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SMALL ISLES

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 247 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SMALL ISLES, a parish of islands of the Inner Hebrides, Inverness-shire, Scotland. It consists of the islands of Canna, Sanday, Rum, Eigg and Muck, lying, in the order named, like a crescent with a trend from N.W. to S.E., Canna being the most northerly and Muck the most southerly. They are separated from Skye by Cuillin Sound and from the mainland by the Sound of Ardnamurchan. The surface is moorland, pasture and mountain. They are rich in sea-fowl, the most common being the eider duck, puffin, Manx shearwater, black guillemot, kittiwake and herring gull. The fisheries include cod, regard these accounts as referring not to smallpox, but to plague. ling and herring. The rainfall amounts to 56 in. for the year, The most trustworthy statements as to the early existence of the and the temperature is fairly high, the mean for the year being disease are found in an account by the 9th-century Arabian 47° 5' F. Steamers call at Eigg at regular intervals and less often physician Rhazes, by whom its symptoms were clearly described, at Rum and Canna. Canna (pop. 49), an island of basaltic rock, its pathology explained by a humoral or fermentation theory, is situated about to m. from the nearest point of Skye, and and directions given for its treatment. During the period measures 41 M. from E. to W. and ri m. from N. to S. Potatoes, of the Crusades smallpox appears to have spread extensively barley and a little oats are grown, and the pasture being good through Europe, and hospitals for its treatment were erected the cattle are larger than most of the Hebridean breeds. The in many countries. But at this period and for centuries after-harbour is screened from south-westerly gales by the isle of wards the references to the subject include in all likelihood other Sanday. The antiquarian remains include a weather-worn diseases, no precise distinction being made between the different sculptured stone cross and the ruins of a chapel of St Columba. forms of eruptive fever. Smallpox was known in England as early Compass Hill (450 ft.) on the E. is so named from the alleged as the 13th century, and had probably existed there before. disturbance of the compasses of vessels passing within its sphere It appears to have been introduced into America by the Spaniards of influence. Sanday (pop. 44), another basaltic island, lies in the early 16th century, and there, as in Europe and throughout close to the S.E. of Canna. It measures m. from E. to W. the known world, epidemics were of frequent occurrence during and 3 M. from N. to S. Some M. S.E. of Canna is the succeeding centuries. island of Rum (pop. 149), which is situated 81 m. from the The only known factor in the origin of smallpox is contagion—nearest point of Skye, and measures Sl m. N. to S. and 8 m. from this malady being probably the most contagious of all diseases. E. to \V. Geologically, its northern half is composed of Torri- Its outbreak in epidemic form in a locality may frequently be donian sandstone, with basalt at points between the West coast traced to the introduction of a single case from a distance. and the centre, of gabbro in the south-east, with a belt of gneis- The most direct means of communicating smallpox is inoculation. sose rocks on its east seaboard and of quartz-porphyry in the By far the most common cause of conveyance of the disease, south-west. It is mountainous in the south. Among the higher however, is contact with the persons or the immediate surround-peaks are Askival (2659 ft.), Ashval (2552), Sgor-nan-Gillean ings of those already affected. The atmosphere around a small-(2503) and Allival (2368). On the north-west shore is a cliff pox patient is charged with the products of the disease, which where bloodstones are quarried. The mountains are a haunt of likewise cling to clothing, furniture &c. The disease is probably red deer. The harbour of the village of Kinloch, at the head of communicable from its earliest manifestations onwards to its Loch Scresort, is resorted to during gales from the N.W. and S. close, but it is generally held that the most infectious period Fully 4 M. S.E. and 72 M. from the nearest point of the mainland extends from the appearance of the eruption till the drying up lies the island of Eigg, or Egg (pop. 211), measuring from N. to of the pustules. Smallpox may also readily be communicated S. 5 M. and from E. to W. 31 m. It is in the main basaltic, but a by the bodies of those who have died from its effects. No age band of quartz-porphyry runs from the centre in a north-westerly is exempt from susceptibility to smallpox. Infants are occasion-direction to the coast, and there is some oolitic rock on the north ally born with the eruption or its marks upon their bodies, proving shores. On the north-east coast is a cave with a narrow mouth, that they had undergone the disease in utero. Dark-skinned opening into a hollow 255 ft. long. In it Macleod of Skye, races are said to suffer more readily and severely than whites. towards the end of the 16th century, ordered 200 Macdonalds, One attack of smallpox as a rule confers immunity from any re-inhabit ants of the isle—men, women and children—to be currence, but there are numerous exceptions to this rule. Over-suffocated, their bones being found long afterwards. The people crowding and all insanitary surroundings favour the spread of are chiefly engaged in fisheries and cattle-rearing. Three m. smallpox where it has broken out; but the most influential con-S.W. is the island of Muck (pop. 42), which is about 13 m. long dition of all is the amount of protection afforded to a community by 21 M. broad and lies fully 5 m. from the nearest point of by previous attacks and by vaccination (q.v.). Such protection, Ardnamurchan. It is almost wholly basaltic, but has some although for a time most effectual, tends to become exhausted oolite at the head of the bay on its north side. unless renewed. Hence in a large population there is always
End of Article: SMALL ISLES
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