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THE CRUISE OF THE BETSEY;
A Summer Ramble Among the Fossiliferous Deposits of the Hebrides.
RAMBLES OF A GEOLOGIST;
Ten Thousand Miles Over the Fossiliferous Deposits of Scotland.
HUGH MILLER, LL. D.,
Author of "The Old Red Sandstone," "Footprints of the Creator," "My Schools and Schoolmasters," "The Testimony of the Rocks," Etc.
Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 59 Washington Street. New York: Sheldon and Company. Cincinnati: Geo. S. Blanchard. 1862.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by Gould and Lincoln, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
By a special arrangement with the late Hugh Miller, Gould And Lincoln became the authorized American publishers of his works. By a similar arrangement made with the family since his decease, they will also publish his POSTHUMOUS WORKS, of which the present volume is the first.
Electrotyped by W. F. Draper, Andover, Mass.
Printed by Geo. C. Rand & Avery, Boston.
Naturalists of every class know too well how HUGH MILLER died—the victim of an overworked brain; and how that bright and vigorous spirit was abruptly quenched forever.
During the month of May (1857) Mrs. Miller came to Malvern, after recovering from the first shock of bereavement, in search of health and repose, and evidently hoping to do justice, on her recovery, to the literary remains of her husband. Unhappily the excitement and anxiety naturally attaching to a revision of her husband's works proved over much for one suffering under such recent trial, and from an affection of the brain and spine which ensued; and, in consequence, Mrs. Miller has been forbidden, for the present, to engage in any work of mental labor.
Under these circumstances, and at Mrs. Miller's request, I have undertaken the editing of "The Cruise of the Betsey, or a Summer Ramble among the Fossiliferous Deposits of the Hebrides," as well as "The Rambles of a Geologist," hitherto unpublished, save as a series of articles in the "Witness" newspaper. The style and arguments of HUGH MILLER are so peculiarly his own, that I have not presumed to alter the text, and have merely corrected some statements incidental to the condition of geological knowledge at the time this work was penned. "The Cruise of the Betsey" was written for that well-known paper the "Witness" during the period when a disputation productive of much bitter feeling waged between the Free and Established Churches of Scotland; but as the Disruption and its history possesses little interest to a large class of the readers of this work, who will rejoice to follow their favorite author among the isles and rocks of the "bonnie land," I have expunged some passages, which I am assured the author would have omitted had he lived to reprint this interesting narrative of his geological rambles. HUGH MILLER battled nobly for his faith while living. The sword is in the scabbard: let it rest!
PENDOCK RECTORY, APRIL 1, 1858.
THE CRUISE OF THE BETSEY.
Preparation—Departure—Recent and Ancient Monstrosities—A Free Church Yacht—Down the Clyde—Jura—Prof. Walker's Experiment—Whirlpool near Scarba—Geological Character of the Western Highlands—An Illustration—Different Ages of Outer and Inner Hebrides—Mt. Blanc and the Himalayas "mere upstarts"—Esdaile Quarries—Oban—A Section through Conglomerate and Slate examined—McDougal's Dog-stone—Power of the Ocean to move Rocks—Sound of Mull—The Betsey—The Minister's Cabin—Village of Tobermory—The "Florida," a Wreck of the Invincible Armada—Geologic Exploration and Discovery—At Anchor. 15
The Minister's Larder—No Harbor—Eigg Shoes—Tormentilla erecta—For the Witness' Sake—Eilean Chaisteil—Appearance of Eigg—Chapel of St. Donan—Shell-sand—Origin of Secondary Calcareous Rock suggested—Exploration of Eigg—Pitchstone Veins—A Bone Cave—Massacre at Eigg—Grouping of Human Bones in the Cave—Relics—The Horse's Tooth—A Copper Sewing Needle—Teeth found—Man a worse Animal than his Teeth show him to have been designed for—Story of the Massacre—Another Version—Scuir of Eigg—The Scuir a Giant's Causeway—Character of the Columns—Remains of a Prostrate Forest. 31
Structure of the Scuir—A stray Column—The Piazza—A buried Pine Forest the Foundation of the Scuir—Geological Poachers in a Fossil Preserve—Pinites Eiggensis—Its Description—Witham's Experiments on Fossil Pine of Eigg—Rings of the Pine—Ascent of the Scuir—Appearance of the Top—White Pitchstone—Mr. Greig's Discovery of Pumice—A Sunset Scene—The Manse and the Yacht—The Minister's Story—A Cottage Repast—American Timber drifted to the Hebrides—Agency of the Gulf Stream—The Minister's Sheep. 49
An Excursion—The Chain of Crosses—Bay of Laig—Island of Rum—Description of the Island—Superstitions banished by pure Religion—Fossil Shells—Remarkable Oyster Bed—New species of Belemnite—Oolitic Shells—White Sandstone Precipices—Gigantic Petrified Mushrooms—"Christabel" in Stone—Musical Sand—Jabel Nakous, or Mountain of the Bell—Experiments of Travellers at Jabel Nakous—Welsted's Account—Reg-Rawan, or the Moving Sand—The Musical Sounds inexplicable—Article on the subject in the North British Review. 66
Trap-dykes—"Cotton Apples"—Alternation of Lacustrine with Marine Remains—Analogy from the Beds of Esk—Aspect of the Island on its narrow Front—The Puffin—Ru Stoir—Development of Old Red Sandstone—Striking Columnar character of Ru Stoir—Discovery of Reptilian Remains—John Stewart's wonder at the Bones in the Stones—Description of the Bones—"Dragons, Gorgons, and Chimeras"—Exploration and Discovery pursued—The Midway Shieling—A Celtic Welcome—Return to the Yacht—"Array of Fossils new to Scotch Geology"—A Geologist's Toast—Hoffman and his Fossil. 85
Something for Non-geologists—Man Destructive—A Better and Last Creation coming—A Rainy Sabbath—The Meeting House—The Congregation—The Sermon in Gaelic—The Old Wondrous Story—The Drunken Minister of Eigg—Presbyterianism without Life—Dr. Johnson's Account of the Conversion of the People of Rum—Romanism at Eigg—The Two Boys—The Freebooter of Eigg—Voyage resumed—The Homeless Minister—Harbor of Isle Ornsay—Interesting Gneiss Deposit—A Norwegian Keep—Gneiss at Knock—Curious Chemistry—Sea-cliffs beyond Portsea—The Goblin Luidag—Scenery of Skye. 105
Exploration resumed—Geology of Rasay—An Illustration—The Storr of Skye—From Portree to Holm—Discovery of Fossils—An Island Rain—Sir R. Murchison—Labor of Drawing a Geological Line—Three Edinburgh Gentlemen—Prosopolepsia—Wrong Surmises corrected—The Mail Gig—The Portree Postmaster—Isle Ornsay—An Old Acquaintance—Reminiscences—A Run for Rum—"Semi-fossil Madeira"—Idling on Deck—Prognostics of a Storm—Description of the Gale—Loch Scresort—The Minister's lost Sou-wester—The Free Church Gathering—The weary Minister. 123
Geology of Rum—Its curious Character illustrated—Rum famous for Bloodstones—Red Sandstones—"Scratchings" in the Rocks—A Geological Inscription without a Key—The Lizard—Vitality broken into two—Illustrations—Speculation—Scuir More—Ascent of the Scuir—The Bloodstones—An Illustrative Set of the Gem—M'Culloch's Pebble—A Chemical Problem—The solitary Shepherd's House—Sheep versus Men—The Depopulation of Rum—A Haul of Trout—Rum Mode of catching Trout—At Anchor in the Bay of Glenelg. 139
Kyles of Skye—A Gneiss District—Kyle Rhea—A Boiling Tide—A "Take" of Sillocks—The Betsey's "Paces"—In the Bay at Broadford—Rain—Island of Pabba—Description of the Island—Its Geological Structure—Astrea—Polypifers—Gryphoea incurva—Three Groups of Fossils in the Lias of Skye—Abundance of the Petrifactions of Pabba—Scenery—Pabba a "piece of smooth, level England"—Fossil Shells of Pabba—- Voyage resumed—Kyle Akin—Ruins of Castle Maoil—A "Thornback" Dinner—The Bunch of Deep Sea Tangle—The Caileach Stone—Kelp Furnaces—Escape of the Betsey from sinking. 159
Isle Orusay—The Sabbath—A Sailor-minister's Sermon for Sailors—The Scuir Sermon—Loch Carron—Groups of Moraines—A sheep District—The Editor of the Witness and the Establishment Clergyman—Dingwall—Conon-side revisited—The Pond and its Changes—New Faces.—The Stonemason's Mark—The Burying-ground of Urquhart—An old Acquaintance—Property Qualification for Voting in Scotland—Montgerald Sandstone Quarries—Geological Science in Cromarty—The Danes at Cromarty—The Danish Professor and the "Old Red Sandstone"—Harmonizing Tendencies of Science. 178
Ichthyolite Beds—An interesting Discovery—Two Storeys of Organic Remains in the Old Red Sandstone—Ancient Ocean of Lower Old Red—Two great Catastrophes—Ancient Fish Scales—Their skilful Mechanism displayed by examples—Bone Lips—Arts of the Slater and Tiler as old as Old Red Sandstone—Jet Trinkets—Flint Arrow-heads—Vitrified Forts of Scotland—Style of grouping Lower Old Red Fossils—Illustration from Cromarty Fishing Phenomena—Singular Remains of Holoptychius—Ramble with Mr. Robert Dick—Color of the Planet Mars—Tombs never dreamed of by Hervey—Skeleton of the Bruce—Gigantic Holoptychius—"Coal money Currency"—Upper Boundary of Lower Old Red—Every one may add to the Store of Geological Facts—Discoveries of Messrs. Dick and Peach. 192
Ichthyolite Beds of Clune and Lethenbarn—Limestone Quarry—Destruction of Urns and Sarcophagi in the Lime-kiln—Nodules opened—Beautiful coloring of the Remains—Patrick Duff's Description—New Genus of Morayshire Ichthyolite described—Form and size of the Nodules or Stone Coffins—Illustration from Mrs. Marshall's Cements—Forest of Darnaway—The Hill of Berries—Sluie—Elgin—Outliers of the Weald and the Oolite—Description of the Weald at Linksfield—Mr. Duff's Lepidotus minor—Eccentric Types of Fish Scales—Visit to the Sandstones of Scat-Craig—Fine suit of Fossils at Scat-Craig—True graveyard Bones, not mere Impressions—Varieties of pattern—The Diker's "Carved Flowers"—Stagonolepis, a new Genus—Termination of the Ramble. 212
Supplementary—Isolated Reptile Remains in Eigg—Small Isles revisited—The Betsey again—Storm bound—Tacking—Becalmed—Medusae caught and described—Rain—A Shoal of Porpoises—Change of Weather—The bed-ridden Woman—The Poor Law Act for Scotland—Geological Excursion—Basaltic Columns—Oolitic Beds—Abundance of Organic Remains—Hybodus Teeth—Discovery of reptile Remains in situ—Musical Sand of Laig re-examined—Explanation suggested—Sail for Isle Ornsay—Anchored Clouds—A Leak sprung—Peril of the Betsey—At work with Pump and Pails—Safe in Harbor—Return to Edinburgh. 233
RAMBLES OF A GEOLOGIST.
