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Full text of "The Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, containing descriptions of their scenery and antiquities, with an account of the political history ... present condition of the people, &c.... founded on a series of annual journeys between the years 1811 and 1821... in letters to Sir Walter Scott, bart."

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&c. &c. &c. 

VOL. I. . . • . 

LONDON : ••'.:•': . 





.Iiiic)>lt tliillcd, rrintcr, 
40, W.iiilniir Strerl, Solio. 

• • • ■ 




Introductorij Letter , 1 

Da n held — Lochs oft he Lowes — Cltiuie — Bla irq ow~ 
vie — Grampian Hills — Dunnotler 15 

Duukeld — Strath Taif — Flemish ^Architecture oj' 
Scotland — Mokess — AberJ'eldie — Kenmore 41 

^ Glen Lyon — JFortint/al — Militartf Usatfes of the 

Ilif/hlanders (j8 

?f (rlen Lyon — Taymonth — Gardeniny — Loch Tay — 

^ Ben Lawers — Killin — Glen Dochart 90 


IjOch Earn — Dnnira — Comric — Glen Lednach — 

Z Glen jllmond — Loch Lubnaai. , I '20 

O •' 

£ ^ Udlender — Stirlinn — Donne — Castle Campbell — 

« •' ' 

§ Loch Venachar — LochAcliray — Loch Cateran. , J 50 

'i Uiuhland Dress 17(> 

< •' 

^ .'Ibcrfoylc — Loch Jlrd — Loch Chon — Loch Lomond. 1.02 


u- Drawinn 222 

o •' 

t Loch Lout] — Inveraray — Tyndrnm — Glenorchy — 

Loch Jhoe — Tnanuill — Crnachan 242 

.Ijipin — Ardmncknish — Beriyonium — Dnn Mac 
Sniochain 271 

Vitrified Foris ."287 




Appin — Loch Lpxen — Ghnco — Moor of Rannoch. . 302 

Ben J\revis — Fort William — Inverlochy 322 

Glen Roy 340 

Arasaik — GlenFinnan — LochOich — Fort Augustus 356 

Fyers — Inverness — Beauley — Moy 373 

Spey — Kihrara — Glen more — Cairn Gorm — Bal- 

vejiie 390 

Loch Alvie — Pitniain — Dahchinnie — Loch Lay y an 

—Blair 408 

Tumel — Loch Tumel — Schihallien — Rannoch 421 

Hiyhland Generosity and Extortion — Distinctions 

and Exceptions — Loch Ericht 439 

Glen Tilt— Mar— The Dee 4(53 


Vol. I. Pnge 175 last line but one Jor maze rwrf mazes. 

179 line t'.^/or trouser rend trousscr 

187 Vi after i)late add or 

■JTl title /<"■ ncnucnium read Berigonium 
lie line V2 Jur eharacter read characters 
422 1 trom Ixittom/or side read ride 

Vol. II. I'age 8.5 line 1/or .ippar rend appear 

217 8 after some one add probably 

383 10 from bottom /or toiler read other 

Vol. III. P.npe 29 line 3 from bottom fra.«c I 

73 9 from Ixittom yet 

116 19 for whom read which 

119 15/or Tcsca read Tecsa 

240 fi IVom Ijottom for om read atom 

273 3 after on <i</f/ imliscriminate 

Vol. IV. Page 8fi line 3 from lK)tlom f(ir rtrciprtx-np rM(/rcciprocar 

108 '-'>fiir talcs rciul tiilc 

321 1 4 for seems read sc-em 

349 !» for feiistji read fctst 

,').')<) S/iir drank read ilrunk 

■37'! 1 ^orjuilical nv/jf judicial 

402 4 /or Cwtriis read t )cstnis 

The severe illness under which this work wm written, ami whii'h often also prevented the 
author from sii|)erintciidinK the press, is tlic only aiMilnRv for the followinp iiMrsif;lits, as foi 
some reuclitiims ami errors whicli cannot now 1k' aJtieniUtl, arisin}{frt)m the prinlingof iMwsages 
in the MS. which h;iil Ik-cii era.sed. 

Vol. I. y:\gr 4(;o)ine 14 /fir PiirccU read Oryden 

1 1 • .3,10 7 fur K.phori read Rcf;iili 

447 1 1 for (iyticn read 

III. 2S»; 7 from botU>m/or Punicll read Pomfret 

2.M 13 from lK)ttom/or Elinmis read A'Xwa 

IV. .32(i \r, for Amrad read Agih 

Bromton— Ili« liternry eharacter i- mi»iitjit<'<l, ami the wonl <) Duihne has ln-eu somewhere 
printol by miiit.'ikc for Clan Colla. 



More years than either you or I arc fond of renicin- 
bering, have elapsed, since first, on the borders of 
Sydenham common, we compared a few of our observa- 
tions on the subject of the Highlands, since we discussed 
their wonderful scenery, and since we lamented togetlier, 
how imperfectly that country, all that belongs, and all that 
ever did belong- to it, was known, even to its immediate 
neighbours, even, I may fairly say, to its own inhabitants. 
These days can return no more. You are still delighting 
the world, and so is Campbell ; but our excellent friend 
Lord Selkirk is gone to receive the reward of his benevo- 
lence and his virtues. My own tenure has long been pre- 
carious ; the foot of time is stealing on, but not noiseless 
and inaudible ; and as I feel that the nioht is comino- 
when it will be too late to do what I then neither intended 
nor thought to have done, and too late to repent of it un- 
performed, I have at length undertaken to collect all that 
has not been forgotten, and much that you will now hear 
offer the first time. It is but another consequence of the 
same train of unforeseen circumstances that led to my 
inthnacy with this country, which has thus caused the 
record of what those unexpected events forced on my 

VOT,. I. B 


From whatever causes these recollections have as- 
sumed their present forju, uuvler. whatever circumstances 
that which was about to vanish has been embodied, to 
disappear now, only with the paper on which it is written, 
1 know not to whom these letters could better have been 
addressed than to him who has so often stepped forward 
in this very career; to the Poet of the Highlands, to him 
who has revived the rapidly diminishing interest of a 
country as singular in its romantic beauties as its people 
are in their history, in their position in society, and in 
their manners and feelins'S. 

The world knows much of the interest which you have 
taken in this people, and of the illustration which you have 
bestowed on them: it knows what you have acknowledged, 
and it believes what you have not confessed. Had I been 
acquainted with the author of Waverley, of Montrose, 
and of Rob Roy, 1 might have balanced in my choice 
between him and the poet of the Lord of the Isles and 
of the Lady of the Lake. But the Poet is a substance, 
and the Novelist is a shadow. To that I could not have 
addressed myself; yet, as we judge of the presence of 
the sun by the shade which it casts, and as the midnight 
robber is detected by his image on the wall, I must trust 
that, in laying hold of the substance, 1 have secured the 
shadow also. IMore dexterous, however, than the noted 
Greek litigant, you have contrived, like the German ma- 
gician, to separate your shadow from yourself, to give it 
a local hal)i(ation and a name, and to erect it into your 
own rival; eclipsing, like the moon in its darkness, the 
very luminary on which it depends. Thus 1 have gained 
as my correspondent, him whom 1 should, above all man- 
kiufl, have chosen; for by whom could I hope to have 
been so well understootl as by him who, while he is the 
puet of the Isles and of ihi' mountains, of JMacdonald and 


Clan Alpin, is, at the same time, the poet of Waverley, 
and Montrose, and Rob Roy, of the Cearnach and the 
CJans, of Highland chivalry and Highland feelings. 

If, however, you expect much order in what follows, 
you will expect Avhat I never intended, and what, if I 
had even desired it, I could not have accomplished. 
Many years, a fearful period of retrospect, have elapsed 
since first I was enchanted with Loch Lomond and 
Loch Cateran, since first my heart used to beat at the 
name of Macdonald and Campbell, since J wandered 
an enthusiast among the visions of Ossian, since no me- 
lodies had charms like the melodies of Lochaber and 
Strathspey. After a long interval, I returned to find 
beauties never forgotten, in every blue hill and bright 
lake, in the Avild \voodlands and foaming torrents : to see 
a friend in every tartan, and once more to feel the joy 
that was wafted in every mountain breeze. Chance, ne- 
cessity, duty, each, all, I need not now say what, com- 
pelled me to cultivate, for many successive years, an ac- 
quaintance thus unexpectedly renewed; and the same 
necessity compelled me to visit more of the country, and 
that more minutely, than it has fallen to the lot of any 
person existing to do. 

Knowing therefore, as you do, that what follov>'s was 
the result of many successive journies, the recollecfions 
of what had passed before me while occupied in far other 
and graver pursuits, pursuits which did not often leave 
me a choice of plan or of time, you will not expect either 
geographical or chronological consistency. Such order 
would have incurred the double evil of prolixity and of 
repetition ; while the necessity of enormous elisions and 
changes from what was seen and remembered, during 
various seasons, without the hope or promise that the 
observations of one sununer would be completed or 



amended in the next, has inevitably interfered in many 
places Avith that simpler form and far different manner 
which wonld have attended the records of a journey 
made with the design of relating- what is here related. 
But we are all the slaves of circumstances: what we in- 
tend is not often fulfilled, and much comes to pass which 
we had never expected. And, after all, since chance has 
so much to do in the affairs of this under world, I know 
not why it may not produce an author and a book. It 
operates stranger things every day. If I foresaw not that 
the boyish wanderings of my college holidays were to 
lead to a future intimacy that should become the cause of 
nn occupation, as little did I expect that the hours of rain 
and storm, the days of imprisonment in ships and in High- 
land cottages, and the far other imprisonment of many 
weary and painful months, should ever conspire to produce 
a book. But we sow the seed and forget it; we are sur- 
prised at its increase, we water and trim the plant, with 
little thought and less design, because we have com- 
menced, and are at length surprised to find that it is 
grown into a goodly bower, and that we can shelter our- 
selves beneath its branches. Yet it is irregular and wiltl 
and imperfect ; and, when too late, we regret that we had 
not originally designed to plant the arbour under which 
we are now compelled to sit, as best we can. 

If these letters owe something in accuracy and extent 
of detail to the intimacy of long experience, 1 know not 
but that tlie advantages are counterpoised by the very 
failings which flow from the same soiutc. There is a 
vividness in the first impressions of ol)jects, which va- 
nishes by repetition. It is not ordy to female beauty that 
familiarity is death. Adninalion, wonder, are transitory 
feelings; and well has Nature so ordained it. Peculiarities, 
also, cease to be peculiar l»y use: and he, therefore, who 


neglects to record what lie iiDperfectly knows, in the 
hope that he will one day know it better, who waits for 
the fulness of information, will find too late that he has 
forfeited advantages for which no accuracy of knowledge 
can compensate; that he is attempting to describe or 
examine, with blunted feelings, that which owes its all 
to the very imperfection of his knowledge. These are the 
magical clouds of gold and crimson that vanish in the 
glare of noon, the images of beauty Avhich fiit before the 
fancy in the twilight of evening, and are dispersed at 
the rising- of the sun. But we cannot cull at once the 
flower and the fruit, and must learn to be content with 
what Nature allows us. 

The picturesque beauties of the Highlands have now 
for some time been acknowledged ; and, without the ne- 
cessity of forming comparisons with other parts of the 
world, we know that this country has much to boast of, 
that we have much to admire. It produces examples of 
every style of scenery : mountains, lakes, rivers, cascades, 
woods, rocks, sea-coasts, all the elements of landscape 
are here displayed, and under every form of grandeur 
and of beauty. All which wild clifls, and mountain bays, 
and rocks, and islands, and open and cultivated shores, 
can yield, are found on the western coast: in the interior, 
iiuiumerable lakes of every possible character, the placid 
and the bold, the rude and the ornamented, are scattered 
in unsparing profusion. The deep ravine and the wild and 
rocky alpine glen are succeeded by the rich and open 
valley, splendent with wood and cultivation; and the 
cascade which thunders down the mountain side, becomes 
the lovely river forcing' its way amid rocks and trees, 
chafing through its obstructed channel, and at length 
meandering through the spacious vale or the wide-spread 
and wooded plain. While the fading tints of the blue 


mountains, grouped in a thousand forms of wildness and 
magnificence, occupy the distant landscape, their wood- 
land declivities, their deep precipices, their lofty summits, 
and all the profusion of trees, and rocks, and chasms, and 
water courses, and torrents, which vary and ornament 
their sides, are the unceasing sources of endless scenes 
of beauty and of variety, of grandeur and of sublimity. 

But if much of this is known, there is far more which 
has remained unseen and unrecorded ; much which 
human foot has scarcely trod. It has been my chief object 
to bring these scenes to light, to render that justice to 
the country which it has yet but sparingly and partially 
received ; and to point out to others much that demands 
their admiration. No accessible part of the country has 
been untrodden : the islands and the mainland, all that lies 
within the Highland borders, has been visited, and much 
too has been examined that is little likely to be visited 
again. On such unknown and unappreciated objects, 
the chief attention has been bestowed ; as it was less 
necessary to dwell on that which has long been familiar. 
But, even in these places, I have endeavoured to guide 
the traveller or the artist to such points as are most easily 
overlooked by cursory observers, and which could only 
have been discovered after much intimacy and by much 
study. If I have not dwelt on them in greater detail, it 
has been chiefly from the interminable length to which 
such an attempt would have led, but partly from con- 
sciousness of the insufficiency of mere description, and 
of the fatigue which attends the reading of such conti- 
nuous details of visible objects. It is a deep source of 
regret, that I have not been able to accomj)any them 
by engravings from the innumerable drawings that were 
nunle for their illustration. On ihis point aloM(% the 
public cannot partake of that which, on all others, belongs 


alike to you and to them. To yourself alone, or to the 
few to whom they can be opened, must these illustrations 
remain confined. 

If the local antiquities are neither numerous nor 
splendid, they are still interesting^ ; and nothing- of this 
nature has been omitted on which I could hope to throw 
any light. If much has been done by former observers, 
there is much also which has been overlooked or omitted. 
That they involve many points of doubt, and some of 
controversy, are circumstances inseparable froui the very 
nature of this pursuit; but, like others, I would fain 
imagine that, in these cases, 1 have had only one object ; 

The historical antiquities are often much more obscure, 
and have, still more, been subjects of hypothesis and of 
controversy. They have a wide bearing, since they in- 
volve the antient political condition of the country. 
Hence they are intimately entwined >vith many preju- 
dices and many feelings. To have avoided collision on 
some of these points, was therefore more than could 
have been expected. I must, however, trust, that being 
anxious only to ascertain the truth, my own Highland 
prejudices and attachments have not materially influenced 
my judgment ; and that, on the other hand, where I 
have differed from those who have enirnsed in the same 
subjects, with a laudable, though injudicious, warmth 
of feeling, and with a partiality to a fictitious and imagi- 
nary state of things, I have been only desirous to rest 
these claims, such as they are, on an uniinpeached and 
immutable basis, and thus to give them a firmness and a 
support, which will be sought in vain in misplaced 
enthusiasm and in unfounded tradition and belief. 

In attempting to form a distinct idea of the present 
state of the country, whether as to the manners of the 


people or their political and agricultural condition, it has 
been still more necessary to separate from what is actually 
existing, an order of things long since passed away, and 
which, though supposed still to survive, by those who 
derive their notions from former accounts or from ro- 
mantic tales, has so long vanished as to have become 
matter of history. I need not tell you how truly this is 
the case, nor how much the readers, not only of the tales 
to which I have already alluded, but of many other 
popular works, and of many recent books of travels, will 
be disappointed, if they expect to meet a Helen Mac 
Gregor, aDugald, or a Captain Knockdunder, at every 
corner ; to be greeted, in lona or Sky, by a gifted Seer, 
or to find every cottage and every stream and hill, re- 
sounding* with the songs of Ossian or the heroic deeds 
ofFingal. The day is now some time past since these 
delusions should have subsided : it is impossible to 
maintain them longer without an unpardonable sacrifice 
of truth ; but, to reasonable minds, these peculiarities 
will not have lost their interest, though they are now but 
the recollections of former days ; and truth demands that 
the past should now at length be separated from the 
present, and that things should be exhibited as they 
really are, not as we have fondly dreamed of them. I 
am aware that readers will find it diflicult to persuade 
themselves that such is the present state of the country: 
for it is very diflicult, even for us, as you have doubtless 
felt no less than myself, to avoid seeing- things through 
the delusive mists of our early and historical impressions, 
and to avoid imagining what our reason tells us is no 
longer true. 

Time has already produced, or is fast completing, those 
changes on ijio Highlands which were unavoidable; and 
uliioh, considering (heir situation as a portion of one of 


the most improved political societies of the world, it is 
surprising tliat they should so long have resisted. If, 
among these, there is somewhat to regret, there is also 
much to approve : but whatever the balance for good and 
evil may appear to difterent minds, all may alike console 
themselves with the reflection, that they were, and are, 
inevitable. To unite the manners and actions of youth 
with those of manhood or of decrepitude, belongs neither 
to society nor to man : we must submit to what nature 
has ordained, and learn to be content with such advan- 
tages, and to suffer such evils, as she has allotted to each 
state. To lament that they neither possess the peculiar 
virtues, nor enjoy the peculiar happiness, which belong to 
a low or early stage of civilization, is to regret the progress 
of civilization. To desire that, to these, they should unite 
all the virtues and blessings which arise from improve- 
ment, is to wish for what the world never yet saw ; to 
grieve that we cannot at the same instant possess the 
promise of spring and the performance of autumn. 

