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Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland A.D. 1803
by Dorothy Wordsworth
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But before we departed we could not resist our inclination to climb up the hill which I have mentioned as appearing to terminate the loch. The mountains, though inferior to those of Glen Coe, on the other side are very majestic; and the solitude in which we knew the unseen lake was bedded at their feet was enough to excite our longings. We climbed steep after steep, far higher than they appeared to us, and I was going to give up the accomplishment of our aim, when a glorious sight on the mountain before us made me forget my fatigue. A slight shower had come on, its skirts falling upon us, and half the opposite side of the mountain was wrapped up in rainbow light, covered as by a veil with one dilated rainbow: so it continued for some minutes; and the shower and rainy clouds passed away as suddenly as they had come, and the sun shone again upon the tops of all the hills. In the meantime we reached the wished-for point, and saw to the head of the loch. Perhaps it might not be so beautiful as we had imaged it in our thoughts, but it was beautiful enough not to disappoint us,—a narrow deep valley, a perfect solitude, without house or hut. One of the hills was thinly sprinkled with Scotch firs, which appeared to be the survivors of a large forest: they were the first natural wild Scotch firs we had seen. Though thinned of their numbers, and left, comparatively, to a helpless struggle with the elements, we were much struck with the gloom, and even grandeur, of the trees.

Hastened back again to join the car, but were tempted to go a little out of our way to look at a nice white house belonging to the laird of Glen Coe, which stood sweetly in a green field under the hill near some tall trees and coppice woods. At this house the horrible massacre of Glen Coe began, which we did not know when we were there; but the house must have been rebuilt since that time. We had a delightful walk through fields, among copses, and by a river-side: we could have fancied ourselves in some part of the north of England unseen before, it was so much like it, and yet so different. I must not forget one place on the opposite side of the water, where we longed to live—a snug white house on the mountain-side, surrounded by its own green fields and woods, the high mountain above, the loch below, and inaccessible but by means of boats. A beautiful spot indeed it was; but in the retired parts of Scotland a comfortable white house is itself such a pleasant sight, that I believe, without our knowing how or why, it makes us look with a more loving eye on the fields and trees than for their own sakes they deserve.

At about one o'clock we set off, William on our own horse, and I with my Highland driver. He was perfectly acquainted with the country, being a sort of carrier or carrier-merchant or shopkeeper, going frequently to Glasgow with his horse and cart to fetch and carry goods and merchandise. He knew the name of every hill, almost every rock; and I made good use of his knowledge; but partly from laziness, and still more because it was inconvenient, I took no notes, and now I am little better for what he told me. He spoke English tolerably; but seldom understood what was said to him without a 'What's your wull?' We turned up to the right, and were at the foot of the glen—the laird's house cannot be said to be in the glen. The afternoon was delightful,—the sun shone, the mountain-tops were clear, the lake glittered in the great vale behind us, and the stream of Glen Coe flowed down to it glittering among alder-trees. The meadows of the glen were of the freshest green; one new-built stone house in the first reach, some huts, hillocks covered with wood, alder-trees scattered all over. Looking backward, we were reminded of Patterdale and the head of Ulswater, but forward the greatness of the mountains overcame every other idea.

The impression was, as we advanced up to the head of this first reach, as if the glen were nothing, its loneliness and retirement—as if it made up no part of my feeling: the mountains were all in all. That which fronted us—I have forgotten its name—was exceedingly lofty, the surface stony, nay, the whole mountain was one mass of stone, wrinkled and puckered up together. At the second and last reach—for it is not a winding vale—it makes a quick turning almost at right angles to the first; and now we are in the depths of the mountains; no trees in the glen, only green pasturage for sheep, and here and there a plot of hay-ground, and something that tells of former cultivation. I observed this to the guide, who said that formerly the glen had had many inhabitants, and that there, as elsewhere in the Highlands, there had been a great deal of corn where now the lands were left waste, and nothing fed upon them but cattle. I cannot attempt to describe the mountains. I can only say that I thought those on our right—for the other side was only a continued high ridge or craggy barrier, broken along the top into petty spiral forms—were the grandest I had ever seen. It seldom happens that mountains in a very clear air look exceedingly high, but these, though we could see the whole of them to their very summits, appeared to me more majestic in their own nakedness than our imaginations could have conceived them to be, had they been half hidden by clouds, yet showing some of their highest pinnacles. They were such forms as Milton might be supposed to have had in his mind when he applied to Satan that sublime expression—

'His stature reached the sky.'

The first division of the glen, as I have said, was scattered over with rocks, trees, and woody hillocks, and cottages were to be seen here and there. The second division is bare and stony, huge mountains on all sides, with a slender pasturage in the bottom of the valley; and towards the head of it is a small lake or tarn, and near the tarn a single inhabited dwelling, and some unfenced hay-ground—a simple impressive scene! Our road frequently crossed large streams of stones, left by the mountain-torrents, losing all appearance of a road. After we had passed the tarn the glen became less interesting, or rather the mountains, from the manner in which they are looked at; but again, a little higher up, they resume their grandeur. The river is, for a short space, hidden between steep rocks: we left the road, and, going to the top of one of the rocks, saw it foaming over stones, or lodged in dark black dens; birch-trees grew on the inaccessible banks, and a few old Scotch firs towered above them. At the entrance of the glen the mountains had been all without trees, but here the birches climb very far up the side of one of them opposite to us, half concealing a rivulet, which came tumbling down as white as snow from the very top of the mountain. Leaving the rock, we ascended a hill which terminated the glen. We often stopped to look behind at the majestic company of mountains we had left. Before us was no single paramount eminence, but a mountain waste, mountain beyond mountain, and a barren hollow or basin into which we were descending.

We parted from our companion at the door of a whisky hovel, a building which, when it came out of the workmen's hands with its unglassed windows, would, in that forlorn region, have been little better than a howling place for the winds, and was now half unroofed. On seeing a smoke, I exclaimed, 'Is it possible any people can live there?' when at least half a dozen, men, women, and children, came to the door. They were about to rebuild the hut, and I suppose that they, or some other poor creatures, would dwell there through the winter, dealing out whisky to the starved travellers. The sun was now setting, the air very cold, the sky clear; I could have fancied that it was winter-time, with hard frost. Our guide pointed out King's House to us, our resting-place for the night. We could just distinguish the house at the bottom of the moorish hollow or basin—I call it so, for it was nearly as broad as long—lying before us, with three miles of naked road winding through it, every foot of which we could see. The road was perfectly white, making a dreary contrast with the ground, which was of a dull earthy brown. Long as the line of road appeared before us, we could scarcely believe it to be three miles—I suppose owing to its being unbroken by any one object, and the moor naked as the road itself, but we found it the longest three miles we had yet travelled, for the surface was so stony we had to walk most of the way.

The house looked respectable at a distance—a large square building, cased in blue slates to defend it from storms,—but when we came close to it the outside forewarned us of the poverty and misery within. Scarce a blade of grass could be seen growing upon the open ground; the heath-plant itself found no nourishment there, appearing as if it had but sprung up to be blighted. There was no enclosure for a cow, no appropriated ground but a small plot like a church yard, in which were a few starveling dwarfish potatoes, which had, no doubt, been raised by means of the dung left by travellers' horses: they had not come to blossoming, and whether they would either yield fruit or blossom I know not. The first thing we saw on entering the door was two sheep hung up, as if just killed from the barren moor, their bones hardly sheathed in flesh. After we had waited a few minutes, looking about for a guide to lead us into some corner of the house, a woman, seemingly about forty years old, came to us in a great bustle, screaming in Erse, with the most horrible guinea-hen or peacock voice I ever heard, first to one person, then another. She could hardly spare time to show us up-stairs, for crowds of men were in the house—drovers, carriers, horsemen, travellers, all of whom she had to provide with supper, and she was, as she told us, the only woman there.

Never did I see such a miserable, such a wretched place,—long rooms with ranges of beds, no other furniture except benches, or perhaps one or two crazy chairs, the floors far dirtier than an ordinary house could be if it were never washed,—as dirty as a house after a sale on a rainy day, and the rooms being large, and the walls naked, they looked as if more than half the goods had been sold out. We sate shivering in one of the large rooms for three quarters of an hour before the woman could find time to speak to us again; she then promised a fire in another room, after two travellers, who were going a stage further, had finished their whisky, and said we should have supper as soon as possible. She had no eggs, no milk, no potatoes, no loaf-bread, or we should have preferred tea. With length of time the fire was kindled, and, after another hour's waiting, supper came,—a shoulder of mutton so hard that it was impossible to chew the little flesh that might be scraped off the bones, and some sorry soup made of barley and water, for it had no other taste.

