saw a stranger yestreen;
I put the food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place;
And, in the sacred name of the Triune,
He blessed myself and my house,
My cattle and my dear ones.
And the lark said in her song,
Often, often, often,
Goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise;
Often, often, often,
Goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.
Old Gaelic Rune recovered by Kenneth
was a very humble dwelling, built of turf upon a foundation
of stones, and roofed with turf and straw. One little window
of a foot and a half square looked out on the universe. At one
end stood a stack of peat, half as big as the cottage itself.
All around it were huge rocks, some of them peaks whose masses
went down to the very central fires, others only fragments that
rolled from above. Here and there a thin crop was
growing in patches amongst them. A few of the commonest flowers
grew about the door, but there was no garden. The doorstep was
live rock, and a huge projecting rock behind formed the back
and a portion of one of the end walls. . Facing the broad south,
and leaning against the hill, as against the bosom of God, the
cottage looked so high-humble, so still, so confident, that
it drew Gibbie with the spell of heart-likeness. He knocked
at the old, weather-beaten, shrunk and rent, but well patched
door. A voice, alive with the soft vibrations of thought and
feeling, answered, “Come on in, whoever you be.”
the ancient Scots it was deemed infamous in a man to have the
door of his house shut, lest, as the bards express it, ‘the
stranger should come and behold his contracted soul’.
free and open hospitality survived much later in Scotland, and
particularly in the Highlands, than in the
supposedly more highly civilized countries of Europe.
Burns, who made a tour of the Highlands in 1787, leaves an enduring
tribute to the virtue of hospitality in the race to which he
was bound by blood and sentiment:
death’s dark stream I’ll ferry over
A time that surely shall come
In heaven itself I’ll ask no more
Than just a Highland welcome.
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