Immagini della pagina

they are. Bivol des pistoz. beyond what be size gres reasośc artise: bata tai man upee of their back. witas a Te isproportionate sppearane.

From the baletatica of captain Maclean we went to Griscol bat ega br the war on Mr. Hector Macka. the most of Ca. hom we found in a hut, that is a base of only one foor, but with windows and chimnet. and D inelezanuş furnished Mr. Maclean has the reputation of great learning: he is seventy-seven years old but not infirm, with a look of renerable dignity, excelling what I remember in any other man.

His conversation was not unsuitable to his appearance. I lost some of his good will, by treating a heretical writer with more regard than, in his opinion, a heretick could deserve. I honoured his orthodoxy, and did It much censure his asperity. A man who has settled his opinions, does not love to have the tranquillity of his conviction disturbed ; and at seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest.

Mention was made of the Erse translation of the New Testament, which has been lately published, and of which the learned Mr. Macqueen of Sky spoke with commendation; but Mr. Maclean said, he did not use it, because he could make the text more intelligible to his auditors by an extemporary version. From this I inferred, that the language of the translation was not the language of the isle of Col.

He has no publick edifice for the exercise of his ministry; and can officiate to no greater number than a room even contain ; and the room of a hut is not very large. This is all the opportunity of worship that is now granted to the inhabitants of the islands, some of whom must tra

thuther perhaps, ten miles. Two chapels were erected by their anewtors, of which I saw the skeletons, which * stand faithful witnesses of the triumph of reformation.

the went of churches is not the only impediment to well, there is likewise a want of ministers. A parish

hans mon Islands than one; and each island can

save 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.

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 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 is way he stopped at Artorinish in Morvern, where his uncle was prisoner to Macleod, and was then with his ene

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Wha beleid z: Co be see the said whole watch w wards the sea re to Gospod, to give Madel, sbo was there with a hired and twenty me, an account of the invasia. He Macgz. ode of his flowers, that if he interceptad that dangeras inteligeser. by catching the courier, he would give him ortain lands in Mull. Upon this promise, Macgill pursued the mes senger, and either killed or stopped him; and his posterity, till very lately, held the lands in Mull.

The alarm being thus prevented, he came unexpectedly upon Macneil. Chiefs were in those days never wholly unprovided for an enemy. A fight ensued, in which one of their followers is said to have given an extraordinary proof of activity, by bounding backwards over the brook of Grissipol. Macneil being killed, and many of his clan destroyed, Maclean took possession of the island, which the Macneils attempted to conquer by another invasion, but were defeated and repulsed.

Maclean, in his turn, invaded the estate of the Macneils, took the castle of Brecacig, and conquered the isle of Barra, which he held for seven years, and then restored it to the heirs.

From Grissipol Mr. Maclean conducted us to his father's Novat; a nont new house erected near the old castle, I think, by the last proprietor. Here we were allowed to take our Ntation, and lived very commodiously while we waited for menderade wenther and a fair wind, which we did not so Min obtain, but we had time to get some information of the print state of Col, partly by inquiry, and partly by wwww. excursions.

[ocr errors]

Sol is computed to be thirteen miles in length, and

ee in breadth. Both the ends are the property of the vke of Argyle, but the middle belongs to Maclean, who

called Cui, as the only laird.
:: Col is not properly rocky; it is rather one continued
3: ck, of a surface much diversified with protuberances, and

vered with a thin layer of earth, which is often broken,
id discovers the stone. Such a soil is not for plants that
rike deep roots; and perhaps in the whole island nothing
us ever yet grown to the height of a table. The uncul-

vated parts are clothed with heath, among which industry te: as interspersed spots of grass and corn; but no attempt

as been made to raise a tree. Young Col, who has a

ery laudable desire of improving his patrimony, purposes
ome time to plant an orchard; which, if it be sheltered
y a wall, may perhaps succeed. He has introduced the
ulture of turnips, of which he has a field, where the
whole work was performed by his own hand. His intention
s to provide food for his cattle in the winter. This inno-
vation 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 better may draw
nourishment; and by trying the production of other places,
plants will be found suitable to every soil.

Col has many lochs, some of which have trouts and eels, s, and then path 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, hares, 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.

The harvest in Col, and in Lewis, is ripe sooner than in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

comtitalents car the dead Tere aliwe asly while FB 1. which me 81

24 some inherese

[ocr errors]

Sky, and the winter in Col is never cold, but verstam. pestuous. I know not that I ever heard the wind so loi in any other place; and Mr. Boswell observed that is noise was all its own, for there were no trees to increase

Noise is not the worst effect of the tempests: fi have thrown the sand from the shore over a conside part of the land, and it is said still to encroach and destroy more and more pasture; but I am not of opinion, that by any surveys or land-marks, its limits have been ever fisad or its progression ascertained. If one man has continct 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 me tion. 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.

For natural curiosities I was shown only two great masses of stone, which lie loose upon the ground; one on the top of a hill, and the other at a small distance from the bottom. They certainly were never put into their present places by human strength or skill; and though an earthquake might have broken off the lower stone, and rolled it into the valley, no account can be given of the other, which lies on the hill, unless, which I forgot to examine, there be still near it some higher rock, from which it might be torn. All nations have a tradition, that their earliest ancestors were giants, and these stones are said to have been thrown up and down by a giant and his mistress. There are so many important things of which human knowledge can give no account, that it may be forgiven us, if we speculate no longer on two stones in Col.

This island is very populous. About nine-and-twenty years ago, the fencible men of Col were reckoned one hundred and forty; which is the sixth of eight hundred and forty; and probably some contrived to be left out of the list. The minister told us, that a few years ago


« IndietroContinua »