This general reflection applies equally to their poli- 
tical condition as to their manners and feelings. That 
has been hurried along by an irresistible torrent, by cir- 
cumstances which could not be controuled. Yet superficial 
observers see only, in this, the immediate agencies, the 
proximate actors. Unable, therefore, to comprehend the 
superior force by which these are directed and urged, 
they attribute to these intermediate causes, those contin- 
gent evils, which, among much good, have been the in- 
evitable consequence of the uncontroulable progress of 
events. Nor has it been unusual to see, or to imagine, 
fictitious evils in addition to the real ones : while, by the 
union of these imperfect views with unreasonable regrets, 
and with a state of feeling, always in excitement, and often 
additionally stimulated to anger by controversy, the most 


simple propositions and the most obvious reasonings have 
been obscured and perverted. If, where these questions 
have forced themselves on my attention, I have not suc- 
ceeded in extricating them from the confusion in which 
they have been involved, I would still flatter myself 
that they have been examined without passion or pre- 

I will not however deny that my prejudices are in 
favour of this people, and that I have often laboured hard 
to reconcile ray wishes to my conviction. 1 could weep 
with all my heart over such distresses as I have witnes- 
sed ; but I know, at the same time, that these will not be 
remedied by making the people discontented with their 
superiors or with their condition. I know also that they 
will neither be diminished nor removed by attempts to 
flatter or restore ancient feelings or ancient prejudices. 
If even that were practicable, we ought to remember 
that these are of a very visionary nature; and that, in 
indulging them ourselves, we are in the situation of 
spectators, not actors ; contemplating, through the mists 
of distance and of poetry, all that is beautiful or sublime, 
and unable to see the ruggedness and asperities and bar- 
renness of the mountain which fiides in the far distant 
horizon beneath all the softness and beauty of an evening- 
sun. Thus also we attribute to the people of past days, 
feelings which exist only in our own imaginations; feel- 
ings which they never knew, and happiness which they 
never enjoyed ; as, in contemplating the heroic ages of 
Greece, or the fancifully bright periods of Gothic chi- 
valry, Me forget the mass of sufl'ering and misery that 
filled the times which produced, as a gleam through 
the nigh(, an Achilles or a Leonidas, a Richard or a 

To (he people as they now are, I <lo not scruple to 


acknowledge an attachment which may possibly have 
influenced my Judgment in their favour. That very at- 
tachment has also made me more anxious to point out 
such faults in their character as are capable of amend- 
ment. To be without faults, is not the lot of humanity ; 
to overlook or suppress them where they exist, is either 
wilfully to lose sight of truth, or is a proof of slender re- 
gard and of a low estimate of merit, as well in the case 
of a people as of an individual. It is the faults of those 
whom we esteem that are the subjects of our notice and 
regret : and to point them out, is at least the act of a 
friend, and the first step towards a remedy. I am well 
aware of the folly and difiiculty of generalizing on na- 
tional character ; yet I cannot think that I am far wrong, 
when I say that it has hitherto been the lot and the 
praise of the Highlanders to have lost the vices which 
belong to a rude and infant state of society, without ac- 
quiring those which are the produce of civilization. If, 
on the other hand, they have lost many of the virtues 
peculiar to the early stages of political society, they have 
only lost what it was impossible to retain ; while they 
have, in return, acquired those which belong to its ad- 
vanced condition. Exceptions, of course, there are, be- 
cause there must be : as no national character can also 
be the character of every individual. To have noticed 
these, is to inspire confidence in the general truth of the 
observations: to have omitted them, would be in itself, 
a condemnation of the fidelity or of the discernment 
of the observer. Such as these faults are, they are 
neither numerous nor important. It will also be seen 
how all those which are the relics of a former state oi 
things, have originated and been preserved, and how 
they must necessarily vanish at some future day ; whih 
those which are of recent introduction, are merely the 


result of novelty, of new opportunities acting on new 
wants; evils which must subside as the new and the 
old state of things shall acquire a more uniform level. 

Nor, in thus estimating the mass of the people, would 
it be just to Mithhold similar praise from their superiors. 
I have already noticed the obloquy which, from a narrow 
view of the progress of events, has been thrown on them. 
That censure is unfounded : nor, were it otherwise, is 
there good policy in exciting mutual discontent between 
the upper and the lower classes, in loosening, by force 
and violence, those bonds of union Avhich have, unfortu- 
nately, a natural tendency already to dissolution. The 
same species of attachment which existed centuries ago, 
can exist no longer, because circumstances have changed. 
It is, simply, impossible ; and it is therefore folly to 
regret the loss, and injustice to blame the individuals. 
These censures, however, such as they are, have been 
passed by these persons themselves, on each other, and 
in the warmth of excited feelings. It is Highlander who 
is armed against Highlander ; and an independent spec- 
tator who can see and appreciate the merits and faults 
on both sides, is not only the fittest umpire, but will be 
found the truest friend to both. I should be happy in- 
deed could any thing that I have said, tend to make 
the contending parties better satisfied with each other, 
could it make them learn to discover and vahie their 
mutual virtues, and forget those faults which, not them- 
selves, but the tyranny of uncontroulable events has pro- 

Among the high and the low, in the baronial castle 
and in the dark hut, I have found many estimable friends; 
persons whom I should have esteemed in any country 
and in any place. To that estccu), there has been in- 
separably united a wnrmerand a more romantic feeling, 


crenerated and fostered by ancient tales and recollections, 
by early associations, and by the wild beauties of this 
wonderful and lovely country. Never yet have 1 quit- 
ted its bright lakes and blue mountains without regret, 
nor returned to them without delight, though I quitted 
them for comparative repose, to return again to labour 
and fatigue ; and it is not a small source of regret, that I 
can no more hope to revisit those scenes where some of 
the happiest of my d.ays have been passed. I am too 
sensible of the impropriety of introducing the names of 
individuals, to yield to a practice, too easy, and at the 
same time, too common ; and peculiar, it has also been said, 
to our own countrymen : higlily blamcable when censure 
is to be passed, and, when praise is to be given, too 
vulgar, too suspicious, to be valued. Those whom it 
has been my happiness to know, will supply, from their 
recollections, what I have not thought proper to express: 
but it is not in my power to prevent the few who prefer 
pain to pleasure, who delight in finding causes of com- 
plaint, from extracting, out of the general mass of 
praise and admiration, such remarks as may gratify 
that unhappy turn of mind which delights in suffer- 
ing and in complaining; which finds pleasure only 
where it thinks it has succeeded in proving that it has a 
right to be offended, a reason for feeling pain and dis- 
playing indignation. I shall always, at least, liJive the 
consolation of knowing that no such feelings will enter 
the mind of him who, whether he be the parent of Brad- 
wardine and Dalgetty, of Jarvie and Jenny Deans, or 
not, has shewn, in his acknowledged character, that his 
disposition is to look on the right and the bright side of 
every thing, to be slow in believing oftence where no 
offence is designed ; and who possesses that enviable 


quality which represents, even vice and wrong', >vithout 
inflicting unnecessary pain. 

And now, my dear friend, I am about to give you 
an opportunity of exerting another virtue : patience. Arm 
yourself with as much as you may ; for there are four 
octavos now lying uncut on your table. Read when you 
can, and stop when you list ; but, be your labour what it 
may, it will be but a feeble shadow of that which was the 
cause that all this ink has flowed, which attended and 
carried your correspondent and friend through foul and 
fair, over the rude mountain and the rougher wave, 
during many a Highland summer. 

I am your's, &c. &'c. 




As there are many ends in the skein which I have 
undertaken to unravel, there is no one, of course, that 
will run the thread oft^to its termination. It is tolerably 
indifferent therefore at which 1 begin ; for, begin where 
I may, I shall often be compelled to seek for a new one. 
It is a drama of many acts ; and it is one too which does 
not admit of attention to the unities. Do not therefore 
be shocked if you find me occasionally annihilating both 
time and space, like the Winter's Tale or your friend 
Guy Mannering. I do not pretend to produce either a 
log' book or a journal; and you will therefore not expect 
to read one. Thus, balancing the pen in my hand, look- 
ing now at the point, and now at the paper, and now and 
then trying whether the ink is dry, I have at last pitched 
on Dunkeld, for no better reason than that which is the 
best of all reasons, because, as the dear sex knows, it is 
a reason for every thing, and an unanswerable reason. 
Our Highland friends, who have adopted the same line 
of argument, state it with an enviable brevity. " Why 
did you do this?" " Because." 

But I shall neither commence with Abbotsford nor 
with " your own romantic town ;" nor need I tell you ot 
the Queen's-ferry, nor of Loch Leven, nor of Perth : not 
because these are known to every driver of a stage coach. 


but because my business, like my heart, is in the High- 
lands. I have made a convention ; and though standing, 
myself, alone, as the two high contracting parties, I am 
bound to adhere to it. When therefore I introduce you 
first to the pass of Birnam, I am not, like the epic poet, 
plunging you in medias res, but placing you at the gate 
and portal whence bold Highland Caterans once issued 
in dirked and plaided hostility, sweeping our flocks and 
herds, and where (such are the changes of fashion) their 
Saxon foes now enter in peace, driving their barouches 
and gigs, and brandishing the pejicil and the memoran- 
dum book. 

" Birnam wood," says Pennant, " has never recovered 
the march its ancestors made to Dunsinane.*' That is odd 
enouffh : I do not mean the fact, but the remark. When 
I was a white-haired boy at college, I made a tour to 
Dunkeld,M'ith a little red book in my pocket, and thought 
myself extremely witty to have entered this very remark 
in those very words. I had neither seen Pennant's book, 
nor ever heard the name of that M'orthy gentleman, and 
was surprised, some ten years afterwards, to find that he 
had stolen my good thing from me. Thus unwittingly 
do o-reater men become accused of plagiarisms, when 
they have only stumbled on coincidences. 

There are few places, of which the ettcct is so strik- 
ing, as Dunkeld, when first seen on emerging from the 
pass of Birnam ; nor does it owe this more to the sud- 
denness of the view, and to its contrast with the long pre- 
ceding blank, than to its own intrinsic beauty; to its 
magnificent bridge, and its cathedral, nestling among 
its dark woody hills, to its noble river, and to its brilliant 
profusion of rich ornament. But it is seen in far greater 
perfection, in a|)proaching from the Cupar road ; present- 
ing, at the same time, many distinct and pcrfi^ct land- 

DUNKELl). 17 

scapes produced by the variations of the foregrounds. To 
the artist, indeed, these views of Dunkeld are preferable 
to all which the place affords ; because, Avhile they form 
many well-composed pictures, they are tractable sub- 
jects: a circumstance which is here rare; owing to the 
want of sufficient variety, and to that incessant repetition 
of trees, from the foreground even to the furthest dis- 
tance, which often renders the whole a confused and ad- 
hering mass of unvaried wood. With many changes, 
arising from the winding of the road, from the trees by 
which it is skirted, from the broken and irregular ground, 
and from the differences of elevation for the point of sight, 
all of them producing foregrounds unusually rich and 
constantly changing, the leading object in this magnifi- 
cent landscape, is the noble bridge striding high above 
the Tay, here a wide, tranquil, and majestic stream. 
The cathedral, seen above it, relieved by the dark woods 
on which it is embosomed, and the town, with its con- 
gregated and grey houses, add to the general mass of 
architecture, and thus enhance its effect in the landscape. 
Beyond, rise the round and rich swelling woods that 
skirt the river ; stretching away in a long vista to the 
foot of Craig Vinean, which, with all its forests of fir, 
rises, a broad shadowy mass, against the sky. The va- 
ried outline of Craig-y-barns, one continuous range of 
darkly wooded hill, now swelling to the light, and again 
subsiding in deep shadowy recesses, forms the remainder 
of this splendid distance: the middle grounds on each 
hand being the no less rich and ornamented boundaries 
of the river, relieving, by their spaces of open green 
meadow and hill, the continuous wood of the distances ; 
while the trees which, in profusion and in every mode of 
disposition, are scattered and grouped about the margin 
of the river and high up the hills, advance, till they blend, 
VOL. I. c 


M'ithoiit breach or interruption of character, with the 
equally rich foregrounds. 

If I were thus to point out all the scenes which Dun- 
keld furnishes, I should write a book instead of a letter ; 
and as the book is written already, why should it be 
written again ? I never thought, when philosophy for 
my sins first dipped me in ink, to have become the rival 
of Margate Guides and of Guides to the beauties of Win- 
dermere; the West and Gilpin of Dunkeld and Blair. But 
when a man once gets astride of a pen, no one knows 
where he will stop. However that may be, I owed them 
both a heavy debt of gratitude ; and far heavier ones are 
every day paid with m ords. 

The Duke of AthoH's grounds, no one need be told, 
present a succession of walks and rides in every style of 
beauty that can be imagined ; but they will not be seen 
in the few hours usually allotted to them, as the extent 
of the walks is fifty miles, and that of the rides thirty. 
It is the property of few places, perhaps of no one in all 
Britain, to admit, within such a space, of such a pro- 
longation of lines of access; and, everywhere, with so 
much variety of character, such frequent changes of 
scene, and so much beauty. There are scarcely any two 
walks which do not difter in their character and in the 
objects which they afford; and indeed, so far from dis- 
pensing with any, numerous as they are, we could even 
wish to add more. Nor is there one which does not, 
almost at every step, present new objects or new sights, 
whether near or remote ; so that the attention never flags, 
and, what is the strongest test of merit, in nature as in 
art, after years of intimacy, and days spent in succession 
in these grounds, they arc always interesting- and always 

Though 1 have pointed out some exquisite landscapes, 


admirably adapted for painting-, and could easily point 
out many more, it is necessary to premise that tlie mere 
artist, who only contemplates Diinkeld as a prey from 
which he can fill his portfolio, will be a disappointed 
spectator; but he will probably be the only one. I 
know no place where it is so necessary to abandon this 
system of measuring- all beauty by its capacity for paint- 
ing, to forget all the jargon of the picturesque gentle- 
men, the cant of the Prices, and the Gilpins, and others 
of this sect. Few are aware how much is overlooked by 
persons of this class, how much natural beauty is wasted 
on those who have adopted this system, and even on 
those who, without any system, have accustomed them- 
selves to form every thing- into a distinct landscape, and 
to be solely on the watch for subjects of painting. If I 
have said, elsewhere, that no one who has not made art 
his study, will extract from nature all the beauty of which 
it furnishes the subjects or the materials, I am also 
bound to add, that even this power may be abused, and 
that he M'ho woidd enjoy all that nature affords, must 
also learn to see and to appreciate a thousand things 
which defy imitation, and scorn to assimilate, even in the 
remotest manner, to any rules. 

It is easy here to see, that the very circumstances 
which render Dunkeld the splendid collection of objects 
which it is, are those also which cause it to be generally 
unfitted to the painter's art. Intricate, and belonging- 
more frequently to the character of close than of open 
scenery, the profusion of wood prevents that keepinr/ in 
the landscape which is so essential in art ; while there is 
also commonly wanting, the contrast arising- from vacancy, 
so necessary, in painting, to relieve multiplicity of orna- 
ment ; still more, that contrast of colour and of dis- 


20 , DUNKELD. 

tance which requires variety of open ground, of bare 
green, and grey, and brown ; and, above all, the haze of 
the vanishing woods and valleys, and the blue of the 
misty mountain. Still, in its own character, Dunkeld is 
perfect, even in the nearer grounds of its deep valley ; 
nor, in its remote parts, is it wanting in all the circum- 
stances that belong to other classes of landscape. Thus, 
when properly examined, it contains, even for the painter, 
stores of the most splendid scenery, in every style : the 
blue mountain distance, the wide and rich strath, the 
narrow and woody glen, the towering rock and precipice, 
the dark forest, the noble river, the ravine, the cascade, 
the wild mountain stream, the lake, and all which art and 
cultivation can add besides to embellish nature. If to 
this we join all the hourly sources of comfort and enjoy- 
ment produced by its sheltered and secluded walks, its 
river banks, its groves and gardens and alleys and 
bowers, its magnificent and various trees, its flowers and 
its shrubs, we may with justice say, that it has no rival 
in Scotland, nor, probably, in all Britain. 

With respect to the disposition of the grounds, consi- 
dered as an ornamented landscape, or an English garden, 
as the phrase is, it is necessary to say that it is disposed 
on no system; nor, with the exception of a few remains of 
the ancient formal arrangements, is there any trace of arti- 
fice, beyond that which is necessary for use and comfort, to 
be seen. Even the most formal fragments of art disap- 
pear in the predominance of careless nature ; or such as 
are yet remaining, are ornaments instead of defects. It 
might not have been easy to deform nature here by arti- 
fice, and yet the inveteracy of system can do much mis- 
chief. Evon Dunknld might have been rendered absurd 
by the gariieners of King William's time; nay, Brown 


could have ruined it. But it has fortunately escaped the 
fangs of the whole detestable tribe of capability men ; 
and after art has done all that it can, and all, in truth, 
which has been done, we imagine that we see no other 
hand in the woods and the lawns than that hand which 
founded the mountains and taught the river to flow. 

Within the home grounds, on the minute details of 
which 1 dare not here dwell, the cathedral deserves the 
attention of the antiquary as well as of the artist. Want- 
ing only the roof, it wants nothing as a ruin ; and, as a 
Scottish ecclesiastical ruin, it is a specimen of consider- 
able merit. The choir has recently been converted into 
the parish church : but as the restorations, with very little 
exception, have been made from the original design, no 
injury to the building has followed; while much advan- 
tage to its preservation has been gained, by supporting 
with fresh masonry such parts as were falling to decay, 
and by removing such ruin as produced disorder with- 
out embellishment. 

Though the early history of this ecclesiastical esta- 
blishment is obscure, it is understood that there was here 
a monastery of Culdees. Kenneth Macalpine is said to 
have brouo-ht the bones of St. Columba hither from lona. 
Mylne asserts that there was a religious foundation esta- 
blished here by Constantino the Pictish king in 729, and 
that David the first converted it into an episcopal see in 
1127; Gregory, then abbot, having been made the first 
bishop. The death of Gregory took place in 1169; and 
as there are other traditions which say that Cormac was 
its bishop in the time of Alexander the First, there is yet 
a hopeless obscurity respecting the early history of Dun- 
keld. It appears, however, that it was once the primacy 
of Scotland, till that was transferred to St. Andrews. 


After Gregory, or Cormac, there is a recorded succession 
of thirty-eight bishops, commencing with Gregory the 
Second, and terminating m ith Robert Crichton, in 1550. 
Among' these, Gavin Douglas is a name not to be for- 
gotten in Scottish literature, nor William Sinclair in the 
history of Scottish independence. The monument of the 
former is in his works ; more imperishable than brass or 
marble ; but the latter demands some better monument 
than the tablet of grey stone which was inscribed to his 
name. His spirit was worthy of his age; of the proud 
period of Bruce and Wallace. It was he who, collecting 
sixty men of his own people, joined a detachment of five 
hundred belonging to Duncan Earl of Fife ; defeating a 
party of Edward the Second's troops at Dunnybirsel, 
and displaying a character alike fitted to command in the 
army and in the church. 

Of the early building, nothing is known, but the re- 
cords of the present have been preserved. The original 
church seems to have consisted of the choir alone, and 
was built by Bishop Sinclair in 1330. Bishop Cairney, 
the 18th, commenced the great aisle, and it was finished 
under Raulston, the 24tl), in 1450. In 1469, the chapter 
house was built, and the foundation of the tower was laid 
by Lauder ; the latter being completed by George Brown, 
the 29th bishop, in 1501. There are, besides these, 
marks of alterations, of which there are no records; 
particularly in the addition of a gateway at the western 
end. The church militant demolished all that it conve- 
niently could, in 1599; and another set of reformers, 
who formed the garrison in 1698, destroyed its monu- 
ments, with the very few exceptions that remain. The 
history (tf Dunkeld, as well as those of Dornoch, Elgin, 
and St. Andrews, serve to prove that it is a matter of in- 



difference whether the spirit of mischief is let loose under 
a red coat or a black one. 

There is much more uniformity in the architecture of 
this cathedral than was usual in our Gothic ecclesiastical 
buildings. Nevertheless, like most of the Scottish spe- 
cimens, it is compounded of several styles; including 
the Norman, together with every one of the varieties of 
the three periods of Gothic architecture wiiich followed it. 
1 have elsewhere remarked, that unity of style had seldom 
been preserved in theScottish buildings of this nature, and 
have attempted to explain the reason : the present work 
is a proof of the truth of that statement. The arts, in this 
part of our island, had not made much progress, and the 
distinctions of styles were probably not understood ; so 
that, in borrowing or imitating', the artists naturally co- 
pied from all which they knew, and thus introduced con- 
fusion. At the same time, following what was then be- 
come obsolete in England, we receive little or no assist- 
ance from the architecture of our churches, in determin- 
ing their dates, where the records have been lost. 