After supper, the woman, having first asked if we slept on blankets, brought in two pair of sheets, which she begged that I would air by the fire, for they would be dirtied below-stairs. I was very willing, but behold! the sheets were so wet, that it would have been at least a two-hours' job before a far better fire than could be mustered at King's House,—for, that nothing might be wanting to make it a place of complete starvation, the peats were not dry, and if they had not been helped out by decayed wood dug out of the earth along with them, we should have had no fire at all. The woman was civil, in her fierce, wild way. She and the house, upon that desolate and extensive Wild, and everything we saw, made us think of one of those places of rendezvous which we read of in novels—Ferdinand Count Fathom, or Gil Blas,—where there is one woman to receive the booty, and prepare the supper at night. She told us that she was only a servant, but that she had now lived there five years, and that, when but a 'young lassie,' she had lived there also. We asked her if she had always served the same master, 'Nay, nay, many masters, for they were always changing.' I verily believe that the woman was attached to the place like a cat to the empty house when the family who brought her up are gone to live elsewhere. The sheets were so long in drying that it was very late before we went to bed. We talked over our day's adventures by the fireside, and often looked out of the window towards a huge pyramidal mountain {177} at the entrance of Glen Coe. All between, the dreary waste was clear, almost, as sky, the moon shining full upon it. A rivulet ran amongst stones near the house, and sparkled with light: I could have fancied that there was nothing else, in that extensive circuit over which we looked, that had the power of motion.

In comparing the impressions we had received at Glen Coe, we found that though the expectations of both had been far surpassed by the grandeur of the mountains, we had upon the whole both been disappointed, and from the same cause: we had been prepared for images of terror, had expected a deep, den-like valley with overhanging rocks, such as William has described in these lines, speaking of the Alps:—

Brook and road Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass, And with them did we journey several hours At a slow step. The immeasurable height Of woods decaying, never to be decayed! The stationary blasts of waterfalls; And everywhere along the hollow rent Winds thwarting winds, bewilder'd and forlorn; The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky, The rocks that mutter'd close upon our ears, Black drizzling crags that spake by the way-side As if a voice were in them; the sick sight And giddy prospect of the raving stream; The unfetter'd clouds, and region of the heavens, Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light, Were all like workings of one mind, the features Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree, Characters of the great Apocalypse, The Types and Symbols of Eternity, Of first, and last, and midst, and without end.

The place had nothing of this character, the glen being open to the eye of day, the mountains retiring in independent majesty. Even in the upper part of it, where the stream rushed through the rocky chasm, it was but a deep trench in the vale, not the vale itself, and could only be seen when we were close to it.



FOURTH WEEK.

Sunday, September 4th.—We had desired to be called at six o'clock, and rose at the first summons. Our beds had proved better than we expected, and we had not slept ill; but poor Coleridge had passed a wretched night here four days before. This we did not know; but since, when he told us of it, the notion of what he must have suffered, with the noise of drunken people about his ears all night, himself sick and tired, has made our discomfort cling to my memory, and given these recollections a twofold interest. I asked if it was possible to have a couple of eggs boiled before our departure: the woman hesitated; she thought I might, and sent a boy into the out-houses to look about, who brought in one egg after long searching. Early as we had risen it was not very early when we set off; for everything at King's House was in unison—equally uncomfortable. As the woman had told us the night before, 'They had no hay, and that was a loss.' There were neither stalls nor bedding in the stable, so that William was obliged to watch the horse while it was feeding, for there were several others in the stable, all standing like wild beasts, ready to devour each other's portion of corn: this, with the slowness of the servant and other hindrances, took up much time, and we were completely starved, for the morning was very cold, as I believe all the mornings in that desolate place are.

When we had gone about a quarter of a mile I recollected that I had left the little cup given me by the kind landlady at Taynuilt, which I had intended that John should hereafter drink out of, in memory of our wanderings. I would have turned back for it, but William pushed me on, unwilling that we should lose so much time, though indeed he was as sorry to part with it as myself.

Our road was over a hill called the Black Mount. For the first mile, or perhaps more, after we left King's House, we ascended on foot; then came upon a new road, one of the finest that was ever trod; and, as we went downwards almost all the way afterwards, we travelled very quickly. The motion was pleasant, the different reaches and windings of the road were amusing; the sun shone, the mountain-tops were clear and cheerful, and we in good spirits, in a bustle of enjoyment, though there never was a more desolate region: mountains behind, before, and on every side; I do not remember to have seen either patch of grass, flower, or flowering heather within three or four miles of King's House. The low ground was not rocky, but black, and full of white frost-bleached stones, the prospect only varied by pools, seen everywhere both near and at a distance, as far as the ground stretched out below us: these were interesting spots, round which the mind assembled living objects, and they shone as bright as mirrors in the forlorn waste. We passed neither tree nor shrub for miles—I include the whole space from Glen Coe—yet we saw perpetually traces of a long decayed forest, pieces of black mouldering wood.

Through such a country as this we had travelled perhaps seven and a half miles this morning, when, after descending a hill, we turned to the right, and saw an unexpected sight in the moorland hollow into which we were entering, a small lake bounded on the opposite side by a grove of Scotch firs, two or three cottages at the head of it, and a lot of cultivated ground with scattered hay-cocks. The road along which we were going, after having made a curve considerably above the tarn, was seen winding through the trees on the other side, a beautiful object, and, luckily for us, a drove of cattle happened to be passing there at the very time, a stream coursing the road, with off-stragglers to the borders of the lake, and under the trees on the sloping ground.

In conning over our many wanderings I shall never forget the gentle pleasure with which we greeted the lake of Inveroran and its few grey cottages: we suffered our horse to slacken his pace, having now no need of the comfort of quick motion, though we were glad to think that one of those cottages might be the public-house where we were to breakfast. A forest—now, as it appeared, dwindled into the small grove bordering the lake—had, not many years ago, spread to that side of the vale where we were: large stumps of trees which had been cut down were yet remaining undecayed, and there were some single trees left alive, as if by their battered black boughs to tell us of the storms that visit the valley which looked now so sober and peaceful. When we arrived at the huts, one of them proved to be the inn, a thatched house without a sign-board. We were kindly received, had a fire lighted in the parlour, and were in such good humour that we seemed to have a thousand comforts about us; but we had need of a little patience in addition to this good humour before breakfast was brought, and at last it proved a disappointment: the butter not eatable, the barley-cakes fusty, the oat-bread so hard I could not chew it, and there were only four eggs in the house, which they had boiled as hard as stones.

Before we had finished breakfast two foot-travellers came in, and seated themselves at our table; one of them was returning, after a long absence, to Fort-William, his native home; he had come from Egypt, and, many years ago, had been on a recruiting party at Penrith, and knew many people there. He seemed to think his own country but a dismal land.

There being no bell in the parlour, I had occasion to go several times and ask for what we wanted in the kitchen, and I would willingly have given twenty pounds to have been able to take a lively picture of it. About seven or eight travellers, probably drovers, with as many dogs, were sitting in a complete circle round a large peat-fire in the middle of the floor, each with a mess of porridge, in a wooden vessel, upon his knee; a pot, suspended from one of the black beams, was boiling on the fire; two or three women pursuing their household business on the outside of the circle, children playing on the floor. There was nothing uncomfortable in this confusion: happy, busy, or vacant faces, all looked pleasant; and even the smoky air, being a sort of natural indoor atmosphere of Scotland, served only to give a softening, I may say harmony, to the whole.

We departed immediately after breakfast; our road leading us, as I have said, near the lake-side and through the grove of firs, which extended backward much further than we had imagined. After we had left it we came again among bare moorish wastes, as before, under the mountains, so that Inveroran still lives in our recollection as a favoured place, a flower in the desert.

Descended upon the whole, I believe very considerably, in our way to Tyndrum; but it was a road of long ups and downs, over hills and through hollows of uncultivated ground; a chance farm perhaps once in three miles, a glittering rivulet bordered with greener grass than grew on the broad waste, or a broken fringe of alders or birches, partly concealing and partly pointing out its course.

Arrived at Tyndrum at about two o'clock. It is a cold spot. Though, as I should suppose, situated lower than Inveroran, and though we saw it in the hottest time of the afternoon sun, it had a far colder aspect from the want of trees. We were here informed that Coleridge, who, we supposed, was gone to Edinburgh, had dined at this very house a few days before, in his road to Fort-William. By the help of the cook, who was called in, the landlady made out the very day: it was the day after we parted from him; as she expressed it, the day after the 'great speet,' namely, the great rain. We had a moorfowl and mutton-chops for dinner, well cooked, and a reasonable charge. The house was clean for a Scotch inn, and the people about the doors were well dressed. In one of the parlours we saw a company of nine or ten, with the landlady, seated round a plentiful table,—a sight which made us think of the fatted calf in the alehouse pictures of the Prodigal Son. There seemed to be a whole harvest of meats and drinks, and there was something of festivity and picture-like gaiety even in the fresh-coloured dresses of the people and their Sunday faces. The white table-cloth, glasses, English dishes, etc., were all in contrast with what we had seen at Inveroran: the places were but about nine miles asunder, both among hills; the rank of the people little different, and each house appeared to be a house of plenty.

