Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland A.D. 1803
by Dorothy Wordsworth
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We arrived at Glenfalloch at about one or two o'clock. It is no village; there being only scattered huts in the glen, which may be four miles long, according to my remembrance: the middle of it is very green, and level, and tufted with trees. Higher up, where the glen parts into two very narrow ones, is the house of the laird; I daresay a pretty place. The view from the door of the public-house is exceedingly beautiful; the river flows smoothly into the lake, and the fields were at that time as green as possible. Looking backward, Ben Lomond very majestically shuts in the view. The top of the mountain, as seen here, being of a pyramidal form, it is much grander than with the broken outline, and stage above stage, as seen from the neighbourhood of Luss. We found nobody at home at the inn, but the ferryman shouted, wishing to have a glass of whisky, and a young woman came from the hay-field, dressed in a white bed-gown, without hat or cap. There was no whisky in the house, so he begged a little whey to drink with the fragments of our cold meat brought from Callander. After a short rest in a cool parlour we set forward again, having to cross the river and climb up a steep mountain on the opposite side of the valley. I observed that the people were busy bringing in the hay before it was dry into a sort of 'fauld' or yard, where they intended to leave it, ready to be gathered into the house with the first threatening of rain, and if not completely dry brought out again. Our guide bore me in his arms over the stream, and we soon came to the foot of the mountain. The most easy rising, for a short way at first, was near a naked rivulet which made a fine cascade in one place. Afterwards, the ascent was very laborious, being frequently almost perpendicular.

It is one of those moments which I shall not easily forget, when at that point from which a step or two would have carried us out of sight of the green fields of Glenfalloch, being at a great height on the mountain, we sate down, and heard, as if from the heart of the earth, the sound of torrents ascending out of the long hollow glen. To the eye all was motionless, a perfect stillness. The noise of waters did not appear to come this way or that, from any particular quarter: it was everywhere, almost, one might say, as if 'exhaled' through the whole surface of the green earth. Glenfalloch, Coleridge has since told me, signifies the Hidden Vale; but William says, if we were to name it from our recollections of that time, we should call it the Vale of Awful Sound. We continued to climb higher and higher; but the hill was no longer steep, and afterwards we pursued our way along the top of it with many small ups and downs. The walk was very laborious after the climbing was over, being often exceedingly stony, or through swampy moss, rushes, or rough heather. As we proceeded, continuing our way at the top of the mountain, encircled by higher mountains at a great distance, we were passing, without notice, a heap of scattered stones round which was a belt of green grass—green, and as it seemed rich, where all else was either poor heather and coarse grass, or unprofitable rushes and spongy moss. The Highlander made a pause, saying, 'This place is much changed since I was here twenty years ago.' He told us that the heap of stones had been a hut where a family was then living, who had their winter habitation in the valley, and brought their goats thither in the summer to feed on the mountains, and that they were used to gather them together at night and morning to be milked close to the door, which was the reason why the grass was yet so green near the stones. It was affecting in that solitude to meet with this memorial of manners passed away; we looked about for some other traces of humanity, but nothing else could we find in that place. We ourselves afterwards espied another of those ruins, much more extensive—the remains, as the man told us, of several dwellings. We were astonished at the sagacity with which our Highlander discovered the track, where often no track was visible to us, and scarcely even when he pointed it out. It reminded us of what we read of the Hottentots and other savages. He went on as confidently as if it had been a turnpike road—the more surprising, as when he was there before it must have been a plain track, for he told us that fishermen from Arrochar carried herrings regularly over the mountains by that way to Loch Ketterine when the glens were much more populous than now.

Descended into Glengyle, above Loch Ketterine, and passed through Mr. Macfarlane's grounds, that is, through the whole of the glen, where there was now no house left but his. We stopped at his door to inquire after the family, though with little hope of finding them at home, having seen a large company at work in a hay field, whom we conjectured to be his whole household—as it proved, except a servant-maid, who answered our inquiries. We had sent the ferryman forward from the head of the glen to bring the boat round from the place where he left it to the other side of the lake. Passed the same farm-house we had such good reason to remember, and went up to the burying-ground that stood so sweetly near the water-side. The ferryman had told us that Rob Roy's grave was there, {229} so we could not pass on without going up to the spot. There were several tomb-stones, but the inscriptions were either worn-out or unintelligible to us, and the place choked up with nettles and brambles. You will remember the description I have given of the spot. I have nothing here to add, except the following poem which it suggested to William:—

A famous Man is Robin Hood, The English Ballad-singer's joy, And Scotland boasts of one as good, She has her own Rob Roy!

Then clear the weeds from off his grave, And let us chaunt a passing stave In honour of that Outlaw brave.

Heaven gave Rob Roy a daring heart And wondrous length and strength of arm, Nor craved he more to quell his foes, Or keep his friends from harm.

Yet Robin was as wise as brave, As wise in thought as bold in deed, For in the principles of things He sought his moral creed.

Said generous Rob, 'What need of books? Burn all the statutes and their shelves: They stir us up against our kind, And worse, against ourselves.

'We have a passion; make a law, Too false to guide us or control: And for the law itself we fight In bitterness of soul.

'And puzzled, blinded thus, we lose Distinctions that are plain and few: These find I graven on my heart: That tells me what to do.

'The Creatures see of flood and field, And those that travel on the wind! With them no strife can last; they live In peace, and peace of mind.

'For why? Because the good old rule Suffices them, the simple plan That they should take who have the power, And they should keep who can.

'A lesson which is quickly learn'd, A signal this which all can see! Thus nothing here provokes the strong To tyrannous cruelty.

'And freakishness of mind is check'd; He tamed who foolishly aspires, While to the measure of their might All fashion their desires.

'All kinds and creatures stand and fall By strength of prowess or of wit, 'Tis God's appointment who must sway, And who is to submit.

'Since then,' said Robin, 'right is plain, And longest life is but a day; To have my ends, maintain my rights, I'll take the shortest way.'

And thus among these rocks he lived Through summer's heat and winter's snow; The Eagle, he was lord above, And Rob was lord below.

So was it—would at least have been But through untowardness of fate; For polity was then too strong: He came an age too late.

Or shall we say an age too soon? For were the bold man living now, How might he flourish in his pride With buds on every bough?

Then Rents and Land-marks, Rights of chase, Sheriffs and Factors, Lairds and Thanes, Would all have seem'd but paltry things Not worth a moment's pains.

Rob Roy had never linger'd here, To these few meagre vales confined, But thought how wide the world, the times How fairly to his mind.

And to his Sword he would have said, 'Do thou my sovereign will enact From land to land through half the earth; Judge thou of law and fact.

''Tis fit that we should do our part; Becoming that mankind should learn That we are not to be surpass'd In fatherly concern.

'Of old things all are over old, Of good things none are good enough; I'll shew that I can help to frame A world of other stuff.

'I, too, will have my Kings that take From me the sign of life and death, Kingdoms shall shift about like clouds Obedient to my breath.'

And if the word had been fulfill'd As might have been, then, thought of joy! France would have had her present Boast, And we our brave Rob Roy.

Oh! say not so, compare them not; I would not wrong thee, Champion brave! Would wrong thee nowhere; least of all Here, standing by thy Grave.

For thou, although with some wild thoughts, Wild Chieftain of a savage Clan, Hadst this to boast of—thou didst love The Liberty of Man.

And had it been thy lot to live With us who now behold the light, Thou wouldst have nobly stirr'd thyself, And battled for the right.

For Robin was the poor man's stay; The poor man's heart, the poor man's hand, And all the oppress'd who wanted strength Had Robin's to command.

Bear witness many a pensive sigh Of thoughtful Herdsman when he strays Alone upon Loch Veol's heights, And by Loch Lomond's Braes.

And far and near, through vale and hill, Are faces that attest the same; Kindling with instantaneous joy At sound of Rob Roy's name.

Soon after we saw our boat coming over the calm water. It was late in the evening, and I was stiff and weary, as well I might, after such a long and toilsome walk, so it was no poor gratification to sit down and be conscious of advancing in our journey without further labour. The stars were beginning to appear, but the brightness of the west was not yet gone;—the lake perfectly still, and when we first went into the boat we rowed almost close to the shore under steep crags hung with birches: it was like a new-discovered country of which we had not dreamed, for in walking down the lake, owing to the road in that part being carried at a considerable height on the hill-side, the rocks and the indentings of the shore had been hidden from us. At this time, those rocks and their images in the calm water composed one mass, the surfaces of both equally distinct, except where the water trembled with the motion of our boat. Having rowed a while under the bold steeps, we launched out further when the shores were no longer abrupt. We hardly spoke to each other as we moved along receding from the west, which diffused a solemn animation over the lake. The sky was cloudless; and everything seemed at rest except our solitary boat, and the mountain-streams,—seldom heard, and but faintly. I think I have rarely experienced a more elevated pleasure than during our short voyage of this night. The good woman had long been looking out for us, and had prepared everything for our refreshment; and as soon as we had finished supper, or rather tea, we went to bed. William, I doubt not, rested well, and, for my part, I slept as soundly on my chaff bed as ever I have done in childhood after the long day's playing of a summer's holiday.

* * * * *

Tuesday, 13th September.—Again a fine morning. I strolled into the green field in which the house stands while the woman was preparing breakfast, and at my return found one of her neighbours sitting by the fire, a feeble paralytic old woman. After having inquired concerning our journey the day before, she said, 'I have travelled far in my time,' and told me she had married an English soldier who had been stationed at the Garrison; they had had many children, who were all dead or in foreign countries; and she had returned to her native place, where now she had lived several years, and was more comfortable than she could ever have expected to be, being very kindly dealt with by all her neighbours. Pointing to the ferryman and his wife, she said they were accustomed to give her a day of their labour in digging peats, in common with others, and in that manner she was provided with fuel, and, by like voluntary contributions, with other necessaries. While this infirm old woman was relating her story in a tremulous voice, I could not but think of the changes of things, and the days of her youth, when the shrill fife, sounding from the walls of the Garrison, made a merry noise through the echoing hills. I asked myself, if she were to be carried again to the deserted spot after her course of life, no doubt a troublesome one, would the silence appear to her the silence of desolation or of peace?

