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Title: Our Journey to the Hebrides
Author: Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, 1855-1936, Pennell, Joseph, 1857-1926
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Our Journey to the Hebrides" ***

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Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

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T. Fisher Unwin
Paternoster Square


The greater part of "Our Journey to the Hebrides" was published
originally in HARPER'S MAGAZINE. When it appeared it was severely
criticised, and we were taken to task for not discovering in Scotland
and the Scotch what has been made the fashion to find there--for not
giving second-hand descriptions, which are the stock in trade of Scotch
guide-books, whether romantic or real; in a word, for not staying at
home and manufacturing our journey in the British Museum.

It is gradually dawning upon us that this is what is wanted by the
majority of critics. To go to a country and tell what really happened to
you--to dare to say, for the information of future cyclers or
travellers, that one small piece of road is bad, that on one day out of
ten or fifteen it rained, that at one small hotel you were uncomfortable
or turned away, is enough to make the critic declare that you have found
everything in that country to be awry. This was our fate when we
attempted to describe the most enjoyable trip we ever made--our ride
across France. We have no hesitation in saying that our trip to
Scotland was the most miserable. We undertook to walk, owing to the
misrepresentations of people who we do not believe ever in their lives
walked half as far as we did a year ago. As we have shown, when tramping
became unendurable we went by coach or train, by steamer or sail-boat;
but we walked far enough to see the country as, we venture to think, it
has seldom been seen by other travellers. For, with all its drawbacks,
walking has this one advantage: not only do you stop at the correct
show-places on your route, but you go slowly over the unknown country
which lies between them. That the weather in the Western Highlands and
Islands is vile is a fact which cannot be denied, though to mention it
is held to be a crime. But, for the benefit of those who, because we
speak of the rain and of the fatigue of walking, think we shut our eyes
to everything else on our journey, let us say here, once and for all,
that we found the whole country BEAUTIFUL and full of the most WONDERFUL
EFFECTS; but we must also add that it is the most abominable to travel
through, and its people are the most down-trodden on God's earth.

This is the best and most concise description of the Western Highlands
and Islands that could be given.

Because we saw and described the actual condition of the population, and
ignored the pleasures--in which we might have joined--of a handful of
landlords and sportsmen whose fathers brought about this condition, and
who themselves are fighting to maintain it, we have been asked what is
the use of digging up ancient history? Thank Heaven, it is now two years
since the Crofters' Act was passed by Parliament; but when we were in
the Islands the first test case of a tenant pleading against the
landlord who wished to evict him was tried, and gained by the tenant.
While we were in Barra, the disenfranchisement of the entire island was
accomplished by a trick which the most unscrupulous American politician
would not have dared to play. The Crofters' Commission had then just
begun to reduce rents--fifty-seven per cent. is the average
reduction--and to cancel arrears. It has raised rents on certain
estates, is an argument used by landlords, who forget to tell you that
where rents have been raised they have been compelled to give back
pasture-land to the crofters. It was but a few weeks after our return to
London that a rebellion broke out in the Island of Lewis, and was
quelled only by the decision of the Edinburgh Court, which declared deer
not to be protected by law; so that for the rest of the winter crofters
and cotters ate venison with their oatmeal. It was this decision, and
not the war-ships, which prevented open insurrection in all the Islands.

Some of our critics have been good enough to inform us that crofters
were never turned off their crofts to make room for deer. With those
who refuse to accept the testimony officially published in the
Blue-books there is no use to enter into a discussion. For those who
know little of the subject, and for whom Blue-books would necessitate
long study, here are the facts--facts which no one can question--in a
nutshell. We quote from an article on "The Crofters of the Highlands,"
published in the _Westminster Review_ for February, 1888:

     "In addition to these many injustices" (injustices, that is,
     suffered by the crofters), "there is one which in certain
     districts almost overshadows them all; namely, the absorption
     of vast areas, embracing much fertile land in deer forests. It
     matters little whether crofters were actually evicted to make
     room for deer, or whether sheep farms have been converted to
     this purpose; both have happened very largely, with the result
     that, according to the Royal Commissioners, about two million
     acres are now devoted to deer forests. Large as this figure is,
     it is considerably below the mark, as has been shown by even
     better authorities on the subject. Nor must it be supposed that
     deer forests consist merely of barren and worthless land.
     Unless there is a large amount of good grass-land in a forest
     the deer would starve, and all this good land in times past
     supported a large population, whose descendants are now
     suffering destitution in the bare and unfruitful regions near
     the coast."

To their shame be it said, the American millionaires who are beginning
to rent these deer forests are the men who are now doing the most to
encourage the continuance in their present position of the sons of the
land-grabbers, or, we should say, the heroes of the ancient history and
romance of the country.

There is another evil of these great deer forests which should not be
forgotten. A crofter, after working all day, often has to sit up all
night to keep these beasts, which were supposed to be private property,
out of his little croft. For if the deer eat all his crops, he had no
redress; if the crofter shot one of them, or hurt it in any way in
driving it out, you may be sure the factor made him suffer for it--at
one time he would most likely have been evicted. We want it to be
understood that in these vast tracts of deer forest none but sportsmen
and game-keepers are allowed to go. If your house were to lie on one
side and the village on the other, you would have to go miles around to
reach it. Nor can you go near streams which run in the open country, for
fear you may disturb the fish, which are preserved for English or
American sportsmen.

Just as we are writing this Preface we have begun to receive, for the
first time in our lives, anonymous letters. Hitherto we did not believe
there were people stupid and imbecile enough to write such things. One
of these creatures, who is ashamed of his own identity, encloses, with
an amusing letter written on Kansas City Club paper--which, however,
does not reveal whether he is the president or the hall porter of the
club--an article of a column and a half from the _Scotsman_, which calls
our "Journey to the Hebrides" "sentimental nonsense," "culpable
misrepresentation," "amazing impertinence." And then, without
attempting to show in what the misrepresentation or nonsense or
impertinence consists, the writer of this article goes on to give his
own ideas on the subject of the crofters, quoting statements made from
other sources, and attributing them to us, misrepresenting us, and yet
not attempting to contradict any one fact brought forward in any one of
the articles, but taking up space in the paper to contradict the reports
of the _Scotsman's_ own reporter, printed but a few months before. We
are accused of exaggerating the misery of the people. We have lying by
our side as we write, column after column, amounting to page after page,
from the _Scotsman_, which is by no means the crofters' friend, giving
detailed pictures of this misery, which we, in our generalizing, could
not approach. Here is a specimen taken at hazard from the pile of
clippings. "A Tale of Poverty" it is headed, and it was published
January 17, 1888:

     "Quite a typical case of poverty was that of Donald Mackenzie,
     a middle-aged man, who occupied a half croft at a rental of £2.
     He was married, with five young children, and they had been
     living exclusively on potatoes, occasionally with fish, for
     three months, until they got a half boll of meal from a
     destitution fund. That was now done, and he had that day
     borrowed a bowlful from a neighbour. He had fished at Stornoway
     in the summer, and had kept the family alive; but his wife
     assured the stranger that he had not brought home a single
     shilling. She added that she herself had not had shoes for four
     years, and the children were no better off. A very similar case
     was that of Norman Macmillan. He was a cottar and fisherman,
     having a half lot from another tenant. He had also not taken
     home a shilling from the fishing last year; and, except
     working on his lot, he could find nothing to do until the
     fishing season came on again. He had seven children, the eldest
     twelve years. They had eaten up their potatoes by the beginning
     of winter, and now they had but a little barley-meal left. He
     did not know what to do now, he said, unless Providence opened
     the way for them. They had often been without food, he said,
     although they had kept it. There was none to relieve them. He
     stated that formerly they used to get credit from the merchants
     while they were engaged at the fishing, but that they did not
     get now. One of the houses visited in this township was that of
     the wife of Donald Macmillan, one of the men now standing trial
     in Edinburgh on a charge of having taken part in the Park deer
     raid. Macmillan lived in a very small cot at the back of his
     father's house, which his father had used as a barn. It was
     very poorly furnished even for that locality. There was a
     family of five small children, and there was only one bed in
     the house, with one blanket. Three of the children slept out
     with a neighbour. Macmillan cultivated the half of his father's
     croft, and had one cow. He was also a fisherman, having a share
     in a boat of forty-one feet keel; but, though he had attended
     the Barra fishing last summer, he had made nothing. His wife
     had got a boll of meal from the destitution fund, but besides
     that, she had only two barrels of potatoes. Previous to getting
     that meal, they had lived exclusively on potatoes. She stated
     that when her husband went out to the deer raid, there was but
     one barrel of potatoes; but since then, she explained, she had
     fallen back upon the seed."

Here is another, from January 20th of the same year, when four columns
were devoted to crofter affairs:

     "From here a drive of about four miles brought the visitors to
     Arebruich--a township fixed in a spot which was surely never
     intended for human beings. As one passes onwards from Balallan,
     the soil gradually sinks lower and lower on the north side of
     the loch until, when Arebruich is reached, it is almost level
     to the water's edge. The result is that the land is literally
     a floating bog, and it is a miracle how the poor people, who
     labour away at the barren scraps of earth which show some signs
     of cultivation, manage to get any food raised out of them. A
     rude, clayish pathway extends for some little distance from the
     main road, but it soon stops, as if the builders had thrown up
     the work in disgust. There are sixteen crofts, such as they
     are, in the township, and these are occupied by twenty-six
     families. The first house visited was that of John Mackinnon, a
     stout, good-looking man in spite of his surroundings. He lives
     on his mother's lot, which is rented at £2.15s., exclusive of
     taxes. His mother, who is eighty years old, lives, along with
     an unmarried daughter, in an adjoining house. He paid 35s.
     two years ago to the factor, but since then he has been able to
     pay nothing. He fished as a hired man last year at Lybster; but
     his earnings were so small that when his season's board was
     paid he had only 9d. left. A friend had to lend him his
     passage-money. At present he has three barrels of potatoes
     left, but neither meal nor money. He has two of a family,
     besides himself and wife. They have to live on potatoes. His
     mother never got any parochial relief, and she and her daughter
     have to struggle along as best they can. He has one cow and
     eight sheep. When the destitution meal was being distributed he
     got three stones, and his mother an equal quantity. He does not
     know what to do, and has no prospects whatever. The next house
     presented a worse case. It was that of Widow Murdo Macleod, a
     sister of Mackinnon. She said her husband was drowned at Loch
     Seaforth seven years ago, when they were only ten months
     married. She had one daughter, who was born shortly after her
     husband was drowned. She has made her living all these years by
     knitting and sewing and odd jobs, but never got any help from
     the Parochial Board, though she applied several times. She has
     neither land nor stock, and never had any. She generally gets a
     few potatoes from her brother at harvest time. She has half a
     barrel on hand at present, and about a stone of meal, the
     remains of what was got from the destitution fund. She always
     tried to be industrious, and therefore was never actually in
     absolute want. She always enjoyed good health, and felt very
     thankful for it. The hut in which this woman and her daughter
     live is wretchedly poor, and the single bed is barely covered
     with a thin blanket."[A]

 [A] See note at the end of Preface.

On January 20th, in a leader, the same paper declared that the facts
which we have given are "distressing," and ought to excite "interest"
and sympathy. There is no talk here of sentimental nonsense! Distressing
we should think they were. One cannot help saying that it is nothing
less than infamous that a mere handful of landlords should have
controlled the destiny of, and extracted every penny from, the
population of these Islands--the people whom they have kept for
generations in poverty, not that they might improve the land, but that
they might pass their own time in useless idleness and cruel sport. It
is not a question of over-population. The real evil is that the
Islanders have been ground down and tyrannized over simply to gratify
the amusements of their masters. We have heard again and again that the
position of a landlord does not pay; if it did not, the landlords would
sell their estates to-morrow.

For weeks, early in this year (1888), every Scotch and English paper,
even to the _Times_, had columns about the misery of the crofters--that
is, columns of extracts similar to these we have quoted. Whatever
reasons were given for it, no one questioned their destitution. And yet
within a year all these reports are forgotten; and for generalizing and
not going into details--heart-breaking details--we are called sickly
sentimentalists. So glaring is this complete forgetfulness and
contradiction that we cannot help taking some notice of it, and calling
the attention of these papers to their own reports.

As to the rest of our critics, they did not even know enough to
contradict themselves, except in one case, which we have pointed out
elsewhere, and their other criticism is not directed against our facts.

In dwelling upon the misery of the people, we do not pretend, as has
been suggested, to give an off-hand settlement of the economic problems
of the Islands. We merely state what we saw, what it was impossible to
avoid seeing, wherever we went. It must be remembered that it is not
merely a minority, or even a majority, but the entire population who
exist in this condition of absolute wretchedness and semi-starvation.
With the exception of a few small towns on the coast for the convenience
of tourists and landlords, you find throughout the Islands but the
occasional beautiful castle or shooting-lodge, or great farm-house, and
the many crowded stone piles politely called cottages. And it was
because we were more struck with this misery than with the romance of
the past that, our journey over, we interested ourselves in learning
something of the immediate reasons for the present condition of the
Western Highlanders and Islanders, rather than in reading about the
murders and massacres of the MacGregor and the Macleod, the Mac this
and the Mac that. We were not blind to the beauty, the sternness, the
wildness of the country; but the sadness and sorrows of its people
impressed us even more than the wonder and beauty of their land.

                              JOSEPH PENNELL.
                              ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL.

    WESTMINSTER, _November 20, 1888_.[B]

 [B] Even while we revise this Preface more news comes from the
  Island of Lewis. On Lady Matheson's estates rents have been reduced 42
  and 53 per cent., and arrears cancelled 84 and 91 per cent. This is
  from the _Times_ of December 20th:

       "CROFTERS' RENTS.--The Crofter Commission yesterday issued
       their first decisions in relation to Lady Matheson's property
       in the Island of Lewis, the centre of the land agitation last
       winter. They have granted an average reduction of 42 per cent.
       on the rental of 150 crofter tenants in the parish of Barvas,
       on the west side of Lewis. The arrears of rent due, which was a
       striking feature in Lewis, have been cancelled to the extent of
       84 per cent. Of a total of £2422, the Commissioners have
       cancelled £2043."

  If there had not been injustice before, is it probable that there would
  now be such wholesale reductions and cancellings? We suppose it is
  _sentimentalism_ to record these facts.

      CHRISTMAS-DAY, 1888.



    IN THE HIGHLANDS                                3

    ON THE ISLANDS                                 83

    TO THE EAST COAST, AND BACK AGAIN             167



    Crofters' Cottages near Uig, Skye       _Frontispiece_

    Vignette for First Paper                        1

    Tarbet, Loch Lomond                            11

    Glencroe                                       15

    Loch Restil                                    21

    Inverary                                       23

    Cross at Inverary                              29

    Scotland and the Hebrides                      31

    Kilchrennan                                    37

    Loch Leven, from Ballachulish                  41

    Oban                                           43

    Coast of Mull                                  53

    Ross of Mull, looking towards Iona             59

    Headland of Gribun, from Ulva                  65

    "One of his Strange Things Happened"           77

    Vignette for Second Paper                      81

    In the Transept of the Cathedral, Iona         85

    Iona                                           87

    Tomb of Macleod                                90

    Castle Bay, from Barra                        103

    Town of Barra                                 109

    Mountains of Harris, from Tarbet              113

    Gathering Peat                                125

    The "Dunara Castle"                           131

    Interior of a Weaver's Cottage                135

    Doing Skye                                    141

    A real Highland Lassie                        147

    Dunvegan Castle                               153

    Graveyard of the Macleod                      156

    Tail-piece                                    163

    Vignette for Third Paper                      165

    Fisher-boats hauled up near Buckie            183

    The only Castle I drew                        186

    Near Cullen                                   187

    Bit of Macduff                                190

    Near Banff                                    193

    Banff, from Macduff                           195

    Fraserburgh                                   199

    In the Harbor, Fraserburgh                    203

    Gutters at Work, Fraserburgh                  207

    Coming Home from the Fisheries, Fraserburgh   211

    Entrance to the Harbor at Montrose            215

    Ruins at Arbroath                             221



We never looked forward to a pleasure trip with so much misery as we did
to our journey to the Hebrides. We wanted a holiday.

"Go to Scotland," suggested the editor of HARPER'S.

"Let us rather wander through unexplored France," we proposed, in a long
letter, though we had already explored it for ourselves more than once.

"Scotland would be better," was the answer in a short note.

"But why not let us discover unknown Holland?" we asked, as if it had
not been discovered a hundred times already.

"Scotland would be better," was still the answer, and so to Scotland we

It was a country about which we cared little, and knew less. We had
heard of Highlands and Lowlands, of Melrose and Stirling, but for our
lives we could not have pointed them out on the map. The rest of our
knowledge was made up of confused impressions of Hearts of Mid-Lothian
and Painters' Camps in the Highlands, Macbeths and Kidnappers, Skye
terriers and Shetland shawls, blasted heaths and hills of mist, Rob Roys
and Covenanters; and, added to these, positive convictions of an
unbroken Scotch silence and of endless breakfasts of oatmeal, dinners of
haggis, and suppers of whiskey. Hot whiskey punch is a good thing in its
way, and at times, but not as a steady diet. Oatmeal we think an
abomination. And as for haggis--well, we only knew it as it was once
described to us by a poet: the stomach of some animal filled with all
sorts of unpleasant things and then sewed up. We recalled the real
dinners and friendly peasants of France and Italy, and hated the very
name of Scotland.

It will easily be understood that we could not plan a route out of our
ignorance and prejudice. It remained to choose a guide, and our choice,
I hardly know why, fell upon Dr. Johnson. Every one must remember--I say
this though we did not even know it until we looked into the
matter--that Dr. Johnson met Boswell in Edinburgh, and in his company
journeyed up the east coast as far as Inverness, then across the
Highlands to the west, and so to the Hebrides, coming back by way of
Inverary, Loch Lomond, and Glasgow. It looked a long journey on the map,
and seemed a weary one in the pages of Boswell and Johnson; but as if
this were not bad enough, we made up our minds, for the sake of novelty,
to walk.

Of our preparations for the journey I will say nothing. We carried less
than Stanley and more than the average tramp. We took many things which
we ought not to have taken, and we left behind many things which we
ought to have taken. But this matters little, since our advice to all
about to start on a walking tour is, _Don't_.

On the 28th of July we arrived in


"a city too well known to admit description." If Dr. Johnson thought so
a hundred years ago, it is not for us, who propose to be his followers,
to differ from him. Indeed, during our stay in that city, so eager were
we to be faithful to him in all things that we should have allowed
ourselves to be dined, teaed and suppered, even as he was, but for an
obstacle. The only person whom we knew in Edinburgh was away, and the
fame of our coming had not, as with Dr. Johnson, gone before us.

We were careful to find St. James's Court, where Boswell lived, and
where clothes, drying in what sun there is, now hang from his windows.
And we went to the old White Horse Inn, where the Doctor, on his
arrival, stayed until Boswell came to carry him off in triumph; and
where probably the tourist of another year will not go, for already in
the court-yard are signs of the coming of the destroyer.

We had resolved to reverse the order of their journey by going to the
Western Islands first, and coming home along the east coast. In this way
we should avoid the September storms which kept them in the Hebrides.
Now we also decided to go straight to Glasgow, and not to stop at
Hamilton, where they spent a night.

On Saturday, July 30th, we began our walk in a cab, and continued it for
many miles in a railway-carriage. We represented to ourselves that the
country between Edinburgh and Glasgow, of which we knew nothing, was
stupid, and that we must get to Glasgow for Sunday. There was no earthly
reason for this, but it was an excuse, and we made the most of it.

Dr. Johnson says that "to describe a city so much frequented as


is unnecessary," and again we are willing to take his word for it. But
its Cathedral was the first of the many surprises Scotland had in store
for us. We had heard of it, but that was all. One young lady of Glasgow,
fresh from a tour on the Continent, told us that she had never seen it.
We were therefore prepared to find it no great thing. The exterior did
not disappoint our expectations, but we have seldom been more impressed
with an interior, and this though we had just come from the loveliest
churches of England.

The crypt, or rather the under church, is its pride, as indeed it well
may be. A verger stood smoking a pipe at the south door, and we told him
what we thought. J----, after three years' work in the English
cathedrals, felt himself no mean authority.

"It's the finest in the world," said the verger.

"In Great Britain perhaps, but not in Europe," said J----; for we had
been but a moment before comparing it, as it now is, a cold, bare,
show-place, to the under church of Assisi with the frescos on the walls,
the old lamps burning before altars, the sweet smell of incense, and the
monks kneeling in prayer.

"I only tell you what those _qualified_ have said," and the verger
settled the matter and J----'s pretensions.

It was in the Glasgow crypt Rob Roy gave the warning to Frank
Osbaldistone. The guide-book recalled the incident, which we had
forgotten. Indeed the farther we went, the more we were reminded that to
travel in Scotland is to travel through the Waverley Novels, and that
these to us were but a name. Since our return we have tried to read them
again, to be quite honest, with but indifferent pleasure. We are so
wanting in appreciation that we find Scott's description of the crypt
stupid, and we are not thrilled by the daring deeds of the MacGregor.

The Art Gallery in Glasgow was no less a surprise to us than the
Cathedral. Its catalogue contains more Titians, Rembrandts. Hobbemas,
and other great masters than any other in Europe. But if we wondered at
the catalogue, we were still more astonished when we came to see the

We stayed in Glasgow until Monday morning, when we again took the train,
but this time for a few miles only. We bought tickets for Kilpatrick,
and a sharp lookout we had to keep for it from the carriage windows. At
the stations, no one called the names, which, in true British fashion,
were less easy to find than that of the best brand of mustard or of the
best hotel in Glasgow. At Kilpatrick, when I pulled my head in after the
usual search, J---- was already at the opposite door. He did not care
where he was, he said; he would get out. In the distance, we could see
Dumbarton Rock rising from the plain against a blue sky. Here, as in our
plans for the day's journey, it was the one prominent landmark.

Kilpatrick is said to have been the birthplace of St. Patrick. I do not
know what authority Black[C] has for the legend; certainly not that of
the villagers. St. Patrick was no British man, one of them told us;
and, moreover, he never lived in Kilpatrick, but on the hill. But had we
ever heard of Captain Shonstone, the hairbor-maister? He was a great

 [C] Not William, but the guide-book Black.

We made a great show of briskness by going the long way round by the
canal. This was the only time throughout our journey that we turned from
the main road--except to take a short-cut. Mr. Lee Meriwether, in his
Tramp Abroad, thought it an advantage of walking that he could leave the
road to see whatever was to be seen near, but not from it. For our part,
after the first mile, we never took an extra step for any sight; that
is, whenever our knapsacks were on our backs. At Dumbarton we did not
even climb the rock, though Dr. Johnson walked to the very top. Instead,
we lunched and talked politics with the British workman in a coffee

After Dumbarton, we left the Clyde to follow the Leven. It was just
beyond the town we first saw Ben-Lomond, a blue shadow on the horizon
when the clouds were heavy above; a high bare mountain, seamed and
riven, when the sun shone upon it. We lost sight of it in a succession
of long, stupid villages; on the shady road, where the trees met
overhead, we could see it again through the net-work of branches. Clouds
were low on its heights, and a veil of soft light rain fell before it
when, having left our knapsacks in the inn at Balloch, we rowed up the
Leven, a little quiet river between low woods and flat meadow-land, to


It was the first Scotch lake we saw, and we thought it very like any
other lake.

We were off by eight in the morning. It was clear and cool, like an
October day at home. Our road lay for a while close to the loch, then
turned and went round the parks and lawns that sloped gently to the
shore, so that it was only over a stone wall or through a gap in the
hedge we could see the blue water and the wooded islands. We were now on
the fighting-ground of the Colquhoun and the MacGregor, we learned from
Black, who--we know it to our cost--is a better guide to the romance and
history of Scotland than to its roads. It is but poor comfort when you
ask for a good route to be given a quotation.

