Page images
PDF
EPUB

people." I doubt of this. Nature seems to have implanted gratitude in all living creatures. The lion mentioned by Aulus Gellius, had it." It appears to me that culture, which brings luxury aud selfishness with it, has a tendency rather to weaken than promote this affection.

Dr. Johnson said this morning, when talking of our setting out, that he was in the state in which Lord Bacon represents kings. He desired the end, but did not like the means. He wished much to get home, but was unwilling to travel in Sky. "You are like kings too, in this, Sir," said I, "that you must act under the direction of others."

Tuesday, Sept. 21.—The uncertainty of our present situation having prevented me from receiving any letters from home for some time, I could not help being uneasy. Dr. Johnson had an advantage over me in this respect, he having no wife or child to occasion anxious apprehensions in his mind. It was a good morning; so we resolved to set out. But, before quitting this castle, where we have been so well entertained, let me give a short description of it.

Along the edge of the rock, there are the remains of a wall, which is now covered with ivy. A square court is formed by buildings of different ages, particularly some towers, said to be of great antiquity; and at one place there is a row of false cannon2 of stone. There is a very large unfinished pile, four stories high, which we were told was here when Leod, the first of the family, came from the Isle of Man, married the heiress of the M'Crails, the ancient possessors of Dunvegan, and afterwards acquired by conquest as much land as he had got by marriage. He surpassed the house of Austria; for he was felix both bella gerere et nubere.3 John Breck Macleod, the grandfather of the late laird, began to repair the castle, or rather to complete it: but he did not live to finish his undertaking. Not doubting, however, that he should do it, he, like those who have had their epitaphs written before they died, ordered the following inscription, composed by the minister of the parish, to be cut upon a broad stone above one of the lower windows, where it still remains to celebrate what was not done, and to serve as a memento of the uncertainty of life, and the presumption of man:—

1 Aul. Gellius, lib. v. c. xiv.

2 Dunvegan Castle is mounted with real cannon; not unnecessarily, for its situation might expose it in war time to be plundered by privateers.— Walter Scott.

3 This is an allusion to a celebrated epigram, so aptly quoted by the late Mr. Whit bread, in a speech in the House of Commons (9th March, 1810), in allusion to the marriage of the Archduchess Maria Louisa with Huonaparte:—

"Bella gerant alii; tu, felix Austria, nube; Qua dat Mars aliis, dat tibi regna Venus." —Croker.

"Joannes Macleod, Beganoduni Dominus, gentis suae Philarchus' Durinesias, Haraise, Vaternesise, &c. Baro: D. Floras Macdonald matrimoniali vinculo conjugates, turrem banc Beganodunensem, proavorum habitacnlum longc vetustissimum, diu penitus labefactatam, Anno teres vulgaris MDCLXXXYI instauravit.

"Quern stabilire juvat proavorum tecta vetusta,
Omne scelus fugiat, justitiamque colat.

Vcrtit in aerias turres magalia virtus,

Inque casas bumiles tecta superba nefag."

Macleod and Talisker accompanied us. We passed by the parish church of Durinish. The churchyard is not enclosed, but a pretty murmuring brook runs along one side of it. In it is a pyramid erected to the memory of Thomas Lord Lovat, by his son Lord Simon, who suffered on Tower Hill. It is of freestone, and, I suppose, about thirty feet high. There is an inscription on a piece of white marble inserted in it, which I suspect to have been the composition of Lord Lovat himself, being much in his pompous style:

"This pyramid was erected by Simon Lord Fraser, of Lovat. in honour of Lord Thomas bis father, a peer of Scotland, and chief of the great and ancient clan of the Frasers. Being attacked for his birthright by the family of Atho'.l, then in power and favour with King William, yet, by the valour and fidelity of his clan, and the assistance of the Campbells, the old friends and

1 This should have been Phylarchtts. MarleocVs titles run in English, "Lord of Dunvegan, Chief of his Clan, Baron of Durinish, Harris, Vatcrnisch," &c.— Croier.

allies of his family, he defended his birthright with such greatness and fermety of soul, and such valour and activity, that he was an honour to his name, and a good pattern to all brave chiefs of clans. He died in the month of May, 1699, in the sixty-tfyVfl year of his age, in Dunregan, the house of the Laird of Macleod, whose sister he had married: by whom he had the above Simon Lord Fraser, and several other children. And, for the great love he bore to the family of Macleod, he desired to be buried near his wife's relations, in the place where two of her uncles lay. And his son Lord Simon, to show to posterity his great affection for his mother's kindred, the brave Macleods, chooses rather to leave his father's bones with them, than carry them to his own burial-place, near Lovat."

I have preserved this inscription, though of no great value, thinking it characteristical of a man who has made some noise in the world. Dr. Johnson said, it was poor stuff, such as Lord Lovat's butler might have written.

