I was conducted through the rooms opened to visitors by a very gentlemanly-looking man, who might be taken for an author himself, from his intellectual appearance and conversation. The library is the largest of all the apartments—fifty feet by sixty. Nor is it too large for the collection of books it contains, which numbers about 20,000 volumes, many of them very rare and valuable. But the soul-centre of the building to me was the study, opening into the library. There is the small writing-table, and there is the plain armchair in which he sat by it and worked out those creations of fancy which have excited such interest through the world. That square foot over against this chair, where his paper lay, is the focus, the point of incidence and reflection, of thoughts that pencilled outward, like sun-rays, until their illumination reached the antipodes,—thoughts that brought a pleasant shining to the sun- burnt face of the Australian shepherd as he watched his flock at noon from under the shadow of a stunted tree; thoughts which made a cheery fellowship at night for the Hudson Bay hunter, in his snow- buried cabin on the Saskatchiwine. The books of this little inner library were the body-guard of his genius, chosen to be nearest him in the outsallyings of his imagination. Here is a little conversational closet, with a window in it to let in the leaf-sifted light and air—a small recess large enough for a couple of chairs or so, which he called a "Speak-a-bit." Here is something so near his personality that it almost startles you like a sudden apparition of himself. It is a glass case containing the clothes he last wore on earth,—the large-buttoned, blue coat, the plaid trousers, the broad-brimmed hat, and heavy, thick-soled shoes which he had on when he came in from his last walk to lay himself down and die.
On signing my name in the register, I was affected at a coincidence which conveyed a tribute of respect to the memory of the great author of striking significance, while it recorded the painful catastrophe which has broken over upon the American Republic. It was a sad sight to me to see the profane and suicidal antagonisms which have rent it in twain brought to the shrine of this great memory and graven upon its sacred tablet as it were with the murdering dagger's point. New and bad initials! The father and patriot Washington would have wept tears of blood to have read them here,—to have read them anywhere, bearing such deplorable meaning. They were U.S.A. and C.S.A., as it were chasing each other up and down the pages of the visitors' register. Sad, sad was the sight— sadder, in a certain sense, than the smoke-wreaths of the Tuscarora and Alabama ploughing the broad ocean with their keels. U.S.A. and C.S.A.! What initials for Americans to write, with the precious memories of a common history and a common weal still held to their hearts—to write here or anywhere! What a riving and a ruin do those letters record! Still they brought in their severed hands a common homage-gift to the memory of the Writer of Abbotsford. If they represented the dissolution of a great political fabric, in which they once gloried with equal pride, they meant union here—a oneness indissoluble in admiration for a great genius whose memory can no more be localised to a nation than the interest of his works.
American names, both of the North and South, may be found on almost every page of the register. I wrote mine next to that of a gentleman from Worcester, Mass., my old place of residence, who only left an hour before my arrival. Abbotsford and Stratford-upon-Avon are points to which our countrymen converge in their travels in this country; and you will find more of their signatures in the registry of these two haloed homesteads of genius than anywhere else in Europe.
The valley of the Tweed in this section is all an artist would delight in as a surrounding of such histories. The hills are lofty, declining into gorges or dells at different angles with the river, which they wall in precipitously with their wooded sides in many places. They are mostly cultivated to the top, and now in harvest many of them were crowned with stooked sheaves of wheat, each looking in the distance like Nature with her golden curls done up in paper, dressing for the harvest-home of the season. Some of them wore belts and gores of turnip foliage of different nuances of green luxuriance, combining with every conceivable shade and alternation of vegetable coloring. Indeed, as already intimated, the view from the eminence almost overhanging the little sequestered peninsula on which Old Melrose stood twelve centuries ago, is indescribably beautiful, and well worth a long journey to see, disconnected from its historical associations. The Eildon Hills towering up heather- crowned to the height of over 1,300 feet above the level of the sea right out of the sheen of barley fields, as from a sea of silver, form one of the salient features of this glorious landscape. This is an interesting peculiarity of Scotch scenery;—civilization sapping the barbarism of the wilderness; wheat-fields mordant biting in upon peaty moorlands, or climbing to the tops of cold, bald mountains, shearing off their thorny locks of heather and covering them with the well-dressed chevelure of yellow grain. Where the farmer's horse cannot climb with the plough, or the little sheep cannot graze to advantage, human hands plant the Scotch larch or fir, just as a tenant-gardener would set out cabbage-plants in odd corners of his little holding which he could have no other use for.
Abbotsferry is just above Abbotsford, and is crossed in a small row- boat. The river here is of considerable width and quite rapid. The boat was kept on the other side; so I hallooed to a man engaged in thatching a rick of oats to come and ferry me over. Without descending from the ladder, he called to some one in the cottage, when, to my surprise, a well-dressed young woman, in rather flowing dress, red jacket, and with her hair tastefully done up in a net a- la-mode, made her appearance. Descending to the river, she folded up her gown, and, settling herself to the oars, "pushed her light shallop from the shore" with the grace of The Lady of the Lake. In a few minutes she ran the prow upon the pebbled beach at my feet, and I took my seat at the other end of the boat. She did it all so naturally, and without any other flush upon her pleasant face than that of the exercise of rowing, that I felt quite easy myself and checked the expression of regret I was on the point of uttering for putting her to such service. A few questions convinced me it was her regular employment, especially when her father was busy. I could not help asking her if she had ever read "The Lady of the Lake," but found that neither that romance nor any other had ever invested her river experience with any sensibility except of a cheerful duty. She was going to do the whole for a penny, her usual charge, but I declined to take back any change for the piece of silver I gave to her, intimating that I regarded it cheap at that to be rowed over a river by such hands.
Almost opposite to Abbotsford I passed one of the best farming establishments I had seen in Scotland. I was particularly struck with a feature which will hereafter distinguish the steddings or farm buildings in Great Britain. Steam has already accomplished many changes, and among others one that could hardly have been anticipated when it was first applied to common uses. It has virtually turned the threshing-floor out of doors. Grain growing has become completely out-of-door work, from seeding to sending to market. The day of building two-story barns for storing and threshing wheat, barley and oats is over, I am persuaded, in this country. A quadrangle of slate-roofed cow-sheds, for housing horses and cattle, will displace the old-fashioned barns, each with its rood of roof. This I saw on crossing the Tweed was quite new, and may serve as a model of the housing that will come into vogue rapidly. One familiar with New England in the "old meeting-house" time would call this establishment a hollow square of horse-sheds, without a break or crevice at the angles.
I reached Galashiels about 5 p.m., and stopped an hour for tea. This is a vigorous and thrifty town, that makes a profitable and useful business of the manufacture of tweeds, tartans and shawls. It is situated on the banks of the Gala, a little, rapid, shallow river that joins the Tweed about a mile below. After tea I resumed my walk, but owing to the confused direction of the landlady, took the wrong side of the river, and diverged westward toward Peebles. I had made three miles or more in this direction before I found out my mistake, so was obliged to return to Galashiels, where I concluded to spend the night, after another involuntary excursion more unsatisfactory than my walk around Sheffield, inasmuch as I had to travel over the same road twice for the whole distance. Thus the three mistakes thus far made have cost me twenty miles of extra footing. The next morning I set out in good season, determined to reach Edinburgh, if possible, by night.
Followed the Gala Water, as it is called here, just as if it were a placid lake or land-locked bay, though it is a tortuous and swift- running stream. The scenery was still picturesque, in some places very grand and romantic. There was one great amphitheatre just before reaching the village of Stow which was peculiarly interesting. It was a great bowl full of earth's glory up to the very rim. The circular wall was embossed with the best patterns and colors of vegetation. The hills of every tournure showed each in a fir setting, looking, with their sloping fields of grain, like inverted goblets of gold vined with emerald leafwork. In the valley a reaping machine was at work with its peculiar chatter and clatter, and men and women were following in its wake, gathering up and binding the grain as it fell and clearing the way for the next round. Up and down these hills frequently runs a stripe of Scotch firs or larches a few rods wide; here and there they resemble those geometrical figures often seen in gardens and pleasure grounds. The sun peeping out of the clouds, and flooding these features with a sudden, transient river of light, gives them a glow and glory that would delight the artist. After a long walk through such scenery, I reached, late in the evening, Auld Reekie, a favorite home-name which the modern Athenians love to give to Edinburgh. Being anxious to push on and complete my journey as soon as practicable, I only remained in the celebrated Scotch metropolis one night, taking staff early next morning, and holding northward towards the Highlands.
