were fond of being surrounded by 
a certain kind of court or suite. Each of them had his staff 
or body guards, Luichtach, which he chose from among the 
most robust and the most devoted of his clan. 

When he undertook an excursion to the mountains, or paid 
a visit to some chief of equal rank, he was followed by a cor- 
tege of officers, attached to his person, and charged with vari- 
ous duties; this suit was composed as follows: 

1st. The Henchman, or Squire. 
2d. The Bard, or Poet. 



12 Saussvre's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

3d. The Piper, or Player oa the Eagpipe. 

4th. The Bladier, or Orator. 

6th. The Gilliemore, who carried bis Sword. 

6th. The Gi/lie-Casflue, who bore the Chief on his shoulders 

when he had to ford the rivers. 
7th. The Gillie- Co mstraine, who conducted his horse in 

dangerous roads. 
8th. The Gillie- Trushanamich, who carried the baggage. 
9th. Lastly, the Pipers-Gillie, a boy who carried the bagpipe. 

The Henchman was the confidential officer; he was ordi- 
narily the foster-brother of the Chief, and filled this honourable 
place in consideration of the services of his mother, and on 
account of his education, which had been more carefully at- 
tended to, the foster-brother being generally educated with the 
young Laird. The Henchman was at the same time ft kind of 
secretary, and superintended over the personal safety of his 
master, whom he never quitted during the repast, but was 
ready to risk his life, in case of attack or insult. 

An English engineer, who first published these interesting 
details on the private life of the Highland Chiefs, relates the 
following trait, as an instance of the attachment of these 
Squires to their masters. An English officer dined one day 
with a Chief, and some other Highland gentlemen: after 
drinking freely of whiskey, the conversation grew warm ; the 
young Henchman, who stood behind the chair of the Chief, 
not understanding English, and imagining that the officer in- 
sulted his master, seized his pistol, and presented it at the 
head of the stranger, who owed his life entirely to chance, 
the pistol having missed fire. 

The Bard, or Poet, was generally charged with the instruction 
of the young Laird. He was also required to amuse the Chief 
while he was at table, by singing or reciting poems composed 
often extempore in honour of the Chief; he also repeated 
poems which were composed by his predecessors to celebrate 
the ancestors of his master, or preserve the recollection of 
memorable epochs in the history of his tribe. The poets also 
sang ancient verses to perpetuate the memory of the exploits 
of Fingal and his heroes. — Those fine poems collected by Mac- 
pherson have been justly admired throughout Europe; they 
were transmitted also from Hard to Bard, during a long suc- 
cession of generations, and served to give, or maintain a taste 
for fine poetry, which harmonized with the features of this 
mountainous country, and to the lively spirit of this chivalrous 
race. The exploits of the ancient Caledonian heroes, com- 
memorated in verses full of poetic fire, were associated with 



Saussure's Voyage to fhe Hebrides. 73 

the names of Fingal, Ossian, and Oscar, in the meanest cabins, 
and such recollections inspired the descendants of these for- 
midable warriors with a love of glory, and language full of 
imagination and poetry ; all which distinguished them from 
the rest of the vassals and peasantry throughout Europe. 

The Piper was also one of the great officers of the Chief, 
and he paid no rent for his farm : this office was often heredi- 
tary in the same family. There were, in the Isle of Sky, two 
famous schools where the candidates for this place learned to 
play on the bagpipe. — One of the privileges attached to the 
office of Piper was to accompany the eldest son of the Laird 
in his travels. The Piper was required to know all appro- 
priate airs ; to play when the Chief was at table, and when he 
sailed in a boat on tke sea, or on the lakes; he accompanied 
him also to battle, and his music was heard at the funerals; 
for the bagpipe, the national instrument among the Gaels, was 
heard in all the principal scenes of life, whether in rousing 
the courage of the warriors, or enlivening the festivals, or lastly, 
in honouring the memory of the dead, and mingling its plain- 
tive sounds in the funeral ceremonies with the mournful airs of 
the Coronach. 

Besides this cortege of officers particularly attached to the 
person of the Chief, a numerous suite of gentlemen of his 
tribe, his nearest relations, as well as a host of persons of in- 
ferior rank, generally accompanied him in his travels. He 
was much pleased with this parade, which tended to raise his 
rank and importance in the eyes of his dependents. 

Vanity was not however the only, nor even the principal 
motive which induced the Scottish Chiefs to place the greatest 
value in having so great a number of vassals ; the frequent 
feuds among the neighbouring clans, the repeated rebellions 
against the sovereign authority of the kingdom, in which the 
greater part of the Chiefs were involved, an ancient passion 
for arms, — all obliged them constantly to be in warfare, and to 
be surrounded by a trained force. The value of a domain in 
the mountains was estimated less at that time, from fhe pecu- 
niary revenue which could be derived from if, than from the 
number of men capable of bearing arms, whom the proprietor 
could maintain with their families. 

Every thing was disposed and calculated in advance for a 
state of war. The Chiefs inhabited castles flanked with towers 
surmounted with battlements, and capable of resisting a long 
siege. They kept a guard there, and men were posted on the 
summit of the towers, to watch night and day, in case of an 
attack. They could thus in a few hours collect all the war- 
Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. l 



74 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

riors of their clan, to oppose Ihem to the enemy, or conduct 
them on an expedition. 

When there was occasion for putting all the men under 
arms, the Chief caused the fire-cross, (crois taradJi) to be dis- 
played, an appropriate signal on such an occasion: it was a 
cross of wood, the extremities of which had been burnt, and 
afterwards extinguished in the blood of a goat sacrificed for 
the purpose. A faithful and diligent messenger was charged 
to carry this signal of alarm in all haste to the neighbouring 
hamlets; he remitted it to the most considerable person of the 
place, and also acquainted him with the place of rendezvous: 
the latter lost not an instant in transmitting, by another mes- 
senger, the cross and the watchword to a more distant hamlet ; 
thus the notice of general danger was sent from village to 
village, and from cottage to cottage, and the command of the 
Chief circulated with incredible rapidity throughout his terri- 
tory, and even among the neighbouring and allied clans, when 
the same dangers menaced them, or when the expedition was 
made in concert with them. This method, by its great promp- 
titude, had the advantage of mystery, so necessary among a 
people where the great art of war consisted principally in sur- 
prises and sudden attacks. The moment the fire-cross ap- 
peared in a hamlet, the inhabitants ran to arms, and ranged 
themselves under the orders of their subaltern chiefs ; they then 
repaired by the shortest road to Carn-an-Mhuinn, the general 
place of arms for all the warriors of the tribe. 

bivery man, from the age of sixteen to sixty years, was 
obliged to obey this summons; the signal which called them 
indicated the fate that awaited them in case of refusal. The 
designation of the "cross of shame" threatened them with being 
abandoned to infamy, and that of the cross of fire, with being 
exposed to see the enemy carry fire and sword into their country, 
if they preferred disgraceful inactivity to the honour of follow- 
ing their Chief and their clan to battle. But among a people of 
such warlike habits, such threats were unnecessary to excite 
their ardour and courage; since the invitation to arm and to 
march was always received by the brave Gaels with transport. 
The last time the fire-cross appeared on the mountains of 
Scotland was in 1745: in this manner the clans assembled 
which were to be conducted by Prince Charles Stuart to re- 
place James III. on the throne of his ancestors. This signal 
in three hours passed through all the district of Breadalbane, 
the extent of which is thirty-three miles. The celebrated Sir 
Walter Scott assures us, that Mr. Stuart of Invernahyle, has 
been heard to say, that at the epoch of this rebellion he had 



Saussure^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 75 

passed the fire-cross in the district of Appin, the coasts of 
which were at that time menaced by two English frigates, and 
that notwithstanding the absence of the flower of his clan, then in 
England with the army of Prince Charles Edward, the old men 
and children ran in such numbers, and were animated by such 
enthusiasm, that the English were obliged to renounce their 
project of disembarking. 

I have already alluded to the picturesque effect produced 
by a Gaelic army, with its ancient costume, and the lively and 
brilliant colours which distinguish the clans. I ought now to 
give some details on the dress of the Gaels, and their various 
arms. It appears that in the most ancient times the High- 
landers had ouly for their whole clothing a large plaid or 
breach-dan^ viz. a piece of woollen stuff, eight or nine ells 
long, which covered their whole body, descending down to 
the knees, and was tied round the waist by a leathern belt ; 
this clothing, which they named feile mhor, resembled the 
Roman tunic, or the dress of certain oriental nations ; they 
found it, however, more convenient to divide it into distinct 
pieces, and from thence is derived the actual costume of the 
Scottish Highlanders. It consists of a kilt or feile bheag, 
which comes from the waist to the top of the knee, a waist- 
coat and a jacket, all made of tartan, a light woollen stuff 
similar to the camlet. This stuff is of various colours, ac- 
cording to their tribes. The upper parts of the legs are naked; 
they wear half stockings of a red and white stripe, and cuaran, 
or brogues, coarsely made of cow leather, with the hair on the 
outside. At present they wear shoes. The sporan is a purse 
made of goat's, or sea-calf's skin, with the hair outside, and or- 
namented with tassels. This purse is worn before the kilt, and 
is tied by a leathern strap round the waist. 

The breach dan , or plaid, wsa preserved to use as a man- 
tle; they wrapped themselves up in it to screen them from the 
cold, or rain, and during fine weather they threw it over the 
shoulder. The head was covered with a small bonnet of blue 
cloth, of a cylindrical form. The Chiefs were distinguished 
by a single feather from an eagle's wing, with which they 
adorned their bonnets. They have since substituted a black 
ostrich feather. 

The arms of the Gaels formed part of their costume, as they 
always wore them: these arms were offensive and defensive. 
To judge of them by the figures of warriors, sculptured on the 
tombs of Dalmally and lona, the iron helmet was in use 
among these people, and Buchanan tells us, that they also 
wore cuirasses ; but these means of defence were abandoned 
soon after the invention of fire arms, and they have only pre- 



16 Saussiires Voyage to the Hebrides, 

served the target id, (target) a little round buckler, made of 
light wood covered with leather, and generally bordered with 
a band of brass or iron. They often placed a point in the 
centre of it, and the leather was covered with heads of gilt 
nails. The buckler was worn during the march, suspended 
behind the left shoulder, and during action it served to cover 
the front of the left arm. They made use of it in 1745. The 
Gaels employed also, until the end of the seventeenth century, 
the bow and arrows with bearded points, (very dangerous 
arms, by the deep wounds which they made) as well as the 
formidable battle-axe, named tockaber. 

The claymore, (claidh-more) a large two-handled sword, 
similar to that worn by the ancient Swiss, was particularly 
formidable in the hands of the robust and warlike Gaels: it is 
often mentioned in their poetry, and in the description of their 
battles. 

They attach to their waists a long poignard, or dirk, which 
they hold in one hand to parry the blows of their adversaries' 
swords, whilst with the other they attack with the broad sword. 
This sword, smaller than the claymore, was in use a consider- 
able time; the Scottish regiments in the service of England 
are still armed with it at this day. A steel or brass guard, of 
beautiful workmanship, encircled the handles, and protected 
the hand from the blows of the enemy. The Highlanders 
wielded their arms with remarkable adroitness; and besides the 
dirk, a steel pistol was usually suspended from the waist.* 

Every time I have seen a Highlander thus armed and 
clothed, 1 have been struck with the fine air, military gait, 
and picturesque appearance of such a costume ; but a similar 
spectacle becomes every day more rare at present. The 
country people, who alone habitually wear this ancient dress, 
have rarely the costume complete ; they are often seen clad with 
the tartan kilt, the colour of their clan, with a waistcoat and 
jacket of the same colour. They frequently exchange the bon- 
net for a hat, and, besides, carry no arms. The Scottish sol- 
diers have also altered their original costume; they have 
changed the dress of their tribe for the English red uniform, 
and have covered their bonnets with a mass of black feathers, 
which resemble those of the grenadiers. 

The Chiefs of the clans, now reduced to the rank of manor 
proprietors, have altogether thrown aside the Scottish costume: 
a few still wear it in the country, being more convenient for 
hunting. They formerly knew how to derive advantage from 

* It is curious to remark, that the Albanians, the Egyptians* and other 
eastern nations, carry at this day the same arms. 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 77 

this imposing costume, by displaying in their clothing both 
taste and richness, which made them advantageously dis- 
tinguished. They ornamented their sporans, dirks, and pistols, 
with gold, silver, and precious stones, fastened their plaids 
with rich clasps, and used silk stuffs for their colours instead of 
woollen, w T orn by their inferiors. In this manner they ap- 
peared at the court of Holyrood, and even at St. James's, 
when their country was united to England. Sometimes in 
place of the kilt they wore large tartan trowsers, called trews. 