We were I think better pleased with our treatment at this inn than any of the lonely houses on the road, except Taynuilt; but Coleridge had not fared so well, and was dissatisfied, as he has since told us, and the two travellers who breakfasted with us at Inveroran had given a bad account of the house.

Left Tyndrum at about five o'clock; a gladsome afternoon; the road excellent, and we bowled downwards through a pleasant vale, though not populous, or well cultivated, or woody, but enlivened by a river that glittered as it flowed. On the side of a sunny hill a knot of men and women were gathered together at a preaching. We passed by many droves of cattle and Shetland ponies, which accident stamped a character upon places, else unrememberable—not an individual character, but the soul, the spirit, and solitary simplicity of many a Highland region.

We had about eleven miles to travel before we came to our lodging, and had gone five or six, almost always descending, and still in the same vale, when we saw a small lake before us after the vale had made a bending to the left; it was about sunset when we came up to the lake; the afternoon breezes had died away, and the water was in perfect stillness. One grove-like island, with a ruin that stood upon it overshadowed by the trees, was reflected on the water. This building, which, on that beautiful evening, seemed to be wrapped up in religious quiet, we were informed had been raised for defence by some Highland chieftain. All traces of strength, or war, or danger are passed away, and in the mood in which we were we could only look upon it as a place of retirement and peace. The lake is called Loch Dochart. We passed by two others of inferior beauty, and continued to travel along the side of the same river, the Dochart, through an irregular, undetermined vale,—poor soil and much waste land.

At that time of the evening when, by looking steadily, we could discover a few pale stars in the sky, we saw upon an eminence, the bound of our horizon, though very near to us, and facing the bright yellow clouds of the west, a group of figures that made us feel how much we wanted in not being painters. Two herdsmen, with a dog beside them, were sitting on the hill, overlooking a herd of cattle scattered over a large meadow by the river-side. Their forms, looked at through a fading light, and backed by the bright west, were exceedingly distinct, a beautiful picture in the quiet of a Sabbath evening, exciting thoughts and images of almost patriarchal simplicity and grace. We were much pleased with the situation of our inn, where we arrived between eight and nine o'clock. The river was at the distance of a broad field from the door; we could see it from the upper windows and hear its murmuring; the moon shone, enlivening the large corn fields with cheerful light. We had a bad supper, and the next morning they made us an unreasonable charge; and the servant was uncivil, because, forsooth! we had no wine.

N.B.—The travellers in the morning had spoken highly of this inn. {186}

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Monday, September 5th.—After drinking a bason of milk we set off again at a little after six o'clock—a fine morning—eight miles to Killin—the river Dochart always on our left. The face of the country not very interesting, though not unpleasing, reminding us of some of the vales of the north of England, though meagre, nipped-up, or shrivelled compared with them. There were rocks, and rocky knolls, as about Grasmere and Wytheburn, and copses, but of a starveling growth; the cultivated ground poor. Within a mile or two of Killin the land was better cultivated, and, looking down the vale, we had a view of Loch Tay, into which the Dochart falls. Close to the town, the river took up a roaring voice, beating its way over a rocky descent among large black stones: islands in the middle turning the stream this way and that; the whole course of the river very wide. We crossed it by means of three bridges, which make one continued bridge of a great length. On an island below the bridge is a gateway with tall pillars, leading to an old burying-ground belonging to some noble family. {187} It has a singular appearance, and the place is altogether uncommon and romantic—a remnant of ancient grandeur: extreme natural wildness—the sound of roaring water, and withal, the ordinary half-village, half-town bustle of an every-day place.

The inn at Killin is one of the largest on the Scotch road: it stands pleasantly, near the chapel, at some distance from the river Dochart, and out of reach of its tumultuous noise; and another broad, stately, and silent stream, which you cannot look at without remembering its boisterous neighbour, flows close under the windows of the inn, and beside the churchyard, in which are many graves. That river falls into the lake at the distance of nearly a mile from the mouth of the Dochart. It is bordered with tall trees and corn fields, bearing plentiful crops, the richest we had seen in Scotland.

After breakfast we walked onwards, expecting that the stream would lead us into some considerable vale; but it soon became little better than a common rivulet, and the glen appeared to be short; indeed, we wondered how the river had grown so great all at once. Our horse had not been able to eat his corn, and we waited a long time in the hope that he would be better. At eleven o'clock, however, we determined to set off, and give him all the ease possible by walking up the hills, and not pushing beyond a slow walk. We had fourteen miles to travel to Kenmore, by the side of Loch Tay. Crossed the same bridge again, and went down the south side of the lake. We had a delightful view of the village of Killin, among rich green fields, corn and wood, and up towards the two horns of the vale of Tay, the valley of the Dochart, and the other valley with its full-grown river, the prospect terminated by mountains. We travelled through lanes, woods, or open fields, never close to the lake, but always near it, for many miles, the road being carried along the side of a hill, which rose in an almost regularly receding steep from the lake. The opposite shore did not much differ from that down which we went, but it seemed more thinly inhabited, and not so well cultivated. The sun shone, the cottages were pleasant, and the goings-on of the harvest—for all the inhabitants were at work in the corn fields—made the way cheerful. But there is an uniformity in the lake which, comparing it with other lakes, made it appear tiresome. It has no windings: I should even imagine, although it is so many miles long, that, from some points not very high on the hills, it may be seen from one end to the other. There are few bays, no lurking-places where the water hides itself in the land, no outjutting points or promontories, no islands; and there are no commanding mountains or precipices. I think that this lake would be the most pleasing in spring-time, or in summer before the corn begins to change colour, the long tracts of hills on each side of the vale having at this season a kind of patchy appearance, for the corn fields in general were very small, mere plots, and of every possible shade of bright yellow. When we came in view of the foot of the lake we perceived that it ended, as it had begun, in pride and loveliness. The village of Kenmore, with its neat church and cleanly houses, stands on a gentle eminence at the end of the water. The view, though not near so beautiful as that of Killin, is exceedingly pleasing. Left our car, and turned out of the road at about the distance of a mile from the town, and after having climbed perhaps a quarter of a mile, we were conducted into a locked-up plantation, and guessed by the sound that we were near the cascade, but could not see it. Our guide opened a door, and we entered a dungeon-like passage, and, after walking some yards in total darkness, found ourselves in a quaint apartment stuck over with moss, hung about with stuffed foxes and other wild animals, and ornamented with a library of wooden books covered with old leather backs, the mock furniture of a hermit's cell. At the end of the room, through a large bow-window, we saw the waterfall, and at the same time, looking down to the left, the village of Kenmore and a part of the lake—a very beautiful prospect.



MEMORANDUM BY THE AUTHOR.

'The transcript of the First Part of this Journal, and the Second as far as page 149, were written before the end of the year 1803. I do not know exactly when I concluded the remainder of the Second Part, but it was resumed on the 2d of February 1804. The Third Part was begun at the end of the month of April 1805, and finished on the 31st of May.' {190}

* * * * *

April 11th, 1805.—I am setting about a task which, however free and happy the state of my mind, I could not have performed well at this distance of time; but now, I do not know that I shall be able to go on with it at all. I will strive, however, to do the best I can, setting before myself a different object from that hitherto aimed at, which was, to omit no incident, however trifling, and to describe the country so minutely that you should, where the objects were the most interesting, feel as if you had been with us. I shall now only attempt to give you an idea of those scenes which pleased us most, dropping the incidents of the ordinary days, of which many have slipped from my memory, and others which remain it would be difficult, and often painful to me, to endeavour to draw out and disentangle from other thoughts. I the less regret my inability to do more, because, in describing a great part of what we saw from the time we left Kenmore, my work would be little more than a repetition of what I have said before, or, where it was not so, a longer time was necessary to enable us to bear away what was most interesting than we could afford to give.

* * * * *

Monday, September 5th.—We arrived at Kenmore after sunset.