After breakfast we took a final leave of our hostess, and, attended by her husband, again set forward on foot. My limbs were a little stiff, but the morning being uncommonly fine I did not fear to aim at the accomplishment of a plan we had laid of returning to Callander by a considerable circuit. We were to go over the mountains from Loch Ketterine, a little below the ferry-house on the same side of the water, descending to Loch Voil, a lake from which issues the stream that flows through Strath Eyer into Loch Lubnaig. Our road, as is generally the case in passing from one vale into another, was through a settling between the hills, not far from a small stream. We had to climb considerably, the mountain being much higher than it appears to be, owing to its retreating in what looks like a gradual slope from the lake, though we found it steep enough in the climbing. Our guide had been born near Loch Voil, and he told us that at the head of the lake, if we would look about for it, we should see the burying-place of a part of his family, the MacGregors, a clan who had long possessed that district, a circumstance which he related with no unworthy pride of ancestry. We shook hands with him at parting, not without a hope of again entering his hut in company with others whom we loved.

Continued to walk for some time along the top of the hill, having the high mountains of Loch Voil before us, and Ben Lomond and the steeps of Loch Ketterine behind. Came to several deserted mountain huts or shiels, and rested for some time beside one of them, upon a hillock of its green plot of monumental herbage. William here conceived the notion of writing an ode upon the affecting subject of those relics of human society found in that grand and solitary region. The spot of ground where we sate was even beautiful, the grass being uncommonly verdant, and of a remarkably soft and silky texture.

After this we rested no more till we came to the foot of the mountain, where there was a cottage, at the door of which a woman invited me to drink some whey: this I did, while William went to inquire respecting the road at a new stone house a few steps further. He was told to cross the brook, and proceed to the other side of the vale, and that no further directions were necessary, for we should find ourselves at the head of the lake, and on a plain road which would lead us downward. We waded the river and crossed the vale, perhaps half a mile or more. The mountains all round are very high; the vale pastoral and unenclosed, not many dwellings, and but few trees; the mountains in general smooth near the bottom. They are in large unbroken masses, combining with the vale to give an impression of bold simplicity.

Near the head of the lake, at some distance from us, we discovered the burial-place of the MacGregors, and did not view it without some interest, with its ornamental balls on the four corners of the wall, which, I daresay, have been often looked at with elevation of heart by our honest friend of Loch Ketterine. The lake is divided right across by a narrow slip of flat land, making a small lake at the head of the large one. The whole may be about five miles long.

As we descended, the scene became more fertile, our way being pleasantly varied—through coppices or open fields, and passing farm-houses, though always with an intermixture of uncultivated ground. It was harvest-time, and the fields were quietly—might I be allowed to say pensively?—enlivened by small companies of reapers. It is not uncommon in the more lonely parts of the Highlands to see a single person so employed. The following poem was suggested to William by a beautiful sentence in Thomas Wilkinson's 'Tour in Scotland:' {237}—

Behold her single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass, Reaping and singing by herself— Stop here, or gently pass. Alone she cuts and binds the grain, And sings a melancholy strain. Oh! listen, for the Vale profound Is overflowing with the sound.

No nightingale did ever chaunt So sweetly to reposing bands Of travellers in some shady haunt Among Arabian Sands; No sweeter voice was ever heard In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird Breaking the silence of the seas Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings? Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow For old unhappy far-off things, And battles long ago;— Or is it some more humble lay— Familiar matter of to-day— Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sung As if her song could have no ending; I saw her singing at her work, And o'er the sickle bending; I listen'd till I had my fill, And as I mounted up the hill The music in my heart I bore Long after it was heard no more.

Towards the foot of the lake, on the opposite side, which was more barren than that on which we travelled, was a bare road up a steep hill, which leads to Glen Finlas, formerly a royal forest. It is a wild and rocky glen, as we had been told by a person who directed our notice to its outlet at Loch Achray. The stream which passes through it falls into that lake near the head. At the end of Loch Voil the vale is wide and populous—large pastures with many cattle, large tracts of corn. We walked downwards a little way, and then crossed over to the same road along which we had travelled from Loch Erne to Callander, being once again at the entrance of Strath Eyer. It might be about four or five o'clock in the afternoon; we were ten miles from Callander, exceedingly tired, and wished heartily for the poor horse and car. Walked up Strath Eyer, and saw in clear air and sunshine what had been concealed from us when we travelled before in the mist and rain. We found it less woody and rich than it had appeared to be, but, with all deductions, a very sweet valley.

Not far from Loch Lubnaig, though not in view of it, is a long village, with two or three public-houses, and being in despair of reaching Callander that night without over-fatigue we resolved to stop at the most respectable-looking house, and, should it not prove wretched indeed, to lodge there if there were beds for us: at any rate it was necessary to take some refreshment. The woman of the house spoke with gentleness and civility, and had a good countenance, which reconciled me to stay, though I had been averse to the scheme, dreading the dirt usual in Scotch public-houses by the way-side. She said she had beds for us, and clean sheets, and we desired her to prepare them immediately. It was a two-storied house, light built, though in other respects no better than the huts, and—as all the slated cottages are—much more uncomfortable in appearance, except that there was a chimney in the kitchen. At such places it is fit that travellers should make up their minds to wait at least an hour longer than the time necessary to prepare whatever meal they may have ordered, which we, I may truly say, did with most temperate philosophy. I went to talk with the mistress, who was making barley cakes, which she wrought out with her hands as thin as the oaten bread we make in Cumberland. I asked her why she did not use a rolling-pin, and if it would not be much more convenient, to which she returned me no distinct answer, and seemed to give little attention to the question: she did not know, or that was what they were used to, or something of the sort. It was a tedious process, and I thought could scarcely have been managed if the cakes had been as large as ours; but they are considerably smaller, which is a great loss of time in the baking.

This woman, whose common language was the Gaelic, talked with me a very good English, asking many questions, yet without the least appearance of an obtrusive or impertinent curiosity; and indeed I must say that I never, in those women with whom I conversed, observed anything on which I could put such a construction. They seemed to have a faith ready for all; and as a child when you are telling him stories, asks for 'more, more,' so they appeared to delight in being amused without effort of their own minds. Among other questions she asked me the old one over again, if I was married; and when I told her that I was not, she appeared surprised, and, as if recollecting herself, said to me, with a pious seriousness and perfect simplicity, 'To be sure, there is a great promise for virgins in Heaven;' and then she began to tell how long she had been married, that she had had a large family and much sickness and sorrow, having lost several of her children. We had clean sheets and decent beds.

* * * * *

Wednesday, September 14th.—Rose early, and departed before breakfast. The morning was dry, but cold. Travelled as before, along the shores of Loch Lubnaig, and along the pass of the roaring stream of Leny, and reached Callander at a little past eight o'clock. After breakfast set off towards Stirling, intending to sleep there; the distance eighteen miles. We were now entering upon a populous and more cultivated country, having left the mountains behind, therefore I shall have little to tell; for what is most interesting in such a country is not to be seen in passing through it as we did. Half way between Callander and Stirling is the village of Doune, and a little further on we crossed a bridge over a pleasant river, the Teith. Above the river stands a ruined castle of considerable size, upon a woody bank. We wished to have had time to go up to the ruin. Long before we reached the town of Stirling, saw the Castle, single, on its stately and commanding eminence. The rock or hill rises from a level plain; the print in Stoddart's book does indeed give a good notion of its form. The surrounding plain appears to be of a rich soil, well cultivated. The crops of ripe corn were abundant. We found the town quite full; not a vacant room in the inn, it being the time of the assizes: there was no lodging for us, and hardly even the possibility of getting anything to eat in a bye-nook of the house. Walked up to the Castle. The prospect from it is very extensive, and must be exceedingly grand on a fine evening or morning, with the light of the setting or rising sun on the distant mountains, but we saw it at an unfavourable time of day, the mid-afternoon, and were not favoured by light and shade. The Forth makes most intricate and curious turnings, so that it is difficult to trace them, even when you are overlooking the whole. It flows through a perfect level, and in one place cuts its way in the form of a large figure of eight. Stirling is the largest town we had seen in Scotland, except Glasgow. It is an old irregular place; the streets towards the Castle on one side very steep. On the other, the hill or rock rises from the fields. The architecture of a part of the Castle is very fine, and the whole building in good repair: some parts indeed, are modern. At Stirling we bought Burns's Poems in one volume, for two shillings. Went on to Falkirk, ten or eleven miles. I do not recollect anything remarkable after we were out of sight of Stirling Castle, except the Carron Ironworks, seen at a distance;—the sky above them was red with a fiery light. In passing through a turnpike gate we were greeted by a Highland drover, who, with many others, was coming from a fair at Falkirk, the road being covered all along with horsemen and cattle. He spoke as if we had been well known to him, asking us how we had fared on our journey. We were at a loss to conceive why he should interest himself about us, till he said he had passed us on the Black Mountain, near King's House. It was pleasant to observe the effect of solitary places in making men friends, and to see so much kindness, which had been produced in such a chance encounter, retained in a crowd. No beds in the inns at Falkirk—every room taken up by the people come to the fair. Lodged in a private house, a neat clean place—kind treatment from the old man and his daughter.

* * * * *

Thursday, September 15th.—Breakfasted at Linlithgow, a small town. The house is yet shown from which the Regent Murray was shot. The remains of a royal palace, where Queen Mary was born, are of considerable extent; the banks of gardens and fish-ponds may yet be distinctly traced, though the whole surface is transformed into smooth pasturage where cattle graze. The castle stands upon a gentle eminence, the prospect not particularly pleasing, though not otherwise; it is bare and wide. The shell of a small ancient church is standing, into which are crammed modern pews, galleries, and pulpit—very ugly, and discordant with the exterior. Nothing very interesting till we came to Edinburgh. Dined by the way at a small town or village upon a hill, the back part of the houses on one side overlooking an extensive prospect over flat corn fields. I mention this for the sake of a pleasant hour we passed sitting on the bank, where we read some of Burns's poems in the volume which we had bought at Stirling.