Omitting the choir, or present church, the length of 
the great aisle is 122 feet, and its breadth 62; that of 
each of the side ailes being 12, and the height of the 
walls 40. The tower, 90 feet high, on a base of 24 
squared, is placed at one of the angles, and merely in 
contact. The body was divided from the choir by a 
lofty Gothic arch, now built up. The main aisle is sepa- 
rated from the side ones by six plain pillars of the Nor- 
man style, and two half columns ; the height of the shafts 
being 10 feet, and the diameter four and a half. Their 
capitals are only plain mouldings, and they support 
Gothic arches of the second style, with fluted soffits. 
Above each is a plain semicircular window, of two bays, 
with a trefoil in the interval. In the third stage, and above 


the roof of the side ailes, there is an acute window over 
each of these, also bisected, with two trefoils, and with 
a quatrefoil in the intervals. The great western window 
has lost all its iniillions; but the remaining fragments 
which spring from the arch, shew that it was of a hand- 
some and florid design, appertaining to the second period 
of the Gothic. It has a contrasted head-band terminat- 
ing- in a finial, so as to form a sort of canopy ; while it is 
thrown on one side, with a strange but not unusual neg- 
lect of symmetry, to make room for a very beautiful cir- 
cular spiral window; the gable terminating with a hand- 
some florid cross. At the southern angle of this western 
gable, there is another anomaly, in the shape of an oc- 
tagonal watch tower: but it forms a graceful ornament, 
terminating in an enlarged parapet, supported on a rose- 
carved moulding, and perforated on its eight faces by sunk, 
or impanelled, quatrefoils. A staircase within it, communi- 
cates with the tower, by an ambulatory through the wall. 
The corbel table, which runs along beneath the roof, still 
supports the remains of a handsome pinnacle, formed of 
clustered tabernacle->vork, which may be taken as a proof 
of the former beauty of the whole. The principal door at 
the western end, is evidently an alteration : a sharp arch 
with a deeply fluted soffit, standing on clustered columns; 
while, near it, there is a smaller door in a similar style, to- 
gether with a circular-headed and ornamental one which 
gives entrance to the tower. On the south face there is 
also a door with a porch, which appears to have been con- 
siderably ornamented, if we may judge by the remains of 
two crocketed pinnacles, a canopy which has covered some 
cognizance, and two niches for statues. The windows 
whirh light the side ailes below, are remarkable, as well 
for (heir beauty as the diversity of their designs; pre- 
senting eight or ten diflerenf patterns, of the second age 


of Gothic, chiefly produced by the intersections and com- 
binations of circles. The tower is plain, excepting an 
ornamental parapet of open trefoils standing on a corbel 
table, and three tiers of wrought windows; but it seems 
formerly to have had pinnacles at the angles. The chap- 
ter house, difterent from all the rest, is remarkable for 
four tall lancet windows with trefoil heads. Within the 
choir, there was recently a beautiful row of tabernacle- 
work wrought in the wall ; but it has vexatiously and 
tastelessly been destroyed by the interior decorations of 
the new church ; two or three specimens alone remaining 
to shew what it once was. Thus it must ever be, when 
every stone-mason and carpenter undertakes the business 
which belongs to the architect alone. Of the very few 
ancient tombs which remain, the most remarkable is that 
of Cumin, the celebrated Alister More-mac-anrigh, better 
known as the Wolf of Badenoch. It is a statue in ar- 
mour, of somewhat rude workmanship, with a lion's head 
at the feet, and with the inscription, " Hie jacet Alex- 
ander Senescalus, filius Roberti regis Scotorum et Eliza- 
bethe More, Dominus de Buchan et Badenoch, qui obiit 
A. D. 1394." The reputation of this hero would not be 
soon forgotten, though this monument had never existed. 
The statue of a bishop in his full robes, lying under a 
crocketed canopy, is unknown ; being assigned by 
some to Sinclair, and by others to Cairney. It is pro- 
bably, however, that of the latter ; as there was a tablet 
to Sinclair. 

Beyond the home grounds of Dunkeld, the cascade 
at the Hermitage is far too well known to require more 
than a bare notice, as is the deep chasm through which 
the Braan runs higher up, beneath what is called the Rum- 
bling Bridge. But near the summer-house, termed 
Ossian's Hall, there are some round cavities in the rock, 


produced by the cascade of former ages, which are par- 
ticularly worth notice in this place, because of their 
general connection with other similar appearances on the 
Tay, which I shall point out shortly, and which in- 
dicate the great revolutions these valleys have under- 
gone. On this side of the water, it is, however, essential 
to notice the magnificent views up the vale of the Tay, 
as well as over the grounds towards Dunkeld House, 
which may be procured from the various romantic walks 
of Craig Vinean. No scenes more splendid can be 
imagined than the former, where the Tay is seen flowing 
deep below, amidst the noble oaks which skirt its banks ; 
winding beneath the elegant wooded pyramid of Craig- 
y-barns on one side, and, on the other, under the pro- 
longed and wild acclivities of Craig Vinean, which, 
varied with rocks and deep hollows, and ornamented by 
the woods of oak and fir that rise irregularly to its sum- 
mit in magnificetit intricacy from the valley below, con- 
ducts the eye to the rich open vale of the Tay, as, 
bounded by its lofty hills, and displaying the bright 
raeanderings of its river, it terminates in the distant blue 
summits of the remote Highlands. Here too are scenes 
which do not refuse the painter's art; the compositions 
being as perfect as they are grand and full offline detail, 
and nothing being wanting which can be required for 
this style of rich landscape. It is in these and similar 
wide landscapes, that Dunkeld shews itself the rival of 
the most picturesque Highland scenes; as, in its closer 
scenery, in such scenery as is not within the limits of art, 
it exceeds the whole. It is here too that the peculiar and 
exceilinn- richness of the woods of Dunkeld is best seen ; 
a richness produced, no less by the great variety and 
bold features of the ground, m hich bring all this wood 
widjJM llie scope of the eye, and under every possible 


aspect, than by the separate variety and grandeur of the 
trees themselves, and by that intermixture which adds 
to their ornament without destroying their breadth of 
style and effect. If, in some places, different kinds of 
trees are intermingled in a manner not consistent with a 
correct taste, these parts are seldom very perceptible 
where the leading features are so properly disposed. 
One more view in this direction ought to be pointed out, 
to be obtained from the river side near the further lodge ; 
peculiarly fitted for a picture, displaying the same vale 
from a lower level, with a foreground formed by ancient 
beeches rising high over the deep and bold banks, and of 
a style equally uncommon and grand. 

But the most perfect and extensive view of the 
grounds of Dunkeld, will be found at an unnoticed sta- 
tion opposite to the village of Inver, and at a considerable 
elevation above the bridge of the Braan. Striking as is 
the character of Craig-y-barns from all points of view, 
no true conception of its magnificence and variety can 
be formed from any other place ; the undulating and 
broken outline rising' in a gradual succession of woody 
elevations, dark with trees and interspersed with preci- 
pices, till it terminates in the noble pyramid which im- 
pends high over the King's Pass ; displaying there one 
broad bold face of lofty grey rock, variegated with the 
scattered firs that root themselves in its fissures. East- 
ward, this ridge is prolonged till its lines and its woods 
gradually blend with the distant blue mountains, while, 
continued westward, it unites to the long wooded ridge 
of Craig-Vinean ; the whole presenting a huge and lofty 
barrier of unexampled wildness and ornament united : 
all the splendour of the grounds below being detailed, 
together with the course of theTay, and the nearer wind- 


ings of the Braan, as it holds its way among woods and 
trees by the little village of Inver. 

The walks of Craig-y-barns present a class of land- 
scape totally distinct, whether in the closer scenery or in 
the more distant views. The latter look towards the far 
remote south, to the Sidlaw and the Lomond hills, or 
eastward over the rich valley that extends towards Blair- 
gowrie, and upon the bright lakes that ornament its sur- 
face. At hand, the towering precipices rise overhead with 
their crown of firs, or huge masses of rock impending 
over the paths, with their trees starting from the shelves 
and fissures, form the various and m ild foregrounds to 
these pictures, or afford, in themselves, subjects for the 
pencil, resembling the alpine landscapes of Switzerland. 
No greater contrast can well exist than between the ap- 
parently native rudeness of this spot and the decorations 
of the lower grounds. But even here there is decoration: 
in the variety of the trees, in the huge fragments which 
are interspersed among them, covered with mosses and 
giving root to all the bright feathering ferns, and, lastly, 
in the plants and flowering shrubs which unexpectedly 
occur, and which art has naturalized from the garden and 
the shrubbery till they seem no longer strangers among 
the roses, the junipers, the honeysuckles, and the various 
wild flowers which cover the ground or trail along the 
summits of the grey rocks. Among the varieties of forest 
scenery, there is a singularity and a beauty in this, which 
can no where else be found, and which render these 
walks amonji the most enticing of those which belon"- to 
this place of endless walks and rides. The little lake, 
Pol-na-gatcs, lying just at the entrance of the King's 
Pass, cannot fail to attract attention; presenting, in its 
high towering and evergreen woods, its deeply secluded 


and verdant recesses, and its water never ruffled by the 
breeze, a romantic scene of peace and solitude; and, 
even in winter, offering the aspect of never-dying- sum- 
mer. But I must leave the remainder of Dunkeld untold, 
and to the industry of him who has other objects in tra- 
velling than merely to hasten over a country because he 
has undertaken to travel ; not to those who expect from 
the future what they will not seek in the present, or 
to whom it is enough that they are in motion, or that 
they are doing what others have done before them. To 
those who are satisfied with placing their important 
names in the porter's book, or in wearing- out unoccupied 
time in a mode that is fashionable, what I have written 
and what 1 have omitted to write will be alike. 

The valley which stretches away eastward from Dun- 
keld, gradually passes into Strathmore, and conducts us 
beyond the Highland boundary. On entering it, the 
transition from the scenery of that place is as complete as 
it is sudden ; but it affords a succession of pleasing views, 
without much of decided landscapes, till it disappears 
in the wider expanse of the eastern lowlands. One ex- 
tremely beautiful picture must however be pointed out : 
a lake scene, which, though on a small scale, is not often 
rivalled, while it is of a distinct character from that of 
any Highland lake. It is the usual fault of lake scenery, 
that, while beautiful in nature, it is very deceiving when 
we attempt to reduce it to painting ; displaying too often 
a vacuum of sky and water, blue and faint mountains 
whose effect is lost on the canvas, and a meagreness of 
colour and composition for which its grander features 
cannot atone, because they are thin and unsupported. 
Such it almost always is when the water occupies too 
large a space in the picture, and when the boundary is 
remote ; and this, from the generally great scale of Higii- 


land scenery, is the common fault of our lakes. Here, 
there is water enough to decide the character of the land- 
scape, and to give it that life and brilliancy which form 
the captivating part of this style. With this, there is here 
also a profusion of appropriate ornament : woods, in all 
the variety of colour and disposition, skirting- its margin, 
covering its promontories, and edging its bays : rising up 
beyond this in irregular distribution, along the skirts of 
the rocky hills Avhich bound the valley, and which afford 
an outline equally uncommon and graceful, till, in the 
further distance, one mountain, of a form no less elegant 
and appropriate, terminates the picture. 

Three of these small lakes, called the Lochs of the 
Lowes, are here accumulated within a small space, un- 
usually rich in wood and cultivation; and hence the 
valley continues to the small and picturesque Loch of 
Clunio: a scene of summer and repose which almost 
seems a work of art. The house, or castle, an ancient 
strong hold of the Ogilvies, appearing to float on the 
water upon its little woody island, is the reputed birth- 
place of that notorious personage the Admirable Crich- 
ton ; the Cagliostro of his day, Avhose lucky fate it has 
been to scramble up to the temple of Fame, as the 
Brodums and the Katterfeltos might have done, had they 
lived in the same age and turned their attentions to logic 
and fencing, instead of to cordial drops and cups and 
balls. The Loch of Marlic follows this ; less picturesque, 
but wooded and rich, and preserving that air of ancient 
opulence, in the cultivation around it, and in the hedge- 
row trees and roadside avenues which are so peculiar to 
all this valley even to Blairgowrie, and M'hich render 
the whole space a remarkably pleasing ride, little known 
to travellers. It reminds us of many parts of the north of 
France ; nor is it improbable that, like much of our Scottish 


architecture, it is indebted for its character to French 
example or recollections. This conjecture receives some 
confirmation from the fact of there having been once five 
religious establishments in this neighbourhood : the me- 
mory of two being still preserved in the names of these 

From Clunie or from Blairgowrie, the road into Brae- 
mar by Glen Shee, hereafter mentioned, is traced ; being- 
one of the ancient military branches. The situation of 
Blairgowrie, commanding one of the Highland passes, is 
very pleasing; while it is an opulent and a handsome 
village. The Erroch, which runs to join the Isla, form- 
ing one of its greater branches, here holds its course 
deep through a rocky ravine, affording some picturesque 
and some very striking scenes. I can only aftbrd to 
notice that at Craig Hall : no less singular than romantic, 
from the enormous altitude and absolute perpendicu- 
larity of the sandstone cliffs, which rise at once from the 
deep and woody channel of the river; the house itself 
appearing perched aloft, like a crow's nest, on its very 
brink, forming an object which is absolutely fearful. Of 
this class of scenery, not unlike to that of Roslin, but on 
a far greater scale, there is much more which 1 cannot 
afford to particularize; as I must also pass over some 
scenes that occur near the junction of the Airdle with 
the Erroch. 

Hence the road branches into Strath Airdle and 
into Glen Shee : the former conducting through the wild 
Glen Fernat to the Tarflf, and also over the hills, to 
Edradour and Moulin, as I have remarked in another 
place. Though Strath Airdle is a pleasing valley, it 
scarcely offers any decided landscape scenery ; and of its 
celebrated rocking stone I need take no further notice, 
though it is still considered here as a Druidical work. 


Of the road into Braemar, there is little or nothing to be 
said; as it is one uuiform scene of wildness and deser- 
tion, with little character of any kind, and with nothing 
to vary its wearisome prolongation, but the very excel- 
lent inn, the Spital of Glen Shee ; a welcome sight in the 
desert, and justifying a name, of which, though common 
in Wales, this is, I believe, the only instance in Scotland. 
We may return to Blairgowrie. 

But as the hills which extend hence to Stonehaven, 
are themselves the Highland boundary, I dare not tres- 
pass into Strathmore, and thus break my agreement; 
however willing to travel with you through this magnifi- 
cent valley, the pride of the Scottish valleys, and among 
the stranoe and delicious solitudes of the Sidlaw hills, as 
little known as if they were situated in the moon. W^hile 
we wander away to Inverness and Rossshire, for what, 
after all our trouble, does not always occur, we are 
io-norant or forgetful that, at our very doors, within a 
few miles of Perth itself, we may enjoy all the seclusion 
and wildness of alpine scenery, on the top of the Sidlaw 
and in its deep recesses ; and that, from its summit on 
the one side, we can look down on the splendid magnifi- 
cence of the Carse of Govvrie, and over the rich and wild 
hills of Fife; adding to our landscape the broad and 
brilliant Tay with its endless variety of shipping, and the 
noble houses of the opulent, that rise on its banks, or 
skirt the declivities of this beautiful line of hills. On the 
northern declivity of the same range, as we quit some 
wild scene of heath and rocks, or some unexpected 
picture of peace and fertility embosomed in the desert, 
and descend along the winding roads amidst enclosing- 
trees, the M hole vale of Strathmore breaks suddenly on 
us, in all its splendour of wood and cultivation ; stretch- 
ing away till it vanishes, and backed by the long range 


ofhillstothe northward, above which are seen, far re- 
tiring, the lofty, blue, and varied mountains of the High- 
lands. Of all these roads, that perhaps is the finest 
which descends on Glamis, amid the prolonged and 
broad sweep of woods, blending', as they reach the vale 
below, with its trees and its fields, and with the rich parks 
that surround the towers of this picturesque castle. 

But I must return to the skirts of the Highland hills, 
my proper place : and, even on these I must be brief, 
for even there I am trespassing. The length of this 
continuous line, and the decided separation from Strath- 
more by which the hilly is here so easily distinguished 
from the low country, convey a stronger idea of the dis- 
tinction between the Highlands and the Lowlands, than 
can easily be obtained any where to the westward ; where 
the 'inferior ridges of the Ochils, the Campsie, the Kil- 
patrick, and others, render that boundary less obvious 
to an ordinary inspection. This line is therefore easily 
followed, from Stonehaven even to Blairgowrie, without 
interruption ; but from this place, westward, to the pass 
of Birnam, nature has not so well marked the distinction, 
as the hills which branch hence to include the valley 
of the Lowes, interfere with its precision. But from 
Birnam even to Comrie, the boundary is again well 
marked; as it afterwards is, if somewhat less decidedly, 
to Callander, and thence, with similar or greater obscu- 
rity, even to Dumbarton, where, meeting the sea, its place 
can no longer be questioned. This therefore, towards 
the south, is the natural, as it is the artificial boundary 
of the Highlands, and as it once was the political one. 
To the east, their political limits were never very well 
defined; nor can any proper natural boundary be as- 
signed, which will not somewhere interfere with any 
political one that we can fix. The capricious line here 
VOL. I. D * 


drawn by the excise, was chosen because nothing more 
certain offered. But this is out of our present pursuit. 

It is easy, in a geographical view, to perceive that 
the southern boundary now before us, which, to a person 
coming from the low country, appears a ridge of hills, is 
not a ridge, or a chain as it is commonly called, but the 
declivity of an irregular group, or of a kind of table land 
of mountains, which, with more or less continuity, occu- 
pies the whole north-western side of Scotland with part of 
the northern ; advancing branches to the eastward in an 
irregular manner, and intersected by valleys which pre- 
serve no fixed or common direction. Yet, to this, there 
has been assigned the term Grampian mountains ; and 
the people, even those who ought to know better, speak 
familiarly of a Grampian chain, which some describe as 
a continuous chain of hills reaching from Aberdeen or 
Stonehaven to the Clyde, and to Avhich others have at- 
tached ideas much more vague, since they extend the 
term to the northward ; no one knows whither. If there 
is no such thing as a Grampian chain, as little are there 
any Grampian mountains that are intelligible ; since no 
one knows what or where they are, unless all the moun- 
tains of Scotland are Grampian mountains. The Gram- 
pian mountains are not, however, a very recent con- 
trivance; though not much unlike Berigonium in reality, 
and probably very little heard of in modern times, till 
young gentlemen were taught to spout " My name is 

The original blunder seems to lie with Richard of 
Cirencester. Tacitus says, that the battle with Galgacus 
was fought "ad montcm Granipiuin;" and as that Mons 
Grampius is a mountain near Stonehaven, it can scarcely 
form even an integrant part of the mass of the Highland 
niouiifainK. It may have boon corrupfrd from Grans-ben, 


or Grant-ben, or Garvh-ben, (Grant's bain in Camden) for 
augl)t that any one can prove to the contrary ; but these 
are quite as likely to have been afterwards fitted to the 
Roman term: whether or not, the blunder certainly did 
not originate with the Highlanders, who are far too good 
natural geographers to have so misapplied any term. 
Richard, who seems the real sinner in this case, de- 
scribes the Tay as dividing the province of Vespasiana 
into " two parts," and then he says again that the " hor- 
rendus Grampius jugus" divides it also into " two parts." 
In another place, he speaks of part of the Grampius Mo'.is, 
as forming a promontory extending far into the German 
ocean, somewhere near the Dee. Then again, the Va- 
comagi to the west, or in Moray, are divided from these 
Dee men, the Taixali, by the " series" of the " Montes 
Grampii;" and, in the map belonging to his itinerary, 
these are represented as a chain extending from Fraser- 
burgh to Loch Lomond : a chain that has no existence. It 
is utterly impossible to reconcile a confusion, at which we 
cannot nevertheless be surprised. It is tolerably plain that 
he had picked up the name from Tacitus, making- it fit 
wherever he was in want of a term ; and that he had, him- 
self, no notion, of this part at least, of the geography of 
Scotland. But I might as well have spared tliis discus- 
sion ; for a Grampian chain they will probably remain to 
the end, like all the chains which have no existence in 
any place but the map-makers' heads ; since the name is 
now as firndy rooted as the hills themselves. 