Embarkation—A foundered Vessel—Lateness of the Harvest dependent on the Geological character of the Soil—A Granite Harvest and an Old Red Harvest—Cottages of Redstone and of Granite—Arable Soil of Scotland the result of a Geological Grinding Agency—Locality of the Famine of 1846—Mr. Longmuir's Fossils—Geology necessary to a Theologian—Popularizers of Science when dangerous—"Constitution of Man," and "Vestiges of Creation"—Atop of the Banff Coach—A Geologist's Field Equipment—The trespassing "Stirk"—Silurian Schists inlaid with Old Red—Bay of Gamrie, how formed—Gardenstone—Geological Free-masonry illustrated—How to break an Ichthyolite Nodule—An old Rhyme mended—A raised Beach—Fossil Shells—Scotland under Water at the time of the Boulder-clays. 255
Character of the Rocks near Gardenstone—A Defunct Father-lasher—A Geological Inference—Village of Gardenstone—The drunken Scot—Gardenstone Inn—Lord Gardenstone—A Tempest threatened—The Author's Ghost Story—The Lady in Green—Her Appearance and Tricks—The Rescued Children—The murdered Peddler and his Pack—Where the Green Dress came from—Village of Macduff—Peculiar Appearance of the Beach at the Mouth of the Deveron—Dr. Emslie's Fossils—Pterichthys quadratus—Argillaceous Deposits of Blackpots—Pipe-laying in Scotland—Fossils of Blackpots Clay—Mr. Longmuir's Description of them—Blackpots Deposit a Re-formation of a Liasic Patch—Period of its Formation. 270
From Blackpots to Portsoy—Character of the Coast—Burn of Boyne—Fever Phantoms—Graphic Granite—Maupertuis and the Runic Inscription—Explanation of the quo modo of Graphic Granite—Portsoy Inn—Serpentine Beds—Portsoy Serpentine unrivalled for small ornaments—Description of it—Significance of the term serpentine—Elizabeth Bond and her "Letters"—From Portsoy to Cullen—Attritive Power of the Ocean illustrated—The Equinoctial—From Cullen to Fochabers—The Old Red again—The old Pensioner—Fochabers—Mr. Joss, the learned Mail-guard—The Editor a sort of Coach-guard—On the Coach to Elgin—Geology of Banffshire—Irregular paging of the Geologic Leaves—Geologic Map of the County like Joseph's Coat—Striking Illustration. 291
Yellow-hued Houses of Elgin—Geology of the Country indicated by the coloring of the Stone Houses—Fossils of Old Red north of the Grampians different from those of Old Red south—Geologic Formations at Linksfield difficult to be understood—Ganoid Scales of the Wealden—Sudden Reaction, from complex to simple, in the Scales of Fishes—Pore-covered Scales—Extraordinary amount of Design exhibited in Ancient Ganoid Scales—Holoptychius Scale illustrated by Cromwell's "fluted pot"—Patrick Duff's Geological Collection—Elgin Museum—Fishes of the Ganges—Armature of Ancient Fishes—Compensatory Defences—- The Hermit-crab—Spines of the Pimelodi—Ride to Campbelton—Theories of the formation of Ardersier and Fortrose Promontories—Tradition of their construction by the Wizard, Michael Scott—A Region of Legendary Lore. 307
Rosemarkie and its Scaurs—Kaes' Craig—A Jackdaw Settlement—"Rosemarkie Kaes" and "Cromarty Cooties"—"The Danes," a Group of Excavations—At Home in Cromarty—The Boulder-clay of Cromarty "begins to tell its story"—One of its marked Scenic Peculiarities—Hints to Landscape Painters—"Samuel's Well"—A Chain of Bogs geologically accounted for—Another Scenic Peculiarity—"Ha-has of Nature's digging"—The Author's earliest Field of Hard Labor—Picturesque Cliff of Boulder-clay—Scratchings on the Sandstone—Invariable Characteristic of true Boulder-clay—Scratchings on Pebbles in the line of the longer axis—Illustration from the Boulder-clay of Banff. 324
Organisms of the Boulder-clay not unequivocal—First Impressions of the Boulder-clay—Difficulty of accounting for its barrenness of Remains—Sir Charles Lyell's reasoning—A Fact to the contrary—Human Skull dug from a Clay-bank—The Author's Change of Belief respecting Organic Remains of the Boulder-clay—Shells from the Clay at Wick—Questions respecting them settled—Conclusions confirmed by Mr. Dick's Discoveries at Thurso—Sir John Sinclair's Discovery of Boulder-clay Shells in 1802—Comminution of the Shells illustrated—Cyprina islandica—Its Preservation in larger Proportions than those of other Shells accounted for—Boulder-clays of Scotland reformed during the existing Geological Epoch—Scotland in the Period of the Boulder-clay "merely three detached groups of Islands"—Evidence of the Subsidence of the Land in Scotland—Confirmed by Rev. Mr. Cumming's conclusion—High-lying Granite Boulders—Marks of a succeeding elevatory Period—Scandinavia now rising—Autobiography of a Boulder desirable—A Story of the Supernatural. 336
Relation of the deep red stone of Cromarty to the Ichthyolite Beds of the System—Ruins of a Fossil-charged Bed—Journey to Avoch—Red Dye of the Boulder-clay distinct from the substance itself—Variation of Coloring in the Boulder-clay Red Sandstone accounted for—Hard-pan how formed—A reformed Garden—An ancient Battle-field—Antiquity of Geologic and Human History compared—Burn of Killein—Observation made in boyhood confirmed—Fossil-nodules—Fine Specimen of Coccosteus decipiens—Blank strata of Old Red—New View respecting the Rocks of Black Isle—A Trip up Moray and Dingwall Friths—Altered color of the Boulder-clay—Up the Auldgrande River—Scenery of the great Conglomerate—Graphic Description—Laidlaw's Boulder—Vaccinium myrtillus—Profusion of Travelled Boulders—The Boulder Clach Malloch—Its zones of Animal and Vegetable life. 355
Imaginary Autobiography of the Clach Malloch Boulder—Its Creation—Its Long Night of unsummed Centuries—Laid open to light on a desert Island—Surrounded by an Arctic Vegetation—Undermined by the rising Sea—Locked up and floated off on an Ice-field—At rest on the Sea-bottom—Another Night of unsummed Years—The Boulder raised again above the waves by the rising of the Land—Beholds an Altered Country—Pine Forests and Mammals—Another Period of Ages passes—The Boulder again floated off by an Iceberg—Finally at rest on the Shore of Cromarty Bay—Time and Occasion of naming it—Strange Phenomena accounted for by Earthquakes—How the Boulder of Petty Bay was moved—The Boulder of Auldgrande—The old Highland Paupers—The little Parsi Girl—Her Letter to her Papa—But one Human Nature on Earth—Journey resumed—Conon Burying Ground—An aged Couple—Gossip. 375
The Great Conglomerate—Its Undulatory and Rectilinear Members—Knock Farril and its Vitrified Fort—The old Highlanders an observant race—The Vein of Silver—Summit of Knock Farril—Mode of accounting for the Luxuriance of Herbage in the ancient Scottish Fortalices—The green Graves of Culloden—Theories respecting the Vitrification of the Hill-forts—Combined Theories of Williams and Mackenzie probably give the correct account—The Author's Explanation—Transformations of Fused Rocks—Strathpetlier—The Spa—Permanent Odoriferous Qualities of an ancient Sea-bottom converted into Rock—Mineral Springs of the Spa—Infusion of the powdered rock a substitute—Belemnite Water—The lively young Lady's Comments—A befogged Country seen from a hill-top—Ben-Wevis—Journey to Evanton—A Geologist's Night-mare—The Route Home—Ruins of Craig house—Incompatibility of Tea and Ghosts—End of the Tour. 393
Recovered Health—Journey to the Orkneys—Aboard the Steamer at Wick—Mr. Bremner—Masonry of the Harbor of Wick—The greatest Blunders result from good Rules misapplied—Mr. Bremner's Theory about sea-washed Masonry—Singular Fracture of the Rock near Wick—The Author's mode of accounting for it—"Simple but not obvious" Thinking—Mr. Bremner's mode of making stone Erections under Water—His exploits in raising foundered Vessels—Aspect of the Orkneys—The ungracious Schoolmaster—In the Frith of Kirkwall—Cathedral of St Magnus—Appearance of Kirkwall—Its "perished suppers"—Its ancient Palaces—Blunder of the Scotch Aristocracy—The patronate Wedge—Breaking Ground in Orkney—Minute Gregarious Coccosteus—True Position of the Coccosteus' Eyes—Ruins of one of Cromwell's Forts—Antiquities of Orkney—The Cathedral—Its Sculptures—The Mysterious Cell—Prospect from the Tower—Its Chimes—Ruins of Castle Patrick. 414
