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extent, it may contain more than a hundred and twenty square
miles. It originally belonged to Clanronald, and was purchased by Col; who, in some dispute about the bargain, made Clanronald prisoner, and kept him nine months in confinement. Its owner represents it as mountainous, rugged, and barren. In the hills there are red deer.
The horses are very small, but of a breed eminent for beauty. Col, not long ago, bought one of them from a tenant; who told him, that as he was of a shape uncommonly elegant, he could not sell him but at a high price; and that whoever had him should pay a guinea and a half.
There are said to be in Barra a race of horses yet smaller, of which the highest is not above thirtysix inches.
The rent of Rum is not great. Mr Maclean de. clared that he should be very rich, if he could set his land at two-pence halfpenny an acre. The inhabitants are fifty-eight families, who continued papists for some time after the laird became a protestant. Their adherence to their old religion was strengthened by the countenance of the laird's sister, a zealous Romanist, till one Sunday, as they were going to mass under the conduct of their
pau troness, Maclean met them on the way, gave one of them a blow on the head with a yellow stick, I suppose a cane, for which the Earse had no name, and drove them to the kirk, from which they have never since departed. Since the use of this method of conversion, the inhabitants of Egg and Canna, who continue papists, callthe protestantism of Rum, the religion of the Yellow Stick.
The only popish islands are Egg and Canga. Egg is the principal island of a parish, in which, though he has no congregation, the protestant minister resides. I have heard of nothing curious in it, but the cave in which a former generation of the islanders were smothered by Macleod.
If we had travelled with more leisure, it had not been fit to have neglected the popish islands. Popery is favourable to ceremony; and among ignorant nations ceremony is the only preservative of tradition. Since protestantism was extended to the savage parts of Scotland, it has perhaps been one of the chief labours of the ministers to abolish stated observances, because they continued the remembrance of the former religion. We therefore, who came to hear old traditions, and see antiquated manners, should probably have found them amongst the papists.
Canna, the other popish island, belongs to Clanronald. It is said not to comprise more than twelve miles of land, and yet maintains as many inhabitants as Rum.
We were at Col under the protection of the young laird, without any of the distresses which Mr Pennant, in a fit of simple credulity, seems to think almost worthy of an elegy by Ossian. Whereever we roved, we were pleased to see the reverence with which his subjects regarded him. He did not endeavour to dazzle them by any magnificence of dress: his only distinction was a feather in his bonnet; but as soon as he appeared, they forsook their work and clustered about him: he took them by the hand, and they seemed mutually delighted
He has the proper disposition of a chieftain, and seems desirous to continue the customs of his house. The bagpiper played regularly, when dinner was served, whose person and dress made á good appearance; and he brought no disgrace upon the family of Rankin, which has long supplied the lairds of Col with hereditary musick.
The tacksmen of Col seem to live with less dignity and convenience than those of Sky; where they had good houses, and tables not only plentiful, but delicate. In Col only two houses pay the window-tax; for only two have six windows, which, I suppose, are the laird's and Mr Macsweyn's.
The rents have, till within seven years, been paid in kind; but the tenants finding that cattle and corn varied in their price, desired for the future to give their landlord money; which, not having yet arrived at the philosophy of commerce, they consider as being every year of the same value.
We were told of a particular mode of undera tenure. The tacksman admits some of his inferior neighbours to the cultivation of his grounds, on condition that, performing all the work, and giving a third part of the seed, they shall keep a certain number of cows, sheep, and goats, and reap a third part of the harvest. Thus by less than the tillage of two acres they pay the rent of one.
There are tenants below the rank of tacksmen, that have got smaller tenants under them; for in every place, where money is not the general equivalent, there must be some whose labour is immediately paid by daily food.
A country that has no money, is by no means convenient for beggars, both because such countries are commonly poor, and because charity requires some trouble and some thought. A penny is easily given upon the first impulse of compassion, or impatience of importunity; but few will deliberately search their cupboards or their granaries to find out something to give. A penny is likewise easily spent; but victuals, if they are unprepared, require house-room, and fire, and utensils, which the beggar knows not where to find.
Yet beggars there sometimes are, who wander from island to island. We had, in our passage to Mull, the company of a woman and her child, who had exhausted the charity of Col. rival 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 stipulation, which was indited with juridical formality, but was never made valid by regular subscription.
If the inhabitants of Col have nothing to give, In Sky
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 sons, 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 islands.
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 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 succedaneous 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