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be distinguished into buts and houses. By a | live in miserable cabins, which afford them little
is from his own stock. The great effect of
Huts are of many gradations ; from murky yet found. Peat is dug out of the marshes, dens to commodious dwellings.
from the depth of one foot to that of six. That The wall of a common but is always built is accounted the best which is nearest the surwithout mortar, by a skilful adaption of loose face. It appears to be a mass of black earth stones. Sometimes perhaps a double wall of held together by vegetable fibres. I know not stones is raised, and an intermediate space filled whether the earth be bituminous, or whether the with earth. The air is thus completely excluded. fibres be not the only combustible part; which, Some walls are, I thiuk, formed of turfs, held by heating the interposed earth red-hot, make together by a wattle, or texture of twigs. Of a burning mass. The heat is not very strong the meanest huts the first room is lighted by the or lasting. The ashes are yellowish, and in a entrance, and the second by the smoke holo. large quantity. When they dig peat, they cut The fire is usually made in the middle. But it into square pieces, and pile it up to dry beside there are huts or dwellings of only one story in the house. In some places it has an offensive babited by gentlemen, which have walls cement-smell. It is like wood charred for the smith. ed with mortar, glass windows, and boarded The common method of making peat-fires is by Aoors. Of these all have chimneys, and some heaping it on the hearth ; but it burns well in chimneys have grates.
grates, and in the best houses is so used. The house and the furniture are not always The common opinion is, that peat grows again nicely suited. We were driven once by missing where it has been cut; which, as it seems to be a passage, to the hut of a gentleman, where, chiefly a vegetable substance, is not unlikely to after a very liberal supper, when I was conducto be true, whether known or not to those who ed to my chamber, I found an elegant bed of In-relate it. dian cotton, spread with fine sheets. The accom- There are watermills in Sky and Raasay: modation was flattering; I undressed myself, but where they are too far distant, the bouseand felt my feet in the mire. The bed stood wives grind their oats with a quern, or handupon the bare earth, which a long course of rain mill, wbich consists of two stones, about a foot had softened to a puddle.
and a half in diameter; the lower is a little In pastoral countries, the condition of the convex, to which the concavity of the upper lowest rank of people is sufficiently wretched. must be fitted. In the middle of the upper Among manufacturers, men that have no pro- stone is a round bole, and on one side is a long perty may have art and industry, which make handle. The grinder sheds the corn gradually them necessary, and therefore valuable. But into the hole with one hand, and works the where flocks and corn are the only wealth, there handle round with the other. The corn slides are always more hands than work, and of that down the convexity of the lower stone, and by work there is little in which skill and dexterity the motion of the upper is ground in its passage. can be much distinguished. He therefore who These stones are found in Lochabar. is born poor, never can be rich. The son merely The islands afford few pleasures, except to the occupies the place of the father, and life knows hardy sportsman, who can tread the moor and pothing of progression or advancement.
climb the mountain. The distance of one The petty tenants, and labouring peasants, family from another, in a country where travel
ling bas so much difficulty, makes frequent in- , tion is half-a-crown a quarter. But the scholars
Having heard of no boarding-school for ladies
plied by very liberal fortunes. A hundred
the laird's daughter. They do not indeed often
To but two cows are a decent fortune for one who
The religion of the islands is that of the kirk
The general conversation of the islanders bas but they are obliged to maintain the established
payment to another, who must live wholly on
They therefore all attend the worship of the
the practicability of travelling, gives them opguess the motive, and gazes with surprise on portunity; nor have they any reason to comthings which they, having had them always plain of insufficient pastors; for I saw not one before their eyes, do not suspect of any thing in the islands, whom I had reason to think either wonderful. He appears to them like some
deficient in learning, or irregular in life ; but being of another world, and then thinks it pecu- found several with whom I could not converse liar that they take their turn to inquire whence without wishing, as my respect increased, that he comes, and whither he is going.
they had not been presbyterians. The islands were long unfurnished with in
The ancient rigour of puritanism is now very
I sometimes met with prejudices
make it part of his supplication would be sus.