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Tuesday, September 6th.—Walked before breakfast in Lord Breadalbane's grounds, which border upon the river Tay. The higher elevations command fine views of the lake; and the walks are led along the river's banks, and shaded with tall trees: but it seemed to us that a bad taste had been at work, the banks being regularly shaven and cut as if by rule and line. One or two of such walks I should well have liked to see; but they are all equally trim, and I could not but regret that the fine trees had not been left to grow out of a turf that cattle were permitted to feed upon. There was one avenue which would well have graced the ruins of an abbey or some stately castle. It was of a very great length, perfectly straight, the trees meeting at the top in a cathedral arch, lessening in perspective,—the boughs the roof, the stems the pillars. I never saw so beautiful an avenue. We were told that some improver of pleasure-grounds had advised Lord B. to cut down the trees, and lay the whole open to the lawn, for the avenue is very near his house. His own better taste, or that of some other person, I suppose, had saved them from the axe. Many workmen were employed in building a large mansion something like that of Inverary, close to the old house, which was yet standing; the situation, as we thought, very bad, considering that Lord Breadalbane had the command of all the ground at the foot of the lake, including hills both high and low. It is in a hollow, without prospect either of the lake or river, or anything else—seeing nothing, and adorning nothing. After breakfast, left Kenmore, and travelled through the vale of Tay, I believe fifteen or sixteen miles; but in the course of this we turned out of our way to the Falls of Moness, a stream tributary to the Tay, which passes through a narrow glen with very steep banks. A path like a woodman's track has been carried through the glen, which, though the private property of a gentleman, has not been taken out of the hands of Nature, but merely rendered accessible by this path, which ends at the waterfalls. They tumble from a great height, and are indeed very beautiful falls, and we could have sate with pleasure the whole morning beside the cool basin in which the waters rest, surrounded by high rocks and overhanging trees. In one of the most retired parts of the dell, we met a young man coming slowly along the path, intent upon a book which he was reading: he did not seem to be of the rank of a gentleman, though above that of a peasant.

Passed through the village of Aberfeldy, at the foot of the glen of Moness. The birks of Aberfeldy are spoken of in some of the Scotch songs, which no doubt grew in the stream of Moness; but near the village we did not see any trees that were remarkable, except a row of laburnums, growing as a common field hedge; their leaves were of a golden colour, and as lively as the yellow blossoms could have been in the spring. Afterwards we saw many laburnums in the woods, which we were told had been 'planted;' though I remember that Withering speaks of the laburnum as one of the British plants, and growing in Scotland. The twigs and branches being stiff, were not so graceful as those of our garden laburnums, but I do not think I ever before saw any that were of so brilliant colours in their autumnal decay. In our way to and from Moness we crossed the Tay by a bridge of ambitious and ugly architecture. Many of the bridges in Scotland are so, having eye-holes between the arches, not in the battlements but at the outspreading of the pillar of the arch, which destroys its simplicity, and takes from the appearance of strength and security, without adding anything of lightness. We returned, by the same road, to the village of Weem, where we had left our car. The vale of Tay was very wide, having been so from within a short distance of Kenmore: the reaches of the river are long; and the ground is more regularly cultivated than in any vale we had yet seen—chiefly corn, and very large tracts. Afterwards the vale becomes narrow and less cultivated, the reaches shorter—on the whole resembling the vale of Nith, but we thought it inferior in beauty.

One among the cottages in this narrow and wilder part of the vale fixed our attention almost as much as a Chinese or a Turk would do passing through the vale of Grasmere. It was a cottage, I believe, little differing in size and shape from all the rest; but it was like a visitor, a stranger come into the Highlands, or a model set up of what may be seen in other countries. The walls were neatly plastered or roughcast, the windows of clean bright glass, and the door was painted—before it a flower-garden, fenced with a curiously-clipped hedge, and against the wall was placed the sign of a spinning-wheel. We could not pass this humble dwelling, so distinguished by an appearance of comfort and neatness, without some conjectures respecting the character and manner of life of the person inhabiting it. Leisure he must have had; and we pleased ourselves with thinking that some self-taught mind might there have been nourished by knowledge gathered from books, and the simple duties and pleasures of rural life.

At Logierait, the village where we dined, the vale widens again, and the Tummel joins the Tay and loses its name; but the Tay falls into the channel of the Tummel, continuing its course in the same direction, almost at right angles to the former course of the Tay. We were sorry to find that we had to cross the Tummel by a ferry, and resolved not to venture in the same boat with the horse. Dined at a little public-house, kept by a young widow, very talkative and laboriously civil. She took me out to the back-door, and said she would show me a place which had once been very grand, and, opening a door in a high wall, I entered a ruinous court-yard, in which was a large old mansion, the walls entire and very strong, but the roof broken in. The woman said it had been a palace {196} of one of the kings of Scotland. It was a striking and even an affecting object, coming upon it, as I did, unawares,—a royal residence shut up and hidden, while yet in its strength, by mean cottages; there was no appearance of violence, but decay from desertion, and I should think that it may remain many years without undergoing further visible change. The woman and her daughter accompanied us to the ferry and crossed the water with us; the woman said, but with not much appearance of honest heart-feeling, that she could not be easy to let us go without being there to know how we sped, so I invited the little girl to accompany her, that she might have a ride in the car. The men were cautious, and the horse got over with less alarm than we could have expected. Our way was now up the vale, along the banks of the Tummel, an impetuous river; the mountains higher than near the Tay, and the vale more wild, and the different reaches more interesting.

When we approached near to Fascally, near the junction of the Garry with the Tummel, the twilight was far advanced, and our horse not being perfectly recovered, we were fearful of taking him on to Blair-Athole—five miles further; besides, the Pass of Killicrankie was within half a mile, and we were unwilling to go through a place so celebrated in the dark; therefore, being joined by a traveller, we inquired if there was any public-house near; he said there was; and that though the accommodations were not good, we might do well enough for one night, the host and his wife being very honest people. It proved to be rather better than a common cottage of the country; we seated ourselves by the fire, William called for a glass of whisky, and asked if they could give us beds. The woman positively refused to lodge us, though we had every reason to believe that she had at least one bed for me; we entreated again and again in behalf of the poor horse, but all in vain; she urged, though in an uncivil way, that she had been sitting up the whole of one or two nights before on account of a fair, and that now she wanted to go to bed and sleep; so we were obliged to remount our car in the dark, and with a tired horse we moved on, and went through the Pass of Killicrankie, hearing only the roaring of the river, and seeing a black chasm with jagged-topped black hills towering above. Afterwards the moon rose, and we should not have had an unpleasant ride if our horse had been in better plight, and we had not been annoyed, as we were almost at every twenty yards, by people coming from a fair held that day near Blair—no pleasant prognostic of what might be our accommodation at the inn, where we arrived between ten and eleven o'clock, and found the house in an uproar; but we were civilly treated, and were glad, after eating a morsel of cold beef, to retire to rest, and I fell asleep in spite of the noisy drunkards below stairs, who had outstayed the fair.

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Wednesday, September 7th.—Rose early, and went before breakfast to the Duke of Athol's gardens and pleasure-grounds, where we completely tired ourselves with a three-hours' walk. Having been directed to see all the waterfalls, we submitted ourselves to the gardener, who dragged us from place to place, calling our attention to, it might be, half-a-dozen—I cannot say how many—dripping streams, very pretty in themselves, if we had had the pleasure of discovering them; but they were generally robbed of their grace by the obtrusive ornaments which were first seen. The whole neighbourhood, a great country, seems to belong to the Duke of Athol. In his domain are hills and mountains, glens and spacious plains, rivers and innumerable torrents; but near Blair are no old woods, and the plantations, except those at a little distance from the house, appear inconsiderable, being lost to the eye in so extensive a circuit.

The castle stands on low ground, and far from the Garry, commanding a prospect all round of distant mountains, a bare and cold scene, and, from the irregularity and width of it, not so grand as one should expect, knowing the great height of some of the mountains. Within the Duke's park are three glens, the glen of the river Tilt and two others, which, if they had been planted more judiciously, would have been very sweet retirements; but they are choked up, the whole hollow of the glens—I do not speak of the Tilt, for that is rich in natural wood—being closely planted with trees, and those chiefly firs; but many of the old fir-trees are, as single trees, very fine. On each side of the glen is an ell-wide gravel walk, which the gardener told us was swept once a week. It is conducted at the top of the banks, on each side, at nearly equal height, and equal distance from the stream; they lead you up one of these paths, and down the other—very wearisome, as you will believe—mile after mile! We went into the garden, where there was plenty of fruit—gooseberries, hanging as thick as possible upon the trees, ready to drop off; I thought the gardener might have invited us to refresh ourselves with some of his fruit after our long fatigue. One part of the garden was decorated with statues, 'images,' as poor Mr. Gill used to call those at Racedown, dressed in gay-painted clothes; and in a retired corner of the grounds, under some tall trees, appeared the figure of a favourite old gamekeeper of one of the former Dukes, in the attitude of pointing his gun at the game—'reported to be a striking likeness,' said the gardener. Looking at some of the tall larches, with long hairy twigs, very beautiful trees, he told us that they were among the first which had ever been planted in Scotland, that a Duke of Athol had brought a single larch from London in a pot, in his coach, from which had sprung the whole family that had overspread Scotland. This, probably, might not be accurate, for others might afterwards have come, or seed from other trees. He told us many anecdotes of the present Duke, which I wish I could perfectly remember. He is an indefatigable sportsman, hunts the wild deer on foot, attended by twelve Highlanders in the Highland dress, which he himself formerly used to wear; he will go out at four o'clock in the morning, and not return till night. His fine family, 'Athol's honest men, and Athol's bonny lasses,' to whom Burns, in his bumpers, drank health and long life, are dwindled away: of nine, I believe only four are left: the mother of them is dead in a consumption, and the Duke married again. We rested upon the heather seat which Burns was so loth to quit that moonlight evening when he first went to Blair Castle, and had a pleasure in thinking that he had been under the same shelter, and viewed the little waterfall opposite with some of the happy and pure feelings of his better mind. The castle has been modernized, which has spoiled its appearance. It is a large irregular pile, not handsome, but I think may have been picturesque, and even noble, before it was docked of its battlements and whitewashed.