The Bishop's Palace at Orkney—Haco the Norwegian—Icelandic Chronicle respecting his Expedition to Scotland—His Death—Removal of his Remain to Norway—Why Norwegian Invasion ceased—Straw-plaiting—The Lassies of Orkney—Orkney Type of Countenance—Celtic and Scandinavian—An accomplished Antiquary—Old Manuscripts—An old Tune book—Manuscript Letter of Mary Queen of Scots—Letters of General Monck—The fearless Covenanter—Cave of the Rebels—Why the tragedy of "Gustavus Vasa" was prohibited—Quarry of Pickoquoy—Its Fossil Shells—Journey to Stromness—Scenery—Birth-place of Malcolm, the Poet—His History—One of his Poems—His Brother a Free Church Minister—New Scenery. 437
Hills of Orkney—Their Geologic Composition—Scene of Scott's "Pirate"—Stromness—Geology of the District—"Seeking beasts"—Conglomerate in contact with Granite—A palaeozoic Hudson's Bay—Thickness of Conglomerate of Orkney—Oldest Vertebrate yet discovered in Orkney—Its Size—Figure of a characteristic plate of the Asterolepis—Peculiarity of Old Red Fishes—Length of the Asterolepis—A rich Ichthyolite Bed—Arrangement of the Layers—Queries as to the Cause of it—Minerals—An abandoned Mine—A lost Vessel—Kelp for Iodine—A dangerous Coast—Incidents of Shipwreck—Hospitality—Stromness Museum—Diplopterus mistaken for Dipterus—Their Resemblances and Differences—Visit to a remarkable Stack—Paring the Soil for Fuel, and consequent Barrenness—Description of the Stack—Wave-formed Caves—Height to which the Surf rises. 457
Detached Fossils—Remains of the Pterichthys—Terminal Bones of the Coccosteus, etc., preserved—Internal Skeleton of Coccosteus—The shipwrecked Sailor in the Cave—Bishop Grahame—His Character, as drawn by Baillie—His Successor—Ruins of the Bishop's Country-house—Sub-aerial Formation of Sandstone—Formation near New Kaye—Inference from such Formation—Tour resumed—Loch of Stennis—Waters of the Loch fresh, brackish, and salt—Vegetation varied accordingly—Change produced in the Flounder by fresh water—The Standing Stones, second only to Stonehenge—Their Purpose—Their Appearance and Situation—Diameter of the Circle—What the Antiquaries say of it—Reference to it in the "Pirate"—Dr. Hibbert's Account. 476
On Horseback—A pared Moor—Small Landholders—Absorption of small holdings in England and Scotland—Division of Land favorable to Civil and Religious Rights—Favorable to social Elevation—An inland Parish—The Landsman and Lobster—Wild Flowers of Orkney—Law of Compensation illustrated by the Tobacco Plant—Poverty tends to Productiveness—Illustrated in Ireland—Profusion of Ichthyolites—Orkney a land of Defunct Fishes—Sandwick—A Collection of Coccostean Flags—A Quarry full of Heads of Dipteri—The Bergil, or Striped Wrasse—Its Resemblance to the Dipterus—Poverty of the Flora of the Lower Old Red—No true Coniferous Wood in the Orkney Flagstones—Departure for Hoy—The intelligent Boatman—Story of the Orkney Fisherman. 492
Hoy—Unique Scenery—The Dwarfie Stone of Hoy—Sir Walter Scott's Account of it—Its Associations—Inscription of Names—George Buchanan's Consolation—The mythic Carbuncle of the Hill of Hoy—No Fossils at Hoy—Striking Profile of Sir Walter Scott on the Hill of Hoy—Sir Walter, and Shetland and Orkney—Originals of two Characters in "The Pirate"—Bessie Millie—Garden of Gow, the "Pirate"—Childhood's Scene of Byron's "Torquil"—The Author's Introduction to his Sister—A German Visitor—German and Scotch Sabbath-keeping habits contrasted—Mr. Watt's Specimens of Fossil Remains—The only new Organism found in Orkney—Back to Kirkwall—to Wick—Vedder's Ode to Orkney. 507
THE CRUISE OF THE BETSEY.
Preparation—Departure—Recent and Ancient Monstrosities—A Free Church Yacht—Down the Clyde—Jura—Prof. Walker's Experiment—Whirlpool near Scarba—Geological Character of the Western Highlands—An Illustration—Different Ages of Outer and Inner Hebrides—Mt. Blanc and the Himalayas "mere upstarts"—Esdaile Quarries—Oban—A Section through Conglomerate and Slate examined—M'Dougal's Dog-stone—Power of the Ocean to move Rocks—Sound of Mull—The Betsey—The Minister's Cabin—Village of Tobermory—The "Florida," a Wreck of the Invincible Armada—Geologic Exploration and Discovery—At Anchor.
The pleasant month of July had again come round, and for full five weeks I was free. Chisels and hammers, and the bag for specimens, were taken from their corner in the dark closet, and packed up with half a stone weight of a fine soft Conservative Edinburgh newspaper, valuable for a quality of preserving old things entire. At noon on St. Swithin's day (Monday the 15th), I was speeding down the Clyde in the Toward Castle steamer, for Tobermory in Mull. In the previous season I had intended passing direct from the Oolitic deposits of the eastern coast of Scotland, to the Oolitic deposits of the Hebrides. But the weeks glided all too quickly away among the ichthyolites of Caithness and Cromarty, and the shells and lignites of Sutherland and Ross. My friend, too, the Rev. Mr. Swanson, of Small Isles, on whose assistance I had reckoned, was in the middle of his troubles at the time, with no longer a home in his parish, and not yet provided with one elsewhere; and I concluded he would have but little heart, at such a season, for breaking into rocks, or for passing from the too pressing monstrosities of an existing state of things, to the old lapidified monstrosities of the past. And so my design on the Hebrides had to be postponed for a twelvemonth. But my friend, now afloat in his Free Church yacht, had got a home on the sea beside his island charge, which, if not very secure when nights were dark and winds loud, and the little vessel tilted high to the long roll of the Atlantic, lay at least beyond the reach of man's intolerance, and not beyond the protecting care of the Almighty. He had written me that he would run down his vessel from Small Isles to meet me at Tobermory, and in consequence of the arrangement I was now on my way to Mull.
St. Swithin's day, so important in the calendar of our humbler meteorologists, had in this part of the country its alternate fits of sunshine and shower. We passed gaily along the green banks of the Clyde, with their rich flat fields glittering in moisture, and their lines of stately trees, that, as the light flashed out, threw their shadows over the grass. The river expanded into the estuary, the estuary into the open sea; we left behind us beacon, and obelisk, and rock-perched castle;—
"Merrily down we drop Below the church, below the tower, Below the light house top,"
and, as the evening fell, we were ploughing the outer reaches of the Frith, with the ridgy table-land of Ayrshire stretching away, green, on the one side, and the serrated peaks of Arran rising dark and high on the other. At sunrise next morning our boat lay, unloading a portion of her cargo, in one of the ports of Islay, and we could see the Irish coast resting on the horizon to the south and west, like a long undulating bank of thin blue cloud; with the island of Rachrin—famous for the asylum it had afforded the Bruce when there was no home for him in Scotland,—presenting in front its mass of darker azure. On and away! We swept past Islay, with its low fertile hills of mica-schist and slate; and Jura, with its flat dreary moors, and its far-seen gigantic paps, on one of which, in the last age, Professor Walker, of Edinburgh, set water a-boil with six degrees of heat less than he found necessary for the purpose on the plain below. The Professor describes the view from the summit, which includes in its wide circle at once the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Man, as singularly noble and imposing; two such prospects more, he says, would bring under the eye the whole island of Great Britain, from the Pentland Frith to the English Channel. We sped past Jura. Then came the Gulf of Coryvrekin, with the bare mountain island of Scarba overlooking the fierce, far-famed whirlpool, that we could see from the deck, breaking in long lines of foam, and sending out its waves in wide rings on every side, when not a speck of white was visible elsewhere in the expanse of sea around us. And then came an opener space, studded with smaller islands,—mere hill-tops rising out of the sea, with here and there insulated groups of pointed rocks, the skeletons of perished hills, amid which the tide chafed and fretted, as if laboring to complete on the broken remains their work of denudation and ruin.
