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and picked up shells, to answer the purpose of knives and forks."
Of the want of surgical assistance, we witnessed a melancholy proof. The schoolmaster, our guide, anxiously inquired of us when we landed, whether a professional man was of our party, and soon conducted us to a cottage, where a poor fisherman displayed an arm dreadfully swollen, in consequence of the prick of the fin of a gurnet; the scrofulous and inflammatory state of the blood of the Hebrideans produced by their scanty or fish diet, not unfrequently occasioning death upon the slightest injuries. This poor fellow suffered subsequently amputation of the finger, but whether his life was preserved, we did not hear. The party from the steam-vessel furnished medicines, and subscribed to procure the assistance of a surgeon from Tobermory.
Nor has learning lagged behind, in investigating the antiquities and preserving the ruins of Iona. An Iona Club has since (1833) held its first meeting on the island, under the auspices of the Duke of Argyle, the proprietor, and the principal of the University of Edinburgh, who himself attended the meeting.
STAFFA. On returning from Iona, we landed at a small cave on the eastern shore of Staffa, where the basaltic causeway commences. It is very broad, of unequal height, sloping like a glacis from the water to the base of the higher columns. The dimensions of the caves it will be unnecessary to detail. The largest can be explored in fine weather by a boat. The sea was now boisterous, and we could penetrate into its recesses only by means of a narrow and broken ledge, which raised us above the water. And in the interval of the waves which burst in, rushing to the farthest extremity, deafening us with their uproar, and hurling aloft a volume of spray, and flakes of foam, we could admire, in mute astonishment, the beautiful symmetry of this wondrous pilo, resembling, yet surpassing the imitative efforts of man: the regular arrangement of its massy columns; the richness and variety of the tints which adorn them, more-brilliant than the hues which the painted panes of the window of a Gothic church shower on its clustered pillars; the dark shadows afforded by the intermediate recesses; the sombre grandeur of the ponderous roof, and the smooth pavement which the sea supplies, when tranquil, to the stately temple. To borrow the language of the poet :—
Here as to shame the temples deck'd
By skill of earthly architect.
Nature herself, it seem'd, would raise
A minster to her Maker's praise!
Not for a meaner use ascend
ller columns, or her arches bend;
Nor of a theme less solemn tells
That mighty surge that ebbs and swells,
And still, between each awful pause,
From the high vault an answer draws.
-n varied tone prolong'd on high,
That mocks the organ's melody.
Nor does its entrance front in vain
To old lona's holy fane.
That Nature's voice might seem to say
"Well hast thou done, frail child of clay I
Thy humble powers that stately shrine,
Task'd high and hard—but witness mine!"
Lord of the Isles.
And most fully did the different emotions evinced by the visiters at the prospect of the one and of the other of these kindred structures justify this vaunt, poetically imputed to Nature. The party who had run riot over the ruins of Iona exulting in loud mirth over the credulity of the cicerone, were now fairly awed into silent wonder by indications of the presence of superior power which no scepticism could dispute. One aged man of our number, of clerical appearance, having doffed his hat, stood resting against a pillar, whilst his uplifted eyes and the motion of his lips indicated the feelings which, more or less, actuated all present.
On our return from Staffa, a boat pushed out from the Bay of Quinish, in Mull, and soon introduced us to the hospitality of a neighbouring mansion. The road hence to Tobermory, was said to be the only one in this large island, some difference among the proprietors preventing the formation of the Parliamentary roads, which have extended to the farthest limit of the remoter island of Sky. A lady living on the south-east side of the island,
when she visits her distant friends, is conveyed by eight Highlanders, on a litter.
Ballachroy affords a pleasing specimen of a Highland village: it consists of a single street, composed of neat hut small houses: a good school-house, a public-house, and the church rising on an adjacent eminence. To each house is attached a small piece of ground, called a croji on which vegetables are raised for the use of the family and hence the tenant is called a crofter. The numerous little patches in the neighbourhood of the village, belonging to these people, and the herd of cows, each keeping one or two, ranging the adjoining hill under the charge of a single lad, awaken the pleasing conviction of independence and comfort. . Happily for England, its landed proprietors are now gradually adopting the excellent plan of allowing small allotments of land to their cottagers, the benefits of which will prove incalculable.
