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ISLANDS, &c. 109 places which he undertakes to decribe ; yet with all his opportunities, he has often suffered himself to be deceived. He lived in the last century when the chiefs of the clans had lost little of their original influ. ence. The mountains were yet unpene. trated, no inlet was opened to foreign novelties, and the feudal institutions operated upon life with their full force. He might therefore have displayed a series of subordination and a form of government, which in more luminous and improved regions, have been long forgotten, and have de'ighted his readers with many uncouth cus. tums that are now disused, and wild opini. ons that prevail no longer. But he proba. bly had not knowledge of the world suffici. ent to qualify him for judging what would deserve or gain the attention of mankind. The mode of life which was familiar to himself, he did not suppose unknown to others, nor imagined that he could give pleasure by telling that of which it was, in his little country, impossible to be ignor. änt.
What he has neglected cannot now be performed. In nations, where there is hardly the use of letters, what is once out
of sight is lost for ever. They think but little, and of their few thoughts none are wasted on the past, in which they are nei. ther interested by fear nor hope. Their, only registers are stated observances and practical representations. For this reas son an age of ignorance is an age of cere. mony. Pageants, and processions, and commemorations, gradually shrink away, as better methods come into use of record. ing events, and preserving rights.
It is not only in Raasay that the chapel is unroofed and useless; through the few islands which we visited, we neither saw nor heard of any house of prayer, except in Sky, that was not in ruins. The malignant influence of Calvinism has blasted ceremony and decency together; and if the remembrance of papal superstition is obliterated, the monuments of papal piety are likewise effaced.
It has been, for many years, popular to talk of the lazy devotion of the Romish clergy; over the sleepy laziness of men that erected churches, we may indulge our superiority with a new triumph, by comparing it with the fervid activity of those who suffer them to fall.
struction of ancient ad, it has
Of the destruction of churches, the decay of religion must in time be the consequence; for while the public acts of the ministry are now performed in houses, a very small number can be present; and as the greater part of the islanders make no use of books, all must necessarily live in total ignorance who want the opportuni. ty of vocal instruction.
From these remains of ancient sanctity, which are every where to be found, it has been conjectured, that, for the last two centuries, the inhabitants of the islands have decreased in number. This argument, which supposes that the churches have been suffered to fall, only because they were no longer necessary, would have some force, if the houses of worship still remaining were sufficient for the people. But since they have now no churches at all, these venerable fragments do not prove the people of former times to have been more numerous, but to have been more devout. If the inhabitants were doubled with their present principles, it appears not that any provision for public worship would be made.
Where the religion of a country enforces consecrated buildings, the number of those
buildings may be supposed to afford some indication, however uncertain, of the po. pulousness of the place; but where by a change of manners a nation is contented to live without them, their decay implies no diminution of inhabitants.
Some of these dilapidations are said to be found in islands now uninhabited; but I doubt whether we can thence infer that they were ever peopled. The religion of the middle age is well known to have placed too much hope in lonely austerities, Voluntary solitude was the great art of propitiation, by which crimes were effa. ced, and conscience was appeased; it is therefore not unlikely, that oratories were often built in places where retirement was sure to have no disturbance.
Raasay has little that can detain a tra. veller, except the laird and his family; but their power wants no auxiliaries. Such a seat of hospitality amidst the winds and waters, fills the imagination with a delightful contrariety of images----without is the rough ocean and the rocky land, the beat* ing billows and the howling storm : within is plenty and elegance, beauty aud gaiety, the song and the dance. In Raasay, if I could have found an Ulysses, Į had fanci. ed a Præacia.
At Raasay, by good fortune, Macleod, 80 the chief of the clan is called, was paying a visit, and by him we were invited to his seat at Dunvegan. Raasay has a stout boat, built in Norway, in wliich, with six oars, he conveyed us back to Sky. We landed at Port Re, so called, because James the fifth of Scotland, who had the curiosity to visit the islands, came into it.
The port is made by an inlet of the sea, deep and narrow, where a ship lay waiting to dispeople Sky, by carrying the natives away to America.
In coasting Sky, we passed by the cavern in which it is the custom, as Martin-re. lates, to catch birds in the night, by making a fire at the entrance. This practice is disused; for the birds, as is known olten to happen, have changed their haunts.
Here we dined at a public house, I bclieve the only inn of the island, and liava ing mounted our horses, travelled in the manner alrcady described, till we came to Kingsborough, a place distinguished by that name, because the King lodged here when
Jämme, he ugh, a ni. Scribed