prayer, expected immediate, and perhaps per- f the Old Man with the Long Beard. Whether ceptible inspiration, and therefore thought it his | Greogach was courted as kind, or dreaded as duty not to think before what he should say. It terrible, whether they meant, by giving him the is now universally confessed, that men pray as milk, to obtain good or avert evil, I was not inthey speak on other occasions, according to the formed. The minister is now living by whom general measure of their abilities and attain the practice was abolished. ments. Whatever each may think of a form They have still among them a great number prescribed by another, he cannot but believe that of charms for the cure of different diseases ; they he can himself compose by study and meditation, ! are all invocations, perhaps transmitted to them a better prayer than will rise in his mind at a from the times of popery, which increasing sudden call; and if he has any hope of superna- knowledge will bring into disuse. tural belp, why may he not as well receive it They have opinions which cannot be ranked when he writes as when he speaks?
with superstition, because they regard only naIn the variety of mental powers, some must tural effects. They expect better crops of grain perform extemporary prayer with much imper- by sowing their seed in the moon's increase. fection ; and in the eagerness and rashness of The moon has great influence in vulgar pbilocontradictory opinions, if public liturgy be left sophy. In my memory it was a precept annually to the private judgment of every minister, the given in one of the English almanacks, “to kill congregation may often be offended or misled. ho when the moon was increasing, and the
There is in Scotland, as among ourselves, a bacon would prove the better in boiling." restless suspicion of popish machinations, and a We should have had little claim to the praise clamour of numerous converts to the Romish of curiosity, if we had not endeavoured with religion. The report is, I believe, in both parts particular attention to examine the question of of the island equally false. The Romish reli- the Second Sight. Of an opinion received for gion is professed only in Egg and Canna, two centuries by a whole nation, and supposed to be small islands, into which the reformation never confirmed through its whole descent by a series made its way. If any missionaries are busy in of successive facts, it is desirable that the truth the Highlands, their zeal entitles them to re- should be established, or the fallacy detected. spect, even from those who cannot think favour- The Second Sight is an impression made either ably of their doctrine.
by the mind upon the eye, or by the eye upon The political tenets of the islanders I was not the mind, by which things distant or future are curious to investigate, and they were not eager perceived, and seen as if they were present. A to obtrude. Their conversation is decent and man on a journey far from home falls from his inoffensive. They disdain to drink for their horse ; another, who is perhaps at work about principles, and there is no disaffection at their the house, sees him bleeding on the ground tables. I never heard a health offered by commonly with a landscape of the place where a Highlander that might not have circulated the accident befalls him. Another seer, driving with propriety within the precincts of the king's home his cattle, or wandering in idleness, or palace.
musing in the sunshine, is suddenly surprised Legal government has yet something of no- by the appearance of a bridal ceremony, or velty to which they cannot perfectly conform. funeral procession, and counts the mourners or The ancient spirit that appealed only to the attendants, of whom, if he knows them, be resword, is yet among them. The tenant of lates the names, if he knows them not, he can Scalpa, an island belonging to Macdonald, took describe the dresses. Things distant are seen at no care to bring his rent; when the landlord the instant when they happen. Of things future talked of exacting payment, he declared his reso- I know not that there is any rule for determinlution to keep his ground, and drive all intruding the time between the sight and the event. ers from the island, and continued to feed his This receptive faculty, for power it cannot be cattle as on his own land, till it became neces- called, is neither voluntary nor constant. The sary for the sheriff to dislodge him by violence. appearances have no dependence upon choice:
The various kinds of superstition which pre- they cannot be summoned, detained, or recalled. vailed here, as in all other regions of ignorance, The impression is sudden, and the effect often are by the diligence of the ministers almost ex- painful. terminated.
By the term Second Sight, seems to be meant Of Browny, mentioned by Martin, hing a mode of seeing, superadded to that which has been heard for many years. Browny was a nature generally bestows. In the Erse it is sturdy fairy ; who, if he was fed, and kindly called Taish; which signifies likewise a spectre, treated, would, as they said, do a great deal of or a vision. I know not, nor is it likely that work. They now pay hiin no wages, and are the Highlanders ever examined, whether by content to labour for themselves.