When the clans were led on to battle, the bagpipes at their 
head animated the soldiers, by playing the ancient marches 
which had conducted their forefathers to victory ; — the attack 
was then terrible. After a discharge of fire-arms, the High- 
landers threw away their pistols ; then unloosing their plaids, 
they attacked sword in hand, and rushed upon the enemy like 
a furious torrent. Each Chief had his watch-word, which was 
repeated by the w T hole clan, and mixed with inarticulate 
clamours. The watch-w T ord of the Grants was Craig- Alachie, 
the name of a high mountain, which rose in the middle of their 
district; that of the Mackenzies, w^as Tulachard, the name also 
of an eminence in the county of Ross ; and the watch-word of the 
Macdonalds was Fraoch, signifying a heath, and likewise rage 
and fury. The chiefs had also their particular banners, on 
which were represented the arms of the family. 

The clans were almost always at war against each other : 
ancient feuds between the tribes, the rivalry of different 
chiefs, depredations committed by some clan on the terri- 
tory of another, were motives for taking up arms ; but a sin- 
gle combat did not terminate these quarrels, as the hatred was 
handed down from generation to generation, and the cause of 
the chiefs w T as warmly defended by their meanest vassals ; 
from thence arose not only general wars among the clans, 
but quarrels not less bloody and sanguinary among individuals. 
Hereditary resentment became matured in the tribes ; the 
Macdonalds were enemies of the Campbells ; the Macintoshes 
of the Mackays, &c. ; and the different parties which the 
chiefs of the various Scottish clans embraced in the long 
struggle of the Stuarts, if they were not the eSect of previous 
animosities, served at least still to envenom the ancient ani- 
mosity. The history of all these petty wars, of those victo- 
ries so warmly claimed even at this day by the divers tribes, 
must be familiar to those w r ho know the places and the Gaelic 
people ; but this history would not attract general attention 
so much as it shows the spirit of the people and of those times. 

The reader has been able to judge, by the traits which 
I have quoted in another part of this work, such as the mas- 



78 Saussures Foyage to the Hebrides. 

sacreof the Scholars of Dumbarton by the Macgregors, and 
the horrible destruction which the Macleods committed on 
the unfortunate inhabitants of the Isle of Eigg, to what a 
point of ferocity and barbarity these savage people some- 
times carried their hatred and vengeance. Among such 
excesses, I was astonished to meet with traits of generosity, 
disinterestedness, and grandeur of soul, which would do ho- 
nour to the most civilized nations. There existed among the 
various clans a kind of national law, which, however im- 
perfect, was not less an efficacious barrier to that devastation, 
which would have been committed by a mass of men who 
recognized no other right than that of the strongest, and 
no other law than their caprice and their passions. This 
common law, which was neither recorded, nor ratified by the 
parties interested, was however very scrupulously observed. 

The Scottish chiefs, like the European princes, had no 
right to invade the territory of the neighbouring tribes, with- 
out preceding their hostilities by a declaration of war. They 
even, rather than disturb the harmony among the tribes, 
treated at first in an amicable manner; similar negociations 
are still preserved, as well as treaties of peace made between 
the chiefs of the clans, which have altogether the form and 
the style of those of sovereign princes. 

Whilst, by these contracts, the Gaels showed the good 
sense, peace, and brotherhood, which reigned among them, 
they did not in return extend the benefits of similar institu- 
tions to their neighbours and countrymen, the Scots of the 
plain, or Lowlanders, whom they always considered as 
strangers, new comers, and consequently enemies of their 
country. 

The latter, more industrious, and more civilized, presented 
to their cupidity irresistible attractions in the productions of 
their commerce, their labour, and their fertile soil. The name 
of Sassenach, or Saxons, by which in the Gaelic language 
the Highlanders style those of the Lowlands, recalled always 
to this warlike race, proud of their antiquity, the comparatively 
modern origin of their southern neighbours : which, joined to 
the difference of the language, was in the eyes of these semi- 
barbarian tribes a sufficient motive for indifference, and even 
disdain. The Lowlanders, among whom the cultivation oi' 
the arts of peace had taken the lead of the study of arms, 
appeared to them degenerate effeminate beings, and of a race 
very interior to themselves. 

The Gaels, besides, had not forgotten that their ancestors 
once possessed a great part <>l those fertile plains from which 
they were then removed. These recollections were preserved 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides, 79 

among them by an ancient tradition, and the names, derived 
from the Gaelic, which many rivers, hills, and even villages, 
in the Lowlands bore, were identifying proofs. In attacking 
the Scots of the plains, in devastating their crops, and seizing 
their cattle, they thought they were but using reprisals, and 
imagined they were only recovering the property which legi- 
timately belonged to them. In this persuasion the creach, a 
name given by the Highlanders to expeditions, the object of 
which was the pillage of the property of the Lowlanders, ap- 
peared to them not only excusable, but was even regarded by 
them as an honourable exploit, and as a mode of displaying 
their bravery and military talents. The young chiefs frequently 
undertook a creach, at the head of their clans, in honour of 
their belies, and on their return laid at their feet the spoils of 
the unfortunate Lowland husbandmen. Such chivalrous mo- 
tives did not always actuate the Highland chiefs ; these en- 
terprises were influenced more frequently by the love of plun- 
der, which animated their savage dependants, destitute of all 
the comforts of life, and which the chief was obliged to satisfy 
in order to conciliate the good-will of his tribe. Necessity 
sometimes constrained the chief himself to have recourse to 
such means, as he was obliged to provide for the subsistence 
of his numerous vassals. By this obligatory hospitality to- 
wards his clan, he supplied the expences incurred by the suite 
which was necessary to the high rank which he occupied. 

These neighbours were very formidable to the peaceable 
inhabitants of the plains, at the foot of the mountains. In 
the long nights of autumn, famished hordes would rush from the 
high hills into the flat country, carry away the cattle, harvest 
crops, money, and valuables ; and as they were as superior 
in audacity and agility to their neighbours as the latter sur- 
passed them in civilization, these Highlanders, loaded with 
their plunder, disappear before the break of day, and would 
reach their wild glens and inaccessible rocks before the 
Lowlanders even thought of pursuing them. 

The great and rich proprietors were always obliged to have 
a troop of men armed, to defend their domains ; but such 
was the boldness of the Highlanders, that they often amused 
themselves in attacking and pursuing these guards even to 
the walls of their castles. The farmers and small proprietors, 
who had not the means of guarding their lands, were conti- 
nually exposed to these destructive incursions. They could 
not escape, except by consenting to pay an annual tribute to 
the chiefs of the neighbouring clans. This tribute was known 
by the name of Black Mail. The chiefs who received it en- 



80 Saussure^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

gaged to protect the property of the Lowlanders who paid it 
against all aggression, not only from their clans, but from all 
others. These engagements were always scrupulously adhered 
to : and the effects stolen were restored to the proprietors in 
some distant place, where they could be easily concealed. 
Those, who from pride, or any other motive, refused the 
tribute, were sure to have their domains invaded and pillaged 
by troops of savage Highlanders. 

In modern times, when the daily increasing wealth of the 
Lowlands became an object of still greater inducement to 
the poor Highlanders, they formed themselves into bands of 
foragers, who, under the direction of a subaltern chief, 
adopted the form and discipline of clans, although composed 
of individuals belonging to different tribes. These Catherans* 
or robbers, living only by pillage, w r ere determined and daring 
men ; they braved every peril, and were the terror of the peace- 
ful proprietors of the Lowlands; inhabiting caverns and 
places, rendered nearly inaccessible by high mountains, steep 
rocks, and furious torrents, in a country where there were 
neither roads nor bridges, they thus bade defiance to the inef- 
fectual revenge of the unfortunate Lowlanders, whom they 
had plundered. The great chiefs of the tribes, in the territory 
where they were established, might easily have put an end to 
them, but far from endeavouring to oppose the formation of 
bands of Caiherans, they seemed rather to favour them, and 
there were few Chiefs who had not similar troops, to whom 
they assigned the deserted vallies and bye places in their 
vast domains for their abode. When they harboured any 
animosity against a clan or neighbouring chief, and when 
they wished neither to declare war nor openly to commence 
hostilities, they sent the Catherans to pillage their territory. 
They also made use of them to compel the Lowlanders to 
pay them the Black Mail; as on receiving this tribute, they 
engaged to prevent the Catherans from committing further 
depredations on lands which were under their protection. 

One of the most famous chiefs of the Catherans mentioned 
in history, was Jloo Roy Macgregor, who every year saved 
the Duke of Montrose the trouble of collecting the revenue 
of his domains. Notwithstanding the credit of that great no- 
bleman, and although in consequence of the frequent rebel- 
lions of Rob Roy against the sovereign authority, the tribu- 
nals of the country outlawed him, and set a price on his 
head, he succeeded, owing to the protection of many power- 
ful Highland chiefs, in escaping from every pursuit, and died 
in peace at a very advanced age. 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. S I 

Ludovick Cameron, grandson of the celebrated Sir Evan 
Cameron of Lochiel, did not lead his bands in person to 
plunder, but authorized them to pillage on his own account, 
and largely recompensed those whom he placed at the head 
of similar expeditions ; he amassed great wealth, but the termi- 
nation of the Rebellion in 1745 ruined him. Macdonald of 
Barrisdale, went still further in deriving advantage from the 
Catherans, of whom he maintained a troop. He levied the 
black mail on the proprietors, engaging to deliver them from 
the brigands, whom he himself paid. By means of these tri- 
butes, he enjoyed a revenue of £500 sterling : he always 
fulfilled his engagements with great exactness, and frequently 
restored flocks of cattle, which his men had carried away 
by mistake, to those proprietors who paid him the tribute. 

The government could not, without pain, see the turbulent 
clans of the Highlands fall with impunity on the peace- 
able possessions of the fertile regions of the south, and of 
the east, continually fomenting new rebellions, and making 
their mountains perpetually resound with warfare and strife. 
Thus we find the kings and parliaments frequently issuing 
forth thundering decrees against these undisciplined and rebel- 
lious subjects. We find them also, but nearly always in vain, 
endeavouring to restore order among these savage tribes, who 
would recognise no masters, except their chiefs, and no 
laws, except their ancient customs. Protected by the nature 
of the country where they dwelt, by their habits of warfare, 
and their military manoeuvres, the clans even braved with im- 
punity the threats of the sovereigns of the United Kingdom of 
England and Scotland. To judge of the nature of the decrees 
issued from the throne, we must consult the Writ of Fire and 
Sword of King Charles II. against the tribe of the Macleans, 
(who had seized by main force upon some possessions belong- 
ing to the Campbells), a decree given at length in Pennant's 
Travels, Part II., Appendix, p. 443. We find there a direct 
injunction on the clans of Campbell, Macalister, Macdonald, 
and Macleod, to arm and march against the chief of the 
Macleans ; the orders were to take him dead or alive, to pur- 
sue him to the utmost ; for this purpose granting them every 
authority in their power — freeing them of all obligations from 
the existing laws which might enthral them ; in short, declaring 
them safe from all the consequences of violation of property, 
destruction of crops, houses, &c. committed during such ex- 
peditions. These violent measures intimidated, perhaps, for a 
time, the insurgent clans, but the effect was of short duration. 
We have seen that, the terrible proscription decreed by James 
VI. (James I. of England) against the tribe of the Magregors, 
Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. M 



82 Saussitre's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

did not prevent this clan from proving themselves stronger 
than ever in subsequent revolts. The numerous decrees of 
William and Mary to repress the incursions of the Highlanders 
into the Lowlands, produced no change in the situation of the 
unfortunate inhabitants in the vicinity of the mountains, but 
only served the more to prepare the minds of the Highlanders 
for the rebellion which burst forth in 1745. 

The chiefs exercised the most absolute authority as to the 
administration of justice over all their clans; an ancient Scot- 
tish law had even recognised this great stretch of power, by 
rendering the chiefs personally responsible for depredations 
committed by their tribe, and by obliging them, in extra- 
ordinary cases, to give one of their sons or nearest relatives 
as an hostage. 

When a Highlander was accused of a crime, he was con- 
ducted before his chief, who was assisted by a council, com- 
posed of the principal members of his tribe: he judged ac- 
cording to his conscience and the laws of equity, and it is 
asserted, that the sentences rendered by so arbitrary a tribunal 
were rarely unjust. Although for some time no written law- 
had existed, there was, however, a penal code founded on cus- 
tom, and recorded by tradition ; it was committed to writing 
in the Isle of Sky about the middle of the seventeenth century, 
and every year it was read to the people assembled before the 
doors of the church. These laws were as severe and cruel as 
are those of the first legislators of all savage nations ; but the 
necessity which obliged the chief to render himself popular 
among his tribe, the influence of that relationship, and innu- 
merable ties which existed among every individual of the 
same clan, greatly soothed the rigour of the laws. 