The disposition of land and water on this coast suggests the idea that the Western Highlands, from the line in the interior, whence the rivers descend to the Atlantic, with the islands beyond to the outer Hebrides, are all parts of one great mountainous plane, inclined slantways into the sea. First, the long withdrawing valleys of the main land, with their brown mossy streams, change their character as they clip beneath the sea-level, and become salt-water lochs. The lines of hills that rise over them jut out as promontories, till cut off by some transverse valley, lowered still more deeply into the brine, and that exists as a kyle, minch, or sound, swept twice every tide by powerful currents. The sea deepens as the plain slopes downward; mountain-chains stand up out of the water as larger islands, single mountains as smaller ones, lower eminences as mere groups of pointed rocks; till at length, as we pass outwards, all trace of the submerged land disappears, and the wide ocean stretches out and away its unfathomable depths. The model of some Alpine country raised in plaster on a flat board, and tilted slantways, at a low angle, into a basin of water, would exhibit, on a minute scale, an appearance exactly similar to that presented by the western coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. The water would rise along the hollows, longitudinal and transverse, forming sounds and lochs, and surround, island-like, the more deeply submerged eminences. But an examination of the geology of the coast, with its promontories and islands, communicates a different idea. These islands and promontories prove to be of very various ages and origin. The outer Hebrides may have existed as the inner skeleton of some ancient country, contemporary with the main land, and that bore on its upper soils the productions of perished creations, at a time when by much the larger portion of the inner Hebrides,—Skye, and Mull, and the Small Isles,—existed as part of the bottom of a wide sound, inhabited by the Cephalopoda and Enaliosaurians of the Lias and the Oolite. Judging from its components, the Long Island, like the Lammermoors and the Grampians, may have been smiling to the sun when the Alps and the Himalaya Mountains lay buried in the abyss; whereas the greater part of Skye and Mull must have been, like these vast mountain-chains of the Continent, an oozy sea-floor, over which the ligneous productions of the neighboring lands, washed down by the streams, grew heavy and sank, and on which the belemnite dropped its spindle and the ammonite its shell. The idea imparted of old Scotland to the geologist here,—of Scotland, proudly, aristocratically, supereminently old,—for it can call Mont Blanc a mere upstart, and Dhawalageri, with its twenty-eight thousand feet of elevation, a heady fellow of yesterday,—is not that of a land settling down by the head, like a foundering vessel, but of a land whose hills and islands, like its great aristocratic families, have arisen from the level in very various ages, and under the operation of circumstances essentially diverse.
We left behind us the islands of Lunga, Luing, and Seil, and entered the narrow Sound of Kerrera, with its border of Old Red conglomerate resting on the clay-slate of the district. We had passed Esdaile near enough to see the workmen employed in the quarries of the island, so extensively known in commerce for their roofing slate, and several small vessels beside them, engaged in loading; and now we had got a step higher in the geological scale, and could mark from the deck the peculiar character of the conglomerate, which, in cliffs washed by the sea, when the binding matrix is softer than the pebbles which it encloses, roughens, instead of being polished, by the action of the waves, and which, along the eastern side of the Sound here, seems as if formed of cannon-shot, of all sizes, embedded in cement. The Sound terminates in the beautiful bay of Oban, so quiet and sheltered, with its two island breakwaters in front,—its semi-circular sweep of hill behind,—its long white-walled village, bent like a bow, to conform to the inflection of the shore,—its mural precipices behind, tapestried with ivy,—its rich patches of green pasture,—its bosky dingles of shrub and tree,—and, perched on the seaward promontory, its old, time-eaten keep. "In one part of the harbor of Oban," says Dr. James Anderson, in his "Practical Treatise on Peat Moss," (1794), "where the depth of the sea is about twenty fathoms, the bottom is found to consist of quick peat, which affords no safe anchorage." I made inquiry at the captain of the steamer, regarding this submerged deposit, but he had never heard of it. There are, however, many such on the coasts of both Britain and Ireland. We staid at Oban for several hours, waiting the arrival of the Fort William steamer; and, taking out hammer and chisel from my bag, I stepped ashore to question my ancient acquaintance, the Old Red conglomerate, and was fortunate enough to meet on the pier-head, as I landed, one of the best of companions for assisting in such work, Mr. Colin Elder, of Isle Ornsay,—the gentleman who had so kindly furnished my friend Mr. Swanson with an asylum for his family, when there was no longer a home for them in Small Isles. "You are much in luck," he said, after our first greeting: "one of the villagers, in improving his garden, has just made a cut for some fifteen or twenty yards along the face of the precipice behind the village, and laid open the line of junction between the conglomerate and the clay-slate. Let us go and see it."
I found several things worthy of notice in the chance section to which I was thus introduced. The conglomerate lies uncomfortably along the edges of the slate strata, which present under it an appearance exactly similar to that which they exhibit under the rolled stones and shingle of the neighboring shore, where we find them laid bare beside the harbor, for several hundred yards. And, mixed with the pebbles of various character and origin of which the conglomerate is mainly composed, we see detached masses of the slate, that still exhibit on their edges the identical lines of fracture characteristic of the rock, which they received, when torn from the mass below, myriads of ages before. In the incalculably remote period in which the conglomerate base of the Old Red Sandstone was formed, the clay-slate of this district had been exactly the same sort of rock that it is now. Some long anterior convulsion had upturned its strata, and the sweep of water, mingled with broken fragments of stone, had worn smooth the exposed edges, just as a similar agency wears the edges exposed at the present time. Quarries might have been opened in this rock, as now, for a roofing-slate, had there been quarriers to open them, or houses to roof over; it was in every respect as ancient a looking stone then as in the present late age of the world. There are no sermons that seem stranger or more impressive to one who has acquired just a little of the language in which they are preached, than those which, according to the poet, are to be found in stones; a bit of fractured slate, embedded among a mass of rounded pebbles, proves voluble with ideas of a kind almost too large for the mind of man to grasp. The eternity that hath passed is an ocean without a further shore, and a finite conception may in vain attempt to span it over. But from the beach, strewed with wrecks, on which we stand to contemplate it, we see far out towards the cloudy horizon, many a dim islet and many a pinnacled rock, the sepulchres of successive eras,—the monuments of consecutive creations: the entire prospect is studded over with these landmarks of a hoar antiquity, which, measuring out space from space, constitute the vast whole a province of time; nor can the eye reach to the open, shoreless infinitude beyond, in which only God existed; and, as in a sea-scene in nature, in which headland stretches dim and blue beyond headland, and islet beyond islet, the distance seems not lessened, but increased, by the crowded objects—we borrow a larger, not a smaller idea of the distant eternity, from the vastness of the measured periods that occur between.
Over the lower bed of conglomerate, which here, as on the east coast, is of great thickness, we find a bed of gray stratified clay, containing a few calcareo-argillaceous nodules. The conglomerate cliffs to the north of the village present appearances highly interesting to the geologist. Rising in a long wall within the pleasure-grounds of Dunolly castle, we find them wooded atop and at the base; while immediately at their feet there stretches out a grassy lawn, traversed by the road from the village to the castle, which sinks with a gradual slope into the existing sea-beach, but which ages ago must have been a sea-beach itself. We see the bases of the precipices hollowed and worn, with all their rents and crevices widened into caves; and mark, at a picturesque angle of the rock, what must have been once an insulated sea-stack, some thirty or forty feet in height, standing up from amid the rank grass, as at one time it stood up from amid the waves. Tufts of fern and sprays of ivy bristle from its sides, once roughened by the serrated kelp-weed and the tangle. The Highlanders call it M'Dougal's Dog-stone, and say that the old chieftains of Lorne made use of it as a post to which to fasten their dogs,—animals wild and gigantic as themselves,—when the hunters were gathering to rendezvous, and the impatient beagles struggled to break away and begin the chase on their own behalf. It owes its existence as a stack—for the precipice in which it was once included has receded from around it for yards—to an immense boulder in its base—by far the largest stone I ever saw in an Old Red conglomerate. The mass is of a rudely rhomboidal form, and measures nearly twelve feet in the line of its largest diagonal. A second huge pebble in the same detached spire measures four feet by about three. Both have their edges much rounded, as if, ere their deposition in the conglomerate, they had been long exposed to the wear of the sea; and both are composed of an earthy amygdaloidal trap. I have stated elsewhere ["Old Red Sandstone," Chapter XII.], that I had scarce ever seen a stone in the Old Red conglomerate which I could not raise from the ground; and ere I said so I had examined no inconsiderable extent of this deposit, chiefly, however, along the eastern coast of Scotland, where its larger pebbles rarely exceed two hundred weight. How account for the occurrence of pebbles of so gigantic a size here? We can but guess at a solution, and that very vaguely. The islands of Mull and Kerrera form, in the present state of things, inner and outer breakwaters between what is now the coast of Oban and the waves of the Atlantic; but Mull, in the times of even the Oolite, must have existed as a mere sea-bottom; and Kerrera, composed mainly of trap, which has brought with it to the surface patches of the conglomerate, must, when the conglomerate was in forming, have been a mere sea-bottom also. Is it not possible, that when the breakwaters were not, the Atlantic was, and that its tempests, which in the present time can transport vast rocks for hundreds of yards along the exposed coasts of Shetland and Orkney, may have been the agent here in the transport of these huge pebbles of the Old Red conglomerate? "Rocks that two or three men could not lift," say the Messrs. Anderson of Inverness, in describing the storms of Orkney, "are washed about even on the tops of cliffs, which are between sixty and a hundred feet above the surface of the sea, when smooth; and detached masses of rock, of an enormous size, are well known to have been carried a considerable distance between low and high-water mark." "A little way from the Brough," says Dr. Patrick Neill, in his 'Tour through Orkney and Shetland,' "we saw the prodigious effects of a late winter storm: many great stones, one of them of several tons weight, had been tossed up a precipice twenty or thirty feet high, and laid fairly on the green sward." There is something farther worthy of notice in the stone of which the two boulders of the Dog-stack are composed. No species of rock occurs more abundantly in the embedded pebbles of this ancient conglomerate than rocks of the trap family. We find in it trap-porphyries, greenstones, clinkstones, basalts, and amygdalolds, largely mingled with fragments of the granitic, clay-slate, and quartz rocks. The Plutonic agencies must have been active in the locality for periods amazingly protracted; and many of the masses protruded at a very early time seem identical in their composition with rocks of the trap family, which in other parts of the country we find referred to much later eras. There occur in this deposit rolled pebbles of a basalt, which in the neighborhood of Edinburgh would be deemed considerably more modern than the times of the Mountain Limestone, and in the Isle of Skye, considerably more modern than the times of the Oolite.