The most interesting object we saw at Blair was the chapel, shaded by trees, in which the body of the impetuous Dundee lies buried. This quiet spot is seen from the windows of the inn, whence you look, at the same time, upon a high wall and a part of the town—a contrast which, I know not why, made the chapel and its grove appear more peaceful, as if kept so for some sacred purpose. We had a very nice breakfast, which we sauntered over after our weary walk.

Being come to the most northerly point of our destined course, we took out the map, loth to turn our backs upon the Highlands, and, looking about for something which we might yet see, we fixed our eyes upon two or three spots not far distant, and sent for the landlord to consult with him. One of them was Loch Rannoch, a fresh-water lake, which he told us was bordered by a natural pine forest, that its banks were populous, and that the place being very remote, we might there see much of the simplicity of the Highlander's life. The landlord said that we must take a guide for the first nine or ten miles; but afterwards the road was plain before us, and very good, so at about ten o'clock we departed, having engaged a man to go with us. The Falls of Bruar, which we wished to visit for the sake of Burns, are about three miles from Blair, and our road was in the same direction for two miles.

After having gone for some time under a bare hill, we were told to leave the car at some cottages, and pass through a little gate near a brook which crossed the road. We walked upwards at least three quarters of a mile in the hot sun, with the stream on our right, both sides of which to a considerable height were planted with firs and larches intermingled—children of poor Burns's song; for his sake we wished that they had been the natural trees of Scotland, birches, ashes, mountain-ashes, etc.; however, sixty or seventy years hence they will be no unworthy monument to his memory. At present, nothing can be uglier than the whole chasm of the hill-side with its formal walks. I do not mean to condemn them, for, for aught I know, they are as well managed as they could be; but it is not easy to see the use of a pleasure-path leading to nothing, up a steep and naked hill in the midst of an unlovely tract of country, though by the side of a tumbling stream of clear water. It does not surely deserve the name of a pleasure-path. It is three miles from the Duke of Athol's house, and I do not believe that one person living within five miles of the place would wish to go twice to it. The falls are high, the rocks and stones fretted and gnawed by the water. I do not wonder at the pleasure which Burns received from this stream; I believe we should have been much pleased if we had come upon it as he did. At the bottom of the hill we took up our car, and, turning back, joined the man who was to be our guide.

Crossed the Garry, and went along a moor without any road but straggling cart-tracks. Soon began to ascend a high hill, and the ground grew so rough—road there was none—that we were obliged to walk most of the way. Ascended to a considerable height, and commanded an extensive prospect bounded by lofty mountains, and having crossed the top of the fell we parted with our guide, being in sight of the vale into which we were to descend, and to pursue upwards till we should come to Loch Rannoch, a lake, as described to us, bedded in a forest of Scotch pines.

When left to ourselves we sate down on the hillside, and looked with delight into the deep vale below, which was exceedingly green, not regularly fenced or cultivated, but the level area scattered over with bushes and trees, and through that level ground glided a glassy river, not in serpentine windings, but in direct turnings backwards and forwards, and then flowed into the head of the Lake of Tummel; but I will copy a rough sketch which I made while we sate upon the hill, which, imperfect as it is, will give a better idea of the course of the river—which I must add is more curious than beautiful—than my description. The ground must be often overflowed in winter, for the water seemed to touch the very edge of its banks. At this time the scene was soft and cheerful, such as invited us downwards, and made us proud of our adventure.

Coming near to a cluster of huts, we turned thither, a few steps out of our way, to inquire about the road; these huts were on the hill, placed side by side, in a figure between a square and a circle, as if for the sake of mutual shelter, like haystacks in a farmyard—no trees near them. We called at one of the doors, and three hale, stout men came out, who could speak very little English, and stared at us with an almost savage look of wonder. One of them took much pains to set us forward, and went a considerable way down the hill till we came in sight of the cart road, which we were to follow; but we had not gone far before we were disheartened. It was with the greatest difficulty William could lead the horse and car over the rough stones, and to sit in it was impossible; the road grew worse and worse, therefore we resolved to turn back, having no reason to expect anything better, for we had been told that after we should leave the untracked ground all would be fair before us. We knew ourselves where we stood to be about eight miles distant from the point where the river Tummel, after having left the lake, joins the Garry at Fascally near the Pass of Killicrankie, therefore we resolved to make our way thither, and endeavour to procure a lodging at the same public-house where it had been refused to us the night before. The road was likely to be very bad; but, knowing the distance, we thought it more prudent than to venture farther with nothing before us but uncertainty. We were forced to unyoke the horse, and turn the car ourselves, owing to the steep banks on either side of the road, and after much trouble we got him in again, and set our faces down the vale towards Loch Tummel, William leading the car and I walking by his side.

For the first two or three miles we looked down upon the lake, our road being along the side of the hill directly above it. On the opposite side another range of hills rose up in the same manner,—farm-houses thinly scattered among the copses near the water, and cultivated ground in patches. The lake does not wind, nor are the shores much varied by bays,—the mountains not commanding; but the whole a pleasing scene. Our road took us out of sight of the water, and we were obliged to procure a guide across a high moor, where it was impossible that the horse should drag us at all, the ground being exceedingly rough and untracked: of course fatiguing for foot-travellers, and on foot we must travel. After some time, the river Tummel again served us for a guide, when it had left the lake. It was no longer a gentle stream, a mirror to the sky, but we could hear it roaring at a considerable distance between steep banks of rock and wood. We had to cross the Garry by a bridge, a little above the junction of the two rivers; and were now not far from the public-house, to our great joy, for we were very weary with our laborious walk. I do not think that I had walked less than sixteen miles, and William much more, to which add the fatigue of leading the horse, and the rough roads, and you will not wonder that we longed for rest. We stopped at the door of the house, and William entered as before, and again the woman refused to lodge us, in a most inhuman manner, giving no other reason than that she would not do it. We pleaded for the poor horse, entreated, soothed, and flattered, but all in vain, though the night was cloudy and dark. We begged to sit by the fire till morning, and to this she would not consent; indeed, if it had not been for the sake of the horse, I would rather have lain in a barn than on the best of feather-beds in the house of such a cruel woman.

We were now, after our long day's journey, five miles from the inn at Blair, whither we, at first, thought of returning; but finally resolved to go to a public-house which we had seen in a village we passed through, about a mile above the ferry over the Tummel, having come from that point to Blair, for the sake of the Pass of Killicrankie and Blair itself, and had now the same road to measure back again. We were obliged to leave the Pass of Killicrankie unseen; but this disturbed us little at a time when we had seven miles to travel in the dark, with a poor beast almost sinking with fatigue, for he had not rested once all day. We went on spiritless, and at a dreary pace. Passed by one house which we were half inclined to go up to and ask for a night's lodging; and soon after, being greeted by a gentle voice from a poor woman, whom, till she spoke, though we were close to her, we had not seen, we stopped, and asked if she could tell us where we might stay all night, and put up our horse. She mentioned the public-house left behind, and we told our tale, and asked her if she had no house to which she could take us. 'Yes, to be sure she had a house, but it was only a small cottage;' and she had no place for the horse, and how we could lodge in her house she could not tell; but we should be welcome to whatever she had, so we turned the car, and she walked by the side of it, talking to us in a tone of human kindness which made us friends at once.