The patriarchal regime, established from the most ancient 
periods in the mountains and isles of Scotland, has been, it ap- 
pears to me, too often confounded with the feudal system, which 
existed in the Lowlands, in England, and in the greater part of 
the countries of Europe. Although these two modes of govern- 
ment possessed some similar forms, nevertheless the essentially 
different nature of their origin rendered the connexion be- 
tween the governors and the governed altogether dissimilar, and 
the condition of those under the jurisdiction of the chief of a 
clan was certainly much less oppressive than that of the vassals 
of a feudal lord. Whilst the latter derived his power from the 
right of conquest, and regarded his vassals as his property — as 
slaves which belonged to him by the laws of war, the Scottish 
chief knew that he was indebted for all the advantages he en- 
joyed to the ancient right of primogeniture ; that the members 
of his clan were also those of his family, aud that they were 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 83 

not slaves, because they had never been conquered. No dis- 
tinction existed among the nobles, the commoners, and peasants 
of the Gaels. All the members of the same clan, regarding 
themselves as descendants from one common stock, thought 
themselves on a par with their chief, and consequently ex- 
pected to be treated in an appropriate manner : they recog- 
nised no other distinction than the greater or less proximity 
of their degree of parentage to their common ancestor. There 
was, in short, this difference between the feudal system and the 
regime of the clans ; that whilst a noble was obliged to render 
homage to his sovereign, and to receive from him the invest- 
ment of his fiefs, the laird enjoyed his power by personal title 
derived from natural right, without any superior being able to 
deprive him of it, and without being subject to any kind of 
contribution whatever. 

We find, it is true, at more recent periods, the chiefs of clans 
demanding feudal charters of the crown, in order to increase 
their power ; but so little could they be constrained, that many 
lairds refused with disdain to accept such titles, saying, that 
they never wished to hold their right by a miserable sheep's 
skin, for thus they called the parchments delivered by the 
king. In addition to this, families to whom the king had 
granted certain domains, to the prejudice of the chiefs of clans 
who possessed them, were for many ages unable to make good 
these titles, and probably they never would have participated 
in the enjoyment of their property, if the ancient lords of these 
lands had not been dispossessed of them in consequence of a 
rebellion. 

Those individuals are much deceived who, in assimilating the 
government of clans to the feudal system, attribute to the 
former the inconveniences and abuses of the latter. Not only 
was it the strict duty of the laird, as chief of the great family, 
to treat with kindness and esteem those whom birthright 
had placed under his command, but he had a particular in- 
terest in making himself popular. As the right which placed 
him at the head of his clan was, to a certain extent, founded 
upon the good opinion of his subordinates, it was necessary, 
in order to maintain the distinction, that he should at once sup- 
port the dignity and character of a paternal guardian, by 
scrupulously promoting the common interests of those over 
whom he claimed so distinguished a pre-eminence. Thus he 
sought by every possible means to conciliate their good-will ; 
he assisted the poor, and treated all with unbounded hospitality. 
So far from repulsing them by hauteur or reserve, he assumed 
affability and habitual familiarity with all the members of 
bis tribe. He never met one of them without taking him 



84 tiausaures Voyage to ike Hebrides. 

by the hand, and without interesting himself in all his concern^, 
being always anxious of concealing the master, under the ex- 
terior deportment of the friend and relation. Notwithstanding 
the changes which have taken place, this interesting custom is 
observed to this day in many parts of the Highlands and in 
the Hebrides. I have seen great and rich proprietors amicably 
touching the hands of the poorest of their peasants every time 
they met them ; and it is thus, indeed, they still preserve in 
substance that influence and superiority which the Jaw at pre- 
sent refuses them. 

It cannot then be said that the Gaels were unhappy ; for the 
deep regret testified by them on the dissolution of the clans, 
after the rebellion of 1745, proves that this regime was neither 
so oppressive nor insupportable as some modern authors re- 
present. 

Each family possessing a farm, which had been transmitted 
by inheritance from father to son, enjoyed the property ; a 
kind of heritage which is possessed by few English peasants, 
and which forms one of the greatest emblems of prosperity, 
and even of morality, among the inhabitants of Switzerland. 
The rents which the Gaelic farmers paid to their chief were 
but trifling, and if they ever became reduced by misfortune so 
as not to be able to meet their obligations, he generally can- 
celled their debts. An active and military life, divided between 
the precarious toils of sea-fishing and the perils of war, gave 
great animation to their existence; and the repose which 
succeeded these days of toil was not troubled with the painful 
reflection of any further care. Although little accustomed to la- 
bour and to the sedentary occupations of an industrious people, 
the Gaels were not a prey to ennui, which, among other nations, 
proceeds from idleness, and gives rise to so many disorders. 
Constantly interested for the honour and safety of the tribe, 
they felt animated with that public spirit and ardent patriotism 
which elevates the soul into its highest sphere. Passing from 
a calm to a tempest, and from a profound repose to the tumult 
of a battle, they united all the mildness of family ties, with 
the interesting habits of maritime life — which latter can scarcely 
be thrown off when once adopted. 

There is, however, a great error in supposing these people 
enslaved and brutalised by obedience to an absolute power, 
and assimilating that state to a nation groaning under feudal 
despotism. If education had not developed the strength of the 
mental faculties; if industry and commerce had not yet en- 
livened those uncultivated valleys; and if the people had not 
strove for those luxuries of life, which ultimately become 
real wants among nations more advanced in civilization ; if, in 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 85 

short, they had only miserable habitations, poor clothing, and 
mean and insufficient food, still, every feature which could 
excite their vivid imagination was strikingly exhibited among 
them, while those comforts which partake more of the nature 
of luxuries seemed to be of secondary consideration. They 
listened with transport to the recital of the exploits of their 
ancestors, and were passionately fond of poetry and music. 
The heroic songs of their bards, from time to time repeated in 
their wretched cottages, always transported their souls and 
inflamed their enthusiasm. Proud of their ancient origin, and 
of their military exploits, they boasted their descent from those 
Caledonian heroes who had vanquished the conquerors of the 
world, and they delighted in recalling such glorious recol- 
lections. An ardent love of military glory, their attachment 
to their clan, and a lively sentiment of honour, all tended to 
keep up a moral dignity among them ; a species of national 
pride, which raises them in their own estimation, and induces 
them to regard with disdain the more polished nations of 
Europe. 

If this spirit was manifested among men of inferior rank, 
the character of the chiefs, who received homage from so 
many devoted subjects, may be easily conceived, and thus a 
Scottish pride, which has become proverbial, may be rea- 
sonably accounted for. One of these petty Highland princes, 
said one day, that if he had his choice, between the domains 
of the Duke of Newcastle, which produced £30,000 sterling 
a year, and his wild possessions, which were not worth £500, 
he would not hesitate to take the latter, provided that he at 
all times preserved the suite or little court, which is one of 
the appendages of a chief or great Highland proprietor. 

I shall give a few more instances, to shew to what extent 
the Gaelic chiefs preserved the prerogatives of their rank. 

The first Marquis of Huntley, chief of the clan of Gordon, 
on being presented at the court of James VI., King of Scot- 
land, did not bend the knee before his sovereign; when he 
was demanded the reason of this neglect of the customary 
form, he replied, he had no intention of shewing a want of 
respect for the king, but he desired to be excused, as he came 
from a country where every one bent before himself. — The 
King of Great Britain having offered the title of nobility to 
the chief of the Grants, the latter refused it by saying, " And 
wha would be the Laird, of Grant?'' In general, many 
Scottish chiefs would have thought it derogatory to accept a 
foreign dignity ; and even at this day, many Hebrideans have 
been displeased with one of the most powerful chiefs of the 
isles, for having accepted an Irish peerage. 



86 Saussure's Voyage to ike Hebrides. 

Among the good qualities which eminently distinguished the 
Gaelic people, one of the first, and that at the present day, is 
hospitality. This virtue was so generally diffused in the High- 
lands, that every where the doors of the houses were left open, 
at all hours, as a general invitation to strangers*. 

They never demanded the name of him who claimed their 
hospitality, without having previously offered him refreshment. 
Without this precaution, the stranger would always have 
found some reason for refusing assistance in a country where 
revenge among the clans is so frequent, and carried to such 
atrocious excesses. So long as a stranger remained in the 
house they protected and defended him from all assault, as if 
he had been a member of their family. Bravery, love of glory, 
attachment to their Chiefs, the strictest fidelity in fulfilling 
their engagements and protecting those who confided in them, 
were qualities peculiar to all the Gaels. I shall quote some 
further instances which will serve to exhibit the characteristics 
of this people. 

Under the reign of James V. the clan Chattan was in a 
state of revolt, and the Earl of Moray, at the head of his vas- 
sals, having beaten the insurgents, made 200 prisoners, whom 
he condemned to death in order to intimidate the rebels. As 
they were conducting them to the scaffold, the Earl offered 
them pardon, on condition that they should discover the place 
where their Chief was concealed ; but these brave men unani- 
mously replied, that even were they acquainted with it, no tor- 
ture could force them to betray the confidence reposed in 
them. 

Towards the beginning of the last century, the county of 

• Hospitality was one of the first virtues of the Hebrews, as it is still of the 
Arabs, and of some eastern nations. It has been said, but erroneously, that 
hospitality is the virtue of all savages; how many colonies have been found, in 
newly discovered islands in the South Seas, who are cruel, distrustful, and 
inhospitable ; whilst among certain nations who have attained a high degree 
of civilization, this quality has constantly remained an honour. The charac- 
ters of nations differ in this respect as in many others, without it being possible 
to assign a plausible reason for such differences. Those who seek to depre- 
ciate this interesting and benevolent disposition, repeat with exultation, that 
in isolated and savage places, hospitality turns more to the profit of him who 
exercises, than of those who are the objects of it, since it gives him an oppor- 
tunity of diverting himself from the ennui which he must feel, and of satisfy- 
ing his curiosity in the society of strangers. If this assertion were true — if 
hospitality were only a calculation of egotism, the Scots would not be seen 
sacrificing their comfort, their repose, and even their fortunes, to fulfil that 
which they regard as a duty — the reception of strangers. There is In this re- 
spect, such a sentiment of duty, that the Highlander receives even his enemy, 
when the latter claims his succour, and is obliged to entertain him and lu^ 
suite during the whole time of his residence. 



Saussare's Voyage to the Hebrides. 87 

Inverness was infested with a band of Catherans, or robbers, 
commanded by one John Gunn, who levied contributions in 
every quarter, and came under the walls of the city, to bid de- 
fiance to an English garrison which defended the castle. An 
officer who went to Inverness, bearing the pay of the troop, and 
escorted by a feeble detachment, was obliged to pass the night 
at an inn, thirty miles from the city. In the evening he saw a 
man of a good figure enter, wearing the Scottish costume, and 
as there was only one room in the inn, the Englishman invited 
the stranger to partake of his supper, which the latter re- 
luctantly accepted. The officer judging by his conversation 
that the stranger was perfectly acquainted with the defiles and 
bye-paths throughout the country, begged him to accompany 
him the next morning, made him acquainted with the purport 
of his journey, and his fears of falling, together with the depot 
which was confided to him, into the hands of the celebrated 
John Gunn. The Highlander, after a little hesitation, pro- 
mised to be his guide ; they, in fact, departed on the following 
day, and in crossing a solitary and barren glen, the conversa- 
tion again turned on the robberies of John Gunn. " Would 
" you like to see him ?" said the guide, and immediately gave 
a whistle, which was re-echoed by the rocks ; in a few moments 
the officer and his detachment were surrounded by a body of 
Highlanders, armed from head to foot, and sufficiently nume- 
rous to render every effort of resistance fruitless. " Stranger," 
said the guide, " I am that same John GuDn whom you are 
" afraid of, and not without reason, for I came yesterday even- 
" ing into your inn to discover the route you meant to take, in 
" order to carry away your military chest ; but 1 am incapa- 
*' ble of betraying the confidence which you have put in me, 
" and having now proved to you, that you are in my power, 
" I shall send you on your way without loss or damage." 
After giving him the necessary directions for the journey, John 
Gunn disappeared with his troop as suddenly as they had 
arrived. 

Prince Charles Edward, when pursued in the mountains of 
Scotland, found among all the inhabitants, even from those who 
had not joined his party, an asylum, assistance, and the most 
inviolable secrecy ; and that frequently among men, who were 
poor and accustomed to pillage, even at a time when the enor- 
mous sum of £30,000 sterling was promised by the English go- 
vernment, to whoever should deliver up the young Prince, dead 
or alive. Among the innumerable and admirable traits of 
devotion which distinguished that memorable epoch, the follow- 
ing fact is worthy of notice. A youth named Roderick 
Mackenzie, concealed in the mountains after the defeat of 



88 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

Culloden, was discovered by the soldiers sent in pursuit of the 
Prince. His age, his shape, even his figure, deceived the sol- 
diers, who believed they had found Charles Edward ; they 
were about to seize him, when Mackenzie, who perceived their 
mistake, resolved to render himself useful to his Prince. He 
drew his sword, and the courage with which he defended him- 
self, convinced the English that he must be the Pretender. 
One of them fired ; the young man fell, and while expiring, 
cried out "You have killed your Prince!" This generous 
sacrifice, in suspending for a moment all pursuit, gave time to 
Charles Edward to escape from his pursuers. 

The life pursued by the Highlanders rendered abstemiousness 
and frugality necessary. They set out for a long journey, across 
high mountains and uncultivated vallies, with no other provi- 
sions than a small bag of oatmeal, which, mixed with the 
water of the brooks, formed their only nourishment ; in this 
manner the Arabs and the Moors of the desert take with them 
some handfuls of their couscout, when they prepare for a 
journey of several days across their immense plains of sand. 