The sunlight was showering its last slant rays on island and loch, and then retreating upwards along the higher hills, chased by the shadows, as our boat quitted the bay of Oban, and stretched northwards, along the end of green Lismore, for the Sound of Mull. We had just enough of day left, as we reached mid sea, to show us the gray fronts of the three ancient castles,—- which at this point may be at once seen from the deck,—Dunolly, Duart, and Dunstaffnage; and enough left us as we entered the Sound, to show, and barely show, the Lady Rock, famous in tradition, and made classic by the pen of Campbell, raising its black back amid the tides, like a belated porpoise. And then twilight deepened into night, and we went snorting through the Strait with a stream of green light curling off from either bow in the calm, towards the high dim land, that seemed standing up on both sides like tall hedges over a green lane. We entered the Bay of Tobermory about midnight, and cast anchor amid a group of little vessels. An exceedingly small boat shot out from the side of a yacht of rather diminutive proportions, but tautly rigged for her size, and bearing an outrigger astern. The water this evening was full of phosphoric matter, and it gleamed and sparkled around the little boat like a northern aurora around a dark cloudlet. There was just light enough to show that the oars were plied by a sailor-like man in a Guernsey frock, and that another sailor-like man,—the skipper, mayhap,—attired in a cap and pea-jacket, stood in the stern. The man in the Guernsey frock was John Stewart, sole mate and half the crew of the Free Church yacht Betsey; and the skipper-like man in the pea-jacket was my friend the minister of the Protestants of Small Isles. In five minutes more I was sitting with Mr. Elder beside the little iron stove in the cabin of the Betsey; and the minister, divested of his cap and jacket, but still looking the veritable skipper to admiration, was busied in making us a rather late tea.
The cabin,—my home for the greater part of the three following weeks, and that of my friend for the greater part of the previous twelvemonth,—I found to be an apartment about twice the size of a common bed, and just lofty enough under the beams to permit a man of five feet eleven to stand erect in his night-cap. A large table, lashed to the floor, furnished with tiers of drawers of all sorts and sizes, and bearing a writing desk bound to it a-top, occupied the middle space, leaving just room enough for a person to pass between its edges and the narrow coffin-like beds in the sides, and space enough at its fore-end for two seats in front of the stove. A jealously barred skylight opened above; and there depended from it this evening a close lantern-looking lamp, sufficiently valuable, no doubt, in foul weather, but dreary and dim on the occasions when all one really wished from it was light. The peculiar furniture of the place gave evidence to the mixed nature of my friend's employment. A well-thumbed chart of the Western Islands lay across an equally well-thumbed volume of Henry's "Commentary." There was a Polyglot and a spy-glass in one corner, and a copy of Calvin's "Institutes," with the latest edition of "The Coaster's Sailing Directions," in another; while in an adjoining state-room, nearly large enough to accommodate an arm-chair, if the chair could have but contrived to get into it, I caught a glimpse of my friend's printing press and his case of types, canopied overhead by the blue ancient of the vessel, bearing, in stately six-inch letters of white bunting, the legend, "FREE CHURCH YACHT." A door opened, which communicated with the forecastle, and John Stewart, stooping very much, to accommodate himself to the low-roofed passage, thrust in a plate of fresh herrings, splendidly toasted, to give substantiality and relish to our tea. The little rude forecastle, a considerably smaller apartment than the cabin, was all a-glow with the bright fire in the coppers, itself invisible; we could see the chain-cable dangling from the hatchway to the floor, and John Stewart's companion, a powerful-looking, handsome young man, with broad bare breast, and in his shirt-sleeves, squatted full in front of the blaze, like the household goblin described by Milton, or the "Christmas Present" of Dickens. Mr. Elder left us for the steamer, in which he prosecuted his voyage next morning to Skye; and we tumbled in, each to his narrow bed,—comfortable enough sort of resting places, though not over soft; and slept so soundly, that we failed to mark Mr. Elder's return for a few seconds, a little after daybreak. I found at my bedside, when I awoke, a fragment of rock which he had brought from the shore, charged with Liasic fossils; and a note he had written, to say that the deposit to which it belonged occurred in the trap immediately above the village-mill; and further, to call my attention to a house near the middle of the village, built of a mouldering red sandstone, which had been found in situ in digging the foundations. I had but little time for the work of exploration in Mull, and the information thus kindly rendered enabled me to economize it.
The village of Tobermory resembles that of Oban. A quiet bay has its secure island-breakwater in front; a line of tall, well-built houses, not in the least rural in their aspect, but that seem rather as if they had been transported from the centre of some stately city entire and at once, sweeps round its inner inflection, like a bent bow; and an amphitheatre of mingled rock and wood rises behind. With all its beauty, however, there hangs about the village an air of melancholy. Like some of the other western coast villages, it seems not to have grown, piece-meal, as a village ought, but to have been made wholesale, as Frankenstein made his man; and to be ever asking, and never more incessantly than when it is at its quietest, why it should have been made at all? The remains of the Florida, a gallant Spanish ship, lie off its shores, a wreck of the Invincible Armada, "deep whelmed," according to Thompson,
"What time, Snatched sudden by the vengeful blast, The scattered vessels drove, and on blind shelve, And pointed rock that marks th' indented shore, Relentless dashed, where loud the northern main Howls through the fractured Caledonian isles."
Macculloch relates, that there was an attempt made, rather more than a century ago, to weigh up the Florida, which ended in the weighing up of merely a few of her guns, some of them of iron greatly corroded; and that, on scraping them, they became so hot under the hand that they could not be touched, but that they lost this curious property after a few hours' exposure to the air. There have since been repeated instances elsewhere, he adds, of the same phenomenon, and chemistry has lent its solution of the principles on which it occurs; but, in the year 1740, ere the riddle was read, it must have been deemed a thoroughly magical one by the simple islanders of Mull. It would seem as if the guns, heated in the contest with Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, had again kindled, under some supernatural influence, with the intense glow of the lost battle.
The morning was showery; but it cleared up a little after ten, and we landed to explore. We found the mill a little to the south of the village, where a small stream descends, all foam and uproar, from the higher grounds along a rocky channel half-hidden by brushwood; and the Liasic bed occurs in an exposed front directly over it, coped by a thick bed of amygdaloidal trap. The organisms are numerous; and, when we dig into the bank beyond the reach of the weathering influences, we find them delicately preserved, though after a fashion that renders difficult their safe removal. Originally the bed must have existed as a brown argillaceous mud, somewhat resembling that which forms in the course of years, under a scalp of muscles; and it has hardened into a more silt-like clay, in which the fossils occur, not as petrifactions, but as shells in a state of decay, except in some rare cases, in which a calcareous nodule has formed within or around them. Viewed in the group, they seem of an intermediate character, between the shells of the Lias and the Oolite. One of the first fossils I disinterred was the Gryphaea obliquata,—a shell characteristic of the Liasic formation; and the fossil immediately after, the Pholadomy aequalis, a shell of the Oolitic one. There occurs in great numbers a species of small Pecten,—some of the specimens scarce larger than a herring scale; a minute Ostrea, a sulcated Terebratula, an Isocardia, a Pullastra, and groups of broken serpulae in vast abundance. The deposit has also its three species of Ammonite, existing as mere impressions in the clay; and at least two species of Belemnite,—one of the two somewhat resembling the Belemnites abbreviatus, but smaller and rather more elongated: while the other, of a spindle form, diminishing at both ends, reminds one of the Belemnites minimus of the Gault. The Red Sandstone in the centre of the village occurs detached, like this Liasic bed, amid the prevailing trap, and may be seen in situ beside the southern gable of the tall, deserted looking house at the hill-foot, that has been built of it. It is a soft, coarse-grained, mouldering stone, ill fitted for the purposes of the architect; and more nearly resembles the New Red Sandstone of England and Dumfriesshire, than any other rock I have yet seen in the north of Scotland. I failed to detect in it aught organic.