Edinburgh has made its mark upon the world and its place among the great centres of the world's civilization. On the whole, no city in Great Britain, or in Christendom, has ever attained to such well- developed, I will not say angular, but salient individuality. This is deep-featured and ineffaceable. It is, not was. Edinburgh has reared great men prolifically and supplied the world with them, and kept always a good number back for itself to give a shaping to others the world needed. Its prestige is great in the production of such intellects. But it keeps up with the times. It is faithful to its antecedents, and appreciates them at their full value and obligation. It does not lie a-bed until noon because it has got its name up for educating brilliant minds. Its grand old University holds its own among the wranglers of learning. Its High School is proportionately as high as ever, notwithstanding the rapid growth of others of the same purpose. Its pulpit boasts of its old mind-power and moral stature. Its Theology stands iron-cabled, grand and solid as an iceberg in the sea of modern speculation, unsoftened under the patter of the heterodox sentimentalities of human philanthropy. It is growing more and more a City of Palaces. And the palaces are all built for housing the poorest of the poor, the weakest of the weak and the vilest of the vile. These hospitals are the Holyroods of Edinburgh II. They honor it with a renown better than the royal palace of the latter name ever won.
I said Edinburgh the Second. That is correct. There are two towns, the Old and the New; the last about half a century's age. But the oldest will be the youngest fifty years hence. The hand of a "higher civilization," with its spirit-level, pick, plane and trowel, is upon it with the grip of a Samson. That hand will tone down its great distinctive individualities and give it the modern uniformity of design, face and feature. All these tall houses, built skyward layer upon layer or flat upon flat, until they show half a dozen stories on one street, and twice that number on the other, are doomed, and they will be done for, one by one in its turn. They probably came in with Queen Mary, and they will go out under the blue-eyed Alexandra. They will be supplanted by the most improved architecture of modern taste and utilitarianism. Edinburgh will be Anglicised and put in the fashionable costume of a progressive age; in the same swallow-tailed coat, figured vest and stovepipe hat worn by London, Liverpool and Manchester. It will not be allowed to wear tweed pantaloons except for one circumstance;— that it is now building its best houses of stone instead of brick.
But there are physical features that will always distinguish Edinburgh from all other cities of the world and which no architectural changes can ever obliterate or deface. There are Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Crags, the Calton Hill, and the Castle Height, and there they will stand forever—the grandest surroundings and garniture of Nature ever given to any capital or centre of the earth's populations.
LOCH LEVEN-ITS ISLANDCASTLE—STRATHS—PERTH—SALMON-BREEDING— THOUGHTS ON FISH-FARMING—DUNKELD—BLAIR ATHOLL—DUCAL TREE-PLANTER- -STRATHSPEY AND ITS SCENERY—THE ROADS—SCOTCH CATTLE AND SHEEP— NIGHT IN A WAYSIDE COTTAGE—ARRIVAL AT INVERNESS.
On Friday, Sept. 11th, I left for the north the morning after my arrival in Edinburgh, hoping to finish my long walk before the rainy season commenced. My old friend and host accompanied me across the Forth, by the Granton Ferry, and walked with me for some distance on the other side; then bidding me God-speed, he returned to the city. The weather was fine, and the farmers were very busy at work. A vast quantity of grain, especially of oats, was cut and ready for carting; but little of it had been ricked in consequence of frequent showers. I noticed that they used a different snath for their scythes here from that common in England. It is in two parts, like the handles of a plough, joining a foot or two above the blade. One is shorter than the other, each having a thole. It is a singular contrivance, but seems to be preferred here to the old English pole. I have never seen yet an American scythe-snath in England or Scotland, although so much of our implemental machinery has been introduced. American manure-forks and hay-forks, axes and augurs you will now find exposed for sale in nearly every considerable town, but one of our beautifully mounted scythes would be a great novelty here.
The scenery varies, but retains the peculiarly Scotch features. Hills which we should call mountains are frequently planted with trees as far up as the soil will lie upon the precipitous sides. On passing one of great height, bald at the top, but bearded to the eyebrows with fir and larch, I asked an elderly man, a blacksmith, standing in his shop-door, if they were a natural growth. He said that he and his two boys planted them all about forty-eight years ago. They were now worth, on an average, twelve English shillings, or about three dollars a-piece.
I lodged in Kinross, a pleasant-faced, quiet and comfortable little town, done up with historical associations of special interest. Here is Loch Leven, serene and placid, like a mirror framed with wooded hills, looking at their faces in it. It is a beautiful sheet of water, taking the history out of it. But putting that in and around it, you see a picture before you that you will remember. Here is more of Mary the Unfortunate. You see reflected in the silver sheen of the lake that face which looks at you with its soft appeal for sympathy in all the galleries of Christendom. Out there, on that little islet, green and low, stands the black castle in which they prisoned her. There they made her trembling, indignant fingers write herself "a queen without a crown." Southward there, where amateurs now fish for trout, young Douglas rowed her ashore with muffled oars so softly that they stirred no ripple at the bow. The keys of the castle they threw into the lake to bar pursuit, lay in the mud for nearly three centuries, when they were found by a lad of the village, and presented to the Earl of Morton, a representative of the Douglas family.
The next day I walked on to Perth, passing through a very interesting section, which nature and history have enriched with landscapes and manscapes manifold. It is truly a romantic region for both these qualities, with delightful views in sudden and frequent alternation. Glens deep, winding and dark, with steep mountain walls folding their tree-hands over the road; lofty hills in full Scotch uniform, in tartan heather and yellow grain plaided in various figures; chippering streams, now hidden, now coming to the light, in white flashing foam in a rocky glade of the dell; straths or savannas, like great prairie gardens, threaded by meandering rivers and studded with wheat in sheaves, shocks and ricks, seen over long reaches of unreapt harvests; villages, hamlets, white cottages nestling in the niches and green gorges of the mountains,—and all these sceneries set in romantic histories dating back to the Danes and their doings in Scotland, make up a prevista for the eye and a revista for the mind that keep both in exhilarating occupation every rod of the distance from Kinross to Perth.
The road via Glenfarg would be a luxury of the first enjoyment to any tourist with an eye to the wild, romantic and picturesque. Debouching from this long, winding, tree-arched dell, you come out upon Strathearn, or the bottom-land of the river Earn, which joins the Tay a few miles below. The term strath is peculiarly a Scottish designation which many American readers may not have fully comprehended, although it is so blended with the history and romance of this country. It is not a valley proper, as we use that term; as the Valley of the Mississippi or the Valley of the Connecticut. If the word were admissible, it might be called most descriptively the land-bay of a river, at a certain distance between its source and mouth, such for instance as the German Flats on the Mohawk, or the Oxbow on the Connecticut, at Wethersfield, in Vermont, or the great onion-growing flat on the same river at Wethersfield in Connecticut. These straths are numerous in Scotland, and constitute the great productive centres of the mountain sections. They are generally cultivated to the highest perfection of agricultural science and economy and are devoted mostly to grain. As they are always walled in by bald-headed mountains and lofty hills, cropped as high as man and horse can climb with a plough and planted with firs and larches beyond, they show beautifully to the eye, and constitute, with these surroundings, the peculiar charm of Scotch scenery. The term is always prefixed to the name of the river, as Strathearn, Strathspey, etc.
I noticed on this day's walk the same singular habit that struck me in the north part of Yorkshire; that is, of cutting inward upon the standing grain. Several persons, frequently women and boys, follow the mowers, and pick up the swath and bind it into sheaves, using no rake at all in the process. So pertinaciously they seem to adhere to this remarkable and awkward custom, that I saw two mowers walk down a hill, a distance of full a hundred rods, with their scythes under their arms, in order to begin a new swath in the same way; four or five men and women running after them full tilt to bind the grain as it fell! Here was a loss of at least five minutes each to half a dozen hands, amounting to half an hour to a single man at the end of each swath or work. Supposing the mowers made twenty in ten hours from bottom to top of the field, here is the loss of one whole day for one man, or one sixth of the whole aggregate time applied to the harvesting of the crop, given to the mere running down that hill of six pairs of legs for no earthly purpose but to cut inward instead of outward, as we do. The grain-ricks in Scotland are nearly all round and quite small. Every one of them is rounded up at the top and fitted with a Mandarin-looking hat of straw, which sheds the rain well. A good-sized farm-house is flanked with quite a village of these little round stacks, looking like a comfortable colony of large, yellow tea-caddies in the distance.
Reached Perth a little after dark, having made a walk of nearly twenty miles after 11 a.m. Here I remained over the Sabbath, and greatly enjoyed both its rest and the devotional exercises in some of the churches of the city.
