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The Cruise of the Betsey
Chapter 2


We had a 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 flavour from the island, that the meal, left to its own resources, could scarcely have communicated; and the golden -coloured 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 harbour 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 currents ran races, seemed a very shrewd sort of trick indeed. But a kedge and halser, stretched thwartwise to a neighbouging crag, and jambed 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 colour, 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 artizan 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 neighbour 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 that 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 peculiarily 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 fort or dun, log 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 my rest, save a few trap terraces with rudely colmunar 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 it 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 semicircular 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 out 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 successives 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 calcareous rock in the later secondary formations. There are strata not a few of the Cretaceous and Oolitic groupes, 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 or the rock. The first impression they imparted, in viewing them from the boat, was, that the inclosing mass was a pitch cauldron, rather of the roughest and largest, and much begrimed by soot, that had cracked to the heat, and that the fluid pitch was forcing its way outward 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 described by M’Culloch, we find the inclosed pich-stone changing in colour, 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 colours 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-coloured glass of which common bottles are made, and which, in its lighter form, exists as pumice, - constitutes one of the lin11`ks 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 Honourable George Knox of Dubnlin,” 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 ends 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 geoligists in so many other cases are content merely to imagine, by one great catastrophe. That is the famous cave of Frances (Uamh Fhraing), 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 disintergrated 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, roppy 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 come 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 in 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 earther 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 earthen 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 that six thousand score persons that cannot discern between their right had 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 that his teeth show him to have been designed for: his teeth give no 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 Francis 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 the unglazed pipkin and the copper needle; and many years seem to have elapsed ere the story of their haples possessors was committed to writing: and so we find it existing 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 moveables were of no great value. They then took their departure and left the island, when the sight of 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 the the Skye-men, who immediately proceeded to ‘adjust the preliminaries’ in their own way, which adjustment consisted in carrying a vast collection heather, ferns, and other combustibles, and making a huge fire just in the very entrance of the Uamh Fhraing, 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’Leods 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 neighbourhood, 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 M. 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 welll 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 landscapes. 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 impressions 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 dealt 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 colouring. 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 that 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 pitch-stones 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 it order, may heighten the interest of the reader. There are massive buildings,- bridges of noble span, and harbours 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.


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