On the desolate brow of a steep ridge beyond Ballachroy, we passed a small hamlet, consisting of a dozen cottages, called Siberia. On asking one of the inhabitants wherefore they chose so dreary a situation for their abode, ho replied, looking archly, "Coll knows the reason very well." This was, in fact, the place to which the Laird of Coll banished his people from that Islnnd, when guilty of smuggling, and other crimes deserving exile. They had no alternative but to accept this punishment, or to lly the country: a proof of. tho practical continuance, under tho control of law, of the heritable jurisdictions of tho chiefs, which were abolished by Act of Parliament in 1748. Dr. Johnson adverts to it. "Many of the smaller islands have no legal officers within them. I once asked, if a crime should be committed, by what authority the offender could be seized, and was told that tho Laird would exert his right; a right which he must now usurp, but which merely necessity must vindicate, and which is, therefore, yet exercised in lower degrees by some of the proprietors, when legal process cannot be obtained."
The present criminal jurisdiction of Scotland (1827), is exercised in the first instance by the sheriff-depute *, or deputy-sheriff, in each county, a salaried officer, holding of the king as sheriff of the kingdom, and by his delegates, the sheriffs-substitutes; some of whom, usually tacksmen, or persons holding farms on lease, are appointed in the islands. In some of the islands, as for instance in Jura and Colonsay, the proprietor of the island acts, in virtue of a commission from the lord lieutenant, as magistrate.
Dr. Johnson remarks, that " where the chiefs were men of knowledge and virtue, the convenience of a domestic judicature was great." That the present Laird of Coll has exemplified, in his administration of local justice, the truth of this observation, may be fully inferred from tho testimony still borne to his conduct, by the numbers who still resort to him to submit their differences to his arbitration. He is younger brother of the amiable companion of Dr. Johnson, who was drowned on the coast of Mull ere the pages commemorating his virtues were committed to the press. Tho influence of a resident landlord in these regions, when steadily and beneficially exerted, is unbounded. Independently of the power which he enjoys as lord of the soil, without rivalry or counteraction, he is regarded with a portion of that homage which the chiefs, in times not beyond the memory of living man, received from their clansmen.
We passed the head of Loch Frisa, and viewed from its shore the lofty summit of Ben More. Mull is, with the exception of some patches of arable land, a vast moor. Near Tobermory is a sequestered scene, of much beauty, recalling to the Italian traveller the recollection of Terni. Sacheverel, 150 years ago, was struck with its resemblance to Italian scenery. A lake is enclosed by an amphitheatre of hills, covered with oak, interspersed with torrents, forming picturesque cascades. On its bank stands Coll castle, a commodious mansion, erected by the son of Mr. Maclean, on land once confiscated, but repurchased. The Macleans have suffered by every quarrel since the conquest of Cromwell.
On Sunday we attended Divine service, in the parish church of Ballachroy. The dress and general appearance of the congregation were highly respectable. The minister officiated in the Gaelic language'; but another, who was of our party, supplied afterwards a service in the English; and the congregation, though the greater part understood not the language, remained tfll its conclusion. English
travellers are frequently indebted to the courtesy and kindness of the ministers of the Scottish kirk, in performing an additional service almost exclusively for their benefit.