The Fair City of Perth is truly most beautifully situated at the head of navigation on the Tay, as Stirling is on the Forth. It has no mountainous eminence in its midst, castle-crowned, like Stirling, from which to look off upon such a scene as the latter commands. But Nature has erected grand and lofty observatories near by in the Moncrieffe and Kinnoull Hills, from which a splendid prospect is unrolled to the eye. There is some historical or legendary authority for the idea that the Romans contemplated this view from Moncrieffe Hill; and, as the German army, returning homeward from France, shouted with wild enthusiasm, at its first sight, Der Rhein! Der Rhein! so these soldiers of the Caesars shouted at the view of the Tay and the Corse of Gowrie, Ecce Tiber! Ecce Compus Martius! There was more patriotism than parity in the comparison. The Italian river is a Rhine in history, but a mere Goose Creek within its actual banks compared with the Tay. In history, Perth has its full share of "love and murder," rhyme and romance, sieges, battering and burning, royals and rebels. In the practical life of to-day, it is a progressive, thriving town, busy, intelligent, respected and honorable. The two natural features which would attract, perhaps, the most special attention of the traveller are the two Inches, North and South, divided by the city. This is a peculiar Scotch term which an untravelled American will hardly understand. It has no relation to measurement of any kind; but signifies what we should call a low, level green or common in or adjoining a town. The Inches of Perth are, to my eye, the finest in Scotland, each having about a mile and a half in circumference, and making delightful and healthy playgrounds and promenades for the whole population.
On Monday, Sept. 14th, I took staff and set out for another week- stage of my walk, or from Perth to Inverness. Crossed the Tay and proceeded northward up the east side of that fertile river. Fertile may sound at first a singular qualification for a broad, rapid stream running down out of the mountains and widening into a bay or firth at its mouth. But it may be applied in the best sense of production to the Tay; and not only that, but other terms known to practical agriculture. Up to the present moment, no river in the world has been cultivated with more science and success. None has been sown so thickly with seed-vitalities or produced more valuable crops of aquatic life. Here salmon are hatched by hand and folded and herded with a shepherd's care. Here pisciculture, or, to use a far better and more euphonious word, fish-farming, is carried to the highest perfection in Great Britain. It is a tillage that must hereafter take its place with agriculture as a great and honored industry. If the cold, bald-headed mountains, the wild, stony reaches of poverty-stricken regions, moor, morass, steppe and prairie are made the pasturage of sheep innumerable, the thousands of rivers in both hemispheres will not be suffered to run to waste through another century. The utilitarian genius of the present age will turn them into pasturage worth more per acre than the value of the richest land on their banks. Just think of the pasturage of the Tay. It rents for 14,000 pounds a year; and those who hire it must make it produce at least 50,000 pounds, or $240,000 annually. Let us assume that the whole length of this salmon-pasturage is fifty miles, and its average width one-eighth of a mile. Then the whole distance would contain the space of 4,000 square acres, and the annual rent for fishing would amount to over 3 pounds 13s. per acre. This would make every fish-bearing acre of the river worth 100 pounds, calculated on the land basis of interest or rent.
Having heard of the Stormontfields' Ponds for breeding salmon, I had a great desire to see them. They are situated on the Tay, a few miles above Perth, and are well worthy of the inspection and admiration of the scientific as well as the utilitarian world. The process is as simple as it is successful and valuable. A race or canal, filled with a clear, mountain stream, and constructed many years ago to supply motive power to a corn-mill, runs parallel with the river, at the distance from it of about twenty rods. At right angles with this stream, there are twenty-five wooden boxes side by side, about fifty feet in length, placed on a slight decline. These boxes or troughs, each about two feet wide and one foot deep, are divided into partitions by cross-boards, which do not reach, within a few inches, the top of the siding, so that the water shall make a continuous surface the whole length of the trough. Each trough is filled with round river stones or pebbles washed clean, on which the spawn is laid. The water is let out of the mill-race upon these troughs through a wire-cloth filter, covering them about two inches deep above the stones. At the bottom, a lateral channel or race, running at right angles to the troughs, conducts the waste water in a rapid, bubbling stream down into the feeding-pond, which covers the space of about one-fifth of an acre, close to the river, with which it is connected by a narrow race gated also with a wire-cloth, to prevent the little living mites from being carried off before their time.
This may serve to give the reader some approximate idea of the construction of the fish-fold. The next process is the stocking it with the breeding ewes of the sea and river. The female salmon is caught in the spawning season with a net, and the ova are expressed from her by passing the hand gently down the body, when she is again put into the river to go on her way. The manager told me that they generally reckoned upon a thousand eggs to a pound of the salmon caught. Thus fourteen good-sized fish would stock the twenty-five troughs. When hatched, the little things run down into the race- way, which carries them into the feeding-pond. Here they are fed twice daily, with five pounds of beef's liver pulverised. They remain in this water-yard from April to autumn, when the gate is raised and they are let out into the river. And it is a very singular and interesting fact that those only go which have got their sea-coats on them, or have reached the "smolt" character. The smaller fry remain in the pond until, as it has been said in higher circles of society, their beards are grown, or, in their case, until their scales are grown, to fit them for the rough and tumble of salt-water life.
The growth of the little bull-headed mites, after being turned into the river-pasture, is wonderful—more rapid than that of lambs of the Southdown breed. The keeper had marked some of them, on letting them out, by clipping the dorsal fin. On being caught six or eight months afterward, they weighed from five to seven pounds against half a pound each when sent forth to take care of themselves. The proprietors of the fisheries defray the expense of this breeding establishment, being taxed only twopence in the pound of their rental. This, of course, they get back with large interest and profit from the tenant-farmers of the river. As a proof of the enhanced production of the Tay fisheries under this cultivation the fact will suffice, that they now rent for 14,000 pounds a year against 11,000 pounds under the old system.
Salmon-breeding is doubtless destined to rank with sheep-culture and cattle-culture in the future. The remotest colonies of Great Britain are moving in the matter with vigor and almost enthusiasm. Vessels have been constructed on purpose to convey this fair and mottled stock of British rivers to those of Australia and New Zealand. In France, fish-farming has become a large and lucrative occupation. I hope our own countrymen, who plume themselves on going ahead in utilitarian enterprises, will show the world what they can do in this. Surely our New England men, who claim to lead in American industries and ingenuities, will not suffer half a million acres of river-pasturage to run to waste for another half century, when it would fold and feed millions of salmon. Once they herded in the Connecticut in such multitudes that a special stipulation was inserted in the indentures of apprentices in the vicinity of the river, that they should not be obliged to eat salmon more than a certain number of times in a week. Now, if a salmon is caught between the mouth and source of the river, it is blazoned forth in the newspapers as a very extraordinary and unnatural event. There is no earthly reason why the Connecticut should not breed and supply as great a number of these excellent and beautiful fish as the Tay. Its waters are equally pure and quiet as those of the Scotch river. Every acre of the Connecticut, from the northernmost bridge that spans it in Vermont to its debouchment at Saybrook, might be made productive of as great a value as any onion-garden acre at Wethersfield.
The salmon-shepherd at Stormontfields, having fully explained the labors and duties of his charge, rowed me across the Tay, and I continued my walk highly gratified in having seen one of the new industries which this age is adding to the different cultures provided for the sustentation and comfort of human life. The whole way to Dunkeld was full of interest, nature and history making every mile a scene to delight the eye and exhilarate the mind. The first considerable village I passed through was Stanley, which gives the name to that old family of British peers known in history by the battle-cry of a badly-pressed sovereign, "On, Stanley, on!" Murthley Castle, the seat of Sir William Stewart, and the beautiful grounds which front and surround it, will excite the admiration of the traveller and pay him well for a moment's pause to peruse its illuminated pages opened to his view. The baronet is regarded as an eccentric man, perhaps chiefly because he has built a splendid Roman Catholic chapel quite near to his mansion and supports a priest of that order mostly for his own spiritual good. Near Dunkeld, Birnam Hill lifts its round, dark, bushy head to the height of over 1,500 feet, grand and grim, as if it wore the bonnet of Macbeth and hid his dagger beneath its tartan cloak of firs. "Birnam Wood," which Shakespeare's genius has made one of the immortals among earthly localities, was the setting of that hill in his day, and perhaps centuries before it. Crossing the Tay by a magnificent bridge, you are in the famous old city and capital of ancient Caledonia, Dunkeld. Here centre some of the richest rivulets of Scotch history, ecclesiastical and military, of church and state, cowl and crown. Walled in here, on the upper waters of the Tay, by dark and heavily-wooded mountains, it was just the place for the earliest monks to select as the site of one of their cloistered communities. The two best saints ever produced by these islands, St. Columba and St. Cuthbert, are said to have been connected with the religious foundations of this little sequestered city. The old cathedral, having been knocked about like other Roman Catholic edifices in the sledge-hammer crusades of the Reformation, was ruined very picturesquely, as a tourist, with one of Murray's red-book guides in his hand, would be likely to say. But the choir was rebuilt and fitted up for worship by the late Duke of Atholl at the expense of about 5,000 pounds.
