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Social History of the Highlands
Highlanders' feeling with regard to death


To be interred decently, and in a becoming manner, is a material consideration in the mind of a Highlander, and care is generally taken, even by the poorest, long before the approach of death, to provide sufficient articles to insure a respectable interment. To wish one another an honourable death, crioch onarach, is considered friendly by the Highlanders, and even children will sometimes express the same sentiment towards their parents. "A man well known to the writer of these pages was remarkable for his filial affection, even among the sons and daughters of the mountains, so distinguished for that branch of piety. His mother being a widow , and having a numerous family, who had married very early, he continued to live single, that he might the more sedulously tend to her comfort, and watch over her declining years with the tenderest care. On her birthday, he always collected his brothers and sisters, and all their families, to a sort of kindly feast, and, in conclusion, gave a toast, not easily translated from the emphatic language without circumlocution - An easy and decorous departure to my mother, comes nearest to it. This toast, which would shake the nerves of the fashionable delicacy, was received with great applause, the old woman remarking, that God had been always good to her, and she hoped she would die as decently as she had lived, for it is thought of the utmost consequence to die decently. The rituals of decorous departure, and of behaviour to be observed by the friends of the dying on that solemn occasion, being fully established, nothing is more common than to take a solemn leave of old people, as if they were going on a journey, and pretty much in the same terms. People frequently send conditional messages to the departed. If you are permitted, tell my dear brother, that I have merely endured the world since he left it, and that I have been very kind to every creature he used to cherish, for his sake. I have, indeed, heard a person of a very enlightened mind, seriously give a message to an aged person, to a child he had lost not long before, which she as seriously promised to deliver, with the wonted salvo, if she was permitted."

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