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tation, sometimes smiling complacently, sometimes looking upon Hooke's Roman History, and sometimes talking a little, amidst the noise of the ball, to Mr. Donald M'Queen, who anxiously gathered knowledge from him. He was pleased with M'Queen, and said to me, "This is a critical man, Sir. There must be great vigour of mind to make him cultivate learning so much in the isle of Sky, where he might do without it. It is wonderful how many of the new publications he has. There must be a snatch of every opportunity." Mr. M'Queen told me that his brother (who is the fourth generation of the family following each other as ministers of the parish of Snizort) and he joined together, and bought from time to time such books as had reputation. Soon after we came in, a black cock and gray hen, which had been shot, were shown, with their feathers on, to Dr. Johnson, who had never seen that species of bird before. We had a company of thirty at supper; and all was good humour and gaiety, without intemperance.
Thursday, Sept. 9. — At breakfast this morning, among a profusion of other things, there were oatcakes, made of what is called graddaned meal, that is, meal made of grain separated from the husks, and toasted by fire, instead of being threshed and kiln-dried. This seems to be bad management, as so much fodder is consumed by it. Mr. M'Queen however defended it, by saying, that it is doing the thing much quicker, as one operation effects what is otherwise done by two. His chief reason however was, that the servants in Sky are, according to him,
a faithless pack, and steal what they can; so that much is saved by the corn passing but once through their hands, as at each time they pilfer some. appears to me, that the graddaning is a strong proof of the laziness of the Highlanders, who will rather make fire act for them, at the expense of fodder, than labour themselves. There was also, what I cannot help disliking at breakfast, cheese: it is the custom over all the Highlands to have it; and it often smells very strong, and poisons to a certain degree the elegance of an Indian repast. The day was showery; however, Rasay and I took a walk, and had some cordial conversation. I conceived a more than ordinary regard for this worthy gentleman. His family has possessed this island above four hundred years. It is the remains of the estate of Macleod of Lewis, whom he represents. When we returned, Dr. Johnson walked with us to see the old chapel. He was in fine spirits. He said, "This is truly the patriarchal life: this is what we came to find."
After dinner, M'Cruslick, Malcolm, and I, went out with guns, to try if we could find any blackcock; but we had no sport, owing to a heavy rain. I saw here what is called a Danish fort. Our even
ing was passed as last night was. One of our company (1), I was told, had hurt himself by too much study, particularly of infidel metaphysicians, of which he gave a proof on second sight being mentioned. He immediately retailed some of the fallacious ar
(1) Mr. William Macpherson informs me, that the gentleman alluded to was the Laird of Mackinnon.-C. 1835.
guments of Voltaire and Hume against miracles in general. Infidelity in a Highland gentleman appeared to me peculiarly offensive. I was sorry for him, as he had otherwise a good character. I told Dr. Johnson that he had studied himself into infidelity. JOHNSON. "Then he must study himself out of it again; that is the way. Drinking largely will sober him again."
Friday, Sept. 10. Having resolved to explore the island of Rasay, which could be done only on foot, I last night obtained my fellow-traveller's permission to leave him for a day, he being unable to take so hardy a walk. Old Mr. Malcolm Macleod, who had obligingly promised to accompany me, was at my bedside between five and six. I sprang up immediately; and he and I, attended by two other gentlemen, traversed the country during the whole of this day. Though we had passed over not less than four and twenty miles of very rugged ground, and had a Highland dance on the top of Dun Can, the highest mountain in the island, we returned in the evening not at all fatigued, and piqued ourselves at not being outdone at the nightly ball by our less active friends, who had remained at home.
My survey of Rasay did not furnish much which can interest my readers; I shall therefore put into as short a compass as I can the observations upon it, which I find registered in my journal. It is about fifteen English miles long and four broad. On the south side is the Laird's family seat, situated on a pleasing low spot. The old tower of three stories, mentioned by Martin, was taken down soon after
1746, and a modern house supplies its place. There are very good grass-fields and corn-lands about it, well-dressed. I observed, however, hardly any inclosures, except a good garden plentifully stocked with vegetables, and strawberries, raspberries, currants, &c.
On one of the rocks just where we landed, which are not high, there is rudely carved a square, with a crucifix in the middle. Here, it is said, the Lairds of Rasay, in old times, used to offer up their devotions. I could not approach the spot, without a grateful recollection of the event commemorated by this symbol.
A little from the shore, westward, is a kind of subterraneous house. There has been a natural fissure, or separation of the rock, running towards the sea, which has been roofed over with long stones, and above them turf has been laid. In that place the inhabitants used to keep their oars. There are a number of trees near the house, which grow well; some of them of a pretty good size. They are mostly plane and ash. A little to the west of the house is an old ruinous chapel, unroofed, which never has been very curious. We here saw some human bones of an uncommon size. There was a heel-bone, in particular, which Dr. Macleod said was such, that if the foot was in proportion, it must have been twenty-seven inches long. Dr. Johnson would not look at the bones. He started back from them with a striking appearance of horror. (1) Mr.
(1) Lord Stowell informs me, that on the road from Newcastle to Berwick, Dr. Johnson and he passed a cottage, at the
M'Queen told us, it was formerly much the custom, in these isles, to have human bones lying above ground, especially in the windows of churches. (1) On the south of the chapel is the family buryingplace. Above the door, on the east end of it, is a small bust or image of the Virgin Mary, carved upon a stone which makes part of the wall. There is no church upon the island. It is annexed to one of the parishes of Sky; and the minister comes and preaches either in Rasay's house, or some other house, on certain Sundays. I could not but value the family seat more, for having even the ruins of a chapel close to it. There was something comfortable in the thought of being so near a piece of consecrated ground. Dr. Johnson said, "I look with reverence upon every place that has been set apart for religion;" and he kept off his hat while he was within the walls of the chapel.
The eight crosses, which Martin mentions as pyramids for deceased ladies, stood in a semicircular line, which contained within it the chapel. They marked out the boundaries of the sacred territory within which an asylum was to be had. One of them, which we observed upon our landing, made the first point of the semicircle. There are few of
entrance of which were set up two of those great bones of the whale, which are not unfrequently seen in maritime districts. Johnson expressed great horror at the sight of these bones; and called the people, who could use such relics of mortality as an ornament, mere savages.- C.
(1) It is perhaps a Celtic custom; for I observed it in Ireland occasionally, especially at the celebrated promontory of Mucruss, at Killarney.-WALTER SCOTT.