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father of the present laird, in defiance of prediction, began the work, but desisted in a little time, and applied his money to worse uses.
As the inhabitants of the Hebrides lived, for many ages, in continual expectation of hoftilities, the chief of every clan resided in a fortress. This house was accessible only from the water, till the last possessor opened an entrance by stairs upon the land.
They had formerly reason to be afraid, not only of declared wars and authorized invaders, or of roving pirates, which, in the northern seas, must have been very common; but of inroads and insults from rival clans, who, in the plenitude of feudal independence, asked no leave of their sovereign to make war on one another. Sky has been ravaged by a feud between the two mighty powers of Macdonald and Macleod. Macdonald having married a Macleod, upon some discontent dismissed her, perhaps because she had brought him no children. Before the reign of James the Fifth, a Highland laird made a trial of his wife for a certain time, and if she did not please him, he was then at liberty to send her away. This however must always have offended, and Macleod resenting the injury, whatever were its circumstances, declared, that the wedding had been solemnized without a bonfire, but that the separation should be better illuminated ; and raising a little army, set fire to the territories of Macdonald, who returned the visit, and prevailed.
Another story may show the disorderly state of insular neighbourhood. The inhabitants of the isle of Egg, meeting a boat manned by Macleods, tied U 2
the crew hand and foot, and set them a-drift. Mac: leod landed upon Egg, and demanded the offenders i but the inhabitants refusing to surrender them, retreated to a cavern, into which they thought their enemies unlikely to follow them. Macleod choked them with smoke, and left them lying dead by families as they stood.
Here the violence of the weather confined us for some time, not at all to our discontent or inconveni
We would indeed very willingly have visited the islands, which might be seen from the house scattered in the sea, and I was particularly desirous to have viewed Isay ; but the storms did not permit us to launch a boat, and we were condemned to liften in idleness to the wind, except when we were better engaged by listening to the ladies.
We had here more wind than waves, and suffered the severity of a tempeft, without enjoying its magnificence. The sea being broken by the multitude of islands, does not roar with so much noise, nor beat the storm with fuch foamy violence, as I have remarked on the coast of Suffex. Though, while I was in the Hebrides, the wind was extremely turbulent, I never saw very high billows. The country about Dunvegan is rough and bar
There are no trees, except in the orchard, which is a low sheltered fpot surrounded with a wall.
When this house was intended to sustain a fiege, a well was made in the court, by boring the rock downwards, till water was found, which, though so near to the sea, I have not heard mentioned as
brackish, though it has some hardness, or other qualities, which make it less fit for use; and the family is now better supplied from a stream, which runs by the rock, froin two pleasing water-falls,
Here we saw some traces of former manners, and heard some standing traditions. In the house is kept an ox's horn, hollowed so as to hold perhaps two quarts, which the heir of Macleod was expected to swallow at one draught, as a test of his manhood, before he was permitted to bear arms, or could claim a feat among the men. It is held that the return of the laird to Dunvegan, after any considerable absence, produces a plentiful capture of herrings; and that, if aný woman crosses the water to the opposite island, the herrings will desert the coast. Boetius tells the same of some other place. This tradition is not uniform, Some hold that no woman may pass, and others that none may pass but a Macleod.
Among other guests, which the hospitality of Dunvegan brought to the table, a visit was paid by the laird and lady of a small island south of Sky, of which the proper name is Muack, which signifies swine. It is commonly called Muck, which the proprietor not liking, has endeavoured, without effect, to change to Monk. It is usual to call gentlemen in Scotland by the name of their poflessions, as Raafay, Bernera, Loch Buy, a practice necessary in countries inhabited by clans, where all that live in the same territory have one naine, and must be therefore discriminated by some addition. This gentleman, whose name, I think, is Maclean, should be regularly called Muck; but the appellation, which he thinks too coarse for U 3
his his island, he would like still lefs for himself, and he is therefore addressed by the title of Isle of Muck.
This little island, however it be named, is of confiderable value. It is two English miles long, and three quarters of a mile broad, and consequently contains only nine hundred and fixty English acres. It is chiefly arable. Half of this little dominion the laird retains in his own hand, and on the other half, live one hundred and fixty persons, who pay their rent by exported corn. What rent they pay, we were not told, and could not decently enquire. The proportion of the people to the land is such, as the most fertile countries do not commonly maintain.
The laird having all his people under his immediate view, seems to be very attentive to their happiness. The devastation of the small-pox, when it visits places where it comes seldom, is well known. He has disarmed it of its terror at Muack, by inoculating eighty of his people. The expence was two shillings and fixpence a head. Many trades they cannot have among them, but upon occasion, he fetches a smith from the isle of Egg, and has a taylor from the main land, fix times a year. This island well deserved to be seen, but the laird's absence left us no opportunity.
Every inhabited island has its appendant and subordinate islets. Muck, however small, has yet others smaller about it, one of which has only ground sufficient to afford pasture for three wethers.
At Dunvegan I had tasted lotus, and was in danger of forgetting that I was ever to depart, till Mr.
Boswell Bofwell sagely reproached me with my sluggishness and soft ness. I had no very forcible defence to make ; and we agreed to pursue our journey. Macleod ac,
, companied us to Ulinish, where we were entertained by the sheriff of the island.
Mr. Macqueen travelled with us, and directed our attention to all that was worthy of observation. With him we went to see an ancient building, called a dun or borough, It was a circular inclosure, about forty two feet in diameter, walled round with loose stones, perhaps to the height of nine feet. The walls are very thick, diminishing a little towards the top, and though in these countries stone is not brought far, must have been raised with much labour. Within the
great circle were several smaller rounds of wall, which formed distinct apartments. Its date and its use are unknown. Some suppose it the original seat of the chiefs of the Macleods. Mr, Macqueen thought it a Danish fort.
The entrance is covered with flat stones, and is narrow, because it was necessary that the stones which lie over it, should reach from one wall to the other; yet, strait as the passage is, they seem heavier than could have been placed where they now lie, by the naked strength of as many men as might stand about them. They were probably raised by putting long pieces of wood under them, to which the action of a long line of lifters might be applied, Savages, in all countries, have patience proportionate to their unskil, fulness, and are content to attain their end by very te. dious methods.