The large parish in which Ballachroy is situated, contains four preaching stations, one of which is the above-mentioned kirk. A preaching station by no means implies a church or chapel: at the head of Loch Lomond, the only structure for the celebration of Divine service is an enormous stone. At Tobermory a barn is employed for the purpose; but a parliamentary church will be erected here. This parish is far better supplied with ministers than many in these regions. Besides the incumbent there are two missionaries. The office, and even the designation of curate, is offensive to the Scottish church; and in order to combine* the adequate provision of spiritual superintendence with ecclesiastical discipline, when the extent of a parish requires more than one pastor, a portion of it is detached and confided to the care of a missionary, who is wholly independent of the parochial minister, but enjoys no corporate jurisdiction, being inadmissible to the presbytery, or other ecclesiastic courts, though subject to its authority*. Of the missionaries thus employed, twenty-eight depend on the commissioners of the General Assembly for managing the Royal Bounty, and eight on the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge in Edinburgh. The number still falls far short of that which the country requires. And there is scarcely a parish in the Highlands or Western Islands of Scotland, part of which, and, in many instances, the greater part, is not virtually extra-parochial. The combined efforts of societies and of government; the legislative augmentation of the incomes of the clergy of the Scottish church, to £150 per annum, when not amounting to that sum; and the parliamentary grant for the erection of the forty churches and manses, have very imperfectly supplied the great deficiency in the provision of the Church Establishment, impoverished at the Reformation. Previously to this period, Mull was divided into seven parishes: their number is now reduced to three. Nor has the unoccupied ground been cultivated by Dissenting Sects: the people are too poor to support their ministers. The Seceders, whose numbers amount to a third of the population in the Lowlands, and wealthier parts of Scotland, furnish only three ministers who preach Gaelic, and have not a single place of worship in the large shire of Sutherland. There are some Baptists, Independents, and Haldanites in the
• The ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Scotland is vested in the presbytery, composed of the ministers and some of the elders of a few adjoining parishes: in a synod, which comprises several presbyteries, and is composed of ministers and elders, elected by the presbyteries: and of the General Assmbly, similarly constituted, in which the ultimate appellative jurisdiction is vested.
islands; and in some parts the Catholics predominate. But of these different sects hereafter. It is sufficient to observe, that the visionary, unphilosophical, and erroneous notion of those who imagine that the ordinances of religion can be generally maintained in a country without a Church Establishment, may be brought to the test even within the precincts of the British Isles. This dangerous opinion is an inference from the success of ministers depending on the contributions of their flocks, in wealthy towns or districts; and is overthrown by an extension of the view to those rural and poor parts of the country, which, whilst dwelling in the hot-beds of spiritual instruction, we are apt to overlook.
Inadequate as the Church Establishment is, in these regions, it has preserved a large portion of the population from the darkness of ignorance, or the faUe light of superstition.
On the 30th, we made an excursion in a yacht; an excellent cutter of thirty tons, built in Coll, of materials furnished by the island, i. e. by the wrecks of vessels. A shoal of whales, and a wreck, contribute no little to the slender stock of insular wealth. It is not insinuated that the islanders are, in the ordinary sense of the word, wreckers: they invariably resist the imputation, and transfer it to their more northern neighbours:—Orkney and Shetland serving as scapegoats to the Western Isles. Excepting some rare instances of criminal neglect towards those whom misfortune has cast upon their coasts, the natives of all these islands have treated them with hospitality; and the charge would be more satisfactorily repelled by a general denial, than by a vindication of themselves at the expense of their neighbours.
We passed the formidable front of Ardnamurchan, and the ruined castle, Tirim, a strong-hold of the Macdonalds, in the Bay of Moidart, shaping our course to Arisaig. On our left lay the small isles,—Muck, low and flat; Egg, rearing its Scuir, a lofty porphyritic tower; Rum and Canna in perspective; and the Coolin hills of Sky bounding the horizon. Two whales gratified us by their gambols: one closely chasing a shoal of fish, heaving his back above the water, and pouring forth from his nostrils a fountain of brine, around which swarmed flocks of sea-fowl, employed in the pursuit of the same game.
The proper season for witnessing the splendid exhibition of sea-fowl which the northern coasts of Scotland afford, is June, when rock, air, and water, teem with myriads of those delighted beings, glittering in sun-shine. or gemttiing the clouds; and the ear is deafened by the loud and discordant chorus in which they celebrate, unconsciously but unequivocally, the beneficence of their Creator.