Thus, few people have carried their detestation of effemi- 
nacy and luxurious living to a greater point. Cameron, of 
Lochiel, surprised by the darkness of the night, on the return 
of an expedition, was, together with the men of his suite, en- 
veloped in tbeir cloaks, and extended on the snow, at that time 
on the ground. He soon perceived that one of his grandsons 
had made a ball of snow, to support his head during sleep : 
the old chieftain, irritated by what he considered an in- 
dulgence, rose up, and with his foot driving away the ball, 
" For shame," said he to the youth, " are you so effeminate as 
" to have occasion for such a pillow V 

If the active and military life of the Gaels developed that 
energetic character which distinguishes a warlike people — in- 
tellectual improvement, industry, and respect for property, 
qualities so essential in a period of more advanced civilization 
were but as then in embryo. It would be, however, unjust to 
judge them with too much severity on this head ; we ought to 
take into consideration their particular position relative to the 
existing mode of government, the nature of the soil, and the 
geographical situation of the country. 

If, in fact, they hesitated in applying themselves to manual 
labour, and if they only cultivated such a portion of land as 
would serve to support their families, it was owing to the 
habits which the Chiefs had acquired of assisting the indigent 
of their tribe, and of liberating them from the payment of 
their rents; assuring them, that they should never entirely 
want the means of subsistence. They consequently found 



Sau8sure % s Voyage to the Hebrides. 89 

more satisfaction in following their Chiefs to battle, than labour- 
ing in cultivating a barren and unproductive soil. In addi- 
tion to this, it was not reasonable that they should employ the 
whole of their time in cultivating the soil, when the probable 
attack of an enemy's clan might carry away the fruits of 
many years labour. In short, the Highlanders had no market 
in the mountains, where the labourers and agriculturists could 
dispose of their commodities; they had neither high roads nor 
bridges to communicate with the Lowland towns, from which 
they were separated by high mountains and deep rivers. 

If we may judge of the character of the Gaels from their 
continual depredations among the Lowlanders and the tribes of 
their enemies, we shall be apt to consider them as lawless 
bands, regardless of all respect for the right of property. This 
was not, however, the case: a theft committed by an individual 
01 the same clan, or of an ally, was punished with the greatest 
severity. But it must not be forgotten, that each tribe con- 
stituted a distinct and independent state; and in time of war 
a Highlander made no more scruple in carrying off the cattle 
of an enemy's tribe, or those of a cultivator of the Low T lands, 
(who was always regarded as an inferior), than a general com- 
manding an army would in levying contributions in an enemy's 
country, or a captain of an English vessel seizing a Spanish 
galleon in time of war. When Prince Charles was pursued in 
the mountains, a man named Mac Ian, or Kennedy, who had 
several times exposed his life for his prince, and who, notwith- 
standing the greatest misery, and the reward of i?o0,000 
sterling, had not been induced to betray him, was executed at 
Inverness for stealing a cow ! A little before the execution he 
took off his bonnet, and returned thanks to God, that he had 
never failed in his engagements, nor done any injury to the 
poor, nor had ever refused to share all that he had with the in- 
digent and the stranger. 

The ignorance of this people was not the result of idleness 
and inactivity; they displayed great avidity to learn and to 
enlarge their ideas, which induced them to question with in- 
quisitiveness every stranger whom they met: they, however, 
wanted instruction, as at that time the institution of parochial 
schools was but just commenced in the Highlands. 

It was found very difficult to reconcile the military manners 
of the Highlanders with the patience and tranquillity necessary 
for study. Besides, at that time, the Gaelic language was merely 
in manuscript, the Bible having only been circulated in that 
tongue within the last fifty years. The singular orthography 
used in this language renders the reading it very difficult ; 
and I have known many Scotsmen who spoke and understood 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. N 



90 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

it, but could never learn to read it. Since the change which 
have taken place in the administration of the Highlands, the 
zeal of the Highland Society, and, above all, the one which 
has for its object the diffusion of Christianity, as well as the 
care of an enlightened clergy, have succeeded in vanquishing 
those obstacles, which could not previously be surmounted, 
owing to the political and inland state of the country. At this 
time there is scarcely a village in the Highlands where the 
children do not learn to read and write in Gaelic, and the Holy 
Scriptures are in the hands of every Highlander. 

Ignorance, which is the parent of credulity, and a vivacity 
of imagination, unceasingly kept up by the imposing pheno- 
mena presented by nature in a mountainous country, and on 
the banks of a dangerous sea, have produced among the Gaelic 
people a multitude of superstitions, each of which is considered 
very singular. Among the number of superstitious practices 
of this people, some appear to be the remains of the Catholic 
faith, and many are evidently derived from paganism and the 
religion of the Druids, which prevailed in Scotland before the 
introduction of Christianity ; there are some, in short, which 
are analogous to certain religious customs of the Jews. In 
addition to the superstitions spread among the lower classes of 
every nation in Europe, the Scottish Highlanders have also 
many which are peculiar to their own country. 

They have inherited from the Catholic religion a sort of 
veneration for places formerly consecrated to that worship, and 
they go in pilgrimage to certain springs and caverns, which 
still bear the names of saints, in order to be cured of their dis- 
eases. Thus there is at Strath Fillan a well called St. Fillan, 
which, it is said, possesses the virtue of curing several maladies 
in those who plunge into it: there they conduct lunatics; the 
latter deposit their clothes on a heap of stones, round which 
they make a procession in the direction of the sun's course, 
after which the invalid is plunged three times in the well ; he is 
afterwards bound in a chapel, where he is left all night. If 
they find the next morning that he is loosened from his bonds, 
the saint is said to be propitious to him, if not, his cure re- 
mains doubtful ; but it more frequently happens that death ter- 
minates his sufferings, in consequence of so dangerous a treat- 
ment. 

Among the Gaels, as among the Hebrews, a woman, after 
being delivered of a child, was considered as impure until she 
had made the tour of the church three times in ceremony. 
The Highlanders also caused tbe new-born child to pass three 
times through the fire in the chimney, after the manner ol the 
Israelites, who, in order to purify their children, made them 



Sau8surt?s Voyage to the Hebrides. 91 

pass through the fire on the altar of Moloch. They believed 
in evil spirits, and to deliver themselves from their power, they 
employed all kinds of charms and talismans. One of the most 
efficacious, according to them, was a circle formed by a switch 
of oak, with which they girt their bodies. It was evidently, 
as Pennant observes, a remnant of the religion of the Druids, 
and of the veneration which these priests had for the oak, 
which they regarded as a sacred tree. They also used a circle 
of mistletoe to preserve them from accidents and disorders. 
Analogous practices still exist in Lower Brittany, and some 
other provinces of France, which were formerly inhabited by 
the Druids. 

The Gaels believed also in ghosts and apparitions, imagining 
likewise that they saw and conversed with them ; indeed, the 
mists and clouds, which in these mountainous regions take a 
thousand fantastic forms, might often appear like shadows and 
human figures in the eyes of heated imaginations. The im- 
posing spectacle of nature, in her rudest forms of high deserted 
mountains, furious torrents, howling winds, and vast solitudes, 
must have inspired a sentiment of fear and respect in the weak 
minds which daily contemplated them. They attributed to 
supernatural causes a variety of phenomena which astonish, and 
often alarm, the inhabitants of mountainous countries. Thus 
they imagined their deserts were inhabited by a host of malig- 
nant spirits, and divinities of an inferior order. Each solitary 
and dreary valley, every high and lofty mountain, and every re- 
markable spot, had its evil genius, the figure of which was re- 
presented as ludicrous and frightful in the extreme— the cha- 
racter wicked and cruel. The lakes and torrents were inhabited 
by the demons of the river, similar to the kelpy of the Low- 
landers. 

Among those fantastic beings who act so great a part in the 
imagination of the Highlanders, we must not omit the Daoine 
shi, or Men of Peace. They are regarded as small ghosts, 
living under ground, and under small mountains covered with 
verdure. During the night, and by the light of the moon, they 
imagined they saw them dancing and celebrating their orgies 
on the horizon of the hills; and without being wicked, they 
were jealous and envious of the happiness of mortals. 

Some vestiges of the religion of the Druids, or Paganism, 
are still recognized in the ceremony annually celebrated by the 
Highland shepherds on the first of May. This sacrifice chain- 
petre is known under the name of Bealtuinn. The shepherds 
assemble, kindle a large fire, and after dancing round it, they 
cook a mixture of eggs, butter, milk, and oatmeal ; before 
tasting of this dish they pour out libations on the ground, they 



§2 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

then take oatmeal cakes, break them, and turning their faces 
towards the tire, they throw morsels behind them over their 
shoulders, saying, " This is for thee, preserve my horses; and 
this for thee, preserve my sheep," addressing themselves to the 
spirits who watch over their flocks. They, in like manner, 
invoke noxious animals: " This is for thee, O Renard ! deign 
to spare my lambs; and for thee, O Hawk! and for thee, O 
Eagle!"" The divinity Bel, whom they originally worshipped, 
was the spirit of the sun ; perhaps the god Baal of the 
Israelites. Gruagach, or the young man with fair hair, was 
also, among the Gaels, one of the names of the gods of the 
sun, the Apollo Chrysocomes of the Greeks. On those huge 
blocks, called Gruagach Stones, which the Druids raised 
on places where they celebrated their religion, tradition informs 
us that they poured forth libations of milk. 

Every great family in the Highlands had its tutelary genius, 
who watched over the destiny of each of its members. When 
one was at the point of death, the genius appeared, or uttered 
his mournful lamentations. The familiar spirit of the chief of 
the Grants was a fairy named May Moulach, " the Daughter 
with hairy arms;" she always announced by her presence or 
her cries the death of the laird of Grant, or some great dis- 
aster which menaced his family. It was the same with 
Bod 'a ch an dun, " the Spirit of the Mountain," for the Grants 
of Rothiemurchus. Other families had Benskie, old fairies 
with floating hair, and covered with blue mantles ; they pre- 
dicted by their tears, sighs, and groans, the approaching death 
of some one of the members of these families. Resides, a train 
of light, variously coloured, when seen at night, was the sign 
of a similar event, and its direction indicated the place of the 
funeral. The death of a Maclean, of Loch Buy, was an- 
nounced to his parents by an apparition of the spectre of one 
of his ancestors killed in battle. 

When they set out on a journey, they were very attentive to 
the presages, which they formed from the first objects they met 
with. If these augured unfavourable, they returned home, and 
postponed their journey till another day. They had many modes 
of consulting their destiny. The most remarkable method was 
the Taeghairm, They enveloped a man in the skin of a bull, 
fresh killed, and placed hi in i:« ar a cataract, at the bottom of a 
precipice or wild place ; having left him there all night, the next 
day they went to interrogate him, and his answers were re- 
ceived as inspired by the spirit of the place. 

The most known and the most general superstition of the 
Gaels is that which they call Taishitaraugh, and the English, 
Second Sight. It is the faculty of discerning objects invisible 



Sauss lire's Voyage to the Hebrides. 93 

to other persons. Those who were gifted with it were called 
Seers, and in Gaelic Taishatrim. On this subject Martin, 
who travelled through the Hebrides in the beginning of the 
last century, at the time when the belief in second sight was 
much more general than at present, gives us the following in- 
formation : — 

The vision made such an impression on the Seer, that he 
was at the instant entirely absorbed by it. He stood with his 
eyes fixed on the shadow, which he pursued, and could not 
turn his attention from it. Every one is not endowed with the 
power of contemplating these supernatural apparitions, and 
those who possess it cannot transmit it to others; nor can it 
descend from a father to his children. 

These apparitions, or visions, are of various natures; they 
have always some signification relative to him who sees them, 
or to those who accompany him. The Seer, after the nature of 
his vision, predicts events fatal or encouraging, and the hour, 
more or less advanced of the day in which the apparition 
presents itself, serves him to fix the epoch when his prediction 
will be accomplished. If he sees a sheet round the body of a 
living man, he announces his approaching death, and this pre- 
diction, the believers say, never fails of being accomplished. 
If a chair which is occupied, appears to him empty, it indi- 
cates the death of him who is seated in it. He can see absent 
friends appear, and also those who have just died in a distant 
country. He foretels the persons who are to arrive in the 
village, or enter the house where he is ; and although they are 
entire strangers to him, he describes their figure, shape, form, 
and the colour of their clothes. It has been said also, that 
Seers have seen in caverns and deserted places, houses covered 
with tiles ; also, villages, and verdant meadows, and have fore- 
told several years, that these places would be peopled and 
cultivated. 

Martin (who places implicit faith in these superstitions), 
pretends having seen the prophecies of the Seers accom- 
plished several times. Dr. Johnson, who has shown so much 
scepticism relative to the authenticity of Ossian, was not 
averse to believing in second sight. Bos well, his biographer, 
says, that he sought palpable proofs of the existence of spirits, 
in order to combat the progress of the doctrine of materialism 
with more effect. 