We weighed anchor about two o'clock, and beat gallantly out the Sound, in the face of an intermittent baffling wind and a heavy swell from the sea. I would fain have approached nearer the precipices of Ardnamurchan, to trace along their inaccessible fronts the strange reticulations of trap figured by Macculloch; but prudence and the skipper forbade our trusting even the docile little Betsey, on one of the most formidable lee shores in Scotland, in winds so light and variable, and with the swell so high. We could hear the deep roar of the surf for miles, and see its undulating strip of white flickering under stack and cliff. The scenery here seems rich in legendary association. At one tack we bore into Bloody Bay, on the Mull coast,—the scene of a naval battle between two island chiefs; at another, we approached, on the mainland, a cave inaccessible save from the sea, long the haunt of a ruthless Highland pirate. Ere we rounded the headland of Ardnamurchan, the slant light of evening was gleaming athwart the green acclivities of Mull, barring them with long horizontal lines of shadow, where the trap terraces rise step beyond step, in the characteristic stair-like arrangement to which the rock owes its name; and the sun set as we were bearing down in one long tack on the Small Isles. We passed the Isle of Muck, with its one low hill; saw the pyramidal mountains of Rum looming tall in the offing; and then, running along the Isle of Eigg, with its colossal Scuir rising between us and the sky, as if it were a piece of Babylonian wall, or of the great wall of China, only vastly larger, set down on the ridge of a mountain, we entered the channel which separates the island from one of its dependencies, Eilean Chaisteil, and cast anchor in the tideway, about fifty yards from the rocks. We were now at home,—the only home which the proprietor of the island permits to the islanders' minister; and, after getting warm and comfortable over the stove and a cup of tea, we did what all sensible men do in their own homes when the night wears late,—got into bed.
The Minister's Larder—No Harbor—Eigg Shoes—Tormentilla erecta—For the Witness' Sake—Eilean Chaisteil—Appearance of Eigg—Chapel of St. Donan—Shell-sand—Origin of Secondary Calcareous Rock suggested—Exploration of Eigg—Pitchstone Veins—A Bone Cave—Massacre at Eigg—Grouping of Human Bones in the Cave—Relics—The Horse's Tooth—A Copper Sewing Needle—Teeth found—Man a worse Animal than his Teeth show him to have been designed for—Story of the Massacre—Another Version—Scuir of Eigg—The Scuir a Giant's Causeway—Character of the Columns—Remains of a Prostrate Forest.
We had rich tea this morning. The minister was among his people; and our first evidence of the fact came in the agreeable form of three bottles of fine fresh cream from the shore. Then followed an ample baking of nice oaten cakes. The material out of which the cakes were manufactured had been sent from the minister's store aboard,—for oatmeal in Eigg is rather a scarce commodity in the middle of July; but they had borrowed a crispness and flavor from the island, that the meal, left to its own resources, could scarcely have communicated; and the golden-colored cylinder of fresh butter which accompanied them was all the island's own. There was an ample supply of eggs too, as one not quite a conjuror might have expected from a country bearing such a name,—eggs with the milk in them; and, with cream, butter, oaten cakes, eggs, and tea, all of the best, and with sharp-set sea-air appetites to boot, we fared sumptuously. There is properly no harbor in the island. We lay in a narrow channel, through which, twice every twenty-four hours, the tides sweep powerfully in one direction, and then as powerfully in the direction opposite; and our anchors had a trick of getting foul, and canting stock downwards in the loose sand, which, with pointed rocks all around us, over which the current ran races, seemed a very shrewd sort of trick indeed. But a kedge and halser, stretched thwartwise to a neighboring crag, and jammed fast in a crevice, served in moderate weather to keep us tolerably right. In the severer seasons, however, the kedge is found inadequate, and the minister has to hoist sail and make out for the open sea, as if served with a sudden summons of ejectment.
Among the various things brought aboard this morning, there was a pair of island shoes for the minister's cabin use, that struck my fancy not a little. They were all around of a deep madder red color, soles, welts and uppers; and, though somewhat resembling in form the little yawl of the Betsey, were sewed not unskilfully with thongs; and their peculiar style of tie seemed of a kind suited to furnish with new idea a fashionable shoemaker of the metropolis. They were altogether the production of Eigg, from the skin out of which they had been cut, with the lime that had prepared it for the tan, and the root by which the tan had been furnished, down to the last on which they had been moulded, and the artisan that had cast them off, a pair of finished shoes. There are few trees, and, of course, no bark to spare, in the island; but the islanders find a substitute in the astringent lobiferous root of the Tormentilla erecta, which they dig out for the purpose among the heath, at no inconsiderable expense of time and trouble. I was informed by John Stewart, an adept in all the multifarious arts of the island, from the tanning of leather and the tilling of land, to the building of a house or the working of a ship, that the infusion of root had to be thrice changed for every skin, and that it took a man nearly a day to gather roots enough for a single infusion. I was further informed that it was not unusual for the owner of a skin to give it to some neighbor to tan, and that, the process finished, it was divided equally between them, the time and trouble bestowed on it by the one being deemed equivalent to the property held in it by the other. I wished to call a pair of these primitive-looking shoes my own, and no sooner was the wish expressed, than straightway one islander furnished me with leather, and another set to work upon the shoes. When I came to speak of remuneration, however, the islanders shook their heads. "No, no, not from the Witness: there are not many that take our part, and the Witness does." I hold the shoes, therefore, as my first retainer, determined, on all occasions of just quarrel, to make common cause with the poor islanders.
The view from the anchoring ground presents some very striking features. Between us and the sea lies Eilean Chaisteil, a rocky trap islet, about half a mile in length by a few hundred yards in breadth; poor in pastures, but peculiarly rich in sea-weed, of which John Stewart used, he informed me, to make finer kelp, ere the trade was put down by act of Parliament, than could be made elsewhere in Eigg. This islet bore, in the remote past, its rude fort or dun, long since sunk into a few grassy mounds; and hence its name. On the landward side rises the island of Eigg proper, resembling in outline two wedges, placed point to point on a board. The centre is occupied by a deep angular gap, from which the ground slopes upward on both sides, till, attaining its extreme height at the opposite ends of the island, it drops suddenly on the sea. In the northern rising ground the wedge-like outline is complete; in the southern one it is somewhat modified by the gigantic Scuir, which rises direct on the apex of the height, i.e., the thick part of the wedge; and which, seen bows-on from this point of view, resembles some vast donjon keep, taller, from base to summit, by about a hundred feet, than the dome of St. Paul's. The upper slopes of the island are brown and moory, and present little on which the eye may rest, save a few trap terraces, with rudely columnar fronts; its middle space is mottled with patches of green, and studded with dingy cottages, each of which this morning, just a little before the breakfast hour, had its own blue cloudlet of smoke diffused around it; while along the beach, patches of level sand, alternated with tracts of green bank, or both, give place to stately ranges of basaltic columns, or dingy groups of detached rocks. Immediately in front of the central hollow, as if skilfully introduced, to relieve the tamest part of the prospect, a noble wall of semi-circular columns rises some eighty or a hundred feet over the shore; and on a green slope, directly above, we see the picturesque ruins of the Chapel of St. Donan, one of the disciples of Columba, and the Culdee saint and apostle of the island.
One of the things that first struck me, as I got on deck this morning, was the extreme whiteness of the sand. I could see it gleaming bright through the transparent green of the sea, three fathoms below our keel, and, in a little flat bay directly opposite, it presented almost the appearance of pulverized chalk. A stronger contrast to the dingy trap-rocks around which it lies could scarce be produced, had contrast for effect's sake been the object. On landing on the exposed shelf to which we had fastened our halser, I found the origin of the sand interestingly exhibited. The hollows of the rock, a rough trachyte, with a surface like that of a steel rasp, were filled with handfuls of broken shells thrown up by the surf from the sea-banks beyond: fragments of echini, bits of the valves of razor-fish, the island cyprina, mactridae, buccinidae, and fractured periwinkles, lay heaped together in vast abundance. In hollow after hollow, as I passed shorewards, I found the fragments more and more comminuted, just as, in passing along the successive vats of a paper-mill, one finds the linen rags more and more disintegrated by the cylinders; and immediately beyond the inner edge of the shelf, which is of considerable extent, lies the flat bay, the ultimate recipient of the whole, filled to the depth of several feet, and to the extent of several hundred yards, with a pure shell-sand, the greater part of which had been thus washed ashore in handfuls, and ground down by the blended agency of the trachyte and the surf. Once formed, however, in this way it began to receive accessions from the exuviae of animals that love such localities,—the deep arenaceous bed and soft sand-beach; and these now form no inconsiderable proportion of the entire mass. I found the deposit thickly inhabited by spatangi, razor-fish, gapers, and large, well-conditioned cockles, which seemed to have no idea whatever that they were living amid the debris of a charnel house. Such has been the origin here of a bed of shell-sand, consisting of many thousand tons, and of which at least eighty per cent. was once associated with animal life. And such, I doubt not, is the history of many a calcareous rock in the later secondary formations. There are strata, not a few, of the Cretaceous and Oolitic groups, that would be found—could we but trace their beginnings with a certainty and clearness equal to that with which we can unravel the story of this deposit—to be, like it, elaborations from dead matter, made through the agency of animal secretion.
