Plate XXVI.

                                          FINGAL'S CAVE.

THIS singular production of nature is found on the island Staffa, one of the smallest of the Hebrides,
being about a mile long, and not more than half a mile wide. The whole island is composed of a basaltic
rock, similar to the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. This cave, which the Highlanders have appropriated
to their favourite hero, Fingal, is formed by an opening into the rock. It is impossible to give a better
description of this place, than by using the words of Mr. Stoddart, in his excellent "Remarks on local
Manners and Scenery in Scotland," to whom this work, in its descriptions, has been so much obliged.
"The most striking scene in the whole island, that, in which nature seems to have striven with, and
and vanquished, art in her own province, is the great cave, called Uaimh na Fion, the Cave of Fingal.
The predilection of the Highlanders for their favourite chief is not ill shown, in assigning to him so mag-
nificent a hall, which seems formed by nature for the assemblage of great and venerable characters. The
entrance is an irregular arch fifty-three feet broad and one hundred and seventeen high; the interior is
two hundred and fifty in length, and appears still longer from the diminishing perspective. The sides,
which are straight, are divided into pillars; some of those on the east, having been broken off near the
base, form a passage along that side, by which, with some difficulty, I reached the farthest end, and
seated myself in a kind of natural throne, formed in the rock. From this seat, the general effect of the
cave appears truly magnificent, and well calculated to form the eye and taste of a picturesque architect.
The broken, irregular, basaltic roof resembled the rich ornaments of some grand gothic building; the
truncated columns on the sides, those ranged seats, on which it might be supposed, that the Fingalian
heroes, "in close recess, and secret conclave, sat, frequent and full." The knowledge of this extraordinary
spot is one of the many benefits, which have been conferred on public taste and science by Sir Joseph
Banks, who visited it in 1772, and drew up the first correct and interesting account of it." The fragments
of pillars, composing the roof, are cemented by a calcarious, sparry matter, (crystallised carbonate of lime)
of a light yellow colour, which, when contrasted with the dark purple of the stone itself, produces an
effect, similar to mosaic work. In fine weather the boats can reach the farthest end of the cave, but, with
the least swell, are liable to be dashed to pieces.—This view was taken in 1799.