The Bay of Arisaig is deep, but its entrance is narrow, and obstructed by rocks and islets. We landed for a legal purpose. One of our party was a writer to the signet and notary public, and proceeded to institute two infeoffments, i. e. to take possession virtually of the fee simple of the estate of a laird. The ceremony was simple, indicating its origin in ruder times, and partaking, in this respect, of the general character of the laws of Scotland relating to property, which are strictly feudal. The officer in question took his station on a small knoll: one of the crew of the cutter represented the attorney of the person infeoft, and received from the hands of the other, who acted as baillie for the proprietor, a tuft of grass and a shilling, repeating after the notary public the words of the usual formulary. The transaction required two witnesses, whom our party furnished, and who signed their names to each page of the instrument, which narrated what had taken place. •
Rum was our next point; and we had rounded Egg, and already beheld the magnificent precipices of that mountainous island, overhanging us in sombre majesty, when the wind, which had been gathering, burst from all its peaks and gullies, and, damaging our rigging, drove us back on Egg, and restored us, about dusk, to our anchoringplare in the Bay of Arisaig. We soon espied a boat pushing forth gallantly towards us; and one of the rowers, evidently above the rank of a fisherman, invited us to come ashore, promising us hearty hospitality; and, on landing, we perceived, indistinctly, the form of a person wrapped in a Highland plaid, who acknowledged our approach by a slight inclination of the head, and led us through a ravine to a house about a mile distant, where we were introduced, dripping with wet, into a room, illuminated by a blazing fire, containing a large table covered with tea and divers viands, and surrounded by a family who welcomed us with genuine hospitality, as expected guests to bed aud board. The sudden and unexpected transition from a stormy sea to comfort, good cheer, and cordial welcome, enabled us to realize, in some degree, the truth of Dr. Johnson's observations on the origin of romantic feelings suggested by similar circumstances. The proprietor had notice of our visit to the coast in the morning, and, from the promontory above his house, traced our vessel till the necessity of its return became obvious; when he immediately made ready for our reception. He and his ancestors had occupied this house during 200 years. Wind-bound, we enjoyed his kindness during three tempestuous days.
The Bay of Arisaig is a favorite resort of seals: they are constantly seen basking on the island, and scuttle into the sea when alarmed. The seal often follows a boat, rearing its head, resembling that of a bull-dog, but more hideous, above the water. The Highlanders attribute this habit of the animal to its love of music.
Rude Heiskar's seal, thro' surges dark,
Lord of the Isles
But we had no music for the entertainment of our pursuers but that of a rifle, which was successful in one instance. The animal shot sunk, and floated afterwards ashore. The natives attribute their frequent disappointment, in not securing the wounded seal, to his determination to deprive his destroyer of his prize; securing himself to the bottom of the sea by a network of sea-weed. The price of the skin varies from twelve to twenty-four shillings. The publichouse, at the head of the bay, contains a large assortment, for sale, of the skins of seals, wild-cats, pole-cats, and otters. The wild-cats are very numerous and destructive in Scotland; sometimes growing to double the size of the common cat, and invariably of grey colour.
The cottage of Arisaig, the residence of Clanronald, chief of one of the clans of Macdonald, is situated about a mile from the head of the bay, commanding a pleasing prospect of a broad valley, laid out in plantations or pasture; surrounding a small and picturesque loch, enclosed by a range of copse-covered hills, embracing the bay in its semicircular sweep. Lord Macdonald is chief of another branch of the Macdonalds; and the precedence of these two representatives of potentates, once exercising almost regal sway, is matter of dispute among genealogists. Sir Walter Scott assigns it to Clanronald.
Clanronald succeeded to an estate comprehending a territory on the mainland, bordering on the country of
Macdonell of Glengarry, the isles of Egg, Muck, and Canna, together with South Uist and Benbecula, in the Long Island; but much of it was now on sale.
The maritime proprietors in Scotland have suffered material loss from the diminution of the price of kelp. This alkaline sea-weed, the use of which in the manufacture of plate-glass and soap, was unknown till the commencement of the last century, has proved, till within a few years, a fertile source of wealth. Some proprietors have raised as much as 1300 tons in a single year. The price of the ton, formerly amounting to 15/. and 20/., has declined to 4/. and 5/.: and, except in some few instances, the manufacture of kelp is unprofitable. The reduction of the duty on Spanish barilla, and the subsequent discovery of an artificial salt, have provided the market with a cheaper substitute. Of the tenures in the remote island of Scotland adverted to, of the produce of the kelp, and of the burden which the support of the population employed in it has entailed on the proprietor, the following extract from the evidence of Mr. Hunter, published in the Third Report of the Emigration Committee, presents a brief account. "The islands of South Uist and Benbecula, contain a population of about 6000. There are 489 small tenants or crofters, who pay rents from 11. to 21/., averaging 6/. 17s. id.; fourteen large tenants, who pay rents from 32/. to 400/.: there is one more who pays 400/.: these average 86/. 15s. Under these fourteen large tenants, there are 207 sub-tenants. There are annually manufactured about 1200 tons of kelp on Clanronald's estate at Uist. The kelp does not belong to the tenants, as in the Duke of Argyle's case, for the manufacturing of which, they receive from 50*. to 60s. per ton, which as nearly as possible discharges their rent. On this estate, about one-third of the population possess no lands. To keep these people alive, Clanronald expended, in 1812, 3353/. 7*. in purchasing meal for their consumption; in 1815, 111/. 11*. 3d.; in 1816,242/. 8*. 3d.; in 1817, 4567/.; in 1818,1136/. 19s. 8tf. The kelp belonged to him as proprietor, but there was a deficiency of rental to the extent of these grants."