We set out on our first exploratory ramble in Eigg an hour before noon. The day was bracing and breezy, and a clear sun looked cheerily down on island, and strait, and blue open sea. We rowed southwards in our little boat, through the channel of Eilean Chaisteil, along the trap-rocks of the island, and landed under the two pitchstone veins of Eigg, so generally known among mineralogists, and of which specimens may be found in so many cabinets. They occur in an earthy, greenish-black amygdaloid, which forms a range of sea-cliffs varying in height from thirty to fifty feet, and that, from their sad hue and dull fracture, seem to absorb the light; while the veins themselves, bright and glistening, glitter in the sun, as if they were streams of water traversing the face of the rock. The first impression they imparted, in viewing them from the boat, was, that the inclosing mass was a pitch caldron, rather of the roughest and largest, and much begrimmed by soot, that had cracked to the heat, and that the fluid pitch was forcing its way outwards through the rents. The veins expand and contract, here diminishing to a strip a few inches across, there widening into a comparatively broad belt, some two or three feet over; and, as well described by M'Culloch, we find the inclosed pitchstone changing in color, and assuming a lighter or darker hue, as it nears the edge or recedes from it. In the centre it is of a dull olive green, passing gradually into blue, which in turn deepens into black; and it is exactly at the point of contact with the earthy amygdaloid that the black is most intense, and the fracture of the stone glassiest and brightest. I was lucky enough to detach a specimen, which, though scarce four inches across, exhibits the three colors characteristic of the vein,—its bar of olive green on the one side, of intense black on the other, and of blue, like that of imperfectly fused bottle-glass, in the centre. This curious rock,—so nearly akin in composition and appearance to obsidian,—a mineral which, in its dense form, closely resembles the coarse dark-colored glass of which common bottles are made, and which, in its lighter form, exists as pumice,—constitutes one of the links that connect the trap with the unequivocally volcanic rocks. The one mineral may be seen beside smoking crater, as in the Lipari Isles, passing into pumice; while the other may be converted into a substance almost identical with pumice, by the chemist. "It is stated by the Honorable George Knox, of Dublin," says Mr. Robert Allan, in his valuable mineralogical work, "that the pitchstone of Newry, on being exposed to a high temperature, loses its bitumen and water, and is converted into a light substance in every respect resembling pumice." But of pumice in connection with the pitchstones of Eigg, more anon.
Leaving our boat to return to the Betsey at John Stewart's leisure, and taking with us his companion, to assist us in carrying such specimens as we might procure, we passed westwards for a few hundred yards under the crags, and came abreast of a dark angular opening at the base of the precipice, scarce two feet in height, and in front of which there lies a little sluggish, ankle-deep pool, half mud, half water, and matted over with grass and rushes. Along the mural face of the rock of earthy amygdaloid there runs a nearly vertical line, which in one of the stratified rocks one might perhaps term the line of a fault, but which in a trap rock may merely indicate where two semi-molten masses had pressed against each other without uniting—just as currents of cooling lead, poured by the plumber from the opposite end of a groove, sometimes meet and press together, so as to make a close, polished joint, without running into one piece. The little angular opening forms the lower termination of the line, which, hollowing inwards, recedes near the bottom into a shallow cave, roughened with tufts of fern and bunches of long silky grass, here and there enlivened by the delicate flowers of the lesser rock-geranium. A shower of drops patters from above among the weeds and rushes of the little pool. My friend the minister stopped short. "There," he said, pointing to the hollow, "you will find such a bone cave as you never saw before. Within that opening there lie the remains of an entire race, palpably destroyed, as geologists in so many other cases are content merely to imagine, by one great catastrophe. That is the famous cave of Frances (Uamh Fraingh), in which the whole people of Eigg were smoked to death by the M'Leods."
We struck a light, and, worming ourselves through the narrow entrance, gained the interior,—a true rock gallery, vastly more roomy and lofty than one could have anticipated from the mean vestibule placed in front of it. Its extreme length we found to be two hundred and sixty feet; its extreme breadth twenty-seven feet; its height, where the roof rises highest, from eighteen to twenty feet. The cave seems to have owed its origin to two distinct causes. The trap-rocks on each side of the vertical fault-like crevice which separates them are greatly decomposed, as if by the moisture percolating from above; and directly in the line of the crevice must the surf have charged, wave after wave, for ages ere the last upheaval of the land. When the Dog-stone at Dunolly existed as a sea-stack, skirted with algae, the breakers on this shore must have dashed every tide through the narrow opening of the cavern, and scooped out by handfuls the decomposing trap within. The process of decomposition, and consequent enlargement, is still going on inside, but there is no longer an agent to sweep away the disintegrated fragments. Where the roof rises highest, the floor is blocked up with accumulations of bulky decaying masses, that have dropped from above; and it is covered over its entire area by a stratum of earthy rubbish, which has fallen from the sides and ceiling in such abundance, that it covers up the straw beds of the perished islanders, which still exist beneath as a brown mouldering felt, to the depth of from five to eight inches. Never yet was tragedy enacted on a gloomier theatre. An uncertain twilight glimmers gray at the entrance, from the narrow vestibule; but all within, for full two hundred feet, is black as with Egyptian darkness. As we passed onward with our one feeble light, along the dark mouldering walls and roof, which absorbed every straggling ray that reached them, and over the dingy floor, ropy and damp, the place called to recollection that hall in Roman story, hung and carpeted with black, into which Domitian once thrust his senate, in a frolic, to read their own names on the coffin-lids placed against the wall. The darkness seemed to press upon us from every side, as if it were a dense jetty fluid, out of which our light had scooped a pailful or two, and that was rushing in to supply the vacuum; and the only objects we saw distinctly visible were each other's heads and faces, and the lighter parts of our dress.
The floor, for about a hundred feet inwards from the narrow vestibule, resembles that of a charnel-house. At almost every step we came upon heaps of human bones grouped together, as the Psalmist so graphically describes, "as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth." They are of a brownish, earthy hue, here and there tinged with green; the skulls, with the exception of a few broken fragments, have disappeared; for travellers in the Hebrides have of late years been numerous and curious; and many a museum,—that at Abbotsford among the rest,—exhibits, in a grinning skull, its memorial of the Massacre at Eigg. We find, too, further marks of visitors in the single bones separated from the heaps and scattered over the area; but enough still remains to show, in the general disposition of the remains, that the hapless islanders died under the walls in families, each little group separated by a few feet from the others. Here and there the remains of a detached skeleton may be seen, as if some robust islander, restless in his agony, had stalked out into the middle space ere he fell; but the social arrangement is the general one. And beneath every heap we find, at the depth, as has been said, of a few inches, the remains of the straw-bed upon which the family had lain, largely mixed with the smaller bones of the human frame, ribs and vertebrae, and hand and feet bones; occasionally, too, with fragments of unglazed pottery, and various other implements of a rude housewifery. The minister found for me, under one family heap, the pieces of a half-burned, unglazed earthen jar, with a narrow mouth, that, like the sepulchral urns of our ancient tumuli, had been moulded by the hand, without the assistance of the potter's wheel; and to one of the fragments there stuck a minute pellet of gray hair. From under another heap he disinterred the handle-stave of a child's wooden porringer (bicker), perforated by a hole still bearing the mark of the cord that had hung it to the wall; and beside the stave lay a few of the larger, less destructible bones of the child, with what for a time puzzled us both not a little,—one of the grinders of a horse. Certain it was, no horse could have got there to have dropped a tooth,—a foal of a week old could not have pressed itself through the opening; and how the single grinder, evidently no recent introduction into the cave, could have got mixed up in the straw with the human bones, seemed an enigma somewhat of the class to which the reel in the bottle belongs. I found in Edinburgh an unexpected commentator on the mystery, in the person of my little boy,—an experimental philosopher in his second year. I had spread out on the floor the curiosities of Eigg,—among the rest, the relics of the cave, including the pieces of earthern jar, and the fragment of the porringer; but the horse's tooth seemed to be the only real curiosity among them in the eyes of little Bill. He laid instant hold of it; and, appropriating it as a toy, continued playing with it till he fell asleep. I have now little doubt that it was first brought into the cave by the poor child amid whose mouldering remains Mr. Swanson found it. The little pellet of gray hair spoke of feeble old age involved in this wholesale massacre with the vigorous manhood of the island; and here was a story of unsuspecting infancy amusing itself on the eve of destruction with its toys. Alas, for man! "Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city," said God to the angry prophet, "wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left?" God's image must have been sadly defaced in the murderers of the poor inoffensive children of Eigg, ere they could have heard their feeble wailings, raised, no doubt, when the stifling atmosphere within began first to thicken, and yet ruthlessly persist in their work of indiscriminate destruction.
Various curious things have from time to time been picked up from under the bones. An islander found among them, shortly before our visit, a sewing needle of copper, little more than an inch in length; fragments of Eigg shoes, of the kind still made in the island, are of comparatively common occurrence; and Mr. James Wilson relates, in the singularly graphic and powerful description of Uamh Fraingh, which occurs in his "Voyage round the Coasts of Scotland" (1841), that a sailor, when he was there, disinterred, by turning up a flat stone, a "buck-tooth" and a piece of money,—the latter a rusty copper coin, apparently of the times of Mary of Scotland. I also found a few teeth; they were sticking fast in a fragment of jaw; and, taking it for granted, as I suppose I may, that the dentology of the murderous M'Leods outside the cave must have very much resembled that of the murdered M'Donalds within, very harmless looking teeth they were for being those of an animal so maliciously mischievous as man. I have found in the Old Red Sandstone the strong-based tusks of the semi-reptile Holoptychius; I have chiselled out of the limestone of the Coal Measures the sharp, dagger-like incisors of the Megalichthys; I have picked up in the Lias and Oolite the cruel spikes of the Crocodile and the Ichthyosaurus; I have seen the trenchant, saw-edged teeth of gigantic Cestracions and Squalidae that had been disinterred from the Chalk and the London Clay; and I have felt, as I examined them, that there could be no possibility of mistake regarding the nature of the creatures to which they had belonged;—they were teeth made for hacking, tearing, mangling,—for amputating limbs at a bite, and laying open bulky bodies with a crunch; but I could find no such evidence in the human jaw, with its three inoffensive looking grinders, that the animal it had belonged to,—far more ruthless and cruel than reptile-fish, crocodiles, or sharks,—was of such a nature that it could destroy creatures of even its own kind by hundreds at a time, when not in the least incited by hunger, and with no ultimate intention of eating them. Man must surely have become an immensely worse animal than his teeth show him to have been designed for; his teeth give no real evidence regarding his real character. Who, for instance, could gather from the dentology of the M'Leods the passage in their history to which the cave of Frances bears evidence?