I have several times heard very respectable men in the High- 
lands of Scotland, mention examples of second sight, of which 
they asserted themselves to have been witnesses ; and they 
gave these narratives with the utmost assurance and the best 
faith. Among an infinite number of fantastical pictures which 



94 Sau8sure8 Voyage to the Hebrides. 

were presented to an inflamed imagination, it was sufficient if 
one had some relation with a real event, with men fond of the 
marvellous, who forgot the quantity of dreams which had no 
relation nor connexion with the future. They placed re- 
liance on a single trait which appeared to be realized, and 
the person whose predictions were verified, was proclaimed 
a prophet. 

History has recorded two remarkable instances of second 
sight, the most ancient of which is mentioned in the history of 
St. Columban. It is affirmed, that this abbot announced to his 
monks of I-Coim-Kill, a victory of the Pictish king on the 
very day the battle took place, although the field of battle 
was in the south of Scotland, upwards of 180 miles from the 
convent of lona, where St. Columban then resided. 

The second is of a much more recent date, and, according 
to Pennant, excited a great interest in Scotland at the time. 
Shortly after the battle of Prestonpans, in 1745, the Lord Pre- 
sident Forbes being at his residence in Culloden, with a Scottish 
nobleman, the conversation turned on that battle, and its pro- 
bable consequences ; after having a long time discoursed on 
the subject, and exhausted every conjecture, the President, 
turning himself towards a window, cried out, " All that may 
happen, but rest assured, these troubles will be terminated on 
the very spot where we now are." This prediction of the 
battle of Culloden, several months before it took place, and 
when the victorious army of the Pretender was marching into 
Englaud, produced a prodigious effect, and confirmed many 
Scots in their superstitious belief. 

Before terminating this exposition of the ancient state of the 
Gaels, it only remains for me to speak of their funeral cere- 
monies ; and in these we again find some additional resem- 
blances to those of the ancient Oriental nations. 

On the evening after the death of a Highlander, the parents, 
relations, and friends of the deceased, come into his house, 
followed by a bagpipe or violin ; then the nearest relative of 
the deceased opens a funeral ball, known by the name of late- 
wake. Nothing is more singular than this mixture of dancing 
and weeping, music and doleful cries, which continues till 
break of day, and is renewed every night while the body re- 
mains uninterred. When the coffin is carried to the earth, 
it is followed by a numerous group of relatives and friends of 
both sexes. The women pour forth the most frightful cries, 
tear their hair, and sitting round the tomb, sing with loud 
voice the mournful Coronach. 

This funeral lamentation, which is the same as the llullulu 
of the Irish, consists only in cries and inarticulate groans, but 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 95 

generally it is a mournful and wild air, to which the bards 
have composed poems in honour of the deceased. His virtues, 
exploits, hospitality, and noble origin, are recalled ; and the 
grief of his family and his clan are expressed in a touching 
and poetical manner. After the ceremony is finished, the re- 
lations invite all the persons who have assisted in it to an 
abundant repast. Whiskey flows in great abundance, and the 
days consecrated to mourning generally terminate as a festival, 
by revelry and intoxication. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



Remarkable Changes operated in the Manners and Customs 

of the Highlanders. 

It appeared to me almost incredible, that such a state of 
things as I have described in the preceding chapter; that manners 
so different from our own should have existed little more than 
half a century ago, at a distance of 450 miles from London 
— the capital of one of the most civilized and enlightened 
nations of Europe : — had it not been attested by accredited 
historians, and had I not recognized in the manners, cus- 
toms, and mode of life, of the inhabitants of the Hebrides 
and western coasts of Scotland, numerous and unequivocal 
traces of the same constitution. Such a state was so incom- 
patible with the progress of learning, mode of government, 
and manners of the British nation, that we cannot believe it 
could still be preserved for a long time, when even such great 
events had not hastened its close. 

These tribes resembled so many small independent states, in 
a single monarchy, and would not submit to laws emanating 
from the government ; thus, the interminable wars among the 
clans, and the audacious depredations among the peaceful and 
industrious inhabitants of the plains, were sure, sooner or 
later, to awaken the attention of the legislative power. 

But the still more alarming rebellions which were mani- 
fested in the mountains, made the government feel the urgent 
necessity of extinguishing that focus of discord and civil war, 
which the enemies of England and the partisans of the Stuarts, 
ceased not to foment. 

Already since the rebellion of 1745, many powerful chiefs had 
paid, even with their property and their lives, their chivalrous 
devotion to their ancient and unfortunate sovereigns. Those 
confiscations and executions for a moment, restrained and in- 



96 Saussure y s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

timidated a turbulent population ; but as nothing was changed 
in the system of the clans, the chiefs still preserved all their 
power. Defended by the inaccessible barriers of their moun- 
tains and torrents, they were still able, when the time arrived, 
to prepare for new incursions at the head of their formidable 
bands, which had been vanquished, but not entirely subdued. 
This happened effectually, in the famous expedition of Prince 
Charles Edward. In the twinkling of an eye, the whole po- 
pulation of the mountains were under arms ; they inundated 
the southern part of Scotland like a torrent, destroyed the 
troops of the line which were opposed to them, and penetrated 
into the heart of England. The capital was in consternation, 
and expecting at every instant to see a formidable and savage 
army enter within its walls. 

The imminent danger in w r hich the government found itself 
at this period, proved the necessity of adopting prompt and 
vigorous measures to prevent the repetition of similar events, 
and radically to destroy even the cause of those frequent insur- 
rections : viz. the patriarchal and military government of the 
clans. 

For this purpose, new executions and confiscations took 
place in greater number than ever ; and a general disarming 
of all the Highlanders was proclaimed and executed by force. 

Military roads were opened from all parts across the defiles 
and (at that time) inaccessible vallies, to enable the troops 
and artillery to penetrate easily into the very heart of the de- 
serts. Ancient forts were repaired, and new fortresses were 
constructed, and guarded by strong garrisons, to restrain the 
still formidable, although disarmed, population. In short, the 
power of the chiefs was abolished ; the chain of clans was 
broken, and all jurisdiction was taken away from the chiefs. 
Justices of the peace, sheriffs, and other judicial officers, simi- 
lar to those which were for a long time established in the 
Lowlands, were charged with maintaining order and executing 
justice in the Highlands after the laws of the kingdom. The 
chiefs were no longer considered otherwise than proprietors of 
land, and the vassals as their farmers. It required much 
firmness and vigilance to introduce among the Gaels a system 
so different from that to which they had been habituated from 
time immemorial; but the conquerors overstrained the means 
for attaining that object. The soldiers committed great ex- 
cesses, and displayed a rigour which often bordered on 
cruelty ; and many unwarrantabh abuses were committed on 
the conquered, now a prey to hatred and revenge. 

The government were likewise guilty of a gross fault : — too 
much influenced by the recent alarm which they had experienced, 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 97 

they made laws in. order to destroy the natural character of 
this people, and not content with having deprived them of 
their arras, they prohibited their particular costume. They 
even forbade the use of their vernacular tongue, and abso- 
lutely wished to create momentarily an English colony, as if it 
were possible to deprive high-minded and brave people of their 
whole inheritance of glorious recollections. Every method, in 
short, was employed in the Highlands, which the most abso- 
lute despotism could suggest, that the power of the chiefs of 
the clans might be superseded by the power of the law. The 
latter,- without means of defence, and opposed by immense 
forces, were not in a state to resist, but their pride disdained 
a yoke which they were unable to shake off. They sought 
every means of eiuding the laws which appeared to them 
humiliating, and in defiance of their oppressors, they pre- 
served their ancient customs as much as they were able ; these 
were become much dearer, from the endeavours which had 
been made to efface the memory of them. 

Removed from public employment and military command, 
and treated as rebels, the Highlanders were, for a long time, 
neglected in their dreary mountains, by the British court and 
parliament. The celebrated Lord Chatham having succeeded 
to the ministry, quickly felt that such oppression was very un- 
fit to reconcile them with the new order of things, and attach 
them to one common country ; and he foresaw all the ad- 
vantages which the English government might derive from that 
race of heroes, as he styled them, if once he could gain their 
affections. For this purpose he employed mild and concilia- 
tory measures as being the most probable means of restoring 
tranquillity. All the rigorous laws were revoked, the High- 
landers were allowed the free use of their national dress, and the 
minister restored them their arms to use in the service of Eng- 
land. Thus, this great Statesman knew how to profit by these 
warlike people, to serve the cause of his country ; and by 
degrees, succeeded in attaching them to the House of Bruns- 
wick, by the bonds of gratitude and affection. Restored also 
to their customs, and to their national manners, and at the 
same time, to peace and repose, deprived of the means of plun- 
dering their neighbours, and of fighting among themselves, the 
Highlanders displayed a new character, still more icteresting, 
than that which had distinguished them in their ancient state. 
They preserved the virtues of a savage people, and threw aside 
the vices and ignorance by which they are generally accom- 
panied. 

Patriotism, loyalty, hospitality, and religion, continued to 
flourish amongst them ; respect for property was no longer, as 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. o 



98 Saussurts Voyage to the Hebrides. 

formerly, confined to the possessions of the same clan ; they 
accustomed themselves to respect all Scotsmen, to what- 
ever tribe or district they might belong, as countrymen and 
brothers. 'J hus the same men, who sixty years ago lived al- 
most entirely on pillage, are now proverbial for their mora- 
lity ; ami of all the inhabitants of Great Britain, they give the 
least occupation to the courts of assize. Faithful to their 
sovereign, they know also how to display in regular armies 
that attachment and heroic courage which animated them in 
their petty intestine wars. Rigorous observers of their reli- 
gious duties, they afford this day an example to all Christians 
of that active piety which induces them, in order to assist in 
divine service, to brave the tempestuous climate, and under- 
take long journeys in a country beset with rocks, across dan- 
gerous precipices and boisterous seas. The ministers second 
their zeal by astonishing efforts and the warmest attachment ; for 
they are to be seen braving the fury of the ocean in small boats 
to carry the consolation of religion into the most distant parts 
of their parishes. 

The number of parishes too limited in proportion to their 
extent, is the cause why the pastors, notwithstanding their 
zeal, cannot discharge all the functions required by their min- 
istry. In order to remedy this inconvenience, members of the 
church have been delegated under the title of missionaries, to 
aid the pastors in preaching the gospel. They go at certain 
periods to celebrate divine service in the vallies, and the most 
remote districts ; but the salaries of these respectable ministers 
are far from being proportioned to their utility and devotion. 

Not only has the succour of religion been augmented, but 
a Society for the propagation of Christianity has founded 
establishments for the education of children. Every village in 
the mountains and isles, however small, possesses at present a 
school where reading and writing are taught, in Gaelic and 
English. Thus that ignorance into which a military life had 
for a long period plunged this people, is dying away, and with 
it those superstitious practices and creeds which have long 
been prevalent in the mountainous districts of Scotland. 

Notwithstanding the Chiefs baye lost much of their power 
by the abolition of the patriarchal regime, they have, however, 
in general preserved a great influence over their farmers, vt ho 
were formerly their vassals; this influence is due to the pro- 
perty of extensive domains. They let the farms at low prices 
to those whom they protect; and as they can withdraw thesd 
benefits at pleasure, their farmers are thus entirely dependent 
on them. Although the law deprived the Chiefs of that heri- 
ditary jurisdiction which they formerly exercised, yet, as the 



Saussure > s Voyage to the Hebrides. 99 

offices of " Justice of the Peace"* are always confided to great 
proprietors, and as the distance of the mountains and isles 
from the centre of government renders arbitrary measures more 
easily carried into execution, than in England and the south of 
Scotland, the lairds thus preserve a much more extensive 
power over their tenantry than that of other proprietors in 
Great Britain. When the laird makes use of his prerogative 
only for the good of his subordinates ; when he applies him- 
self, like his ancestors, to conciliate their respect by offers of 
services and kindness ; when, in short, hejendeavours to keep up 
among them that spirit of clanship, or family love, so power- 
ful in former times, he again finds among the farmers the same 
attachment — the same devotion which they formerly enter- 
tained for their chiefs. But, in this respect, all the Highland 
proprietors have not followed the same course, and hence have 
resulted very different effects in the prosperity and happiness of 
those Highlanders who are not proprietors. This is what I 
shall endeavour to describe ; for in this particular are included 
the most striking results which the transition from a military 
regime to a commercial system has occasioned. 

It should be recollected, that before the abolition of the 
regime of clans, the interest of the landed proprietor was to 
concentrate in his domain the greatest possible number of men 
capable of bearing arms ; hence it followed, that the popu- 
lation was no longer identified with the produce of the soil, 
and that the land was divided into a very considerable number 
of small farms, on each of which a whole family resided. In 
general, the proprietor reserved for himself a part of his do- 
main, where he placed the men of his suite, his servants, and 
all those who were more particularly attached to his person. 
Some vassals paid no rent for their farms, others paid their 
leases partly in money, and partly in personal or particular 
services to the profit of the proprietor. The portions of his 
domain which the chief did not use himself were let to a few of 
the principal members of his tribe, his nearest relations, desig- 
nated under the name of tacksmen ; the latter divided the lands 
again among the small tenants, and the cotters, or labouring 
people. The farms which these last occupied were not con- 
siderable : they paid no rent in money, but they worked for 
the tacksmen, and were their servants. 