Rob Roy is the hero of Loch Lomond, and if you cross--as we did not--to
the other side, you may see his cave and his prison and a lot of his
other belongings. But I think that which is best worth seeing on the
loch is the Colquhoun's village of Luss, with its neat, substantial
cottages and trim gardens. In the Highlands you can have your fill of
tales of outlaws and massacres and horrors; but it is not every day you
come to a village like this, where men are allowed to live a little
better than their beasts.

[Illustration: TARBET, LOCH LOMOND.]

At the Colquhoun Arms in Luss we ate our lunch, and that was our
undoing. It left us in a mood for lounging, and we had still eight miles
to go. We found it harder work the second day than the first. Our
knapsacks weighed like lead, and did not grow lighter; each mile seemed
interminable. This was the more provoking because with every step the
way grew lovelier. Almost all the afternoon we were within sight of the
loch, while on our left the mountains now rose from the very road-side,
and hedges gave place to hill-sides of ferns and heather-patched
bowlders. Used as we both were to cycling, the slowness and monotony of
our pace was intolerable. We longed for a machine that would carry us
and our knapsacks with ease over the hard, dustless road. For one mile
we tried to keep each other in countenance. J---- was the first to rebel
openly. The Highlands were a fraud, he declared; the knapsack was an
infernal nuisance and he was a fool to carry it. About three miles from
Tarbet he sat down and refused to go any farther.

Just then, by chance, there came a drag full of young girls, and when
they saw us they laughed, and passed by on the other side. And likewise
a dog-cart, and the man driving, when he first saw us, waved his hand,
taking us to be friends; but when he was at the place and looked at us,
he also passed by on the other side. But two tricyclers, as they
journeyed, came where we were; and when they saw us they had compassion
on us, and came to us, and gathered up our knapsacks and set them on
their machines and brought them to the inn and took care of them. And
yet there are many who think cyclers nothing but cads on casters!

To tell the truth, had these two men been modern Rob Roys, we would have
yielded up our knapsacks as cheerfully; nor would we have sorrowed never
to see them again.

As we went on our way lightly and even gayly, we came to the inn at


and were received by a waiter in a dress-coat. It was a big hotel low
down by the loch, with Ben-Lomond for opposite neighbor. The company at
dinner was made up of Englishmen and Englishwomen. But everybody talked
to everybody else. An Englishman, it seems, becomes civilized in the
Highlands. There, those he sits down with at dinner, as is the way with
Frenchmen, are his friends; at home, he would look upon them as his

After dinner we went to walk with the cyclers. As a great theatrical
moon came sailing up through the sky behind Ben-Lomond, one told us
in broad Scotch how from the Jungfrau he had once watched the moon rise,
and at the sight had bur-r-r-st into tee-eers. But just then, had I wept
at all, it must have been from sheer weariness, so I turned my back upon
the beauty of the evening and went to bed.

[Illustration: GLENCROE.]

It was well on towards noon the next day before we were on our way.

"It looks like business," said a young lady feeding a pet donkey, as she
saw us start.

"It feels like it too," said I, dolefully, for the knapsacks were no
lighter, and our feet were tender after the sixteen miles of the day

It was two easy miles to Arrochar, a village of white cottages and a
couple of inns, one with a tap, the other with a temperance sign. Here
we were ferried across Loch Long by a fisherman sad as his native hills.
It was a wretched season, he told us; there were few people about. On
the west side of the loch, the road was wild, and soon turned up to
Glencroe. At the lower end of the pass, sheep browsed on the hill-sides,
and in tiny fields men and women were cutting grass. The few cottages
were new. But these things we left behind when the road began to wind
upward in short, sudden curves. It was shut in on both sides by
mountains; the sun glittered on their sheer precipices and overhanging
cliffs and on the hundreds of watercourses with which their slopes were
seamed. The way was steep, and I thought I should have died before I
reached the top. At the last we made a short-cut up to the stone known,
out of compliment to Wordsworth, as "Rest and be Thankful." There may be
men and women with so much poetry in their souls, that after that stiff
climb they will still care to find the appropriate lines in their
guide-books, and then have breath enough left to repeat them. But we
were too hot and tired to do anything but lie on the grass and, as we
rested, look down upon and enjoy the wonderful pictures away beyond and
below us.

In this lonely place a little loch lies dark and peaceful among the
hills. Restil, its name is; I do not know what it means, but it has a
pretty sound. Nothing could be more monotonous to tramp over than the
long stretch of road which follows Kinglas Water almost to the shores of
Loch Fyne. Our feet were blistered, and now ached at every step. Our
shoulders were sorely strained. The things we said are best not written.
When the coach from Inverary passed and until it was out of sight, we
made a feint of not being tired. But the rest of the way we now grew
eloquent in abuse, now limped in gloomy silence.

It was a mistake (which we afterward regretted) going to


and I do not know why we made it, except that in mapping out our route
we had little help from Black. We had to learn from experience, which is
but a poor way, if you find out your errors when it is too late to mend
them. We were bound to Inverary, Dr. Johnson's next stopping-place. At
the top of Glencroe, we should have turned to our left and walked down
Hell's Glen to St. Catharine's, where there is a steam ferry to Inverary
on the opposite shores of Loch Fyne. As it was, we had turned to our
right and walked to a point almost at the top of the loch where there
was no ferry, and where five miles lay between us and St. Catharine's.
This was the coach road from Tarbet, and the guide-book has but little
interest in travellers who go afoot. Though one hears much of walking
tours in the Highlands, but few are made. In seven weeks' walking we
scarcely met even a tramp.

We felt our mistake the more keenly because of the unpleasantness of the
inn. The landlady greeted us warmly; like the ferry-man of the morning,
she found there were too few tourists abroad. But her greeting was
better than her rooms or her dinner, and she herself was unco' canny.

There was in the inn a young artist whose name she told us. We had never
heard it, and this showed our ignorance; for he came from London, where
he had won the first prize in an exhibition, and his wife, who was with
him, had won the second, and altogether they were very great, and it was
small wonder they did not care to dine with unknown travellers who
carried sketch-books. But, indeed, I think in no country in the world
except Great Britain will one artist not be glad to meet another when
chance throws them together. An English artist wrecked on a desert
island would not recognize a brother artist in the same plight as "one
of the fraternity," unless the latter could make good his claims by the
excellence, not of his work, but of his letters of introduction or the
initials after his name. Nor does he unbend in the Highlands, where
Englishmen of other crafts become so very sociable.

When we walked out after a bad dinner, the eastern hills rose against
the pale yellow light of the coming moon. One star sent a shining track
across the dark water, over which every now and again the wind marked
its passage in long lines of silver ripples. Of all the sweet still
evenings of our journey, we shall always remember this as the sweetest
and stillest.

[Illustration: LOCH RESTIL.]

It was in the morning that the landlady showed her canniness. She sent
us off in her boat to be rowed across the loch; this, she said, we
should find the shorter way to Inverary. But on the water one of the
boys let slip the truth. We should have half the distance to walk if we
went straight from Cairndow to St. Catharine's, there to cross by the
steam ferry. Judge of our righteous wrath! When they rowed us back to
the Cairndow side, the boys were careful to land us a good quarter of a
mile below the inn. The worst of it was that once on shore again, we did
not know whom to believe, the mother or the children. We were in a fine
state of doubt, until a woman in the first cottage we came to reassured
us. This was by far the shorter way, and we need not hurry, she added;
we could not help reaching St. Catharine's in time for the ferry at

[Illustration: INVERARY.]

She was right. It seemed a short walk by the loch. We stopped only once,
that J---- might get an old ruin on the very water's edge. When we came
to St. Catharine's we had an hour or more to sit at the inn door. It was
one of those hot, misty days, which are not rare during the short
Highland summer. The mountains were shrouded in a burning white haze.
The loch was like glass. On its opposite shore, Inverary, white and
shining, was reflected in its waters; and close by, at the foot of the
hills, the turreted castle of the Argylls stood out strongly against the
dark wood.

Here we made up our minds to go to Dalmally by coach. It was much too
hot to walk. This left us free to take a nearer look at the castle,
which, when we saw how painfully it had been restored, we thought less
fine. In the town itself, though there is plenty sketchable, there is
nothing notable, save the old town-cross, with its weather-worn
carvings, which stands upon the shore, with loch and hills for

After lunch at the Argyll Arms, suddenly an excursion steamer and the
coach from Tarbet poured streams of tourists into the place. Two more
coaches dashed out from the hotel stables. The wide street was one mass
of excursionists and landlords and waiters, and coachmen in red coats
and gray beavers, and guards with bundles and boxes. There was a short,
sharp struggle for seats, and in the confusion we came off with the
best, and found ourselves on the leading coach, whirling from the glare
of the loch, through the cool shade of a wooded glen, to the stirring
sounds of the "Standards on the Braes of Mar," shouted by a party of
Lowland Sandies who filled the other seats.

At the first pause, the coachman pointed to deer standing quietly under
the graceful silver birches that shut in the road.

"Shush-sh-sh-sh!" screamed the Sandies, in a new chorus.

"Why canna ye put salt on their tails?" cried one.

Though later, cows and sheep and ducks fled before their noise, the deer
never stirred. And yet, I suppose, in the season the Duke of Argyll and
his guests come stalking these tame creatures, and call it sport.[D]

 [D] It is for this supposition we have already been taken so
  severely to task and laughed at for our imagined ignorance of the
  difference between roe deer and red deer. We are glad to have afforded
  the critics amusement; but we have since looked into the matter, and a
  friend, a Highlander who knows the Highlands as well as if not better
  than any of our critics, assures us there are red deer in these woods.
  So much for that wild burst of criticism! But if this were not the
  case, our supposition would not have been unnatural when certain aspects
  of British sport are considered--the hunting in Epping Forest, the
  performances of her Majesty's stag-hounds, for example!

All that afternoon, through the woods of Glenaray and across the purple
moorland beyond, afar over the banks and braes and streams around, there
rang out the strong voice of Sandy off for a holiday. Highland valleys
were filled with the pathetic strains of

    "We started up a candy shop, John,
      But couldna make it pay,
    John Anderson, my jo!"

Highland hills re-echoed the burden of a loving father's song:

      "For she's my only daughter,
      'Tis I myself that taught her
      To wear spangled clothes
      And twirl round on her toes,
    And her name it was Julia McNaughter."

Between songs there were jokes, as at the minstrels.

"Ta-ta, James; au revore," they called to men mowing in the meadows.

"And havna ye a letter for us?" they asked the old woman at a lonely

To a beggar by the way-side they gave witticisms with their pennies:

    "Canna ye sing a Gaelic song?"
    "Canna ye stand on your head?"
    "He's a Grecian!"

If the point of their jokes is not very clear, the fault is not mine; I
am trying to be not witty, but realistic.

There was one in the party--a woman, of course--who remembered duty.

"Isn't it bonny country?" she kept asking. "And what's yon bonny glen,
my laddie?" and she poked the guard.

"And Sandy, mon, ye're nae lookin' at the scenery," she said to her

"Toot, I clean forgot the scenery," and Sandy broke off in his singing
to stare through his field-glass at a bare hill-side.

Almost within sight of Loch Awe we came to a hill that was so steep we
all left the coach and walked a couple of miles up the shadeless hot
road. An objection sometimes made to cycling is that it is half walking;
but in the Highlands you would walk less if you rode a cycle than if you
travelled by coach. From the top of the hill we looked down to where,
far below, lay Loch Awe and its many islands. In this high place, with
the beautiful broad outlook, gypsies had camped. I never yet knew the
Romany who did not pitch his tent in the loveliest spot for miles

We had no definite plan for the night. We left it to chance, and we
could not have done better. At the station at Dalmally we said goodby
to our friends, who went gayly to another bonny glen, and we took the
train for Loch Awe. It hurried us round the top of the loch in a few
minutes to Loch Awe station, where on the platform were crowds of men in
conventional tweed knickerbockers and Norfolk jackets, and women in
jockey caps and fore-and-afts; and moreover, there were pipers with
their pipes under their arms. From the carriage window we had seen the
Loch Awe hotel, perched high on the hill-side, and looking down to the
gray ivy-grown ruins of Kilchurn. It seemed no place for tourists who
carried their baggage on their backs. But hardly had we left the
carriage, when up stepped an immaculate creature in blue coat and brass
buttons to tell us, with his cap in his hand, that our telegram had been
received and the Port Sonachan boat was in waiting. That from all that
elegant crowd of travellers he should have picked us out, the only two
in the least disreputable-looking and travel-worn, showed, we thought,
his uncommon discrimination. If, without knowing it, we had telegraphed
to a hotel of which we had never heard, if in consequence a private
steam-yacht was now at our disposal, why should we hesitate? Indeed, we
had not time, for immediately a sailor seized our shabby knapsacks and
carried them off with as much respect as if they had been Saratoga
trunks. We followed him into a little yacht, which we graciously shared
with an Englishman, his wife, two children, eleven bags, and three

[Illustration: CROSS AT INVERARY.]

The man in the blue coat kindly kept his boat at the pier until J----
had made quite a decent note of Kilchurn Castle. It has its legends, but
it is not for me to tell them. Mr. Hamerton, who has written poetry
about it and ought to know, declares they are not to be told in prose.
Then we steamed down the loch, past the islands, one with a lonely
graveyard, another with a large house; past the high mountains shutting
in the Pass of Brander, to a hotel perfect of its kind. It stood on a
little promontory of its own. A bay-window in the dining-room commanded
the view north, south, and west over the loch. As we ate our dinner we
could watch the light slowly fade and the hills darken against it. The
dinner was excellent, and the people at table were friendly. There was a
freedom about the house that made us think of Dingman's Ferry in its
best days, of the Water Gap before its splendor came upon it, of Bar
Harbor before it was exploited. It was not a mere place of passage, like
the hotels at Tarbet and at Loch Awe; but those who came to it stayed
for their holiday. All the men were there for the fishing, which is
good, and most of them, tired after their day's work, came to dinner in
their fishing clothes. Their common sport made them sociable. They were
kind to us, but in their kindness was pity that we too were not
fishermen. The landlord, who was a Cameron, was neither great nor
obsequious. He had interest for this man's salmon and that man's trout,
and good counsel for our journeying. He had been game-keeper for many
years on the shores of Loch Awe, which he knew and loved. He had seen
Mr. Hamerton, and his boats and his painter's camp. Since we have been
to Loch Awe we have had an admiration for Mr. Hamerton which his book
about it never gave us. Seldom do men show greater love for beauty in
their choice of a home than he did, when he set up his tent on the
island of the dead. As his books show, he is sufficient unto himself.
Before the first month had ended, many might have wearied for other
company save that of the hills and the water, the dead and a madman.


We left Port Sonachan in the morning. Mr. Cameron walked down to his
pier with us, and a Duncan rowed us across to South Port Sonachan, where
there is another hotel, and where we took the road to Loch Etive. Again
the morning was hot and misty. In the few fields by the way men and
women were getting in the hay, and the women, in their white sacks and
handkerchiefs about their heads, looked not unlike French peasants. On
each hill-top was a group of Highland cattle, beautiful black and tawny
creatures, standing and lying in full relief against the sky. Two miles,
a little more or less, brought us to a village wandering up and down a
weed-grown, stone-covered hill-side. To our left a by-road climbed to
the top of the hill, past the plain, bare kirk, with its little
graveyard, and higher still to two white cottages, their thatched roofs
green with a thick growth of grass, and vines growing about their doors,
the loch and the mountain in the background.

But the cottages, which to the right of our road straggled down to a
rocky stream below, had no redeeming whitewash, no vines about their
doors. The turf around them was worn away. Some were chimneyless; on
others the thatch, where the weeds did not hold it together, had broken
through, leaving great holes in the roof. On a bench, tilted up against
the wall of the lowest of these cottages, sat an old gray-haired man in
Tam o' Shanter, his head bent low, his clasped hands falling between his
knees. It was a picturesque place, and we camped out a while under an
old cart near the road-side. Perhaps it would have been wise if, like
Mr. Hamerton, we could have seen only the picturesqueness of the
Highland clachan, only the color and sublimity of the huts, only the
fine women who live within them. But how could we sit there and not see
that the picturesqueness was that of misery, that whatever color and
sublimity there might be--and to the sublimity, I must confess, we were
blind--were but outward signs of poverty and squalor, and that the huts
sheltered not only strong young women, but feeble old men like that
pathetic figure with the clasped hands and bent head? We have seen the
old age of the poor, when we thought it but a peaceful rest after the
work of years. In English almshouses we have found it in our hearts to
envy the old men and women their homes; but here despair and sadness
seemed the portion of old age. I do not know why it was, but as we
watched that gray-haired man, though there was a space of blue sky just
above him, and the day was warm and the air sweet, it was of the winter
he made us think; of the time soon to come when the cold winds would
roar through the pass, and snow would lie on the hills, and he would
shiver alone in the chimneyless cottage with its one tiny window. A few
miles away, men in a fortnight throw away on their fishing more than
these people can make in years. Scotch landlords rent their wild,
uncultivated acres for fabulous sums, while villages like this grow
desolate. If, when you are in the Highlands, you would still see them as
they are in the stupid romance of Scott or in the sickly sentiment of
Landseer, or as a mere pleasure-ground for tourists and sportsmen, you
must get the people out of your mind, just as the laird gets them off
his estate. Go everywhere, by stage and steamboat, and when you come to
a clachan or to a lonely cottage, shut your eyes and pass on; else you
must realize, as we did--and more strongly as we went farther--that this
land, which holiday-makers have come to look upon as their own, is the
saddest on God's earth.

Before we left the shade of the cart a little girl went by, and we asked
her the name of the village.

"Kilchrennan," she said, with impossible gutturals, and then she spelled
it for us.

It was a good sign, we thought; if Highland children to-day are taught
to spell, Highland men and women to-morrow may learn to think, and when
they learn to think, then, let the landlord remember, they will begin to

After Kilchrennan, the road crossed the moorland, Ben-Cruachan towering
far to our right. At the foot of the one wooded hill-side in all this
heather-clad moor we met with the only adventure of the morning; for it
was here we espied in the road, in front of us, a black bull. It fixed
its horrid eyes upon us; its horns seemed to stretch from one side of
the way to the other. We cast in our minds whether to go forward or
through the wood, but we thought it best to get the trees between us,
and we fled up the mountain and never stopped until we had left it a
goodly space behind; for indeed it was the dreadfullest bull that ever
we saw.

We came to another wretched village down by Loch Etive. Here again in
the sunshine was an old man. He was walking slowly and feebly up and
down, and there was in his face a look as if hope had long gone from
him. In England, scarce a town or village is without its charities; but
in the Highlands, while deer and grouse are protected by law, men are
chased from their homes,[E] the aged and infirm are left to shift for
themselves. I think the misery of these villages is made to seem but the
greater because of the large house which so often stands close by. We
looked from the weary, silent old man and the row of tiny bare cottages,
to a gay young girl and a young man in a kilt, who together strolled
lazily towards the large house just showing through the trees.

 [E] I have left this sentence as it is, though Mr. William
  Black was good enough to attack us for making such a statement. If he
  has any knowledge whatever on the subject, he must know that it was not
  until after the trial in Edinburgh--a trial held a little less than a
  year ago, when these pages had been already set up in type for the
  MAGAZINE--that it was discovered that deer are not protected by law in
  the Highlands. Men, as I have shown further on, cannot now be chased
  without reason from their homes, fixity of tenure being the chief good
  accomplished by the Crofter's Act of 1886.

[Illustration: KILCHRENNAN.]

When Mr. Hamerton wrote his "Painters' Camp in the Highlands" he
suggested a new route from Oban to Ballachulish by steamer up Loch
Etive, and then by coach through Glen Etive and Glencoe. This is now one
of the regular excursions from Oban, and one of the finest, I think, in
the Highlands. In the glens we met no fewer than five coaches, so that I
suppose the excursion is fairly popular. I wonder that Mr. Hamerton had
a thought for the amusement of tourists, who are to him odious, as it
seems necessary they should be to all right-minded writers of travel.
Now, he might find loch and glens less fine. For the rest of that day,
being tourists ourselves, we bore with all others patiently.

With Taynuilt we left behind even the sparse cultivation of the
Highlands. From the boat we saw that the mountain-slopes were unbroken
by road or path; there was scarce a house in sight. Through Glen Etive
the road was very rough, the mountains were barren, and not a sheep or
cow was on the lower grassy hill-sides. It was all a deer forest, the
guard told us, and even the English tourists in the coach exclaimed
against the waste of good ground. It is well to go first through Glen
Etive. Bare as it seemed to us, it was green when compared to


where rocks lay on the road and in the stream and on the hill-sides. The
mountains rose bare and precipitous from their very base, and trees and
grass found no place to grow.

The guard gave us the story of the massacre, with additions and details
of his own which I have forgotten. At the end of the drive he charged
two shillings--for his trouble, I suppose. People write of the emotions
roused by scenery and associations. I think it is afterwards, by reading
up on the subject, that one becomes first conscious of them. However
that may be, of one thing I am certain: we have rarely been more
flippant than we were on that day. In Glen Etive J---- discovered that
Highland streams, where clear brownish water flows over a bed of yellow,
green, and red stones, look like rivers of Julienne soup. In the high
moor at the head of the Glen we were chiefly concerned with a lunch of
milk and scones for a shilling, and grumblings over Highland extortion.
In Glencoe, guard and driver pointed out the old man of the mountain,
who is here the Lord Chancellor, and Ossian's Cave, on high in the rocky
wall, and stopped to show us the Queen's View. But we were more
interested in two cyclers pushing their machines up the steepest,
stoniest bit of road; in a man in a long black frock-coat and silk hat
with crape band, who carried an alpenstock with an umbrella strapped to
it, and strode solemnly up the pass; in a species of gypsy van near
Glencoe Inn, in which, the guard explained, twelve people and a driver
travelled for pleasure. A girl looking very pale and wrapped in shawls
sat at the inn door. The party had stopped on her account, he said; the
drive had made her ill--and no wonder, we thought.


The stony pass led to a pleasant green valley, from which the road set
out over the Bridge of Glencoe for the shores of Loch Leven and


Almost at once it brought us to a field overlooking the loch, where,
apparently for our benefit, sports were being held.

The droning of the pipes made quite a cheerful sound, the plaids of the
men a bright picture; and when, two miles beyond, we found the hotel
with its windows turned towards the loch, we made up our minds not to
push on to Oban, but to stay and spend Sunday here.

And so we had a second and longer look at the sports. Young men vaulted
with poles; others, in full costume, danced Highland flings and the
sword dance. Two pipers took turns in piping. One had tied gay green
ribbons to his pipe, and he fairly danced himself as he kept time with
his foot. And while we watched we heard but Gaelic spoken. We were in a
foreign country.

[Illustration: OBAN.]

The position of the hotel was the best thing about it. At dinner an
irate clergyman and his daughter took fresh offence at every course,
until, when it came to the rice-pudding, they could stand it no longer
and left the table. We were less nice, and made a hearty meal; but we
thought so poorly of it that the next day, which was Sunday, we found a
lunch of bread and cheese and beer more to our taste. This we ate at the
inn in Glencoe, in company with the clergyman and his daughter. They
were still sore--why, I could not understand--about the pudding, and the
clergyman was consoling himself with a glass of good whiskey.