We quitted the cave, with its stagnant damp atmosphere and its mouldy unwholesome smells, to breathe the fresh sea-air on the beach without. Its story, as recorded by Sir Walter in his "Tales of a Grandfather," and by Mr. Wilson, in his "Voyage," must be familiar to the reader; and I learned from my friend, versant in all the various island traditions regarding it, that the less I inquired into its history on the spot, the more was I likely to feel satisfied that I knew something about it. There seem to have been no chroniclers, in this part of the Hebrides, in the rude age of the unglazed pipkin and the copper needle; and many years seem to have elapsed ere the story of their hapless possessors was committed to writing; and so we find it existing in various and somewhat conflicting editions. "Some hundred years ago," says Mr. Wilson, "a few of the M'Leods landed in Eigg from Skye, where, having greatly misconducted themselves, the Eiggites strapped them to their own boats, which they sent adrift into the ocean. They were, however, rescued by some clansmen; and, soon after, a strong body of the M'Leods set sail from Skye, to revenge themselves on Eigg. The natives of the latter island feeling they were not of sufficient force to offer resistance, went and hid themselves (men, women, and children) in this secret cave, which is narrow, but of great subterranean length, with an exceedingly small entrance. It opens from the broken face of a steep bank along the shore; and, as the whole coast is cavernous, their particular retreat would have been sought for in vain by strangers. So the Skye-men, finding the island uninhabited, presumed the natives had fled, and satisfied their revengeful feelings by ransacking and pillaging the empty houses. Probably the movables were of no great value. They then took their departure and left the island, when the sight of a solitary human being among the cliffs awakened their suspicion, and induced them to return. Unfortunately a slight sprinkling of snow had fallen, and the footsteps of an individual were traced to the mouth of the cave. Not having been there ourselves at the period alluded to, we cannot speak with certainty as to the nature of the parley which ensued, or the terms offered by either party; but we know that those were not the days of protocols. The ultimatum was unsatisfactory to the Skye-men, who immediately proceeded to 'adjust the preliminaries' in their own way, which adjustment consisted in carrying a vast collection of heather, ferns, and other combustibles, and making a huge fire just in the very entrance of the Uamh Fraingh, which they kept up for a length of time; and thus, by 'one fell smoke,' they smothered the entire population of the island."
Such is Mr. Wilson's version of the story, which, in all its leading circumstances, agrees with that of Sir Walter. According, however, to at least one of the Eigg versions, it was the M'Leod himself who had landed on the island, driven there by a storm. The islanders, at feud with the M'Leod's at the time, inhospitably rose upon him, as he bivouacked on the shores of the Bay of Laig; and in a fray, in which his party had the worse, his back was broken, and he was forced off half dead to sea. Several months after, on his partial recovery, he returned, crook-backed and infirm, to wreak his vengeance on the inhabitants, all of whom, warned of his coming by the array of his galleys in the offing, hid themselves in the cave, in which, however, they were ultimately betrayed—as narrated by Sir Walter and Mr. Wilson—by the track of some footpaths in a sprinkling of snow; and the implacable chieftain, giving orders on the discovery, to unroof the houses in the neighborhood, raised high a pile of rafters against the opening, and set it on fire. And there he stood in front of the blaze, hump-backed and grim, till the wild, hollow cry from the rock within had sunk into silence, and there lived not a single islander of Eigg, man, woman, or child. The fact that their remains should have been left to moulder in the cave is proof enough, of itself, that none survived to bury the dead. I am inclined to believe, from the appearance of the place, that smoke could scarcely have been the real agent of destruction; then, as now, it would have taken a great deal of pure smoke to smother a Highlander. It may be perhaps deemed more probable, that the huge fire of rafter and roof-tree piled close against the opening, and rising high over it, would draw out the oxygen within as its proper food, till at length all would be exhausted; and life would go out for want of it, like the flame of a candle under an upturned jar. Sir Walter refers the date of the event to some time "about the close of the sixteenth century;" and the coin of Queen Mary, mentioned by Mr. Wilson, points at a period at least not much earlier; but the exact time of its occurrence is so uncertain, that a Roman Catholic priest of the Hebrides, in lately showing his people what a very bad thing Protestantism is, instanced, as a specimen of its average morality, the affair of the cave. The Protestant M'Leods of Skye, he said, full of hatred in their hearts, had murdered, wholesale, their wretched brethren, the Protestant M'Donalds of Eigg, and sent them off to perdition before their time.
Quitting the beach, we ascended the breezy hill-side on our way to the Scuir,—an object so often and so well described, that it might be perhaps prudent, instead of attempting one description more, to present the reader with some of the already existing ones. "The Scuir of Eigg," says Professor Jamieson, in his 'Mineralogy of the Western Islands,' "is perfectly mural, and extends for upwards of a mile and a half, and rises to a height of several hundred feet. It is entirely columnar, and the columns rise in successive ranges, until they reach the summit, where, from their great height, they appear, when viewed from below, diminutive. Staffa is an object of the greatest beauty and regularity; the pillars are as distinct as if they had been reared by the hand of art; but it has not the extent or sublimity of the Scuir of Eigg. The one may be compared with the greatest exertions of human power; the other is characteristic of the wildest and most inimitable works of nature." "The height of this extraordinary object is considerable," says M'Culloch, dashing off his sketch with a still bolder hand; "yet its powerful effect arises rather from its peculiar form, and the commanding elevation which it occupies, than from its positive altitude. Viewed in one direction, it presents a long irregular wall, crowning the summit of the highest hill, while in the other it resembles a huge tower. Thus it forms no natural combination of outline with the surrounding land, and hence acquires that independence in the general landscape which increases its apparent magnitude, and produces that imposing effect which it displays. From the peculiar position of the Scuir, it must also inevitably be viewed from a low station. Hence it everywhere towers high above the spectator; while, like other objects on the mountain outline, its apparent dimensions are magnified, and its dark mass defined on the sky, so as to produce all the additional effects arising from strong oppositions of light and shadow. The height of this rock is sufficient in this stormy country frequently to arrest the passage of the clouds, so as to be further productive of the most brilliant effects in landscape. Often they may be seen hovering on its summit, and adding ideal dimensions to the lofty face, or, when it is viewed on the extremity, conveying the impression of a tower, the height of which is such as to lie in the regions of the clouds. Occasionally they sweep along the base, leaving its huge and black mass involved in additional gloom, and resembling the castle of some Arabian enchanter, built on the clouds, and suspended in air." It might be perhaps deemed somewhat invidious to deal with pictures such as these in the style the connoisseur in the "Vicar of Wakefield" dealt with the old painting, when, seizing a brush, he daubed it over with brown varnish, and then asked the spectators whether he had not greatly improved the tone of the coloring. And yet it is just possible, that in the case of at least M'Culloch's picture, the brown varnish might do no manner of harm. But a homelier sketch, traced out on almost the same leading lines, with just a little less of the aerial in it, may have nearly the same subduing effect; I have, besides, a few curious touches to lay in, which seem hitherto to have escaped observation and the pencil; and in these several circumstances must lie my apology for adding one sketch more to the sketches existing already.
The Scuir of Eigg, then, is a veritable Giant's Causeway, like that on the coast of Antrim, taken and magnified rather more than twenty times in height, and some five or six times in breadth, and then placed on the ridge of a hill nearly nine hundred feet high. Viewed sideways, it assumes, as described by M'Culloch, the form of a perpendicular but ruinous rampart, much gapped above, that runs for about a mile and a quarter along the top of a lofty sloping talus. Viewed endways, it resembles a tall massy tower,—such a tower as my friend, Mr. D.O. Hill, would delight to draw, and give delight by drawing,—a tower three hundred feet in breadth by four hundred and seventy feet in height, perched on the apex of a pyramid, like a statue on a pedestal. This strange causeway is columnar from end to end; but the columns, from their great altitude and deficient breadth, seem mere rodded shafts in the Gothic style; they rather resemble bundles of rods than well-proportioned pillars. Few of them exceed eighteen inches in diameter, and many of them fall short of half a foot; but, though lost in the general mass of the Scuir as independent columns, when we view it at an angle sufficiently large to take in its entire bulk, they yet impart to it that graceful linear effect which we see brought out in tasteful pencil sketches and good line engravings. We approached it this day from the shore in the direction in which the eminence it stands upon assumes the pyramidal form, and itself the tower-like outline. The acclivity is barren and stony,—a true desert foreground, like those of Thebes and Palmyra; and the huge square shadow of the tower stretched dark and cold athwart it. The sun shone out clearly. One half the immense bulk before us, with its delicate vertical lining, lay from top to bottom in deep shade, massive and gray; one half presented its many-sided columns to the light, here and there gleaming with tints of extreme brightness, where the pitchstones presented their glassy planes to the sun; its general outline, whether pencilled by the lighter or darker tints, stood out sharp and clear; and a stratum of white fleecy clouds floated slowly amid the delicious blue behind it. But the minuter details I must reserve for my next chapter. One fact, however, anticipated just a little out of its order, may heighten the interest of the reader. There are massive buildings,—bridges of noble span, and harbors that abut far into the waves,—founded on wooden piles; and this hugest of hill-forts we find founded on wooden piles also. It is built on what a Scotch architect would perhaps term a pile-brander of the Pinites Eiggensis, an ancient tree of the Oolite. The gigantic Scuir of Eigg rests on the remains of a prostrate forest.