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The Misty Isle of Skye
Its Scenery, Its People, Its Story by J. A. MacCulloch (1905) (pdf)


"Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome,
I would see them before I die!
But I'd rather not see any one of the three,
Than be exiled for ever from Skye!

"Lovest thou mountains great,
Peaks to the clouds that soar,
Corrie and fell where eagles dwell,
And cataracts dash evermore?
Lovest thou green grassy glades,
By the sunshine sweetly kist,
Murmuring waves, and echoing caves?
Then go to the Isle of Mist."

Sheriff Nicolson.

To

MACLEOD OF MACLEOD, C.M.G.

Dear MacLeod,

It is fitting that I should dedicate this book to you. You have been interested in its making and in its publication, and how flattering that is to an authors vanity! And what chief is there who is so beloved of his clansmen all over the world as you, or whose name is such a household word in dear old Skye as is yours? A book about Skye should recognise these things, and so I inscribe your name on this page.

Your Sincere Friend,

THE AUTHOR.

EXILED FROM SKYE

The sun shines on the ocean,
And the heavens are blue and high,
But the clouds hang grey and lowering
O'er the misty Isle of Skye.

I hear the blue-bird singing,
And the starling's mellow cry,
But I love the peewit's screaming
In the distant Isle of Skye.

The trees are grand and lofty,
And the grass grows sweet and high,
But I long to see the heather
In the purple Isle of Skye.

The streams are broad and stately,
And the meadows fertile lie,
But I hear the streamlets leaping
Down the rocky glens of Skye.

There's a singing in the cornfields
As the breeze goes whispering by,
But I love the bracken's rustle
On the lonely hills of Skye.

And I'd rather hear the music,
Where my time may come to die,
Of the wind among the corries
In the far-off Isle of Skye.

M. J. M.

PREFACE

THIS book is made up, for the most part, of a series of impressions of places and things in the Isle of Skye, noted down from time to time during the last seven years, and given a connected form in the intervals of leisure snatched from more serious work. I have tried to put into words the impressions formed on the mind of one who is a lover of nature and alive to the spell of a romantic past. The beauty of nature and the romance of history are combined in the Isle of Skye in a way perhaps unequalled in any other part of Britain. There are few who, if they know Skye, do not appreciate its charms, natural and romantic. For them, and for those who care for such charms wherever found, this book has been written.

Eilean a Cheo, the Isle of Mist, has been my home for nearly eight years. Each year I have come to love it better; had it been fated that I should live there much longer, there is no telling to what depths of affection I might not have been brought by this overmastering mistress! But, alas, as I pen these words, I know that fell circumstance is about to make me an exile from Skye. Soon I shall cry with the greatest of the bards of Skye—

My heart is yearning for thee, O Skye,
Dearest of islands!

And as I leave its romantic shores and the friends who have helped to make it so dear to me and mine, shall I not also say—

"Blessings be with you both now and aye,
Dear fellow-Skyemen,
Yours is the love that no gold can buy
Nor time can wither,
Peace be with thee and thy children,  O Skye,
Dearest of islands!"

The Isle of Mist, how much more thrilling is this than the better-known "Isle of Skye"! But why it should be so called, I do not know. Rain there is in plenty, but scarcely any mist, and one is forced to go on the lucus a non lucendo principle in seeking for the reason of this name. But in the early days when it was first applied to this green isle of the west, the whole land was covered with forest, and this, with other changed climatic conditions, must have brought frequent mists over its hills and glens. But the name implies something remote, secret, impenetrable, and I should like my readers to believe that the island has these qualities. For they are suggestive of mystery, and the island is indeed full of mystery—the mystery of nature's charm and beauty, the spell of ancient and weird story, and here, if anywhere, is that shore of old romance of which the poet sang.

Those chapters which do not come under the head of "impressions," deal with certain aspects of life in Skye, past and present, and are the result of observation, conversation, and reading.

In conclusion, I have to record my grateful thanks to many friends in Skye to whose frequent hospitality I owe it that I have been able to visit many of its remoter corners. There, they will remember, we have together spent many a pleasant hour. The poem which precedes this Preface is from the pen of my wife. Some of the illustrations are from my own photographs, but they show sadly beside those others which Miss Margaret MacLeod of MacLeod, the Rev. A. H. Malan, Mr. Inglis Clark, Mr. MacLaine, and Dr. Grant, have been good enough to let me use.

J. A. MACCULLOCH.

Portree, Isle of Skye,
December 1904.

You can view this book in pdf format here


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