I remember thinking to myself, as I have often done in a stage-coach, though never with half the reason to prejudge favourably, What sort of countenance and figure shall we see in this woman when we come into the light? And indeed it was an interesting moment when, after we had entered her house, she blew the embers on the hearth, and lighted a candle to assist us in taking the luggage out of the car. Her husband presently arrived, and he and William took the horse to the public-house. The poor woman hung the kettle over the fire. We had tea and sugar of our own, and she set before us barley cakes, and milk which she had just brought in; I recollect she said she 'had been west to fetch it.' The Highlanders always direct you by east and west, north and south—very confusing to strangers. She told us that it was her business to 'keep the gate' for Mr. —-, who lived at —- just below,—that is, to receive messages, take in letters, etc. Her cottage stood by the side of the road leading to his house, within the gate, having, as we saw in the morning, a dressed-up porter's lodge outside; but within was nothing but the naked walls, unplastered, and floors of mud, as in the common huts. She said that they lived rent-free in return for their services; but spoke of her place and Mr. —- with little respect, hinting that he was very proud; and indeed her appearance, and subdued manners, and that soft voice which had prepossessed us so much in her favour, seemed to belong to an injured and oppressed being. We talked a great deal with her, and gathered some interesting facts from her conversation, which I wish I had written down while they were fresh in my memory. They had only one child, yet seemed to be very poor, not discontented but languid, and willing to suffer rather than rouse to any effort. Though it was plain she despised and hated her master, and had no wish to conceal it, she hardly appeared to think it worth while to speak ill of him. We were obliged to sit up very late while our kind hostess was preparing our beds. William lay upon the floor on some hay, without sheets; my bed was of chaff; I had plenty of covering, and a pair of very nice strong clean sheets,—she said with some pride that she had good linen. I believe the sheets had been of her own spinning, perhaps when she was first married, or before, and she probably will keep them to the end of her life of poverty.

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Thursday, September 8th.—Before breakfast we walked to the Pass of Killicrankie. A very fine scene; the river Garry forcing its way down a deep chasm between rocks, at the foot of high rugged hills covered with wood, to a great height. The Pass did not, however, impress us with awe, or a sensation of difficulty or danger, according to our expectations; but, the road being at a considerable height on the side of the hill, we at first only looked into the dell or chasm. It is much grander seen from below, near the river's bed. Everybody knows that this Pass is famous in military history. When we were travelling in Scotland an invasion was hourly looked for, and one could not but think with some regret of the times when from the now depopulated Highlands forty or fifty thousand men might have been poured down for the defence of the country, under such leaders as the Marquis of Montrose or the brave man who had so distinguished himself upon the ground where we were standing. I will transcribe a sonnet suggested to William by this place, and written in October 1803:—

Six thousand Veterans practised in War's game, Tried men, at Killicrankie were array'd Against an equal host that wore the Plaid, Shepherds and herdsmen. Like a whirlwind came The Highlanders; the slaughter spread like flame, And Garry, thundering down his mountain road, Was stopp'd, and could not breathe beneath the load Of the dead bodies. 'Twas a day of shame For them whom precept and the pedantry Of cold mechanic battle do enslave. Oh! for a single hour of that Dundee Who on that day the word of onset gave: Like conquest might the men of England see, And her Foes find a like inglorious grave.

We turned back again, and going down the hill below the Pass, crossed the same bridge we had come over the night before, and walked through Lady Perth's grounds by the side of the Garry till we came to the Tummel, and then walked up to the cascade of the Tummel. The fall is inconsiderable, scarcely more than an ordinary 'wear;' but it makes a loud roaring over large stones, and the whole scene is grand—hills, mountains, woods, and rocks. —- is a very pretty place, all but the house. Stoddart's print gives no notion of it. The house stands upon a small plain at the junction of the two rivers, a close deep spot, surrounded by high hills and woods. After we had breakfasted William fetched the car, and, while we were conveying the luggage to the outside of the gate, where it stood, Mr. —-, mal apropos, came very near to the door, called the woman out, and railed at her in the most abusive manner for 'harbouring' people in that way. She soon slipped from him, and came back to us: I wished that William should go and speak to her master, for I was afraid that he might turn the poor woman away; but she would not suffer it, for she did not care whether they stayed or not. In the meantime, Mr. —- continued scolding her husband; indeed, he appeared to be not only proud, but very ignorant, insolent, and low-bred. The woman told us that she had sometimes lodged poor travellers who were passing along the road, and permitted others to cook their victuals in her house, for which Mr. —- had reprimanded her before; but, as she said, she did not value her place, and it was no matter. In sounding forth the dispraise of Mr. —-, I ought not to omit mentioning that the poor woman had great delight in talking of the excellent qualities of his mother, with whom she had been a servant, and lived many years. After having interchanged good wishes we parted with our charitable hostess, who, telling us her name, entreated us, if ever we came that way again, to inquire for her.

We travelled down the Tummel till it is lost in the Tay, and then, in the same direction, continued our course along the vale of Tay, which is very wide for a considerable way, but gradually narrows, and the river, always a fine stream, assumes more dignity and importance. Two or three miles before we reached Dunkeld, we observed whole hill-sides, the property of the Duke of Athol, planted with fir-trees till they are lost among the rocks near the tops of the hills. In forty or fifty years these plantations will be very fine, being carried from hill to hill, and not bounded by a visible artificial fence.

Reached Dunkeld at about three o'clock. It is a pretty, small town, with a respectable and rather large ruined abbey, which is greatly injured by being made the nest of a modern Scotch kirk, with sash windows,—very incongruous with the noble antique tower,—a practice which we afterwards found is not uncommon in Scotland. Sent for the Duke's gardener after dinner, and walked with him into the pleasure-grounds, intending to go to the Falls of the Bran, a mountain stream which here joins the Tay. After walking some time on a shaven turf under the shade of old trees, by the side of the Tay, we left the pleasure-grounds, and crossing the river by a ferry, went up a lane on the hill opposite till we came to a locked gate by the road-side, through which we entered into another part of the Duke's pleasure-grounds bordering on the Bran, the glen being for a considerable way—for aught I know, two miles—thridded by gravel walks. The walks are quaintly enough intersected, here and there by a baby garden of fine flowers among the rocks and stones. The waterfall, which we came to see, warned us by a loud roaring that we must expect it; we were first, however, conducted into a small apartment, where the gardener desired us to look at a painting of the figure of Ossian, which, while he was telling us the story of the young artist who performed the work, disappeared, parting in the middle, flying asunder as if by the touch of magic, and lo! we are at the entrance of a splendid room, which was almost dizzy and alive with waterfalls, that tumbled in all directions—the great cascade, which was opposite to the window that faced us, being reflected in innumerable mirrors upon the ceiling and against the walls. {210} We both laughed heartily, which, no doubt, the gardener considered as high commendation; for he was very eloquent in pointing out the beauties of the place.

We left the Bran, and pursued our walk through the plantations, where we readily forgave the Duke his little devices for their sakes. They are already no insignificant woods, where the trees happen to be oaks, birches, and others natural to the soil; and under their shade the walks are delightful. From one hill, through different openings under the trees, we looked up the vale of Tay to a great distance, a magnificent prospect at that time of the evening; woody and rich—corn, green fields, and cattle, the winding Tay, and distant mountains. Looked down the river to the town of Dunkeld, which lies low, under irregular hills, covered with wood to their rocky summits, and bounded by higher mountains, which are bare. The hill of Birnam, no longer Birnam 'wood,' was pointed out to us. After a very long walk we parted from our guide when it was almost dark, and he promised to call on us in the morning to conduct us to the gardens.

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Friday, September 9th.—According to appointment, the gardener came with his keys in his hand, and we attended him whithersoever he chose to lead, in spite of past experience at Blair. We had, however, no reason to repent, for we were repaid for the trouble of going through the large gardens by the apples and pears of which he gave us liberally, and the walks through the woods on that part of the grounds opposite to where we had been the night before were very delightful. The Duke's house is neither large nor grand, being just an ordinary gentleman's house, upon a green lawn, and whitewashed, I believe. The old abbey faces the house on the east side, and appears to stand upon the same green lawn, which, though close to the town, is entirely excluded from it by high walls and trees.

We had been undetermined respecting our future course when we came to Dunkeld, whether to go on directly to Perth and Edinburgh, or to make a circuit and revisit the Trossachs. We decided upon the latter plan, and accordingly after breakfast set forward towards Crieff, where we intended to sleep, and the next night at Callander. The first part of our road, after having crossed the ferry, was up the glen of the Bran. Looking backwards, we saw Dunkeld very pretty under the hills, and surrounded by rich cultivated ground, but we had not a good distant view of the abbey.

Left our car, and went about a hundred yards from the road to see the Rumbling Brig, which, though well worth our going out of the way even much further, disappointed us, as places in general do which we hear much spoken of as savage, tremendous, etc.,—and no wonder, for they are usually described by people to whom rocks are novelties. The gardener had told us that we should pass through the most populous glen in Scotland, the glen of Amulree. It is not populous in the usual way, with scattered dwellings; but many clusters of houses, hamlets such as we had passed near the Tummel, which had a singular appearance, being like small encampments, were generally without trees, and in high situations—every house the same as its neighbour, whether for men or cattle. There was nothing else remarkable in the glen. We halted at a lonely inn at the foot of a steep barren moor, which we had to cross; then, after descending considerably, came to the narrow glen, which we had approached with no little curiosity, not having been able to procure any distinct description of it.