I observed, in this churchyard, a parcel of people assembled at a funeral, before the grave was dug. The coffin, with the corpse in it, was placed on the ground, while people alternately assisted in making a grave. One man, at a little distance, was busy cutting a long turf for it, with the crooked spade which is used in Sky; a very awkward instrument. The iron part of it is like a plough-coulter. It has a rude tree for a handle, in which a wooden pin is placed for the foot to press upon. A traveller might, without further inquiry, have set this down as the mode of burying in Sky. I was told, however, that the usual way is to have a grave previously dug.

I observed to-day, that the common way of carrving home their grain here is in loads 0n horseback. They have also a few sleds, or cars, as we call them in Ayrshire, clumsily made, and rarely used.

We got to Ulinish about six o'clock, and found a very good farm-house, of two stories. Mr. Macleod of Ulinish, the sheriff-substitute of the island, was a plain honest gentleman, a good deal like an English justice of peace; not much given to talk, but sufficiently sagacious, and somewhat droll. His daughter, though she was never out of Skv, was a verv well-bred woman. Our reverend friend, Mr. Donald M'Queen, kept his appointment, and met us here.

Talking of Phipps's voyage to the North Pole, Dr. Johnson observed, that it was "conjectured that our former navigators have kept too near land, and so have found the sea frozen far north, because the laud hinders the free motion of the tide; but, in the wide ocean, where the waves tumble at their full convenience, it is imagined that the frost does not take effect."'

Wednesday, Sept. 22.—In the morning I walked out, and saw a ship, the Margaret of Clyde, pass by with a number of emigrants on board. It was a melancholy sight. After breakfast, we went to see what was called a subterraneous house, about a mile off. It was upon the side of a rising ground. It was discovered by a fox's having taken up his abode in it, and in chasing him they dug into it. It was very narrow and low, and seemed about forty feet in length. Near it, we found the foundations of several small huts, built of stone. Mr. M'Queen, who is always for making everything as ancient as possible, boasted that it was the dwelling of some of the first inhabitants of the island, and observed, what a curiosity it was to find here a specimen of the houses of the aborigines, which he believed could be found nowhere else; and it was plain that they lived without fire. Dr. Johnson remarked, that they who made this were not in the rudest state; for that it was more difficult to make it than to build a house; therefore certainly those who made it were in possession of houses, and had this only as a hiding-place. It appeared to me, that the vestiges of houses just by it confirmed Dr. Johnson's opinion.

From an old tower, near this place, is an extensive view of Loch-Braccadale, and, at a distance, of the isles of Barra and South Uist; and, on the land-side, the Cuillin,2 a pro

1 Navigation in coast waters, the importance of which was first discovered by Parry, is now regarded as the incontrovertible canon of ice navigation. See Payer's New Lands Within the Arctic Circle, vol. i., p. 21. Macmillan, 1876.—Editor.

* These picturesque mountains of Sky take their name from the ancient hero Cuchullin. The name is pronounced Quillen. 1 wonder thai Hoswell nowhere mentions AlacleocTs Maidens—two or three immensi stacks of rock, like the Needles at the Isle of Wight; and Mtuieods

digious range of mountains, capped with rocky pinnacles in a strange variety of shapes. They resemble the mountains near Corte, in Corsica, of which there is a very good print. They make part of a great range for deer, which, though entirely devoid of trees, is in these countries called a forest.

In the afternoon, Ulinish carried us in his boat to an island possessed by him, where we saw an immense cave, much more deserving the title of antrum immune than that of the Sibyl described by Virgil, which I likewise have visited. It is one hundred and eighty feet long, about thirty feet broad, and at least thirty feet high. This cave, we were told, had a remarkable echo; but we foxmd none. They said it was owing to the great rains having made it damp. Such are the excuses by which the exaggeration of Highland narratives is palliated. There is a plentiful garden at Ulinish (a great rarity in Sky), and several trees; and near the house is a hill, which has an Erse name, signifying " the hill of strife," where, Mr. M'Queen informed us, justice was of old administered. It is like the mons placiti of Scone, or those hills which are called laws, such as Kelly law, North-Berwick law, and several others. It is singular that this spot should happen now to be the sheriff's residence.

We had a very cheerful evening, and Dr. Johnson talked a good deal on the subject of literature. Speaking of the noble family of Boyle, he said, that all the Lord Orrerys, till the present, had been writers. The first wrote several plays; the second' was Bentley's antagonist; the third wrote the life of Swift, and several other things; his son Hamilton wrote some papers in the Adventurer and World. He told us he was well acquainted with Swift's Lord Orrery. He said he was a feeble-minded man: that, on

Dining-Taldes—hills which derive their name from their elevated, steep sides, and flat tops.—Walter Scott.

1 Dr. Johnson is not quite accurate in his enumeration. The first Lord Orrery wrote, as he says, several plays. Horace Walpole called him " a man who never made a bud figure but as an author.'' Koger, the second, and Lionel, the third, Earls, are not known as authors. Charles, the fourth, was the antagonist of Bentley, and wrote a comedy; John, the fifth Earl, was the biographer of Swift and friend of Johnson. Croker.

« PreviousContinue »