The following day we came to


the most odious place in the Highlands, I have heard it called; the most
beautiful place in the world, Mr. William Black thinks. When the west
wind blows and the sun shines, there is nothing like it for color, he
told J----. We had to take his word for it. We found an east wind
blowing and gray mist hanging over town and bay, and we could not see
the hills of Mull. When we walked out in the late afternoon, it seemed
a town of hotels and photograph shops, into which excursion trains were
forever emptying excursionists and never carrying them away again.
Crowds were on the parapetless, unsafe embankment; the bay was covered
with boats. In front of the largest hotels bands were playing, and one
or two of the musicians went about, hat in hand, among the passers-by.
Fancy Hassler at Cape May sending one of his men to beg for pennies! It
was dull, for all the crowd. The show of gayety was as little successful
as the attempt of a shivering cockney to look comfortable in his
brand-new kilt.

Altogether, Oban did not seem in the least lovely until we could no
longer see it. But as the twilight grew grayer and the tide went out,
the great curve of the embankment was marked by a circle of lights on
shore and by long waving lines of gold in the bay. At the pier, a
steamer, just arrived, sent up heavy clouds of smoke, black in the
gathering grayness. The boats one by one hung out their lights. Oban was
at peace, though tourists still walked and bands still played.

It was gray and inexpressibly dreary the next day at noon, when we took
the boat for Tobermory, in Mull. Through a Scotch mist we watched Oban
and its picturesque castle out of sight; through a driving rain we
looked forth on the heights of Morven and of Mull. Sometimes the clouds
lightened, and for a minute the nearer hills came out dark and purple
against a space of whitish shining mist; but for the most part they hung
heavy and black over wastes of water and wastes of land. Sir Walter
Scott says that the Sound of Mull is the most striking scene in the
Hebrides; it would have been fair to add, when storms and mists give one
a chance to see it. Pleasure parties sat up on deck, wrapped in
mackintoshes and huddled under umbrellas. Our time was divided between
getting wet and drying off down-stairs. The excitement of the voyage was
the stopping of the steamer, now in mid-stream in "Macleod of Dare"
fashion, now at rain-soaked piers. Of all the heroes who should be
thought of between these two lands of romance, only the most modern was
suggested to us, probably because within a few weeks we had been
re-reading Mr. Black's novel. But, just as in his pages, so in the Sound
of Mull, little boats came out to meet the steamer. They lay in wait,
tossing up and down on the rough waters and manned with Hamishes and
Donalds. Into one stepped a real Macleod, his collie at his heels; into
another, an elderly lady, who was greeted most respectfully by the
Hamish, as he lifted into his boat trunks marked with the name of
Fleeming Jenkin. This gave us something to talk about; when we had last
seen the name it was in a publisher's announcement, which said that Mr.
Stevenson was shortly to write a biographical notice of the _late_
Fleeming Jenkin.

At the piers, groups of people, no better off for occupation than we,
waited to see the passengers land. We all took unaccountable interest in
this landing. At Salen there was an intense moment when, as the steamer
started, a boy on shore discovered that he had forgotten his bag. At the
next pier, where a party of three got off, as their baggage was carried
after them, we even went the length of counting up to forty bags and
bundles, three dogs, and two maids. We left them standing there,
surrounded by their property, with the rain pouring in torrents and not
a house in sight. This is the way you take your pleasure in the
Hebrides. We were glad to see among the boxes a case of champagne. At
the last moment, one of the men, from the edge of the pier, waved a
brown paper parcel, and told the captain that another like it had been
left aboard. I am afraid he had forgotten something else; thence to
Tobermory the captain did but revile him.


is a commonplace town with a semicircle of well-to-do houses on the
shores of a sheltered bay. At one end of the wooded heights that follow
the curve of the town is a big hotel; at the other, Aros House, a
brand-new castle, in among the trees. The harbor is shut in by a long,
narrow island, bare and flat. It seemed a place of endless rain and
mist. But when we thought the weather at its worst, the landlady called
it pleasant, and suggested a two miles' walk to the light-house on the
coast. Children played on the street as if the sun shone. We even saw
fishing parties row out towards the Sound.

We had to stay in Tobermory two interminable days, for it was impossible
at first to find a way out of it. Our idea was to walk along the north
and then the west coast, and so to Ulva; but the landlady was of the
opinion that there was no getting from Tobermory except by boat.
Fishermen in the bar-room thought they had heard of a rough road around
the coast, and knew that on it we should find no inn. The landlord, to
make an end of our questions, declared that we must go to Iona by the
boat due the next morning at eight. This seemed the only chance of
escape unless we were to return to Oban.

In the mean time there was nothing to do, nothing to see. The hotel
windows looked out on the gray, cheerless bay, dotted with yachts. Once
we walked in the rain to the light-house, and back across the moors. The
wind never stopped blowing a gale.

"If anybody wants to know what Mull's like in summer," said J----, in
disgust, "all they've got to do is to go to a New Jersey pine barren
when an equinoctial's on."

At our early breakfast the next morning, the landlord told us that it
was dark outside the bay. It must have been wilder even than he thought.
No boat for Iona came.

It was after this disappointment that J----, by chance, in the
post-office, met the Procurator Fiscal, whatever he may be. We have good
reason to be grateful to him. He mapped out a walking route to Salen,
and thence to Loch-Na-Keal, at the northern end of which is the island
of Ulva--the soft Ool-a-va which always leads the chorus of the islands
in Mr. Black's tragedy, "Macleod of Dare."

We did not care to walk to Salen in the rain; we were not willing to
spend another night in Tobermory. Therefore, that same afternoon, when
the boat from Skye touched at the pier, we got on board. We believed in
the roughness of the sea beyond the Sound when we saw tourists prostrate
in the cabin, with eloquent indifference to looks. But it was short
steaming to


where we faced wind and rain to walk about a quarter of a mile to the

Here, as Dr. Johnson said in Glenelg, "of the provisions, the negative
catalogue was very copious." The landlady asked us what we should like
for supper; she might have spared herself the trouble, since she had
nothing to give us but ham and eggs. However, we found the outlook less
depressing than at Tobermory. There was no commonplace little town in
sight, but only bare rolling grounds stretching to a bay, and on the
shores the ruins of a real old castle, of which Mr. Abbey once very
unkindly made a drawing, so that J----, for his own sake, thought it
best to let it alone. There was, moreover, something to read. Lying with
the guide-books were the "Life of Dr. Norman Mcleod," "Castle
Dangerous," and the "Life of the Prince Consort." J---- devoured them
all three, and the next day regaled me with choice extracts concerning
the domestic virtues of the royal family.

When we awoke, the clouds were breaking. Across the Sound of Mull they
were low on the heights of Morven, but the hill-sides were green,
streaked with sunshine. Above were long rifts of blue sky, and in the
bay a little yacht rocked on glittering water. We ate more ham and eggs,
and made ready to begin our tramp at once.

Neither maid nor landlord could tell us if there were inns on the road
to Bunessan. In Mull a man knows but his own immediate neighborhood. In
the hotels, the farthest explorations are to the bed-rooms; in the
cottages the spirit of enterprise is less. The interior of the island is
an unknown country. The adventurous traveller goes no farther inland
than Tobermory on the east coast, or Bunessan on the west. The ordinary
traveller never goes ashore at all, but in the boat from Oban makes the
tour of Mull in a day. As a consequence, there is no direct
communication between the two sides of the island. It is strange that,
though one of the largest of the Hebrides and within easiest reach of
the main-land, Mull should be one of the least known and civilized. It
is not even settled. People respect Dr. Johnson because in the days when
steamboats were not, and roads at the best were few, he made a journey
to the islands. But we cannot help thinking that if this respect is
measured by hardships, we are far more worthy of it for having followed
him to Mull a century later. Wherever he and Boswell went, guides and
horses, or boats, as the case might be, were at their disposal; the
doors of all the castles and large houses in the islands were thrown
open to them. We were our own guides. It may be said that the steamboat
was at our service, but it could not always take us to places we wished
to see. If Dr. Johnson had to ride over moorland on a pony too small for
him, he was sure that when evening came a Macquarry, a Maclean, or a
Macleod would be eager to make him welcome. We walked on roads, it is
true, but they were bad, and not only were we not wanted at the
castles, but we did not want to go to them since they are now mostly in
ruins; there was chance, too, of our not coming to an inn at nightfall.
The inns of Mull are few and far between. Besides, for all one knows,
those mentioned in the guide-book may be closed. If others have been
opened, there is no one to tell you of them.

[Illustration: COAST OF MULL.]

However, we took the procurator's word for the inn at Ulva, and started
out again with our knapsacks, which seemed but heavier on our backs
after several days' rest. All morning we tramped dreary miles of moor
and hill, with the wind in our faces, and by lochs with endless curves,
around which we had to go, though we saw our journey's end just before
us. While we followed the northern shore of Loch-Na-Keal, high Ben-More,
with its head among the clouds, was behind us. In front was the
Atlantic, with heavy showers passing over it, and now blotting out far
Staffa and the long ridge of the Ross of Mull, an encircling shadow
between the ocean and the headland of Gribun; and now sweeping across
the loch and the near green island of Inch-Kenneth.

A large house, with wide lawn and green fields and well-clipped hedges,
just at the head of Loch-Na-Keal, and one or two small new cottages shut
in with flaming banks of fuchsias, showed what Mull might be if in the
island men were held in as high account as rabbits and grouse. We saw
the many white tails of the rabbits in among the ferns, and though they
live only to be shot, on the whole we thought them better off than the
solemn, silent men and women who trudged by us towards Salen, where it
was market-day, for it is their fate to live only to starve and suffer.
The one man who spoke to us during that long morning was a shepherd,
with a soft gentle voice and foreign Scotch, whose sheep we frightened
up the hill-side.


lay so close to the shores of Mull as scarce to seem a separate island.
But the waters of the narrow Sound were rough. The postman, who had just
been ferried over, held the boat as we stepped into it from the slippery
stones of the landing. As he waited, he said not a word. They keep
silence, these people, under the yoke they have borne for generations.
The ferryman was away, and the boy who had come in his place had hard
work to row against wind and waves, and harder work to talk English. "I
beg pardon," was his answer to every question we asked.

The little white inn was just opposite the landing, and we went to it at
once, for it was late and we were hungry. We asked the landlady if she
could give us some meat.

"Of course," she said--and her English was fairly good--she could give
us tea and eggs.

"No, but meat," we repeated.

"Yes, of course," she said again; "tea and eggs."

And we kept on asking for meat, and she kept on promising us tea and
eggs, and I know not how the discussion had ended, if on a sudden it had
not occurred to us that for her the word had none other but its
Scriptural meaning.

While she prepared lunch we sat on low rocks by the boats drawn up high
and dry on the stony beach. At the southern end of the island was Ulva
House, white through an opening in a pleasant wood, and surrounded by
broad green pastures. Just in front of us, close to the inn, a handful
of bare black cottages rose from the mud in among rocks and bowlders. No
paths led to the doors; nothing green grew about the walls. Women with
pinched, care-worn faces came and went, busy with household work, and
they were silent as the people we had met on the road. Beyond was
barrenness; not another tree, not another bit of pasture-land was in
sight. And yet, before the people were brought unto desolation, almost
all the island was green as the meadows about the laird's house; and so
it could be again if men were but allowed to cultivate the ground. Where
weeds and rushes and ferns now cover the hills and the level places were
once fields of grain and grass. To-day only the laird's crops are still
sowed and reaped. Once there could be heard the many voices of men and
women and children at work or at play, where now the only sounds are the
roaring of the waters and the crack of the rifle.[F] Of all the many
townships that were scattered from one end of the island to the other,
there remains but this miserable group of cottages. The people have been
driven from the land they loved, and sent hither and thither, some
across the narrow Sound, others far across the broad Atlantic.

 [F] This also has been questioned. All we can say is that we
  both saw and heard men in Ulva shooting with rifles. What they were
  shooting at we did not go to see.

The Highlands and the Hebrides are lands of romance. There is a legend
for almost every step you take. But the cruelest of these are not so
cruel as, and none have the pathos of, the tales of their own and their
fathers' wrongs and wretchedness which the people tell to-day. The old
stories of the battle-field, and of clan meeting clan in deadly duel,
have given way to stories of the clearing of the land that the laird or
the stranger might have his shooting and fishing, as well as his crops.
At first the people could not understand it. The evicted in Ulva went to
the laird, as they would have gone of old, and asked for a new home. And
what was his answer? "I am not the father of your family." And then,
when frightened women ran and hid themselves at his coming, he broke the
kettles they left by the well, or tore into shreds the clothes bleaching
on the heather. And as the people themselves have it, "in these and
similar ways he succeeded too well in clearing the island of its once
numerous inhabitants, scattering them over the face of the globe." There
must have been cruelty indeed before the Western Islander, who once
loved his chief better than his own life, could tell such tales as
these, even in his hunger and despair.


I know it is pleasanter to read of bloodshed in the past than of hunger
in the present. A lately published book on Ireland has been welcomed by
critics, and I suppose by readers, because in it is no mention of
evictions and crowbar brigades and horrors of which newspapers make good
capital. I have never been in Ireland, and it may be that you can travel
there and forget the people. But in the Hebrides the human silence and
the desolate homes and the almost unbroken moorland would let us, as
foreigners, think of nothing else. Since our return we have read Scott
and Mr. Hamerton and Miss Gordon Cumming and the Duke of Argyll, and
many others who have helped to make or mar the romance and history of
the Highlands. But the true story of the Highlands as they are I think
we learned for ourselves when we looked, as we did at Ulva, from the
laird's mansion to the crofter's hovel. It is the story of the tyranny
of the few, the slavery of the many, which can be learned still more
fully from the reports of the Royal Commission, published by the English

When we returned to the inn we had no thought but to get away at once,
how, we hardly knew. The landlady suggested three plans. We could wait
until the morrow, when the Gomestra men, as she, a native, called them,
and not Gometra men, as Mr. Black has it, would row us out to meet the
steamboat coming from Iona. How "Macleod of Dare" like this would have
been! We could be ferried over the Sound, and walk back by Loch-Na-Keal,
the way we had come, then around its southern shores, and so across to
Loch Scridain, at the head of which was an inn. Or we could sail across
Loch-Na-Keal, and thus cut off many miles of the distance that lay
between us and our next resting-place. We must, however, decide at once;
there were two gentlemen below who would take us in their boat, but if
we did not want them, they must go back to cut the laird's hay. Were we
willing to wait until evening, they would take us for half price. The
rain now fell on the loch, but we made our bargain with the gentlemen on
the spot.

The landlady gave our sailing quite the air of an adventure. We need not
be alarmed, she said, as indeed we had not thought of being; the only
danger was to the gentlemen coming home. We found them at the landing,
ballasting the boat with stones and getting on their oil-skins. We
suggested that they should take us all the way to Bunessan, but they
would not hear of it. Only the older of the two, an old gray-haired man,
could speak English; they would not venture out to sea in such weather,
he told us.

As we sailed past the white house we asked him if he had ever heard of
Dr. Johnson. He shook his head and then turned to the other man, and the
two began to talk in Gaelic. "Toctor Shonson, Toctor Shonson," we heard
them say to each other. But they both kept shaking their heads, and
finally the old man again said they had never heard of him.

When the wind swept the rain from the hills of Ulva, we could see that
on the western side of the island the strange basaltic formation like
that of Staffa begins. Near the low green shores of Inch-Kenneth a yacht
lay at anchor. It belonged to one of the lairds of Mull, the boatman
said. The people, who have barely enough to live on themselves, can
still afford to support a yacht for their landlord. How this can be is
the real problem of the Hebrides. To solve it is to explain the crofter
question without the aid of a Royal Commission.

On the Gribun shore the landing-place was a long row of stones, slippery
with wet sea-weed. The old man gave me his arm and led me in safety to
the foot of the meadows beyond. He was the gentleman the landlady had
called him. A Frenchman could not have been more polite. Nor was there
in his politeness the servility, which in England makes one look to
honest rudeness with relief. Caste distinctions may be bitterly felt in
the homes of the Western Islanders, but in their manner is something of
the equality which French republicans love. They can be courteous
without cringing. Englishmen call this familiarity. But then the
Englishman who understands true politeness is the exception.

It was, if anything, wetter on land than it had been on the water. To
reach the road we waded through a broad meadow knee-high in dripping
grass. The mist kept rising and falling, and one minute we could see the
islands--Ulva and Gometra and Inch-Kenneth and even Staffa--and the next
only grayness. In the narrow pass over the headland between Loch-Na-Keal
and Loch Scridain the clouds rolled slowly down the mountains on either
side, lower and lower, until presently we were walking through them. And
as we went, as was proper in the land of Macleod of Dare, a strange
thing happened; for scarcely had the clouds closed about us than a great
gust of wind swept through the pass and whirled them away for a moment.
Then the wind fell, and again we were swallowed up in grayness, and
could scarcely see. Just as we were within sight of Loch Scridain, down
poured torrents of rain. A little farther on and we were half-way up to
our knees in a bridgeless stream that came rushing down the mountains
across the road.


We passed two wind-and-rain-beaten villages and occasional lonely
cottages, and the ruins of others. Mr. Hamerton says that nothing is
more lovely to an artist than a Highland cottage after a rain; but the
trouble is, you seldom see it after the rain, for in the Hebrides the
rain it raineth every day and always. We came, too, to one big dreary
house and a drearier kirk. The rest of the way there was but the wet
wilderness, with the wet road following the curves of the loch, and even
striking a mile or so inland to cross with the bridge a river which
falls into it at its head. The inn was on the opposite shore; a
short-cut lay across the water; there were boats moored to the northern
bank where we walked, but not a ferryman to be found. A woman in a clean
white cap, who stood in a cottage door-way, did not even know if there
was a ferry.

Towards evening the rain stopped; the light of the setting sun shone on
the hills before us as it seldom does except in pictures of the
Hebrides; but on a walking tour when the chance for pleasure comes,
one's capacity for enjoyment has gone. At the end of a day's tramp one
can see little beauty, save that of a good dinner and a soft bed, both
of which are the exception in the Hebrides.

The inn at


was a two-storied cottage, with kitchen full of women and tap-room full
of geese and hens below stairs, dining and sleeping rooms above. The
bed-rooms were all occupied--by the family, I suppose, since we were
given our choice; but after choosing, everything had to be moved out
before we could move in. However, we made a shift to change our shoes
and stockings, and in the dining-room we crouched over a big fire, while
the steam rose in clouds from our soaked tweeds. The landlady came up at
once with whiskey and glasses.

"And will you accept a glass from me?" she asked.

This was the Highland hospitality of which one reads, and it was more to
our taste than the whiskey.

For supper of course we had ham and eggs, but it took no less than two
hours for the landlady to cook them and to set the table. She was the
sister of the landlady at Ulva, she told us. "And it's a good house my
sister keeps whatever," she said; and then she wanted to know, "Had the
wee laddie, Donald, ferried us over? And we had come from Salen, and
were we going to Bunessan? It will be twelve miles to Bunessan
whatever. And then to Iona?" It will be a great kirk we should see
there, she had heard; but she had never been to Iona. She spoke
excellent English, with the soft, drawling accent we thought so pleasant
to hear, and we wished she could cook as well as she talked.

While we waited, J----, out of sympathy, fed a lean hound on
meat-lozenges. He looked so starved that we could but hope each would
prove for him the substantial meal it is said to be on the label of the
box, and which we had not yet found it.

After supper it was two hours more before the bedroom was ready, and I
think we had rarely been so tired. We sat nodding over the fire, sick
with sleep. When we could stand it no longer, we made a raid upon the
room while the landlady, who spent most of her time on the stairs, was
on her hundredth pilgrimage below, and locked ourselves in. After that,
she kept coming back with towels and one thing and another until we were
in bed and asleep.

We had ordered more ham and eggs for eight o'clock in the morning, and
asked to be awakened at seven. We might have spared ourselves the
trouble--no one called us. It was half-past nine before breakfast was on
the table, and it would not have been served then had not J---- gone
into the kitchen to see it cooked. The only difference between our
morning and evening meal was in the bill, where, according to island
reckoning, tea and ham and eggs called supper, are worth sixpence more
than eggs and ham and tea called breakfast.

At the last moment up came the landlady, again with whiskey and glasses.

"And will you accept a glass from me?"

But indeed we could not. To begin a twelve miles' walk with whiskey was
out of the question. We afterwards learned that this was but good form
on her part. The true Highlander always expects to drink a wee drappie
with the coming and the parting guest. It would have been true
politeness for us to accept. However, we did not know it at the time,
and the whiskey was bad. She seemed hurt by our refusal. I thought her a
shade less cordial when we came to say goodby.

The wind was still blowing a gale, but it drove the clouds beyond the
bald mountains towards Ben-More, and brought no showers with it.
Everything had grown bright with the morning but the cottages, and they,
perhaps because of the contrast with the blue loveliness of water and
sky and hills, seemed darker and more desolate than in the rain. Here
and there along the loch a few were gathered in melancholy groups,
pathless and chimneyless, smoke pouring from door-ways and through holes
in the walls, mud at the very thresholds. For every cottage standing
there was another in ruins. On the top of a low hill, over which we made
a short-cut, was a deserted village, conveniently out of sight of the
road. No traveller, unless he chanced upon it as we did, would know of
it. It was not high enough or far enough from other cottages for the
shielings upon which the Duke of Argyll thinks so much false sentiment
has been wasted. We found a few black-faced sheep in possession of the
ruins, and before them, I fear, have been driven not merely cattle from
summer pastures, but men from their only homes. There were several
school-houses between Kinloch and Bunessan, and we half hoped that these
were in a measure responsible for roofless walls and desolate hearths.
But the truth is, the Duke of Argyll and other landlords of Mull find it
less trouble to collect rents from a few large tenants than from many
small ones, and to suit their convenience the people have had to go. It
is their land; why should they not do with it as they think best?

Almost all this Ross of Mull, on which we now were, belongs to the Duke
of Argyll, the defender of Scotland as it was and as it is; and I think
in all the Hebrides there is no place more desolate. We saw perhaps more
signs of bitter poverty in Skye and in Barra. But in these islands the
evicted have settled again upon the crofts of their friends or
relations. Often it is because the many are thus forced to live upon
land that can scarce support the few that all are so poor. But the
Islander loves his home as he once loved his chief, and now hates his
landlord, and he must be in extremity indeed before he will go from it.
Knowing this, you feel the greatness of the misery in the Ross of Mull,
from which the people have flown as if from a plague-stricken land. The
greater part of it is silent and barren as the desert. We walked for
miles, seeing no living things save a mere handful of sheep grazing on
the hills, and the white sea-gulls perched on the low sea-weed covered
rocks of Loch Scridain. And beyond the barren waste of land was the sea
without a sail upon its waters, and the lonely islands, which we knew
were no less desolate. The cruel climate of this far northern country
has had little to do with the people's flight. Neither, indeed, has
natural barrenness. The soil in the Highlands is not naturally barren,
the Duke of Argyll himself has said. The few large farms by the way were
good proof of what might be, even in the rocky Ross of Mull.

It seemed odd in the midst of the wilderness to meet two peddlers loaded
with gay gilt frames. They thought it a "blowy" day, and so did a man
who passed soon after in a dog-cart. But the women in clean white caps
whom we met on the road could answer our questions only in streams of

We saw no one else but men and women getting in the harvest, or bending
beneath great burdens of sea-weed as they toiled up the hill from the
shores of the loch. There was a lonely graveyard by the way; but nowhere
does death seem so great a blessing as we thought it must be here.

It was a long twelve miles, and the knapsacks were growing heavier with
each day. But we were walking for our lunch; there were no inns on our
road. For one reason or another, to me it was our hardest day's work. I
think I must have starved had not J---- slung my knapsack on his already
heavily laden shoulders. At the last,


came as a surprise. We were looking sadly at the endless line of road
over the moors in front of us, when we turned a corner, and there was
the little white town, with a pleasant inn, close to the waters of Loch

We had to wait--we were growing used to waiting--for our lunch; but at
last when it came it seemed a banquet. We were not asked to eat either
ham or eggs. Altogether, we were so well pleased that we brought the
day's walk to an end. But it seemed that the maid who came to the door
was less pleased with us. Our knapsacks, too large for comfort, were
too small for respectability. Our clothes were weather-worn. The
landlord bade her show us to a bedroom; but before we had finished our
lunch she had locked every door in the house, carefully leaving the keys
on the outer side, and, in her zeal, locking one man in. This, however,
we did not learn until later, when English people staying in the inn
told us what suspicious characters we were. They said she was stupid,
which we had already found out for ourselves.

