Observations on a Tour through the Highlands and part of the Western Isles
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!.
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