Of this duke I must say a few words, for he has left the greenest monument to his memory that a man ever planted over his grave. He did something more and better than roofing the choir of a ruined cathedral. He roofed a hundred hills and valleys with a larch-and- fir work that will make them as glorious and beautiful as Lebanon forever. One of the most illustrious and eloquent of the Iroquois aristocracy was a chief called Corn-planter. This Duke of Atholl should be named and known for evermore as the great Tree-planter of Christendom. We have already dwelt upon the benefaction that such a man leaves to coming generations. This Scotch nobleman virtually founded a new order of knighthood far more useful and honorable than the Order of the Garter. To talk of garters!—why, he not only put the cold, ragged shivering hills of Scotland into garters, but into stockings waist high, and doublets and bonnets and shoes of beautifully green and thick fir-plaid. He planted 11,000 square acres with the larch alone; and thousands of these acres stood up edgewise against mountains and hills so steep that the planters must have spaded the holes with ropes around their waists to keep them from falling down the precipice. It is stated that he had twenty- seven millions of the larch alone planted on his mountainous estates, besides several millions of other trees. Now, it is doubtful if the whole region thus dibbled with this tree-crop yielded an average rental of one English shilling per acre as a pasturage for sheep. On passing through miles and miles of this magnificent wood-grain and taking an estimate of its value, I put it at 10s., or $2 40c. per tree. Of the twenty-seven millions of larches thus planted, ten must be worth that sum; making alone, without counting the rest, 5,000,000 pounds, or $24,000,000. It is quite probable that the larches, firs and other trees now covering the Atholl estates, would sell for 10,000,000 pounds if brought to the hammer. But he was not only the greatest arboriculturist in the world, but the founder of tree-farming as a productive industry as well as a decorative art. Already it has transformed the Highlands of Scotland and trebled their value, as well as clothed them with a new and beautiful scenery. What we call the Scotch larch was not originally a native of that country. Close to the cathedral in Dunkeld stand the two patriarchs of the family, first introduced into Scotland from Switzerland in 1737.
Having remained the best part of two days in Dunkeld, I held on northward, through heavily-shaded and winding glen and valley to Blair Atholl. For the whole distance of twenty miles the country is quite Alpine, wild and grand, with mountains larched or firred to the utmost reach and tenure of soil for roots; deep, dark gorges pouring down into the narrowing river their foamy, dashing streams; mansions planted here and there on sloping lawns showing sunnily through groves and parks; now a hamlet of cottages set in the side of a lofty hill, now a larger village opening suddenly upon you at the turning of the turnpike road. I reached Blair Atholl at about dark, and lodged at the largest hotel I slept in between London and John O'Groat's. It is virtually the tourist's inn; for this is the centre of some of the most interesting and striking sceneries and localities in Scotland. Glens, waterfalls, stream, torrent, mountain and valley, with their romantic histories, make this a very attractive region to thousands of summer travellers from England and other countries. The railway from Perth to Inverness via Dunkeld and Blair Atholl, has just opened up this secluded Scotch Switzerland to multitudes who never would have seen it without the help of the Iron Horse. A month previous, this point had been the most distant in Scotland from steam-routes of transportation and travel. Now southern sportsmen were hiring up "the shooting" for many miles on both sides of the line, making the hills and glens echo with their fusillades. Blair Castle, the duke's mansion, is a very ordinary building in appearance, looking from the public road like a large four-story factory painted white, with small, old- fashioned windows. He himself was lying in a very painful and precarious condition, with a cancer in the throat, from which it was the general impression that he never would recover. The day preceding, the Queen had visited him, while en route for Balmoral, having gone sixty miles out of her way to comfort him with such an expression of her sympathy.
The next day I reached the northern boundary of the Duke of Atholl's estates, having walked for full forty miles continuously through it. Passed over a very bleak, treeless, barren waste of mountain and moorland, most of it too rocky or soilless for even heather. The dashing, flashing, little Garry, which I had followed for a day or two, thinned and narrowed down to a noisy brook as I ascended towards its source. For a long distance the country was exceedingly wild and desolate. Terrible must be the condition of a man benighted therein, especially in winter. There were standing beacons all along the road for miles, to indicate the track when it was buried in drifting snow. These were painted posts, about six or eight feet high, planted on the rocky, river side of the road, at a few rods interval, to guide the traveller and keep him from dashing over the concealed precipices. About the middle of the afternoon I reached the summit of the two watersheds, where a horse's hoof might so dam a balancing stream as to send it southward into the Tay or northward into the Moray Firth. Soon a rivulet welled out in the latter direction with a decided current. It was the Spey. A few miles brought me suddenly into a little, glorious world of beauty. The change of theatrical sceneries could hardly have produced a more sudden and striking contrast than this presented to the wild, cold, dark waste through which I had been travelling for a day. It was Strathspey; and I doubt if there is another view in Scotland, of the same dimensions, to equal it. It was indescribably grand and beautiful, if you could blend the meaning of these two commonly- coupled adjectives into one qualification, as you can blend two colors on the easel. To get the full enjoyment of the scene at one draught, you should enter it first from the south, after having travelled for twenty miles without seeing a sheaf of wheat or patch of vegetation tilled by the hand of man. I know nothing in America to compare it with or to help the American reader to an approximate idea of it. Imagine a land-lake, apparently shut in completely by a circular wall of mountains of every stature, the tallest looking over the shoulders of the lower hills, like grand giants standing in steel helmets and green doublets and gilded corselets, to see the soft and quiet beauty of the valley sleeping under their watch and ward. As the sun-bursts from the strath-skies above darted out of their shifting cloud-walls and flashed a flush of light upon the solemn brows of these majestic apostles of nature one by one, they stood haloed, like the favored saints in Scripture in the overflow of the Transfiguration. It was just the kind of day to make the scene glorious indescribably. The clouds and sky were in the happiest disposition for the brilliant plays and pictures of light and shade, and dissolving views of fascinating splendor succeeded and surpassed each other at a minute's interval. Now, the great land-lake, on whose bosom floated in the sunlight a thousand islands oat-and-barley-gilded, and rimmed with the green and purple verdure of the turnip and rutabaga, was all set a-glow by a luminous flood from the opening clouds above. The next moment they closed this disparted seam in their drapery, and opened a side one upon the still, grave faces of the surrounding mountains; and, for a few minutes, the smile went round from one to the other, and the great centurions of the hills looked happy and almost human in the gleam. Then shade's turn came in the play, and it played its part as perfectly as light. It put in the touch of the old Italian masters, giving an everchanging background to all the sublime pictures of the panorama.
I was not alone in the enjoyment of this scenery. For the first time in this Walk I had a companion for a day. A clergyman from near Edinburgh joined me at Kingussie, with whom I shared the luxury of one of the most splendid views to be found in Scotland. Indeed, few minds are so constituted as to prefer to see such natural pictures alone. After a day's walk among these sceneries, we came to the small village of Aviemore in the dusk of the evening. Here we found that the only inn had been closed and turned into a private residence, and that it was doubtful if a bed could be had for love or money in the place. The railway through it to Inverness had just been opened, and the navvies seemed still to constitute the largest portion of the population. Neither of us had eaten any dinner, and we were hungry as well as tired. Seeing a little, low cottage near the railroad, with the sign of something for the public good over the door, we went to it, and found that it had two rooms, one a kind of rough, stone-floored shed, the other an apartment full ten feet square, with two beds in it, which occupied half the entire space. But, small as it was, the good man and woman made the most of it in the way of entertainment, getting up a tea occasionally for persons stopping over in the village at a meal-time, also selling small articles of grocery to the laborers. Everything was brought from a distance, even their bread, bacon and butter. Their stock of these fundamentals was exhausted, so that they could not give us anything with our tea until the arrival of the train from the north, which we all watched with common interest. In the course of half an hour it came, and soon our cabin-landlord brought in a large basket full of the simplest necessaries of life, which we were quite prepared to enjoy as its best luxuries. Soon a wood fire blazed for us in the double-bedded parlor, and the unpainted deal table was spread in the fire-light with a repast we relished with a pleasant appreciation.