From Blairgowrie, or Alyth, to the road over the 
Cairney mount, this long acclivity is far too difficult of 
access to lie within the scope of ordinary travellers; 
nor indeed, excepting- perhaps ihe Reekie Linn, does 
it produce much temptation to such persons. Though, 
at the foot of the declivity, the scenes are often fine, 



these belong rather to the Vale of Strathraore than 
to the Highlands. Near Alyth is the ruin of the castle 
of Barry hill ; about which Pennant has picked up a 
storj% I know not where. It was the prison of Queen 
Gueniver the wife of Arthur ; and her monument, as he 
also says, is to be seen in the church-yard of Glamis. It 
is certain that there are many monuments there in want 
of claimants; but Queen Gueniver must have had the 
ubiquity of Ossian himself, if she is buried at Glamis, 
because she lies also at Glastonbury. At least if ever 
tli^re was an Arthur and a Gueniver; since Edward and 
Eleanor performed a journey to Glastonbury, and dug up 
the body of the presumed Arthur, where he was lying in 
peace by the side of his wife, that they might prevent the 
rebellious Welsh from thinking that he was still alive. 
That Pennant, a Taffy himself, should have known so 
little of his own kings and queens, makes it probable that 
Walpole was not very far wrong when he abused him for 
publishing the head of Rembrandt's wife as that of the 
Countess of Desmond ; and for other matters. 

But this is the scene of much heavier questions 
than Queen Gueniver or a Grampian chain. There is no 
stronger instance of the influence of a thing once said 
and once repeated, than the labour which has been used 
in vain to subvert the popular theory respecting the place 
of the battle of the Grampians. Some dreaming antiquary 
or random ctyniologist proposes something; and, often, 
not much knowing or caring what: another follows; the 
mob, which has always " adampnable adherence unto au- 
thority," takes it all for granted, and it becomes a piece 
of philosophy or history which Archimedes himself could 
not afterwards move. Sibbald, who thought too nmch 
of frogs and luitterflies to be very trust-worthy in 
weightier matters, first misled the pack ; and 1 doubt if 


Dr. Jamiesoii will easily set them right again. 1 remem- 
ber visiting all these places twenty years ago, and then 
wondering how such a question could ever have been 
agitated at all. If the merest schoolboy who had read 
his Tacitus had been asked the question, he would have 
said that such a battle could not have been fought near 
Ardoch; because that place is in the very teeth of a 
record, so pointed and so plain that it cannot be for a 
moment mistaken. That Sibbald had never read that 
work, seems tolerably clear ; but why my most learned 
friend Chalmers, that giant in all Scottish antiquarian 
lore, should go on believing, is a question which none but 
himself can answer. 

It is provoking that the blackness of a book should 
give it authority, or the antiquity of a folly render it wis- 
dom. But thus I suppose it must always be. If so 
.shallow an antiquary as Gordon, or Sibbald, was to come 
forth now, his book would find its way to the snull" shop 
in a week, and he himself would either be laughed at or 
forgotten. Now, there is a dingy folio, not to be pro- 
cured but at a high price, and a man, of whom we know 
nothing but the name, looming high and large through 
the mists of age. For no better reasons, we venerate 
the one and believe the other ; or go on discussing inter- 
minably whether they are wrong or right, and fabricat- 
ing commentaries bigger than the originals, when the 
reasonable proceeding Mould be to toss the whole into 
the fire. Thus it is for our ancient history. Some drowsy 
monk, shut up in his cell, in Cumberland, or Shetland, 
or Paris, (for it is pretty much the same where,) ignorant 
alike of the world and of books, betakes himself to the 
writing of a chronicle, or a history, of people and lands 
which he never saw, and of ages that were past before 
he was born. And these become our histories, and our 



chronicles; to be believed, or disputed about, or collated, 
or rectified, and finally, in some shape or other, to find 
their way into what is called history, and into what we 
believe to be belief. We never think of enquiring how 
such a person procured the births, names, parentages, 
deaths, and actions, of an hundred and forty British kings, 
from centuries when no one could write, or how he could 
describe motives, and characters, and battles, and trea- 
ties, even of his own times, when there was neither ex- 
tended social communication nor printed documents cir- 
culating, and when he himself was alike a stranger to 
camps and cabinets. In our own times, when every one 
is every where, and every person knows every thing, 
and when there are fifty newspapers, and fifty more, 
printed every day, all over Europe, Ave are troubled 
enough to get at bare facts, and those who produce mo- 
tives must invent them. And yet we believe in such a 
historian as this or the other ancient, because he hap- 
pened to live five or ten centuries ago, and because his 
name is Boece, or Fordun, or Barry; often, much worse 
names than even these. If a monk of Mount Athos or 
Carmel were now to write such histories of Turkey or 
Arabia, we should turn them into winding sheets for fish ; 
but who knows whether a posterity too will not be found 
hereafter, which shall buy them with gold, and swear 
to the truth of what their very authors produced as 

But to come back to master. Sir Robert, Sibbald. 
Dealgin Ross is a moor near Comrie; and Sir Robert 
l)cing somewhat deaf, an<l not comprehending Donald's 
mode of pronunciation in his nose and throat, imagined 
he heard (ialgachan. This produced Galgacus; and 
Richard's (irampian chain, fortunately, suited any place; 
iVaserburgh, Stonehaven, (Jonnie, or Loch fiOmond ; or 


Cape Rath, had it been in Sir Robert's way. Thus the 
battle of Agricola was fought at Comrie; and neither 
this learned personag-e himself, nor one of his hundred 
followers, ever thought of enquiring whether the Roman 
fleet was anchored in Loch Earn or upon the top of 
Drummond castle. Tacitus seems to have supposed that 
it must have sailed on the sea. He says, at least, that 
Agricola sent forward his navy to spread terror among 
the Caledonians, and that they were dismayed by the 
sight of this fleet, and that his camp contained seamen, as 
well as horse and foot. Lest he should have made a mis- 
take, Agricola himself says that he crossed immense arms 
of the sea; in plain terms, the firths of Forth and Tay. 
As to Galgacus, since Tacitus speaks for him, it is of less 
moment that he says " the Roman fleet is hovering on 
our coasts." That Stonehaven must be the place, be- 
comes therefore a simple case of dilemma; because none 
other will answer all the conditions. As to the positive 
class of proofs, from the prolongation of the Roman sta- 
tions hither through Strathmore, and from the camp at 
Arduthy, I need not enter on them. 

But I must take my leave of Agricola, Sir Robert 
Sibbald, and the Grampians ; but not without naming 
Dunnotter, as that would be an absolute crime. If the 
buildings had any character, or bore any relation or pro- 
portion to the noble rock on which they stand, this would 
be the pride of Scottish castles. It is almost that now; 
for even the mean, confused fragments and walls, are 
almost overlooked in contemplating the magnificent di- 
mensions and disposition of the lofty mass on which they 
stand. In some positions, indeed, they become grouped 
in such a manner as to unite well with the general out- 
line. This is particularly true in the view from the cliffs 
near at hand, where the rock is seen below the horizontal 


line of tbe sea; forming, in this position, one of the 
grandest and most romantic scenes in this class of land- 
scape, M'hlch it is possible to imagine. 

Were Dunnotter castle not commanded from the 
shore, it would not be easy to find a more impregnable 
fortress, even in present warfare. Its former importance 
is well known ; but its history is much longer than I can 
here afford to trace. It is no small part of its reputation to 
have been taken by Wallace in 1296. Nearly half a cen- 
tury after, it was in Edward the Second's possession, and it 
appears that he added much building to it. Again it was 
taken by Sir Andrew Murray : and being besieged in the 
civil wars, the church was burnt. This was the com- 
mencement of its ruin ; which was completed to nearly 
the state it now is, by the York Buildings Company, 
which purchased and pulled down many of its buildings 
in 1700. Thus have time, fanaticism, war, ignorance, 
and poverty, all combined to rob Scotland of most of 
its ancient records; >vhile, respecting what remains, 
its negligence seems to have been not much less than 
its pride. 




We must return to Dunkeld, for the purpose of pro- 
gressing, as the new barbarians call it, along- the banks 
of the Tay. And he who does return hither from Stone- 
haven or from Montrose, whether by Fettercairn and the 
foot of the hills, or by Brechin and Forfar and Glamis 
and Coupar, or intersecting the country by Kirriemuir, 
or crossing it from Dundee, or from Dunsinnan castle, 
(which by the bye never could have been the castle of 
any Scottish king,) or in any other possible mode in 
which Strathmore can be traversed or visited, will have 
much occasion to congratulate himself in having made a 
tour in Scotland of which he never heard ; nor any one 
else. I believe I shall be obliged to write a tour book 
myself for Strathmore too, some of these days; since I 
have set up as a champion for so much of Scotland al- 
ready. The world seems scarcely to have heard that there 
was such a country as Strathmore, or such a river as the 
Isla; and, certainly, was never told that three yards of 
the Isla and its tributaries are worth all the Tweed put 
together, and that three miles of it are worth the whole of 
the Clyde and the Don ; besides Esks, and Galas, and 
Etricks, and Avons, out of number, which have been sung 
and said to very weariness, and which have little other 
claim to notice than what they derive from an old song. 
There is much in an old song : a great deal too much ; as 


many other persons than poets and politicians know. Isla 
is unsung; while every one knows Gala water and bonny 
Doon : in song at least; as few would think of looking 
for them any where else. And thus too when the tune- 
ful race thinks fit to sing of Tay, it must talk of the 
" pleasanter banks of the Tweed." If this is poetical jus- 
tice, we cannot have too little of it. But this is not the 
fate of rivers alone ; for more false maxims, false philo- 
sophy, and false morality, have been propagated and fixed 
by two or three pair of rhymes, than by as many swords, 
sermons, or syllogisms. 

The same traveller, at the same time, cannot contrive 
to leave Dunkeld for Strath Tay by both its roads. He 
must manage that, however, in the best way he can ; but 
I must do it at present. Speaking by the road book, 
the western is the road to Loch Tay, and the eastern leads 
to Blair; and both have their beauties. By the western, 
we see once more the beautiful scenery beneath Craig 
Vinean, its narrowest part presenting two or three land- 
scapes of great magnificence, and the whole road being, 
for some miles, unusually rich. At Dalguise, there is a 
mountain cascade that well deserves a visit ; but though 
the road itself abounds, even to the flexure of the valley, 
in much beautiful close scenery, the views of this splen- 
did vale are far more perfect from the western, or the 
Blair road. Along this line, the spectator may trace a 
<'onsideral)Ie part of the plantations formed here by the 
Duke of Atholl ; but those who are interested in this de- 
partment of rural economy, will find a Mider scope for 
their observations beyond the summits of Craig-y-barns. 
The plantations of Scotch fir arc very extensive; but this 
tree has long since been abandoned, in fiivour, first of 
larch exclusively, and, now, of larch and spruce toge- 
ther; the latter wood occupying those lower and moister 


spots which are unfavourable to the growth of the other. 
The two larches, whence the taste for planting that wood 
first originated here, are still flourishing on the lawn at 
Dunkeld : noble trees, of ninety feet stature and of the 
same breadth, and with an extreme circumference of 
nearly fifteen feet. So little was this tree known when 
first introduced in 1738, that these two plants were first 
placed in the greenhouse. The total number of trees 
planted by this very active cultivator, amounts to about 
thirty millions; and the plantations of Dunkeld alone, 
■which are still in progress, cover eleven thousand acres. 
How the country has been thus converted, in this place, 
from a brown rocky desert to what it now is, is too plain 
to be indicated ; and what it is yet to effect, will be ob- 
vious to those who examine the young Moods that are 
shooting up. It is something to have done this, were it 
only for beauty; but it is much more, thus to have 
added to the public and private resources of the country. 
The larch has already been used in ship-building, so 
that its value is ascertained : but it has been also disco- 
vered to possess an advantage that was unforeseen, in 
reducing the barren and brown hills to green pastures. 
Within twenty years, all the heaths, rushes, and former 
vegetation of the mountains disappear; and the ground 
among' the Moods thus becomes green, and applicable to 
the feeding of cattle, so as, from a former value of a few^ 
pence, to produce a rent of many shillings for the acre. 

To return now to the western road, the first remark- 
able object is the narrow rocky pass, called the King's 
Pass, which opens suddenly on a view of this valley ; 
producing at first a dazzling effect, and no part being- 
more striking than the dark depth of wood through 
which the Tay winds, silent, black, and majestic, far 
below. The huge fragments of fallen rock, and the trees 



that spring from their crevices, render the pass itself a 
scene of considerable interest; and, among these rocks, 
tradition still shews a fissure, said to have been the den 
of an ancient Highland Cacus, called Duncan Hojra:. He 
is reputed to have dragged the cows which he lifted, 
to this hole; to devour them, like a hycena, at his lei- 
sure. There is much virtue in a term : lifting, sanctifies 
the robberies of Duncan Hogg, as it did the whole breed 
of Cearnachs, when stealinc/ would have destined them 
to a halter; the language changed, the matter still the 
same. Thus, it is said, that Duncan would not have 
taken a purse on the same road on which he would have 
lifted a cow, as being a dishonourable terin; although 
we have never been informed where there were any 
purses to be taken in the Highlands, unless it were 
an empty spleuchan. To be portable and useful, formed 
the chief merit of the pecus; and the pecunia, it is 
likely, had it been to be lifted, would not have been 
much more sacred. It is very plain, that as Duncan 
could not possibly have dragged the whole carcase 
into his inconvenient lair, he must have had recourse 
to the delicate expedient of pulling it limb from limb. 
Doubtless, it is very proper and necessary that this 
practice should be revived, as well as the weariu"- of 
kilts ; and as meetings and olympic games for the dismem- 
berment of living cattle have been already founded, we 
must shortly look to see a new society established, under 
some triply-compounded Greek term, which I will not 
suggest, lest I should rol) it of any portion of its rights. 

There are matters in the King's Pass better worth 
examining than Duncan Hogg's Hole. It is easy to 
trace an excavation in the rock, which must have once 
formed a cascade in the Tay. At a somewhat lower 
level, on Ihc nthcr side of the small hill on the left called 


the King's Seat, there is a similar mark no less distinct ; 
and in the pass of Birnam, at Newtyle Quarries, there is 
a third, equally corresponding in elevation, and thus 
serving to prove that this general level once formed the 
course and bed of the Tay. These appearances are 
analogous to those before pointed out at the Hermitage, 
which equally indicate the former altitude of the Braan. 
Now, in examining the ground at Dunkeld, it will be 
seen, that, high above the town, there is a flat alluvial 
terrace, and that a similar set of terraces exists on the 
opposite side of the river. It will also be found that the 
levels of these correspond on both sides ; indicating that 
they have been produced by the same causes and at the 
same time, and that they are the remains of a once con- 
tinuous alluvial plain. Further investigation will shew, 
that similar terraces extend through the pass of Birnam ; 
while, above the King's Pass also, they may be traced 
as far as Logierait, and even further, if it were necessary 
for the present purpose. Such interruptions as they 
undergo, can be explained by the passage of lateral 
streams from the hills, or by the peculiarities of the 
ground, or by the varying position of the Tay in shifting 
its place sideways and alternately, during the operation 
of sinking from its higher to its present level. Thus, 
having once flowed on a higher strath, it has at length 
sunk to its present stage ; carrying before it all the land 
that has been removed, to form the Carse of Gowrie, and 
thus to convert sea into land. 

That this is the true explanation is most evident. It 
has been thought that Strath Tay once formed a lake, 
which, breaking its barriers at the Pass of Birnam, left 
the river where we now see it : a supposed case resem- 
bling what is the true one in Glen Roy. But it is plain 
that, under such a supposition, the river could not have 


left those traces in the rocks which I have just pointed 
out, as these imply its flowino- at the higher level ; while, 
as these marks correspond in elevation to the terraces, it 
follows that both are equally implicated in the present 

The height of this ancient level may be taken at about 
100 feet above the present bed of the river; and thus, 
while it is easy to see how far the Tay has sunk, it would 
not be very difficult to compute the quantity of land or 
earth that has been removed and carried forward towards 
the sea. When we look at this enormous waste, we need 
not be surprised at the formation of the Carse of Gowrie, 
nor at the deposits which are still augmenting* it : shoal- 
ing the sea about Dundee, and laying the foundations of 
new meadows. For this operation is still going on, and 
must go on as long as the Tay shall continue to flow; 
though diminishing in rapidity, as the declivity, and con- 
sequent velocity, of the river itself diminish. If it is 
curious to speculate on the period when Perth, had it 
then existed, must have been a sea port, and when the 
narrow Tay, far above and below it, Avas a wide arm of 
the ocean, it is not less so to consider what the aspect 
of Strath Tay itself was, when the present place of 
Dunkeld was buried deep beneath the earth. Nor is it 
difficult, even to see what it must have been. By laying 
our eye on any of the terraces, it is easy to bring the 
opposed one in the same plane, and thus to exclude all 
the valley beneath : reducing it once more to what it was 
when the river was flowing above. Those speculations, 
thus pursued, may interest the artist, as well as the 
geologist and the geographer : since, not only here, but 
in every deep valley of the Highlands, he would, in 
making siich trials, be at a loss to recognize, in the 
original shallow and rude glen, the spacious and rich 


valley which is now the seat of beauty and cultivation. 
Contemplatiog', in this manner, not only the Highland 
mountains and valleys, but those of the world at large, 
we are lost in the magnitude of the changes which have 
carried the ruins of the Himala to the mouths of the 
Ganges, which, from the sediments of the Nile, have 
formed the land of Egypt, and which have created, out 
of the lofty ridges of America, the plains that now form 
so large a portion of its continent. 

