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and the mouth was concealed by bushes, or some other cover.
These caves were represented to us as the cabins of the first rude inhabitants, of which, however, I am by no means persuaded. This was so low, that no man could stand upright in it. By their construction they are all so narrow, that two can never pass along them together, and being subterraneous, they must be always damp. They are not the work of an age much ruder than the present; for they are formed with as much art as the construction of a common hut requires. I imagine them to have been places only of occasional use, in which the islander, upon a sudden alarm, hid his utensils, or his clothes, and perhaps sometimes his wife and children.
This cave we entered, but could not proceed the whole length, and went away without knowing how far it was carried. For this omission we shall be blamed, as we perhaps have blamed other travel. lers; but the day was rainy, and the ground was damp. We had with us neither spades nor pickaxes, and if love of ease surmounted our desire of knowledge, the offence has not the invidiousness of singularity.
Edifices, either standing or ruined, are the chief records of an illiterate nation. In some part of this journey, at no great distance from our way, stood a shattered fortress, of which the learned minister, to whose communication we are much indebted, gave us an account.
Those, said he, are the walls of a place of refuge, built in the time of James the Sixth, by Hugh Macdonald, who was next heir to the dignity and for tune of his chief. Hugh, being so near his wisirs was impatient of delay; and had art and influence sufficient to engage several gentlemen in a plot against the laird's life. Something must be stipulated on both sides; for they would not dip their hands in blood merely for Hugh's advancement. The compact was formally written, signed by the conspirators, and placed in the hands of one Macleod.
It happened that Macleod had sold some cattle to a drover, who, not having ready money, gave him a bond for payment. The debt was discharged, and the bond re-demanded; which Macleod, who could not read, intending to put into his hands, gave him the conspiracy. The drover, when he had read the paper, delivered it privately to Macdonald, who, being thus informed of his danger, called his friends together, and provided for his safety. He made a publick feast, and inviting Hugh Macdonald and his confederates, placed each of them at the table between two men of known fidelity. The compact of conspiracy was then shown, and every man confronted with his own name. Macdonald acted with great moderation. He upbraided Hugh both with disloyalty and ingratitude; but told the rest, that he considered them as men deluded and misinformed. Hugh was sworn to fidelity, and dismissed with his companions; but he was not generous enough to be reclaimed by lenity; and finding no longer any countenance among the gentlemen, endeavoured to execute the same design by meaner hands. In this practice he was detected, taken to Macdonald's castle, and imprisoned in the dungeon. When he was hungry, they let down a plentiful meal of salted meat; and when, after his repast, he called for drink, conveyed to him a covered cup, which, when he lifted the lid, he found empty. From that time they visited him no more, but left him to perish in solitude and darkness.
We were then told of a cavern by the sea-side, remarkable for the powerful reverberationof sounds. After dinner we took a boat, to explore this curious cavity. The boatmen, who seemed to be of a rank above that of common drudges, inquired who the strangers were, and being told we came one from Scotland, and the other from England, asked if the Englishman could recount a long genealogy. What answer was given them, the conversation being in Erse, I was not much inclined to examine.
They expected no good event of the voyage ; for one of them declared that he heard the
of an English ghost. This omen I was not told till after our return, and therefore cannot claim the dignity of despising it.
The sea was smooth. We never left the shore, and came without any disaster to the cavern, which we found rugged and misshapen, about one hundred and eighty feet long, thirty wide in the broadest part, and in the loftiest, as we guessed, about thirty high. It was now dry, but at high water the sea rises in it near six feet. Here I saw what I had never seen before, limpets and muscles in their natural state. But, as a new testimony to the veracity of common fame, here was no 'echo to be heard.
We then walked through a natural arch in the rock, which might have pleased us by its novelty, had the stones, which encumbered our feet, given us leisure to consider it. We were shown the gummy seed of the kelp, that fastens itself to a stone, from which it grows into a strong stalk.
In our return, we found a little boy upon the point of a rock, catching with his angle a supper for the family. We rowed up to him, and borrowed his rod, with which Mr Boswell caught a cuddy.
The cuddy is a fish of which I know not the philosophical name. It is not much bigger than a gudgeon, but is of great use in these islands, as it affords the lower people both food and oil for their lamps. Cuddies are so abundant, at some times of the year, that they are caught like white bait in the Thames, only by dipping a basket and drawing it back.
If it were always practicable to fish, these islands could never be in much danger from famine; but unhappily, in the winter, when other provision fails, the seas are commonly too rough for nets, or boats.
TALISKER IN SKY.
From Ulinish our next stage was to Talisker, the house of colonel Macleod, an officer in the Dutch service, who in this time of universal peace, has for several years been permitted to be absent from his regiment. Having been bred to physick, he is consequently a scholar, and his lady, by accompanying him in his different places of residence, is become skilful in several languages. Talisker is the place beyond all that I have seen, from which the gay and the jovial seem utterly excluded ; and where the hermit might expect to grow old in meditation, without possibility of disturbance or interruptiou. It is situated very near the sea, but upon a coast where no vessel lands but when it is driven by a tempest on the rocks. Towards the land are lofty hills streaming with water-falls. The garden is sheltered by firs, or pines, which grow there so prosperously, that some, which the present inhabitant planted, are very high and thick.
At this place we very happily met with Mr Don. ald Maclean, a young gentleman, the eldest son of the laird of Ćol, heir to a very great extent of land, and so desirous of improving his inheritance, that he spent a considerable time among the farmers of Hertfordshire and Hampshire, to learn their practice. He worked with his own hands at the principal operations of agriculture, that he might not deceive himself by a false opinion of skill, which if he should find it deficient at home, he had no means of completing. If the world has agreed to praise the travels and manual labours of the czar of Muscovy, let Col have his share of the like applause, in the proportion of his dominions to the empire of Russia.
This young gentleman was sporting in the mountains of Sky, and when he was weary with following his game, repaired for lodging to Talisker. At night be missed one of his dogs, and when he went to seek him in the morning, found two eagles feeding on his carcase.
Col, for he must be named by his possessions, hearing that our intention was to visit Jona, offered to conduct us to his chief, Sir Allan Maclean, who lived in the isle of Inch Kenneth, and would readi.