Arrived at Edinburgh a little before sunset. As we approached, the Castle rock resembled that of Stirling—in the same manner appearing to rise from a plain of cultivated ground, the Firth of Forth being on the other side, and not visible. Drove to the White Hart in the Grass-market, an inn which had been mentioned to us, and which we conjectured would better suit us than one in a more fashionable part of the town. It was not noisy, and tolerably cheap. Drank tea, and walked up to the Castle, which luckily was very near. Much of the daylight was gone, so that except it had been a clear evening, which it was not, we could not have seen the distant prospect.

* * * * *

Friday, September 6th.—The sky the evening before, as you may remember the ostler told us, had been 'gay and dull,' and this morning it was downright dismal: very dark, and promising nothing but a wet day, and before breakfast was over the rain began, though not heavily. We set out upon our walk, and went through many streets to Holyrood House, and thence to the hill called Arthur's Seat, a high hill, very rocky at the top, and below covered with smooth turf, on which sheep were feeding. We climbed up till we came to St. Anthony's Well and Chapel, as it is called, but it is more like a hermitage than a chapel,—a small ruin, which from its situation is exceedingly interesting, though in itself not remarkable. We sate down on a stone not far from the chapel, overlooking a pastoral hollow as wild and solitary as any in the heart of the Highland mountains: there, instead of the roaring of torrents, we listened to the noises of the city, which were blended in one loud indistinct buzz,—a regular sound in the air, which in certain moods of feeling, and at certain times, might have a more tranquillizing effect upon the mind than those which we are accustomed to hear in such places. The Castle rock looked exceedingly large through the misty air: a cloud of black smoke overhung the city, which combined with the rain and mist to conceal the shapes of the houses,—an obscurity which added much to the grandeur of the sound that proceeded from it. It was impossible to think of anything that was little or mean, the goings-on of trade, the strife of men, or every-day city business:—the impression was one, and it was visionary; like the conceptions of our childhood of Bagdad or Balsora when we have been reading the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. Though the rain was very heavy we remained upon the hill for some time, then returned by the same road by which we had come, through green flat fields, formerly the pleasure-grounds of Holyrood House, on the edge of which stands the old roofless chapel, of venerable architecture. It is a pity that it should be suffered to fall down, for the walls appear to be yet entire. Very near to the chapel is Holyrood House, which we could not but lament has nothing ancient in its appearance, being sash-windowed and not an irregular pile. It is very like a building for some national establishment,—a hospital for soldiers or sailors. You have a description of it in Stoddart's Tour, therefore I need not tell you what we saw there.

When we found ourselves once again in the streets of the city, we lamented over the heavy rain, and indeed before leaving the hill, much as we were indebted to the accident of the rain for the peculiar grandeur and affecting wildness of those objects we saw, we could not but regret that the Firth of Forth was entirely hidden from us, and all distant objects, and we strained our eyes till they ached, vainly trying to pierce through the thick mist. We walked industriously through the streets, street after street, and, in spite of wet and dirt, were exceedingly delighted. The old town, with its irregular houses, stage above stage, seen as we saw it, in the obscurity of a rainy day, hardly resembles the work of men, it is more like a piling up of rocks, and I cannot attempt to describe what we saw so imperfectly, but must say that, high as my expectations had been raised, the city of Edinburgh far surpassed all expectation. Gladly would we have stayed another day, but could not afford more time, and our notions of the weather of Scotland were so dismal, notwithstanding we ourselves had been so much favoured, that we had no hope of its mending. So at about six o'clock in the evening we departed, intending to sleep at an inn in the village of Roslin, about five miles from Edinburgh. The rain continued till we were almost at Roslin; but then it was quite dark, so we did not see the Castle that night.

* * * * *

Saturday, September 17th.—The morning very fine. We rose early and walked through the glen of Roslin, past Hawthornden, and considerably further, to the house of Mr. Walter Scott at Lasswade. Roslin Castle stands upon a woody bank above a stream, the North Esk, too large, I think, to be called a brook, yet an inconsiderable river. We looked down upon the ruin from higher ground. Near it stands the Chapel, a most elegant building, a ruin, though the walls and roof are entire. I never passed through a more delicious dell than the glen of Roslin, though the water of the stream is dingy and muddy. The banks are rocky on each side, and hung with pine wood. About a mile from the Castle, on the contrary side of the water, upon the edge of a very steep bank, stands Hawthornden, the house of Drummond the poet, whither Ben Jonson came on foot from London to visit his friend. We did hear to whom the house at present belongs, and some other particulars, but I have a very indistinct recollection of what was told us, except that many old trees had been lately cut down. After Hawthornden the glen widens, ceases to be rocky, and spreads out into a rich vale, scattered over with gentlemen's seats.

Arrived at Lasswade before Mr. and Mrs. Scott had risen, and waited some time in a large sitting-room. Breakfasted with them, and stayed till two o'clock, and Mr. Scott accompanied us back almost to Roslin, having given us directions respecting our future journey, and promised to meet us at Melrose two days after. {246}

We ordered dinner on our return to the inn, and went to view the inside of the Chapel of Roslin, which is kept locked up, and so preserved from the injuries it might otherwise receive from idle boys; but as nothing is done to keep it together, it must in the end fall. The architecture within is exquisitely beautiful. The stone both of the roof and walls is sculptured with leaves and flowers, so delicately wrought that I could have admired them for hours, and the whole of their groundwork is stained by time with the softest colours. Some of those leaves and flowers were tinged perfectly green, and at one part the effect was most exquisite: three or four leaves of a small fern, resembling that which we call adder's tongue, grew round a cluster of them at the top of a pillar, and the natural product and the artificial were so intermingled that at first it was not easy to distinguish the living plant from the other, they being of an equally determined green, though the fern was of a deeper shade.

We set forward again after dinner. The afternoon was pleasant. Travelled through large tracts of ripe corn, interspersed with larger tracts of moorland—the houses at a considerable distance from each other, no longer thatched huts, but farm-houses resembling those of the farming counties in England, having many corn-stacks close to them. Dark when we reached Peebles; found a comfortable old-fashioned public-house, had a neat parlour, and drank tea.


Sunday, September 8th.—The town of Peebles is on the banks of the Tweed. After breakfast walked up the river to Neidpath Castle, about a mile and a half from the town. The castle stands upon a green hill, overlooking the Tweed, a strong square-towered edifice, neglected and desolate, though not in ruin, the garden overgrown with grass, and the high walls that fenced it broken down. The Tweed winds between green steeps, upon which, and close to the river side, large flocks of sheep pasturing; higher still are the grey mountains; but I need not describe the scene, for William has done it better than I could do in a sonnet which he wrote the same day; the five last lines, at least, of his poem will impart to you more of the feeling of the place than it would be possible for me to do:—

Degenerate Douglass! thou unworthy Lord Whom mere despite of heart could so far please, And love of havoc (for with such disease Fame taxes him) that he could send forth word To level with the dust a noble horde, A brotherhood of venerable trees, Leaving an ancient Dome and Towers like these Beggar'd and outraged! Many hearts deplored The fate of those old trees; and oft with pain The Traveller at this day will stop and gaze On wrongs which Nature scarcely seems to heed; For shelter'd places, bosoms, nooks, and bays, And the pure mountains, and the gentle Tweed, And the green silent pastures yet remain.

I was spared any regret for the fallen woods when we were there, not then knowing the history of them. The soft low mountains, the castle, and the decayed pleasure-grounds, the scattered trees which have been left in different parts, and the road carried in a very beautiful line along the side of the hill, with the Tweed murmuring through the unfenced green pastures spotted with sheep, together composed an harmonious scene, and I wished for nothing that was not there. When we were with Mr. Scott he spoke of cheerful days he had spent in that castle not many years ago, when it was inhabited by Professor Ferguson and his family, whom the Duke of Queensberry, its churlish owner, forced to quit it. We discovered a very fine echo within a few yards of the building.

The town of Peebles looks very pretty from the road in returning: it is an old town, built of grey stone, the same as the castle. Well-dressed people were going to church. Sent the car before, and walked ourselves, and while going along the main street William was called aside in a mysterious manner by a person who gravely examined him—whether he was an Irishman or a foreigner, or what he was; I suppose our car was the occasion of suspicion at a time when every one was talking of the threatened invasion. We had a day's journey before us along the banks of the Tweed, a name which has been sweet to my ears almost as far back as I can remember anything. After the first mile or two our road was seldom far from the river, which flowed in gentleness, though perhaps never silent; the hills on either side high and sometimes stony, but excellent pasturage for sheep. In some parts the vale was wholly of this pastoral character, in others we saw extensive tracts of corn ground, even spreading along whole hill-sides, and without visible fences, which is dreary in a flat country; but there is no dreariness on the banks of the Tweed,—the hills, whether smooth or stony, uncultivated or covered with ripe corn, had the same pensive softness. Near the corn tracts were large farm-houses, with many corn-stacks; the stacks and house and out-houses together, I recollect, in one or two places upon the hills, at a little distance, seemed almost as large as a small village or hamlet. It was a clear autumnal day, without wind, and, being Sunday, the business of the harvest was suspended, and all that we saw, and felt, and heard, combined to excite one sensation of pensive and still pleasure.

Passed by several old halls yet inhabited, and others in ruin; but I have hardly a sufficiently distinct recollection of any of them to be able to describe them, and I now at this distance of time regret that I did not take notes. In one very sweet part of the vale a gate crossed the road, which was opened by an old woman who lived in a cottage close to it; I said to her, 'You live in a very pretty place!' 'Yes,' she replied, 'the water of Tweed is a bonny water.' The lines of the hills are flowing and beautiful, the reaches of the vale long; in some places appear the remains of a forest, in others you will see as lovely a combination of forms as any traveller who goes in search of the picturesque need desire, and yet perhaps without a single tree; or at least if trees there are, they shall be very few, and he shall not care whether they are there or not.

The road took us through one long village, but I do not recollect any other; yet I think we never had a mile's length before us without a house, though seldom several cottages together. The loneliness of the scattered dwellings, the more stately edifices decaying or in ruin, or, if inhabited, not in their pride and freshness, aided the general effect of the gently varying scenes, which was that of tender pensiveness; no bursting torrents when we were there, but the murmuring of the river was heard distinctly, often blended with the bleating of sheep. In one place we saw a shepherd lying in the midst of a flock upon a sunny knoll, with his face towards the sky,—happy picture of shepherd life.