It must be observed, that the small tenants, or crofters, are usually tenants at will: but the large farmers in general hoid leases of nineteen years. The farms in this neighbourhood, have been much transmitted in hereditary descent: the business of the country and of the police is conducted by the higher tacksmen and farmers.
The numbers stated to be thrown out of employment by the failure of the kelp-manufacture, in a memorial prepared at Edinburgh, in the beginning of 1828, by the proprietors of the western maritime estates, amounted to 50,000. The disposal of the superfluous population will be considered, when the question of emigration from these regions engages more particularly our attention.
Near the hamlet of Arisaig, stands a neat church between ;two well-built houses, which might be fairly presumed to be the manse and tho school-house. And such they are: the former occupied by a Protestant missionary. The church, however, proved to be a Roman Catholic chapel. The proprietor, who erected it, offered the lease to the kirk in the first instance, and, on its being declined, to the present occupant. On a neighbouring hill remain the four walls of the ruined parish-church. A Catholic gentleman of our party referred its demolition to the era "when John Knox set about harrying the rooks." This act, contrasted with the immense predominance of the Catholics, who compose 19-20ths of the entire population in this neighbourhood, brings to mind the well-known story of the old woman, who set fire to her house for the purpose of destroying the rats: the house was burned; but the rats escaped. It must be recollected, in justification of Knox, that the destruction of churches, though attributable in part to the violence of his discourses, was contrary to his wishes, and that he struggled perpetually to secure the adequate endowment of the church, in opposition to the cupidity of the lay reformers.
The state of the Roman Catholics in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, is a subject of much interest.
The natives of these regions were swayed by other impulses than those which affected the kingdom of Scotland in general, in which, at the period of the Reformation, the Catholic clergy were simultaneously deserted by their flocks. And the Romish religion is still professed by a considerable portion of them, intermingled with the Protestants, in a singularly chequered manner. They abound principally in Inverness-shire: constituting in Arisaig, which may he considered the central station of their faith, in Moidart, Knoydart, and the neighbouring island of Egg, 5-6ths of the population; in Glenelg, beyond Knoydart, about one-half: diminishing in the districts of Kintail, Loch Alsh, and Applecross, in Rossshire, till they disappear on the borders of Cromarty and Sutherlandshire. They abound in Glengarry, in the country of Lovat; and further eastward, are still numerous on the property of the Duke of Gordon, which lies in the shires of Murray and Banff.
In the islands of Rum and Muck, on either side of Egg, Protestantism is universal; in Canna, popery predominates; in the large island of Sky, Protestantism exclusively. In the Long Island, popery prevails in Barra, Benbecula, and South Uist, and has extended partially into North Uist; whilst in Harris and Lewis, the northern islands of this chain, the people are all Protestants. The Southern Hebrides and Highlands contain very few Catholics.
The Catholics have, hitherto, maintained two establishments, one in Aberdeenshire, and one in the island of Lismore, at the entrance of the Caledonian canal. But the want of funds has rendered consolidation necessary, involving the discontinuance of that at Lismore.
This remarkable distribution of the two sects may be attributed to the original imperfect progress of the Reformation in these regions; to the inadequacy of the Protestant establishment and of education, and to the prompt submission of the people to the authority of their chiefs. Dr. Macculloch considers the influence of their religious feelings on the minds of the Highlanders, too powerful to admit of the operation of the last mentioned of these causes; and Mr. Glassford, in his letter to Lord Roden on Irish education, naturally enough attributes the effect to the insufficient supply of Protestant instruction. But the ascertained facts warrant the supposition of the influence of more than one cause.