When the chiefs were deprived of their authority over their 
tribes, and being no longer petty independent princes, so great 
an armed population was become useless to them, and no 
longer procured them, as formerly, that consideration and 
power which were the objects of their ambition ; they, there- 
fore, felt the necessity of maintaining their rank and credit by 



100 Sau8sure*s Voyage to the Hebrides. 

differeDt means, and those which were most obvious were the 
employment of their lands in augmenting their fortunes. It 
was necessary for this purpose to increase the revenue, and to 
make the soil yield a greater pecuniary profit. The system of 
administration of domains pursued until then in the Highlands 
was the least likely of all to procure these advantages. The 
rent of the farms had been invariably held extremely low, and 
the entire produce of the soil was consumed in supporting that 
population which was of so little service to agriculture. There 
remained no surplus for disposal in a market; consequently 
there were no markets, and the farmers exported no kind of 
provisions from their domains which could be sold. The pro- 
prietors, therefore, having no longer any thing in view but their 
pecuniary interests, must consequently have felt the necessity of 
augmenting the extent of their farms, by the diminution of 
their number. By that, the same labour, which formerly em- 
ployed a multitude of hands, was now easily executed by a 
single farmer ; the space of ground which at that time main- 
tained all these small farmers being now cultivated by one in- 
dividual, there remarked for him a certain surplus which he 
could realise by carrying it to market. 

Those who had until then held small farms were dispossessed 
in great numbers, in proportion as the proprietors, always more 
anxious for large revenues, were convinced that to convert 
their mountains and valleys into pasture for sheep, was much 
more profitable than the cultivation of land. Farmers from 
the south of Scotland, and from England, whose chief occu- 
pation was the propagation of sheep, having discovered that 
the mountains of Scotland supplied pasturage of as good a 
quality as those of the Cheviot Hills and of England, and 
that they could farm them out at a higher price, made 
the Highland proprietors better offers than they had re- 
ceived from their ancient vassals, and consequently they ob- 
tained the preference. The great farmers of the mountains, or 
tacksmen, witnessed the enormous profits which these new- 
comers made at the fairs of the south, by the exportation of 
their sheep reared in the Highlands, which were more consider- 
able, as tbey had neither the expense of labour nor of imple- 
ments that the agriculturist had, and a single shepherd was suffi- 
cient to guard the largest Hocks in the most extensive district. 

This success awakened the attention of the large farmers, 
and they likewise resolved to undertake the breeding of sheep; 
they dispossessed their small tenants and their CottetB, and by 
the profits which tbey made, w< pe able to pay the proprietors 
a higher rent for their farms, which llwy could thus preserve. 
The system of sheep pasturage became more established every 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 101 

year; the competition which was established between the 
English farmers or Lowlanders, and the tacksmen of the 
Highlands, prodigiously augmented the revenue of land in the 
latter couutry. The proprietors attained the object they had 
in view : they enriched themselves by the progressive and ra- 
pid iucrease of their rents, and many of them quitted their 
mountains and their now deserted vallies, to expend their 
newly acquired fortunes in Edinburgh, and in London ; seek- 
ing to gratify their vanity by a display of luxury, as they 
formerly did, by exhibiting the savage pomp of a numerous 
suite of devoted vassals. 

What then became of the tenantry and labourers, who by 
these measures were deprived of farms, which a long heredi- 
tary possession had accustomed them to consider as their pro- 
perty ? Filled with despair, and burning with resentment 
against their chiefs, who ought to have protected them, and 
whom they accused of ingratitude ; being unable to remain in 
a country, where, in order to procure the necessaries of life 
it was indispensable to possess a small portion of land ; and 
destitute of all resources, they were finally obliged to quit 
those vallies and mountains which their forefathers had in- 
habited, and which recalled to their minds so manv interest- 
ing and glorious associations. Those of the tenantry who 
possessed cattle and agricultural implements hastened to sell 
them, and with their produce they paid their passage from 
England to America, where they emigrated in vast numbers 
with their families. The working people, who had no other 
resource than their own labour, flocked to the manufacturing 
cities of the Lowlands, w T ith the firm determination of la- 
bouring incessantly in the factories, in order to obtain funds 
adequate to the cost of their voyage to America; and the mo- 
ment this was done, they eagerly set off to join their coun- 
trymen in a foreign land. 

In addition to the number who had already been turned out 
of their farms, was the emigration of those who felt that a si- 
milar fate awaited them ; depending no longer on the attach- 
ment of their ancient chiefs, and subjected, while the latter 
were amusing themselves in great cities, to all the vexations 
and severity of overseers, who were frequently strangers, sent 
to manage the estates during the absence of the proprietors, 
they preferred throwing up their farms, before the leases were 
expired, and profited by the first favourable opportunity to 
undertake the voyage. 

Thus, a great emigration took place, by which the English 
government saw thousands of faithful subjects removing into 



102 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

foreign countries — honest and brave men, who were formerly 
considered a nursery of intrepid soldiers. 

A general cry of disapprobation was raised in Scotland 
against those proprietors who, deaf to the voice of nature and 
of pity, and looking only to their personal interests, sacrificed 
to their cupidity a host of men who had exposed their lives for 
them, and whose fathers had more than once generously de- 
voted themselves to their ancestors. " What are become," said 
these unfortunate people in their distress, without asylum and 
without protectors — " what are become of the family ties, which 
our chief formerly delighted to preserve among us, when he had 
occasion for our arms? Are we no longer his tribe? Are we 
no longer the children of one common father— now that we 
claim his protection ?" Happily for the tranquillity of the 
kingdom, these melancholy scenes were by no means general 
in the Highlands; for if the fermentation which followed, and 
which on some occasions manifested itself otherwise than by 
complaints — if this discontent had burst forth in all the. dis- 
tricts at the same time, the public safety would have been 
grievously compromised. But more fortunate for humanity, 
there were found many proprietors, who preferred the hap- 
piness of diffusing benefits around them, to the allurements of 
gain ; and instead of augmenting their revenues, sought to 
ameliorate the condition of their subordinates. There were 
also some who were far from desiring to disinherit their ancient 
vassals, yet, nevertheless, could not resist the temptation of the 
high prices offered them for their farms ; these last, therefore, 
endeavoured, without making corresponding sacrifices, to re- 
tain them in their service. 

Efforts were now making throughout Scotland to procure 
resources for those who had been sent away by their hard- 
hearted proprietors ; but these efforts were not sufficiently fol- 
lowed up ; they were rarely complete, and often the plans 
adopted in order to procure them the means of subsistence 
entirely failed. Thus, when war presented no obstacles, 
emigration continued, and went on increasing from year to 
year. These symptoms of depopulation at length be.<;an to 
spread alarm among those who felt interested in the mountains 
of Scotland. 

Many authors have written on this subject. A respectable 
association, The Highland Society, took these circumstances 
into their serious consideration, and were actively occupied in 
seeking resources, even in the Highlands, in order to retain 
those who were disposed to emigrate. 

They, in consequence, claimed the interference of the legis- 



Saussures Voyage to the Hebrides. 105 

iature, to oppose the emigration ; and what is most remarkable, 
the proprietors who were the cause of the evils, and who alone 
could provide an efficacious remedy, were those who most 
anxiously demanded authority from government to restrain 
the emigrants from embarking. They were doubtless per- 
suaded, that such an emigration was injurious to the country, 
and perhaps also, they were conscious, that to them would rea- 
sonably be imputed the expatriation of so many brave men. 
But what could the legislature do? They could not compel 
the proprietors to dispose of their domains against their own 
will, nor could they infringe on the right of every inhabitant of 
a free country, to transport himself to the place which ap- 
peared to him the most suitable for the developement of his 
industry. They tried, therefore, by persuasion, to retain those 
who wished to emigrate, by offering them lucrative resources 
in their own country, and it was in a great measure for this 
purpose, that the Caledonian canal was undertaken, and 
which, in fact, has employed a great number of workmen. 
The parliament also ordered the opening of new roads ; but 
these labours, although considerable, were not sufficient for 
the great number of men who were out of employment ; be- 
sides, there were many, w T ho feeling that these resources were 
only temporary, and excited by examples, as well as by the 
hope of making their fortunes, and by the attraction of pos- 
sessing lands of their own, persisted in emigrating to America. 

Thus emigration continued, and at the termination of every 
war, numerous groups of men, women, and children, em- 
barked for the new world. Those who have witnessed the 
departure of these unfortunate people, have painted in lively 
colours the distressing scenes which were unceasingly renewed 
when so many poor Highlanders bade an eternal adieu to 
the huts and vallies of tfieir native country. 

Among the numerous works which have been written on the 
emigration of the Highlanders, the most remarkable is that of 
Lord Selkirk, who, in truth, is the only author who has ap- 
proved of the expulsion of small farmers, and who has consi- 
dered emigration as favourable to the developement of industry 
in Great Britain. He has treated this subject entirely as a 
question of political economy, and enforced his arguments with 
great acumen. This work, it appears to me, was so much the 
more dangerous, as its tendency was to abandon all attempts to 
ameliorate the situation of the unhappy Highlanders, as being 
unprofitable and even injurious ; thus encouraging the proprie- 
tors to study their own self-interest, in driving from their 
homes an intelligent people, who were warmly attached to 
their duties, to their laws, and to their sovereign, — for the pur- 



104 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

pose of supplying their places by flocks of sheep! I trust I 
shall oe excused endeavouring to oppose some reflections to 
the arguments by which Lord Selkirk has justified such con- 
duct, and explained his opinions. 

Are we only, I' ask, in the first place, to consider this im- 
portant subject, as the noble author has done, with respect to 
the pecuniary interests of the proprietors, and of those of the 
industrious and commercial interests of the nation? Is there 
not also a much greater question, and one of much higher im- 
portance? Ought we not first of all to ascertain whether a 
man has a right, in defiance of the laws of religion, the rules 
of morality, and the dictates of his own conscience, to sacri- 
fice to personal advantages the happiness, and even the ex- 
istence of a number of human beings, who have a just claim 
on him for protection, and who are entirely under his de- 
pendence? Thus, if the real cause of emigration be found in 
the means employed by proprietors to increase their revenues; 
and if these means are manifestly contrary to morality, what- 
ever may be their good effects in political eeonony — whatever 
brilliant results they may offer in perspective — all the parti- 
cular and general benefits which might have been derived from 
it, ought not to have been sought after, as they were evidently 
founded on an unjust principle. — Lord Selkirk does not appear 
to have felt this, when he so strongly advocated the utility and 
the advantages of emigration. 

By stripping this subject of the moral question, which indeed 
is inseparable from it, and by reducing it to a simple calculation 
of interest, he has collected a number of arguments sufficiently 
specious, in order to support his conclusion : viz. that, to en- 
courage the system adopted by the proprietors, the emi- 
gration which is the consequence of it, is necessary for the 
public prosperity. But if he has contrived to dazzle the 
imagination for a time, he has not succeeded in convincing 
public opinion, nor in persuading those who still consider him 
as their guide. 

It happens here, as on all occasions when systems of politi- 
cal economy are found in contradiction with the laws of ethics, 
that many persons who are incapable of refuting the argu- 
ments employed to support them, reject them from the sole 
motive that they are repugnant to their own intimate 1 opinions. 

Such are the dispositions which Lord Selkirk and other 
economists tax with prejudice, and which they endeavour to 
destroy among those whom thev address, by always showing 
them, that the improvement of their fortunes, from whence 
public wealth is derived, ought to be the sole object of their 
efforts, as individuals and members of the body politic; every 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 105 

other consideration being yielded to that point. Those who 
have till now refused to embrace this system, are only, in their 
eyes, as superficial observers, who do not consider that these par- 
tial evils ought to have the public good as a final consequence. 

But, has not the simple and conclusive reasoning which, un- 
known to them, influences those ignorant and prejudiced pre- 
tenders, much more force than tbat which they are inclined 
to oppose to them? " You prove to us admirably well," they 
may say, " what would be the surest and most expeditious 
means of enriching ourselves, and, on this point, we agree with 
you : however, in order to attain this object, we must be guilty 
of injustice, for we regard as such the abandonment of men 
who have a claim on our protection, and consequently this act 
is repugnant to our conscience." But the laws of morality, 
even when they are not dictated by religion, are, from the 
avowal of every philosopher, founded on the immutable basis 
of reason. Here is on one side political economy, such as it is 
considered to be in the present day, which says to us: Follow 
only your pecuniary interest, it will conduct you to your 
greatest happiness, to that of your country. However, the 
voice of morality cries out ; Do not unto others that which you 
would not wish should be done unto you. Do not extinguish 
in your heart that sentiment of commiseration for your fellow 
creatures in distress, which is the principal of every social 
virtue. 

