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Tough Scottish Highlanders

Hardihood was in every respect so essential to the character of a Highlander, that the reproach of effeminacy was the most bitter which could be
thrown upon him. Yet it was sometimes hazarded on what we might presume to think slight grounds. It is
reported of old Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, when upwards of seventy, that he was surprised by night on a hunting or military expedition. He wrapped him in his plaid, and lay contentedly down upon the snow, withwhich the
ground happened to be covered. Among his attendants, who were preparing to take their rest in the same manner, he observed that one of his grandsons, for his better accommodation, had rolled a large snow-ball, and placed it below his head. ‘The wrath of the ancient chief
was awakened by a symptom of what he conceived to be degenerate luxury.

“Out upon thee,” said he, kicking the frozen bolster from the head which it supported, “art thou so effeminate as
to need a pillow?”

The “Officer of Engineers,” in his curious Letters frem the Highlands, tells a similar story of Macdonald of Keppoch,
and subjoins the following remarks:

“This and many other stories are romantic; but there is one thing that at first thought might seem very romantic, of which I have been credibly assured, that when the Highianders are constraioed to lie among the hills, in
cold dry windy weather, they sometimes soak the plaid in some river or burn, and then, holding up a corner of it a
little above their heads, they turn themselves round and round, till they are enveloped by the whole mantle. They
then lay themselves down on the heath, upon the leeward side of some hill, where the wet and the warmth of their bodies make a steam, like that of a boiling kettle. The wet, they say, keeps them warm by tbickening the
stuff, and keeping the wind from penetrating.

“I must confess I should have been apt to question this fact had I not frequently seen them wet from morning
to night; and, even at the beginning of the rain, not so much as stir a few yards to shelter, but continue in it without necessity, till they were, as we say, wet
through and tbrougb. And that is soon effected by the looseness and sponginess of the plaiding ; but the bonnet is frequently taken off, and rung like a dish-cloth, and then put on again.

“They have been accustomed from their infancy to be often wet, and to take the water like spaniels, and this
is become a second nature, and can scarcely be called a hardship to them, insomuch that I used to say they seemed to be of the duck kind, and to love water as well. Though I never saw this preparation for sleep in windy
weather, yet, setting out early in a morning from one of the huts, I have seen the marks of their lodging, where
the ground has been free from rhime or snow, which remained all round the spot where they had lain.”



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