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Observations on a Tour through the Highlands and part of the Western Isles of Scotland
Particularly Staffa and Icolmkill to which are added a description of the Falls of Clyde, of the country around Moffatt and an analysis of its minerla waters in 2 volumes by T. Garnett, M.D. (1800) (pdf)


IT will perhaps appear highly presuming in me, to intrude on the world another Tour through the Highlands, after the number that have been already published. But though we have several well written journals, I know of none whose object is so extensive as mine, excepting the excellent Tour by Mr. Pennant, a work which will always be read with interest, and remain a monument of the talents and industry of its author. I took the journal of this eminent writer with me, and compared his descriptions with the objects themselves, which, as far as they went, were remarkably accurate; but I soon found that considerable employment was left for a gleaner.

These volumes contain a description of the country, manners, and customs of the inhabitants, natural curiosities, antiquities, mineralogy, botany, natural advantages, proposed improvements, and an account of the state of manufactures, agriculture, fisheries, and political economy, with local history and biography. My object has been to give as perfect an account as possible of every place and every thing I saw: to effect which, I have not ventured to rely entirely on my own observation, but have freely levied contributions on my predecessors; not, however, without acknowledging my obligations to them.

Among other works, I am particularly indebted to Sir John Sinclair’s Statistical Account of Scotland, which is undoubtedly the best local history that ever has appeared in any country; it will be an invaluable treasure to posterity, and reflects the highest credit on the ministers who drew up the accounts of the different parties. As persons resident on the spot must be acquainted with many particulars which will escape the traveller or occasional visitor, I have been enabled, by consulting this valuable work, to make my accounts much more perfect. In short, I trust, that from all these sources united, I have been able to have a more full and correct account of the districts through which I passed, than has been done before in a work of this kind.

This work is, I hope, adapted to serve as a guide to those who visit the Hebrides, or who make what is called the long tour of the Highlands by Fort-William, Fort-Augustus, and Inverness; or to those who make only the short tour by Inverary, Dalmaly, Dunkeld, and Stirling; or to those who only visit Lochlomond and the Falls of the Clyde. The only part not described, is the stage in the short tour between Dalmaly and Killin.

The reader will find several philosophical notes, which he may perhaps think had better have been omitted; but I was induced by the example of Dr. Darwin to hope, that by this mean some readers might be allured from the straight path of the tour, to take a glance at the secret operations of nature, and that the slight taste which they would thus have of her dainties, might give them a relish for a more sumptuous repast. It is only to the general reader that they are addressed, the philosopher will find scarcely any thing new in them; and those who have an absolute dislike to all philosophical investigations may pass them over. I have generally thrown the natural history as well as the biography into the form of notes, that they might not terrify or impede the progress of the light reader, but be in readiness to satisfy the curiosity of the inquirer.

Should it be asked why I have inserted many historical facts, such as the masacre of Glencoe, Gowrie’s conspiracy, &c. by way of episodical digresions; I can only say, that though these shall stand recorded in history, I have thought proper to insert them, because it makes the place infinitely more interesting to the traveller to have an account of every remarkable circumstance relating to it before his eye: besides, many persons visit these scenes who are not well versed in history, or who may not recollect what is connected with the places they examine.

I expect that what I have laid of the wretched situation of the inhabitants in the Highlands, will give offence to some persons, and particularly to those who have it in their power to ameliorate their condition; but I was actuated only by a desire to increase the comforts, and remove the distresses of the natives. I have in no instance knowingly lost sight of truth; it has been my wish and endeavour to speak of them as they are, nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.

I cannot let slip an opportunity of paying a slight tribute to the Companion of my tour, whose lively disposition, civility, and good nature, contributed not a little to the pleasure I received, and the productions of whole pencil form so valuable a part of this work.

I have adopted the old fashioned custom of marginal notes, on account of the ease with which references may be made by the reader: indeed, I can see no good reason for their being disused, as the additional expence is certainly not equal to the advantage attending them.

This work was composed at Glasgow, some time before I was offered the situation I now have the honour to hold in the Royal Institution of Great Britain. This the reader will perceive, from the manner in which I have mentioned Anderson’s Institution. I have not, however, thought it necessary to alter what I have there said, especially as the work was prepared for the press, and sent to London, before I had ail idea of leaving Scotland.

This work comes before the world very different from what I once expected it would. It was not written when the mind was cheerful and at ease, but in the midst of domestic distress, the most severe that the human heart can feel: it was frequently interrupted by lowness of spirits, occasioned by the sudden death of a beloved wife, the companion of my studies, and partner of my literary labours; and it was only resumed at intervals with a view to relieve a mind oppressed by grief, a state ill suited to: composition. It likewise wants the polish which it would have received from the hand of one whose taste and style were infinitely superior to my own, and this is the only rational apology I have to offer for intruding on others my private afflictions, the force of which is yet unabated; and though removed from the sad scene, the deadly arrow sticks in the wound, which in recollection bleeds as fresh as ever.

The face with rapture view’d, I view no more;
The voice with rapture heard, no more l hear:
Yet the lov’d features mem’ry’s eyes explore
Yet the lov’d accents fall on mem’rv’s ear!.

London, Feb. 18, 1800


Volume 1  |  Volume 2

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