Bunessan is the show-place of the Ross of Mull; steamers occasionally
land at a pier on the loch, two miles distant. Tourists come to the inn
for the fishing. If they go no farther into the island, they probably
carry away with them impressions of well-to-do people and benevolent
landlords--the impressions, probably, the Duke of Argyll wishes to
produce. After Kilpatrick and the other wretched groups of cottages we
had passed in the morning, it did indeed seem happy and prosperous. It
may be that we should have been less struck with it and its inn had it
not been for the things we had already seen and experienced. Certainly,
at dinner, dishes which we thought luxuries were found fault with by the
rest of the company. But then they had their own opinion of Bunessan.
They had taken it on trust, after hearing it praised; but no sooner had
they come than they wished themselves away again. One suggested that
friends should be induced to stay for a summer and educate the place,
which might thus be made bearable for them in the future; but the others
would not hear of it--one trial was quite enough. We were all very
confidential about our plans, and took pleasure in mutually discouraging
each other. J---- and I were foolish, they said, to go to Iona, where
the cathedral was so insignificant that from the steamer they mistook it
for the parish church. We, on our side, declared it worse than folly for
them to go from Bunessan to Tobermory, the dreariest spot in all the
dreariness of Mull. In the end we agreed that our coming to the island
was a mistake, and that no one but Mr. Black could have a good word to
say for it. Somehow, we made it seem--and it was a comfort to find some
one else to abuse--as if he had brought us here under false pretences.
But, indeed, whoever thinks to find Mull as it is described in "Macleod
of Dare" cannot but be disappointed. Castle Dare must have been not very
far from Bunessan, on the Ross of Mull. It was to this very inn Lady
Macleod wished to send Gertrude White and her father; and when you have
seen the home of the Macleods for yourself, you would have, like Mr.
Black, no mercy for Sir Keith, but you would spare his sweetheart.

The fact is, Mr. Black's descriptions are misleading, though I must
admit that even as we found fault with him, one of his strange things
happened; for, far out beyond the loch and its purple hills we saw
Staffa, and the sea below and the sky above it, turned to gold as the
sun sank into the Atlantic. But then, as a rule, the things that happen
in Mull are less strange than disagreeable. For one evening's
loveliness, you must put up with hours of cold and damp discomfort. Of
course, if you own a castle or a yacht, you can improve your point of

In the morning after this beautiful sunset, the wind blew the rain
through the window in gusts over our toilet-table. Again no one called
us. The morning hours of the Hebrides are even later than those of
London, which we had hitherto supposed the latest in the working world.
When we went down-stairs there were cups and saucers and plates on the
breakfast-table, but nothing else; when we asked for our bill the maid
said we should have it in a wee bittee, which we knew to mean long
hours, and J----, as at Kinloch, took matters into his own hands.

For the first time we felt our superiority as we shouldered our
knapsacks. Because of the early rain and wind, the other people in the
inn had given up the boat to Tobermory. Already, breakfast over, the
rain stopped and clouds grew light. We were on our way to Iona while
they still made plans to follow us with their babies and bundles.


The road lay for six miles over the moors. There were two or three large
houses with cultivated fields, a few black dreary cottages, and the
ruins of others. But this end of the Ross of Mull was mostly, as when
David Balfour walked across it, bog and brier and big stones. The coast
was all rock, great piles of red granite jutting out in uneven masses
into the sound that separates Iona from the Ross. When we reached it the
ferryman had just come and gone. It was the 11th of August, and men with
guns, in readiness for the morrow, were getting into a dog-cart, its
horses' heads turned towards Bunessan. Two fishermen, in a boat filled
with lobster nets, rowed to the tiny landing. We asked them to take us
across, but with a word they refused. There was nothing to do but to sit
on the rocks and wait, in fear lest the party from Bunessan, with their
children and endless boxes and bundles--thirteen, one man told us he
had--should overtake us and give us and our knapsacks no chance in the
inns of Iona.

Wind and rain blew in our faces. The fishermen made off in their little
boat, hugging the rocky shore. Above us, on the granite, were two
cottages, no less naked and cold. Across the Sound we looked to a little
white town low on the wind-swept water, and to a towered cathedral dark
against the gray-green rocks. A steamer had just brought Cook's daily
pilgrims to St. Columba's shrine.



All things come to those who wait, even the ferry-men of the Hebrides;
but the steamer had carried the pilgrims far from St. Columba's Island
towards Staffa before the little ferry-boat sailed with the wind, round
the rocks, into the tiny bay by the landing. One passenger was put out,
and a woman ran down from the black cottages for a bundle done up in a
handkerchief, from which, as she took it, fell out broken pieces of
bread and meat. Unconsciously, these people are always reminding you of
their poverty.

There was no sailing in the teeth of the wind. The ferry-man and a small
boy with him rowed, keeping under the shelter of the rocks as far as
possible. At first both were silent. But we were fast learning that this
silence is not the stupidity or surliness which the stranger in the
islands is apt to think it. It comes rather of the sadness which has
been the Western Islander's inheritance for generations, and of his
shyness in speaking the foreign Scotch--that is, if he can speak it at
all--for which he is so often laughed at. Once you break through the
silence, and show the people that you do not look upon them as children
or as slaves, they are friendly enough.

All this part of the Ross of Mull, as far as we could see, belonged to
the Duke of Argyll, our ferry-man said. There had been trouble here as
in Tiree, and the Commission was coming in a week. He had only his house
and his boat. Five shillings and sixpence a year he paid; it was not
much, but it was about the land there was trouble, and he had no land.
We might have agreed with him and thought his rent no great thing, had
we not seen his bare cottage, stranded on the bare rocks, probably built
by himself or by his father before him. As it was, it seemed to us, if
there was any question of payment, it should have been the other way.

Our stay in Iona was the one perfect part of our journey. In the first
place, we were free to wander where and how we chose without thought of
long miles to be walked before nightfall, and, better still, without our
knapsacks, which we left in the inn. It was no small surprise to learn
that we had our choice of three hotels. After careful study of "Macleod
of Dare," we rather expected to be stranded on an almost uninhabited
island. We can now recommend Mr. Black, on his next visit, to try the
very excellent house at which we stayed. This was St. Columba's Inn. We
went to it, not so much to do honor to the saint as because it was the
biggest in the place, the nearest to the cathedral, and commanded the
finest view.


Southward, it looked to the broken walls of the nunnery rising high
above house roofs and chimneys, and farther to a sweep of water, and
farther still to the Ross of Mull, the low black rock of Erraid, the
isle Mr. Stevenson has made famous, at its far end. In the distance,
shadowy islands lay over the gray sea. To the north was the cathedral
and the ruined monastery.

The inn was quite full, but the landlady promised us a room in the
manse, a short way down the road.

Iona is the show-place by which we fancied the Duke of Argyll must hope
to answer the question, once in a great while asked, about misery,
terrorism, extortion, rent, in the Hebrides. Strangers come to the
islands only to fish or to shoot. It is the exception when, as at Iona,
there are sights to be seen. They have time to give only a glance to the
Islander and his home. In Iona this home seems decent enough; if you
stop to ask the Islander what he thinks, however, I doubt if it will be
praise alone you will hear of his model landlord. Above the stony beach,
where boats lie among the rocks, is the village street, lined with white
cottages; and beyond, fields of tall grain and good pasture slope upward
to the foot of the low green hills, whose highest peak rises to the
north of the village, a background for the cathedral. Many of the
cottages are new, others are whitewashed into comparative cheerfulness.
The crops on the lower ground, the sheep and cattle on the hills, are
pleasanter to see in an island where men live than endless wastes of
heather. In Iona the civilization of the monks of the Dark Ages has
survived even the modern sportsman.

[Illustration: IONA.]

It is the fashion among writers of guide and other books about Iona to
call it a desolate, lonely little isle. That it is little I admit; but
you must go to the other side of the Sound for the loneliness and
desolation. In proportion to its size, it seemed to us the most
cultivated island of the Hebrides. I have heard it argued that for the
Duke of Argyll not to forfeit his ownership was a true charity to his
tenants, as if Iona was still the desert St. Columba found it. But I
think its rental would be found a fair return for the charity of a
landlord. As for the favorite myth that Iona is far out in the Hebridean
Sea, I hardly know how it could have arisen, since the island is within
easy reach of the main land and of Mull. There is no history of its old
monastery that does not tell how the pilgrim coming to it from the Ross
of Mull had but to call a summons from the granite rocks, and the monks
would hear the cry and make ready to meet him in their boats. If this be
true, however, his voice must have been phenomenal. The modern pilgrim
could no more do this than he could wield the long sword or pull the
crossbow of men of old. In our time a steamer comes to Iona every day
from Oban, and twice a week another stops on its way to and from Glasgow
and the Outer Hebrides. If Iona lay so near American shores it would
long since have become a Bar Harbor or a Campo Bello. Even where it is
it has its crowds of visitors. The writer who on one page tells you of
its loneliness, on the next mourns its daily desecration when tourists
eat sandwiches among the ruins.

[Illustration: TOMB OF MACLEOD.]

These ruins, like everything else in Iona, belong to the Duke of Argyll.
They are kept locked except when the keeper of the keys opens them to
sight-seers. It may interest his Grace to know that we trespassed,
climbing over the low stone walls into the cathedral enclosure. While we
were there we were alone, save for black sheep, the modern successors of
the monks. It is a fact that as we stood with our feet upon Macleod of
Macleod's tomb, one of the black sheep--probably the very same which
frightened Gertrude White in the moonlight--baaed at us. But the sun
was shining, and we did not screech; we merely said _shoo_ to it, and
remarked upon its impudence.

If our piety, with Dr. Johnson's, did not grow warmer among the ruins of
Iona, at least our way of seeing them was not unlike Boswell's. Perhaps
this is why we think he showed more commonsense in Iona than elsewhere
on his journey. He did not trouble to investigate minutely, he says,
"but only to receive the general impression of solemn antiquity, and the
particular ideas of such objects as should of themselves strike my
attention." But indeed, unless you have a lifetime to spend in Iona,
unless you are an architect or an archæologist, there is little need to
care where the exact site of infirmary or refectory or library may be,
or to whom this shrine was set up, that tombstone laid, or in what year
walls were built, windows opened. It is enough to see how beautiful the
monks could make the holy place they loved, here on this rough northern
coast, as in among the vineyards and olives of the south, as in English
fenland and wooded valley.

But if Boswell's impression was one of disappointment, ours was one of
wonder to find the ruins so much more perfect than we had expected, and
so beautiful, not only with the beauty of impressiveness as a whole, but
with a grace and refinement of detail one does not look for in the far
north. Much early Italian work is not more graceful than the carving on
the capitals, the tracery in the windows, the door-way leading into the
sacristy, the arches that spring from the cloister walls to their outer
arcade in the monastery and church founded by St. Columba. If, as has
been said, no ivy covers the walls, when we were there yellow flowers
had pushed their way between the stones, while windows and rounded
arches made a framework for the unbroken blue of sea and sky and pale
distant hills. For so long as we were in the cathedral, the sun shone as
if, instead of Hebridean seas, the Mediterranean lay beyond. True, this
did not last half a morning; it rained before night; but the very breaks
in the sunshine, and the way the clouds came and went, made the day more

It is strange to see this wonderful work of other days in an island
where, owing to their present masters, men can now scarce support
existence. Centuries of progress or deterioration--which is it?--lie
between the cathedral, lovely even in ruin, and the new ugly kirk close
by. And yet when men had time to make their world beautiful the harvest
was as rich. There was enough to eat and to spare for the stranger when
the Celtic knots and twists were first carved on the cross standing by
the cathedral door and looking seaward, and on the tombs lying within
the chancel. But, and more's the pity, the same cannot be said to-day,
when tombs are crumbling, and pale green lichens cover the carving of
the cross. You feel this contrast between past and present still more in
the graveyard by St. Oran's chapel, into which also we made our way over
a stone wall. The long grass has been cleared from the gray slabs, where
lie the mitred bishops and the men in armor, or where the intricacy of
the Celtic designs makes space for a ship with its sails spread. They
are "only gravestones flat on the earth," as Boswell says, and now
neatly placed in senseless rows for the benefit of the tourist. But who
would exchange them for the well-polished granite obelisks of the modern
stone-cutter which rise at their side?

The old road leads from the cathedral, past McLean's weather-worn
cross--which is so thin you wonder that it still withstands the strong
winds from the sea--to the nuns' convent, whose ruins and tombs show it
to have been only less fine than the monastery. Here the gate was thrown
open. A small steam-yacht, which we could see lying at anchor in the
Sound below, had just let loose a dozen yachtsmen upon the loneliness of
Iona, and they were being personally conducted through the nunnery.

We trespassed no more, except in fields on the western side of the
island, whither we walked by the very road, for all I know, along which
St. Columba was carried in the hour before death, that he might once
more see the monks working on the land he had reclaimed, and there give
them his last blessing. But if we trespassed, no one objected. The men
whom we met greeted us in Gaelic, which, when they saw we did not
understand, they translated into a pleasant good-day or directions about
our path.

There were many other places we should have seen. But since the whole
island was a proof of St. Columba's wisdom in settling on it, nothing
was to be gained by a visit to the particular spot where he landed or
where he set up a cairn. And as for the Spouting Cave, we took the
guide-book's word for it; for as Dr. Johnson would say, we were never
much elevated by the expectation of any cave. Instead of sight-seeing,
we stayed on the western shore, looking out beyond the low white and
grass-grown sand-dunes and the bowlder-made beach to the sea, with its
many rocky isles, the fear of seamen, black upon the waters. It is just
such a coast as Mr. Stevenson has described in his "Merry Men." And,
indeed, since I have written this I have read in his "Memoirs of an
Islet" that it is this very coast, though more to the south of Iona,
where the _Christ-anna_ and the _Covenant_ went down to the bottom,
there to rot with the _Espirito Santo_ and her share of the treasures
of the Invincible Armada. When Columba sailed from Ireland to Hebridean
seas the Merry Men had long since begun their bonny dance, for they are
as old as the rocks against which they dash, and these rocks are older
than man. When you know the dangers of this coast you have no little
respect for the saint who dared them. St. Columba and his disciples, who
set up cross and bell on lonely St. Kilda and the far Färöe Islands,
were the Stanleys and Burtons of their time.

People who have never heard of crofters and their troubles can tell you
all about St. Columba and his miracles. In Iona he interested us chiefly
because all that is left of his and his followers' work gives the lie to
modern landlords. Land in the Hebrides, they say, is only fit for deer
and grouse. St. Columba showed that it could be made fit for man as

The landlady of St. Columba's Inn is true to the traditions of the
island. She is as unwilling to turn the stranger from her door as were
the abbots of St. Columba's monastery. In her own way she performs
miracles and finds room for every one who comes. At first we thought
that her miracles were worked at our expense. During our absence the
party from Bunessan had arrived. Although their boxes were on the rocks
of the Ross of Mull, awaiting the ferry-man's convenience, by their
very numbers they had gained the advantage we feared, and had quietly
stepped into the room in the manse, of which we had neglected to take
possession. We were now quartered in the school-house. However, to judge
from our comfort there, we lost nothing by the change.

It was at the late supper that we enjoyed the "dairy produce" of which
Miss Gordon Cumming writes with rapture. It was a simple meal, such as
one might have shared with St. Columba himself. The breakfasts and
dinners, I should add, were less saintly, and therefore more
substantial. As for the rest of the island, the fare is regulated by
poverty and the Duke. We make a great to-do at home over the prohibition
question, but in the Highlands they manage these matters more easily.
Ducal option, we were told, reigns throughout the island. And yet the
people of Iona are not grateful for thus being spared the trouble of
deciding for themselves upon a subject whereon so few men agree. It has
been whispered that drunkenness is not unknown in the Blessed Isle, and
that natives have been seen by strangers--oh, the scandal of
it!--reeling under the very shadow of the cathedral.

A white-haired clergyman, with pleasant old-fashioned manners and
Gladstone collar, presided at supper. He introduced us at once to his
family. "My son"--and he waved his hand towards a youth we had seen
crossing the fields with his color-box--"my son is an artist; he is
studying in the Royal Academy. He has already sold a picture for forty
pounds. Not a bad beginning, is it? And my daughter," and he lowered his
voice deferentially, "will soon be in the hands of the critics. She has
just made some wonderfully clever illustrations for an old poem that hit
her fancy!"

It was pleasant to see his fatherly pride. For his sake we could have
wished her in an easier position.

Evidently, when you have exhausted saintly gossip in Iona you are at the
end of your resources. The clergyman and two or three others with him
were as eager to hear where we had been and where we were going and what
we had seen, as if they had had nothing to talk about for a fortnight.
We had decided to take the _Dunara Castle_ from Glasgow, and in it to
steam to Coll and Tiree and the Long Island. We had heard of the
steamer, as you hear of everything in the Hebrides, by chance. And now
the old man was all for having us change our minds. Here we were, safe
in Iona, he said; why should we brave the dangers of the wild coast?
Another man thought we had better not go to Harris; he had arrived there
one Saturday evening, intending to remain two weeks; but the midges
would give him no peace, and he had left with the steamer on Monday
morning. The only comfort he could give was that they would feed us well
on the _Dunara Castle_. It is strange that in Scotland, no matter what
your plans may be, your fellow-tourists are sure to fall foul of them.

It was after this the clergyman brought out of his pocket a handful of
the new coins, which we had not then seen.

"It's an ugly face," said J----, thinking only of the coin, though it
would have been no libel had he referred to her gracious Majesty

But the clergyman was down upon him at once. "I cannot let any one speak
disrespectfully of my queen in my presence," he cried; "I love her too
dearly to hear a word against her."

And he told us how, that afternoon, he had climbed to the top of the
highest hill in Iona; and standing where Columba had stood so many
hundreds of years ago, and remembering that this was the Jubilee year of
his beloved sovereign, he dropped a new shilling into the cairn which
marks the spot where the monks first made their home.

And yet I have a friend who, in the pages of the _Atlantic Monthly_, has
tried to prove that sentiment is fast decaying.

Later, when this same sentimentalist told us of the poverty, hunger, and
misery in Iona, we thought that the shilling might have been dropped to
better purpose.

It was on a gray morning that an old Hamish rowed us and two other
passengers and a load of freight to the


which had dropped anchor in the middle of the Sound. On deck we found
four young sportsmen in knickerbockers and ulsters, their backs turned
upon the cathedral, firing at sea-gulls and missing them very
successfully. In fact, I might as well say here, they kept on firing and
missing so long as they were on the steamer. A man with a wife, four
children, three maids, and a deckful of baggage, was already preparing
to get off at Bunessan. The domestic energy of the Englishman is only
less admirable than his business-like methods of pleasure. A party of
Lowlanders were playing cards. A man of universal authority was telling
a small group of listeners all about the geology and religion, the
fishing and agriculture, of the islands. But as we sat in a corner,
sheltered from the bitter cold wind, the talk that came to us was mostly
of sport.

"I played that brute for half an hour!"

"I was fishing with a worm, I think."

"The best thing for shooting rooks is an airgun."

"He wasn't a particularly good shot."

And all the time the brave sportsmen kept showing us what particularly
bad shots they were. Is Tartarin's _Chasse de Casquettes_ really so
much funnier than what is called sport in England?

Suddenly one of the Scotchmen, leaving his cards to look about him, gave
the talk an unexpected literary turn. "That feller, Louis Stevverson,"
he said, "laid one o' the scenes o' his Keednopped here," and he pointed
to the Ross and Erraid.

"Woo's 'e?" said a cockney.

"'Arts is trumps," announced a third, and literature was dropped for
more engrossing themes.

Emerson was right. It would be a waste of time for the literary man to
play the swell. Even the handsome and gentlemanly authors of Boston, who
are praised by Arlo Bates, when they become known to the world at large
may be but "fellers!"

From the Sound we steamed past the great headland of Gribun, with the
caves in its dark rocks, and into Loch Slach to the pier near Bunessan.
The sportsmen were the first to alight, and, with guns over their
shoulders, they disappeared quickly up the hill-side. The father of the
family, like a modern Noah, stood on the pier to count his wife,
children, maid, boxes, bundles, fishing-rods, and gun-cases, and to see
them safely on dry land. It was fortunate for the original Noah that he
did not have a whole ship's company to feed when he left the Ark. We
were some time putting off and taking on freight. At the last moment,
back ran the four sportsmen, bearing one bird in triumph. They parted
with it sadly and tenderly. It was pathetic to see their regret after
they had given it to a fisherman, who seemed embarrassed by the gift. I
think they knew that it was the last bird they would bring down that

Then again we steamed past Gribun. Beyond it rose Inch-Kenneth and Ulva,
really "Ulva dark" this morning. And one by one we left behind us, Iona,
its white sands shining, its cathedral standing out boldly against the
sky; Staffa, for a time so near that we could see the entrance to the
great cave with its clustered piers; Fladda, Lunga, and the Dutchman's
Cap. It was a page from "Macleod of Dare." And what were the Dhu
Harteach men saying now? we could not help asking. Everywhere we looked
were tiny nameless islands and bits of rock, sometimes separated only
by a narrow channel. And now the sun shone upon us in our corner and
made us warm. And even after the hills of Mull had begun to go down on
the horizon, and Iona and Staffa had faded into vague shadows, we could
see the Dutchman, like a great Phrygian cap set upon the waters.

Straight out we went to Tiree, a long, treeless strip of land with low
hills at one end, and a wide, sandy, Jersey-like beach. A few houses,
scattered here and there, were in sight. There was no pier. A large
boat, with three men at each of the four long oars, came out to meet the
steamer, and into it were tumbled pell-mell men and women, and tables,
and bags of meal, and loaves of bread, and boxes. It is another of the
Duke of Argyll's islands. Looking at it from the steamship point of
view, one could not but wonder if as much good might not be done for
people, whose only highway is the ocean, by the building of a pier as by
prohibition laws enforced by a landlord. As in Iona, so in Tiree, no
spirits can be bought or sold. It is one of the anomalies of paternal
government that the men made children turn upon their kind fatherly
ruler. The crofters of Tiree have given trouble even as have those of
Skye and Lewis. They are shielded from drunkenness, and yet they
complain that they have been turned from the land that once was theirs
to cultivate, and that their rents have been for long years so high that
to pay them meant starvation for their families. Though these complaints
are explained by the Duke as "phenomena of suggestion" to the
Commissioners, part at least seemed well founded on fact. Instead of
£1251 18s. according to his own estimate, his Grace, according to that
of the Commission, is now entitled to but £922 10s. from the island of

We had not time to land, but steaming past its miserable shores, it
seemed dreary enough. St. Columba showed what he thought of it when
he sent penitents there to test their sincerity. The island of Coll, to
which Dr. Johnson and Boswell were carried in a storm, was as flat and
stupid and dreary. We had come as far as Coll, partly because of the
Doctor's visit. But from this time until we left the Hebrides we were so
much taken up with what we saw as scarce to give him another thought.
For a while we went many miles astray from his route.