My companion was bound northward by the next train in that direction, and was sure to find good quarters for the night; but as there was not an inn for ten miles on the route I was to travel, and as it was now quite night and the road mostly houseless and lonely, I felt some anxiety about my own lodging. But on inquiry I was very glad to find that one of the two beds in the room was unoccupied and at my disposal. So, having accompanied my fellow-traveller to the station and seen him off with mutual good wishes, I returned to the cottage, and the mistress replenished the fire with a new supply of chips and faggots, and I had two or three hours of rare enjoyment, enhanced by some interesting books I found on a shelf by the window. And this is a fact worthy of note and full of good meaning. You will seldom find a cottage in Scotland, however poor and small, without a shelf of books in it. I retired rather earlier than usual; but before I fell asleep, the two regular lodgers, who occupied the other bed, came in softly, and spoke in a suppressed tone, as if reluctant to awaken me. And here I was much impressed with another fact affiliated with the one I have mentioned—that of praying as well as reading in the Scotch cottage. After a little conversation just above a whisper, the elder of the two—and he not twenty, while the other was apparently only sixteen—first read, with full Scotch accent, one of the hard-rhymed psalms used in the Scotch service. Then, after a short pause, he read with a low, solemn voice a chapter in the Bible. A few minutes of silence succeeded, as if a wordless prayer was going upward upon the still wings of thought, which made no audible beating in their flight. It was very impressive; an incident that I shall ever hold among the most interesting of all I met with on my walk. They were not brothers evidently, but most likely strangers thrown together on the railroad. They doubtless came from different directions, but, from Highlands or Lowlands, they came from Bible-lighted homes, whose "voices of the night" were blended with the breathings of religious life and instruction. Separated from such homes, they had agreed to make this one after the same spiritual pattern, barring the parental presence and teaching.
The next day after breakfast, took leave of my kind cottage hosts, exchanging good wishes for mutual happiness. Went out of the amphitheatre of Strathspey by a gateway into another, surrounded by mountains less lofty and entirely covered with heather. For several miles beyond Carr Bridge I passed over the wildest moorland. The road was marked by posts about ten feet high, painted white within two feet of the top and black above. These are planted about fifteen rods apart, to guide the traveller in the drifting and blinding snows of winter. The road over this cold, desolate waste exceeded anything I ever saw in America, even in the most fashionable suburbs of New York and Boston. It was as smooth and hard as a cement floor. Here on this treeless wild, I met several men at work trimming the edges of the road by a line, with as much precision and care as if they were laying out an aisle in a flower garden. After a walk of about seventeen miles, I reached Freeburn Inn about the middle of the afternoon, and as it began to rain and to threaten bad weather for walking, I concluded to stop there for the night, and found good quarters.
The rain continued in showers, and I feared I should be unable to reach Inverness to spend the Sabbath. There was a cattle fair at the inn, and a considerable number of farmers and dealers came together notwithstanding the weather. Indeed, there were nearly as many men and boys as animals on the ground. A score or more had come in, each leading or driving a single cow or calf. The cattle generally were evidently of the Gaelic origin and antecedents— little, chubby, scraggy creatures, of all colors, but mostly black, with wide-branching horns longer than their fore-legs. Their hair is long and as coarse as a polar seal's, and they look as if they knew no more of housing against snow, rain and wintry winds, or of a littered bed, than the buffaloes beyond the upper waters of the Missouri. One would be inclined to think they had lived from calf- hood on nothing but heather or gorse, and that the prickly fodder had penetrated through their hides and covered them with a growth midway between hair and bristles. They will not average over 350 lbs. when dressed; still they seem to hold their own among other breeds which have attracted so much attention. This is probably because they can browse out a living where the Durham and Devon would starve.
The sheep in this region are chiefly the old Scotch breed, with curling horns and crocked faces and legs, such as are represented in old pictures. The black seems to be spattered upon them, and looks as if the heather would rub it off. The wool is long and coarse, giving them a goat-like appearance. They seem to predominate over any other breed in this part of Scotland, yet not necessarily nor advantageously. A large sheep farmer from England was staying at the inn, with whom I had much conversation on the subject. He said the Cheviots were equally adapted to the Highlands, and thought they would ultimately supplant the black faces. Although he lived in Northumberland, full two hundred miles to the south, he had rented a large sheep-walk, or mountain farm, in the Western Highlands, and had come to this section to buy or hire another tract. He kept about 4,000 sheep, and intended to introduce the Cheviots upon these Scotch holdings, as their bodies were much heavier and their wool worth nearly double that of the old black-faced breed. Sheep are the principal source of wealth in the whole of the North and West of Scotland. I was told that sometimes a flock of 20,000 is owned by one man. The lands on which they are pastured will not rent above one or two English shillings per acre; and a flock even of 1,000 requires a vast range, as may be indicated by the reply of a Scotch farmer to an English one, on being asked by the latter, "How many sheep do you allow to the acre?" "Ah, mon," was the answer, "that's nae the way we count in the Highlands; it's how monie acres to the sheep."
At about two p.m., the showers becoming less frequent, I set out with the hope of reaching Inverness before night. The wind was high, the road muddy, or dirty, as the English call that condition; and the rain frequently compelled me to seek shelter in some wayside cottage, or under the fir-trees that were planted in groves at narrow intervals. The walking was heavy and slow in face of the frequent showers, and a strong gale from the north-east; so that I was exceedingly glad to reach an inn within four miles of Inverness, where I promised myself comfortable lodgings for the night. It was a rather large, but comfortless-looking house, evidently concentrating all its entertainment for travellers in the tap-room. After considerable hesitation, the landlady consented to give me bed and board; and directed "the lassie" to make a fire for me in a large and very respectable room on the second floor. I soon began to feel quite at home by its side. My boots had leaked on the way and my feet were very wet and cold; and it was with a pleasant sense of comfort that I changed stockings, and warmed myself at the ruddy grate, while the storm seemed to increase without. After waiting about an hour for tea, I heard the lassie's heavy footstep on the stairs; a knock—the door opens—now for the tray and the steaming tea-pot, and happy vision of bread, oatcake and Scotch scones! Alas! what a falling-off was there from this delicious expectation! The lassie had brought a severe and peremptory message from the master, who had just returned home. And she delivered it commiseratingly but decidedly. She was to tell me from him that there was nothing in the house to set before me; that the fair the day before had eaten out the whole stock of his provisions; in short, that I was to take my staff and walk on to Inverness. It was in vain that I remonstrated, pleaded and urged wet feet, the darkness, the wind and rain. "It is so," said the lassie, "and can't be otherwise." She tried to encourage me to the journey by shortening the distance by half its actual miles, saying it was only two, when it was full four, and they of the longest kind. So I went out into the night in my wet clothes, and put the best face and foot to the head-wind and rain that I could bring to bear against them. Both were strong, beating and drenching; and it was so dark that I could hardly see the road. In the course of half an hour, I made the lassie's two miles, and in another, the whole of the actual distance, and found comfortable quarters in one of the temperance inns of Inverness, reaching it between nine and ten at night. Here I spent a quiet Sabbath, which I greatly enjoyed.
INVERNESS—ROSS-SHIRE—TAIN—DORNOCH—GOLSPIE—PROGRESS OF RAILROADS—THE SUTHERLAND EVICTION—SEA-COAST SCENERY—CAITHNESS— WICK: HERRING FISHERIES—JOHN O'GROAT'S: WALK'S END.
Inverness is an interesting, good-sized town, with an intellectual and pleasing countenance, of somewhat aristocratic and self- complacent expression. It is considered the capital of the Highlands, and wears a decidedly metropolitan air. It is well situated on the Ness, just at its debouchement into the Moray Firth,—a river that runs with a Rhine-like current through the town and is spanned with a suspension bridge. It has streets of city- built and city-bred buildings, showing wealth and elegance. Several edifices are in process of erection that will rank with some of the best in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It has a long and pretentious history, reaching back to the Romans, and dashed with the romance of the wild ages of the country. Oliver Cromwell, or Sledgehammer II., Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, Queen Mary, Prince Charlie, and other historical celebrities, entered their names and doings on the records of this goodly town.
On Monday, Sept. 21st, I set out with a good deal of animation on the last week-stage of my journey, which I was anxious to accomplish as soon as possible, as the weather was becoming unsettled with frequent rain. Reached Invergordon, passing through a most interesting section of country, full of very fertile straths. It was the part of Ross-shire lying on the Moray and Beauly Firths and divided by rivers dashing down through the wooded gorges of the mountains. I saw here some of the most productive land in Scotland. Hundreds of acres were studded with wheat and barley stooks, and about an equal space was covered with standing grain, though so near the month of October. Plantations, parks, gentlemens' seats, glens deep and grand, fir-clad mountains, villages, hamlets and scattered cottages made up the features of every changing view. Indeed, one travelling for a week between Perth and Inverness comes upon such a region as this with pleasant surprise, as upon an exotic section, imported from another latitude.