From the King's Pass, even to Moulinearn, the whole 
of this ride is one continued landscape, ever splendid in 
the distance, and equally rich and amusing in the closer 
ornaments of the road. If, to this space often miles, we 
add the ten which extend from Moulinearn to Blair, we 
may fairly say that no twenty miles in all Britain can be 
compared to it, for the variety, the continuity, and the 
magnificence of its scenery. While the lower portion, 
now under review, is scarcely equalled for beauty and 
richness by any of the Highland straths, it displays many 
general landscapes well adapted for painting, and so 
strongly marked with their own peculiar characters, as 
to be distinguished from all other analogous scenes. But 
the most complete general notion of this portion of Strath 
Tay, will be formed from a situation somewhat elevated, 
near the Duke of AthoU's farm, which also affords one of 
the most splendid landscapes upon this portion of the 
river. Indeed, with the exception of Stirling, there is 
scarcely a place in Scotland which presents a view of 
vale scenery, at once so spacious, so rich, so grand, and 
so easily admitting of being formed into a picture. The 
broadest part of the valley, for a space of about six 
miles, is here detailed before the eye so minutely, that 
every part of its various ornament is seen in the most 
advantageous manner ; the Tay winding along- from its 


junction with the Tiimel, through its bright meadows in- 
terspersed with trees, till it rolls along, deep among its 
wooded banks, a majestic and silent stream beneath our 
feet. On each hand rises a long screen of varied hills, 
covered with woods in every picturesque form ; the whole 
vista terminating in the remoter mountains, which, 
equally rich and various, are softened by the blue haze 
of the distance, as they close in above the pass of Kil- 

This general view, varied in many ways by changes 
of level and of position, forms the basis of the landscape 
for some miles; but so great are the changes in the mid- 
dle grounds, and so various the foregrounds, that although 
the same leading character is preserved, the separate 
scenes are always strongly distinguished. Many distinct 
pictures can thus be obtained, and each of them perfectly 
adapted for painting; so that Strath Tay is here an object 
to charm every class of spectator ; him mIio desires to see 
every thing preserved in his portfolio, and him who seeks 
for nothing in Nature but beauty, come under what form it 
may. Nor must I forget to remark, that many minor land- 
scapes, of narrow or close scenery, occur on the roadside, 
among the infinitude of objects, ravines, bridges, rivers, 
mills, houses, farms, woods, and trees of the most luxuriant 
growth, which border it through all this space. The 
small village of Dowally, among other points, will par- 
ticularly attract attention in this respect, indepen- 
dently of its two tall monumental stones, which are here 
imagined to be, as usual, Druidical. While on this sub- 
ject, I may also mention, that there is a small circle in a 
field north of Pitlochric, and that a larger one occurs in 
the west<Mn division of Straih Tay, not far from the road. 
In addition to the landscape scenery of this most en- 
giiging ride, it presents, in June, a spectacle of united 


splendour and luxuriance which is unparalleled, in the 
brilliant profusion of broom which, then in full blossom, 
covers, like a dense grove of gold, all the sandy terraces 
which, beyond Dowally, hang over it. Nor is it a small 
pleasure, to witness, in the cottages of the swarm of 
tenants which crowds it, those marks of comparative opu- 
lence and of attention to comfort, Avhich seem always 
connected, and which are so rarely seen in the remoter 
Highlands. Happiness may perhaps be equally distri- 
buted among both ; but we cannot help imagining that 
where there is the aspect of negligence and poverty, there 
must be less ; and we are at least the happier ourselves, 
in contemplating the presence of the elements of comfort 
and of comparative enjoyment. Such will the Highlands 
be more widely, as example shall spread ; since there is 
nothing here but what the same industry might effect in 
many other places where it is yet vmknown. 

Logierait is the place which marks, alike, the junction 
of the Tay and the Tumel, and the divergence of their 
two valleys ; and it is accessible by a ferry from the west- 
ern road. As there is also a road to Loch Tay on the 
north side of the river, by the way of Weem, a travel- 
ler may make his election in this matter, and will pro- 
bably, if he should try both, be unable to determine 
which is the most entertaining. The remains of the 
regality court of AthoU are still to be seen at Logierait; 
a building once so spacious as strongly to mark the feu- 
dal importance of this great family. It is said, I know 
not with what truth, that Robert the second once resided 
here, and also that it was an occasiona' residence of 
Alexander the third. 

Though the western and upper branch of Strath Tay is 
not perhaps equal in splendour to the lower and southern 
one, it still maintains thesame character ofrichnessthrough- 

VOL. I. E 


out; while, instead of the flat extended meadows which 
mark the latter, it displays a considerable undulation of 
ground. Thus the vale of the Tay, from Dunkeld even to 
Kenmore,a space of twenty-five miles, is a continued scene 
of beauty; a majestic river winding" through a highly 
wooded and cultivated country, with a lofty and some- 
what parallel mountain boundary, which is itself cultivat- 
ed as far as cultivation is admissible, and is everywhere 
covered with continuous woods, or trees, as high as wood 
can well grow. It contains, of course, much picturesque 
scenery; presentingnot only landscapes of apartial nature, 
comprising reaches of the river, or transient views in the 
valley produced by the sinuosities of the road, but dis- 
playing the whole to its furthest visible extremity, under 
aspects which are varied by the casual variations of level 
or position, or by the accidental compositions of the fore 
and middle grounds. Where Ben Lawers is seen tower- 
ing above all in the remotest distance, these views are 
peculiarly magnificent; nor is any thing ever wanting 
which the artist could require to give fulness and interest 
to the nearer parts of the landscape, where, after all, the 
chief interest must always lie. I must however remark, 
that as a picturesque ride, this line has suffered much by 
the change from the ancient military line to the new turn- 
pike road; which, being conducted upon a lower and more 
uniform level, has deprived the traveller through this part 
of the valley, of many of the beauties which it formerly ex- 
hibited. Those who have it in their power, should therefore 
chuse the old road, which is still practicable, and which, 
ill particular, opens those spacious and general views in 
which so much of the grandeur of Strath Tay consists. 

I believe it is but just to say, that Strath Tay is, in 
point of splendour and richness, the first of the Scottish 
valleys. This remark, however, im|>lies a comparison, 

THE TAY. 5l 

only with those which correspond with it in general 
character and extent, and it bears a reference, .at the same 
time, to its dimensions. There are others which are 
equally brilliant, and more picturesque, for a short space ; 
but there are none which, through so continuous an ex- 
tent as twenty miles, preserve that character unim- 
peached. With Strathmore, it cannot be compared at 
all; because that is a district rather than a single valley. 
To the valley of the Forth, lying between Menteith and 
the sea, it is assuredly superior; although the compa- 
rison, in this case also, is not very easily or properly 
made. That of the Clyde, is out of the question. So is 
Strathspey ; since its beauty lies in so very limited a 
space. The valley of the Tuniel, from the junction of 
these great rivers to that of tlie Garry, is too narrow to 
admit of a just comparison ; and the next five miles are 
a still narrower glen. That portion of this valley which 
contains the lake, is equally splendid perhaps, but then 
it is not more than five miles long ; and the same may be 
said of the valley of Blair. The vale of the Dee at 
Invercauld, is unquestionably more grand, and, for a 
space, equally rich ; but the splendour of this also, 
scarcely occupies one third of the length through which 
that of Strath Tay extends. 

Thus as the Tay is the largest of our rivers, it is also 
their pride. This portion of its course alone, from Loch 
Tay to Dunkeld, would render it so, independently of the 
richness and brilliancy, of a far different character, 
which occur in some parts of its course from Birnam to 
Perth, which attend it at that beautifully situated town, 
and which accompany it hence to the sea. If we were to 
include with it, its tributary streams, even omitting the 
Tumel, the picturesque scenes which would thus belong- 
to it, would be increased to an incalculable extent. We 

E 2 

52 THE TAY. 

may even exclude the Lyon and the Isla; and there 
would still be much remaining, in the smaller tributaries 
which join it in various parts of its course. If Loch Tay 
be considered, what it truly is, a collector of tributes to 
the Tay, the extent, and complication, and distance of 
its sources, will appear quite extraordinary. It is in- 
deed the many-headed Tay ; and it is from this cause that 
there is less inequality in its stream than in that of the 
Spey, or indeed of most of our rivers. This variety of 
origin affords a compensation of rain, by which, except in 
seasons of extreme drought, a sufficient altitude and bulk 
of water for beauty is always preserved : while the vary- 
ing distances of these sources also, prevent its floods, 
however high, from being as sudden as those of the Spey 
or the Dee. The map will show the extent of country 
which it drains, from the north, the west, and the east; 
and also the variety and extent of the ground which it 
traverses by means of all its contributing branches. 
Thus we can see from what various and widely separated 
districts, the materials which are employed in shoaling the 
firth of Tay, and in laying the foundation of new lands, 
or in augmenting those already deposited, are collected ; 
while, from the extent and bulk of these additions, we 
can also explain the rapidity of this process, which will 
probably, in no great number of centuries, produce ef- 
fectual obstructions to the port of Dundee. 

But what the map does not explain, 1 have examined 
on the ground itself; having traced every one of its 
branches, even in their remote ramifications, and many 
of them to their very springs. Thus, from the great va- 
riety of the rocks through which they flow, we can ac- 
count for the multiplicity of substances found in the bed 
of the Tay towards Dunkcid :mi(1 Perth; while, in a few 
markf'd insJanccs, 1 have been able to name the very hill 

THE TAY. 53 

from which some particular stone has travelled. In the same 
manner, having examined the scenery of all these rivers, 
I think I can say that the Tay, when all the waters that 
meet in its firth are included, contains a proportion of 
picturesque beauty equal to that of all the rest of the 
interior of Scotland. Besides many smaller lakes, it in- 
cludes Loch Lydog-, Loch Ericht, Loch Rannoch, Loch 
Tumel, Loch Tay, Loch Lyon, Loch Lochy, Loch Doch- 
art, Loch Earn, and the three Lochs of the Lowes, with 
those of Clunie and Marlie; the whole presenting a 
great proportion of beautiful lake scenery, of which some 
has already been noticed. The scenery of its valleys is 
comprised chiefly in those of the Tilt^ the Tumel, the 
Garry, the Isla, and of its two last tributaries, the Lyon, 
and the Earn ; and in that of the Tay itself. Those of the 
Tumel, the Garry, and the Tilt, will hereafter be described ; 
and that of the Isla and its tributaries, comprising part 
of Strathmore, was just noticed: those of the Lyon and 
the Earn are worthy of ranking with them, as well for 
richness as for picturesque beauty. 

Besides this species of landscape, its various rivers, 
great and small, present beauties as various in character 
as they are remarkable; some belonging to the rivers 
themselves, some to the glens through which they run, 
and which are generally of too confined a nature to be 
included in what I have called vale scenery. A slender 
enumeration of these will convey a suflicient notion of 
them, to justify, in addition to what I have already said 
of the scenery of the lakes and valleys, the high rank 
which I assign to the Tay in the general landscape of 
Scotland. The beauties of the Tilt and the Garry, are 
augmented by innumerable lateral rivers and torrents of 
more or less note, comprising cascades, and what may 
be called ravine landscape, under a great variety of forms. 

54 THE TAY. 

The Erochkie running through a pleasing and narrow 
valley, deserves to be included among these. The course 
of the Gowar from Loch Lydog, and that of the Ericht 
from Loch Ericht, both contributing to form the Tumel 
through the intervention of Loch Rannoch, are without 
beauty; but the Tumel itself receives numerous smaller 
streams throughout its whole course, displaying many 
picturesque scenes which it would be equally endless and 
fruitless to name. The remoter courses of the Dochart and 
the Lochy, which unite to form Loch Tay, have very little 
interest ; but at Killin, where they meet, they atone, by 
their numerous and extraordinary landscapes, for much of 
the preceding blank. The chief part of the course of the 
Lyon is included in the enumeration of the vale scenery : 
but it receives many beautiful lateral streams, of which 
the Keltnie is scarcely exceeded for picturesque charac- 
ter, by any river of similar dimensions in Scotland. Of the 
minor waters which fall immediately into the Tay, the 
enumeration would be tedious ; but those of Mouess and 
Dalguise, though the first perhaps in rank, are but exam- 
ples ofa class of beauty which is found dispersed through- 
out the whole. The rivers which fall in the same manner 
into Loch Tay, deserve also a high place in this enume- 
ration. Nor must the Braan and the Almond be forgot- 
ten ; since, either on these, or on their smaller tributaries, 
much picturesque landscape in many different styles will 
be found. To the eastward, we have all the streams 
which feed the Airdle and the Erroch, together with 
these larger rivers, and those which, often in a far differ- 
ent style of beauty, join the Isla. The mountain torrents 
which form the higher part of the Isla, belong to a very 
difleront species of landscape from those which join it in 
Strathniore, of which the Dean and the Melgam are the 
chiel ; and the great cascade of ihe Reeky Linn, near 


Alytb, among much more in this style, is a fine example, in 
this class, belonging to a set of waters which are collected 
from a great extent of alpine country. Lastly comes 
the Earn ; the monarch of a thousand tributaries which 
it would be endless to enumerate, but of the beauties of 
which, examples may be taken from the wild course of the 
Lednach,thc Ruchil, the water of Edinample, and others 
which I must now dismiss, as 1 must terminate this sketch 
altogether. Could I place before you one tenth of these 
landscapes, or even my own portfolios, not containing one 
hundredth of that tenth, I think you would not refuse to 
the Tay the title which it most justly deserves, of the 
king of all the rivers of Britain. 

On the southern Strath Tay road, I must point out 
the singular house of GrandtuUy, as 1 cannot pretend 
to specify its various landscapes. As a specimen of 
the French, or Flemish, architecture of this country, 
since it may pass under either name, it is amusing and 
picturesque ; though wanting consequence, because of 
its small scale. It cannot, however, be compared to the 
beautiful examples of this style in Aberdeenshire, nor, of 
course, to Glamis, to which, in point of size, it is a mere 
toy. It is to be regretted that when Scotland was copying 
or imitating this architecture, it did not always chuse good 
specimens ; and that it should so often have chanced upon 
deformity instead of beauty, in applying its pepper boxes 
and extinguishers to its heavy square unmeaning masses 
of tower. The value, and the attainable beauty of this 
style, must have been understood somewhere, or we never 
should have possessed Heriot's hospital; but how the 
same people that built this, and which had it daily in 
view, could have done what it has done at Edinburgh, in 
twenty places that I need not name, surpasses com- 
prehension. 1 shall spare you the enumeration of 


hideous examples of this style, whether in Edinburgh or 
in the country, as there is no pleasure in dwelling on de- 
formity. But, besides Heriot's hospital and Glamis, the 
three specimens which highly deserve to be selected for 
their beauty, are Fy vie, Clunie, and Castle Fraser ; and 
that, in the order in which I have placed them. Fyvie is 
truly a magnificent as well as a picturesque specimen of 
this architecture ; and had the design been completed, it 
would have exceeded Glamis in every respect. Even as 
it is, it excels it in grandeur and breadth of style, and in 
a mode of composition more uniformly consistent through- 
out. It is a considerable fault in Glamis, notwithstand- 
ing its picturesque beauty and interest, that the want of 
sufficient variety of projection in its walls, a defective 
ground plan in short, prevents it from taking such masses 
of light and shade as are required to support the orna- 
ments above. This is particularly true of the back part 
of the building; which rises to a great and disagreeable 
height, a flat bare wall, carrying aloft a quantity of super- 
structure which almost ap;f ears incongruous, and which 
tenders the nakedness of the body of the building more 
sensible. It is also a leading fault in Glamis, that the 
various turrets and crowning parts, are too numerous 
and crowded ; adding confusion to their picturesque 
effect, and forming a line on the sky, which, however 
irregular, is still too flat in the general bounding outline. 
The eye too is not well able to group the parts ; nor do 
they su|)port themselves more by a general shadow and 
light, than they «lo by the design and composition. 

If the design of Clunie is far less grand than that of 
Fyvie, it is a much more picturesque building. It pro- 
duces indeed a degree of surprise which 1 have scarcely 
ever seen equalled in architecture: and as all this is 
ofl'erted by the contrast and <lisposition of large masses 


and great lines, the result is far from deficient, even in 
grandeur. Nothing* here depends on petty ornaments ; 
and the composition altogether marks a mind perfect in 
the higher departments of art, and an architectural con- 
ception formed on the principles of landscape. Van- 
brugh appears to have had the same feelings respecting 
rural architecture; but he never conceived any thing half 
so good. Excellent as it is in the outline, it is even more so 
in that which is so general an object of neglect, and which 
is yet so important : the property of so receiving light and 
shade in almost every position of the sun, as to produce 
those effects so indispensable to landscape, and of so much 
value in architecture. The style of Castle Fraser is from 
the same architectural school ; but the design is utterly 
different from those of all the preceding buildings. It is 
also of different periods ; yet the additions have been 
made in so good a taste, that they do not injure that to 
which they do not absolutely belong. Its round tower, 
the principal part of the original building, offers a model, 
whether in its general design and proportion, or in its 
ornaments, which those who labour in and about a Gothic 
which they seldom comprehend, would do well to study. 

It is in vain to say that this style, which has no proper 
name, is neither Greek, nor Gothic, nor Moorish, nor of 
any assignable manner, or to affect to despise it as 
Tudesque or Flandrikan. So much the greater is the 
merit of those who invented it; and name it as we may, 
it is sufficient that it is picturesque and appropriate. It 
is the merest pedantry to judge of architecture, or indeed 
of any thing else, in this manner. The object is beauty, 
after utility; and, not only abstract, but appropriate 
beauty. It is the merit of this manner, that though it 
may neither resemble Gothic, nor Greek, nor Palladian, 
nor any mode which has had a name, it is founded on the 


general principles of beauty in art. Its lines are grand, 
its masses are broad, it admits of ornaments either large 
or minute, or it can dispense with them. It is tied to no 
rules as to their disposition, any more than it is in its 
general design ; as its purpose is attained in many ways, 
and as its objects are general, not particular. Hence 
its variety is endless; a matter, in itself, of infinite merit, 
since nothing can be more wearisome, be its abstract 
beauty what it may, than the almost eternal identity of 
Greek and Roman, and the far too frequent sameness of 
Italian architecture. The same columns, the same pedi- 
ments, the same porticos, the same windows, the same roof: 
every thing is the same, vary it as we may within the al- 
lowed limits, and every one house is too often but a copy or 
a translation of another. Whatever may be the merits of 
the Elizabethan architecture, or of Vanbrugh's, this style 
may be allowed to exceed them in every one of those 
points which form their chief boast. As applicable to the 
country, or as contributing objects to landscape, it excels 
them in every way, as it does equally the several classical 
styles: no less from its endless variety, than its intrinsic 
picturesque effects, and the power of adapting it to any 
position, or to any character or composition of landscape. 
As far as we can judge from the current applications of 
the Gothic to buildings of this class, it is even preferable 
to that system for these purposes. In this style we may 
build churches and abbeys, or castles; or, if we please, we 
may intermix them, as is the case with an hundred barba- 
risms Avhich we see every day; or else, like Taymouth, build 
a church on the top of a castle. But all this is bad when 
the (>})joct is a dwelling house. It is olten incongruous, ge- 
nerally inconvenient, and always expensive. Nor indeed 
docs the Gothic style offer any models for dwelling houses. 
Its dwelling houses were its abbeys or its castles, and 


these were on a large scale. When we attempt to reduce 
them to a small size, they become mean. The turrets of 
the castle, which were meant to contain men, will scarcely 
hold a cat, the towers will hardly admit staircases, much 
less chambers, the battlements are like the ornaments in 
an escutcheon, and, instead of the machicolations, we have 
a paltry pretence which we hate or despise. But any 
scale will receive the style under review, and its re- 
sources, on all scales, are endless. But my dissertation 
will become endless too; and I must recollect that my 
business is with Strath Tay, not with architecture. In 
the mean time, I hope that our architects are beginning 
to comprehend the value of this system, because I per- 
ceive thatWilkins has been taking measurements of some 
of these very buildings. It is quite time that we should 
cast off all our trammels in art ; in architecture, as in 
every thing else. There was a time when all but the 
classical styles were equally despised ; and had not 
another race sprung up, in contempt even of Wren, not 
only should we have remained ignorant of our splendid 
and wonderful Gothic architecture, but, like old St. 
Paul's, all these magnificent remains of the art, the 
science, the invention, the taste, the splendour, and the 
piety of our ancestors, would probably have been ere 
this converted into stone quarries, or have become heaps 
of undistinsfuishable ruins. 