The transitions of this vale were all gentle except one, a scene of which a gentleman's house was the centre, standing low in the vale, the hills above it covered with gloomy fir plantations, and the appearance of the house itself, though it could scarcely be seen, was gloomy. There was an allegorical air—a person fond of Spenser will understand me—in this uncheerful spot, single in such a country,

'The house was hearsed about with a black wood.'

We have since heard that it was the residence of Lord Traquair, a Roman Catholic nobleman, of a decayed family.

We left the Tweed when we were within about a mile and a half or two miles of Clovenford, where we were to lodge. Turned up the side of a hill, and went along sheep-grounds till we reached the spot—a single stone house, without a tree near it or to be seen from it. On our mentioning Mr. Scott's name the woman of the house showed us all possible civility, but her slowness was really amusing. I should suppose it is a house little frequented, for there is no appearance of an inn. Mr. Scott, who she told me was a very clever gentleman, 'goes there in the fishing season;' but indeed Mr. Scott is respected everywhere: I believe that by favour of his name one might be hospitably entertained throughout all the borders of Scotland. We dined and drank tea—did not walk out, for there was no temptation; a confined barren prospect from the window.

At Clovenford, being so near to the Yarrow, we could not but think of the possibility of going thither, but came to the conclusion of reserving the pleasure for some future time, in consequence of which, after our return, William wrote the poem which I shall here transcribe:—

From Stirling Castle we had seen The mazy Forth unravell'd, Had trod the banks of Clyde and Tay, And with the Tweed had travell'd. And when we came to Clovenford, Then said my winsome Marrow, 'Whate'er betide we'll turn aside And see the Braes of Yarrow.'

'Let Yarrow Folk frae Selkirk Town, Who have been buying, selling, Go back to Yarrow:—'tis their own, Each Maiden to her dwelling. On Yarrow's banks let herons feed, Hares couch, and rabbits burrow, But we will downwards with the Tweed, Nor turn aside to Yarrow.

'There's Gala Water, Leader Haughs, Both lying right before us; And Dryburgh, where with chiming Tweed The lintwhites sing in chorus. There's pleasant Teviot Dale, a land Made blithe with plough and harrow, Why throw away a needful day, To go in search of Yarrow?

'What's Yarrow but a river bare, That glides the dark hills under? There are a thousand such elsewhere, As worthy of your wonder.' Strange words they seem'd of slight and scorn, My true-love sigh'd for sorrow, And look'd me in the face to think I thus could speak of Yarrow.

'Oh! green,' said I, 'are Yarrow's Holms, And sweet is Yarrow flowing, Fair hangs the apple frae the rock, But we will leave it growing. O'er hilly path and open Strath We'll wander Scotland thorough, But though so near we will not turn Into the Dale of Yarrow.

'Let beeves and home-bred kine partake The sweets of Burnmill Meadow, The swan on still St. Mary's Lake Float double, swan and shadow. We will not see them, will not go, To-day nor yet to-morrow; Enough if in our hearts we know There's such a place as Yarrow.

'Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown, It must, or we shall rue it, We have a vision of our own, Ah! why should we undo it? The treasured dreams of times long past, We'll keep them, "winsome Marrow," For when we're there, although 'tis fair, 'Twill be another Yarrow.

'If care with freezing years should come, And wandering seem but folly, Should we be loth to stir from home, And yet be melancholy, Should life be dull and spirits low, 'Twill soothe us in our sorrow That earth has something yet to show— The bonny Holms of Yarrow.' {254}

The next day we were to meet Mr. Scott, and again join the Tweed. I wish I could have given you a better idea of what we saw between Peebles and this place. I have most distinct recollections of the effect of the whole day's journey; but the objects are mostly melted together in my memory, and though I should recognise them if we revisit the place, I cannot call them out so as to represent them to you with distinctness. William, in attempting in verse to describe this part of the Tweed, says of it,

More pensive in sunshine Than others in moonshine.

which perhaps may give you more power to conceive what it is than all I have said.

* * * * *

Monday, September 19th.—We rose early, and went to Melrose, six miles, before breakfast. After ascending a hill, descended, and overlooked a dell, on the opposite side of which was an old mansion, surrounded with trees and steep gardens, a curious and pleasing, yet melancholy spot; for the house and gardens were evidently going to decay, and the whole of the small dell, except near the house, was unenclosed and uncultivated, being a sheep-walk to the top of the hills. Descended to Gala Water, a pretty stream, but much smaller than the Tweed, into which the brook flows from the glen I have spoken of. Near the Gala is a large modern house, the situation very pleasant, but the old building which we had passed put to shame the fresh colouring and meagre outline of the new one. Went through a part of the village of Galashiels, pleasantly situated on the bank of the stream; a pretty place it once has been, but a manufactory is established there; and a townish bustle and ugly stone houses are fast taking place of the brown-roofed thatched cottages, of which a great number yet remain, partly overshadowed by trees. Left the Gala, and, after crossing the open country, came again to the Tweed, and pursued our way as before near the river, perhaps for a mile or two, till we arrived at Melrose. The valley for this short space was not so pleasing as before, the hills more broken, and though the cultivation was general, yet the scene was not rich, while it had lost its pastoral simplicity. At Melrose the vale opens out wide; but the hills are high all round—single distinct risings. After breakfast we went out, intending to go to the Abbey, and in the street met Mr. Scott, who gave us a cordial greeting, and conducted us thither himself. He was here on his own ground, for he is familiar with all that is known of the authentic history of Melrose and the popular tales connected with it. He pointed out many pieces of beautiful sculpture in obscure corners which would have escaped our notice. The Abbey has been built of a pale red stone; that part which was first erected of a very durable kind, the sculptured flowers and leaves and other minute ornaments being as perfect in many places as when first wrought. The ruin is of considerable extent, but unfortunately it is almost surrounded by insignificant houses, so that when you are close to it you see it entirely separated from many rural objects, and even when viewed from a distance the situation does not seem to be particularly happy, for the vale is broken and disturbed, and the Abbey at a distance from the river, so that you do not look upon them as companions of each other. And surely this is a national barbarism: within these beautiful walls is the ugliest church that was ever beheld—if it had been hewn out of the side of a hill it could not have been more dismal; there was no neatness, nor even decency, and it appeared to be so damp, and so completely excluded from fresh air, that it must be dangerous to sit in it; the floor is unpaved, and very rough. What a contrast to the beautiful and graceful order apparent in every part of the ancient design and workmanship! Mr. Scott went with us into the gardens and orchards of a Mr. Riddel, from which we had a very sweet view of the Abbey through trees, the town being entirely excluded. Dined with Mr. Scott at the inn; he was now travelling to the assizes at Jedburgh in his character of Sheriff of Selkirk, and on that account, as well as for his own sake, he was treated with great respect, a small part of which was vouchsafed to us as his friends, though I could not persuade the woman to show me the beds, or to make any sort of promise till she was assured from the Sheriff himself that he had no objection to sleep in the same room with William.

* * * * *

Tuesday, September 20th.—Mr. Scott departed very early for Jedburgh, and we soon followed, intending to go by Dryburgh to Kelso. It was a fine morning. We went without breakfast, being told that there was a public-house at Dryburgh. The road was very pleasant, seldom out of sight of the Tweed for any length of time, though not often close to it. The valley is not so pleasantly defined as between Peebles and Clovenford, yet so soft and beautiful, and in many parts pastoral, but that peculiar and pensive simplicity which I have spoken of before was wanting, yet there was a fertility chequered with wildness which to many travellers would be more than a compensation. The reaches of the vale were shorter, the turnings more rapid, the banks often clothed with wood. In one place was a lofty scar, at another a green promontory, a small hill skirted by the river, the hill above irregular and green, and scattered over with trees. We wished we could have brought the ruins of Melrose to that spot, and mentioned this to Mr. Scott, who told us that the monks had first fixed their abode there, and raised a temporary building of wood. The monastery of Melrose was founded by a colony from Rievaux Abbey in Yorkshire, which building it happens to resemble in the colour of the stone, and I think partly in the style of architecture, but is much smaller, that is, has been much smaller, for there is not at Rievaux any one single part of the ruin so large as the remains of the church at Melrose, though at Rievaux a far more extensive ruin remains. It is also much grander, and the situation at present much more beautiful, that ruin not having suffered like Melrose Abbey from the encroachments of a town. The architecture at Melrose is, I believe, superior in the exactness and taste of some of the minute ornamental parts; indeed, it is impossible to conceive anything more delicate than the workmanship, especially in the imitations of flowers.

We descended to Dryburgh after having gone a considerable way upon high ground. A heavy rain when we reached the village, and there was no public-house. A well-dressed, well-spoken woman courteously—shall I say charitably?—invited us into her cottage, and permitted us to make breakfast; she showed us into a neat parlour, furnished with prints, a mahogany table, and other things which I was surprised to see, for her husband was only a day-labourer, but she had been Lady Buchan's waiting-maid, which accounted for these luxuries and for a noticeable urbanity in her manners. All the cottages in this neighbourhood, if I am not mistaken, were covered with red tiles, and had chimneys. After breakfast we set out in the rain to the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, which are near Lord Buchan's house, and, like Bothwell Castle, appropriated to the pleasure of the owner. We rang a bell at the gate, and, instead of a porter, an old woman came to open it through a narrow side-alley cut in a thick plantation of evergreens. On entering, saw the thatch of her hut just above the trees, and it looked very pretty, but the poor creature herself was a figure to frighten a child,—bowed almost double, having a hooked nose and overhanging eyebrows, a complexion stained brown with smoke, and a cap that might have been worn for months and never washed. No doubt she had been cowering over her peat fire, for if she had emitted smoke by her breath and through every pore, the odour could not have been stronger. This ancient woman, by right of office, attended us to show off the curiosities, and she had her tale as perfect, though it was not quite so long a one, as the gentleman Swiss, whom I remember to have seen at Blenheim with his slender wand and dainty white clothes. The house of Lord Buchan and the Abbey stand upon a large flat peninsula, a green holm almost covered with fruit-trees. The ruins of Dryburgh are much less extensive than those of Melrose, and greatly inferior both in the architecture and stone, which is much mouldered away. Lord Buchan has trained pear-trees along the walls, which are bordered with flowers and gravel walks, and he has made a pigeon-house, and a fine room in the ruin, ornamented with a curiously-assorted collection of busts of eminent men, in which lately a ball was given; yet, deducting for all these improvements, which are certainly much less offensive than you could imagine, it is a very sweet ruin, standing so enclosed in wood, which the towers overtop, that you cannot know that it is not in a state of natural desolation till you are close to it. The opposite bank of the Tweed is steep and woody, but unfortunately many of the trees are firs. The old woman followed us after the fashion of other guides, but being slower of foot than a younger person, it was not difficult to slip away from the scent of her poor smoke-dried body. She was sedulous in pointing out the curiosities, which, I doubt not, she had a firm belief were not to be surpassed in England or Scotland.