The next day I held on northward, though the weather was very unfavorable and the walking heavy and fatiguing. Passed what seemed the bold and ridgy island of Cromarty, so associated with the venerated memory of Hugh Miller. The beating rain drove me frequently to the wayside cottages for shelter; and in every one of them I was received with kind words and pleasant looks. One of these was occupied by an old woman in the regular Scotch cap—a venerable old saint, with her Bible and psalm-book library on her window-sill, and her peat fire burning cheerily. When on leaving I intimated that I was from America, she followed me out into the road, asking me a hundred questions about the country and its condition. She had three sons in Montreal, and felt a mother's interest in the very name America. The cottage was one of a long street of them by the sea-side, and I supposed it was a fishing village; but I learned from her that the people were mostly the evicted tenants of the Duke of Sutherland, who were turned out of his county some thirty years ago to make room for sheep. I made only eleven miles this day on account of the rain, and was glad to find cheery and comfortable quarters in an excellent inn kept by a widow and her three daughters in Tain. Nothing could exceed their kindness and attention, which evidently flowed more from a disposition than from a professional habit of making their guests at home for a pecuniary or business consideration. I reached their house about the middle of the afternoon, cold and wet, after several hours' walk in the rain, and was received as one of the family; the eldest daughter, who had all the grace and intelligence of a cultivated lady, helping me off with my wet overcoat, and even offering to pull off my water-soaked boots—an office no American could accept, and which I gently declined, taking the will for the deed. A large number of Scotch navvies were at the inns of the town, making an obstreperous auroval in celebration of the monthly pay-day. They had received the day preceding a month's wages, and they were now drinking up their money with the most reckless hilarity; swallowing the pay of five long hours at the pick in a couple of gills of whiskey. How strange that men can work in rain, cold and heat at the shovel for a whole day, then drink up the whole in two hours at the gin-shop! These pickmen pioneers of the Iron Horse, with their worst habits, are yet a kind of John-the-Baptists to the march and mission of civilization, preparing its way in the wilderness, and bringing secluded and isolated populations to its light and intercourse. It is wonderful how they are working their way northward among these bald and thick-set mountains. When I first visited Scotland, in 1846, the only piece of railroad north of the Forth was that between Dundee and Arbroath, hardly an hour long. Now the iron pathways are running in every direction, making grand junctions at points which had never felt the navvy's pick a dozen years ago. Here is one heading towards John O'Groat's, grubbing its way like a mole around the firths, cutting spiral gains into the rock-ribbed hills, bridging the deep and dark gorges, and holding on steadily north-poleward with a brave faith and faculty of patience that moves mountains, or as much of them as blocks its course. The progress is slow, silent, but sure. The world, busy in other doings, does not hear the pick, nor the speech of the powder when it speaks to a huge rock a-straddle the path. The world, even including the shareholders, hears but little, if anything, of the progress of the work for months, perhaps for a year. Then the consummation is announced in the form of an invitation to the public to "assist" at the opening of a railroad through towns and villages that never saw the daylight the locomotive brings in its wake. So it will be here. Some day, in the present decade, there will be an excursion train advertised to run from London to John O'Groat's; and perhaps the lineal descendant of Sigurd, or some other old Norse jarl, will wear the conductor's belt and cap or drive the engine.
The weather was still unsettled, with much wind and rain. Resumed my walk, and at about four miles from Tain, crossed the Dornoch Firth in a sail ferry boat, and at noon reached Dornoch, the capital of Sutherlandshire. This was one of the fourteen cities of Scotland; and its little, chubby cathedral, and the tower of the old bishop's palace still give it a kind of Canterbury air. The Earls of Sutherland for many generations lie interred within the walls of this ancient church. After stopping here for an hour or two for dinner, I continued on to Golspie, the residence of the mighty lord of the manor, or the owner, master and human disposer of this great mountain county of Scotland. It is stated that full four-fifths of it belong to him who now holds the title, and that his other great estates, added to this territory, make him the largest landowner in Great Britain and probably in Europe. Just before reaching Golspie, a lofty, sombre mountain, with its bald head enveloped in the mist, and which I had been two hours apparently in passing, cleared away and revealed its full stature—and more. Towering up from its topmost summit, a tall column lifted a human figure in bronze skyward cloud-high and frequently higher still. I believe the brazen face that thus looks into the pure and holy skies without blushing, is a duplicate of the one worn in human flesh by His Grace, Evictor I., who unpeopled his great county of many thousands of human inhabitants, and made nearly its whole area of 18,000 square miles a sheep-walk. But I will not break the seal of that history. It was full of bitter experience to multitudes. Not for the time being was it joyous, but grievous exceedingly—surpassing endurance to many. But it is all over now. The ship-loads of evicted men and women who looked their last upon Scotland while its mountains and glens were reddened with the flames of their burning cottages, carried away with them a bitter feeling in their hearts which years of better experience did not soften. Not for their good did it seem in the motive of the transaction; but for their good it worked most blessedly. It was a rough transplanting, and the tenderest fibres of human affection broke and bled under the uptearing; but they took root in the Western World, and grew luxuriantly under the light and dew of a happier destiny. It was hard for fathers and mothers who were taking on the frostwork of age upon their brows; but for their children it was the birth of a new life; for them it was the introduction to a future which had a sun in it, rayful and radiant with the beams of hope and promise. Let those who denounce and deplore this harsh unpeopling come and stand upon the cold, bleak summit of one of these Sutherland mountains. Let them bring their compasses, or some other instrument for measuring the angles, sines and cosines of human conditions. Plant your theodolite here; wipe the telescope's eye with your handkerchief; look your keenest in the line of the lineage of these evicted thousands. Steady, now! while the most tranquil light of the future is on the pathway of your eye. This first reach of your vision is the life-track of the fathers and mothers unhoused among these mountains. Look on beyond, over the longer life-line of their children; then farther still under the horizon of the remotest future to the track of their childrens' children. Can you make an angle of a single degree's subtension in the hereditary conditions of these generations, or a dozen beyond? Can you detect a point of departure by which the second generation would have diverged from the first, or the third from the second, and have attained to a higher life of comfort, intelligence, social and political position had they remained in these mountain cottages, grubbed on their cottage farms, and lived from hand to mouth on stinted rations of oatmeal and potatoes, as their ancestors had done from time immemorial? Can you see among all the hopeful possibilities of Time's tomorrows, any such change for the better? You can sight no such prospect with your telescope in that direction. Turn it around and sweep the horizon of that other condition into which they were thrust, weeping and wrathful against their will. Follow them across the Atlantic to North America, to their homes in the States and in the Canadas. Measure the angle they made in this transposition, and the latitude and longitude of social and moral life they have reached from this Sutherland point of departure. The sons of the fathers and mothers who had their family nests stirred up so cruelly, and scattered, like those of rooks, from their holdings in the cliffs, gorges and glens of these cold mountains, are now among the most substantial and respected men of the Western World. Some of them to-day are mayors of towns of larger population than the whole county of Sutherland. Some, doubtless, are Members of Congress, representing each a constituency of one hundred thousand persons, and a vast amount of intelligence, wealth and industry. They are merchants, manufacturers, farmers, teachers and preachers, filling all the professions and occupations of the continent. Is not that an angle of promise to your telescope? Is not that a line of divergence which has conducted these evicted populations, at a small distance from this point of departure, into the better latitudes of human experience? The selling of this Scotch Joseph to America was more purely and simply a pecuniary transaction than that recorded in Scripture; for in that the unkind and jealous brothers sold the innocent boy for envy, not for the love of pelf, though the Ishmaelites bought him on speculation. But not for envy was the Sutherland lad sold and shipped to a foreign land, but rather for a contemptuous estimate of his money value. The proprietor-patriarch of the county took to a more quiet and profitable favorite—the sheep, and sent it to feed on a pasture enriched with the ashes of Joseph's cottage. It is to be feared he meant only money; but Providence meant a blessing beyond the measurement of money to the evicted; and what Providence meant it made for him and his posterity, and they are now enjoying it.