When you steam from Tiree and Coll, a broad stretch of the Atlantic lies
between you and the Long Island. If I had my choice, I would rather
cross the Channel from Newhaven to Dieppe, and that is saying the worst
that can be said. The sunshine for the day came to an end. It was
cruelly cold. The sportsmen fell prone upon the deck, and the intervals
between their now languid shots were long. The man of authority shut
himself up in his state-room, the best on the steamer. The card-players
sat sad and silent. We, for our part, could only think of our folly in
coming, and wonder if we too must be sick. Surely walking could not be
greater misery than this. Though in these seas you are never quite out
of sight of land, and never clear of the big and little rocks cropping
up all around you, it was not until late in the afternoon that we came
again close to large islands. They were wild and desolate, with hardly a
house and but few cattle and sheep on their rocky shores. One or two
boats, with brown sails raised, were jumping and pitching over the

[Illustration: CASTLE BAY, FROM BARRA.]

The gray wretchedness of the afternoon was a fit prelude to Barra. When
we came to Castle Bay, rain was falling upon its waters, on the
battlemented castle perched upon a rocky, sea-weed-covered islet, and on
the town, set against a background of high bare hills. But the steamer
stopped, and we went ashore to look about us. A few ugly new houses,
shops with plate-glass windows, often cited as proofs of the island's
prosperity, and then the real Barra: a group of black cottages--compared
to which those of Mull were mansions, those of Kilchrennan
palaces--running up and down the rocky hill-side. Only by a polite
figure of speech can the stone pile in which the Hebridean crofter makes
his home be called a cottage. It is, as it was described many years ago,
but "a heavy thatched roof thrown over a few rudely put together
stones." The long low walls are built of loose stones blackened by
constant rain. The thatched roof, almost as black, is held in place
without by a net-work of ropes, within by rafters of drift-wood. The
crofter has no wood save that which the sea yields, and yet in some
districts he must pay for picking up the beams and spars washed up on
his wild shores, just as he must for the grass and heather he cuts from
the wilder moorland when he makes his roof. Not until you come close to
the rough stone heap can you see that it is a house, with an opening for
door-way, one tiny hole for window. From a distance there is but its
smoke to distinguish it from the rocks strewn around it.

At Castle Bay, where many of these "scenes of misery," as Pennant called
them one hundred years ago, were grouped together, there was not even
the pretence of a street, but just the rock, rough, ragged, and broken,
as God made it. The people who live here are almost all fishermen, and,
as if in token of their calling, they have fashioned the thatch of their
roofs into the shape of boats; one cottage, indeed, is topped with a
genuine boat. There were a few chimneys, but smoke came pouring from the
doors, from holes in the thatch and walls. Many of the roofs bore a
luxuriant growth of grass, with here and there a clump of daisies or of
the yellow flowers which give color to Highland roads. But this was all
the green we saw on their hill-side of rock and mud.

Through open door-ways we had glimpses of dark, gloomy interiors, dense
with smoke. We did not cross a threshold, however; to seek admittance
seemed not unlike making a show of the people's misery. The women and
girls who passed in and out, and stood to stare at us, looked strong and
healthy. Theirs is a life which must either kill or harden. Many were
handsome, with strangely foreign, gypsy-like faces, and so were the
bonneted men at work on the pier. It may be that there is truth in the
story which gives a touch of Spanish blood to the people of the Outer
Hebrides. If the ships of the Armada went down with all their treasure,
it is said that their crews survived, and lived and took unto themselves
wives in the islands, from which chance of deliverance was small. We
heard only Gaelic spoken while we were at Castle Bay. The people of
Great Britain need not go abroad in search of foreign parts; but an
Englishman who only wants to see the misery and wrongs of nations
foreign in name as well as in reality, would find little pleasure in

When we left the steamer the four sportsmen were getting off with their
baggage, of which there was no small quantity. When we returned, hours
later, they were getting in again. The one hotel in Barra was full. For
consolation, I suppose, they shut themselves up in their state-room, and
changed their trousers for the third time that day.

Their return brought to an end our bargaining for their state-room. The
night in the ladies' cabin was one long nightmare. The steamer pitched
and tossed as if she were still crossing the open Atlantic. At the many
stopping-places there was a great noise of loading and unloading. At
midnight a mother, with her two babies and nurse, came to fill the
unoccupied berths.

[Illustration: TOWN OF BARRA.]

J----, in the saloon, fared little better. But the advantage of the
restless night was that it sent us up on deck in time to see the eastern
hills grow purple against the golden light of coming day. As in the
evening, there was still land on either side. All the morning we went in
and out of lochs and bays, and through sounds, and between islands.
Indeed, I know of no better description of the Outer Hebrides than the
quotation given in the guide-book: "The sea here is all islands and the
land all lakes." And the farther north we went, the drearier seemed this
land--a fitting scene for the tragedy enacted on it, which, though now
many years old, is ever young in the memory of the people; for it was
here in Uist that, in 1851, men and women were hunted like beasts,
tracked by dogs to the caves and wilds where they lay in hiding, bound
hand and foot, and cast upon ships waiting to carry them against their
will across the Atlantic. We might have thought that no life had been
left upon the islands but for an occasional wire fence, a sprinkling of
sheep on the greener hill-sides, and lonely cottages, with thin clouds
of blue peat-smoke hovering over them to show that they were not mere
rocks. Once, stretching across the wilderness we saw telegraph poles
following the coast-line. It is wise to let them make the best showing
possible. Some of the islands are cut off telegraphically from the rest
of the world.

We stopped often. At many of the landings not a house was to be seen. As
a rule, there was no pier. The steamer would give her shrill whistle,
and as it was re-echoed from the dreary hills huge black boats came
sailing out to meet us. Instead of boats waiting for the steamer, as in
the Mississippi, here she waited for them. And when they had dropped
their sails, and rounded her bows and brought up alongside her lower
deck, there tumbled into them men and women, and loaves, and old
newspapers, and ham bones, and bits of meat, for in the islands there
are always people on the verge of starvation.

At Loch Maddy, in North Uist, the brave warriors left us, and other
sportsmen in ulsters and knickerbockers, and with many fishing-rods,
came to take their place. On shore stood a man in plain, unassuming
kilt, in which he looked at home. We liked to fancy him a laird of Uist
in ancestral dress, and not like the youth at Oban, a mere masquerader.
We asked the purser who he was.

"Oh, that is Mr. O'Brien, of Liverpool," was his answer.

Everybody had come up on deck, for the day was comparatively fine. It
kept clearing and clouding, the sun now shining on the far hills and
the rain pouring upon us; but again the showers were swept landward, and
we were in sunshine. As we neared


a little old lady came bustling up. When the steamer stopped in the
Sound the men in the boats all touched their bonnets to her, a few even
got on board to speak to her. She was better than a guide-book, and told
the passengers near her all about Harris. She explained the difficulties
of the channel through the Sound, which, like all Hebridean waters, is
full of islands and rocks hidden at high tide, and is unprotected by
lights. She pointed out Rodil Church, whose gray tower just showed above
the green hills. She always called this bit of Harris the Switzerland of
the Hebrides, she said. And with its checker-board-like patches of green
and yellowing grain between the hills and the water, and lying, while we
were there, in sunshine, it might have looked bright and even happy, but
for the wretched cottages, of which there were more in this one place
than we had seen on all the journey from Iona.


Once, as we watched the boats rounding the steamer's bows, we found
ourselves next to this old lady. She seemed so glad to talk that we
asked her could she perhaps tell us if the people of Harris were as
miserable as their cottages.

"Oh," she said, "their condition is hopeless!" And then she went on to
tell us that she lived only for Harris, and that there was no one who
knew better than she its poverty. She was, we learned afterwards,
Mrs.--or Mistress, as Lowlanders on board called her--Thomas. Her
husband had been a Government surveyor in the island, and since his
death she had interested herself in the people, among whom, for many
years, she made her home.

The story of Harris, as she told it and as we have since read it in the
report of the Commission of 1883, is in the main that of all the Islands
and Highlands. It is the story of men toiling on land and sea, that by
the sweat of their brow they may make, not their own bread, but the
venison and game of others. Thousands starve that two or three may have
their sport. The land in the Hebrides is barren, it is argued in behalf
of the sportsmen. Harris is the barrenest of all, Mrs. Thomas declared.
We could see this for ourselves; after the Switzerland of the Hebrides,
the mountains rose a solid mass of black rock with scarce a trace of
vegetation. But even Harris once supported its people. That was before
they were made to share the land with the deer. To-day a few valleys and
hill-sides are overcrowded, crofts divided and subdivided; while others
once as green are now purple with heather, and silent save for the guns
of sportsmen. Deer forests and large farms grow larger and larger;
crofts shrink, until from the little patch of ground, long since
overworked, the crofter can no longer reap even that which he sows. And
yet he sees better land, where perhaps once grew his potatoes and grain,
swallowed up in the cruel moors. While his harvest is starvation, deer
and grouse live and multiply.

Many villages were cleared when the great deer forest of Harris was
extended, not so many years ago. The people were turned from homes where
they had always lived, the old with the young, and women about to become
mothers. Highlanders love their land. Many went back again and again,
even after their cottages were but black piles of ruin. Because he
evicts tenants who will not pay their rent, the Irish landlord is called
cruel. The evicted in the Hebrides have hitherto been those who
interfere with the landlord's convenience or amusement. The rent has had
nothing to do with it. And yet of Scotch evictions but comparatively
little has been heard. Journalists skilled in their trade have published
abroad, from one end of the land to the other, the tale of Irish wrongs.
But who knows the injustice that has been done in Scotland in order to
lay waste broad tracts of good ground? "I will tell you how Rodil was
cleared," said John McDiarmid, of Scalpa, to the Commissioners. "There
were one hundred and fifty hearths in Rodil. Forty of these paid rent.
When young Macleod (the landlord) came home with his newly married wife
to Rodil, he went away to show his wife the place, and twenty of the
women of Rodil came and met them, and danced a reel before them, so glad
were they to see them. By the time the year was out--twelve months from
that day--these twenty women were weeping and wailing, their houses
being unroofed and their fires quenched by the orders of the estate. I
could not say who was to blame, but before the year was out one hundred
and fifty fires were quenched."

As in Rodil, so it was where now stretches the deer forest of
Harris--wherever, indeed, deer are hunted in the Highlands. Whoever
wants to learn the nature of some of the blessings which come to the
many from the proprietary power and right of the few--a right and power
to which the Duke of Argyll refers all advance in the Highlands--let him
read the "History of the Highland Clearances" as told by Alexander
Mackenzie, the "Gloomy Memories of the Highlands," by Donald Macleod,
himself one of the evicted. Their story is too cruel for me to tell
again. Their country was desolate; their cities were burned with fire;
their land, strangers devoured it in their presence, and it was
desolate. Never did negro slaves in the South fare as did the Highland
men and women cleared from the glens and valleys of Sutherland. Slaves
at least represented so much money; but the crofter was and _is_ less
valuable to the laird than his sheep and his deer. Slaves could be sold.
This was the one thing which the landlord, despite all his rights, could
not do with his crofters. He could burn their cottages, starve them and
their families, turn them adrift, and chase them over seas, there
perhaps to meet anew starvation, disease, and death. From every part of
the Highlands and Islands, from Ross and Argyllshire, as from
Sutherland, hundreds and thousands were forced to fly, whether they
would or not.

And with those who stayed at home, how fared it? The evicted squatted,
we would call it, on the crofts of friends and relations in other parts
of the estate. There was no place else for them to go. When there, they
sought to solve the bitterest problem of life--how to make that which is
but enough for one serve for two--and therein were unsuccessful. The
landlord washed his hands of them and their poverty. They had brought it
upon themselves, he reasoned; if crofts were overcrowded, the fault was
theirs. You might as well force a man into the jungle or swamp reeking
with malaria, and then when he is stricken upbraid him for living in
such a hot-bed of fever. Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace does not exaggerate
when he says, "For a parallel to this monstrous power of the land-owner,
under which life and property are entirely at his mercy, we must go
back to mediæval, or to the days when, serfdom not having been
abolished, the Russian noble was armed with despotic authority, while
the more pitiful results of this landlord tyranny, the wide devastation
of cultivated lands, the heartless burning of houses, the reckless
creation of pauperism and misery out of well-being and contentment,
could only be expected under the rule of Turkish sultans or greedy and
cruel pashas."

Emigration is the principal remedy suggested. The landlords of old
enforced it, and now, for very shame, are content to commend it. It is
the remedy most to their taste. It would leave them alone with their
sheep and their game. If the only Highlanders were the gillies and
shepherds, there would be an end of bothersome tales of wrongs, rousing
the sympathy of the public. The real reason for emigration is that "any
remedies which might be expected from land law reform or land acts will
be and are likely to be long deferred, while in the mean time the people
are dying like dogs from starvation." It has been urged that it would be
better if many of the Islanders, like men of the east coast, became
fishermen altogether and gave up their land. But if they did, the gain
would not be theirs. In many lochs and bays the people are not allowed
to fish for food because gentlemen must fish for pleasure. Few have
boats for deep-sea fishing; none have money to buy them. As it is, in
the Long Island they must compete with well-equipped fishing-smacks sent
into northern seas from Billingsgate markets.[G] Not only this, but in
both Harris and Lewis, piers and harbors are few, and fishing-boats must
be light that fishermen may pull them up on shore beyond reach of the
tide. In parts of the northern Highlands people have been removed from
the glens to the shores in hopes that they would become fishermen; but
they were given no boats, no harbors.

 [G] I have just heard that Americans are about to send
  fishing-vessels over to these waters.

For Skye and the Long Island, the nearest way to the main-land is by
Strome Ferry, where the entrance to the harbor is intricate, and so
poorly lighted that once the short winter days set in, as its passage
cannot be attempted after dark, traffic between the islands and the
main-land is seriously interrupted. But indeed one can but wonder at the
few light-houses on this dangerous west coast. Here and there one
erected on a lonely rock far out at sea is a triumph of engineering
skill. But the most difficult channels, the wildest coasts, are left
without a light. In the course of our long journey in Hebridean waters I
think we saw but half a dozen. The life-boat institution in British
islands is now supported by charity. It seems as if the light-house
service as well must fall to the benevolence of advertisers and city

It is well to say what the people ought to do; it is better to explain
what they cannot do. They are hampered and held back on every side, and
then the stranger is told that he need not pity them, they are so lazy.
They are thriftless and good-for-nothing, Lowlanders on the steamer
assured us. When you first go among them you believe in their laziness.
Their little patches of potatoes and grain are full of weeds, and their
ditches are choked; broken windows are mended with rags or heather, dirt
and rubbish lie waiting to be cleared away. From their doors they step
into the mud. A very little industry is needed to set these things
right. You wonder if, after all, it may not be their own fault that they
are so poor. But this is what a doctor of Raasay told the Commissioners,
"The prevailing disease is poverty, and the chief remedy is food." The
people have not enough to eat; that is why they do not work hard. You
have but to look into their faces to know that they are starving. Hardly
a winter passes that food has not to be begged for them. Even as I
write, petitions come from a school-master in Lewis. Unless money and
meal are sent to them, the people in his district cannot live through
the winter. But until two years ago had they not been from morning to
night, from night to morning, weak from hunger; if fields had been made
to yield a richer harvest; if crofts and houses had been kept neat and
pretty, the profit would have been the landlords'. The greater the
people's industry, the higher the rent they paid. If they made
improvements, the rent was raised. Nor did they know at what moment the
fruits of their labor might be swept away. The landlord had but to say,
"I want my land, you must go," and their work of years had come to
naught. No matter how long the crofter lived in the cottage where dwelt
his father and grandfather before him, the day never came when he could
say of a surety, "To-morrow this roof will be over my head, these fields
and pastures will be mine to care for."

In the Hebrides, the landlord has always had rights; the crofter, until
the passing of the Crofters' Bill of 1886, had none. I remember that on
that day on the boat, with the shores of hopeless Harris in sight, Mrs.
Thomas said to me, "There are two sides to the question, of course. The
landlord has a right to do as he chooses with his own land." This is the
argument of the landlords. They can quote Scripture in its support. "A
man may do as he likes with his own," an Irish land-owner reminded his
tenants the other day when he threatened to sweep them off the face of
his estates. It is an old, well-worn argument; to answer it French
revolutions and American civil wars have been fought. Englishmen have
been ever ready to dispute it abroad; at home they are its advocates.

Probably we ought to have seen this other side; I admit that it would
have been far pleasanter. A few letters of introduction--at that time,
at any rate, not impossible to obtain--would have opened the doors of
many of the big houses on our route, would have furnished J---- with a
gun and me with days of boredom, would have introduced us to the natives
in another fashion; for, according to all accounts, they would then have
greeted us as if they were slaves, and not the most fearless and
independent people in Great Britain. Of course we understand that
strangers in the islands who do see this side of island life, find it as
delightful as strangers in the South at home once found that of the old
Southern gentleman. But we defy any one who visits the islands after our
manner, not to be filled as we were with the thought of the people's
misery; for the bondage in which they are held to-day is more cruel than
was that of slaves in the slave States of America or of serfs in Russia.

There are good landlords in the Highlands, just as there were bad
slave-owners in the South--men who give the half-starved, half-frozen
crofter the blankets and meal which, if he were emancipated, he could
provide for himself; for the crofter is no better, but indeed worse than
a slave, since he must bear the burdens both of freedom and of slavery.
He is free to pay more for land than it is worth, to be taxed for roads
which are never built, and for schools where his language is scorned,
and, in some islands, his religion dishonored; and, moreover, in
proportion to his means, to be taxed more heavily than men in any other
part of Scotland; in some districts he is free to cut from the moorland
peat for fuel, to gather from the shore sea-weed for manure, to take
from waste lands heather or grass to thatch his roof, only if he pays
for the privilege. Here his freedom ends. In his house--the Englishman's
castle--he is so little his own master that he cannot keep a sheep or a
pig or a dog, unless it be the will of his laird. If he asks to lay his
grievances before the factor he is called a rebel, and warned not to
dare speak in such fashion; and this by a landlord praised by the great
world because of the winter distribution of blankets and meal. If his
complaints should be listened to, there is little chance of redress from
men who value rabbits and grouse more highly than they do their tenants.
He is wholly at the mercy of the factor, who usually holds all the
highest offices on the estate, and has the power, as at Barra, to
disenfranchise an entire island. This is the account of his position
given by a minister in Skye: "The crofter has no protection from the
large tacksmen; if he makes a complaint he can get no redress. There is
no law in Skye. Might is the only right, and that, too, in the last
decade of the nineteenth century. One great evil which sadly needs
reform is the state of terrorism under which the small tenantry live
through the insolent threats of subordinate officials, whose impudence
increases in proportion to the smallness of their authority." It was
time, indeed, when the Royal Commission was sent to the Highlands; and
yet, though the Commission has reduced rents and cancelled arrears, it
has not struck at the root of the evil--the existing relations between
landlord and crofter.

[Illustration: GATHERING PEAT.]

The crofter's representative in Parliament is often, fortunately not
always, a stranger who comes just before or after his election--as a
candidate for Skye came to that island while we were there--and tells
the people he has never been there before, they do not know him as yet,
but he hopes they may later; and then he steams away in his yacht.
Whether elected or not, we may feel sure he will never come again. But
what is to be hoped for from Parliament? "They are all landlords in the
House of Commons: what will they do for us?" the crofters and cotters of
Lewis asked the other day. That is why they are taking matters into
their own hands. They know there is no one else to help them. In a body
they marched upon deer forest and sheep farm, and scattered over the
island or drove into the sea sheep and deer. When there were no more
sheep and deer, the landlord would be glad enough to give them back land
which in days of old was green with their crops. And now, in further
proof of the justice done to crofters, the leaders of these raids await
trial in Edinburgh, to which town they cannot afford to bring their
witnesses, and where no lawyers of note will defend them.[H]

 [H] I have explained elsewhere the result of this trial.

The crofter is a slave not only to landlord and factor, but often to the
merchant. The Englishman, when he finds the truck system far from home,
cannot too strongly revile it. A report has but come from Newfoundland
declaring that because of it a Newfoundlander is no more master of his
own destiny than was a mediæval serf or a Southern negro in 1860. The
writer need not have gone 1600 miles to the colonies to expose an evil
which exists in the British Isles but 600 miles from London.[I] The Duke
of Argyll regrets that it is employed in Tiree. His power as proprietor,
the one power for good on his estates, stops short most unaccountably
where other people might think it could be exercised to best advantage.
Many Western Islanders, like Newfoundlanders, are bound hand and foot to
the merchant. The latter provides them on credit with all the
necessaries of life, often the poorest in quality, but always the
highest in price. In return the crofter's earnings, before he has gained
them, belong to the merchant, who, moreover, is at times his employer as
well as his creditor. In Harris the women support their families by
weaving the famous Harris cloth. To Edinburgh and London tailors it
brings good profit; to them, starvation wages, paid in tea or sugar or
meal. No money is in circulation on the island. Harris people have given
their consent to emigrate, and then at the last moment have been kept
prisoners at home because of a debt of years against them.

 [I] A Truck Act has been passed which has somewhat modified the
  system in the Hebrides, but, as we have learned from a reliable source,
  it has not proved effectual.

As we lay by the island of Scalpa, not far from Tarbert, a man came on
board from one of the boats. He had a roll of cloth under his arm. He
gave it to Mrs. Thomas, and asked if some one on board would buy it. As
we looked at it he said nothing, but the pitiful pleading of his eyes,
and their more pitiful disappointment as he turned away with his cloth,
told the story. She tried to dispose of their cloth for them, Mrs.
Thomas said; and we have since heard that she buys more from them than
even the local merchant.

[Illustration: THE "DUNARA CASTLE."]

The _Dunara Castle_ finally anchored at


The principal building in the village was the large white manse, half
hidden in trees. A parson's first care, even if he went to the Cannibal
Islands, would be, I fancy, to make himself, or have made for him at
somebody else's expense, a comfortable home. There were also on the
outskirts of the village two or three new, well-built cottages for men
in Lady Scott's, the landlord's, direct service, and a large, excellent
hotel, the only place in Tarbert where spirits could be bought. The rich
may have their vices, though the poor cannot. Beyond was misery.
Wherever we went in the island we found a rocky wilderness, the
mountains black as I have never seen them anywhere else, their tops so
bare of even soil that in the sunlight they glistened as if ice-bound.
Here and there, around the lochs and sloping with the lower rocky hills,
were weed-choked patches of grain and huts wreathed in smoke, their
backs turned hopelessly to the road. Near Tarbert there was one burrowed
out like a rabbit-hole, its thatched roof set upon the grass and weeds
of the hill-side. Just below, in the loch, Lady Scott's steam-yacht came
and went. Beyond, her deer forest, a range of black mountains, stretched
for miles. Within sight and low on the water were the thick woods, in
the heart of which stands her shooting-lodge. The contrast gave the
last bitter touch to the condition of the people. They starve on tiny
crofts, their only homes; their landlord holds broad acres as
play-ground for a few short weeks.

The hovels were as cheerless within as without. I do not know why it is
that one takes liberties with the poor which one would not dare take
with the rich. It is no small evil of poverty that it is everybody's
privilege to stare at it. The people of Harris are hospitable, and
receive the stranger with courtesy, but you can see that they resent the
intrusion. It is not, I fear, to our credit that curiosity got the
better of our scruples. We knocked at a cottage door, one Sunday
afternoon, J----, as an excuse, asking for a light. As we drew near we
heard the voice of some one reading aloud. Now it was silenced, and a
tall old man in his shirt-sleeves came to the door with an open Bible in
his hands. Within, on the left, was the dwelling-room of the household;
on the right, the stable, cattle, and family share the only entrance.
Into the room, through a single pane of glass, one ray of daylight fell
across the Rembrandt-like shadows. On the mud floor, at the far end, a
fire of peat burned with a dull red glow, and its thick, choking smoke
curled in clouds about the rafters and softened the shadows. We could
just make out the figures of two women crouching by the fire, the
curtained bed in the corner, the spinning-wheel opposite. All other
details were lost in gloom and smoke. Until you see it for yourself, you
could not believe that in our nineteenth century men still live like
this. Miss Gordon Cumming says that to the spinning and weaving of the
women "is due much of such comfort as we may see by a peep into some of
their little homes." But our peep showed us only that women weave and
men work in vain, and that to speak of comfort is mockery in a cottage
of Harris, or, indeed, in any cottage we saw in any part of the islands,
for all those we went into were alike in their poverty and their
darkness. As a rule, the fire burned in the centre on a circle of
stones, and over it, from the roof, hung chain and hook for the kettle.
They have not changed one jot or tittle since, a century ago, they moved
Pennant to pity.