At Dunkeld, when we were hesitating what road to take, we wished to know whether that glen would be worth visiting, and accordingly put several questions to the waiter, and, among other epithets used in the course of interrogation, we stumbled upon the word 'grand,' to which he replied, 'No, I do not think there are any gentlemen's seats in it.' However, we drew enough from this describer and the gardener to determine us finally to go to Callander, the Narrow Glen being in the way.

Entered the glen at a small hamlet at some distance from the head, and turning aside a few steps, ascended a hillock which commanded a view to the top of it—a very sweet scene, a green valley, not very narrow, with a few scattered trees and huts, almost invisible in a misty gleam of afternoon light. At this hamlet we crossed a bridge, and the road led us down the glen, which had become exceedingly narrow, and so continued to the end: the hills on both sides heathy and rocky, very steep, but continuous; the rocks not single or overhanging, not scooped into caverns or sounding with torrents: there are no trees, no houses, no traces of cultivation, not one outstanding object. It is truly a solitude, the road even making it appear still more so: the bottom of the valley is mostly smooth and level, the brook not noisy: everything is simple and undisturbed, and while we passed through it the whole place was shady, cool, clear, and solemn. At the end of the long valley we ascended a hill to a great height, and reached the top, when the sun, on the point of setting, shed a soft yellow light upon every eminence. The prospect was very extensive; over hollows and plains, no towns, and few houses visible—a prospect, extensive as it was, in harmony with the secluded dell, and fixing its own peculiar character of removedness from the world, and the secure possession of the quiet of nature more deeply in our minds. The following poem was written by William on hearing of a tradition relating to it, which we did not know when we were there:—

In this still place remote from men Sleeps Ossian, in the Narrow Glen, In this still place where murmurs on But one meek streamlet, only one. He sung of battles and the breath Of stormy war, and violent death, And should, methinks, when all was pass'd, Have rightfully been laid at last Where rocks were rudely heap'd, and rent As by a spirit turbulent; Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild, And everything unreconciled, In some complaining, dim retreat Where fear and melancholy meet; But this is calm; there cannot be A more entire tranquillity.

Does then the bard sleep here indeed? Or is it but a groundless creed? What matters it? I blame them not Whose fancy in this lonely spot Was moved, and in this way express'd Their notion of its perfect rest. A convent, even a hermit's cell Would break the silence of this Dell; It is not quiet, is not ease, But something deeper far than these; The separation that is here Is of the grave; and of austere And happy feelings of the dead: And therefore was it rightly said That Ossian, last of all his race, Lies buried in this lonely place.

Having descended into a broad cultivated vale, we saw nothing remarkable. Observed a gentleman's house, {215} which stood pleasantly among trees. It was dark some time before we reached Crieff, a small town, though larger than Dunkeld.

* * * * *

Saturday, September 10th.—Rose early, and departed without breakfast. We were to pass through one of the most celebrated vales of Scotland, Strath Erne. We found it a wide, long, and irregular vale, with many gentlemen's seats under the hills, woods, copses, frequent cottages, plantations, and much cultivation, yet with an intermixture of barren ground; indeed, except at Killin and Dunkeld, there was always something which seemed to take from the composure and simplicity of the cultivated scenes. There is a struggle to overcome the natural barrenness, and the end not attained, an appearance of something doing or imperfectly done, a passing with labour from one state of society into another. When you look from an eminence on the fields of Grasmere Vale, the heart is satisfied with a simple undisturbed pleasure, and no less, on one of the green or heathy dells of Scotland, where there is no appearance of change to be, or having been, but such as the seasons make. Strath Erne is so extensive a vale that, had it been in England, there must have been much inequality, as in Wensley Dale; but at Wensley there is a unity, a softness, a melting together, which in the large vales of Scotland I never perceived. The difference at Strath Erne may come partly from the irregularity, the undefined outline, of the hills which enclose it; but it is caused still more by the broken surface, I mean broken as to colour and produce, the want of hedgerows, and also the great number of new fir plantations. After some miles it becomes much narrower as we approach nearer the mountains at the foot of the lake of the same name, Loch Erne.

Breakfasted at a small public-house, a wretchedly dirty cottage, but the people were civil, and though we had nothing but barley cakes we made a good breakfast, for there were plenty of eggs. Walked up a high hill to view the seat of Mr. Dundas, now Lord Melville—a spot where, if he have gathered much wisdom from his late disgrace or his long intercourse with the world, he may spend his days as quietly as he need desire. It is a secluded valley, not rich, but with plenty of wood: there are many pretty paths through the woods, and moss huts in different parts. After leaving the cottage where we breakfasted the country was very pleasing, yet still with a want of richness; but this was less perceived, being huddled up in charcoal woods, and the vale narrow. Loch Erne opens out in a very pleasing manner, seen from a hill along which the road is carried through a wood of low trees; but it does not improve afterwards, lying directly from east to west without any perceivable bendings: and the shores are not much broken or varied, not populous, and the mountains not sufficiently commanding to make up for the deficiencies. Dined at the head of the lake. I scarcely know its length, but should think not less than four or five miles, and it is wide in proportion. The inn is in a small village—a decent house.

Walked about half a mile along the road to Tyndrum, which is through a bare glen, {216} and over a mountain pass. It rained when we pursued our journey again, and continued to rain for several hours. The road which we were to take was up another glen, down which came a stream that fell into the lake on the opposite side at the head of it, so, after having crossed the main vale, a little above the lake, we entered into the smaller glen. The road delightfully smooth and dry—one gentleman's house very pleasant among large coppice woods. After going perhaps three miles up this valley, we turned to the left into another, which seemed to be much more beautiful. It was a level valley, not—like that which we had passed—a wide sloping cleft between the hills, but having a quiet, slow-paced stream, which flowed through level green grounds tufted with trees intermingled with cottages. The tops of the hills were hidden by mists, and the objects in the valley seen through misty rain, which made them look exceedingly soft, and indeed partly concealed them, and we always fill up what we are left to guess at with something as beautiful as what we see. This valley seemed to have less of the appearance of barrenness or imperfect cultivation than any of the same character we had passed through; indeed, we could not discern any traces of it. It is called Strath Eyer. 'Strath' is generally applied to a broad vale; but this, though open, is not broad.

We next came to a lake, called Loch Lubnaig, a name which signifies 'winding.' In shape it somewhat resembles Ulswater, but is much narrower and shorter, being only four miles in length. The character of this lake is simple and grand. On the side opposite to where we were is a range of steep craggy mountains, one of which—like Place Fell—encroaching upon the bed of the lake, forces it to make a considerable bending. I have forgotten the name of this precipice: it is a very remarkable one, being almost perpendicular, and very rugged.

We, on the other side, travelled under steep and rocky hills which were often covered with low woods to a considerable height; there were one or two farm-houses, and a few cottages. A neat white dwelling {218} on the side of the hill over against the bold steep of which I have spoken, had been the residence of the famous traveller Bruce, who, all his travels ended, had arranged the history of them in that solitude—as deep as any Abyssinian one—among the mountains of his native country, where he passed several years. Whether he died there or not we did not learn; but the manner of his death was remarkable and affecting,—from a fall down-stairs in his own house, after so many dangers through which fortitude and courage had never failed to sustain him. The house stands sweetly, surrounded by coppice-woods and green fields. On the other side, I believe, were no houses till we came near to the outlet, where a few low huts looked very beautiful, with their dark brown roofs near a stream which hurried down the mountain, and after its turbulent course travelled a short way over a level green, and was lost in the lake.

Within a few miles of Callander we come into a grand region; the mountains to a considerable height were covered with wood, enclosing us in a narrow passage; the stream on our right, generally concealed by wood, made a loud roaring; at one place, in particular, it fell down the rocks in a succession of cascades. The scene is much celebrated in Scotland, and is called the Pass of Leny. It was nearly dark when we reached Callander. We were wet and cold, and glad of a good fire. The inn was comfortable; we drank tea; and after tea the waiter presented us with a pamphlet descriptive of the neighbourhood of Callander, which we brought away with us, and I am very sorry I lost it.



FIFTH WEEK.