Having promised us a sight of the largest and oldest yew-tree ever seen, she conducted us to it; it was a goodly tree, but a mere dwarf compared with several of our own country—not to speak of the giant of Lorton. We returned to the cottage, and waited some time in hopes that the rain would abate, but it grew worse and worse, and we were obliged to give up our journey, to Kelso, taking the direct road to Jedburgh.

We had to ford the Tweed, a wide river at the crossing-place. It would have been impossible to drive the horse through, for he had not forgotten the fright at Connel Ferry, so we hired a man to lead us. After crossing the water, the road goes up the bank, and we had a beautiful view of the ruins of the Abbey, peering above the trees of the woody peninsula, which, in shape, resembles that formed by the Tees at Lickburn, but is considerably smaller. Lord Buchan's house is a very neat, modest building, and almost hidden by trees. It soon began to rain heavily. Crossing the Teviot by a stone bridge—the vale in that part very wide—there was a great deal of ripe corn, but a want of trees, and no appearance of richness. Arrived at Jedburgh half an hour before the Judges were expected out of Court to dinner.

We gave in our passport—the name of Mr. Scott, the Sheriff—and were very civilly treated, but there was no vacant room in the house except the Judge's sitting-room, and we wanted to have a fire, being exceedingly wet and cold. I was conducted into that room, on condition that I would give it up the moment the Judge came from Court. After I had put off my wet clothes I went up into a bedroom, and sate shivering there, till the people of the inn had procured lodgings for us in a private house.

We were received with hearty welcome by a good woman, who, though above seventy years old, moved about as briskly as if she was only seventeen. Those parts of the house which we were to occupy were neat and clean; she showed me every corner, and, before I had been ten minutes in the house, opened her very drawers that I might see what a stock of linen she had; then asked me how long we should stay, and said she wished we were come for three months. She was a most remarkable person; the alacrity with which she ran up-stairs when we rung the bell, and guessed at, and strove to prevent, our wants was surprising; she had a quick eye, and keen strong features, and a joyousness in her motions, like what used to be in old Molly when she was particularly elated. I found afterwards that she had been subject to fits of dejection and ill-health: we then conjectured that her overflowing gaiety and strength might in part be attributed to the same cause as her former dejection. Her husband was deaf and infirm, and sate in a chair with scarcely the power to move a limb—an affecting contrast! The old woman said they had been a very hard-working pair; they had wrought like slaves at their trade—her husband had been a currier; and she told me how they had portioned off their daughters with money, and each a feather-bed, and that in their old age they had laid out the little they could spare in building and furnishing that house, and she added with pride that she had lived in her youth in the family of Lady Egerton, who was no high lady, and now was in the habit of coming to her house whenever she was at Jedburgh, and a hundred other things; for when she once began with Lady Egerton, she did not know how to stop, nor did I wish it, for she was very entertaining. Mr. Scott sate with us an hour or two, and repeated a part of the Lay of the Last Minstrel. When he was gone our hostess came to see if we wanted anything, and to wish us good-night. On all occasions her manners were governed by the same spirit: there was no withdrawing one's attention from her. We were so much interested that William, long afterwards, thought it worth while to express in verse the sensations which she had excited, and which then remained as vividly in his mind as at the moment when we lost sight of Jedburgh:—

Age! twine thy brows with fresh spring flowers, And call a train of laughing Hours; And bid them dance, and bid them sing, And Thou, too, mingle in the Ring! Take to thy heart a new delight! If not, make merry in despite That one should breathe who scorns thy power. —But dance! for under Jedborough Tower A Matron dwells who, tho' she bears Our mortal complement of years, Lives in the light of youthful glee, And she will dance and sing with thee.

Nay! start not at that Figure—there! Him who is rooted to his Chair! Look at him, look again; for He Hath long been of thy Family. With legs that move not, if they can, And useless arms, a Trunk of Man, He sits, and with a vacant eye; A Sight to make a Stranger sigh! Deaf, drooping, such is now his doom; His world is in that single room— Is this a place for mirthful cheer? Can merry-making enter here?

The joyous Woman is the Mate Of him in that forlorn estate; He breathes a subterraneous damp; But bright as Vesper shines her lamp, He is as mute as Jedborough Tower, She jocund as it was of yore With all its bravery on, in times When all alive with merry chimes Upon a sun-bright morn of May It roused the Vale to holiday.

I praise thee, Matron! and thy due Is praise, heroic praise and true. With admiration I behold Thy gladness unsubdued and bold: Thy looks, thy gestures, all present The picture of a life well spent; This do I see, and something more, A strength unthought of heretofore. Delighted am I for thy sake, And yet a higher joy partake: Our human nature throws away Its second twilight, and looks gay, A Land of promise and of pride Unfolding, wide as life is wide.

Ah! see her helpless Charge! enclosed Within himself as seems, composed; To fear of loss and hope of gain, The strife of happiness and pain— Utterly dead! yet in the guise Of little Infants when their eyes Begin to follow to and fro The persons that before them go, He tracks her motions, quick or slow. Her buoyant spirits can prevail Where common cheerfulness would fail. She strikes upon him with the heat Of July suns; he feels it sweet; An animal delight, though dim! 'Tis all that now remains for him!

I look'd, I scann'd her o'er and o'er, And, looking, wondered more and more: When suddenly I seem'd to espy A trouble in her strong black eye, A remnant of uneasy light, A flash of something over-bright! Not long this mystery did detain My thoughts. She told in pensive strain That she had borne a heavy yoke, Been stricken by a twofold stroke; Ill health of body, and had pined Beneath worse ailments of the mind.

So be it!—but let praise ascend To Him who is our Lord and Friend! Who from disease and suffering As bad almost as Life can bring, Hath call'd for thee a second Spring; Repaid thee for that sore distress By no untimely joyousness; Which makes of thine a blissful state; And cheers thy melancholy Mate!

* * * * *

Wednesday, September 21st.—The house where we lodged was airy, and even cheerful, though one of a line of houses bordering on the churchyard, which is the highest part of the town, overlooking a great portion of it to the opposite hills. The kirk is, as at Melrose, within the walls of a conventual church; but the ruin is much less beautiful, and the church a very neat one. The churchyard was full of graves, and exceedingly slovenly and dirty; one most indecent practice I observed: several women brought their linen to the flat table-tombstones, and, having spread it upon them, began to batter as hard as they could with a wooden roller, a substitute for a mangle.

After Mr. Scott's business in the Courts was over, he walked with us up the Jed—'sylvan Jed' it has been properly called by Thomson—for the banks are yet very woody, though wood in large quantities has been felled within a few years. There are some fine red scars near the river, in one or two of which we saw the entrances to caves, said to have been used as places of refuge in times of insecurity.

Walked up to Ferniehurst, an old hall, in a secluded situation, now inhabited by farmers; the neighbouring ground had the wildness of a forest, being irregularly scattered over with fine old trees. The wind was tossing their branches, and sunshine dancing among the leaves, and I happened to exclaim, 'What a life there is in trees!' on which Mr. Scott observed that the words reminded him of a young lady who had been born and educated on an island of the Orcades, and came to spend a summer at Kelso and in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. She used to say that in the new world into which she was come nothing had disappointed her so much as trees and woods; she complained that they were lifeless, silent, and, compared with the grandeur of the ever-changing ocean, even insipid. At first I was surprised, but the next moment I felt that the impression was natural. Mr. Scott said that she was a very sensible young woman, and had read much. She talked with endless rapture and feeling of the power and greatness of the ocean; and with the same passionate attachment returned to her native island without any probability of quitting it again.

The valley of the Jed is very solitary immediately under Ferniehurst; we walked down the river, wading almost up to the knees in fern, which in many parts overspread the forest-ground. It made me think of our walks at Allfoxden, and of our own park—though at Ferniehurst is no park at present—and the slim fawns that we used to startle from their couching-places among the fern at the top of the hill. We were accompanied on our walk by a young man from the Braes of Yarrow, an acquaintance of Mr. Scott's, {266} who, having been much delighted with some of William's poems which he had chanced to see in a newspaper, had wished to be introduced to him; he lived in the most retired part of the dale of Yarrow, where he had a farm: he was fond of reading, and well informed, but at first meeting as shy as any of our Grasmere lads, and not less rustic in his appearance. He had been in the Highlands, and gave me such an account of Loch Rannoch as made us regret that we had not persevered in our journey thither, especially as he told us that the bad road ended at a very little distance from the place where we had turned back, and that we should have come into another good road, continued all along the shore of the lake. He also mentioned that there was a very fine view from the steeple at Dunkeld.

The town of Jedburgh, in returning along the road, as it is seen through the gently winding narrow valley, looks exceedingly beautiful on its low eminence, surmounted by the conventual tower, which is arched over, at the summit, by light stone-work resembling a coronet; the effect at a distance is very graceful. The hills all round are high, and rise rapidly from the town, which though it stands considerably above the river, yet, from every side except that on which we walked, appears to stand in a bottom.

We had our dinner sent from the inn, and a bottle of wine, that we might not disgrace the Sheriff, who supped with us in the evening,—stayed late, and repeated some of his poem.