As we left the hut on the hill-side, the first we visited, "I beg
pardon," said the old crofter, who had not understood J----'s thanks.
His words seemed a reproach. We felt that we should be begging his
pardon. To force our way in upon him in his degradation was to add one
more to the many insults he has had to bear. He stood at the door a
minute, and then went back into the gloom of the low room, with its mud
floor and smoky rafters, which he calls his home.

All day long, even when the sun shone, as it did at intervals during
our stay, Harris was a land of sorrow and desolation, but in the evening
it became a land of beauty. The black rock of the mountain-side softened
into purple shadows against the gold of sky and sea, and in this glory
the hovels and the people and the misery disappeared. And when the sun
sank behind the western waters and the gold faded, there fell a great
peace over the island, and with it began the twilight, that lingered
until it grew into the coming day.

It was on Sunday mornings that there was greatest stir in Tarbert. Then
the people came from far and near to meet in the little kirk overlooking
the loch. We were told that comparatively few were at home. This was the
season when they go to the east coast, the men to the fishing, the women
to the curing-houses; but we thought they came in goodly numbers as we
watched them winding with the road down the opposite hill-side, and
scrambling over the rocks behind the town. Boats one by one sailed into
the loch and to the pier, bringing with them old women in clean white
caps and tartan shawls, younger women in feathered hats and overskirts,
men in bonnets and blue sailor-cloth. They were a fine-looking set of
people, here and there among them a face beautiful with the rich, dark
beauty of the South--all that is left of the Armada. As they came up
upon the pier they stopped in groups under the shelter of a boat-house,
for the wind was high, the men to comb their beards and hair, the women
to tie one another's bonnet-strings and scarfs, to smooth one another's
shawls. And all the time scarce a word was spoken; they were as solemn
at their toilet as if already they stood in church.

The Islanders are as melancholy as the wilderness in which they live.
The stranger among them never gets used to their perpetual silence.
Their troubles have made them turn from the amusements they once loved.
The pipes now seldom are heard in the Hebrides. Their one consolation,
their one resource, is religion, and to them religion is a tragedy.
Nowhere was the great conflict in the Church of Scotland fought with
such intensity, such passion, as in Skye. That same Sunday in Harris, we
met the people coming home over the hills, and still they walked each
alone, and all in unbroken silence. And this Sabbath stillness lasts
throughout the week.

It is not only in Mr. Black's novels you meet kings in the Lews. From
out of the boats laden with worshippers there stepped the King of
Scalpa. He is a Campbell, we were told; and what is more, if he had his
rights it is he who would bear the Argyll titles, enjoy the Argyll
wealth, instead of the Campbell who calls himself Duke and writes books
in the castle at Inverary. His story is the usual romance of the
Highlands: a murder, a flight, the succession of the younger brother to
titles and estates, the descendants of the murderer, exiles in a far
island. And so it is that the real Duke of Argyll is but a merchant in
Scalpa. However, if the so-called Duke had nothing more serious to fear
than the pretensions of the King of Scalpa, he might rest at ease. It is
his right not to a name, but to the privilege to do with his own as he
likes, that he must needs defend. He can afford to ignore the Campbells
of the Outer Hebrides; but let him fight with his deadliest weapons
against the crofters who to-day pay him rent. All the arguments he has
set forth in "Scotland as it Was, and Scotland as it Is," in themselves
are not enough to avert the day of reckoning which even to him,
apparently, seems so near at hand.

We left Harris, as we came to it, in the _Dunara Castle_, and dropped
anchor in the Bay of Uig, in


one morning while the day was still young. The shores were circled about
with patches of grain and potatoes and many cottages; and Skye, as we
first saw it, seemed fair and fertile after the rocks of Harris. Its
people are little better off, however. It was here, about Uig, on the
estates of Captain Fraser, that crofters rebelled in 1884 as those of
Lewis are rebelling to-day. Their rents in many cases have been reduced,
their arrears cancelled. But landlords as they exist, or crofters, must
go before there can be more than negative improvement in the islands.

[Illustration: DOING SKYE.]

When we were rowed to the shore the landlord of the Uig Inn stood posing
as modern warden of the brand-new round tower on the hill-top. He took
our knapsacks, and set us on the way to the Quiraing.

A steep climb up a wooded corrie brought us to the moors, the long
purple distances unbroken save for the black lines marking where the
peat had been cut, and the black mounds where the cuttings had been
piled at intervals along the road. Once we passed men and women loading
a cart with them. Once we saw a rude shepherd's hut, on a little
hillock, surrounded by sheep. And in the long walk, that was all! When
we started across the moorland the sun shone and the morning was hot.
When suddenly the moorland came to an end and gave way to the tall
jagged rocks of the Quiraing, the sky was all gray and the mist fell
fast behind us. We left the road for a foot-path, and at once lost our
way. We scrambled over rocks, slipped up and down soft spongy hills,
jumped streams, and skirted lochs, J---- stopping in the most impossible
places to make notes. We were now ankle-deep in mud, now knee-high in
wet grass and heather. The guide-book says the Quiraing cannot be
described; I am sure I cannot describe it, for the simple reason that I
did not see it. At first I was too much taken up in trying not to kill
myself; when the climbing was a little less dangerous and I looked about
me, there was nothing to be seen. The mist had hidden the top of the
rocks and was rolling down fast towards us. J---- was very anxiously
looking at the guide-book and at the sea. Suddenly he seized me and
pulled me, panting, behind him, over bowlders, through bracken, down a
hill as steep as a house, in our hurry starting avalanches of stones.
Then he jumped into the bed of a stream, down which we rushed, up to
our knees in water, to the loch at the bottom. It was a mad flight. But
by this time we could not see our hands before us.

"I am half dead," said I.

"If you don't come on we'll both be dead," said J----.

And just then, more by good luck than good management, we found
ourselves on a road.

J---- had studied the lay of the land before our start. He knew this
must be the road by the coast, twice as long on its way to Uig as that
over which we had come; but there was no finding our way back in the
mist. It fell from above, it rose from the ground, it closed about us on
all sides. In a few minutes cloaks and hoods were soaked. We tried to be
as indifferent as the Highlomaniac who pretends he likes this sort of
thing. We sat on a stone by the way-side to eat the few sandwiches we
had brought with us, and declared it an excellent joke. We walked across
a dripping field as calmly as if it had been dry land, so that we might
not come face to face with a monstrous bull which kept our path. And
when the road came out close to the sea, and the mist turned into a
driving rain, J---- even pulled out his guide-book and on its back made
mysterious scrawls, which he said represented Duntulm Castle, a gray
ruin on a high cliff, looking seaward.

There were by the road many groups of huts black, soaked, chimneyless;
always near them a large manse and sometimes a larger school-house,
which the people must maintain if they starve for it. Women with hunger
on their faces looked after us. Children with old brown bags tied about
their waists for all clothing stood at the doors to watch, but not one
smiled at the sight. And yet we must have been funny! And the villages
were silent as the moorland. There was not a voice to be heard. The
women to whom we spoke shook their heads; "No English," was their only
answer. The one person we found who could talk it was a man, and he had
so many gutturals we could scarce understand him.

Near Duntulm Castle was a shooting-lodge; on the water a steam-yacht lay
at anchor. The slave-driver is found for at least six weeks in the midst
of his slaves.

We arrived at the inn about three in the afternoon, drenched and weary.
A room was ready for us, a bright fire burning on the hearth. They
always expected people to come home wet, the landlord's daughter said.
She carried off our wet clothes; she lent me a dress; she brought us hot
whiskey and water. One must be thoroughly tired to know what comfort

We had our tea with two English maiden ladies of the species one meets
in Swiss and Italian pensions. We sat in a well-warmed room at a
well-spread table. In the black, smoky huts half-starved men, women, and
children were eating dry oatmeal; a few, perhaps, drinking tea with it.
This is the extravagance with which the crofters have been reproached.
They buy, or rather go into debt for, tea and sugar as well as meal, and
therefore their landlords think them prosperous. They have never been so
well off before, the Commissioners were told; once they lived on
shell-fish throughout the summer. Yes, it was true, a minister of
Snizort admitted, they did drink tea. But the people have no milk, now
pasture-land has been taken from them. The landlord needed it for his
large sheep farms and deer forests. I suppose they should go back to the
shell-fish as of old. If they have food to eat, why complain of its
quality? If this be so, if crofters of to-day, compared to their
ancestors, live in luxury, then has the time indeed come when something
should be done for them. Who will call them lazy or indifferent who has
considered what the life of the Islander has been for generations? The
wonder is that he has energy enough to keep on living.

We went the next day to


The road lay over long miles of moors, with now and then beautiful
distant views of the mountains of Harris, but pale blue shadows oil the
western horizon, and of the high peaks of the Cuchullins, dark and
sombre above the moorland.

Here and there at long intervals we came to the wretched groups of
cottages we had begun to know so well. Old witch-like women and young
girls passed, bent double under loads of peat or sea-weed, so heavy that
were the same thing seen in Italy, English people would long since have
filled columns of the _Times_ with their sympathy. As it is, these
burdens are accepted as a matter of course, or sometimes even as but one
of the many picturesque elements of Highland life. From one writer one
hears of the Skye lassies, half hidden under bundles of heather,
stopping to laugh and chatter; from another of Lewis women knitting
contentedly as they walked along with creels, bearing burdens that would
have appalled a railway porter of the south, strapped to their backs. We
saw no smiles, no signs of contentment. On the faces of the strongest
women there was a look of weariness and of pain. But perhaps the most
pathetic faces in this land of sorrow were those of the children,
already pinched and care-worn. I know others who have felt this even as
we did. An Englishman who last summer spent a week in Skye has since
told us how day after day he and his wife went upon their excursions
lunchless, because in the first village to which they came they emptied
their luncheon-basket among the half-naked, half-starved children they
found there. They could not bear the sight of the hungry little faces.
But even in his sympathy, the general poverty seemed to him only right,
he said, since it is in such perfect harmony with the dismal, dreary
land in which the people live. If they were happy, however, if moors and
hills were green with their crops, would it still seem so dismal?


That day and those which had preceded and those which followed we went
into many huts, talked to many people. We became bold because we wished
to learn for ourselves the truth of what we had heard, and not to be
prejudiced by hearsay. The crofter's hut is felt to be a disgrace to the
Highlands. The landlord shifts all responsibility. The crofter alone is
at fault; he has no shame in living in his hovel, which is scarcely fit
to shelter a dog. This is the favorite argument. How the crofter,
without money, without other materials than those at his disposal, could
build anything better has not as yet been explained. If, however, he
does contrive to make it better, his rent is raised, and he might, until
within two years, have been turned out on the morrow. If he moves into a
house set up by a landlord there is again question of higher rent,
though he may find it has been put up so cheaply that cold winds pour
through cracks and crannies, heavy rains soak through roof and walls. In
his own black hut, if he lives with his cattle he can at least keep
warm. His contentment in his degradation is a myth. To many cottages we
were absolutely refused admittance. Ours was not the experience of Miss
Gordon Cumming. Whenever we approached a cottage, a kindly voice did not
bid us welcome. I remember one in particular where the door was shut
against us. Of a woman of the village who could speak English--and it
must be borne in mind that with few rare exceptions people in the
Hebrides speak but Gaelic--and who had already shown us her smoky,
dismal home, we asked that we might be let in to see the old loom. No,
was the first answer sent out; its owner will not be dressed. No, was
the second; the loom will not be working. No, was the third and final;
"we wass just pretending about the loom; it wass the house we wanted to
see." In another, though the woman drew up chairs by the peat
smouldering and smoking in the middle of the floor, there was no
mistaking she looked upon us as intruders. She shook her head and said
without a smile, "No English," when we spoke to her; and then she turned
her back and began to comb her hair. A bright, fresh-looking girl who
rowed us over the water near Kingsburgh House received us more amiably.
It was the usual interior, thick with smoke, all details lost in black
shadow, though without the sun was shining. "You will find our houses
very queer places to live in," she said. And as she ferried us across,
every few minutes she turned and asked if we didn't find their cottages
queer homes.

Nothing is left of Flora Macdonald's house which has made Kingsburgh
famous. But our ferry-woman pointed to a clump of trees on the shores of
the loch where it once stood. "Flora Macdonald was a good friend of the
people," she said; "she was a strong woman and clever, and she helped
to hide Prince Charlie from those who were in search of him, and for
that reason she will be loved and remembered."

Strange as it may seem, these were her words. They so struck us at the
time that I wrote them down once we were on shore again. I have heard
people wonder at the intelligence Italian peasants show in expressing
themselves; but it is not more striking than that of Western Islanders.
When they could speak English, it always made us marvel. No one can read
the report of their evidence before the Royal Commission without
marvelling with us.

It was not only in Skye we talked to the people; already in Harris we
had much to say to those who had the English. The very fact that we were
walking, a great part of the time with packs on our backs, made the
people meet us on more friendly terms than if we drove in coaches or
sailed in yachts. We were strangers, it was evident; but we were not
sportsmen or moneyed tourists. On every side we heard the same story of
hated landlords and exhausted crofts. We know that what we say can have
but little influence for good or evil. And yet when we remember the sad
stories to which we listened, and the cruel lot of those who told them,
we would not run the smallest risk of making that lot still more cruel,
those stories still more sad. There is ill-feeling enough between
Hebridean landlords and their slaves. In three cases at least crofters
were turned from their crofts because they gave evidence to the
Commissioners of 1883. It is well to be on the safe side. The chances
are, not a landlord will know that we have been writing about his
estates after walking over them; but we think it best to give no clew to
the identity of men who told us in a friendly way that which already had
been proclaimed officially.

The chief complaint was the same wherever we went: "We have not enough
land; we could and would pay rent willingly if we had more ground to
cultivate. As it is, our crofts are not large enough to keep us in
food." The outside world has been busy watching the battle in Ireland;
little attention has been spared to the Highlands; yet every small
paragraph on the subject for which newspapers can make room, between
accounts of stolen breeches and besieged members of Parliament, shows
the determination of the men who are fighting the same battle in the far
north. If troops are kept in Ireland, if Welsh tithes can only be
collected by hussars, war-ships are sent to the Islands. If Irishmen,
protected by a Land League, refuse to pay rent, so do Scotch crofters.
Indeed, the latter are far more determined and daring. They know, too,
how to hold together. In Glendale, an out-of-the-way corner of Skye to
which strangers seldom penetrate, not a crofter has paid rent for five
years. An old man, tenant on another estate, told us about them with
pride. "No, sir," he said, "they have no paid a penny for five years,
but the factor he will keep friends with them. He will know ferry well
if he wass not their friend it will be worse trouble that will be coming

He was a fine, healthy old man, between sixty and seventy; and when he
found that we sympathized, he walked about half a mile just to talk with
us. He pretended he came to show us the way, but as the road was
straight before us it was easy to see through his excuse.

J---- asked him what he thought about the crofter question. "I will be a
real old Land Leaguer every time," he declared; and then he went on to
tell us that in his part of the island the crofters held together like
one man. The Commission was coming; it was slow, but they would wait for
it. Then, if it did not improve their condition, they would take matters
into their own hands. Their landlord was good enough, as landlords went;
he was a civil-spoken gentleman if rents were paid on the very day they
were due, but that was about all that could be said for him. Rents were
not so high on his estate as on others, but the taxes were heavy, and it
was more land they needed. "You will see those potatoes"--and he pointed
to a tiny green patch sloping down from the road to a ditch, beyond
which was heather--"you will see for yourself they grow well whatever.
And they would be growing as well on the other side of the ditch, where
I myself have planted them in other days. But what will grow there now?
Heather and ferns! And it will be heather and ferns you will see as far
as you can for twelve miles. If they will be giving us more land, sir,
it's no trouble from the Highlanders they will be having; but if they
don't give it to us we will take it."

[Illustration: DUNVEGAN CASTLE.]

He shook hands heartily with us both when he left. One may doubt the
demagogue who uses the people's suffering for political capital; but
one can but respect a man like this sturdy old crofter, himself one of
the people, who knows his wrongs and determines to right them. His
methods may be illegal; so have been those of many men who have
struggled for freedom.

At Dunvegan Inn we were again in civilized society. We dined with two
young men from London who were followed even here by the _Saturday
Review_ and the _Standard_. They took interest in the evicted Irish, and
ignored the existence of Highland crofters; they could tell us much of
the fish, but nothing of the fishermen. They were anxious to direct us
to many howling wildernesses within an easy walk of the dinner-table,
where we could escape from the people; and when the people, in the shape
of two Aberdeen farmers, full of the crofter's wrongs, appeared at
breakfast, they went from the room in disgust. I think this disgust
would have been greater had they known how much more interesting we
found the farmers.

Beyond the inn the road led through a dense wood to the castle of the
Macleod of Macleod. Trees will not grow on Hebridean soil until the
laird wishes to raise them for himself; then they thrive well enough. Of
course we did not expect to find them growing on northern exposed
shores; but surely there must be other sheltered spots besides those
directly around the laird's house. However, it is the same with his
crops; broad acres are covered by his grain and that of his large
tenants; his pasture-land is fresh and green. It is a strange fact that
only when the crofter asks to cultivate the land does it become
absolutely barren. It is but a step from the wild, lonely moorland to
the beautiful green wood at Dunvegan. Landward it shuts in the castle,
whose turreted keep rises high above the ivy-grown battlemented walls,
crowning a rocky island in a sheltered corner of the loch. The water has
been drained from the natural moat, but the rock falls sheer and steep
from the castle gate, and the drawbridge still crosses the gulf below.
We did not go inside; we were told that the present wife of the Macleod
objected to visitors, even though she admitted them. We believe there
are tapestries and old armor and the usual adjuncts to be seen for the
asking, such things as one can find in any museum; but it is only by
going to the islands that you can see the crofters' wrongs.

Almost at the end of the woods, and yet sheltered by them, was a pretty
old-fashioned flower-garden, surrounded by well-clipped hedges, and as
well cared for as the garden of an English castle. Nearer to the inn, on
a low hill, was the graveyard of the Macleod. We pushed open the
tumble-down gate and squeezed through. A hundred years ago Dr. Johnson
found fault with the bad English on Lord Lovat's tomb; to-day we could
hardly find the tomb. The stone on which the inscription was carved lay
in pieces on the ground. It may be that the Macleod of Macleod has
bankrupted himself to save his tenants from starvation. This is most
praiseworthy on his part. But we could not help thinking that if he and
all the Macleods, from one end of Great Britain to the other, are so
anxious to be buried here, they might among them find money enough to
free the enclosure of their dead from the whiskey bottles and sandwich
tins left by the tourist. The resting-place of the dead Macleod lies
desolate; not far off is the garden, with smooth lawn and many
blossoms. A few flowers less, perhaps, and at least the bottles and tins
that defile what should be a holy place, could be cleared away. And this
graveyard, with its broken tombs and roofless chapel, is a ruin of
yesterday. A century ago Dr. Johnson saw it still cared for and in
order. The people in Dunvegan told us that twenty years since the roof
fell in; it has never been repaired. We have been to the graveyard of
old St. Pancras in London, where every few minutes trains rush above the
desecrated graves; but here the dead are unknown, or else, like Mary
Wolstonecraft and Godwin, their tombs have been removed beyond the reach
of modern improvements. We have been to the Protestant burying-ground in
the cemetery of old St. Louis in New Orleans, neglected because those
who lie there belong to the despised faith. And yet neither of these is
dishonored as is the graveyard where sleep the Macleods of the far and
near past, whose greatness the living Macleods never cease to sing.
Beneath the weeds are old gray slabs, with carvings like those of Iona;
in the ruined weed-grown chapel walls are fresh white marble tablets. At
Dunvegan the dead are not forgotten, not despised; they are only
neglected. The mower comes and cuts the long grass from above their
trampled graves. Let the laird make hay while the sun shines, for the
day is coming when the storms, forever brooding over the Isle of Mists,
will break forth with a violence he has never felt before, and he and
his kind will be swept away from off the face of the land.


To-day Macleod of Macleod is a poor man. One year of famine, to keep the
crofters from starving, he emptied his own purse. It is but another
proof of the uselessness of charity in the Hebrides. What did it profit
the crofters that Macleod became for their sake a bankrupt? They still
starve. He who would really help them must be not only their benefactor,
but their emancipator.

From Dunvegan to


it was all moorland. The shadeless road ran for miles between the
heather, from which now and again, as we passed, rose the startled
grouse. Far in front were the Cuchullins, only their high, jagged peaks
showing above the clouds that hung heavy about them. The little Struan
inn, which we had to ourselves, was low down by the water, at the foot
of a wide hill-side planted with turnips. On the brow of the hill, like
so many bowlders in the mud, were strewn the huts of a miserable
village. Manse and kirk were at a becoming distance across the road.

Though this was after the 12th of August, when the Wilderness of Skye is
supposed to be of some use, we saw in miles of moorland one man
fishing, and a second shooting; for the latter a carriage waited on the
road below. In order that these two, and perhaps half a dozen more like
them, should have a fortnight's amusement, the land from Dunvegan to
Sligachan has been cleared of its inhabitants. On the high-road between
these two places--a distance of about twenty-two or twenty-three
miles--there are not above a dozen huts, and only one or two decent
houses. It is true, there is a large and flourishing distillery.

After Struan we were still on the moors. The only breaks in the monotony
were the showers, the mile-stones, and the water-falls. The mountains,
upon which we had counted for the beauty of the walk, were now
completely lost in the clouds. Not until we were within two miles of
Sligachan did the thick veil before them roll slowly up, showing us
peaks rising beyond peaks, rugged hollows, and deep precipices. But it
fell again almost at once, and for the rest of the way we saw but one
high mountain coming out and being swallowed up again in the mist and

Near the inn, and a hundred yards or so from the road, was a reedy pool.
A man stood in the water, a woman on the shore, both silently fishing in
the rain. It is in duck-puddles like this--in which, were they at home,
an American boy would sail his boat or throw his line to his heart's
content--that guests in Highland inns, by special kindness of the
landlord, are allowed to fish, this permission being advertised as a
leading attraction of the inn.

We intended to stay a day or two in


We wanted to see the Cuchullins and the much-talked-about Loch Coruisk.
But here we found that we were again on the tourist route from which we
had gone so far astray. There was not a room to be had in the inn. It
was full of immaculately dressed young ladies and young Oxford men, all
with their knickerbockers at the same degree of bagginess, their
stockings turned down at the same angle. We might have thought that the
landlady objected to tramps when the company was so elegant, had she not
offered to put us up in the drawing-room and found places for us at the
_table-d'hôte_ luncheon. The talk was all of hotels and lochs and glens
and travels. How long have you been in Skye? Is this your first visit?
Did you come by Loch Maree? At what hotel did you stay in Oban? But
there was not a word about cottages; for there is nothing in Sligachan,
or near it, as far as we could see, but this swell hotel, which seemed
very good.

