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Lord Errol's, and having seen his library, had for a time only to look upon the sea, which rolled between us and Norway. Next morning, August 25th, we continued our journey through a country not uncultivated, but so denuded of its woods, that in all this journey I had not travelled an hundred yards between hedges, or seen five trees fit for the carpenter. A few small plantations may be found, but I believe scarcely any thirty years old; at least, they are all posteriour to the Union. This day we dined with a country gentleman, who has in his grounds the remains of a Druid's temple, which, when it is complete, is nothing more than a circle or double circle of stones, placed at equal distances, with a flat stone, perhaps an altar, at a certain point, and a stone taller than the rest at the opposite point. The tall stone is erected, I think, at the south. Of these circles there are many in all the unfrequented parts of the island. The inhabitants of these parts respect them as memorials of the sculpture of some illustrious person. Here I saw a few trees. We lay at Bamff.
August 26th, We dined at Elgin, where we saw the ruins of a noble cathedral; the chapter-house is yet standing. A great part of Elgin is built with small piazzas to the lower story.
We went on to Foris, over the heath where Macbeth met the witches, but had no adventure; only in the way we saw for the first time some houses with fruit trees about them. The improvements of the Scotch are for immediate profit, they do not yet think it quite worth their while to plant what will not produce something to be eaten or sold in a very little time. We rested at Foris.
A very great proportion of the people are barefoot; shoes are not yet considered as necessaries of life. It is still the custom to send out the sons of gentlemen without them into the streets and ways. There are more beggars than I have ever seen in England; they beg if not silently, yet very modestly.
Next day we came to Nairn, a miserable town, but a royal burgh, of which the chief annual magistrate is styled Lord Provost. In the neighbourhood we saw the castle of the old Thane of Cawdor. There is one ancient tower with its battlements and winding stairs yet remaining; the rest of the house is, though not inodern, of later erection.
On the 28th we went to Fort George, which is accounted the most regular fortification in the island. The major of artillery walked with us round the walls, and showed us the principles upon which every part was constructed, and the way in which it could be defended. We dined with the governor Sir Eyre Coote and his officers. It was a very pleasant and instructive day, but nothing puts my honoured mistress out of my mind.
At night we came to Inverness, the last considerable town in the north, where we staid all the next day, for it was Sunday, and saw the ruins of what is called Macbeth's castle. It never was a large house, but was strongly situated. From Inverness we were to travel on horseback.
August 30th, we set out with four horses. We had two Highlanders to run by us, who were
active, officious, civil, and hardy. Our journey was for many miles along a military way made upon the banks of Lough Ness, a water about eighteen miles long, but not I think half a mile broad. Our horses were not bad, and the way was very pleasant; the rock out of which the road was cut was covered with birch trees, fern, and heath. The lake below was beating its bank by a gentle wind, and the rocks beyond the water on the right stood sometimes horrid and wild, and sometimes opened into a kind of bay, in which there was a spot of cultivated ground yellow with
In one part of the way we had trees on both sides for perhaps half a mile.--Such a length of shade perhaps Scotland cannot show in any other place.
You are not to suppose that here are to be any more towns or inns. We came to a cottage which they call the general's hut, where we alighted to dine, and had eggs and bacon, and mutton, with wine, rum, and whiskey. I had water.
At a bridge over the river, which runs into the Ness, the rocks rise on three sides, with a direction almost perpendicular, to a great height; they are in part covered with trees, and exhibit a kind of dreadful magnificence;-standing like the barriers of nature placed to keep different orders of being in perpetual separation. Near this bridge is the Fall of Fiers, a famous cataract, of which, by clambering over the rocks, we obtained a view. The water was low, and therefore we had only the pleasure of knowing that rain would make it at once pleasing and formidable ; there will then be a mighty flood, foaming along a rocky channel, frequently obstructed by protuberances and exasperated by reverberation, at last precipitated with a sudden descent, and lost in the depth of a gloomy chasm.
We came somewhat late to Fort Augustus, where the lieutenant governor met us beyond the gates, and apologised that at that hour he could not, by the rules of a garrison, admit us otherwise than at a narrow door which only one can enter at a time.
We were well entertained and well lodged, and next morning, after having viewed the fort, we pursued our journey.
Our way now lay over the mountains, which are not to be passed by climbing them directly, but by traversing, so that as we went forward we saw our baggage following us below in a direction exactly contrary. There is in these ways much labour but little danger, and perhaps other places of which very terrifick representations are made are not in themselves more formidable. These roads have all been made by hewing the rock away with pickaxes, or bursting it with gunpowder. The stones so separated are often piled loose as a wall by the way-side. We saw an inscription importing the year in which one of the regiments made two thousand yards of the road eastward.
After tedious travel of some hours we came to what I believe we must call a village, a place where there were three huts built of turf, at one of which we were to have our dinner and our bed, for we could not reach any better place that night. This place is called Enock in Glenmorrison. The house in which we lodged was distinguished by a chimney, the rest had only a hole for the smoke. Here we had eggs, and mutton, and a chicken, and a sausage, and rum. In the afternoon tea
was made by a very decent girl in a printed linen she engaged me so much, that I made her a present of Cocker's Arithmetick. I am, &c.
To Mrs. Thrale.
Skie, Sept. 14, 1773. The post, which comes but once a week into these parts, is so soon to go that I have not time to go on where I left off in my last letter. I have been several days in the island of Raarsa, and am now again in the isle of Skie, but at the other end of it,
Skie is almost equally divided between the two great families of Macdonald and Macleod, other proprietors having only small districts. The two great lords do not know within twenty square miles the contents of their own territories.
kept up but ill the reputation of Highland hospitality; we are now with Macleod, quite at the other end of the island, where there is a fine young gentleman and fine ladies. The ladies are studying Earse. I have a cold, and am miserably deaf, and am troublesome to Lady Macleod; I force her to speak loud, but she will seldom speak loud enough.
Raarsa is an island about fifteen miles long and two broad, under the dominion of one gentleman who has three sons and ten daughters; the eldest is the beauty of this part of the world, and has been polished at Edinburgh: they sing and dance, and without expense have upon their table