* * * * *

Thursday, September 22d.—After breakfast, the minister, Dr. Somerville, called upon us with Mr. Scott, and we went to the manse, a very pretty house, with pretty gardens, and in a beautiful situation, though close to the town. Dr. Somerville and his family complained bitterly of the devastation that had been made among the woods within view from their windows, which looked up the Jed. He conducted us to the church, which under his directions has been lately repaired, and is a very neat place within. Dr. Somerville spoke of the dirt and other indecencies in the churchyard, and said that he had taken great pains to put a stop to them, but wholly in vain. The business of the assizes closed this day, and we went into Court to hear the Judge pronounce his charge, which was the most curious specimen of old woman's oratory and newspaper-paragraph loyalty that was ever heard. When all was over they returned to the inn in procession, as they had come, to the sound of a trumpet, the Judge first, in his robes of red, the Sheriffs next, in large cocked hats, and inferior officers following, a show not much calculated to awe the beholders. After this we went to the inn. The landlady and her sister inquired if we had been comfortable, and lamented that they had not had it in their power to pay us more attention. I began to talk with them, and found out that they were from Cumberland: they knew Captain and Mrs. Wordsworth, who had frequently been at Jedburgh, Mrs. Wordsworth's sister having married a gentleman of that neighbourhood. They spoke of them with great pleasure. I returned to our lodgings to take leave of the old woman, who told me that I had behaved 'very discreetly,' and seemed exceedingly sorry that we were leaving her so soon. She had been out to buy me some pears, saying that I must take away some 'Jedderd' pears. We learned afterwards that Jedburgh is famous in Scotland for pears, which were first cultivated there in the gardens of the monks.

Mr. Scott was very glad to part from the Judge and his retinue, to travel with us in our car to Hawick; his servant drove his own gig. The landlady, very kindly, had put up some sandwiches and cheese-cakes for me, and all the family came out to see us depart. Passed the monastery gardens, which are yet gardens, where there are many remarkably large old pear-trees. We soon came into the vale of Teviot, which is open and cultivated, and scattered over with hamlets, villages, and many gentlemen's seats, yet, though there is no inconsiderable quantity of wood, you can never, in the wide and cultivated parts of the Teviot, get rid of the impression of barrenness, and the fir plantations, which in this part are numerous, are for ever at war with simplicity. One beautiful spot I recollect of a different character, which Mr. Scott took us to see a few yards from the road. A stone bridge crossed the water at a deep and still place, called Horne's Pool, from a contemplative schoolmaster, who had lived not far from it, and was accustomed to walk thither, and spend much of his leisure near the river. The valley was here narrow and woody. Mr. Scott pointed out to us Ruberslaw, Minto Crags, and every other remarkable object in or near the vale of Teviot, and we scarcely passed a house for which he had not some story. Seeing us look at one, which stood high on the hill on the opposite side of the river, he told us that a gentleman lived there who, while he was in India, had been struck with the fancy of making his fortune by a new speculation, and so set about collecting the gods of the country, with infinite pains and no little expense, expecting that he might sell them for an enormous price. Accordingly, on his return they were offered for sale, but no purchasers came. On the failure of this scheme, a room was hired in London in which to exhibit them as a show; but alas! nobody would come to see; and this curious assemblage of monsters is now, probably, quietly lodged in the vale of Teviot. The latter part of this gentleman's history is more affecting:—he had an only daughter, whom he had accompanied into Spain two or three years ago for the recovery of her health, and so for a time saved her from a consumption, which now again threatened her, and he was about to leave his pleasant residence, and attend her once more on the same errand, afraid of the coming winter.

We passed through a village, whither Leyden, Scott's intimate friend, the author of Scenes of Infancy, was used to walk over several miles of moorland country every day to school, a poor barefooted boy. He is now in India, applying himself to the study of Oriental literature, and, I doubt not, it is his dearest thought that he may come and end his days upon the banks of Teviot, or some other of the Lowland streams—for he is, like Mr. Scott, passionately attached to the district of the Borders.

Arrived at Hawick to dinner; the inn is a large old house with walls above a yard thick, formerly a gentleman's house. Did not go out this evening.

* * * * *

Friday, September 23d.—Before breakfast, walked with Mr. Scott along a high road for about two miles, up a bare hill. Hawick is a small town. From the top of the hill we had an extensive view over the moors of Liddisdale, and saw the Cheviot Hills. We wished we could have gone with Mr. Scott into some of the remote dales of this country, where in almost every house he can find a home and a hearty welcome. But after breakfast we were obliged to part with him, which we did with great regret: he would gladly have gone with us to Langholm, eighteen miles further. Our way was through the vale of Teviot, near the banks of the river.

Passed Branxholm Hall, one of the mansions belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, which we looked at with particular interest for the sake of the Lay of the Last Minstrel. Only a very small part of the original building remains: it is a large strong house, old, but not ancient in its appearance—stands very near the river-side; the banks covered with plantations.

A little further on, met the Edinburgh coach with several passengers, the only stage-coach that had passed us in Scotland. Coleridge had come home by that conveyance only a few days before. The quantity of arable land gradually diminishes, and the plantations become fewer, till at last the river flows open to the sun, mostly through unfenced and untilled grounds, a soft pastoral district, both the hills and the valley being scattered over with sheep: here and there was a single farm-house, or cluster of houses, and near them a portion of land covered with ripe corn.

Near the head of the vale of Teviot, where that stream is but a small rivulet, we descended towards another valley, by another small rivulet. Hereabouts Mr. Scott had directed us to look about for some old stumps of trees, said to be the place where Johnny Armstrong was hanged; but we could not find them out. The valley into which we were descending, though, for aught I know, it is unnamed in song, was to us more interesting than the Teviot itself. Not a spot of tilled ground was there to break in upon its pastoral simplicity; the same soft yellow green spread from the bed of the streamlet to the hill-tops on each side, and sheep were feeding everywhere. It was more close and simple than the upper end of the vale of Teviot, the valley being much narrower, and the hills equally high and not broken into parts, but on each side a long range. The grass, as we had first seen near Crawfordjohn, had been mown in the different places of the open ground, where it might chance to be best; but there was no part of the surface that looked perfectly barren, as in those tracts.

We saw a single stone house a long way before us, which we conjectured to be, as it proved, Moss Paul, the inn where we were to bait. The scene, with this single dwelling, was melancholy and wild, but not dreary, though there was no tree nor shrub; the small streamlet glittered, the hills were populous with sheep; but the gentle bending of the valley, and the correspondent softness in the forms of the hills, were of themselves enough to delight the eye. At Moss Paul we fed our horse;—several travellers were drinking whisky. We neither ate nor drank, for we had, with our usual foresight and frugality in travelling, saved the cheese-cakes and sandwiches which had been given us by our countrywoman at Jedburgh the day before. After Moss Paul, we ascended considerably, then went down other reaches of the valley, much less interesting, stony and barren. The country afterwards not peculiar, I should think, for I scarcely remember it.

Arrived at Langholm at about five o'clock. The town, as we approached, from a hill, looked very pretty, the houses being roofed with blue slates, and standing close to the river Esk, here a large river, that scattered its waters wide over a stony channel. The inn neat and comfortable—exceedingly clean: I could hardly believe we were still in Scotland.

After tea walked out; crossed a bridge, and saw, at a little distance up the valley, Langholm House, a villa of the Duke of Buccleuch: it stands upon a level between the river and a steep hill, which is planted with wood. Walked a considerable way up the river, but could not go close to it on account of the Duke's plantations, which are locked up. When they ended, the vale became less cultivated; the view through the vale towards the hills very pleasing, though bare and cold.

* * * * *

Saturday, September 24th.—Rose very early and travelled about nine miles to Longtown, before breakfast, along the banks of the Esk. About half a mile from Langholm crossed a bridge. At this part of the vale, which is narrow, the steeps are covered with old oaks and every variety of trees. Our road for some time through the wood, then came to a more open country, exceedingly rich and populous; the banks of the river frequently rocky, and hung with wood; many gentlemen's houses. There was the same rich variety while the river continued to flow through Scottish grounds; but not long after we had passed through the last turnpike gate in Scotland and the first in England—but a few yards asunder—the vale widens, and its aspect was cold, and even dreary, though Sir James Graham's plantations are very extensive. His house, a large building, stands in this open part of the vale. Longtown was before us, and ere long we saw the well-remembered guide-post, where the circuit of our six weeks' travels had begun, and now was ended.

We did not look along the white line of the road to Solway Moss without some melancholy emotion, though we had the fair prospect of the Cumberland mountains full in view, with the certainty, barring accidents, of reaching our own dear home the next day. Breakfasted at the Graham's Arms. The weather had been very fine from the time of our arrival at Jedburgh, and this was a very pleasant day. The sun 'shone fair on Carlisle walls' when we first saw them from the top of the opposite hill. Stopped to look at the place on the sand near the bridge where Hatfield had been executed. Put up at the same inn as before, and were recognised by the woman who had waited on us. Everybody spoke of Hatfield as an injured man. After dinner went to a village six miles further, where we slept.

* * * * *

Sunday, September 25th, 1803.—A beautiful autumnal day. Breakfasted at a public-house by the road-side; dined at Threlkeld; arrived at home between eight and nine o'clock, where we found Mary in perfect health, Joanna Hutchinson with her, and little John asleep in the clothes-basket by the fire.

* * * * *



Fly, some kind spirit, fly to Grasmere Vale! Say that we come, and come by this day's light Glad tidings!—spread them over field and height, But, chiefly, let one Cottage hear the tale! There let a mystery of joy prevail, The kitten frolic with unruly might, And Rover whine as at a second sight Of near-approaching good, that will not fail: And from that Infant's face let joy appear; Yea, let our Mary's one companion child, That hath her six weeks' solitude beguiled With intimations manifold and dear, While we have wander'd over wood and wild— Smile on its Mother now with bolder cheer!


'And think and fear.'—PAGE 11.

The entire Poem as given in the works of the Poet stands thus:—

TO THE SONS OF BURNS, after visiting the grave of their father.

