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The cattle often perilh by falling from the precipices. It is like the other islands, I think, generally naked of shade, but it is naked by neglect ; for the laird has an orchard, and very large forest trees grow about his house. Like other hilly countries it has many rivulets. One of the brooks turns a corn-mill, and at least one. produces trouts.
In the streams or fresh lakes of the islands, I have never heard of any other fish than trouts and eels. The trouts which I have seen, are not large; the co. lour of their flesh is tinged as in England. Of their eels I can give no account, having never tasted them; for I believe they are not considered as wholesome food.
It is not very easy to fix the principles, upon which mankind have agreed to eat some animals, and reject others ; and as the principle is not evident, it is not uniform. That which is selected as delicate in one country, is by its neighbours abhorred as loathsome. The Neapolitans lately refused to eat potatoes in a famine. An Englishman is not easily persuaded to dine on snails with an Italian, on frogs with a Frenchman, or on horse-flesh with a Tartar. The vulgar inhabitants of Sky, I know not whether of the other islands, have not only eels, but: pork and bacon in abhorrence, and accordingly I never saw a hog in the Hebrides, except one at Dunvegan.
Raafay has wild fowl in abundance, but neither deer, hares, nor rabbits. Why it has them not, might be asked, but that of such questions there is no end.
Why Why does
nation want what it might have ? Why are not spices transplanted to America ? Why does tea continue to be brought from China ? Life improves but by flow degrees, and much in every place is yet to do. Attempts have been made to raise roebucks in Raasay, but without effect. The young ones it is extremely difficult to rear, and the old can very feldom be taken alive.
Hares and rabbits might be more easily obtained. That they have few or none of either in Sky, they impute to the ravage of the foxes, and have there-fore set, for some years past, a price upon their heads, which, as the number was diminished, has been gradually raised, from three shillings and fixpence to a guinea, a sum so great in this part of the world, that in a short time Sky may be as free from foxes, as England from wolves. The fund for these rewards is a tax of fixpence in the pound, imposed by the farmers on themselves, and said to be paid with great willingness.
The beasts of prey in the islands are foxes, otters, and weasels. The foxes are bigger than those of England; but the otters exceed ours in a far greater proportion. I saw one at Armidel, of a fize much beyond that which I supposed them ever to attain ; and Mr. Maclean, the heir of Col, a man of middle stature, informed me that he once shot an otter, of which the tail reached the ground, when he held up the head to a level with his own. I expected the otter to have a foot particularly formed for the art of swimming; but upon examination, I did not find it differing much from that of a spaniel. As
he preys in the sea, he does little visible mischief, and is killed only for his fur. White otters are sometiines seen.
In Raasay they might have hares and rabbits, for they have no foxes. Some depredations, such as were never made before, have caused a suspicion that a fox has been lately landed in the island by spite or wantonness. . This imaginary stranger has never yet been seen, and therefore, perhaps, the mischief was done by some other animal. It is not likely that a creatüre so ungentle, whose head could have been fold in Sky for a guinea, should be kept alive only to gratify the inalice of sending him to prey upon a neighbour : and the passage from Sky is wider than a fox would venture to swim, unless he were chased by dogs into the sea, and perhaps than his strength would enable him to cross. How beasts of prey came into any islands is not easy to guess. In cold countries they take advantage of hard winters, and travel over the ice; but this is a very scanty solution; for they are found where they have no discoverable means of coming.
The corn of this island is but little. I saw the harvest of a small field. The women reaped the corn, and the men bound up the sheaves. The strokes of the sickle were timed by the modulation of the harvest song, in which all their voices were united. They accompany in the Highlands every action, which can be done in equal time, with an appropriated strain, which has, they say, not much meaning; but its effects are regularity and cheerfulness. The ancient proceleusmatick song, by which the rowers of gallies were ani
mated, may be supposed to have been of this kind. There is now an orr-fong used by the Hebridians.
The ground of Raasay feems fitter for cattle than for corn, and of black cattle I suppose the number is very great. The laird himself keeps a herd of four hundred, one hundred of which are annually fold. Of an extensive domain, which he holds in his own hands, he considers the sale of cattle as repaying him the rent, and supports the plenty of a very liberal table with the remaining product.
Rawsay is supposed to have been very long inhabited. On one side of it they show caves into which the rude nations of the first ages retreated from the weather. These dreary vaults might have had other uses. There is still a cavity near the house called the oar-cave, in which the feamen, after one of those piratical expeditions, which in rougher times was very frequent, used, as tradition tells, to hide their oars. This hollow was near the sea, that nothing so necessary might be far to be fetched; and it was fecret, that enemies, if they landed, could find nothing. Yet it is not very evident of what use it was to hide their oars from those, who, if they were masters of the coast, could take away their boats.
A proof much stronger of the distance at which the first poffeffors of this island lived from the present time, is afforded by the stone heads of arrows which are very frequently picked up. The people call them clf-bolts, and believe that the fairies shoot them at the cattle. They nearly resemble those'which Mr. Banks has lately brought from the favage countries in the Pacifick Ocean, and must have been made by a nation to which the use of metals was unknown.
The number of this little community has never been counted by its ruler, nor have I obtained any positive account, consistent with the result of political computation. Not many years ago, the late laird led out one hundred men upon a military expedition. The fixth part of a people is supposed capable of bearing arms: Raafay had therefore fix hundred inhabitants. But because it is not likely, that every man able to serve in the field would follow the summons, or that the chief would leave his lands totally defenceless, or take away all the hands qualified for labour, let it be fupposed, that half as many might be permitted to stay at home. The whole number will then be nine hundred, or nine to a square mile ; a degree of populousness greater than those tracts of desolation can often show. They are content with their country, and faithful to their chiefs, and yet uninfected with the fever of migration.
Near the house at Raasay is a chapel unroofed and ruinous, which has long been used only as a place of burial. About the churches in the islands are small squares enclosed with stone, which belong to particular families, as repositories for the dead. At Racsay there is one, I think for the proprietor, and one for fome collateral house.
It is told by Martin, that at the death of the lady of the island, it has been here the custom to erect a cross. This we found not to be true. The stones that stand about the chapel at a small distance, some of which perhaps have crosses cut upon them, are believed to have been not funeral monuments, but