The falls of Moness, near Aberfeldie, stand, very pro- 
perly, in the list of sights to beseen, like thoseof the Bruar, 
and that of the Braan. Those who die of raptures at thefor- 
mer, and to whom a waterfall is simply the falling of water, 
will be delighted equally, at the three cascades of Moness. 
It is equally easy to know those to whom the upper fall will 
be the finest, and also the chosen few who will turn alike 
from that and from the lowest, to pass half a day at the 


intermediate one. I do not pretend to have seen every 
cascade in Scotland, but I have seen the far greater num- 
ber, all that any other two-legged animal ever saw, and 
many more than were ever seen, or possibly ever will be, 
by one person. And thus, erecting myself, as travelled 
gentlemen commonly do, into a judge from whom there 
cannot be any appeal, I pronounce and decide that Moness 
is the most beautiful cascade in Scotland ; just as I have 
asserted the same elsewhere, of Tumel, and Fyers, and 
Urrard. So that there are four firsts. And that too may 
very well be ; since they are all as different from each 
other, as are the views from Stirling Castle, Loch Coruisk, 
Ailsa, and Castle Campbell ; each of which is, in the 
same manner, first, each in its several way. If Fyers is 
characterized by the depth, the magnitude, the style, and 
the ornament of its magnificent abyss, Tumel depends 
chiefly on the bulk and the beauty of its falling water, 
and on a landscape which is both romantic and appro- 
priate. Urrard can no more be compared with these than 
the Choragic monument of Lysicrates with the Parthenon 
and the Coliseum. While it is, comparatively, a toy, it 
owes something, like Tumel, to the beauty of the water, 
which falls in a similar form and proportion ; but more, 
like Fyers, to the beautiful disposition and ornament of 
the including chasm. 3Ioness is still more a toy; but it 
IS the miniature of a great style: the cascade and the 
chasm alike might belong to Fyers, and it is sometimes 
diflicnit to imagine that we are not contemplating an 
object of overpowering dimensions through an inverted 

The water at Moness is a narrow stream, but it has 
great beauty in itself, from the intricate manner in which 
it falls; while it is always suflicicnt, even when most 
scanty, to give to the landscape (hat which is essen- 


tial ; life; and, in every state, it answers that purpose, 
without g-aining much when unusually full. This is 
the principle, after all, which forms the real attraction, 
the soul, I may truly say, of cascade scenery ; although 
the cause of its peculiar interest seems to be seldom 
understood. I do not mean by this, the bustle and the 
noise, the whiteness and the spray and the roaring, which 
are the ordinary sources of attraction to the vulgar. These 
form a separate character, and belong to a far different 
shade of feeling, to surprise, or wonder, or fear. It is a 
more delicate principle of life to which I allude, which 
may exist almost without foam and without sound, with 
little perceptible motion, and without producing either 
surprise or amazement. It is a principle which seems to 
diffuse its soul through all the surrounding scenery, to 
animate every stone, and bush, and flower, to pervade 
them all with a community of feeling, and to give them 
a joint and living interest in the scene. We use the tenn 
animation on physical subjects every day, witliout being- 
always conscious of its meaning or of its value. But 
animation, which forms the essence of the cascade, is also 
the essence, if in a far less degree, of much more in land- 
scape than we are accustomed to reflect on. Nor is its 
operation obscure: since, of physical beauty, it is uni- 
versally true, that it acts chiefly as it affects our moral 
feelings, though few are used to trace that connection. It 
is the presence of a living principle which confers on the 
flat, objectless, vacant ocean, a perpetual charm, which 
renders the clouds and the sky a picture which we are 
never weary of contemplating : it is this which forms the 
attraction of the lake, the river, and the tree ; it is its 
absence which chills us where these are wanting, and 
which makes us search for with avidity, and dwell with 
interest, on even the lowliest hut or the merest ruin that 


seems to speak of its existence. Even the rushing of the 
mountain breeze over the bare and barren surface of the 
hill, and the hissing of the storm against the naked and 
dreary precipice, give them an interest before unknown, 
as if they, like ourselves, were conscious of the gale. It 
is this delicate and evanescent property of the cascade, 
which rendei-g that class of landscape unfitted for paint- 
ing. It is not that, in the picture, we listen for the noise, 
or desire to see the motion ; for, even in nature, we can 
admire and enjoy the waterfall, when the sound is inaudi- 
ble, and the motion is scarcely perceptible. But the soul 
which animated it is wanting*, and its charm is gone. 

The symmeti-y of the cavity at the cascade of Moness, 
and the remoteness of the water, form its chief distinc- 
tions. The fall is seen, scarcely as if it was a natural 
object, but rather like an optical illusion : as something- 
vacillating between art and nature, from which, as I 
have often had occasion to remark, so much, and so pe- 
culiar an effect is produced in landscape. While the 
elegant form of this d'»ep hollow cannot be exceeded in 
beauty, its ornaments of rocks, and stones, and trees, and 
bushes, and ferns, and wild flowers, are all disposed, as 
if by the hand of exquisite taste, but with all the inimi- 
table grace and ease of nature. The rays of the sun do 
not penetrate it, but every object is illuminated by a 
general subdued light, and by the reflections proceed- 
ing from the water, and reverberated in succession from 
rock to rock. Under these lights, wliose value are well 
known to artists, are seen all the rich l)rowns of the 
dripping stones, the deep black chasms and fissures, the 
broad grey faces of fhc rocks, the brillijuit gohhn mosses 
that cushion <'very projection, and th<> light airy green 
of the ferns, and of the tender foliage of a thousand 
shrubs, feathering from above ; while, aloft, the trees 


throw their braoches across, tinging' witli green the trans- 
mitted light, and adding- to that general effect of tran- 
quillity and peace, which distinguishes this cascade from 
all others. Here also is experienced, very peculiarly, 
that effect of harmony of colouring- and of artifice united, 
which so often occurs in cascades of this character, and 
which seems to have almost brought them already under 
the hands of the painter. It is a compound effect, inter- 
mediate between the artificial colouring- of landscape, and 
that which is produced by the camera obscura. While 
the subdued tones of reflected light cause it to resemble 
that of the latter, the watery vapour of the fall diffusing 
itself over the objects, generates that atmospheric colour- 
ing- which, in painting-, is too often a conventional arti- 
fice, and which is the true source of the harmony of 
colouring peculiar to these cascades. It is particularly 
remarkable in this one, from the form and space of the 
cavity, and it is one of the great causes of its effect : 
producing an appearance of distance in the nearer objects, 
and thus, while it gives unity to the scene, conferring on 
it imaginary dimensions, and an air of greatness and mag- 
nitude which its measurements would not justify. 

But it must not be supposed that all the beauties of 
Aberfeldie are limited to the fid Is of Moness. If the 
tour books have forgotten that this is one of the finest 
situations on the Tay for landscape scenery, it will 
justify my hostility to them for their neglect; a hos- 
tility which seems likely to remain. The chief of 
these scenes will be found at different points on the de- 
clivity of the very hill which leads to the cascades ; and 
they consist chiefly of views looking across towards 
Castle Menzies. It is a species of vale scenery, yet ut- 
terly distinct from all else which is found in Strath Tay. 
It is closer, if I may use such a term, and presents middle 


grounds of greater space and importance; while the dis- 
tances do not bear the same undue proportion which, 
along the gTeatest portion of this valley, renders its land- 
scapes unfit for painting. The rocky hill which rises 
above Castle Menzies, fonns a striking- object, sufficiently 
near to the eye ; and all the hill boundary is equally 
grand. The richness and variety of the middle and fore- 
grounds, could not well be exceeded ; and the bridge of 
the Tay forms an object in the flatter grounds, which is 
alike romantic and characteristic. But I must not enter 
into these endless details. 

I suppose it is very well known by whom this bridge 
was designed ; but it is a piece of knowledge which I have 
not acquired. The fame belongs to Marshal Wade, of 
course; and with the same justice that the botanist, and 
an endle-ss race besides, found their reputation on works, 
the whole merit of which belongs to artists, whose names, 
if they are known, are never mentioned. It is Mr. Some- 
body's magnificent Opusculum on the Genus Pinus, and 
so on, not Mr. Bauer's : and the gentleman author 
who, in a similar way, produces a splendid volume of 
ancient architecture, or of tygers or butterflies, and who 
speaks of" my draughtsman," forgets, as do the public, 
that, but for his draughtsman, he might as well have re- 
posed in peace. Here we have the " solertia" of Marshal 
Wade ; and the " auspices" of George the second, — good 
man, — who knew as much about art as oneof his own drum- 
majors. I know not that Tay bridge has a very pure 
claim to originality; because the hint of the obelisks, 
from whicli it «lerives its chief character, seems to have 
been Ixnrowed from the bridge at Stirling. But the 
artist, be lie who he may, has improved the idea so much, 
as to deserve even more praise than the mere invention 
could have conferred ; while, for aught I know, even 


Stirlino- may be but the copy of something unknown to 
me. Whether tliat be so or not, the obelisks on Stirling- 
bridge would not be missed were they removed ; while, 
here, they form an essential part of the architecture. To 
imagine four obelisks placed on the parapet of a bridge, 
is to imagine a heterogeneous incongruity; ornaments 
irrelevant to the general form of such a structure, and a 
fantastical effect. But the artist has avoided all this, by 
the congruity of the general design, and by the admirable 
proportions which are preserved throughout, not only in 
the exterior lines of the bridge, but in the relative di- 
mensions and disposition of the arches. While, from 
each end, the parapets sweep up in a graceful curve to 
the bases of these obelisks, the eye is conducted to their 
summits, as to the natural and necessary termination ; the 
judicious place which they occupy, and the justness of 
their distances and proportions, producing also a pyra- 
midal general composition, which is as graceful as it is 
free of affectation. Nothing,- can well be imagfined more 
picturesque as a landscape object, than Tay bridge; 
while it is no less unexpected, and even romantic ; lead- 
ing the imagination to an age, and to scenes, which, we 
feel, are not our own, but which we know not where to 
fix. As a merely architectural object, it is no less pic- 
turesque; affording many striking subjects for painting, 
according to the different points whence it is viewed. I 
care not though I pass for a Goth, in admiring what is 
amenable to none of the former supposed receipts for 
bridge building; for I still think that, to be picturesque, 
is an essential quality of architecture, and particularly of 
rural architecture, and that novelty and variety are as 
essential to beauty as to pleasure in this art as in any 
other. We are wearied with the incessant repetition of the 
same style, and almost of the same objects, at least in that 
VOL. I. p 


architecture which we choose to consider classical. The 
freemasons took a different and better view of this matter ; 
but there is much to be done yet, before we shall get rid 
of the pedantiy of art and the servility of imitation. 
Though Tay bridge had failed of its effect, it is no small 
merit to have dared such a work. Being what it is, it 
offers an example of what may yet be done in a line of 
architecture which seemed to have been particularly ex- 
hausted ; and if what I have been scribbling about it, 
shall make it better known and more esteemed, I shall 
not, as the boastful say, have written in vain. I cannot 
help thinking that it has a strong savour of Gibbs or 
Hawksmoor ; whom, with many barbarisms and failures, 
it would be as well if we sometimes thought a little more 
of imitating. But I shall be travelling out of the record 
if I proceed. 

As in the tablet at Dalwhinnie, and in many other 
places, there is here a long and operose Latin inscription 
from the pen of Dr. Friend, which relates how the military 
roads were extended, over bogs and rocks, through a 
space of two hundred and fifty " M. passuum;" and how 
this bridge was built over the indignant Tay, " indig- 
nanti Tavo insultanteni," with a courtly compliment to 
his Majesty at the end : " Ecce quantum valeant Georgii 
secundi auspicia." " Ultra Ronianos terminos" too. The 
Tay does not feel the leiist indignation at the matter, for 
it is here remarkably tranquil ; and to say that the mili- 
tary roads were carried so far beyond the Roman boun- 
daries, is not true. A thousand years hence, when half 
the letters shall be obliterated, some antiquary will be 
puzzled to ascertain the name of the Legion and the 
Prtcfectus viarum ; and may probably conclude that 
Georgius was only a translation of Agricola; while, im- 
proving on Sibhiild and Chalmers, he will show that the 


battle of the Grampians was fought at Aberfeldie. Why 
could not all this have been told in plain English ? If 
we must be pedants, why not rather bonow from the 
ancient than from the modern Babylon, and give the 
record to the world in nail-head characters. It would 
have the greater advantage of being still less intelligible ; 
and the only difference would be, that instead of apply- 
ing- to Dr. Friend, we must apply to Professor Grote- 
fund. If the Highland Tay was to be insulted with a 
bridge at all, it might as w-eU have been insulted in the 
language of its conquerors : for it was left to England 
to do what Rome had attempted in vain. The very fact, 
that a whole nation could not tell posterity that it had 
built a bridge, without applying- to the master of West- 
minster school, renders the record as ridiculous as it is 

Imagine yourself now at Kenmore: but imagine too 
that you have now entered a narrow pass, among bold 
hills and rich woods, that you are amid new scenery, and 
that Loch Tay lies before you, stretching- away broad and 
bright, far towards the western sun. 

F 2 



1 MUST divere-e ajjain from Kenmore, and from the 
hackneyed track, to conduct you to scenery, which it is 
peculiarly a disgrace to the herd of writers to have for- 
gotten, because it is as accessible from this place, or from 
Aberfeldie, as it is beautiful and various. I have already 
named Glen Lyon as one of our finest valleys ; but it is 
as little known as the Tumel ; much less indeed, and has 
never, I believe, been yet visited by any traveller, or even 
by any native unconnected with it. Though, to the upper 
or proper valley of the Lyon, there is access beyond For- 
tino-al, from the Kill in road, this mode of proceeding 
would omit some of its principal beauties, which lie be- 
tween its exit from that valley and its junction with the 
Tay. It is also accessible by the military road from Tumel 
bridge, but it is preferable to enter by Tay bridge or 
from Kenmore ; each of these roads leading through the 
rich scenery which attends the junction of the two rivers, 
and each displaying this very ornamental country under 
different views. 

Tlie ancient and ruined castle of Combra is only a 
vulgar house, of the very worst style, and is rather a de- 
formity than an ornament ; but higher up, at Coshiville, 
is a station where a day may be spent, and where it 
will seldom be spent to more purpose by an artist. Nor 
is it interesting to an artist alone ; since there are few 
places more uniformly beautiful in this particular style, 
than Ihc space conlained between Gartli (astle on the 


one hand, and Fortingal on the other ; even indepen- 
dently of the various landscapes wliich it affords. Though 
the general character is that of a narrow alpine valley, 
traversed by a deep and rocky stream of small dimen- 
sions, the Keltnie burn, there are also some splendid views 
of widely extended scenery, as well as much river land- 
scape, on a close but larger scale, upon this portion of the 
course of the Lyon. 

Garth castle is the object which will naturally attract 
most attention, nor will it easily attract more than it de- 
serves. The building is, in itself, nothing, in an archi- 
tectural view ; as it is merely a ruined square tower, 
without appendages or variety. But it is an import- 
ant object in the picture, in many positions, merely as an 
object; while its interest in this respect, is much in- 
creased by the romantic singularity of its position, and 
by the moral interests and recollections that are always 
attached to these buildings. It occupies what may be 
called a lofty and acute promontory, at the confluence of 
two streams running in deep rocky channels ; so that, 
almost from its very base, on each hand, we look down a 
perilous and perpendicular chasm, on waters so remote 
that we do not hear them roarinjr below. Noble and an- 
cient ash trees spring up all around ; in many places, hang- 
ing from these lofty cliffs, and throwing their branches 
and their drooping foliage high across the dark abyss. 
Around, the hills sweep up on each side, wooded and cul- 
tivated as far as wood and cultivation can reach ; and, 
behind, stretching far away into the lofty and wild moor- 
lands that decline from Schihallien. But this station, 
more open in front, presents one of the most noble land- 
scapes in the Highlands ; extending down the ravine, 
and over the valley, which declines rapidly frpm the eye, 
carrying along its rocky and foaming stream amid trees 


and precipices, till it disappears in the still richer course 
of the Lyon. On each hand, the hills continue to rise in 
the same bold sweep, but more wooded and more rich ; 
while, in front, the fine woody hill which separates the 
Lyon from the Tay, partly terminates the picture ; but, 
yielding" on one side, opens also to a distant sight of the 
rich valley of the Tay, and of the ridge, no less rich and 
various, which conveys the cascades of Moness. This 
view will easily recall to mind that from Castle Campbell ; 
as the position of the castle of Garth will also remind us 
of that splendid place. It would be too great praise how- 
ever, to say that it ranks with that, amongst the most 
sublime of Scottish landscapes ; yet it is second to it, in 
this particular style ; resembling it in variety and rich- 
ness, but with far less magnificence, as well as with very 
inferior dimensions in the essential parts : in the castle 
itself, in the scale of the ground on which it stands, and 
in the scenery within which it is more immediately in- 

Each of the small streams now mentioned, but the 
Keltnie in particular, after the junction, is the seat of 
much beautiful scenery. After seeing so many hundreds 
of rivers, I might have supposed their possibilities ex- 
hausted, had 1 not known that the resources of nature are 
unbounded. The character of the landscapes on this 
little river, differs from all others in the same class; and 
I know not how better to explain it, than by reminding 
you, if you have chanced to see them, of a celebrated 
picture of Rubens representing the termination of the 
deluge, and of one of Titian, containing a single conspi- 
cuous figure of a sleeping nymph. These are lofty objects 
of reference; but the landscapes Mhich may be found in 
this spot will justify it. The deep rocky bed of the 
stream itself, oilers numerous examples oi' close river 


scenory, such as belong-s to cascades : tlje water being- 
rapid, and often beautifully broken by stones and insu- 
lated rocks, the including precipices being infinitely va- 
ried, and the fractures broad and graceful ; while all the 
ornament and richness which trees can confer, are given 
by the beautiful ashes, which spring from them, or tower 
and close in from the banks and hills above. In the 
deeper parts of the chasm, and most remarkably near the 
castle, and in the rivers before their junction, the nar- 
rowness of the ravine and the height of the sides, rising 
perpendicularly, but irregularly, to the height of au hun- 
dred feet, produce scenery of a still different character ; 
resemblino' that of the celebrated rumblino- bridoe over 
the Devon, and the equally well known one of the same 
name near Dunkeld. But these views do not exhaust 
the scenery on this entertaining' river: as, from various 
points, its peculiar landscapes become combined with 
those of the glen through which it flows, so as to pro- 
duce many pictures of a wider scope and of a distinct 
character. Garth castle thus forms a very principal object, 
in various modes and from many points ; but to detail 
these would be useless labour. My object is attained 
if I can induce you, or any one else, to add this place to 
the general list of Scottish landscapes ; and as one which, 
from its facility of access, as well as its beauty, ought to 
find a place in every Highland tour. 