The vast estates of Clanronald and Lord Macdonald, continental or insular, are contiguous. Yet the former are peopled almost exclusively by Catholics; the latter by Protestants. The grandfather of the present Clanronald was a Catholic. Lewis and Harris, and part of Sky, which were, and are still, partly the property of the Macleods, contain only Protestants. May it not be inferred that the authority of the chiefs, as well as the spirit of clanship, contributed to this result? The insulated existence of the Catholic religion upon the property of the Duke of Gordon, notoriously resulted from the long-continued adherence of that family to the Romish faith. The equally anomalous fact, that the religion of Rum should be Protestant, whilst that of the adjacent islands of Egg and Canna should be chiefly Catholic, may be explained by direct reference to the exercise of authority.
That the long neglect of the spiritual instruction of the natives of these remote regions, has contributed also, much to the preservation, and indeed, the extension of popery, is doubtless true. It accounts for the conversion of the people of Barra to that religion, who were all Protestants till after the Restoration; when upon the establishment of the Church of England in Ireland, some Irish priests fled from that kingdom to this island: and as Harris and Barra formed one parish, and the minister resided in the former, at too great a distance from the latter, availed themselves of the ignorance of the natives to effect their entire conversion*. The more recent progress of popery in North Uist, there being only four Catholics in that island at the period of the survey, may be traced to the same cause.
The supposition of the universal diffusion of education in Scotland is a common mistake, and affords a striking proof of the ignorance of the real state of the highlands and islands of Scotland, prevalent in England, and, indeed, till within few years, in the Scottish capital and Lowlands.
The parochial system of instruction which has obtained well-merited celebrity, and has been found so efficacious in the Lowland parishes, was of little avail in those vast regions, in which the parishes often extend from thirty to sixty miles, and consequently the parish schools are inaccessible to the greater part of the inhabitants, and, if within their reach, useless to a population acquainted only with the Gaelic language, which is not taught m those seminaries. The schools established by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in Scotland, which con
• (Sinclair*Survey^) Martin mentions, at thebegianing of last century, that Macneill of Barra, and hi9 followers, were catholics, and that he exercised considerable influence.
ferred much benefit on the more neglected parts of the country, were restricted by a similar limitation.
In proof of the ignorance necessarily resulting from the education being exclusively in a language which the people did not understand, the recent returns published by the Inverness-shire Society, exhibited a ratio of thirty to twelve in the hundred, uneducated in the Orkneys, and Shetland Isles, and in those parts of the North of Scotland, where English is spoken generally, and as seventy to the hundred, in the western Islands and Highlands. To remedy this great deficiency, various societies were formed at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness. The Gaelic School Society of Edinburgh, instituted in 1811, adopted the opposite system of teaching only the Gaelic language, formed on the obvious principle which, so long the subject of debate and apprehension, may be now considered an axiom of education as of common sense, that a person can receive religious instruction, only in a language which he understands. It had been previously applied successfully to the education of the Welsh and Irish. The object of the institution is, the formation of circulating schools, or schools, which after having been fixed in one district for a period, varying according to local exigencies, are removed to another, and thus diffuse the benefits of the society, as generally and impartially as possible. The scholars pay no fees, and are liable to no expense, but that of contributing in turn, a portion of the fuel consumed in the school. The house is built by subscription of the neighbouring gentry, farmers and others. The schoolmasters are examined as to their piety and general qualifications, by the Edinburgh Committee, and are precluded from transgressing the limits of their prescribed duty, by an express regulation, which prohibits the teachers being preachers, or public exhorters, stated or occasional, of any denomination whatever. The Holy Scriptures are exclusively the subject of instruction.
The Society directed its first efforts to the supply of the religious wants of the people, of whom by far the greatest part of those of the Highlands and Islands can seldom, and some never "hear sermon:" to use the expression by which attendance at public worship is commonly designated, notwithstanding the appointment of Missionaries in some parishes; and with this view confined itself to teachingGaelic as the only general vehicle of instruction, and to the use of the Scriptures, common both to Catholics and Protestants. They justly considered a more comprehensive system of education of secondary importance, while tens of thousands were ignorant of the simple rudiments of Christianity. Each report of this society affords a list, not only of the schools, and number of scholars actually in attendance, but also, all the places at which schoolmasters were formerly stationed; thus presenting a complete view of its operations, since the formation of the Society.