Dunrobin Castle, the grand residence of the Duke of Sutherland, looks off upon the sea at Golspie. It is truly a magnificent edifice, ranking with the first palaces in Christendom. Nearly eight hundred years has it been in building, though, I believe, all that commands admiration for stature and style is the work of the present century. Whatever the Sutherland family may have been in local position and history in past centuries, one of the noblest women that ever ennobled the nobility of Great Britain, has given the name a celebrity and an estimation in America which all who ever wore it before never won for it. The Duchess of Sutherland, the noble and large-hearted sister of Lord Morpeth-Carlisle, has given to the coronet she wore a lustre brighter to the American eye than the light of diadems which have dazzled millions in Europe. When the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Men shall come to its high place in the hearts of nations as the crown-faith of all their creeds, what this noble woman felt, said and did for the Slave in his bonds shall be mentioned of her by the preachers of that great doctrine in years to come. When the jewels of Humanity's memories shall be made up, she who, as it were, bent down to him in his prison-house and put her jewelled hands to the breaking of his fetters, shall stand, with women of the same sympathy, only next to her who broke her box of ointment on the Saviour's feet.
The next day made a walk to Helmsdale, a distance of about eighteen miles. The weather was favorable, the scenery grand and varied with almost every feature that could give it interest. The finest of roads wound in and out around the mountain headlands, so that alternately I was walking upon a lofty esplanade overlooking the still expanse of the steel-blue sea, then facing inward to the gorges of the grand and solemn hills. Found comfortable quarters in one of the inns of Helmsdale, a vigorous, busy, fishing village nestling under the shadow of the mountains at the mouth of a little river of the same name. After tea, went down to the wharf or quay and had some conversation with one of the masters of the business. He cured and put up about 30,000 barrels of herrings himself in a season, employing, while it lasted, 500 persons. Their chief market is the North of Europe, especially Poland, and the business was consequently much depressed on account of the troubles in that country. The occupation of this little sea-side village illustrated the ramifications of commerce. They imported their salt from Liverpool, their staves from Norway and their hoops from London.
Set out again immediately after breakfast, feeling that I was drawing near to the end of my journey. I was soon in the treeless county of Caithness, so fraught with the wild romance of the Norsemen. Passed over the bleakest district I had yet seen, called Old Ord, a cold, rough, cloud-breeding region that the very heavens above seem to frown upon with a scowl of dissatisfaction. Still, the road over this dark, mountain desert, though staked on each side to keep the traveller from wandering in the blinding snows of winter, was as beautifully kept as the carriage-way in the park of Dunrobin Castle. The sending of an English queen to conciliate the Welsh, by giving birth to a son in one of their castles, was not a much better stroke of policy than that of England in perforating Scotland to the Northern Sea with this unparalleled and splendid road, constructed at first for a military purpose. I heard a man repeat a couplet, probably of unwritten poetry, in popular vogue among the Highlands, and which has quite an Irish collocation of ideas. It is spoken thus, as far as I can recollect—
Who knew these roads ere they were made Should bless the Lord for General Wade.
I doubt if there are ten consecutive miles of carriage-road in America that could compare for excellence with that over the desert of Old Ord. I was overtaken by a heavy shower before I had made the trajet, and was glad to reach one of the most comfortable inns of the Highlands, in the beautiful, romantic and picturesque glen of Berriedale. Here, nestling between lofty mountain ridges, which warded off the blasting sea-winds sweeping across from Norway, were plantations and groves of trees, almost the only ones I saw in the county. Nothing could exceed the hospitality of the family that kept the large, white-faced hotel at the bottom of this pleasant valley; especially after I incidentally said that I had walked all the way from London to see the country and people. They admitted me into the kitchen and gave me a seat by the great peat fire, where I had a long talk with them, beginning with the mother. Having intimated that I was an American, the whole family, old and young, including the landlord, gathered around me and had a hundred questions to ask. They related many incidents about the great eviction in Sutherland, which was an event that seems to make a large stock of legendary and unwritten stories, like the old Sagas of the Northmen. When I had dried my clothes and eaten a comfortable dinner before their kitchen fire and resumed my staff, they all followed me out to the road, and then with their wishes for a good journey as long as I was in hearing distance. Continued my walk around headlands, now looking seaward, now mountainward, now ascending on heather-bound esplanades, now descending in zig-zag directions into deep glens, over massive and elegant bridges that spanned the mountain streams and their steep and jagged banks. After a walk of eighteen miles, put up at an inn a little north of the village of Dunbeath, kept by an intelligent and industrious farmer. The rain had continued most of the day, and I was obliged to seek shelter sometimes under a stunted tree which helped out the protecting power of a weather-beaten umbrella; now in the doorway of an open stable or cow-shed, and once with my back against the door of a wayside church, which kept off the rain in one direction. This being a kind of border-season between summer and autumn, there were no fires in the inns generally except in the kitchen, and I soon learned to make for that, and always found a kindly welcome to its comforts; though sometimes the good woman and her lassie would look a little flushed at having their busiest culinary operations revealed so suddenly to a stranger. Some of these kitchens are fitted for sleeping apartments; occasionally having two tiers of berths like a ship's cabin, slightly and rudely curtained.
The family of this wayside inn, seemingly like every other family in the country, had connections in America, embracing brothers, uncles and cousins. I was shown a little paper casket of hair flower-work, sent by post! It was wrought of locks of every shade and tint, from the snow of a grandmother over one hundred years of age to the little, sunny curls of the youngest child in the circle of kindred families. The Scotch branch had collected specimens from relatives in Great Britain and forwarded them to the family in America, one of whose daughters had worked them into two bouquets of flowers, sending one of them by post to this little, white cottage on the Northern Sea, as a memento of affection. What enhanced the beauty of this interchange was the fact, that forty-eight years had elapsed since the landlord's brother left his native land for New England, and had never seen it since. Still, the cousins, who had never seen each other's faces, had kept up an affectionate correspondence. A son and son-in-law of the brother in America were in the Federal army, and here was a sea-divided family filled with all the sad, silent solicitude of affection for beloved ones exposed to the fearful hazards of a war sundering more ties of blood-relationship than any other ever waged on earth.
Saturday, September 27th. Resumed my walk with increased animation, feeling myself within two days' distance of its end. The scenery softens down to an agricultural aspect, the country declining northerly toward the sea. Passed through a well-cultivated district, never unpeopled or wasted by eviction, but held by a kind of even yeomanry of proprietors. The cottages are comfortable, resembling the white houses of New England considerably. They are nearly all of one story, with a chimney at each end, broadside to the road, and a door in the middle, dividing the house into two apartments. They are built of stone, the newest ones having a slate roof. Some of them are whitewashed, others so liberally jointed with mortar as to give them a bright and cheery appearance. These, of course, are the last edition of cottages, enlarged and amended in every way. The old issues are ragged volumes, mostly bound in turf or bog grass, well corded down with ropes of heather, giving the roof a singular ribby look, rounded on the ridge. In many cases a stone is attached to each end of the rope, so as to make it hug the thatch closely. I noticed that in a considerable number of the old cottages, the stone wall only reached up a foot or two from the ground, the rest being made up of blocks of peat. Some of the oldest had no premonitory symptoms of a chimney, except a hole in the roof for the smoke. These in no way differed from the stone- and-turf cottages in Ireland.
Again occasional showers brought me into acquaintance with the people living near the road. In every case I found them kind and hospitable, giving me a pleasant welcome and the best seat by their peat-fire. I sat by one an hour while the rain fell cold and fast outside. The good woman and her daughter were busy baking barley- cakes. They were the first I had seen, and I ate them with a peculiar zest of appetite. Told them many stories about America in return for a great deal of information about the customs and condition of the working-people. They generally built their own cottages, costing from 40 to 50 pounds, not counting their own labor. I met on the road scores of fishermen returning to their homes at the conclusion of the herring season; and was struck with their appearance in every way. They are truly a stalwart race of men, broad-chested, of intelligent physiognomy, with Scandinavian features fully developed. A half dozen of them followed a horse- cart containing their nets, all done up in a round ball, like a bladder of snuff, with the number of their boat marked upon it.
At about four p.m., I came in sight of the steeples of Wick, a brave little city by the Norse Sea, which may not only be called the Wick but the Candle of Northern Scotland; lighting, like a polar star, this hyperborean shoreland of the British isle. I never entered a town with livelier pleasure. It is virtually the last and farthest on the mainland in this direction. Its history is full of interest. Its great business is full of vigor, daring and danger. Here is the great land-home of the Vikings of the nineteenth century; the indomitable men who walk the roaring and crested billows of this Northern Ocean in their black, tough sea-boats and bring ashore the hard-earned spoils of the deep. This is the great metropolis of Fishdom. Eric the Red, nor any other pre-Columbus navigator of the North American Seas, ever mustered braver crews than these sea-boats carry to their morning beats. Ten thousand of as hardy men as ever wrestled with the waves, and threw them too, are out upon that wide water-wold before the sun looks on it—half of them wearing the features of their Norse lineage, as light-haired and crisp-whiskered as the sailors of Harold the Fair-haired a thousand years ago. They come from all the coasts of Scotland, from Orkney, Shetland, the Hebrides and Lewis islands, and down out of the heart of the Highlands. It is a hard and daring industry they follow, and hundreds of graves on the shore and thousands at the bottom of the sea have been made with no names on them, as the long record of the hazards they run in the perilous occupation. But they keep their ranks full from year to year, pushing out new boats marked with higher numbers.