The course of the Lyon between the junction of the 
Keltnie and Fortingal, is also very beautiful, if not easily 
amenable to the rules of landscape painting. The pro- 
fusion of wood all through this valley, the narrowness 
of the glen, the height of the hills, and the beauty of the 
river itself, with the noble trees that hang over it, render 
the whole space, short as it is, one which has not many 
rivals in this country. There is also throughout it, a sin- 


gular and unexpected air of seclusion, uhich adds much 
to its charm; as if it were, in itself, a little world, un- 
knowing and unknown. If these are things that can 
produce happiness, I know not many places where a man 
might be happier than at Garth ; and if all the scenery 
which 1 have described belongs to its possessor, he may 
well be proud of his dominions. 

I have elsewhere mentioned, or, if I have not, I have 
intended to do so, the accurate, and often minute and 
extensive, geographical knowledge of the common High- 
landers. This, in a people who are assuredly acute in 
general, gives them an additional air of acuteness, to 
travellers who may chance to require such information. 
It is peculiarly striking to the mere inhabitant of towns, 
who finds the ordinary lower classes, and often the higher 
ones, utterly ignorant, even of the roads about their own 
dwellings, and of the places to which they lead. I 
chanced to be sitting on a limestone rock in the Keltnie, 
part of an extensive bed here traversing the country, 
and had observed formerly that the people fetched this 
coimnodity from a quarry many miles off; being unaware, 
as is not uncommon, of its existence so near them. A 
^ flock of little boys and girls happened to be coming from 
their school, and I called to the biggest of them, a crea- 
tuie often years old, to shew it him, and to ask him Mhere 
Lis father obtained his lime for his farm. He not only 
described to me the quarry whence I knew it to come, 
but every known bed of limestone in the country, for many 
miles round ; some of which I then knew to be truly in- 
dicated, and others which 1 was thus led to examine. 
But this was a philosopher in an egg shell, in many more 
shapes. His school was one where English was taught, 
anil Mhere it was prohibited to speak Gaelic. He ex- 
plained to me the whole discipline, and s[)oke of the re- 

gli:n LYON. 73 

puted policy of this measure, and of general education, 
as if he had been a reader of Reviews. I had a quantity 
of pence in my pocket, and as pence are shillings at this 
age, I gave them to him to divide among his followers, 
who seemed all to hold him in reverence, and were all 
silent whenever he spoke or appeared about to speak. 
Unluckily there were fourteen children, and only thirteen 
pennies; and as he Avas about to retain the last for him- 
self, he saw one little girl who was so small that she had 
been overlooked. He immediately gave her his own, 
and seemed happier than the rest when he had done it. 
Such a hero as this might become aRennel, or a Malthus, 
or a Bayard: but he will flourish and fade unseen, at the 
plough or the mattock, unless Lord Breadalbane or Co- 
Jonel Stewart should discover in him the germ of a Simp- 
son, a Ferguson, or a Burns. 

After all, it is only thus that we can learn the nature 
of a people: as the author of Waverley and his host well 
knows. It is vain to travel in barouches, and to act up 
to the reputed character of a gentleman. Hence the com- 
parative advantages of the pedestrian system. Not that 
I pretend to this latter bold character : but I should have 
known much less than I do of the Highlanders, though 
you may possibly think that little enough, had I not 
made bosom friends of the boatmen, acted King Pippin 
among the children, driven cattle with the drovers, list- 
ened to interminable stories about stots, and sheep, and 
farms, partaken of a sneeshing with the beggar, drank 
whisky with the retired veteran, sat in the peat reek 
with the old crones, given ribbons to the lassies and pills 
to the wives, and fiddled to balls in Rum. And as the 
conclusion of all is, that I should be very well pleased 
to do the same every summer, I know not what other or 
better proof 1 can give of my esteem for Donald and all 


his race. In indiscriminate praise, however, there is no 
value; because unmixed merit is not the lot even of 
Highland life. Non melius de laudato, pejus de lau- 
dante. Universal approbation is suspicious, when it is 
not false: marks of merited censure are the shadows 
which give truth as well as brilliancy to the lights of the 
landscape. As to the miseries of the Highlanders, I should 
rejoice if all that 1 have said and written would lighten 
them but by one grain. But I can never teach myself 
to weep with the haberdashers of the pathetic, because 
they do not now see ghosts and tell long-winded stories 
about Fingal ; nor because " the happy vassal" can no 
longer " sit under a tree" or a stone, and " chant his 
poems to the mountain breeze." The happiness of vassal- 
age is a new discovery ; and there is something else neces- 
sary in this life than lying in the rain all day, dreaming 
about ghosts, or singing songs ; nor will these occupa- 
tions fill the Highlander's belly, or augment his com- 
forts. Nor can I grieve over the loss of that chivalrous 
fidelity of which we have heard so much ; because I have 
lonof ceased to lament at what is inevitable. 

The celebrated yew tree in the church-yard of For- 
tingal is going fast to decay. Besides that it is a rare 
tree in Scotland, this specimen is remarkable for its size, 
as well as for its marks of high antiquity ; resembling 
those which still exist about tiio English lakes. The 
oriffinal circumference is said to have been 56 feet. It is 
supposed, of course, to have been phuited for the pur- 
pose of furnishing wood for bows, at the time when this 
weapon was in use. That it was an object of attention to 
the legislature, in the Lowlands, is well known. It is 
remarkable, however, that no specimen of the bow and 
arrow has been preserved in the Highlands, among the 
other arms still treasured up, and that none were; found 


duriiio" the execution of the disarming act ; insomuch that 
some persons have doubted whether those arms were 
ever used by the Highland clans. There is no doubt 
however of this fact, as it can be proved by the most 
positive testimony ; although it does not appear that this, 
or other missiles, were ever much in request among the 
northern nations, any more than among the Highlanders, 
or that they were very expert in the use of them. This 
defect may perhaps be accounted for by the laborious 
training which the bow required : so laborious, that, even 
in England when its reputation was fully established, it 
was always falling into disuse or neglect, and required 
successive statutes, directed to enforce the practice of 
archery. In that country, the bow seems to have been little 
used for many years after the invasion and settlements of 
the northern nations; and it was at a comparative late pe- 
riod that the English archers acquired that dexterity in 
the management of this weapon, in which they were ac- 
knowledged to excel all nations,and the destructive eftects 
of which induced the Scottish crown to cultivate its use 
among the Lowlanders. It was from the event of Cressy, 
that its reputation was established : and thus it was not 
till the time of Edward the third, that it came into gene- 
ral use in England. It seems to have been established 
in France long before, as there was a King's Bowyer ; 
and it was there called artillery, yet never seems to 
have acquired much reputation. The frequent discovery 
of arrow heads made of flint, proves that the bow was 
known to many nations, long before they became ac- 
quainted with the working of metals. It is remarkable 
that these have been found all over the world, even in 
Hindostan ; and wherever they do occur, they exactly 
resemble the various stone utensils of that are manu- 
factured, even at this day, by the islanders of the South 


Seas. Tn Shetland and Orkney, as in the Western 
Islands, where they are frequently picked up, that 
superstition is scarcely yet expired among- the common 
people, which considers them as the arrows of fairies, and 
as the causes of diseases among the cattle. Animals thus 
injured, are cured by touching them with the elfshot, as 
it is called, or by sprinkling them with water in which it 
has been dipped. But it is only the gifted few who can 
discover the cause of the disease ; who can discern the 
undiscernible mark which this fairy weapon leaves on 
the skin ; and who, should the animal die, can follow it 
to its lodgment in the pineal gland or the os coccygis ; 
or, probably, in default of that, to their own pockets. 

Although certainly known to the Saxons and Danes, 
the bow and arrow do not seem to have been much 
used in war, as I have already said. But their use is 
rendered unquestionable by their being among the sculp- 
tures in the Stone of Forres, commonly called Sueno's 
Stone; the date of which is probably not more recent 
than the ninth or tenth century. It appears also, from 
the tapestry of Bayeux, in which they are represented, 
that William employed archers at the battle of Hast- 
ings. This weapon does not seem however to have 
been common till after the time of the crusades; when its 
value appears to have become better known, from the in- 
tercourse of the European armies with the East ; where it 
seems, from the testimony of ancient writers, to have 
been in great request from a period of high anti(iuity. 

The earliest evidence that I have been able to trace 
of its use among the Highlanders, if fhat indeed be High- 
land evidence, is in the sculptures on some of the grave- 
stones in Beaulieu Abbey, the date of which is about the 
year 1300. In Ayrshire, there is a charge in the Sheriff's 
accounts, for bows required at the battle of Largs, nearly 

USE OF THE now. 77 

Lalf a century before. In Henry Vllth's time, according 
to Polydore Virgil, the Highlanders also fought with 
bows and arrows. Much later, in the time of Cromwell, as 
we find in the life of Sir Ewen Cameron, archery was also 
in use among the Highlanders ; although it does not 
appear that, even at this late period, the bow and arrow 
was a general weapon. The last instance on record is 
in 1665, in the time of Charles Hd ; and here the archers 
seem to have been of considerable importance. In a 
dispute between Cameron of Lochiel and the Macintosh, 
about some lands in Lochaber, the latter chief, aided by 
Macpherson, raised 1500 men, and Cameron, with the 
Mac Gregors, met him with 1200, of whom 300 were 
archers. Another action of a similar nature, however, I 
must remark, took place, about the same time, between 
Glenco and some Breadalbane men, at Killin. These 
were the last archers that ever were seen in a body in 
the Highlands ; and, from that time, this weapon seems 
to have disappeared ; its fall being acccelerated, doubt- 
less, by the increasing use of fire arms. 

There seems little doubt that, before this time, the bow 
and arrow had been occasionally employed by small par- 
ties, as by the proscribed banditti of the clan Mac Gregor 
and others ; and if Martin's authority is valid on such a 
point as this, it continued to be used in the same manner 
even down to his day, in 1700. Yet that it was never much 
resorted to, might almost be proved from an examination 
of the ancient castles, which are rarely supplied with 
loop holes for defence, and which seem to have relied 
for their security chiefly on the strength of their walls. 

Having thus far become entangled in war, we may as 
well fight the battle out, and see what has really been left 
us respecting this first of all arts in the ancient Highlands. 
It is one thing to examine evidence, and another to be- 


lieve and repeat whatever has been imagined ahd told, 
of a state of things, and of times, respecting which na- 
tional reporters know no more than the rest of the world, 
and about which they are far less likely to form a correct 

The warfare of the Highlands was necessarily that of 
all early nations, if the term savage may not also be pro- 
perly applied to their early condition. To believe other- 
wise, is to believe that human nature differed there from 
what it has been ever since the creation everywhere, or 
that the progress of society from barbarism to civiliza- 
tion has not always been the same. It is to believe that 
Fiiisal was a Dunois or a Tirante, as we have been ordered 
to think. Idleness, division, revenge, destruction ; these 
are the leading points, (cause and consequence,) in the 
features of all early nations. It is folly to think other- 
wise, or to wince at such reflections ; as if it was not once 
alike true of all Europe. We have been what America 
and Polynesia are now. Our splendid continent, the seat 
of arts and the focus of light, consisted once of a thou- 
sand wandering nations, without towns, arts, or agricul- 
ture. Hunting and wild fruits, the acorns of the golden age, 
supplied the food of England and Italy, as they do now that 
of the Iroquois and the Crees. Inroads, conquest, des- 
truction, were their business and their amusement alike: 
war was even the religion of the north. Cruelty and in- 
justice are features of savage life everywhere ; idleness 
produces disquiet, and thence war and rapine. The fear 
of death is no restraint, because life, having no comforts, 
is not worth retaining; and it was by rendering' life 
miserable in Sparta, that Lycurgus produced that con- 
tempt of death which marked the odious savages of this 
barl>;irous government. There <an be no stronger proof 
of unhappincss tliau that carelessness of life which is 


found invariably, whether there be a g-overnment or not, 
where the people are miserable. 

That all this, and much more, should be true of the 
Highlands, and at a date not extremely remote, is no 
cause for wonder or anger : the singularity consists in 
the period, not in the condition. All Europe had, for 
some considerable time, emerged from that state, when 
it still continued in a narrow region among- ourselves ; 
offering- a political phenomenon not a little singular, and 
speaking- little in praise of that government which could 
so long endure it. We, ourselves, have scarcely seen it : 
but that of which our fathers had read, as of ages long- 
past, was here embalmed for their inspection ; on a nar- 
row scale it is true, but not the less a picture of former 
days. It has been the leading error of the Highlanders 
to forget this : to imagine themselves distinguished for 
their peculiarities ; for good, themselves, as their antago- 
nists have for evil, from all the world at all periods; 
when the only essential distinction is the period. They 
outlived the system. We have heard moreof their virtues, 
and more too of their vices, than we have read of those 
of the parallel people who have long past away. That is 
the main difference. But they are at length alike past 
away. That which it required a long lapse of time to 
effect for Europe at large, was here performed, compa- 
ratively, in a moment. The change was a work of time, 
when all were alike and no one could proceed much faster 
than its neighbour. But the Highlands were suddenly 
found surrounded by an ovenvhelming majority; the 
universal light broke on them at once, and, in an in- 
finitely short time, they experienced that change which 
it had required ages before that, to effect for others. Let 
those who have misled themselves with romantic notions 
respecting the Highlands, whether for good or evil, reflect 


on this. If it is a mortification to this people that they 
only share the praise of the former days of general 
Europe, it is a consolation that they divide the blame : 
each alike was incidental to their political condition. 

But, to return to the narrow subject of war, its general 
nature among the clans is already sufficiently understood. 
That every man able to bear arms was a soldier, and that 
the Highlanders were therefore a military people, was 
only a necessary consequence of their political state. At 
the same period of civilization, all nations are alike mili- 
tary. Such a force, however, is not an army ; because it 
cannot have the discipline of one: nor was it ever pre- 
tended that the discipline of the clans was what we should 
respect; unless in some instances, and towards their last 
warfares, when engaged with the government, whether 
as allies or enemies. Even to the last, however, it could 
not have been much; since they were not easily rallied, 
and could not be prevented from returning home when 
wearied of the campaign. I cannot help thinking, 
that the military condition of the Highlands under 
the Lords of the Isles, must have been superior to what it 
was afterwards among the divided clans. An ordinary 
clan militia was little more than a guerilla party, perhaps 
sometimes a rabble ; but Alexander and Donald could 
not have led armies amounting to 10,000 men, without 
discipline ; nor could the battle of Hara law have been 
fought l)y a mob, even though the Highlanders were de- 
feated ; if indeed both parties did not suflfer alike. No 
system, properly military, could, in fact, subsist in that 
state of minute subdivision which marked the smaller 
clans; while it was equally incompatible with that pre- 
datory kind of warfare which was waged by them. Plun- 
der, nocturnal incursions, and robbery, never yet were 
united to regular military discipline; even where, as 


among the Paudours and Cossacs, the system has been 
far better organized, the commands more extensive, and 
the officers possessed of more power. 

The personal courage of the Highlanders seems to have 
been accompanied by great ardour; a remarkable cir- 
cumstance in a people who, though keen and acute, are 
not lively, or mercurial, as the French, who are noted for 
the same quality of military spirit, are. Steadiness, to 
impel or bear, in action, and in bodies, are rarely united 
to this quality; and this inseparable defect appears to 
have been that of the clan Highlanders. The Highland 
soldier was a thinking being who acted for himself, and 
who felt as if the event of the action lay in his own sword: 
and this feeling, it is unnecessary to say, is fostered by 
the use of weapons with which men meet hand to hand, 
and when a man's life is in his own keeping. To what 
valuable uses troops of this character may be turned, is 
well known to military men. Whether it remains yet 
among this people, it is for them to decide ; and, if so, to 
ask themselves whether, in the modern system, every ad- 
vantage has been taken of it that might have been, or 
whether the Highlanders have not been too often con- 
founded with a class of men who are rather the integrant 
parts of one valuable and steady body, than possessed of 
any personal individuality. From this cause arose the 
irregularity of the Highland charge, so often described : 
each man advancing according to his own mental energy 
or personal strength, as happens now in the charges of 
the Cossac cavalry. 

If the bow was not in general use among the High- 
landers before the introduction of fire arms, they appear 
to have had, for their regular arms, only the sword, the 
dirk, and the target ; at least in the times best known to 
us. The latter seems to have been sometimes armed with 

VOL. I. G 


a pike in the centre. The Celtic and Gothic nations both 
had spears, and that weapon figures in the Ossianic 
poetry ; yet no record is preserved of its use among the 
clan Highlanders. The axe is mentioned as a weapon of 
ancient times ; and the Lochaber axe seems also to have 
been occasionally employed. The former, at least, we know 
to have been a Norwegian weapon, and it was in use in 
Ireland. It appears also that the Irish anciently used 
slings; but I have never heard that this weapon was 
known in the Highlands. A dagger, or knife, called a 
skian, was sometimes worn under the garter of the stock- 
ing, or in other parts, as an instmment of reserve : and 
this fashion seems to have prevailed also among the 
ancient Irish. The Clymore is, literally, the long or two- 
handed sword, specimens of which are yet preserved in 
some Highland families. It is a weapon, however, that 
could scarcely have been in general use, and was proba- 
bly limited to officers of peculiar strength or prowess, as 
we know that it actually was sometimes worn by these. 

This two-handed sword was a Norwegian weapon, and 
probably reached the Highlands from that source ; as 
among the English, it seems to have been derived from 
the Gothic warriors. It is probable, also, that it was in- 
vented after plate armour, against which a lighter weapon 
was of little avail. Its power and effect in the hands of 
the mounted knights of the days of chivalry, are well 
known ; but it was also used on foot with similar con- 
sequences. Giraldus tells us that it would cut ot}' a 
man's thigh tlirougli his armour, *' so that one part of the 
man fell on one side of the horse, and the remainder on 
the other." In the affair of Largs, this very feat was 
performed by one of the Norwegian captains, Andrew 
Nicolson, upon the body of a Scottish warrior whom the 
Norwegian historians call Perus, and Ferash ; and who, 


according' to Wintoiin, was a certain Peter doCurrie; 
an unfortunate dandy, apparently, who was armed and 
bedizened in the very pink of the mode, with a belt, in 
particular, which the poet Sturla has celebrated in his 
ode, and who rode up and down along the Norwegian 
line, in defiance, or to display his new armour. 

The term has now long been applied to the well- 
known sword in common use. Though the people appear 
never to have had any other defensive armour than the 
target, the chiefs or officers must have occasionally been 
better protected; as we find proofs of that in the sculp- 
tures on some of their tombstones. Some relics of com- 
mon plate mail have also been preserved as further evi- 
dence. Monipennie indeed says that the Highlanders 
had iron bonnets, and habergeons to their heels. But 
he is a very fabulous writer ; and if such armour had ex- 
isted, so as to have been in general use, it must have 
been remembered and preserved. In the more modern 
times of the clans, the Highland charge is described as 
being impetuous : the men, after the first fire, throwing 
away their muskets and plaids, and advancing with their 
swords. Even so recently, it is said that they could not 
be rallied when beaten, but that they dispersed and 
returned home ; as they did when the action was over, 
for the purpose of securing their plunder. When it is 
remarked that they made an orderly retreat at Pinkie, it 
seems to be quoted as a special instance. It is remarke«l 
also, that they often fell on the ground to avoid the effect 
of the enemies' fire. Before action, if possible, they took 
up the higher ground ; either to gain a command for fire, 
or to render their charge more weighty. Like many 
other mountaineers, they were used, when in possession 
of fire arms, to act as riflemen ; but it never has been 
said that they were celebrated as marksmen. It has 

G 2 


been asserted that they gave no quarter, and that they 
shed blood without necessity, even down to the begin- 
ning of the last century. Their reputation for cruelty, 
like many other faults, has, however, passed away, as I 
have elsewhere more particularly remarked ; and it is 
also denied, and with justice, that the accusation was 
generally true. 

