A long' drive down the steep pass brought us to the place which Boswell said was "a rich green valley, comparatively speaking." A little way beyond it lay the twenty huts which formed the village of Auchnasheal. " One of them," says Johnson, " was built of loose stones, piled up with great thickness into a strong, though not solid wall. From this house we obtained some great pails of milk, and having brought bread with us were very liberally regaled." The curious scene which they witnessed here is thus described by Boswell :
" We sat down on a green turf-seat at the end of a house ; they brought us out two wooden dishes of milk, 1 which we tasted. One of them was frothed like a syllabub. I saw a woman preparing it with such a slick as is used for chocolate, and in the same manner. We had a considerable circle about us, men, women, and children, all M'Craas, Lord Seaforth's people. Not one of them could speak English. I observed to Dr. Johnson, it was much the same as being with a tribe of Indians. Johnson : ' Yes, sir, but not so terrifying.' I gave all who chose it snuff and tobacco. Governor Trapaud had made us buy a quantity at Fort Augustus, and put them up in small parcels. I also gave each person a piece of wheat bread, which they had never tasted before. 1 then gave a penny apiece to each child. I told Dr. Johnson of this : upon which he called to Joseph and our guides, for change for a shilling, and declared that he would distribute among the children. Upon this being announced in Erse, there was a great stir : not only did some children come running down from neighbouring huts, but I observed one black-haired man, who had been with us all along, had gone off, and returned, bringing a very young child. My fellow-traveller then ordered the children to be drawn up in a row, and he dealt about his copper, and made them and their parents all happy."
"It was the best clay the McCraas declared they had seen since the time of the old laird of Macleod." He, no doubt, had made a halt in their valley on his way to or from Skye. The snuff and tobacco must have won their hearts more even than the money. "Nothing," Johnson was told, "gratified the Highlanders so much." Knox recorded a few years later that "any stranger who cannot take a pinch of snuff or give one is looked upon with an evil eye."' So uncommon was wheaten bread even a quarter of a century later, that Dr. Garnett, after leaving Inverary, tasted none till he reached Inverness. 3 At present it can be had in most places, being brought by the steamers in large boxes from Glasgow, and transported inland in the country carts. The way in which the villagers had gathered round the travellers had startled even
1 Johnson calls them fails. In his time pails 2 J. Knox's Tour through the Higltlands in
were only made of wood, if we can trust his de- 1786, p. 255. finition of the word in his Dictionary. 3 T. Game-It's Observations, &c., ii. 12.