Taish, used for Second Sight, they mean the In Troda, within these three-and-thirty years, power of secing, or the thing seen. milk was put every Saturday for Greogach or I do not find it to be true, as it is reported.
that to the Second Sight nothing is presented bat faculty; that a general opinion of communier. phantoms of evil. Good seems to have the same tive impulses, or visionary representations, hai proportion in those visionary scenes as it obtains prevailed in all ages and all nations; that par. in real life: almost all remarkable events have ticular instances have been given, with such evil for their basis ; and are either miseries in- evidence as neither Bacon nor Boyle has been curred, or miseries escaped. Our sense is so able to resist ; that sudden impressions, which much stronger of what we suffer than of what the event has verified, have been felt by mors we enjoy, that the ideas of pain predominate in than own or publish them ; that the Second Sight almost every mind. What is recollection but a of the Hebrides implies only the local frequency revival of vexations, or history but a record of of a power which is no where totally unknown; wars, treasons, and calamities? Death, which and that where we are unable to decide by anteis considered as the greatest evil, happens to all. cedent reason we must be content to yield to the The greatest good, be it what it will, is the lot force of testimony. but of a part.
By pretension to Second Sight, no profit was That they should often see death, is to be ex- ever sought or gained. It is an involuntary afpected ; because death is an event frequent and fection, in which neither hope nor fear are known important. But they see likewise more pleasing to have any part. Those who profess to feel it, incidents. A gentleman told me, that wben he do not boast of it as a privilege, nor are consihad once gone far from his own island, one of dered by others as advantageously distinguished. his labouring servants predicted his return, and They have no temptation to teign; and their described the livery of his attendant, which he hearers have no motive to encourage their imhad never worn at bome; and which had been, posture. without any previous design, occasionally given To talk with any of these seers is not easy. him.
There is one living in Sky, with whom we would Our desire of information was keen, and our bave gladly conversed; but he was very gross inquiry frequent. Mr. Boswell's frankness and and ignorant, and knew no English. The progayety made every body communicative , and we portion in these countries of the poor to the rich heard many tales of these airy shows, with more is such, that if we suppose the quality to be acor less evidence and distinctness.
cidental, it can very rarely happen to a man of It is the common talk of the Lowland Scots, education; and yet on such men it has sometimes that the notion of the Second Sight is wearing fallen. There is now a second-sighted gentle away with other superstitions: and that its man in the Highlands, who complains of the terreality is no longer supposed but by the grossest rors to which he is exposed. people. How far its prevalence ever extended, The foresight of the seers is not always preor what ground it bas lost, I know not. The science : they are impressed with images, of islanders of all degrees, whether of rank or un which the event only shows them the meaning. derstanding, universally admit it, except the They tell what they have seen to others, who are ministers, who universally deny it, and are sus- at that time not more known than themselves, pected to deny it, in consequence of a system, but may become at last very adequate witnesses, against conviction. One of them honestly told by comparing the narrative with its verification. me, that he came to Sky with the resolution not To collect sufficient testimonies for the satisto believe it.
faction of the public, or of ourselves, would Strong reasons for incredulity will readily have required more time than we could bestow. occur. This faculty of seeing things out of sight There is, against it, the seeming analogy of things is local, and commonly useless. It is a breach confusedly seen, and little understood ; and for of the common order of things, without any it, the indistinct cry of national persuasion, visible reason or perceptible benefit. It is ascrib- which may be perhaps resolved at last into preed only to a people very little enlightened ; and judice and tradition. I never could advance my among them for the most part, to the mean and curiosity to conviction; but came away at last ignorant.