'The Poet's grave is in a corner of the churchyard. We looked at it with melancholy and painful reflections, repeating to each other his own verses—

"Is there a man whose judgment clear," etc.'

Extract from the Journal of my Fellow-Traveller.

'Mid crowded obelisks and urns I sought the untimely grave of Burns; Sons of the Bard, my heart still mourns With sorrow true; And more would grieve, but that it turns Trembling to you!

Through twilight shades of good and ill Ye now are panting up life's hill, And more than common strength and skill Must ye display; If ye would give the better will Its lawful sway.

Hath Nature strung your nerves to bear Intemperance with less harm, beware! But if the Poet's wit ye share, Like him can speed The social hour—of tenfold care There will be need;

For honest men delight will take To spare your failings for his sake, Will flatter you,—and fool and rake Your steps pursue; And of your Father's name will make A snare for you.

Far from their noisy haunts retire, And add your voices to the quire That sanctify the cottage fire With service meet; There seek the genius of your Sire, His spirit greet;

Or where, 'mid 'lonely heights and hows,' He paid to Nature tuneful vows; Or wiped his honourable brows Bedewed with toil, While reapers strove, or busy ploughs Upturned the soil;

His judgment with benignant ray Shall guide, his fancy cheer, your way; But ne'er to a seductive lay Let faith be given; Nor deem that 'light which leads astray, Is light from Heaven.'

Let no mean hope your souls enslave; Be independent, generous, brave; Your Father such example gave, And such revere; But be admonished by his grave, And think, and fear!

Two other Poems on the same subject may fitly be inserted in this place, though, as appears from the Poet's notes, one of them at least belongs to a later date.


I shiver, Spirit fierce and bold, At thoughts of what I now behold: As vapours breathed from dungeons cold Strike pleasure dead, So sadness comes from out the mould Where Burns is laid.

And have I then thy bones so near, And thou forbidden to appear? As if it were thyself that's here, I shrink with pain; And both my wishes and my fear Alike are vain.

Off weight—nor press on weight!—away Dark thoughts!—they came, but not to stay; With chastened feelings would I pay The tribute due To him, and aught that hides his clay From mortal view.

Fresh as the flower, whose modest worth He sang, his genius 'glinted' forth, Rose like a star that touching earth, For so it seems, Doth glorify its humble birth With matchless beams.

The piercing eye, the thoughtful brow, The struggling heart, where be they now?— Full soon the Aspirant of the plough, The prompt, the brave, Slept, with the obscurest, in the low And silent grave.

I mourned with thousands, but as one More deeply grieved, for He was gone Whose light I hailed when first it shone, And showed my youth How Verse may build a princely throne On humble truth.

Alas! where'er the current tends, Regret pursues and with it blends,— Huge Criffel's hoary top ascends By Skiddaw seen, Neighbours we were, and loving friends We might have been;

True friends though diversely inclined; But heart with heart and mind with mind, Where the main fibres are entwined, Through Nature's skill, May even by contraries be joined More closely still.

The tear will start, and let it flow; Thou 'poor Inhabitant below,' At this dread moment—even so— Might we together Have sate and talked where gowans blow, Or on wild heather.

What treasures would have then been placed Within my reach; of knowledge graced By fancy what a rich repast! But why go on?— Oh! spare to sweep, thou mournful blast, His grave grass-grown.

There, too, a Son, his joy and pride, (Not three weeks past the Stripling died,) Lies gathered to his Father's side, Soul-moving sight! Yet one to which is not denied Some sad delight.

For he is safe, a quiet bed Hath early found among the dead, Harboured where none can be misled, Wronged, or distrest; And surely here it may be said That such are blest.

And oh for Thee, by pitying grace Checked oft-times in a devious race. May He who halloweth the place Where Man is laid, Receive thy Spirit in the embrace For which it prayed!

Sighing I turned away; but ere Night fell I heard, or seemed to hear, Music that sorrow comes not near, A ritual hymn, Chanted in love that casts out fear By Seraphim.

From the notes appended to the latest editions of Wordsworth's works, it appears that the preceding poem, 'though felt at the time, was not composed till many years afterwards.'


Too frail to keep the lofty vow That must have followed when his brow Was wreathed—'The Vision' tells us how— With holly spray, He faultered, drifted to and fro, And passed away.

Well might such thoughts, dear Sister, throng Our minds when, lingering all too long, Over the grave of Burns we hung In social grief— Indulged as if it were a wrong To seek relief.

But, leaving each unquiet theme Where gentlest judgments may misdeem, And prompt to welcome every gleam Of good and fair, Let us beside this limpid Stream Breathe hopeful air.

Enough of sorrow, wreck, and blight; Think rather of those moments bright When to the consciousness of right His course was true, When Wisdom prospered in his sight, And Virtue grew.

Yes, freely let our hearts expand, Freely as in youth's season bland, When side by side, his Book in hand, We wont to stray, Our pleasure varying at command Of each sweet Lay.

How oft inspired must he have trod These pathways, yon far-stretching road! There lurks his home; in that Abode, With mirth elate, Or in his nobly-pensive mood, The Rustic sate.

Proud thoughts that Image overawes, Before it humbly let us pause, And ask of Nature, from what cause, And by what rules She trained her Burns to win applause That shames the Schools.

Through busiest street and loneliest glen Are felt the flashes of his pen; He rules 'mid winter snows, and when Bees fill their hives; Deep in the general heart of men His power survives.

What need of fields in some far clime Where Heroes, Sages, Bards sublime, And all that fetched the flowing rhyme From genuine springs, Shall dwell together till old Time Folds up his wings?

Sweet Mercy! to the gates of Heaven This Minstrel lead, his sins forgiven; The rueful conflict, the heart riven With vain endeavour, And memory of Earth's bitter leaven, Effaced for ever.

But why to Him confine the prayer, When kindred thoughts and yearnings bear On the frail heart the purest share With all that live?— The best of what we do and are, Just God, forgive!


'The Waterfall, Cora Linn.'—PAGE 36.

The following poem belongs to the series entitled Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1814. It is in a later, not better, manner than those of 1803. Prefixed to it in the later editions of the Poet's works are these words: 'I had seen this celebrated waterfall twice before. But the feelings to which it had given birth were not expressed till they recurred in presence of the object on this occasion.'


'—How Wallace fought for Scotland, left the name Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower, All over his dear Country; left the deeds Of Wallace, like a family of ghosts, To people the steep rocks and river banks, Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul Of independence and stern liberty.'—MS.

Lord of the vale! astounding Flood; The dullest leaf in this thick wood Quakes—conscious of thy power; The caves reply with hollow moan; And vibrates to its central stone, Yon time-cemented Tower!

And yet how fair the rural scene! For thou, O Clyde, hast ever been Beneficent as strong; Pleased in refreshing dews to steep The little trembling flowers that peep Thy shelving rocks among.

Hence all who love their country, love To look on thee—delight to rove Where they thy voice can hear; And, to the patriot-warrior's Shade, Lord of the vale! to Heroes laid In dust, that voice is dear!

Along thy banks, at dead of night, Sweeps visibly the Wallace Wight; Or stands, in warlike vest, Aloft, beneath the moon's pale beam, A Champion worthy of the stream, Yon grey tower's living crest!

But clouds and envious darkness hide A Form not doubtfully descried:— Their transient mission o'er, O say to what blind region flee These Shapes of awful phantasy? To what untrodden shore?

Less than divine command they spurn; But this we from the mountains learn, And this the valleys show; That never will they deign to hold Communion where the heart is cold To human weal and woe.

The man of abject soul in vain Shall walk the Marathonian plain; Or thrill the shadowy gloom, That still invests the guardian Pass, Where stood, sublime, Leonidas Devoted to the tomb.

Nor deem that it can aught avail For such to glide with oar or sail Beneath the piny wood, Where Tell once drew, by Uri's lake, His vengeful shafts—prepared to slake Their thirst in Tyrants' blood.


'Poured out these verses.'—PAGE 139.


Child of loud-throated War! the mountain Stream Roars in thy hearing; but thy hour of rest Is come, and thou art silent in thy age; Save when the wind sweeps by and sounds are caught Ambiguous, neither wholly thine nor theirs. Oh! there is life that breathes not; Powers there are That touch each other to the quick in modes Which the gross world no sense hath to perceive, No soul to dream of. What art Thou, from care Cast off—abandoned by thy rugged Sire, Nor by soft Peace adopted; though, in place And in dimension, such that thou might'st seem But a mere footstool to yon sovereign Lord, Huge Cruachan, (a thing that meaner hills Might crush, nor know that it had suffered harm;) Yet he, not loth, in favour of thy claims To reverence, suspends his own; submitting All that the God of Nature hath conferred, All that he holds in common with the stars, To the memorial majesty of Time Impersonated in thy calm decay! Take, then, thy seat, Vicegerent unreproved! Now, while a farewell gleam of evening light Is fondly lingering on thy shattered front, Do thou, in turn, be paramount; and rule Over the pomp and beauty of a scene Whose mountains, torrents, lake, and woods, unite To pay thee homage; and with these are joined, In willing admiration and respect, Two Hearts, which in thy presence might be called Youthful as Spring.—Shade of departed Power, Skeleton of unfleshed humanity, The chronicle were welcome that should call Into the compass of distinct regard The toils and struggles of thy infant years! Yon foaming flood seems motionless as ice; Its dizzy turbulence eludes the eye, Frozen by distance; so, majestic Pile, To the perception of this Age, appear Thy fierce beginnings, softened and subdued And quieted in character—the strife, The pride, the fury uncontrollable, Lost on the aerial heights of the Crusades!

'The first three lines were thrown off at the moment I first caught sight of the ruin from a small eminence by the wayside; the rest was added many years after.'—Wordsworth's Life.


'Loch Leven.'—PAGE 165.


'The story was told me by George Mackreth, for many years parish-clerk of Grasmere. He had been an eye-witness of the occurrence. The vessel in reality was a washing-tub, which the little fellow had met with on the shore of the loch.'

Now we are tired of boisterous joy, Have romped enough, my little Boy! Jane hangs her head upon my breast, And you shall bring your stool and rest This corner is your own.

