Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 59

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Do you know how we fare in this Scottish paradise? We make free with our landlord's mutton, which is excellent, his poultry-yard, his garden, his dairy, and his cellar, which are all well stored. We have delicious salmon, pike, trout, perch, par, &c. at the door, for the taking. The Frith of Clyde, on the other side of the hill, supplies us with mullet, red and grey, cod, mackarel, whiting, and a variety of sea-fish, including the finest fresh herrings I ever tasted. We have sweet, juicy beef, and tolerable veal, with delicate bread from the little town of Dunbritton; and plenty of partridge, growse, heath cock, and other game in presents.

We have been visited by all the gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and they have entertained us at their houses, not barely with hospitality, but with such marks of cordial affection, as one would wish to find among near relations, after an absence of many years.

I told you, in my last, I had projected an excursion to the Highlands, which project I have now happily executed, under the auspices of Sir George Colquhoun, a colonel in the Dutch service, who offered himself as our conductor on this occasion. Leaving our women at Cameron, to the care and inspection of Lady H— C—, we set out on horseback for Inverary, the county town of Argyle, and dined on the road with the Laird of Macfarlane, the greatest genealogist I ever knew in any country, and perfectly acquainted with all the antiquities of Scotland.

The Duke of Argyle has an old castle in Inverary, where he resides when he is in Scotland; and hard by is the shell of a noble Gothic palace, built by the last duke, which, when finished, will be a great ornament to this part of the Highlands. As for Inverary, it is a place of very little importance.

This country is amazingly wild, especially towards the mountains, which are heaped upon the backs of one another, making a most stupendous appearance of savage nature, with hardly any signs of cultivation, or even of population. All is sublimity, silence, and solitude. The people live together in glens or bottoms, where they are sheltered from the cold and storms of winter: but there is a margin of plain ground spread along the sea side, which is well inhabited and improved by the arts of husbandry; and this I take to be one of the most agreeable tracts of the whole island; the sea not only keeps it warm, and supplies it with fish, but affords one of the most ravishing prospects in the whole world; I mean the appearance of the Hebrides, or Western Islands to the number of three hundred, scattered as far as the eye can reach, in the most agreeable confusion. As the soil and climate of the Highlands are but ill adapted to the cultivation of corn, the people apply themselves chiefly to the breeding and feeding of black cattle, which turn to good account. Those animals run wild all the winter, without any shelter or subsistence, but what they can find among the heath. When the snow lies so deep and hard, that they cannot penetrate to the roots of the grass, they make a diurnal progress, guided by a sure instinct, to the seaside at low water, where they feed on the alga marina, and other plants that grow upon the beach.

Perhaps this branch of husbandry, which required very little attendance and labour, is one of the principal causes of that idleness and want of industry, which distinguishes these mountaineers in their own country. When they come forth into the world, they become as diligent and alert as any people upon earth. They are undoubtedly a very distinct species from their fellow subjects of the Lowlands, against whom they indulge an ancient spirit of animosity; and this difference is very discernible even among persons of family and education. The Lowlanders are generally cool and circumspect, the Highlanders fiery and ferocious:' but this violence of their passions serves only to inflame the zeal of their devotion to strangers, which is truly enthusiastic.

We proceeded about twenty miles beyond Inverary, to the house of a gentleman, a friend of our conductor, where we stayed a few days, and were feasted in such a manner, that I began to dread the consequence to my constitution.