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company of a woman and her child, who had exhausted the charity of Col. The arrival of a beggar on an island is accounted a sinistrous event. Every body considers that he shall have the less for what he gives away. Their alms, I believe, is generally oatmeal.
Near to Col is another island called Tir-eye, eminent for its fertility. Though it has but half the extent of Rum, it is so well peopled, that there have appeared, not long ago, nine hundred and fourteen at a funeral. The plenty of this island enticed beggars to it, who seemed so burthensome to the inhabitants, that a formal compact was drawn up, by which they obliged themselves to grant no more relief to casual wanderers, because they had among them an indigent woman of high birth, whom they considered as entitled to all that they could spare. I have read the ftipulation, which was indited with juridical formality, but was never made valid by regular subscription.
If the inhabitants of Col have nothing to give, it is not that they are oppressed by their landlord: their leases seem to be very profitable. One farmer, who pays only seven pounds a year, has maintained seven daughters and three fons, of whom the eldest is educated at Aberdeen for the ministry; and now, at every vacation, opens a school in Col.
Life is here, in some respects, improved beyond the condition of some other iflands. In Sky what is wanted can only be bought, as the arrival of some wandering pedlar may afford an opportunity ; but in Col there is a standing shop, and in Mull there are two. A shop in the islands, as in other places of little
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frequentation, is a repository of every thing requisite for common use. Mr. Boswell's journal was filled, and he bought some paper in Col. To a man that ranges the streets of London, where he is tempted to contrive wants for the pleasure of supplying them, a shop affords no image worthy of attention; but in an island, it turns the balance of existence between good and evil. To live in perpetual want of little things, is a state not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation. I have in Sky had some difficulty to find ink for a letter; and if a woman breaks her needle, the work is at a stop.
As it is, the islanders are obliged to content themselves with fuccedaneous means for many common purposes. I have seen the chief man of a very wide district riding with a halter for a bridle, and governing his hobby with a wooden curb.
The people of Col, however, do not want dexterity to supply some of their necessities. Several arts which make trades, and demand apprenticeships in great cities, are here the practices of daily æconomy. In every house candles are made, both moulded and dipped. Their wicks are small shreds of linen cloth. They all know how to extract from the cuddy oil for their lamps. They all tan skins, and make brogues.
As we travelled through Sky, we saw many cottages, but they very frequently stood single on the naked ground. In Col, where the hills opened a place convenient for habitation, we found a petty village, of which every hut had a little garden adjoining; thus they made an appearance of social commerce and mutual offices, and of some attention to convenience
and future supply. There is not in the Western Islands any collection of buildings that can make pretensions to be called a town, except in the isle of Lewis, which I have not seen.
If Lewis is distinguished by a town, Col has also something peculiar. The young laird has attempted what no islander perhaps ever thought on. He has begun a road capable of a wheel-carriage. He has carried it about a mile, and will continue it by annual elongation from his house to the harbour.
Of taxes here is no reason for complaining; they are paid by a very easy composition. The malt-tax for Col is twenty shillings. Whisky is very plentiful: there are several stills in the island, and more is made than the inhabitants consume.
The great business of insular policy is now to keep the people in their own country. As the world has been let in upon them, they have heard of happier climates, and less arbitrary government, and if they are disgusted, have emissaries among them ready to offer them land and houses, as a reward for deserting their chief and clạn, Many have departed both from the main of Scotland, and from the islands; and all that go may be considered as subjects lost to the British crown; for a nation scattered in the boundless regions of America resembles rays diverging from a focus, All the rays remain, but the heat is gone. Their power consisted in their concentration : when they are dispersed, they have no effect,
It may be thought that they are happier by the change; but they are not happy as a nation, for they are a nation no longer. As they contribute not to
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the prosperity of any community, they must want that fecurity, that 'dignity, that happiness whatever it be, which a prosperous community throws back
ins dividuals. i The inhabitants of Çol have not yet learned to be weary of their heath and rocks, but attend their agriculture and their dairies, without listening to American seducements.
There are some however who think that this emigration has raised terrour disproportionate to its real evil; and that it is only a new mode of doing what was always done. The Highlands, they say, never maintained their natural inhabitants; but the people, when they found themselves too numerous, instead of extending cultivation, provided for themselves by a more compendious method, and sought better fortune in other countries. They did not indeed collective bodies, but withdrew invisibly, a few at a țime; but the whole number of fugitives was not less, and the difference between other times and this is only the same as between evaporation and effufion.
This is plausible, but I am afraid it is not true, Those who went before, if they were not sensibly missed, as the argument supposes, must have gone either in less number, or in a manner less detrimental, than at present; because formerly there was no complaint. Those who then left the country were generally the idle dependants on overburdened families, or men who had no property; and therefore carried away only themselves. In the present eagerness of emigration, families, and almost communities, go away together. Those who were considered as prof
go away in perous and wealthy, sell their stock and carry away the money. Once none went away but the useless and poor ; in some parts there is now reason to fear, that none will stay but those who are too poor to remove themselves, and too useless to be removed at the cost of others.
Of antiquity there is not more knowledge in Col than in other places ; but every where something may be gleaned.
How ladies were portioned, when there was no mo. ney, it would be difficult for an Englishman to guess. In 1649, Maclean of Dronart in Mull married his fifter Fingala to Maclean of Col, with a hundred and eighty kine; and stipulated, that if she became a widow, her jointure should be three hundred and sixty.I suppose some proportionate tract of land was appropriated to their pasturage.
The disposition to pompous and expensive funerals, which has at one time or other prevailed in most parts of the civilized world, is not yet suppressed in the islands, though some, of the ancient solemnities are worn away, and singers are no longer hired to attend the proceffion. Nineteen years ago, at the burial of the laird of Col, were killed thirty cows, and about fifty sheep. The number of the cows is positively told, and we must suppose other victuals in like proportion.
Mr. Maclean informed us of an old game, of which he did not tell the original, but which may perhaps be used in other places, where the reason of it is not yet forgot. At New-year's eve, in the hall or castle of the laird, where, at festal seasons, there may be supposed a very numerous company, one man