Sunday, September 11th.—Immediately after breakfast, the morning being fine, we set off with cheerful spirits towards the Trossachs, intending to take up our lodging at the house of our old friend the ferryman. A boy accompanied us to convey the horse and car back to Callander from the head of Loch Achray. The country near Callander is very pleasing; but, as almost everywhere else, imperfectly cultivated. We went up a broad vale, through which runs the stream from Loch Ketterine, and came to Loch Vennachar, a larger lake than Loch Achray, the small one which had given us such unexpected delight when we left the Pass of the Trossachs. Loch Vennachar is much larger, but greatly inferior in beauty to the image which we had conceived of its neighbour, and so the reality proved to us when we came up to that little lake, and saw it before us in its true shape in the cheerful sunshine. The Trossachs, overtopped by Benledi and other high mountains, enclose the lake at the head; and those houses which we had seen before, with their corn fields sloping towards the water, stood very prettily under low woods. The fields did not appear so rich as when we had seen them through the veil of mist; but yet, as in framing our expectations we had allowed for a much greater difference, so we were even a second time surprised with pleasure at the same spot.

Went as far as these houses of which I have spoken in the car, and then walked on, intending to pursue the road up the side of Loch Ketterine along which Coleridge had come; but we had resolved to spend some hours in the neighbourhood of the Trossachs, and accordingly coasted the head of Loch Achray, and pursued the brook between the two lakes as far as there was any track. Here we found, to our surprise—for we had expected nothing but heath and rocks like the rest of the neighbourhood of the Trossachs—a secluded farm, a plot of verdant ground with a single cottage and its company of out-houses. We turned back, and went to the very point from which we had first looked upon Loch Achray when we were here with Coleridge. It was no longer a visionary scene: the sun shone into every crevice of the hills, and the mountain-tops were clear. After some time we went into the pass from the Trossachs, and were delighted to behold the forms of objects fully revealed, and even surpassing in loveliness and variety what we had conceived. The mountains, I think, appeared not so high; but on the whole we had not the smallest disappointment; the heather was fading, though still beautiful.

Sate for half-an-hour in Lady Perth's shed, and scrambled over the rocks and through the thickets at the head of the lake. I went till I could make my way no further, and left William to go to the top of the hill, whence he had a distinct view, as on a map, of the intricacies of the lake and the course of the river. Returned to the huts, and, after having taken a second dinner of the food we had brought from Callander, set our faces towards the head of Loch Ketterine. I can add nothing to my former description of the Trossachs, except that we departed with our old delightful remembrances endeared, and many new ones. The path or road—for it was neither the one nor the other, but something between both—is the pleasantest I have ever travelled in my life for the same length of way,—now with marks of sledges or wheels, or none at all, bare or green, as it might happen; now a little descent, now a level; sometimes a shady lane, at others an open track through green pastures; then again it would lead us into thick coppice-woods, which often entirely shut out the lake, and again admitted it by glimpses. We have never had a more delightful walk than this evening. Ben Lomond and the three pointed-topped mountains of Loch Lomond, which we had seen from the Garrison, were very majestic under the clear sky, the lake perfectly calm, the air sweet and mild. I felt that it was much more interesting to visit a place where we have been before than it can possibly be the first time, except under peculiar circumstances. The sun had been set for some time, when, being within a quarter of a mile of the ferryman's hut, our path having led us close to the shore of the calm lake, we met two neatly dressed women, without hats, who had probably been taking their Sunday evening's walk. One of them said to us in a friendly, soft tone of voice, 'What! you are stepping westward?' I cannot describe how affecting this simple expression was in that remote place, with the western sky in front, yet glowing with the departed sun. William wrote the following poem long after, in remembrance of his feelings and mine:—

'What! you are stepping westward?' Yea, 'Twould be a wildish destiny If we, who thus together roam In a strange land, and far from home, Were in this place the guests of chance: Yet who would stop, or fear to advance, Though home or shelter he had none, With such a sky to lead him on?

The dewy ground was dark and cold, Behind all gloomy to behold, And stepping westward seem'd to be A kind of heavenly destiny; I liked the greeting, 'twas a sound Of something without place or bound; And seem'd to give me spiritual right To travel through that region bright.

The voice was soft; and she who spake Was walking by her native Lake; The salutation was to me The very sound of courtesy; Its power was felt, and while my eye Was fix'd upon the glowing sky, The echo of the voice enwrought A human sweetness with the thought Of travelling through the world that lay Before me in my endless way.

We went up to the door of our boatman's hut as to a home, and scarcely less confident of a cordial welcome than if we had been approaching our own cottage at Grasmere. It had been a very pleasing thought, while we were walking by the side of the beautiful lake, that, few hours as we had been there, there was a home for us in one of its quiet dwellings. Accordingly, so we found it; the good woman, who had been at a preaching by the lake-side, was in her holiday dress at the door, and seemed to be rejoiced at the sight of us. She led us into the hut in haste to supply our wants; we took once more a refreshing meal by her fireside, and, though not so merry as the last time, we were not less happy, bating our regrets that Coleridge was not in his old place. I slept in the same bed as before, and listened to the household stream, which now only made a very low murmuring.

* * * * *

Monday, September 12th.—Rejoiced in the morning to see the sun shining upon the hills when I first looked out through the open window-place at my bed's head. We rose early, and after breakfast, our old companion, who was to be our guide for the day, rowed us over the water to the same point where Coleridge and I had sate down and eaten our dinner, while William had gone to survey the unknown coast. We intended to cross Loch Lomond, follow the lake to Glenfalloch, above the head of it, and then come over the mountains to Glengyle, and so down the glen, and passing Mr. Macfarlane's house, back again to the ferry-house, where we should sleep. So, a third time we went through the mountain hollow, now familiar ground. The inhabitants had not yet got in all their hay, and were at work in the fields; our guide often stopped to talk with them, and no doubt was called upon to answer many inquiries respecting us two strangers.

At the ferry-house of Inversneyde we had not the happy sight of the Highland girl and her companion, but the good woman received us cordially, gave me milk, and talked of Coleridge, who, the morning after we parted from him, had been at her house to fetch his watch, which he had forgotten two days before. He has since told me that he questioned her respecting the miserable condition of her hut, which, as you may remember, admitted the rain at the door, and retained it in the hollows of the mud floor: he told her how easy it would be to remove these inconveniences, and to contrive something, at least, to prevent the wind from entering at the window-places, if not a glass window for light and warmth by day. She replied that this was very true, but if they made any improvements the laird would conclude that they were growing rich, and would raise their rent.

The ferryman happened to be just ready at the moment to go over the lake with a poor man, his wife and child. The little girl, about three years old, cried all the way, terrified by the water. When we parted from this family, they going down the lake, and we up it, I could not but think of the difference in our condition to that poor woman, who, with her husband, had been driven from her home by want of work, and was now going a long journey to seek it elsewhere: every step was painful toil, for she had either her child to bear or a heavy burthen. I walked as she did, but pleasure was my object, and if toil came along with it, even that was pleasure,—pleasure, at least, it would be in the remembrance.

We were, I believe, nine miles from Glenfalloch when we left the boat. To us, with minds at ease, the walk was delightful; it could not be otherwise, for we passed by a continual succession of rocks, woods, and mountains; but the houses were few, and the ground cultivated only in small portions near the water, consequently there was not that sort of variety which leaves distinct separate remembrances, but one impression of solitude and greatness. While the Highlander and I were plodding on together side by side, interspersing long silences with now and then a question or a remark, looking down to the lake he espied two small rocky islands, and pointing to them, said to me, 'It will be gay {225a} and dangerous sailing there in stormy weather when the water is high.' In giving my assent I could not help smiling, but I afterwards found that a like combination of words is not uncommon in Scotland, for, at Edinburgh, William being afraid of rain, asked the ostler what he thought, who, looking up to the sky, pronounced it to be 'gay and dull,' and therefore rain might be expected. The most remarkable object we saw was a huge single stone, I believe three or four times the size of Bowder Stone. {225b} The top of it, which on one side was sloping like the roof of a house, was covered with heather. William climbed up the rock, which would have been no easy task but to a mountaineer, and we constructed a rope of pocket-handkerchiefs, garters, plaids, coats, etc., and measured its height. It was so many times the length of William's walking-stick, but, unfortunately, having lost the stick, we have lost the measure. The ferryman told us that a preaching was held there once in three months by a certain minister—I think of Arrochar—who engages, as a part of his office, to perform the service. The interesting feelings we had connected with the Highland Sabbath and Highland worship returned here with double force. The rock, though on one side a high perpendicular wall, in no place overhung so as to form a shelter, in no place could it be more than a screen from the elements. Why then had it been selected for such a purpose? Was it merely from being a central situation and a conspicuous object? Or did there belong to it some inheritance of superstition from old times? It is impossible to look at the stone without asking, How came it hither? Had then that obscurity and unaccountableness, that mystery of power which is about it, any influence over the first persons who resorted hither for worship? Or have they now on those who continue to frequent it? The lake is in front of the perpendicular wall, and behind, at some distance, and totally detached from it, is the continuation of the ridge of mountains which forms the vale of Loch Lomond—a magnificent temple, of which this spot is a noble Sanctum Sanctorum.

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