only willing to believe. To the confidence of these objections it may As there subsists no longer in the islands much be replied, that by presuming to determine what of that peculiar and discriminative form of life, of is fit, and what is beneficial, they presuppose which the idea had delighted our imagination, more knowledge of the universal system than we were willing to listen to such accounts of past man has attained; and therefore depend upon times as would be given us. But we soon found principles too complicated and extensive for our what memorials were to be expected from an ilcomprehension; and there can be no security in literate people, whose whole time is a series of the consequence, when the premises are not un- distress ; where every morning is labouring with derstood ; that the Second Sight is only wonder- expedients for the evening : and where all menful because it is rare, for, considered in itself, it tal pains or pleasures arose from the dread of involves no more difficulty than dreams, or per- winter, the expectation of spring, the caprices of hepps than the regular exercise of the cogitative their chiefs, and the motions of the neighbouring
clans; where there was neither shame from ig. was only to amuse, it now would be vain to norance, nor pride in knowledge; neither cario inquire. sity to inquire, nor vanity to communicate. Most of the domestic offices were, I believe,
The chiefs indeed were exempt from urgent hereditary; and probably the laureat of a plan penury and daily difficulties; and in their houses was always the son of the last laureat. The were preserved what accounts remained of past history of the race could no otherwise be comages. But the chiefs were sometimes ignorant municated or retained; but what genius could and careless, and sometimes kept busy by turbu- be expected in a poet by inheritance ? lence and contention; and one generation of igno. The nation was wholly illiterate. Neither rance eflaces the whole series of unwritten his. ! bards nor senachies could write or read; but if tory. Books are faithful repositories, which may they were ignorant, there was no danger of debe for a while neglected or forgotten; but when tection ; they were believed by those whose they are opened again, will again impart their vanity they flattered. instruction : memory, once interrupted, is not to The re-ital of genealogies, which has been be recalled. Written learning is a fixed lumi- considered as very efficacions to the preservation nary, which, after the cloud that had hidden it of a true series of ancestry, was anciently made has passed away, is again bright in its proper when the heir of the family came to manly age. station. Tradition is but a meteor, which, if This practice has never subsisted within time of once it falls, cannot be rekindled.
memory, nor was much credit due to such reIt seems to be universally supposed, that much bearsers, who might obtrude fictitious pedigrees, of the local history was preserved by the bards, either to please their masters, or to hide the deof whom one is said to have been retained by ficiency of their own memories. every great family. After these bards were some Where the chiefs of the Highlands have found of my first inquiries ; and I received such an- the histories of their descent, is difficult to tell; swers as, for a while, made me please myself for no Erse genealogy was ever written. In with my increase of knowledge ; for I had not general this only is evident, that the principal then learned how to estimate the narration of a house of a clan must be very ancient, and that Highlander.
those must have lived long in a place, of whom it They said that a great family had a bard and is not known when they came thither. a senachi, who were the poet and historian of the Thus hopeless are all attempts to find any house ; and an old gentleman told me that he traces of Highland learning. Nor are their priremembered one of each. Here was a dawn of mitive customs and ancient manner of life other. intelligence. Of men that had lived within me- wise than very faintly and uncertainly rememmory, some certain knowledge might be attained. bered by the present race. Though the office had ceased, its effects might The peculiarities which strike the native of a continue; the poems might be found, though commercial country, proceeded in a great meathere was no poet.
sure from the want of money. To the servants Another conversation indeed informed me, and dependents that were not domestics, and, that the same man was both bard and senachi. if an estimate be made from the capacity of any This variation discouraged me; but as the prac- of their old bouses which I have seen, their dotice might be different in different times, or at mesties could have been but few, were approthe same time in different families, there was yet priated certain portions of land for their support. no reason for supposing that I must necessarily Macdonald has a piece of ground yet called the sit down in total ignorance.
Bards' or Senacbies' field. When a beef was Soon after I was told by a gentleman, who is killed for the house, particular parts were claimgenerally acknowledged the greatest master of ed as fees by the several officers, or workmen. Hebridian antiquities, that there had indeed once What was the right of each I have not learned. been both bards and sepachies; and that senachi The head belonged to the smith, and the udder signified the man of talk, or of conversation; of the cow to the piper ; the weaver had likewise but that neither bard nor senachi had existed his particular part; and so many pieces followed for some centuries. I have no reason to suppose these prescriptive claims, that the laird's was at it exactly known at what time the custom ceased, last but little. nor did it probably cease in all houses at once. The payment of rent in kind has been so long But whenever the practice of recitation was dis- disused in England, that it is totally forgotten. used, the works, whether poetical or historical, It was practised very lately in the Hebrides, and perished with the authors; for in those times probably still continues, not only at St. Kilda, nothing had been written in the Erse language. where money is not yet known, but in others of
Whether the man of talk was an historian, the smaller and remoter islands. It were perwhose office was to tell truth, or a story-teller, haps to be desired, that no change in this parlike those which were in the last century, and ticular should have been made. When the laird perhaps are now among the Irish, whose trade could only eat the produce of his lands, he was