The number of children which received instruction from the Society in 1827, amounted to between 4 and 5000. But still, the efforts of this and other similar Societies, left a great void unoccupied; and the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland had become so sensible of the deficiency, that they appointed, in 1824, at the proposition of Dr. Baird, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, a committee for the purpose of ascertaining its actual extent, and of devising a plan for remedying it. Queries were sent to the ministers of the different parishes, and answers, the result of personal investigation, elicited; and the mass of valuable information thus collected is comprised in a series of voluminous Reports, containing probably the most accurate and complete representation of the deficiency of schools throughout Scotland.
The following brief statement, extracted from the Society's first Report, and confirmed by subsequent in quiries, presents a summary view of the state of education in different synods, pointing out clearly where the deficiencies principally exist.
"The whole population of Scotland amounts to 2,093,856, and the Church is divided into sixteen synods. In the ten synods of Lothian and Tweeddale, Merse and Tiviotdale, Dumfries, Galloway, Glasgow and Ayr, Perth and Stirling, Fife, Angus and Mearns, Aberdeen, and Moray, there are 764 parishes, and 1,716,126 persons; and so abundant is the number of schools in these districts, that with a few exceptions, they may be said to be well supplied with the means of education, and that there is scarcely an individual who has not been taught to read.
The remaining six synods, however, namely, Argyle>, Glenelg, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland, situated chiefly in the Highlands and Islands, and containing only 143 parishes, and a population of 377,730 persons, are, as stated in the parochial returns, in the most urgent need of not less than 250 additional schools.
The number of scholars that would attend each of these 250 schools, it is computed, at a low average, would amount to forty-two. It follows, therefore, that in these synods, there are 10,500 children left without any adequate means of education; and the Committee are quite satisfied that the number is, in fact, much greater than the calculated number of 10,500. These 10,500 children alluded to are all, it is to be noticed, under fifteen years of age. If persons of all ages are included, the number of those not taught to read almost exceeds belief. But how could it be otherwise, when more parishes than one are described, as not having a sufficient number of schools to accommodate one-tenth of their population? Several are said to be in need of three and four, and one of even six schools.
In the first ten synods above mentioned, there are only six catechists stated to be necessary for the due means of religious instruction to the people, and this necessity arises from the large territorial extent of some particular parishes.
In the other six synods also above mentioned, no fewer than 130 catechists are required! Nor will this lamentable deficiency seem surprising, when the physical localities of the country are considered. There are many islands in it at great distances from the coast. The coast of the main-land is often indented by long arms of the sea, and its whole surface is intersected, and in many places, rendered impassable by precipitous mountains, and by rapid rivers.
By the authority of the General Assembly, congregational collections, throughout tho parishes of Scotland, were recommended, and materially augmented the fund for the formation of schools.
In November 1825, the first school was opened in the parish of Lochbroom: and in May 1827, the number of schools had amounted to thirty-five; whilst others were in progress, and the number of children and adults receiving education amounted to nearly 3000. In these schools both Gaelic and English are taught; and according to the returns received from 23 schools, 681 were reading Gaelic, and 1433 English.
In justice to the Catholics, it must be stated that they are eager for knowledge, and that in many instances, their efforts to satisfy their desire, have received the co-operation of their clergy. At Kinloch Moidart, near Arisaig, the Gaelic School Society has a seminary, respecting which it is stated in the report of 1827, "that though the school has been established here but a year, many evince an extensive acquaintance with the blessed truths contained in the Bible, which is peculiarly pleasing, as the prevailing religion in this quarter is the Roman Catholic. The parents seem deeply sensible of their obligations to your society; and some employ their children in reading to them out of the Scriptures, which heretofore were to them as a sealed book."
In the neighbourhood of Arisaig, the British and Foreign Bible Society distributed, during this year, upwards of one hundred Bibles, gratuitously, among the Catholics, on their own application. In the neighbouring islands the Gaelic School Society received no opposition; and the following extract from the Report of the Committee of the General Assembly, for increasing the Means of Education and Religious Instruction in Scotland, by means of Schools, is equally satisfactory. "The Sub-Committee feel cordial gratification in reporting, that one extensive Roman Catholic proprietor, has joined cheerfully in providing a portion of the required accommodations for a schoolmaster; nor can they, without injustice to the present Roman Catholic Bishop in the isles, avoid recording, that he has promised to be the convener of the Committee, with the most enlightened and liberal frankness; and to employ his influence, for encouraging the attendance of the children of tho Catholic persuasion in the General Assembly's Schools." The venerable and benevolent Principal of the University of Edinburgh, who proposed, and has promoted, by his visits to the islands, this scheme for the education of the people of these regions, personally received from the above-mentioned bishop, and several priests in the Long Island and elsewhere, the frank and cordial offer of their co-operation.