Beds in the drawing-room meant to be at the mercy of the company. We did
not hesitate. And still the moors stretched out before us. No one who
has not tramped in Skye can imagine its dreariness. In Portree, a
miniature Oban, we lost all courage. We might have gone back to Loch
Coruisk. We might have tramped to take a nearer view of the Old Man of
Storr, which we had already seen in the distance. We might have walked
to Armadale, or steamed to Strome Ferry. There were, in fact, many
things we could and should have done; but we had seen enough of the
miserable life in the islands--those great deserts, with but here and
there a lovely oasis for the man of wealth. Our walks had been long; we
were tired physically and sick mentally.

And so, early one morning, we took the boat at Portree and steamed back
to the main-land; past Raasay, where Dr. Johnson stayed, and where there
was a big house with beautiful green lawn and fine woods; past Glenelg,
where we should have landed to follow the Doctor's route, but the
prospect of a thirty miles' walk to reach the nearest inn made cowards
of us; past Armadale, now as when Pennant saw it, "a seat, beautifully
wooded, gracing most unexpectedly this almost treeless tract;" past one
island of hills after another; and thus into the Sound of Mull, to get a
glimpse of Tobermory in sunshine. It was a lovely day; sea and sky and
far islands blue, the water like glass; though, before it had come to
an end, we had twice fled to the cabin from heavy showers. There were
many sight-seers on board, and we could but wonder why. The women read
novels, the men went to sleep. But they had done their duty--they had
been to Scotland for the holidays; they had probably seen the Quiraing
and Dunvegan. But they had not gone our way. The coach roads are those
from which the least misery is visible.

That evening Oban did its best for us. The sun went down in red fire
beyond Mull's now purpling hills. And as the burning after-glow cooled
into the quiet twilight, we looked for the last time on the island of
Mull. It seemed in its new beauty to have found peace and rest. May this
seeming have become reality before we again set foot on Hebridean

     NOTE.--The Crofters' Act of 1886 was supposed to do away with
     the crofters' wrongs. As yet it has accomplished little. In
     some cases the Commissioners appointed for the purpose have
     lowered the extortionate rents which crofters have been
     starving for years to pay. Now that agitation in the islands
     has made it absolutely necessary that something should be done
     for the people, in one or two test cases, those clauses of the
     act which prevent landlords evicting tenants at their own
     pleasure have been enforced. Beyond this the condition of the
     people is absolutely no better than it was before the act was
     passed. They have not enough land to support them, and when
     they appeal for more, their landlord answers, as Lady Matheson
     has just answered her small tenants in the Lewis, "The land is
     mine; you have nothing to do with it." Nothing has been done
     for the cotters who have no land at all; nothing for fishermen,
     who are, if possible, worse off at the end of the fishing
     season than they were at the beginning. The money appropriated
     for the building of piers and harbors and the purchase of boats
     has not as yet been put to its proper use.




One always hears of Highland scenery at its best; one usually sees it at
its worst. We found the trip from Oban to Inverness up the Caledonian
Canal as tedious as it is said to be charming. The day was gray and
misty and rainy. In the first boat we sat in the cabin, in the second
under an awning. Occasionally we went on deck to look for the sights of
the journey.

As we steamed up Loch Linne a Scotchman pointed out Ben-Nevis.

"Well," said J----, critically, "if you were to put a top on it, it
might make a fairly decent mountain."

After that we were left to find the sights for ourselves.

The day would have been unbearably dull but for the exertions of a Mr.
Macdonell. He was, I am as ashamed to say as he seemed to be, our
fellow-countryman. He did not look in the least like an American, nor
like an Englishman, though his ulster, coat, trousers, collar, necktie,
gloves, and hat were all so English. He was a middle-aged man,
handsome, and gentlemanly enough until he began to talk. At the very
start he told everybody on board in general and each individual in
particular that he was a Macdonell. As all the people about here are
Macdonells, no one was startled. The name in these parts is rather more
common than, and about as distinguished as, Smith in the Directory.

"I'm a Macdonell," he said, "and I'm proud of it. It's a great clan. No
matter what our nationality may be now, sir, we're all Macdonells still.
I'll tell you the way we do in our clan. Not long ago one of the
Macdonells of Lochaber was married. He was not very rich--he had about
£12,000 a year perhaps--and the Macdonells thought it would be a nice
thing to give him a present of money from Macdonells all over the world.
There was not a Macdonell who did not respond. I was in Melbourne at the
time, and I was proud to give my guinea. Now, how different it was with
Grant, that man who was President of the United States. The clan Grant
tried to do the same thing when one of their chief's family was married,
and the factor sent to this Grant, and said they would be very proud and
had no doubt he would be very glad to contribute to this happy occasion
in the old clan. And what do you think he answered? He indorsed on the
letter sent him--I saw it myself--that he was not one of the tenantry,
and therefore would not contribute. That shows what a snob he was. But
it's very different with the Macdonells. I'll tell you what happened to
me the other day near Banavie. I lost one of my gloves; they were
driving gloves--expensive gloves, you know. I gave the odd one to the
driver, and said if he could find the other he would have a pair. The
next day he came to me with both gloves. 'Sir,' he said, 'I cannot keep
them; I too am a Macdonell!' I gave him the other glove and a guinea.
That shows the fine clannish feeling."

We have heard that there is a proverb about fools and Americans.

Mr. Macdonell stood on the upper deck to look towards the country of the
Macdonells, which he could not see through the mist. He took out his
guide-book and read poetry and facts about his clan, to two American
girls, until, quite audibly, they pronounced it all stuff and him a
bore. He praised the Macdonell chiefs to Englishmen until they laughed
almost in his face. "The Duke of New York," they called him before
evening. He sang the praises of his Macdonell land to any one who would
listen. "I like it better than Switzerland or our own country," he said;
"I'm coming back next year to rent a shooting-place. But the trouble is
the people here don't like us. It's the fault of men like Carnegie. He
comes and gives them £20,000 for a library. And then what does he do?
He makes a speech against their queen. It's shocking. It's atrocious."

I wonder why Americans, as soon as they borrow the Englishman's clothes,
must add his worst traits to their own faults. "That kind of American,"
a Londoner on board said to us, "has all the arrogance and insolence of
a lord combined with the ignorance and snobbishness of a cad." He was
right. Of all the men who rent the great deer forests of Scotland, none
are such tyrants as the American millionaires who come over, as Mr.
Macdonell probably will next summer, for the shooting. More than one
Scotchman we met told us so plainly. There is a famous case where the
cruelty of an American sportsman, who plays the laird in the Highlands,
so far outdid that of the real laird that the latter came forward to
defend his people against it! Now that the war of emancipation is being
fought from one end of Great Britain to the other, it is to our shame
that there are Americans who uphold the oppressors. One might think we
struggled for freedom at home only to strive against it abroad. Mrs.
Stowe could write "Uncle Tom's Cabin" on behalf of slaves in the United
States; in Great Britain she saw only the nobility and benevolence of
the slave-driver. From the plantations of the South there never rose
such a cry of sorrow and despair as that which rang through the glens
and straths of Sutherland when men were driven to the sea to make room
for sheep. And yet to Mrs. Stowe this inhuman chase was but a sublime
instance of the benevolent employment of superior wealth and power in
shortening the struggle of advancing civilization, and elevating in a
few years a whole community to a point of education and material
prosperity which, unassisted, they might never have attained. You might
as well call the slavery of negroes a sublime instance of the power of
traders to shorten the natural course of human development, since if
left to themselves the blacks could not have advanced beyond the savage
state in which they were found. I fear the American love for a lord is
not exaggerated, if even Mrs. Stowe could be blinded by it.

There was little to break the monotony of the journey except the
Macdonells. "If the sun only shone," Mrs. Macdonell explained, "there
would be the lights and shadows." As it was, however, water and sky and
shores were of uniform grayness. Now and then we passed the ruins of an
old castle. At a place whose name I have forgotten the boat stopped that
everybody might walk a mile or more to see a water-fall. It may have
been our loss that we did not go with the rest; certainly a party of
Frenchmen on their return declared it _une cascade vraiment charmante_.
At Fort Augustus the boat was three-quarters of an hour getting through
the locks, and in the mean time enterprising tourists climbed the tower
of the new Benedictine monastery, which stands where was once the old
fort. We went instead to the telegraph office, and secured a room in
Inverness, and gave the landlord an order for the letters we hoped were
waiting for us at the bank. Young Benedictines in black gowns, like
students of the Propaganda on the Pincian, were walking out two by two.

These were the day's excitements.

As we neared Inverness, Mr. Macdonell was again on deck. "I always go to
the Caledonian Hotel in Inverness," he told us. "What I like is to stay
at the best hotels, where I meet the society of England and
Scotland--the real society. There's the Royal Hotel in Edinburgh; it
suits me because you are sure to find it full of good English and Scotch
society. I must always have the best society. Besides, they're very good
hotels, both of them. In our country we boast of the products of the
Chesapeake; but we have nothing so delicious, nothing so delicate, as
the fresh herring they will serve you for breakfast at the Caledonian."

As we drove from the boat to


we passed the stage of the Caledonian Hotel. In it sat the Macdonell
with a family of Jews, and an Englishman and his daughter who,
throughout the journey, had shown themselves so superior, we should not
wonder some day to find them behind the counter of an Oxford Street
store. They were all on their way to mingle with the real society of
England and Scotland.

It probably was a pleasure to Mr. Macdonell to find that the tobacconist
next to the hotel, and the dry goods merchant but a few doors off, were
his fellow-clansmen. In fact, every other banner--I mean sign--flung out
on the outward walls of Inverness bore his name.

Our social pretensions were more modest. We went to the Station Hotel
for comfort, and trusted to luck for society. In the great hall of the
hotel we first realized the full extent of our shabbiness. Our knapsacks
shrank out of sight of porters and maids. The proprietor was too busy
distributing rooms to decently dressed travellers--the most gorgeous of
whom gloried in his allegiance to the _Police Gazette_ of New York--to
notice us. But as he paused for a moment, J---- asked if there were any
letters for Mr. Pennell. "Where is Mr. Pennell?" asked the proprietor,
with interest. When he heard where he was, then came the transformation
scene. Two gentlemen in dress-coats, each carrying a diminutive knapsack
preceded us up the stairs; two gentlemen in dress-coats, each carrying a
huge bundle of letters, the accumulation of weeks, followed us. We felt
like a lord mayor's procession, but we did not look it. We were led into
the best bedroom, but before the door was closed we thought we saw
disappointment in the eyes of the proprietor. We at once consulted the
tariff on the wall to learn what it cost to send a telegram in Scotland.
We can only say that it did not prove very expensive, that the hotel was
very good, that everybody was very attentive, and that the society may
have been the best for all we knew.

The next morning we started on foot, all our baggage on our backs, to
the disgust of the gentlemen in dress-coats. We walked at a good pace
out of the town, and on the broad, smooth road that leads to Culloden.
The country was quiet and pastoral, and the way, in places, pleasant and
shady. It was a striking contrast to the western wilderness from which
we had just come.

But twenty miles lay between us and Nairn; like Dr. Johnson, we were
going out of our way to see Culloden Moor and Cawdor Castle. The road
was too good. It set us thinking again of a tricycle on which we could
travel at stimulating speed over country monotonous in its prosperous
prettiness. Walking meant steady trudging all day, and a hasty glance at
castle and moor when we came to them.

It was unbearable. Weeks of experience had taught us all the drudgery
of tramping, none of its supposed delights. We asked people we met if
there was a cycle agent in Inverness. No one knew. Then the trees by the
road-side gave place to open country with waving wheat-fields; and oh,
how hot it grew! Peddlers whom we had passed--the only people, besides
ourselves, we saw tramping in Scotland--overtook and passed us. Two men
went by on bicycles. How cool and comfortable they looked! How hot and
dirty and dusty and miserable we felt! This was too much.

"Confound this walking! If ever I walk again!" said J----; and, almost
within sight of Culloden, he turned. After looking over to where I knew
the moor must be, I meekly followed him, and in silence we went back to

The roads about here being particularly good, there was not a cycle
agent in the town. There was no getting a machine for love or money. It
was now too late to attempt to walk to Nairn. There was nothing to do
but to train it. In the interval of waiting we saw Inverness. It is a
pretty city, with a wide river flowing through it, many bridges--one
with a great stone archway--a new cathedral, and a battlemented,
turreted castle high above the river. Clothes dry on the green bank that
slopes down to the water's edge, women in white caps go and come through
the streets, which, with their gabled houses, show that curious French
feeling found all over the East of Scotland, and even the costumes of
the women help to carry it out.

In Inverness, and in fact all the way to Fraserburgh, J---- made many
notes and sketches, the best, he says, of our journey. All but a few
have been lost, and so the world will never enjoy them. This is sad, but
true. If any one should happen to find the sketch-book he need not
return it in hopes of a reward. J---- has no use for it at this moment.
In fact, the finder had better keep it; it may be valuable some day.

When the train reached


"Well," said J----, in triumph, "we've got through a day's work in half
an hour;" and we dropped our knapsacks at the hotel and set out for
Cawdor, which is five miles from the town.

The day so far had been fine. Once we were on the road again the sun
went behind the clouds, mist fell over the country before us. A lady in
a dog-cart warned us of rain, and offered us a lift. To make up for the
morning's weakness, we refused heroically. There was nothing by the way
but broad fields of grain, which seemed broader after the wretched
little patches of Skye and Harris, and large farm-houses, larger by
comparison with Hebridean hovels. When the roofs and gables of the
castle came in sight, had we had our Macbeth at our fingers' ends, I
have no doubt we might have made an appropriate quotation. A long fence
separated two fields; on each post sat a solemn rook, and hundreds more
made black the near grass. But we did not call them birds of ill-omen
and speak of the past as we should have done; J---- only said it was
right to find so many cawing things at the gate of Cawdor Castle.

I wish that we had found nothing worse. Just as we reached it the mist
turned to heavy rain. This is the depressing side of sight-seeing in
Scotland; you must take your holidays in water-proofs. J---- made
several sketches, for the rain poured in such torrents our stay was
long. We stood under the old gate-way and at the window of the porter's
lodge. The sketches were very charming, very beautiful, but they are
lost! We walked about in the rain and looked at the castle from every
side. But as everybody who has travelled in Scotland has described
Cawdor, there is no special reason why I should do it again. The
sketches would have been original.

The most provoking part of it was that we had scarce left the castle a
mile behind when the rain became mist again; at the third mile-stone we
were once more in a dry world.

Boswell called Nairn "a miserable place." Dr. Johnson said next to
nothing about it. Perhaps the people laughed at them as they did at us.
We thought their manners miserable, though their town now is decent
enough. It is long and narrow, stretching from the railway-station to
the sea. After the hotels and shops, we came to the fishermen's quarter.
The houses were mostly new; a few turned old gables and chimneys to the
street. Women in white caps, with great baskets on their backs, strode
homeward in the twilight. Everywhere brown nets were spread out to dry,
boats lay along the sands, beyond was the sea, and the smell of the fish
was over it all.

The next morning we learned from the maid that Macbeth's blasted heath
was but a few miles from Nairn; all the theatricals went there, she
said. We made a brave start; but bravery gave out with the first mile.
Walking was even more unbearable than it had been the day before. There
could be nothing more depressing than to walk on a public highway
through a well-cultivated country under a hot sun. Already, when we came
to the near village of Auldearn, we had outwalked interest in everything
but our journey's end. We would not go an extra step for the monuments
the guide-book directs the tourist to see, though the graveyard was
within sight of the road.

Macbeth seems to have shared the fate of prophets in their own country.
We asked a man passing with a goat the distance to Macbeth's Hill, as
it is called on the map. He didna know, he answered. But presently he
ran after us. Was the gentleman we spoke of a farmer? Another man,
however, knew all about it. He had never been to the top of the hill; he
had been told there were trees up there, and that it wasn't different
from the other hills around. And yet he had heard people came great
distances to see it. He supposed we had travelled far just to go up the
hill. He knew from our talk, many words of which he couldna understand,
that we were no from this part of the country. But then sometimes he
couldna understand the broad Scotch of the people in Aberdeenshire.
There were some people hereabouts who could talk only Gaelic. They had
been turned off the Western Islands, and had settled here years ago, but
they still talked only the Gaelic.

He went our way for half a mile or less, and he walked with us. His
clothes were ragged, his feet bare, and over his shoulders was slung a
small bundle done up in a red handkerchief. In the last three years, he
said, he had had but two or three days' work. Work was hard to get. Here
rents were high, farmers complained, and this year the crops were ruined
because of the long drought. He did think at times of going to America.
He had a sister who had gone to live in Pittsburg. It might be a good
thing. There are Scotchmen who have done well in Pittsburg. He left us
with minute directions. The hill, though not far from the road, which
now went between pine woods and heather, could not be seen from it. We
came to the point at which we should have turned to the blasted heath.

"It's a blasted nuisance," J---- said, and we kept straight on to the
nearest railway-station.

This was Brodie. The porters told us there was a fine castle within a
ten minutes' walk, and a train for Elgin in fifteen minutes. We waited
for the train.

We were so tired, so disgusted, that everything put us out of patience.
Even a small boy who had walked with us earlier in the morning to show
us the way, simply by stopping when we stopped and starting when we
started, had driven us almost frantic. I mention this to show how
utterly wearisome a walking tour through beautiful country can be.

At the town of


we were in the humor to moralize on modern degeneracy among the ruins. A
distillery is now the near neighbor of the cathedral. Below the broken
walls, still rich with beautiful carving, new and old gravestones, as at
Iona, stand side by side. In nave and transepts knights lie on old
tombstones, under canopies carved with leaves and flowers; here and
there in the graveyard without are moss-grown slabs with the
death's-head and graceful lettering of the seventeenth century; near by
are ugly blocks from the modern stone-mason. The guide-book quotes some
of the old inscriptions; but it omits one of late date, which should,
however, receive the greatest honor--that of the man who cared for the
ruins with reverence and love until the Government took them in charge.
These ruins are very beautiful. Indeed, nowhere does the religious
vandalism of the past seem more monstrous than in Scotland. The
Government official asked us to write our names in the Visitors' Book;
he made it seem a compliment by saying that it was not everybody's name
he wanted. We thought him a man of much greater intelligence than the
Glasgow verger. He could see, he said, that J---- knew something about
cathedrals and architecture.

We found nothing else of interest in Elgin. It had a prosperous look,
and we saw not a trace of the old timbered houses with projecting upper
stories of which Dr. Johnson writes. The remainder of our stay we spent
in a restaurant near the station, where we talked politics with a
farmer. He lectured us on free-trade. Scotch farmers cry for protection,
he said, but they don't know what it means. Free-trade is good for the
bulk of the people, and what would protection do for the farmer?
Nothing! If he got higher prices, the landlord would say, Now you can
afford to pay me higher rent, and he would pocket the few shillings'

We talked with many other farmers in the east of Scotland. Sometimes we
journeyed with them in railway-carriages; sometimes we breakfasted and
dined with them in hotels. They all had much to say about protection and
free-trade, and we found that Henry George had been among them. Their
ideas of his doctrine of the nationalization of the land were at times
curious and original. I remember a farmer from Aberdeenshire who told us
that he believed in it thoroughly, and then explained that it would give
each man permission, if he had money enough, to buy out his landlord.

After our lunch at Elgin we again got through a day's work in less than
an hour. We went by train to


a place of which we had never heard before that afternoon. How J----
happened to buy tickets for it I cannot explain, since he never made it
quite clear to me. We found it a large and apparently thriving fishing
town, with one long line of houses low on the shore, another above on
the hill, and a very good hotel, the name of which I am not sure we knew
at the time; certainly we do not remember it now.


It was at Buckie that J---- made several of the best sketches in the
lost sketch-book in the evening as we watched the boats sail silently
out from the harbor. The sun had just set. The red light of the
after-glow shone upon the water. Against it, here and there, the brown
sails stood out in strong relief. Other boats lay at anchor in the cool
gray of the harbor.

In the morning we made a new start on foot. Now and then, for a short
distance, the road went inland across treeless, cultivated country; but
the greater part of the time it lay near the sea, and kept wandering in
and out of little fishing villages, in each of which the lost
sketch-book came into play. They were all much alike; there was usually
the harbor, where the fishing-boats were moored, some with brown sails
hung out to dry and flapping slowly in the breeze; others with long
lines of floats stretched from mast to mast; and as it was not only low
tide but near the end of the fishing season, all were drawn up in
picturesque masses in the foreground, the light of sea and sky bright
and glittering behind them. Carts full of nets, men and women with huge
bundles of them on their backs, were always on their way either up or
down the hill at whose foot the village nestled; or on the level at its
top the nets were spread like great snares, not for birds, but for any
one who tried to walk across them. Boxes and barrels of salted fish
were piled along the street. In the air was the strong smell of
herrings. In every village new houses were being or had just been built,
but the soft gray smoke hovering above the roofs toned down their
aggressive newness. In their midst was the plain white kirk.


There were so many villages that we could not complain of monotony; and
then sometimes, on the stretch of beach beyond, dismantled boats in
various stages of decline were pulled up out of reach of the tide.
Sometimes on the near links men were playing golf. Once we passed three,
each putting his little white ball on a bit of turf. They were very
serious about it. "Now to business," we heard one say as we went by. But
it grew very hot towards noon, and in the heat our first enthusiasm
melted. When Cullen came in sight we were again declaring that
nothing would induce us to walk another step.

[Illustration: NEAR CULLEN.]

However, a hearty lunch changed our minds. The truth is, we hated to
give in. Though we were quite certain we would never tramp again, we
were unwilling to confess our one walk a failure. At the hotel we were
told that the road to Banff, our next stopping-place, kept inland, but
the landlady thought that to the nearest village at least there was a
path by the shore. A man on the outskirts of the town tried to dissuade
us from going that way; there was such a brae to be climbed, he said.
But there seemed no doubt about the path. When we persisted, he walked
back with us to direct us the better, J---- talking to him about the
brae as if he had never heard of a hill in his life, the man describing
the difficulties before us as if ours was an Alpine expedition. The hill
was steep enough. At the top there was no path, but instead a field of
tall prickly furze, through which we waded. Oh, the misery of that five
minutes' walk! At every step we were stung and pricked by hundreds of
points sharper than needles. And after that we skirted wheat and turnip
fields, because when we tried to cross them, as we were not sportsmen,
there was some one near at hand to stop us. We went up and down ravines,
and picked our way through tall grass at the very edge of sheer cliffs.
The afternoon was hotter than the morning had been. A warm haze hung
over the level stretch of country and the distant hills. The sky seemed
to have fallen down upon the sea; there was not a line to mark where it
met the water. The few brown-sailed boats looked as if they were forcing
their way between, holding up the heavens on their masts.

[Illustration: BIT OF MACDUFF.]

In one place, on a high rock jutting out into the sea, was a low broken
wall of rough masonry, all that is left of Findlater Castle.

There was no use in trying to keep up any longer. Our backs ached, our
shoulders were cut; we were hot, dusty, exhausted, and, in a word, at
the end of our physical and moral forces. This scramble on the cliffs
ended our walking tour.

At Sandend we took the train for Banff; but first we went down to the
shore; for Sandend was a picturesque little village, with all its gables
turned towards the sea, big black boats on the beach, rocks beyond, and
a pretty blue bay of its own. Three artists had left their easels to eat
buns out of a brown-paper bag and drink beer out of bottles, under the
shade of one of the boats. J----, having already learned the
exclusiveness of British artists, took out his sketch-book at a safe
distance. He only spoke to them to ask the way to the station. He did
not dare to talk about work.

A little farther on we again asked the way, this time of a girl hanging
up clothes. J----'s questions and her answers were typical of many
conversations, bad for one's temper, that we held on the east coast.

"Where is the railway-station?"

"What station?"

"Where the train comes in."

"There;" and she pointed to a house beyond the village.

"How do you get there?"

"By the road."

"Can you go up by the hill?"


"Which is better?"

"I don't know."

"Which is shorter?"

"Up the hill."

We started up the hill, but there was no path. "There is no path," we
said to her.