From these two modes of reasoning which, on the same 
subject, lead to results so diametrically opposite, one of 
them must evidently be false ; which then are we to choose ? 
We should not hesitate, as we know from the earliest expe- 
rience, from the testimony of all philosophers, and, in short, 
from the light of revelation, that morality is intimately con- 
nected with human nature, and forms part of its very essence. 
We are not so certain with respect to any system of political 
economy. In this uncertainty we adopt then the conclusions 
of morality. How much more reason have we on our side 
than you, who tell us, in the name of political economy, that 
we ought not to stop at a transient and partial evil, in order 
to attain a general and permanent blessing,* when we oppose 
to this specious and dangerous doctrine so just and true a pre- 
cept of morality : Never do an evil that good may result from 
it! What a state then would society be in, if an evident injus- 
tice were permitted with the mere uncertainty of obtaining 
some advantage ? 

With what irresistible force may we apply the answer of a 



* See Lord Selkirk on Emigration, pp. 133 and 134. 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. 



106 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

Highland chief, when he was advised to send away his ancient 
vassals in order to replace them with flocks of sheep — " Their 
forefathers," said he, " have, at the price of their blood and 
their lives, conquered and defended the domain which I pos- 
sess, and I think their children have a natural right to par- 
ticipate in the produce of it." 

I have hitherto expressly treated this important question 
under a dogmatical form, and I have appealed to the laws of 
morality, which, by common consent, are also those of reason. 
The partisans who calculate only their own interest, and apply 
it to all the circumstances of life, repel every argument; — they 
pretend to regard those with pity, as being weak and in- 
fatuated, who throw obstacles in the way of their vast pro- 
jects for the perfection of the social fabric. But, what would 
they have said, had I addressed myself to those who yet feel a 
lively emotion at the recital of the sufferings of their fellow- 
creatures; had I presented to them these men, whom the eco- 
nomists consider as so many abstract quantifies, and of whom 
they would dispose as the calculator does his figures, but 
whom I would have shown to have been animated by all 
the affections and recollections, and a prey to all the impres- 
sions of happiness or misery which the Creator has imparted 
to the human species ; had I, in short, opposed to the specious 
arguments of these bold theorists, the simple and affecting 
picture presented by a multitude of fathers, aged men, and 
children, driven by hundreds from their native soil, in order to 
satisfy the rapacious cupidity and vanity of a single man; 
who would dare to set his heart against the sympathy which 
such a spectacle would have excited in a generous breast? 
These unfortunate beings, driven from their country, without 
assistance, abandoned by the man whom they had cherished as 
a father, and on whom they founded all their hopes, and con- 
fided themselves to the first adventurer they met with, crowd- 
ed promiscuously into vessels too small for the number of 
passengers, and without adequate means of subsistence during 
the voyage, arrive at last in the new world, — they touch 
the soil of that promised land ; but here again other misfor- 
tunes await them. Strangers, destitute of every thing, in an 
unknown country, the greater part of an age at which it is 
difficult to serve an apprenticeship to a new kind of occu- 
pation, and in which strength is wanting for the laborious ex- 
ertions which await them, — in this state are exposed to 
the merry of rapacious speculators. \iO*\, in short, in those im- 
mense forests, where they must seek their <>\\ n subsistence, the 
isolated state in which they find themselves, the depth of those 
impenetrable woods, and the frightful aspect of the deserts, 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides, 107 

seize them with horror; despair takes possession of their souls, 
and it is only with difficulty that, without a guide, without 
any direction, they perhaps ultimately succeed in cultivating 
a piece of ground sufficient for the maintenance of their fami- 
lies. Next their affections are turned towards that country 
which has abandoned them, but which they still love : they 
wish to perpetuate, even in a new hemisphere, the remem- 
brance of the places where they have passed their childhood ; 
they designate their little fields, and their cottages formed 
with branches of trees, by the names of those farms 
which their ancestors possessed, and which they quitted with 
so much regret ; and the foreigner, wandering in the vast de- 
serts of America, hears at times the echoes of the banks of the 
Sussequhana and Ontario re-echoing those plaintive airs which 
formerly resounded in the mountains of Scotland. 

But, it will be said, can this emigration be prevented ? The 
legislature cannot oppose it ; and must the proprietors abandon 
their interests altogether, and consent to charge themselves, as 
formerly, with the burden of a population unused to labour, 
and disproportioned to the extent of the soil? Is there not 
then, I would ask, in my turn — is there no intermediate method 
for a chief between the preservation of his small farmers, and 
their general expulsion ? Lord Selkirk does not seem to 
believe in the possibility of a medium conduct, as such always 
opposes the system of sheep pasturage (which, according to 
him, must one day extend throughout the Highlands), to the 
maintenance of small farmers and ancient rents, without ap- 
pearing to discover any other practicable means. He would 
have reason indeed, if all the resources of the Highlands had 
been exhausted, and if it were proved that they could not be 
rendered more productive. But this is not the case : if the 
population is too large for the actual state of agriculture, it is 
because the lands capable of cultivation are very far from being 
all cleared, and because they do not produce all that judicious 
management might obtain from them ; because the sea, that im- 
mense reservoir of subsistence, is altogether neglected ; whilst it 
is acknowledged, that the fishery of the Hebrides, on the coasts 
and in the gulphs of the western isles of Scotland, would alone 
suffice, were it encouraged, not only to maintain all the actual 
population of Scotland, but even to enrich it. Thus, it is futile 
to talk of Scotland being over-peopled, in relation to its pro- 
duce ; it is more likely, that political economists do not know 
how to draw from it what is necessary in order to support the 
population. 

There are many abuses in agriculture still to be remedied, 
and these abuses, extending nearly throughout Scotland, pre- 



108 Saussurt's Voyage to the Hebrides, 

vent the full appreciation of all that its soil is capable of pro- 
ducing. A great extent of arable land is still uncultivated ; 
and, in addition to this, the system of sheep farms has suc- 
ceeded in laying waste many lands which the persevering in- 
dustry of certain small farmers had fertilized ; because, at the 
price now offered for pasturage, the proprietor has no interest 
in cultivating his land. 

If then, as Lord Selkirk announces, this system shall end in 
covering all the mountainous districts in this great extent of 
country with sheep, we shall soon see not a single field cul- 
tivated ; the lands even, which at present maintain a multi- 
tude of families, will have then returned to their original state. 
Nevertheless, there are many valleys capable of cultivation. 
As a proof of this, we may quote the instance of an intelligent 
farmer near Inverness having transformed, as if by magic, a 
barren track into a delightful garden. 

The system of sheep pasturage, so far from leading to the per- 
fection of agriculture and the amelioration of the soil, has a 
contrary effect. This branch of revenue, however productive 
it may appear at the present day, is, notwithstanding, very 
precarious, since the high price now offered for pasturage pro- 
ceeds from the great consumption of salt meat which takes 
place among the number of troops in the army and navy at 
present in the pay of England, and above all, from the neces- 
sity of supplying the British colonies of the two hemispheres 
with this kind of provision. A considerable reduction in the 
English forces, and the emancipation of some of her colonies, 
w r ill not fail, in the course of a short time, to diminish the value 
of sheep pasturage: what then will become of the Scottish 
proprietor with his uncultivated lands ? He will be obliged 
to employ farmers from another country, who would not fail 
to exact onerous conditions, as no other inducement but that 
of gain will tempt them to establish themselves in a country, 
the soil of which is unproductive, and the climate severe. 
How much, then, will the proprietors regret having expelled 
the natural inhabitants of these mountains, whom some con- 
cession would have retained in the country which was the ob- 
ject of all their affections ! Accustomed to the severity of their 
native climate, and inured to fatigue and privations, they 
would not have required conditions near so rigorous as the 
farmers of the south of Scotland or England, and would have, 
at less expence, fertilized land of an equal extent. 

Lord Selkirk, it is true, reproaches the Highlanders with the 
want of that activity and energy Decenary for agricultural la- 
bour, and with having still harboured that disposition for idle- 
ness and indolence which prevailed among them when they were 



tSaussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 109 

entirely under the dependence of their chiefs. He reproaches the 
proprietors also, who have endeavoured to retain their ancient 
farmers by granting them lands to cultivate, with having by an 
unfair mode of concession injured themselves in the success 
of their enterprise. Thus, says he, the leases granted were too 
short; the farmer not being protected, and receiving no pe- 
cuniary assistance, can only profitably cultivate a very small 
extent of ground, and the prospect of profit presented to him 
is not then sufficiently encouraging to determine him to invest 
his small capital in this manner. 

These observations, in fact, prove, that the proprietor who 
wishes to retain his ancient vassals on his domain, by employing 
them in clearing the land, must for a time submit to some 
pecuniary sacrifices ; but these prove comparatively trifling 
with the possibility of rendering agriculture a resource for the 
inhabitants of the mountains. Moreover, experience has shown, 
that every time the lairds wished, in reality, to offer their far- 
mers advantageous terms, or to put them in a state, either 
by advances or by granting them extraordinary privileges, 
in order to provide for the expence of the first establishment, 
the Highlanders have displayed an activity and disposition for 
labour of which they could hardly have been thought capable, 
and the success of similar enterprises has surpassed all ex- 
pectation. It would be easy to mention many other ex- 
amples ; but I shall content myself with one, which will best 
prove what a Highland proprietor can do for the good of his 
country when he does not merely look to his immediate in- 
terest. 

The Marquis of Stafford acquired, by his marriage with the 
Countess of Sutherland, the estate of Sutherland, situate at the 
northern extremity of Scotland. No district at that time ap- 
peared less fit for cultivation, either from the nature of the soil, 
which was covered with rocks, and presented only barren and 
uncultivated mountains, or from the wild and uncivilized cha- 
racter of its inhabitants, or, lastly, from the severity and 
variableness of the climate. However, there was a track of 
land capable of being cultivated in this district ; but the in- 
dolent Highlanders had scarcely cleared any portion of it, in 
order to reap the precarious crops of rye and potatoes. 

The ancient tenures were just abolished, and the proprietors 
already began to dispossess their vassals, in order to establish 
sheep pasturage on their farms. The Marquis of Stafford, un- 
willing that the ancient tenants of the house of Sutherland 
should suffer by the change of circumstances which time had 
brought about, allotted only for the sheep the mountains de- 
cidedly sterile, and endeavoured to draw all the population 



I JO Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 

into the valleys, and to the sea coast, in order to employ them 
in cultivating the soil and carrying on the fishery. 

To attain this object, he allowed each family a cottage, and 
a piece of ground sufficient to keep a cow. Each man re- 
ceived also three Scottish acres to cultivate, and a propor- 
tionate extent for pasturage in the mountains. From that time 
a spirit of industry was excited among them to an astonishing 
degree : their thatched huts were changed into buildings 
of dry stone, and the latter were afterwards replaced by 
well constructed houses, which the master no longer inhabited, 
as he formerly did, promiscuously with his cows and horses. 
It was the same with the fishery as with agriculture: Lord 
Seikirk rather appears to have sought to depreciate this branch 
of industry, and to have concluded from the failure of some 
experiments, that the fishery on the coasts and in the isles 
would never be a sufficient resource to maintain the High- 
landers, when they were dispossessed of their farms. The 
errors with which Lord Selkirk reproaches the Society for the 
Encouragement of the Fisheries, and the proprietors who have 
tried some establishments for sea fishery, prove nothing against 
the final success of a similar enterprise, when the fishermen 
know how to avoid the errors which he points out with 
so much justice. It cannot, however, be denied, that the 
fishery in the Hebrides, and in the western bays of Scotland, is 
capable of considerable augmentation. All travellers agree on 
this point: the inhabitants of the coasts unanimously bear wit- 
ness to the incredible multitudes of fish which inhabit these 
seas, and if palpable proofs were necessary, the extraordinary 
low value of fish in the Hebrides (although that is the princi- 
pal support of the whole population) would prove the truth of 
this assertion ; whilst the innumerable swarms of sea birds, on 
all sides in these seas, indicate immense shoals of herrings. In 
truth, it is well known that formerly the Dutch frequented the 
Hebrides, and regarded the fishery as the great source of their 
wealth ; they then bought the fish from the Hebrideaus in such 
quantities as to load whole fleets. This traffic formed a graud 
resource for these poor islanders, but we are ignorant of the 
cause of parliament prohibiting so advantageous a traffic. 
From that time, and until the late war, the Dutch, alone, pos- 
sessed the advantage of fishing in the Hebrides, the Orkneys, 
and the Shetland Isles. 