On leaving Ansaig, we were driven by a contrary wind into Egg. Its harbour is formed by a sound, sheltered by a rocky island, and capable of admitting a vessel of seventy tons. A few cottages, and two decent houses, appear on the sloping side of an adjoining ridge. One of these is the Manse: In one day they were deprived of their possessors; the late minister and physician, who were drowned within pistol-shot of the shore. Such are the accidents to which the function of minister is liable in these islands. The last incumbents of Stornaway, in Lewis, and of a parish in Arran, perished in a similar manner. In our walk to the Manse, we experienced that sort of molestation to which pedestrians are perpetually subjectin Scotland. A man of very respectable appearance accosted us, and asked us each successively respecting the names of the others of our party, requesting us to inform him accurately, as he should be questioned concerning us by the whole island. "What is your name? your object in travelling? whence came you? whither are you going? where are you staying when you will be at home?" are customary queries. The answer by no means satisfies, suspicion questions its correctness: and the sight of a stranger, and the speculations which it suggests, often interrupt the work of a field, during the long period in which he is visible in the open country over which he is travelling. The advice of Burns is in conformity to this practice:—
Conceal yoursel as weel as ye can from critical dissection.
The pathway to the hospitable manse was rough, crossing a broad and rapid torrent. The principal object of interest in the island, is the Scuir, the summit of which rises to an elevation of 1340 feet above the level of tho sea, shooting up into columnar precipices, varying, according to Macculloch, from 470 to 350 feet in height, and composed'of black porphyritic pitch-stone: a stately pile of natural architecture*. The island, seen from its summit, exhibits a wild, chaotic waste, interspersed by a multitude of small lakes, enclosed in the rugged hollows of the hills.
From the Scuir, we descended to the beach on the eastern side of the island, and visited the cave. Its entrance, choked by long grass, can bo penetrated only on hands and knees. Its interior extends about 20 or 30 feet in height and breadth, and about 250 in length. It is yet strewed with bones, remnants of the black mouldering relics of the entire population of the island, who perished in it, victims of vengeance in a lawless age. The tale, horrible as it is, is well authenticated. Some clansmen of Macleod of Macleod, in Sky, were driven into Egg by contrary winds when on their return from a southern cruise, and seriously offended the natives, who had hospitably entertained them. These, resenting their conduct, turned them adrift upon the sea, in a boat without oars. The tide fortunately set towards Sky, and landed them in that island. The people of their clan, incensed at this outrage, instantly repaired to Egg to avenge the injury. The poor natives, perceiving the approach of the hostile flotilla, took refuge in the cave and were sought in vain by the invaders, who could not discover their retreat, till unhappily, one of them who was sent out to ascertain whether the enemy had departed, wus observed, and traced to his hiding-place. A fire was kindled at tho entrance, and the inmates were suffocated. An aged gentleman in Sky, whose memocy is richly stored with local traditions, informed me, that he had read several of the songs celebrating the achievements of the hero by whom this deed of summary vengeance was perpetrated. He was renowned for his prowess, had defeated Clanronald on the mainland, and perished in a sea-fight in Bloody Bay. in the Sound of Mull. But of all his feats, the burning the cave in Egg obtains the greatest meed of applause: an unequivocal proof of the spirit of the age. Yet some extenuation of this act of barbarous indiscriminate massacre may be supplied, by the recollection, that in the period of anarchy in which it occurred, the islanders were frequently compelled, in self-defence, to take the law into their own hands, and to inflict on each other punishments, on a principle, which, in the intercourse of states, becomes a mainspring of international security.
The harbour of Egg was much crowded when we re
* It was first brought to notice at the commencement of the present century, by Professor Jamieson of Edinburgh- (In the first part of these sketches, the discovery is inadvertently ascribed to Playfair.)