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ship that is now granted to the inhabitants of the islands, some of whom must travel thither perhaps ten miles. . Two chapels were erected by their ancestors, of which I saw the skeletons, which now stand faithful witnesses of the triumph of Reformation.
The want of churches is not the only impediment to piety; there is likewise a want of ministers. A parish often contains more islands than one; and each island can have the minister only in its own turn. At Raasay they had, I think, a right to service only every third Sunday. All the provision made by the present ecclesiastical constitution, for the inhabitants of about a hundred square miles, is a prayer and sermon in a little room, once in three weeks: and even this parsimonious distribution is at the mercy of the weather: and in those islands where the minister does not reside, it is impossible to tell how many weeks or months may pass without any publick exercise of religion.
GRISSIPOL IN COL.
After a short conversation with Mr. Maclean, we went on to Grissipol, a house and farm tenanted by Mr. Macsweyn, where I saw more of the ancient life of a Highlander than I had yet found. Mrs. Macsweyn could speak no English, and had never seen any other places than the islands of Sky, Mull, and Col : but she was hospitable and good humoured, and spread her table with sufficient liberality. We found tea here as in every other place, but our spoons were of horn.
The house of Grissipol stands by a brook very clear and quick; which is, I suppose, one of the most copious streams in the island. This place was the scene of an action, much celebrated in the traditional history of Col, but which probably no two relaters will tell alike.
Some time, in the obscure ages, Macneil of Barra married the lady Maclean, who had the isle of Col for her jointure. Whether Macneil detained Col, when the widow was dead, or whether she lived so long as to make her heirs impatient, is perhaps not now known. The younger son, called John Gerves or John the Giant, a man of great strength, who was then in Ireland, either for safety or for education, dreamed of recovering his inheritance; and getting some adventurers together, which in those unsettled times was not hard to do, invaded Col. He was driven away, but was not discouraged, and collecting new followers, in three years came again with fifty men. In his way he stopped at Artorinish in Morvern, where his uncle was prisoner to Macleod, and was then with his enemies in a tent. Maclean took with him only one servant, whom he ordered to stay at the outside : and where he should see the tent pressed outwards, to strike with his dirk; it being the intention of Maclean, as any man.pro. voked him, to lay hands upon him, and push him back. He entered the tent alone, with his Lochaber axe in his hand, and struck such terrour into the whole assembly, that they dismissed his uncle,
When he landed at Col, he saw the sentinel, who kept watch towards the sea, running off to Grissipol,
to give Macneil, who was there with a hundred and twenty men, an account of the invasion. He told Macgill, one of his followers, that if he inter. cepted that dangerous intelligence, by catching the courier, he would give him certain lands in Mull. Upon this promise Macgill pursued the messenger, and either killed or stopped him; and his posterity, till very lately, held the lands in Mull.
The alarm being thus prevented, he came unex. pectedly upon Macneil. Chiefs were in those days never wholly unprovided for an enemy. A fight e'nsued, in which one of their followers is said to have given an extraordinary proof of activity, ' by bounding backwards over the brook of Grissipol. Macneil being killed, and many of his clan destroyed, Maclean took possession of the island, which the Macneils attempted to conquer by another invasion, but were defeated and repulsed. · Maclean, in his turni, invaded the estate of the Macneils, took the castle of Brecacig, and conquered the isle or Barra, which he held for seven years, and then restored it to the heirs.
CASTLE OF COL. From Grissipol Mr. Maclean conducted us to his father's seat; a neat new house erected near the old castle, I think, by the last proprietor. Here we were allowed to take our station, and lived very commodiously, while we waited for moderate weather and a fair wind, which we did not so soon obtain, but we had time to get some information of the present state of Col, partly by inquiry, and partly by accasional excursions. A A4
Co! Col is computed to be thirteen miles in length, and three in breadth. Both the ends are the property of the duke of Argyle, but the middle belongs to Maclean, who is called Col, as the only laird,
Col is not properly rocky; it is rather one continued rock, of a surface much diversified with protuberances, and covered with a thin layer of earth, which is often broken, and discovers the stone. Such a soil is not for plants that strike deep roots; and perhaps in the whole island nothing has ever yet grown to the height of a table. The uncultivated parts are clothed with heath, among which industry, has interspersed spots of grass and corn; but no attempt has been made to raise a tree. Young Col, who has a very laudable desire of improving his patrimony, purposes some time to plant an orchard ; which, if it be sheltered by a wall, may perhaps succeed. He has introduced the culture of turnips, of which he has a field, where the whole work was performed by his own hand. His intention is to provide food for his cattle in the winter. This innovation was considered by Mr. Macsweyn as the idle project of a young head, heated with English fancies ; but he has now found that turnips will really grow, and that hungry sheep and cows will really eat them..
By such acquisitions as these, the Hebrides may in time rise above their annual distress. Wherever heath will grow, there is reason to think something bétter may draw nourishment; and by trying the production of other places, plants will be found suitable to every soil.
Col has many lochs, some of which have trouts and eels, and others have never yet been stocked ; another proof of the negligence of the islanders, who might take fish in the inland waters when they cannot go to sea.''
Their quadrupeds are horses, cows, sheep, and goats. They have neither deer, hạres, nor rabbits. They have no vermin, except rats, which have been lately brought thither by sea, as to other places; and are free from serpents, frogs, and toads. isi i
The harvest in Col and in Lewis, is ripe sooner than in Sky, and the winter in Col is never cold, but very tempestuous. I know not that I ever heard the wind so loud in any other place; and Mr. Boswell observed that its noise was all its own, for there were no trees to increase it.
Noise is not the worst effect of the tempests; for they have thrown the sand from the shore over a.. considerable part of the land, and is said still to encroach and destroy more and more pasture; but I am not of opinion, that by any surveys or landmarks, its limits have been ever fixed, or its progression ascertained. If one man has confidence • enough to say, that it advances, nobody can bring any proof to support him in denying it. The reason why it is not spread to a greater extent, seems to be; that the wind and rain come almost together, and that it is made close and heavy by the wet before the storms can put it in motion. So thick is the bed, and so small the particles, that if a traveller should be caught by a sudden gust in dry weather, he would find it very difficult to escape with life.