The harbor has been dangerous and difficult of access, but of late a great effort has been made to render it more safe and commodious. The Scotch fisheries now yield from 600,000 to 700,000 barrels of herrings annually, employing about 17,000 fishermen; Wick stands first among all the fishing ports of the kingdom. It is a thriving town, well supplied with churches, schools, hotels, banks and printing-offices. Several new buildings are now being erected which will rank high in architecture and add new features of elegance to the place. The population is a vigorous, intelligent, highly moral and well-read community, as I could not fail to notice on attending service on the Sabbath at different places of worship. Wick is honored with this distinction—it assembles a larger congregation of men to listen to the glad Evangel on Sunday than any city of the world ever musters under one roof for the same purpose. It is the out-door church of the fishermen. They sometimes number 5,000 adult men, sea-beaten and sun-burnt, gathered in from mountainous island and mainland all around the northern coasts of Scotland.
Monday, Sept. 28th. The weather was favorable, and I set out on my last day's walk northward with a sense of satisfaction I could hardly describe. The scenery was beautiful in every direction. The road was perfect up to the last rod; as well kept as if it ran through a nobleman's park. The country most of the way was well cultivated—oats being the principal crop. Here, almost within sight of the Orkneys, I heard the clatter of the reaping machine, which, doubtless, puts out the same utterance over and upon the sea at Land's End. It has travelled fast and far since 1851, when it first made its appearance in Europe in the Crystal Palace, as one of the wild, impracticable "notions" of American genius. In Wick I visited a newspaper establishment, and saw in operation one of the old "Columbians," or the American printing-press, surmounted by the eagle of the Republic. The sewing-machine is in all the towns and villages on the island. If there is not an American clock at John O'Groat's, I hope some of my fellow townsmen will send one there, Bristol-built. They are pleasant tokens of free-labor genius. No land tilled by slaves could produce them. I saw many large and highly-cultivated farms on these last miles of my walk. The country was proportionately divided between food and fuel. Oats and barley constitute the grain-crops. The uncultivated land interspersed with the yellow fields of harvest, is reserved for peat—the poor man's fuel and his wealth. For, were it not for the inexhaustible abundance of this cheap and accessible firing, he could hardly inhabit this region. It would seem strange to an American, who had not realised the difference of the two climates, to see fields full of reapers on the very threshold of October, as I saw them on this last day's walk. I counted twelve women and two men in one field plying the sickle, all strongly-built and good-looking and well- dressed withal.
The sea was still and blue as a lake. A lark was soaring and warbling over it with as happy and hopeful a voice as if it were singing over the greenest acres of an English meadow. When I had made half of the seventeen miles between Wick and John O'Groat's, I began to look with the liveliest interest for the first glimpse of the Orkneys; but projecting and ragged headlands intercepted the prospect. About three p.m., as the road emerged from behind one of them, those famous islands burst suddenly into view! There they were!—in full sight, so near that their grain-fields and white cottages and all their distinguishing features seemed within half a mile's distance. This was the most interesting coup d'oeil that I ever caught in any country. Here, then, after weeks and months of travel on foot, I was at the end of my journey. Through all the days of this period I had faced northward, and here was the Ultima Thule, the goal and termination of my tour. The road to the sea diverged from the main turnpike, which continued around the coast to Thurso. Followed this branch a couple of miles, when it ended at the door of a little, quiet, one-story inn on the very shore of the Pentland Firth. It was a moment of the liveliest enjoyment to me. When I left London, about the middle of July, I was slowly recovering from a severe indisposition, and hardly expected to be able to make more than a few miles of my projected walk. But I had gathered strength daily, and when I brought up at this little inn at the very jumping-off end of Scotland, I was fresher and more vigorous on foot than at any previous stage of the journey.
Having found to my great satisfaction that they could give me a bed for the night, I went with two gentlemen of the neighborhood to see the site of the celebrated John O'Groat's House, about a mile and a half from the inn. There was only a footpath to it across intervening fields, and when we reached it, a rather vigorous exercise of the organ of individuality was requisite to "locate" the foundations of "the house that Jack built." Indeed, pilgrims to the shrine of this famous domicile are liable to much disappointment at finding so little remaining of a residence so historical. Literally not one stone is left upon another. A large stone granary standing near is said to have been built of the debris of the house, and this helps out one's faith when struggling to believe in the existence of such a building at all. A certain ridgy rising in the ground, to which you try to give an octagonal shape, is pointed out as indicating the foundations; but an unsatisfactory obscurity rests upon the whole history of the establishment. Whether true or not, that history of the house which one would prefer to believe runs thus:—
In the reign of James IV. of Scotland, three brothers, Malcolm, Gavin, and John de Groat, natives of Holland, came to this coast of Caithness, with a letter in Latin from that monarch recommending them to the protection and countenance of his subjects hereabout. They got possession of a large district of land, and in process of time multiplied and prospered until they numbered eight different proprietors by the name of Groat. On one of the annual dinners instituted to commemorate their arrival in Caithness, a dispute arose as to the right of precedency in taking the door and the head of the table. This waxed very serious and threatened to break up these annual gatherings. But the wisdom and virtue of John prevented this rupture. He made a touching speech to them, soothing their angry spirits with an appeal to the common and precious memories of their native land and to all their joint experiences in this. He entreated them to return to their homes quietly, and he would remedy the current difficulty at the next meeting. Won by his kindly spirit and words, they complied with his request. In the interval, John built a house expressly for the purpose, of an octagonal form, with eight doors and windows. He then placed a table of oak, of the same shape, in the middle; and when the next meeting took place, he desired each head of the different Groat families to enter at his own door and sit at the head of his own table. This happy and ingenious plan restored good feeling and a pleasant footing to the sensitive families, and gave to the good Dutchman's name an interest which it will carry with it forever.
After filling my pockets with some beautiful little shells strewing the site of the building, called "John O'Groat's buckies," I returned to the inn. One of the gentlemen who accompanied me was the tenant of the farm which must have been John's homestead, containing about two hundred acres. It was mostly in oats, still standing, with a good promise of forty bushels to the acre. He resided at Thurso, some twenty miles distant, and found no difficulty in carrying on the estate through a hired foreman. I never passed a more enjoyable evening than in the little, cozy, low- jointed parlor of this sea-side inn. Scotch cakes never had such a relish for me nor a peat-fire more comfortable fellowship of pleasant fancies, as I sat at the tea-table. There was a moaning of winds down the Pentland Firth—a clattering and chattering of window shutters, as if the unrestful spirits of the old Vikings and Norse heroes were walking up and down the scene of their wild histories and gibbering over their feats and fates. Spent an hour or two in writing letters to friends in England and America, to tell them of my arrival at this extreme goal of my walk, and a full hour in poring over the visitors' book, in which there were names from all countries in Christendom, and also impressions and observations in prose, poetry, English, French, Latin, German and other languages. Many of the comments thus recorded intimated some dissatisfaction that John O'Groat's House was so mythical; that so much had to be supplied by the imagination; that not even a stone of the foundation remained in its place to assist fancy to erect the building into a positive fact of history. But they all bore full and sometimes fervid testimony to the good cheer of the inn at the hands of the landlady. There was one record which blended loyalty to palate and patriotism—"The Roast Beef of Old England" and "God save the Queen"—rather amusingly. A party wrote their impressions after this manner—"Visited John O'Groat's House; found little to see; came back tired and hungry; walked into a couple of tender chickens and a good piece of bacon: God save Mrs. Manson and all the Royal Family!" This concluding "sentiment" was doubtless sincere and honest, although it involved a question of precedence in the rank of two feelings which John the Dutchman could have hardly settled by his eight-angled plan of adjustment.
The next morning, for the first time for nearly three months of continuous travel, I faced southward, leaving behind me the Orkneys unvisited, though I had a strong desire to see those celebrated islands—the theatre of so much interesting history. Twenty years ago I translated all the "Sagas" relating to the voyages and exploits of the Northmen in these northern seas and islands, their explorations of the coast of North America centuries before Columbus was born, their doings in Iceland and on all the islands great and small now forming the British realms. This gave an additional zest to my enjoyment in standing on the shore of the Pentland Firth and looking over upon the scene of old Haco's and Sigurd's doing, daring and dying.