There! take your seat, and let me see That you can listen quietly: And, as I promised, I will tell That strange adventure which befel A poor blind Highland Boy.

A Highland Boy!—why call him so? Because, my Darlings, ye must know That, under hills which rise like towers, Far higher hills than these of ours! He from his birth had lived.

He ne'er had seen one earthly sight, The sun, the day; the stars, the night; Or tree, or butterfly, or flower, Or fish in stream, or bird in bower, Or woman, man, or child.

And yet he neither drooped nor pined, Nor had a melancholy mind; For God took pity on the Boy, And was his friend; and gave him joy Of which we nothing know.

His Mother, too, no doubt, above Her other children him did love: For, was she here, or was she there, She thought of him with constant care, And more than mother's love.

And proud she was of heart, when clad In crimson stockings, tartan plaid, And bonnet with a feather gay, To Kirk he on the sabbath day Went hand in hand with her.

A dog too, had he; not for need, But one to play with and to feed; Which would have led him, if bereft Of company or friends, and left Without a better guide.

And then the bagpipes he could blow— And thus from house to house would go; And all were pleased to hear and see, For none made sweeter melody Than did the poor blind Boy.

Yet he had many a restless dream; Both when he heard the eagles scream, And when he heard the torrents roar, And heard the water beat the shore Near which their cottage stood.

Beside a lake their cottage stood, Not small like ours, a peaceful flood; But one of mighty size, and strange; That, rough or smooth, is full of change, And stirring in its bed.

For to this lake, by night and day, The great Sea-water finds its way Through long, long windings of the hills And drinks up all the pretty rills And rivers large and strong:

Then hurries back the road it came— Returns, on errand still the same; This did it when the earth was new; And this for evermore will do, As long as earth shall last.

And, with the coming of the tide, Come boats and ships that safely ride Between the woods and lofty rocks; And to the shepherds with their flocks Bring tales of distant lands.

And of those tales, whate'er they were, The blind Boy always had his share; Whether of mighty towns, or vales With warmer suns and softer gales, Or wonders of the Deep.

Yet more it pleased him, more it stirred, When from the water-side he heard The shouting, and the jolly cheers; The bustle of the mariners In stillness or in storm.

But what do his desires avail? For He must never handle sail; Nor mount the mast, nor row, nor float In sailor's ship, or fisher's boat, Upon the rocking waves.

His Mother often thought, and said, What sin would be upon her head If she should suffer this: 'My Son, Whate'er you do, leave this undone; The danger is so great.'

Thus lived he by Loch-Leven's side Still sounding with the sounding tide, And heard the billows leap and dance, Without a shadow of mischance, Till he was ten years old.

When one day (and now mark me well, Ye soon shall know how this befel) He in a vessel of his own, On the swift flood is hurrying down, Down to the mighty Sea.

In such a vessel never more May human creature leave the shore! If this or that way he should stir, Woe to the poor blind Mariner! For death will be his doom.

But say what bears him?—Ye have seen The Indian's bow, his arrows keen, Rare beasts, and birds with plumage bright; Gifts which, for wonder or delight, Are brought in ships from far.

Such gifts had those seafaring men Spread round that haven in the glen; Each hut, perchance, might have its own, And to the Boy they all were known— He knew and prized them all.

The rarest was a Turtle-shell Which he, poor Child, had studied well; A shell of ample size, and light As the pearly car of Amphitrite, That sportive dolphins drew.

And, as a Coracle that braves On Vaga's breast the fretful waves, This shell upon the deep would swim, And gaily lift its fearless brim Above the tossing surge.

And this the little blind Boy knew: And he a story strange yet true Had heard, how in a shell like this An English Boy, O thought of bliss! Had stoutly launched from shore;

Launched from the margin of a bay Among the Indian isles, where lay His father's ship, and had sailed far— To join that gallant ship of war, In his delightful shell.

Our Highland Boy oft visited The house that held this prize; and, led By choice or chance, did thither come One day when no one was at home, And found the door unbarred.

While there he sate, alone and blind, That story flashed upon his mind;— A bold thought roused him, and he took The shell from out its secret nook, And bore it on his head.

He launched his vessel,—and in pride Of spirit, from Loch-Leven's side, Stepped into it—his thoughts all free As the light breezes that with glee Sang through the adventurer's hair.

A while he stood upon his feet; He felt the motion—took his seat; Still better pleased as more and more The tide retreated from the shore, And sucked, and sucked him in.

And there he is in face of Heaven. How rapidly the Child is driven! The fourth part of a mile, I ween, He thus had gone, ere he was seen By any human eye.

But when he was first seen, oh me, What shrieking and what misery! For many saw; among the rest His Mother, she who loved him best, She saw her poor blind Boy.

But for the child, the sightless Boy, It is the triumph of his joy! The bravest traveller in balloon, Mounting as if to reach the moon, Was never half so blessed.

And let him, let him go his way, Alone, and innocent, and gay! For, if good Angels love to wait On the forlorn unfortunate, This Child will take no harm.

But now the passionate lament, Which from the crowd on shore was sent, The cries which broke from old and young In Gaelic, or the English tongue, Are stifled—all is still.

And quickly with a silent crew, A boat is ready to pursue; And from the shore their course they take, And swiftly down the running lake They follow the blind Boy.

But soon they move with softer pace; So have ye seen the fowler chase On Grasmere's clear unruffled breast A youngling of the wild-duck's nest With deftly-lifted oar;

Or as the wily sailors crept To seize (while on the Deep it slept) The hapless creature which did dwell Erewhile within the dancing shell, They steal upon their prey.

With sound the least that can be made, They follow, more and more afraid, More cautious as they draw more near; But in his darkness he can hear, And guesses their intent.

'Lei-gha—Lei-gha'—he then cried out, 'Lei-gha—Lei-gha'—with eager shout; Thus did he cry, and thus did pray, And what he meant was, 'Keep away, And leave me to myself!'

Alas! and when he felt their hands— You've often heard of magic wands, That with a motion overthrow A palace of the proudest show, Or melt it into air:

So all his dreams—that inward light With which his soul had shone so bright— All vanished;—'twas a heart-felt cross To him, a heavy, bitter loss, As he had ever known.

But hark! a gratulating voice, With which the very hills rejoice: 'Tis from the crowd, who tremblingly Have watched the event, and now can see That he is safe at last.

And then, when he was brought to land, Full sure they were a happy band, Which, gathering round, did on the banks Of that great Water give God thanks, And welcomed the poor Child.

And in the general joy of heart The blind Boy's little dog took part; He leapt about, and oft did kiss His master's hands in sign of bliss, With sound like lamentation.

But most of all, his Mother dear, She who had fainted with her fear, Rejoiced when waking she espies The Child; when she can trust her eyes, And touches the blind Boy.

She led him home, and wept amain, When he was in the house again: Tears flowed in torrents from her eyes; She kissed him—how could she chastise? She was too happy far.

Thus, after he had fondly braved The perilous Deep, the Boy was saved; And, though his fancies had been wild, Yet he was pleased and reconciled To live in peace on shore.

And in the lonely Highland dell Still do they keep the Turtle-shell; And long the story will repeat Of the blind Boy's adventurous feat, And how he was preserved.


'Mirrors upon the ceiling and against the walls.'—PAGE 210.


What He—who, mid the kindred throng Of Heroes that inspired his song, Doth yet frequent the hill of storms, The stars dim-twinkling through their forms! What! Ossian here—a painted Thrall, Mute fixture on a stuccoed wall; To serve—an unsuspected screen For show that must not yet be seen; And, when the moment comes, to part And vanish by mysterious art; Head, harp, and body, split asunder, For ingress to a world of wonder; A gay saloon, with waters dancing Upon the sight wherever glancing; One loud cascade in front, and lo! A thousand like it, white as snow— Streams on the walls, and torrent-foam As active round the hollow dome, Illusive cataracts! of their terrors Not stripped, nor voiceless in the mirrors, That catch the pageant from the flood Thundering adown a rocky wood. What pains to dazzle and confound! What strife of colour, shape, and sound In this quaint medley, that might seem Devised out of a sick man's dream! Strange scene, fantastic and uneasy As ever made a maniac dizzy, When disenchanted from the mood That loves on sullen thoughts to brood!

O Nature—in thy changeful visions, Through all thy most abrupt transitions, Smooth, graceful, tender, or sublime— Ever averse to pantomime, Thee neither do they know nor us Thy servants, who can trifle thus; Else verily the sober powers Of rock that frowns, and stream that roars, Exalted by congenial sway Of Spirits, and the undying Lay, And Names that moulder not away, Had wakened some redeeming thought More worthy of this favoured Spot; Recalled some feeling—to set free The Bard from such indignity!

The Effigies of a valiant Wight I once beheld, a Templar Knight; {295} Not prostrate, not like those that rest On tombs, with palms together prest, But sculptured out of living stone, And standing upright and alone, Both hands with rival energy Employed in setting his sword free From its dull sheath—stern sentinel Intent to guard St. Robert's cell; As if with memory of the affray Far distant, when, as legends say, The Monks of Fountain's thronged to force From its dear home the Hermit's corse, That in their keeping it might lie, To crown their abbey's sanctity. So had they rushed into the grot Of sense despised, a world forgot, And torn him from his loved retreat, Where altar-stone and rock-hewn seat Still hint that quiet best is found, Even by the Living, under ground; But a bold Knight, the selfish aim Defeating, put the Monks to shame, There where you see his Image stand Bare to the sky, with threatening brand Which lingering NID is proud to show Reflected in the pool below.

Thus, like the men of earliest days, Our sires set forth their grateful praise: Uncouth the workmanship, and rude! But, nursed in mountain solitude, Might some aspiring artist dare To seize whate'er, through misty air, A ghost, by glimpses, may present Of imitable lineament, And give the phantom an array That less should scorn the abandoned clay; Then let him hew with patient stroke An Ossian out of mural rock, And leave the figurative Man— Upon thy margin, roaring Bran!— Fixed like the Templar of the steep, An everlasting watch to keep; With local sanctities in trust, More precious than a hermit's dust; And virtues through the mass infused, Which old idolatry abused.

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