"No, there's no path."

We came to


late in the afternoon, just as the fishing-boats were putting out to
sea, one beyond another on the gray water, the farthest but faint specks
on the horizon. The best thing about Banff is that in fifteen or twenty
minutes you can be out of it and in Macduff. The shore here makes a
great curve. On one point is Banff, on the other Macduff; half-way
between, a many-arched bridge spans the river Deveron, and close by the
big house of the Earl of Fife shows through the trees of his park. High
on the hill of Macduff stands the white kirk; it overlooks the town,
with its many rows of fishermen's houses, and the harbor, where the
black masts rise far above the gray walls, and the fishermen spread out
their nets to dry, and the dark-sailed boats are always coming and
going, and boys paddle in the twilight. And if you go to the far end of
the harbor, where the light-house is, you look to the spires and
chimneys and roofs of Banff climbing up their hill-side, and beyond to a
shadowy point of land like a pale gray cloud-bank on the water.

It was easy to see what they thought of us at the Fife Arms, where we
stayed in Banff. We were given our breakfast with the nurse and children
of an A. R. A., while the great man breakfasted in state in a near
dining-room. They ate very like ordinary children, but their clothes
showed them to be little boys and girls of æsthetic distinction. I fear,
however, we were not properly impressed.

[Illustration: NEAR BANFF.]

There was no doubt that now our walking was all done. We asked about
the stage for Fraserburgh, as if staging with us was a matter of course.
It was a relief not to begin the day by strapping heavy knapsacks to our
backs. The hours of waiting were spent partly in strolling through the
streets of Banff, where here and there is an old gray house with pretty
turret at its corner, or quaint old inscription with coat of arms or
figures let into its walls; partly in sitting on the beach looking out
on a hot blue sea.

But hot as it was in the morning, a sharp, cold wind was blowing when,
at three o'clock, we took our seats in the little old-fashioned stage
that runs between Banff and Fraserburgh. Stage and coachman and
passengers seemed like a page out of Dickens transposed to Scotland.
Inside was a very small boy, put there by a fat woman in black, and
left, with many exhortations and a couple of buns, to make the journey
alone; opposite to him sat a melancholy man who saw but ruin staring in
the face of farmers and fishermen alike. At every corner in Banff and
Macduff we stopped for more passengers, until the stage, elastic as it
seemed, was full to overflowing, and we took refuge on the top. Here the
seats were crowded with men, their heads tied up in scarfs. The coachman
was carrier as well, and at different points in the open country women
and children waited by the road to give him, or to take from him,
bundles and boxes and letters. He was the typical cheery carrier. He
had a word for everybody, even for a young man who dropped his
wheelbarrow to flap his arms and greet us with a vacant smile. He was a
puir thing, the driver explained, who went wrong only four years ago. He
was the third we had seen in two days.

[Illustration: BANFF, FROM MACDUFF.]

Many of the carrier's jokes we lost. A commercial traveller, who sat
next to us, supposed we could not understand some of the expressions
hereabouts. He might better have said we could not understand the
language. We could make out enough, however, to find that one joke went
a long way. A man in the front seat, trying to light his pipe in the
wind, set off the whole box of matches. "That's extravagance," said the
carrier; and when another box was handed to the man, he told him that
these were safety matches--it took only one to light a pipe; and this he
kept saying over and over again, with many chuckles, for the next
half-hour. We had a specimen, too, of Scotch humor. At one
stopping-place the commercial traveller got down and went into the
public-house. A family party scrambled up and filled every seat, his
with the rest. J---- remonstrated; but the man of the party answered
that he paid his money for a seat as well as anybody else. "An empty
seat's naebody's seat," he argued, and carrier and passengers roared at
his fun.

The country was dreary, for all its cultivation. The fields were without
tree or hedge to break their monotony. The villages were full of new
houses. There was nothing striking or picturesque until we came within
sight of Fraserburgh. Far across a level stretch we first saw it, its
spires rising high above gray and red roofs. The near meadows were dark
with fishing-nets; in places fishermen were at work spreading them over
the grass; and we began to pass carts heavily laden with their brown
masses, and men and women bent under the same burdens.


We walked out after supper. Rain was falling, and the evening was
growing dark. Down by the harbor carts were still going and coming; men
were still busy with their nets. Along the quay was a succession of
basins, and these opened into others beyond. All were crowded with
boats, and their thickly clustered masts seemed, in the gathering
shadows, like a forest of branchless, leafless trees. One by one lights
were hung out. On the town side of the quay, in crypt-like rooms and
under low sheds, torches flamed and flared against a background of
darkness. Their strong light fell upon women clothed in strange stuffs
that glistened and glittered, their heads bound with white cloths. They
were bending over shiny, ever-shifting masses piled at their feet, and
chanting a wild Gaelic song that rose and fell with the wailing of
all savage music. As we first saw them, from a distance, they might have
been so many sorceresses at their magic rites. When we drew near we
found that they were but the fish-curers' gutters and packers at work.
Thanks to Cable and Lafcadio Hearn, we know something of the songs of
work at home; but who in England cares about the singing in these
fishing towns--singing which is only wilder and weirder than that of the
cotton pressers of Louisiana? To the English literary man, however--the
Charles Reades are the exceptions--I fear the gutters would be but
nasty, dirty fisher persons. Now and then groups of these women passed
us, walking with long strides, their arms swinging, and their short
skirts and white-bound heads shining through the sombre streets. Over
the town was the glow of the many fires.

[Illustration: FRASERBURGH.]

In the morning there was less mystery, but not less picturesqueness. We
were up in time to go to the harbor with the fishermen's wives, and
watch the boats come in. Everything was fresh after a night of rain. It
was still early, and the sun sent a path of gold across the sea just
where the boats turned on their last tack homeward. Each brown sail was
set in bold relief against the shining east, and then slowly lowered, as
the fishermen with their long poles pushed the boats into the already
crowded harbor. At once nets were emptied of the fish, which lay
gleaming like silver through the brown meshes. Women and boys came to
fill baskets with the fresh herrings; carts were loaded with them. In
other boats men were hanging up their floats and shaking out their nets.
The water was rich with the many black and brown reflections, only
brightened here and there by lines of blue or purple or white from the
distinguishing rings of color on each mast. There was a never-ending
stream of men and carts passing along the quay. Many fishermen with
their bags were on their way to the station, for the fishing season was
almost over. So they said. But when one thousand boats came in, and
twenty thousand fisher-folk were that day in Fraserburgh, to us it
looked little like the end. In all this busy place we heard no English.
Only Gaelic was spoken, as if we were once more in the Western Islands.

It was the same in the streets. The day's work in the curing-houses was
just about to begin. Girls and women in groups of threes and fours were
walking towards them. In the morning light we could see that the greater
number were young. All were neat and clean, with hair carefully parted
and well brushed, little shawls over their shoulders, but nothing on
their heads. They carried their working clothes under their arms, and
kept knitting as they walked. Like the men, they all talked Gaelic.


When they got to work, we found that those strange stuffs which had
glistened in the torch-light were aprons and bibs smeared with scales
and slime, that the white head-dresses were worn only for cleanliness,
that the shining masses at their feet were but piles of herring. I have
never seen women work so hard or so fast. Their arms, as they seized the
fish, gutted them, and threw them in the buckets, moved with the
regularity and the speed of machines. Indeed, there could not be a
busier place than Fraserburgh. All day long the boats kept coming in,
nets were emptied, fish carted away. The harbor, the streets, the fields
beyond where nets were taken to dry, the curing-houses, were alike
scenes of industry. If the women put down their knives, it was only to
take up their knitting. And yet these men and women, working incessantly
by day and by night, were almost all Western Islanders--the people who,
we are told, are so slovenly and so lazy! No one who comes with them to
the east coast for the fishing season will ever again believe in the
oft-repeated lies about their idleness.

There were no signs of rest until Saturday evening. Then no boats went
out, and the harbor and curing-houses were deserted. The streets were
full of men and women walking about for pleasure. The greatest crowd was
in the market-place, where a few "cheap Jacks" drove their trade. Two,
who dealt in china, as if to make up for their poor patter, threw cups
and saucers recklessly into the air, breaking them with great clatter,
while the women and girls they had attracted stood by and bought

The fishermen had gathered about a third, who sold cheap and tawdry
ornaments, but who could patter. When we first came near he was holding
up six imitation gold watch-chains, and offering the buyers prizes into
the bargain. "O ye men of little faith!"--shaking his fist at
them--"can't any of you favor me with a shillin'? You don't want 'em,
gen'lemen? Then there'll be smashin' of teeth and tearin' of hair.
Glory! glory hallylujah!" All this, I regret to say, was interspersed
with stories that do not bear repetition. But he sold his watch-chains
without trouble. "And now, gen'lemen, for any of you that wants to take
home a present to your wife and chil'ren, here's an album. It'd adorn a
nobleman's mansion, and wouldn't disgrace a fisherman's cottage. It's
bound in moroccer and stamped with gold, and'll hold many pictures. I'll
only sell half a dozen, and it's the very thing you wants. You'll have
one? Well, sir, I can't reach you, but these gen'lemen'll pass it

And then he began again with the stories and the Scripture until he had
sold out all his stock of albums and note-books and cheap jewellery.


It was the hint about presents to those left behind which bore greatest
weight with the fishermen. It never failed. But we remembered their
cottages and the sadness of their homes, and it angered us that they
should be duped into wasting their hard-won earnings on tawdry
ornaments. It seems to be their fate to be cheated by every one. Even
the peddler, like the parson and the landlord, can pervert Scripture to
their discomfort.

Still, there was a pleasant suggestion of holiday-making in the square.
It was the first time we had seen the Western Islanders amusing
themselves. True, they did it very solemnly. There was little laughter
and much silence; but at least a touch of brightness was given to the
gloom of their long life of work and want.

Even on Sunday we thought the people more cheerful. In the morning the
women, the little shawls over their shoulders, their heads still bare,
the men in blue cloth, many without coats, again filled the streets on
their way to church. In the afternoon we walked to two near fishing
villages. In one an old fisherman was talking about Christ to a few
villagers. We sat a while close to the sea, looking out to the next
village, gray against gray gold-lined clouds, to the water with the
light falling softly across it, to the little quiet pools in among the
low rocks of the shore, to the big black boats drawn up on the beach.
And then, as we walked back to Fraserburgh, the mist fell suddenly. But
the road near the town was crowded with the men in blue cloth and the
women in short skirts. Some were singing hymns as they walked. To us
they looked strong and healthy, and even happy. It seemed as if this
life on the east coast must make up for many of the hardships they
endure in the deserts of their western home.

That same evening in the hotel we heard about life in Fraserburgh, which
looks so prosperous to the stranger. A Catholic priest came into the
dining-room after supper. He seemed very tired. He had been visiting the
sick all day, he told us. Measles had broken out among the women and
girls from the Hebrides. Many had already died; more had been carried to
the hospital. The rooms provided for them by the curers were small and
overcrowded. So long as they were kept in their present quarters, so
long would disease and death be their portion. Their condition was
dreadful; but they worked hard, and never complained. He came from the
west coast of Ireland, he said, where Irish poverty is at its worst, but
not even there had he seen misery as great as that of the Western
Islanders. He knew it well. He had lived with them in the Long Island,
where many are Catholics. If the Highlands were represented by
eighty-five members, all wanting Home Rule, more would have been heard
about destitution in the Hebrides. In the prosperous days of the east
coast fisheries the people's burden had been less heavy; but now they
came to the fishing towns of the east, the women to sicken and to die,
the men to beg their way back as best they could. There were too many
fishermen here, just as at home landlords thought there were too many


The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle shall lament,
and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.

The epidemic and its causes became the town talk. The Gaelic Free Kirk
minister, differ as he might from the Catholic priest on every other
point, on this could but agree with him. He told us the same story in
words as strong. It was shameful, he said, the way these poor girls were
being killed. He had not known it before; but now that he did, he could
not and would not let the matter rest. An indignation meeting of the
people of Fraserburgh was called for the day we left. The town was
placarded with the notices. Since then the report must have gone abroad.
Now that agitation in Lewis is forcing attention to the islands and
their people, in London there has been formed a committee of _ladies_ to
look into the condition of the girls and women who work on the east

That last morning, as we stood by the hotel door, the funeral of one of
the dead women passed up the street towards the station. Fifty or sixty
fishermen followed the coffin. When we took our seats in a third-class
carriage we found the Free Kirk minister there before us. The coffin had
just been put on the train. Two girls came up to speak to him. He
stretched out his hand; one took and held it as she struggled to answer
his questions; the other turned away with the tears streaming down her
face. As the train started they stood apart, their heads bent low, their
faces buried in their shawls, both crying as if their hearts would
break. And so, at the last, we saw only the sadness of Fraserburgh.

We had intended going to Peterhead and the smaller fishing towns by the
way; but our energy was less inexhaustible than the picturesqueness of
the east coast. Our journey had been over-long. We were beginning to be
anxious to bring it to an end. Now we went straight to


where we at once fell back into ordinary city life. We even did a little
shopping in its fine new streets. Its large harbor seemed empty after
that of Fraserburgh. Many fishing-boats were at sea; many had gone
altogether. The fishing season here was really well over. We walked to
the old town after dinner. In it there is not much to be seen but the
university tower with the famous crown atop, and the cathedral, which
looked massive and impressive in the twilight. We saw much more of
Aberdeen; but we are quite of the same mind as Dr. Johnson, that to
write of such well-known cities "with the solemnity of geographical
description, as if we had been cast upon a newly discovered coast, has
the appearance of a very frivolous ostentation."


From Aberdeen to Edinburgh we trained it by easy stages. We stopped
often; once at


where, like Dr. Johnson, and for that matter, every one else who comes
here, we looked to the Grampian Hills in the distance. The town itself
was not picturesque. The guide-book calls it neat and Flemish, probably
because it has fewer houses with high gables turned towards the street
than can be seen, as a rule, in any Scotch town. But the harbor, of
which the guide-book says less, was fine. We spent hours near the mouth
of the river, looking over to the fishermen's houses on the opposite
shore. There were constant showers as we sat there; every few minutes
the sun came out from the clouds, and the wet roofs glistened and
glittered through the smoke hanging above them. In the morning, women,
packed like herrings in the huge ferry-boats, crossed over to the
curing-houses. Now and then a fishing-boat sailed slowly in.

One sees little from the cars. Of the country through which we passed I
remember only occasional glimpses of the sea and of fishing villages and
of red castles, which made us wish we were still on the road. Now and
then, as we sat comfortably in the railway-carriage, we determined to
walk back to see them, or to get a tricycle at Edinburgh and "do" the
whole east coast over again; but we always left our determinations with
the carriage. Of all the places at which we stopped, I remember best


the sight of which seemed worth his whole journey to Dr. Johnson. Little
is left of the abbey save the broken walls and towers. A street runs
through the old gate-house. The public park and children's play-ground
lie to one side of the ruined church. A few old tombs and tablets and
bits of ornament have been gathered together in the sacristy, which is
in better preservation than the rest of the building. We found them less
interesting than the guide who explained them. He gave a poetical touch
to the usual verger recitation, and indeed to all his talk, of which
there was plenty. 'Twas better to have loved and lost, than never to
have loved at all, was his manner of expressing regret for the loss of
an old engraving of the abbey. There were many hard things in this
world, but grass was soft; why, then, should I choose the hard things?
was his way of inviting me to walk on the grass instead of the gravel.
But it was not until he showed us the original copy, full of blots and
corrections, of one of Burns's poems that we found he too was a poet--a
successful poet, it seemed, for he had sold 14,000 copies of his volume
of poems--very few, he thought. If he were a member of the London
Society of Authors he would know better. He had given the last copy to
William Morris, when the latter was in the town. William Morris did not
wear gaudy clothes, not he. He looked like a sailor in his blue flannel
shirt, and there was a slit in his hat. And when he returned to London
he sent his "Jason" to his fellow-poet in Arbroath.

As we were leaving, he told us how, one day, two ladies had driven up to
the abbey, looked at nothing, but at once asked him to recite his "Abbey
Gate." He did so, and then, without a word, they slipped a guinea into
his hand, and there were tears on their cheeks. He never knew who they
were. After this, we felt our tribute to be very small; but he clasped
our hands warmly at parting. There was something out of the common in
our faces, he said.

We talked to no one else in Arbroath, except to a pessimistic stationer.
While we bought his paper he grumbled because farmers could not sell
their cattle and corn. Some people said the country needed protection;
"but, sir, what have we got to protect?"

Of the rest of the journey to Edinburgh my note-book says nothing, and
little remains in my memory. But I know that when we walked up from the
station to Waverley Bridge, and looked to the gray precipice of houses
of the Old Town, we realized that our long wanderings had not shown us
anything so fine.

And now our journey was at an end. Like Dr. Johnson's, it began and
finished in Edinburgh, but it resembled his in little else. From the
start, we continually took liberties with his route; we often forgot
that he was our guide. We went to places he had never seen; we turned
our backs upon many through which he and Boswell had travelled. But at
least he had helped us to form definite plans without weeks of hard
map-study which they otherwise must have cost us.

We had come back wiser in many ways. In the first place, we had learned
that for us walking on a tour of this kind, or indeed of any kind, is a
mistake. Had we never cycled, perhaps we might not have felt this so
keenly. Our powers of endurance are not, I think, below the average; but
the power to endure so many miles a day on foot is very different from
the capacity to enjoy them; and if on such a trip one proposes, as we
did, to work, without pleasure in the exercise, how can one hope for
good results? But for the two days' coaching on the west coast, the
necessary steaming among the islands, our utter collapse on the east
coast, I am sure we never should have worked at all. Day after day we
were dispirited, disheartened, and only happy when we were not walking.
We went to bed in the evening and got up in the morning wearied and
exhausted. The usual walking tours of which one hears mean a day's
climbing in the mountains, or a day's tramp with bag or knapsack sent
before by train or stage. Under these conditions we probably would not
be the first to give in. But to be as independent as if on a tricycle,
to have one's sketching traps when needed, one must carry a knapsack
one's self. J----'s weighed between twenty-five and thirty pounds; mine,
fifteen. Never before have I appreciated so well the true significance
of Christian's burden. But even worse than this constant strain on our
shoulders was the monotony of our pace. Whether the road was good or
bad, level or hilly, there was no change, no relief. In cycling, for one
hard day's work you know you will have two of pleasure. As for
short-cuts, they are, as a rule, out of the question. One does not know
the country through which one is passing; it is the exception to meet a
native. After cycling more thousands of miles than we have walked
hundreds, we know it to be not mere theorizing when we declare that no
comparison between the two methods of travelling is possible. One is
just enough work to make the pleasure greater; the other is all work.

[Illustration: RUINS AT ARBROATH.]

Our experience has taught us to be sceptical about the tramps of other
days who saw Europe afoot. We wonder if they told the whole story. Of
modern tramps, none has given such a delightful record as has Mr.
Stevenson of the walk he took with a donkey through the Cevennes. And
yet, even with him, if you read between his lines, or, for that matter,
the lines themselves, you realize that, charming as his story is for us,
the reality for him was wearisome, depressing, and often painful, and
that probably to it is to be referred much of his after physical
weakness. We have also had a new light thrown upon the life of tramps at
home, who are so often supposed to have chosen the better part. Theirs
is as much a life of toil as if they broke stones on the same roads over
which they journey. They are not to be envied, but pitied. The next time
one begs from you as he passes, give him something out of your charity;
he deserves it.

However, many drawbacks as there were to our walk, we do not regret it.
In no other way could we have come to know the country and the people
with the same friendly intimacy. For pure enjoyment, it would be best to
go over the greater part of our route in a yacht. From it is to be seen
much beauty and little misery. The coast-line can be followed,
excursions made inland. But a yacht is a luxury for the rich. Besides,
on it one lives one's own life, not that of the country one has come to
visit. On foot, with knapsacks on our backs, we often passed for
peddlers. Certainly we were never mistaken to be tourists of means or
sportsmen. Therefore the people met us as equals and talked to us

We were able to correct the vague and false impressions with which we
had started. If we did not master the geography of all Scotland, I
think--at least on the two coasts as far north as the Caledonian
Canal--we could now pass an examination with credit. We learned that
haggis and oatmeal figure more extensively in books than on hotel
tables; the first we saw not at all, the second but twice, and then it
was not offered to us.

Above all, we learned the burden of Scotland, whose Highlands have been
laid waste, their people brought to silence. But now the people
themselves have broken their long silence, and a cry has gone up from
them against their oppressors. If by telling exactly what we saw we can
in the least strengthen that cry, we shall feel that our journeying has
not been in vain.

                             THE END.

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  "We welcome it as one of the best books of travel that our boys could
  have possibly placed in their hands."--_Schoolmaster._

  Boys' Own Stories.
       By ASCOTT R. HOPE, Author of "Stories of Young Adventurers,"
       "Stories out of School Time," &c. Eight Illustrations. Crown
       8vo., cloth, 5s.

  "This is a really admirable selection of genuine narrative and history,
  treated with discretion and skill by the author. Mr. Hope has not
  gathered his stories from the highway, but has explored far afield in
  less-beaten tracts, as may be seen in his 'Adventures of a Ship-boy' and
  'A Smith among Savages.'"--_Saturday Review._

  The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
       Newly Edited after the Original Editions. Nineteen
       Illustrations. Large crown 8vo., cloth extra, 5s.

  Two Little Confederates.
       By THOMAS NELSON PAGE. With eight full-page illustrations by E.
       W. KEMBLE and A. C. REDWOOD. Square 8vo., cloth, 6s.

  "A charming story."--_American Traveller._


  Half-bound, paper boards, price 3s. 6d. each. Fine Edition, bound in
  parchment, printed on Japan paper, numbered and signed, 30 copies only
  printed, 25 being for sale; terms on application from Booksellers or the

  The Lady from the Sea.
       By HENRIK IBSEN. Translated, with the author's permission, from
       the Norwegian by ELEANOR MARX AVELING. With a Critical
       Introduction by EDMUND GOSSE. Portrait of the Author and

  A London Plane-Tree, and Other Poems.
       By the late AMY LEVY, Author of "The Romance of a Shop," "Reuben
       Sachs," &c. Illustrated by J. BERNARD PARTRIDGE.

  Wordsworth's Grave and Other Poems.
       By WILLIAM WATSON, Author of "The Prince's Quest," &c.

  Sakuntal[=a]; or, The Fatal Ring.
       An Indian Drama by KALIDASA. Translated by Sir WILLIAM JONES,
       and Edited, with an Introduction, by T. W. RHYS DAVIDS, Ph.D.,


  The Volumes average about 300 pp., small cr. 8vo., limp cloth, price 2s.

  Gladys Fane.
       By T. WEMYSS REID. Fifth Edition.

  Mrs. Keith's Crime.
       By Mrs. W. K. CLIFFORD.

  Concerning Oliver Knox.
       By G. COLMORE.

  Miss Bayle's Romance; Or, An American Heiress in Europe.
       By W. FRASER RAE.

  Isaac Eller's Money.
       By Mrs. ANDREW DEAN.

  Chronicles of a Health Resort.
       By A. HERDER.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcribers note:

    Some minor obvious typographical errors have been corrected
    without comment. Footnotes have been moved to underneath the
    paragraph they refer to so as to not disrupt the flow of the

Corrections made: (note: the letter "a" after the page number refers to
the back advertisement pages after the main body of the book.)

     Pg 100 "a whole ship's company to fee [replaced with "feed"]"

     Pg 155 "was a pretty [inserted a comma here] old-fashioned

     Pg 23a (Back advertising section) "Mr. Hope has not gathered his
     stores [replaced with "stories"]"

Multiple versions of words not changed:

     ferryman, ferry-man
     bedroom, bed-rooms

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Our Journey to the Hebrides" ***

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