These considerations, which were of such a nature as seri- 
ously to awaken attention, and that above all at a moment 
when the Highlanders were emigrating in thousands for want 
of employment and the means of subsistence, engaged many 
individuals, devoted to the welfare of their country, to form 



Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides. 1 1 1 

themselves into a society, for the purpose of giving activity to 
the fisheries by every possible means; with this view Knox 
undertook his journey to the Hebrides and western coast of 
Scotland. He went to survey the fittest places for the esta- 
blishment of fishing villages, and on his report, the society, 
with the aid of'liberai funds which they had raised in Scot- 
land and England, built several villages along the coasts and 
in the Isle of Mull. Every man received a dwelling, and im- 
plements necessary for fishing. Unfortunately, a circumstance 
prevented this undertaking having the desired success. In- 
stead of merely allowing the settlers the requisites for fishing, 
the society thought fit to add to each dwelling a portion of 
land for cultivation; they were then ignorant of what Lord 
Selkirk has very ably proved, that agriculture and the fishery 
are incompatible, as the season which requires agricultural 
labour is that in which the fisherman ought to be at sea. It is 
to be regretted that this overstrained precaution should have 
frustrated the success of a plan which otherwise was calcu- 
lated to produce the most beneficial results. The establishment 
of a village of fishermen would naturally have created a new 
kind of employment ; we should have seen them spontaneously 
building workshops for the construction of boats, manufac- 
tories for nets, ropes, and sails, without considering many 
other less important branches of commerce which must neces- 
sarily be favourable to the happiness of a certain number of 
men, all occupied with the same pursuit. 

The cultivator of the soil would have found, in such a vil- 
lage, a sure market for his provisions ; in short, these establish- 
ments must, according to all probability, have given these 
districts a new impulse and aspect. Those proprietors who 
have succeeded in entirely separating the fishery from agricul- 
ture, have had their labours crowned with more complete suc- 
cess, as the ardent and enterprising spirit of the Highlanders 
entirely agrees with the dangerous trade of sea fishing. 

The Marquis of Stafford, whom I have already quoted, in 
1814, erected a house on his estate of Sutherland, on the sea 
coast, for the curing of fish ; he also built sloops, which 
he granted to some of his ancient dispossessed vassals. Al- 
though totally inexperienced in the fishery, these Highlanders 
found, at the end of the first six weeks, that each man had 
already acquired a profit of twenty-seven pounds sterling. 
Such unexpected success awakened the attention of ail the 
Highlanders of that part of the country, and in the following 
year, 1815, the number of sloops employed in the fishery 
already amounted to fifty. Upwards of four thousand barrels 
of herrings were dispatched, and vessels were loaded for Riga, 



1 1 2 Saussure's Voyage to the Hebrides, 

and the other ports of the Baltic, and even for the West Indies. 
Thus, it appears, that in these latitudes the sea presents a rich 
source of profit to such as are desirous of availing themselves of it. 

The principal obstacles to the success of these establishments 
are the prohibitory laws, and the enormous duties on salt, an 
article of the first necessity in curing fish. It is to be hoped 
the legislature will not delay repealing these severe restrictions, 
and that the English government will at last feel the necessity 
of extensively encouraging the fishery of the Hebrides. It is 
really astonishing to see the English neglecting the benefits 
which nature has put into their own hands, whilst they un- 
ceasingly encourage the distant colony of Newfoundland, which 
has often cost the state much more than it produces. 

It was now thought that the manufactures might offer re- 
sources to the Highlanders dispossessed of their farms, and be 
the means of detaining them in the country; but the seden- 
tary and mechanical labour which this occupation requires 
was not in unison with the spirit and character of this people, 
and the situation of a workman in a manufactory is regarded 
with a certain degree of contempt by the Highlanders. Hence 
it follows, that all the endeavours to establish cotton manufac- 
tories in the Highlands have failed ; and it is only when under 
the most pressing necessity, that the Highlanders have engaged 
as workmen in the manufacturing towns of the South of Scot- 
land. Although there is no doubt that manufactures might be 
the great means of employing and supporting a part of the 
redundant population of the Highlands; yet it appears, that 
nothing would so much prove the want of policy on the part of 
the proprietors, or the government, so much as their encou- 
ragement ; and that it would be equally unwise to endeavour 
to extinguish the feeling which, in this respect, prevails among 
the Highlanders. 

But if the establishment of large manufactories in the moun- 
tains does not appear desirable, there are certain works of less 
extent, and certain occupations which do not require the as- 
sembling of so great a body of men, and which occupations 
may even be combined with agriculture. The encouragement of 
such pursuits would be attended with the greatest advantage, 
and might, in being joined to the resources which have already 
been indicated, enable the proprietors of the Highlands to re- 
tain among them their ancient vassals. Thus the Laird of 
Grant, by granting very advantageous conditions to many of 
his vassals, has seen rise up a brewery, a multitude of small 
shops, manufactories of woollen stuffs, linens, and stockings; 
bleach-fields for wool, as well as workshops for taylors, shoe- 
makers, carpenters, and masons, who all labour for the nume* 



Saussure^s Voyage to the Hebrides. 113 

rous agricultural population occupying the neighbouring val- 
leys. It is evident, from what I have just said, that the High- 
lands might furnish means 'of subsistence to all their inhabi- 
tants, and that, by means different from those which supported 
them when the regime of the clans was in full vigour. 

But in order to attain this happy result, it is necessary that 
every proprietor should consent to suffer some temporary 
sacrifices. 

First, a pecuniary sacrifice, by renouncing a portion of the 
profit which he had derived from sheep farms, and even in 
making advances for the first expences of the establishment. 

Secondly, to give up all inclinations which prompted him to 
abandon his wild and solitary residence to spend his fortune 
at Edinburgh or in London. The presence of the Laird on his 
estates appears to be a sine qua non condition of the success 
of all attempts at amelioration; first, by his residing in the 
Highlands, he is enabled to save a certain portion of his reve- 
nue, which he might apply to improve the situation of his 
farmers ; afterwards, because of the personal influence which 
he exercises over those who surround him, he may over- 
come their repugnance, and other difficulties which generally 
present themselves in the accomplishment of similar projects. 

Without going so far as to pretend, like Lord Selkirk, that 
a Highlander, once dispossessed of the farm of his ancestors, 
would still prefer embarking for America to establishing him- 
self on another portion of the domains of his Chief, it must be 
agreed that there exists, in fact, among the Highlanders, a 
strong repugnance to changing the place of their abode; but 
this repugnance is not insurmountable, and must yield to the 
prospect of an advantageous establishment. Thus we see the 
domains abandoned by the proprietor to the management of a 
cruel and avaricious superintendent, who is unceasingly occu- 
pied in oppressing the farmers in order to provide for the ex- 
pences of the luxury and ostentation of his master; in similar 
domains we see tenants prefer expatriating themselves to the 
endurance of such exactions, and murmur loudly against a 
Chief from whom they ought to have experienced quite 
another kind of treatment. 

But we must be very ignorant of the character of the High- 
landers, to believe that they would be insensible to the benevo- 
lence of their Chiefs, and that they would not feel that those 
who make real sacrifices in their favour have a right to require, 
on their part, all the services in their power. But if, notwith- 
standing the advantages which would be offered to them by 
their Laird, in order to retain them in his lands, he would still 
find some men who would regret the ancient state of things, or 

Voyages and Travels, No. XLIV. Vol. VIII. q 



114 Saussures Voyage to the, Hebrides. 

who, allured by the ambition of becoming proprietors in their 
turn, and seduced by the promises of America, would persist 
in emigrating : in this case, the Chief would no longer be re- 
prehensible for the conduct of those restless and unreasonable 
men in abandoning their country. 

Still attached to his system, that emigration is a beneficial 
measure, Lord Selkirk, after having invited the proprietors to 
consult their personal and pecuniary interest, addresses himself 
to the government, to prove that emigration is not only an ad- 
mirable measure for the country in general, as it has always 
been asserted, but that it is decidedly advantageous, and even 
necessary. I shall not enter into a detail of the arguments 
which he alleges in support of his opinions; it is sufficient 
to observe, that in admitting only two possible cases, that 
of the proprietors persisting in the ancient mode of tene- 
ment, and that of the general introduction of the system of 
sheep farms, Lord Selkirk does not consider the question in all 
its views, since he does not discuss a third case; viz. that 
where the proprietor, by making the requisite sacrifices, would 
seek to retain his ancient vassals by agriculture or fishery ; 
this possibility has never entered into his calculations, and yet, 
had it been taken into consideration, it would naturally have 
led him to very different conclusions. In no case would the 
legislature have been able to compel those to live in Scotland 
who were determined to emigrate; but it appears to me they 
ought seriously to have united their efforts with those of the 
proprietors, in order to retain those individuals who lost their 
ancient farms by the changes operated in the political ad- 
ministration of the country. 

The undertaking of the Caledonian Canal, and the opening 
of many new roads in the mountains, have, with this view, been 
decreed by the British parliament : these no doubt were great 
benefits ; but the good effected by them was only temporary, as 
such enterprises were limited in their duration. An act of much 
greater importance, would have been the repeal of the prohibi- 
tion laws, as such a benefit would have caused not only the 
present, but even future generations to explore with advantage 
the inexhaustible seas : at the same time perhaps, by premiums 
of encouragement for the better cultivation of the lands, they 
might have been able to awaken among the proprietors the 
desire of retaining their ancient vassals. 

It will be seen from all that has been said, that the true cause 
of the emigration of the Highlanders is the conduct of their 
Chiefs; instead of misleading the opinion of ihe proprietors, 
by holding forth to them emigration as the natural consequence 
of the rebellion of 1745, and instead of extinguishing among 



Saiissure's Voyage lo the Hebrides. 115 

them the voice of conscience, by encouraging them to be 
guided only by their pecuniary interest, it would have been 
more desirable had they considered this important question in 
the moral point of view which is the most essential, and had 
they invited them to reconcile their fortunes with the duties 
which they had contracted towards their ancient vassals. 

As the sole object of the proprietors of the mountainous 
districts was to increase their fortunes, and as they sought only 
an -augmentation of revenue to gratify their vanity by a display 
of luxury and wealth, being no longer willing to content them- 
selves, as formerly, by that of a feudal suite of numerous 
warriors, it would have been necessary to appeal to the tri- 
bunal of public opinion, to account for that motive which re- 
duced so great a number of men to despair. This opinion 
would have reached the point where the legislature could no 
longer act. They would have marked with disapprobation 
those who sacrificed the members of their tribe to the con- 
temptible ambition of appearing with eclat in the English me- 
tropolis, since it would have been much more honourable had 
they deprived themselves of a portion of their possessions to 
contribute to the happiness of their inferiors. 

It is, however, here necessary to observe, in justice to the 
pure and liberal intentions of Lord Selkirk, that having once 
admitted emigration to be necessary, and even indispensable, 
and this emigration existing in fact, he has performed a great 
service in seeking to regulate it, and to give it a new course, 
by directing it from the United States, where it had until then 
been directed, towards the English colonies of North America, 
which has tended still to preserve to the British government a 
number of brave and loyal subjects. He himself accompanied 
a body of emigrant Highlanders, whom he destined to occupy 
lands purchased by his lordship for this object in the Isle of 
St. John, or Prince Edward's Island, in the Gulph of St. Law- 
rence, near the coasts of Nova Scotia. He has let out to each 
family, on advantageous terms, a portion of his territory, to 
clear and cultivate ; and has neglected no means, nor spared 
any expence, for the success of his enterprise. Thus success 
has crowned his expectations ; and the very interesting details 
which he has given of the establishment, and the labours of this 
little colony, are, according to our view of the subject, the most 
useful and important part of his work. 



116 tia assurers Voyage to the Hebrides, 

Conclusion. 

Having now terminated ray remarks on the Scottish High- 
landers, the reader will perceive that every thing among them, — 
their manners, customs, language, poetry, and even music, pos- 
sesses a truly original character. Such are the traits which the 
lapse of many centuries has strongly imprinted on the soul of 
every Highlander ; and which, uniting an invincible love for 
his wild native country to long and glorious historical recol- 
lections, have given this small nation, confined to one of the 
least frequented extremities in Europe, a peculiar physiognomy, 
and, at the same time, a lively sentiment of national dignity. 
These are the traits, however, so profoundly engraven by the 
hand of time itself, which a mistaken policy, aided by a par- 
liamentary decree issued at the termination of the last rebellion, 
imagined could be effaced by a single blow. The illus- 
trious father of the great Pitt felt the cruelty, and, at the-same 
time, the folly of such measures ; he hastened to restore the 
Highlands of Scotland the full liberty of preserving all the 
ancient usages which were compatible with the state of things 
recently established in that country. Thus, at the present 
day, the King of England has not in his dominions more 
faithful subjects, nor the British Government more intrepid de- 
fenders, than the descendants of the ancient Gaels. A new era 
has commenced among them ; they now proceed with rapid 
strides in the career which has been opened : may they enjoy 
that happiness which the prospect seems to promise ! The love 
of liberty among them is engrafted upon the ancient and memo- 
rable attachment to their sovereigns and their superiors ; edu- 
cation, supported by religion, and wisely directed by its 
ministers, is diffused amongst them, and must be pro- 
ductive of excellent results ; in -fine, comfort, and perhaps 
wealth, will succeed an hereditary poverty ; but the very nature 
of their country, its severe climate, its mountains, its barren 
valleys, and its seas, will avert luxury and corruption from 
them. May this estimable people know, like their southern 
neighbours, how to prolong to a distant period the space of 
time (frequently so short among other nations) in which learn- 
ing and the arts of civilization go hand in hand with the sen- 
timents and the energetic virtues of another age! 

THE KND. 



LONDON : 
iBACKKbL AND ARH0WSM1TH, JOHNSON'S-COURT, PLEBT-ST1