It is understood that where the clan was small, or of 
a moderate size, it was formed into a single regiment ; but 
that Mhen large, as was the case with the troops brought 
forward by Atholl and Argyll, it was subdivided into bat- 
talions. The chief was the Colonel, and the gentlemen 
of the clan formed the officers. It seems also to be per- 
fectly known, that, although the discipline of these troops, 
in the circumstances just mentioned, was not such as to 
meet our modern military ideas, the moral discipline, on 
a march, or in an enemy's country, was always excellent ; 
as was indeed proved, both in the wars against the Ca- 
meionians and in 1745. At the same time, the people 
always displayed great alacrity in receiving such disci- 
pline as was taught : and even now, I have often, myself, 
witnessed the surprising rapidity with Mhich Highland 
recruits are drilled. The carriage of a soldier, which 
generally demands some time to be acquired, is to them 
but the work of a day. 

They were always remarked for being afraid of 
cavalry, and to a degree which is sometimes described 
as absolutely ludicrous; as if the animal itself was to 
devour Ihem. It is remarkable that they themselves 
were never mounted. Of the Highlands, it is true, we 
may say what was said of Ithaca ; yet the whole country 
was not so impracticable, but that there were many situ- 
ations where they might have used irregular cavalry and 
derived great advantages from them. It is easy to ima- 


gine a Highlander, with one of his mountain ponies, form- 
ing- a very effective Cossac; always abstracting the kilt, 
and substituting- something better in its place. But it 
seems as if they had never even thought of the possibility 
of such a thing: a circumstance which is the more re- 
markable, as it might be imagined that horses might 
have been rendered of great use on their plundering 
expeditions. But they arc not even now a riding people ; 
although, almost till this day, the horses have been nearly 
as numerous as the men, sometimes more so. A High- 
lander walks sixty or seventy miles in a day, without 
seeming to recollect that he has, perhaps, half a dozen 
ponies running wild about his hill, doing nothing. It 
would be a curious speculation to enquire whether the 
kilt itself was not the cause of this: as little causes have 
produced even greater effects. 

I think, however, that the use of cavalry could not 
always have been unknown in this country. The evidence 
stands on Sueno's stone, at Forres : unless, indeed, the 
action there represented was fought between the Danes 
and the Picts. This will never be further settled ; but 
the question of chariots is still more obscure. I shall 
not quote the Ossianic poems as evidence of any thing; 
but that the ancient Caledonians, who resisted the Roman 
armies, had chariots, is matter of Roman history. It is 
probable, however, that this was a Gothic people, as 
Pinkerton imagines. What these chariots were, and how 
they were driven in a country without roads, if indeed it 
was without roads, is never likely to be accurately known, 
though their construction has been conjectured. If there 
could be a moment's doubt respecting the existence of 
chariots, and these with wheels, even as far back as the 
sixth century, it is removed by a remark in Adomnan, 
quoted here on another occasion, who relates it as a mi- 


racle, that Columba had travelled a whole day without a 
linch-pin. That, however, must have been in the more 
civilized and flatter parts of the then Pictish dominions. 
It is equally plain, that if the Caledonians who impeded 
the progress of the Roman army had chariots, they could 
not have been mountaineers or Highlanders ; and that 
these, therefore, have no reason to boast of that resist- 
ance. It is perfectly visionary to imagine the possibility 
of any carriage with two wheels, be its construction ever 
so simple and strong, travelling-, even for a mile, in any 
part of the Highlands, unless where the modern roads 
have been made. What difficulties this throws in the 
way of some points relating to the Ossianic poems, I need 
not now enquire ; that being done elsewhere. 

While the singular activity of the Highlanders must 
have rendered them admirable light troops and partizans, 
their endurance and strength wonderfully qualified them 
for long marches. It is said that Montrose's troops some- 
times marched sixty miles in a day. Their mode of life 
is not yet so far changed, but that they retain this valu- 
able military quality in perfection ; but it is rendered of 
little comparative value, where, as has been too much 
the case, men of different countries or powers are united 
in the same regiment, and when armies made of many 
discordant materials must move in lar^e masses together. 

Martin relates that, on an expedition, it was the prac- 
tice to slay the first animal they met on the enemies' 
ground, and to sprinkle the colours for good luck. This, 
if I mistake not, was also a Norwegian superstition. 
Another modification of this superstition is rather ludi- 
crous than cruel. It was a good omen to meet with a 
woman on setting out, provided they could succeed in 
drawing l)lood from her above the arm-pit. When 1 say 
liiditious, however, I oidy allude to some recent in- 


stances, where the ceremony was performed in a regular 
manner, by drawing a few drops of blood, according- to 
scientific rules, from the temple or jugular vein. In the 
olden time, it is likely that they were not so scrupulous : 
and that the unfortunate biped intruder sometimes 
shared the fate of the goat or the cow. 

Each clan had its war cry, as each had its badge ; the 
latter being a necessary expedient where there were no 
uniforms or regimental colours; as it is not even pre- 
tended that the common men M'ore those differently 
coloured tartans by which the clans were supposed to be 
distinguished; and as even some of these would have 
been undistinguishable in the confusion of a fight. What 
the badges and what the cries were, has been preserved 
for some and conjectured for others ; nor need I enume- 
rate either the one or the other. Of the former, only, it 
has been said by Lowland critics, that it would have been 
prudent to have always named such plants as were na- 
tives of the country, instead of exotics scarcely yet known 
in its gardens. The field equipage of the Highlanders 
is known to have been their plaids; nor will any one 
question that they were, in truth, a hardy as they were a 
bold race. Yet we must not forget that the power of 
taking and keeping the field in this manner, has been de- 
monstrated by all species of troops during the last two 
wars; nor can even the wars of Montrose produce any 
instance of Highlanders keeping the field so long', and 
during a season so inclement, as that which occurred 
during the unfortunate expedition to the Helder, and 
with as little means of covering. We may surely grant 
the Highlanders all the praise they merit, without robbing 
all the rest of mankind of its just dues. In the facility 
of living on little food, they, however, far exceeded all 
the troops of present civilized Europe. The Swedes and 


Russians of Charles the twelfth's time, might, however, 
probably have competed for the palm of abstinence with 
them: it is likely that many of the latter would still. 
Meal mixed with water appears to have been the regular 
food of the campaign ; but we must also recollect, that 
the low country Scots were formerly satisfied with the 
same diet, and showed equal abstinence. 

It appears to have been the usage of the northern 
nations, to communicate their signal of war by means of 
beacon lights. We do not hear of this practice among 
the clans ; and perhaps it was not often applicable, on 
account of the nature of the ground and the mode in 
which the people were dispersed. But the practice of 
sending the fiery cross, or Crosh Tarie, as it has been 
called, belonged also to their northern progenitors. In 
some cases, this Avas a mere stick, burnt at one end and 
bloody at the other, or provided with a piece of cloth 
dipped in blood, denouncing fire and sword against the 
disobedient; in others, the cross of shame was attached 
to one extremity ; and the place of meeting was commu- 
nicated by a word. If, as is stated, it is true, that this pass- 
word and signal were circulated through Breadalbane, 
and over a space of thirty-two miles, in three hours, no 
one certainly, to whom they were in succession committed, 
allowed the grass to grow under his feet. Antiquaries 
who love to fish in troubled waters, may enquire whether 
the Christmas game of Jack's alive, is not derived from 
the transit of the fiery cross. 

And thus, in the concatenation of things, we have 
brought the war to a conclusion, and returned to anti- 
quities, and thence to Fortingal, once more. The circu- 
lar stone works called Danish, are very numerous in this 
neighbourhood ; reaching into Glen Lyon on one side, 
and to Edradour and Blair in Atholl, and even beyond 


the latter, on the other ; being- further found even as far 
south as Dunkeld. This must always have been an 
opulent country, because it is a fertile one ; and this 
offers a much easier solution of the matter than any of 
the imaginary causes for these works which have been 
suggested. Strath Tay must always have been populous : 
it had wealth to defend and people to defend it with. 
Roman coins, and urns, said also to be Roman, have been 
dug up in this neighbourhood ; and it is pretended to 
point out the traces of a Roman camp. 



After passing Fortingal, there is a short space, of 
no peculiar interest ; but the Lyon is then seen forcing- 
its way through a deep and narrow pass, quitting that 
long and spacious valley which is, more properly, called 
Glen Lyon. The character of this valley is quite distinct 
from tiiat of any in the Highlands ; uniting the appear- 
ances of a glen and a strath, being prolonged for a dis- 
tance of about twelve miles, almost in a straight line from 
this pass to Meggarnie, where its beauty ceases, and 
being bounded, on both sides, by continuous and almost 
unbroken ridges of mountain, of a very steep acclivity. 
It is also a green glen and a wooded one, and is highly 
peopled ; and although this general description might 
imply uniformity, it presents considerable variety of cha- 
racter throughout. If its landscapes do not resemble 
those of the valleys formerly described, they have a 
character as decided as it is purely their own. There is 
not here that succession of distant trees in perpetual 
diminution, and that consequent intricacy and minute- 
ness of ornament, which belong to Strath Tay, or even 
to the valley of Blair ; nor are the outlines and forms of 
the liills so varied by the successive appearance of dis- 
tant ranges and summits, as in most of the glens which I 
have described on other occasions. But to compensate 
that, llierc is a simplicity and breadth in the general 


forms, together with strong markings in the shape of the 
g-round and in the sky line, from which tlie leading cha- 
racters of this landscape arc chiefly derived ; while, in 
place of the dazzling minuteness of successive and di- 
minishing trees, the woods and the groups, and even 
the rows and single trees, which skirt the river, or are 
scattered on the sides of the hills and in the bottom of 
the valley, are all marked by the same character of dis- 
tinctness and simplicity which belong to the ground 
itself; thus maintaining a harmony of style in every part. 
To this I must add, that not only is Glen Lyon thus 
beautiful, almost throughout a large portion of its extent, 
with little more of blank perhaps than suffices for con- 
trast, but that it presents, for the artist's use, many dis- 
tinct and striking landscapes, in different modes of com- 
position; always rendered peculiarly rich in the middle 
and foregrounds, and hence also differing from those of 
most of the valleys formerly described, where so much de- 
pends on the middle distances and on the outlines upon 
the sky. The want of variety and of space in the extreme 
distances, might indeed almost seem a defect in this 
place ; were it not that the landscape does not materially 
depend on these for its character: which may almost be 
considered as appertaining to close scenery, if such a 
term can be applied to so spacious a valley. 

The steep descent into Glen Lyon, amid dark and 
dense woods, is very striking ; and we immediately enter 
on a narrow part of it, giving room to little more than the 
road, and to the river, which rolls majestically along 
beneath lofty overhanging mountains and amid trees of 
noble growth. These, with all the freedom of nature, 
are nevertheless so disposed on its banks, skirting it as 
with an avenue, that we almost imagine we are entering 
on some pleasure grounds, and naturally look for the 


bouse to which they may belong. It is all a splendid 
park scene, where every thing is already done, but 
where all is deserted and all in the hands of nature. To 
the artist, it affords many fine subjects for drawing, in a 
peculiar style of river scenery, where the trees, each of 
which might form studies, as well for their magnitude as 
for their beauty, variety, and distinctness,formeveu a more 
important part of the landscape than the hills, which rise 
suddenly up, high and rocky towards the sky ; adding, 
to the ornaments of the river, the support and contrast 
which confer on it an alpine character. I ought to have 
said before, that where theTay and the Lyon join, the latter 
is scarcely inferior in consequence, so that its importance 
in the scenery, as a mere body of water, is easily compre- 
hended ; while, in different places, it presents the differ- 
ent characters of a river forcing its turbulent way 
through a rocky channel, of a deep and smooth stream 
gliding majestically beneath its high banks, and of a 
meandering water whose bright and distant glimpses 
are occasionally seen as they break out among the 
trees which adorn it, or among the intricacies of the 

As the valley expands beyond this part, the scenery 
changes its character in various ways, so as to display, in 
some places, new modes of river landscape, in others, 
the wide and prolonged strath, bounded by its lofty 
hills and stretching away with a succession of irregular 
ground and of scattered trees and woods ; offering a 
class of vale scenery as distinct from all that we had 
before seen, as it is grand and picturesque. I dare not 
attempt to specify these, but may observe that some of 
the most remarkable will be found about the middle of 
the valley ; one of which, in particular, cannot fail to 
attract notice, from combining, with the richness that 


arises from the repetition of trees along a river in a dis- 
tant and intricate succession, that grandeur and sim- 
plicity in their forms and disposition which I have al- 
ready pointed out as peculiar to this place. It is an 
additional source of variety in these landscapes, that, in 
many parts, the bottom of the valley is exceedingly 
irregular ; being marked with deep and frequent undu- 
lations of the ground, or with transverse hills and de- 
pressions, instead of that continuous level so common in 
most glens and straths in the Highlands. If the long 
and high terraces which mark the former levels of the 
river, add nothing to the beauty of the scenery, they are 
at least interesting objects ; from their great continuity 
and distinctness, and from their enabling us to trace, 
with perhaps more ease than in any other spot, the great 
series of changes which the bottom of this valley has 

For some space before reaching Meggarnie, there is 
no longer any distinct landscape, but the valley still 
continues pleasing, though wild, and wooded as far as 
the domain of this remote and strangely selected country- 
seat ; after which all beauty ceases, and the whole is a 
rude mountain glen, with little decision of feature, even 
to the source of the river. From this point, there is a 
road over the ridge of Ben Lawers to Killin, forming a 
communicating branch of the military roads ; wild and 
arduous, and if without picturesque beauty, not without 
interest. On the further declivity, however, as it de- 
scends on Loch Tay, it affords some magnificent views 
of the upper part of this lake, and of Killin: superior 
indeed to those which are obtained, further south, from 
the immediate ascent of Ben Lawers. I have rarely met 
with such effects among the clouds of these mountainous 


regions, as I here experienced the last time I crossed 
it: effects, the occasional splendour of which is well 
known to those who have had similar opportunities. There 
was a dense mist with rain, unusually dense and dark, 
and it was ray chance to reach the rude obelisk which 
marks the summit, at the very middle of an eclipse of the 
sun. Had it been a total one, the darkness could scarcely 
have been greater than it was here. I was alone on this 
wild ridge, all, of the few objects which I could discern, 
appeared vast and formless, shadowy, and vague, and 
uncertain ; and all was fearfully silent, except the whist- 
ling of the wind, which seemed to sound mysteriously 
among the whirling and entangling clouds. The obelisk 
itself, dimly seen among the gray mists by the doubt- 
ful light, appeared a huge spectre ; the genius of the 
night and the storm. I could not help pausing to consi- 
der this strange chaos of half-embodied vacancy, an abyss 
of darkness and mist and doubt and silence, a day of 
night more solemn than the night itself, a darkness more 
tremendous than the utmost gloom of midnight. We have 
all felt the force of Milton's expression ; but there was 
here more than the merely visible forms of darkness, 
more than that conjectural and appalling gloom which 
we meet in the deep cavern, or in the twilight wood, 
or on the stormy and midnight sea shore, displaying the 
doubtful shapes of things unknown. As the mists and 
the showers drove along before the gale, now rising up 
as from an unknown abyss below, and then descending 
as from above, at one moment every object vanished, 
and all was one blank ; all empty, around, above, below. 
Again as they passed away, huge and shadowy forms 
seemeJ to appear for an instant, and, in a moment again, 
all was gone; adding, by the semblance of motion, to 


the ghostly and fearful images that seemed flitting and 
floating among the dark twisting vapours, and whose 
voices almost seemed to be sounding hollow in the 

Had I not been alone, half the eflfect of this scene, 
event I should rather call it, would have been lost. Had 
I not known, or supposed, whither the road was con- 
ducting me, and believed that 1 might trust myself to it, 
I might have added anxiety or fear, and have related or 
feigned, like Will Marvel, a tale of terrors. Had I 
not recollected the eclipse, I might have chosen to ima- 
gine that the millenium was at hand; and, as it is, I 
have forfeited a noble opportunity of" splendid falsehood," 
of surprising the audience with the history of my he- 
roism. But the dark moon passed off" as I descended 
the mountain ; and as I attained the edge of the cloud, a 
wild and strange vision of Loch Tay appeared at inter- 
vals among the rolling and curling mists, gleaming 
bright in the sun. Higher and higher the curtain rose, 
becoming silvery and bright as its lower edge still 
showed, faintly glittering through its tender vapour, the 
rich vale of Killin, appearing itself to move, like a ma- 
gical illusion ; a fairy landscape in the clouds. Closing 
again, the whole gay vision vanished ; till, at length, 
rolling off on all hands in huge curling folds, I thought 
of Harlequin and Columbine, and all my poetical ideas 
were dissipated. They would have been effectually dis- 
sipated at any rate, when I found myself dripping and 
shivering on the edge of the long ravine which leads 
down the mountain side. 

Like the whirligig which returns to your hand when 
it has got to the utmost length of its chain, I must come 
back to Kenmore, to take thence a new flight : " forcing 
whole regions, in despite of geography, to change their 


site." But I know not that I can say aught of Kenmore 
and Taymouth which has not been said by others, and 
which was never said by any one worse than by Burns ; 
who, whenever he attempted to describe natural scenery 
unconnected with his own peculiar moral views and si- 
tuations, sank, the lowest of the low. But the verses on 
Taymouth are quoted as often as the cotter's Saturday 
night; and thus do the multitude discriminate what they 
imagine they admire. There is a charm at first sight, and 
an air of importance at the same time, about this little 
village, as if it was the capital of a region and the sea 
port of a mountain land, which cannot fail to be soon dis- 
sipated. But its real merits remain : space, order, neat- 
ness, and a situation not easily paralleled, in a moun- 
tainous country, for commodiousness and beauty. In 
England, such a village might have become a large 
town: the resort of the serai-opulent, unemployed, and 
retired people in which that country abounds. Scotland 
is far differently situated in this respect ; while the in- 
crease of Kenmore is naturally checked by the monopo- 
lizing property which surrounds it, and by its long- 
established rival, Aberfeldie. We must grieve here over 
the wretched architectural pretensions of its tower ; 
which, without an additional foot of stone, might have 
been rendered as beautiful as it is now paltry. But the 
deemon of bad taste seems to have taken the whole sur- 
rounding spot under his especial protection: marring 
what it could not destroy. The architect of Inverara 
probably supposed that he had performed a mighty act 
when he placed a casino, 1 ought to say, casino upon casi- 
no, on the top of a baronial Gothic keep : but he ofT.iy- 
moutli, resolved to outwit liim, has surmounted his castle 
with a church. If the effect was good, the incongruity 
might be pardoned ; but the illegitimate produce is, at 


the same time, ponderous and airy, fantastical and dull : 
" a house which this, of cards might build." 

It is a remarkable circumstance about Taymouth, that 
although it appears to possess all the elements of land- 
scape, in its bright lake, its noble river, its rich valley, 
its woods, and its lofty hills, it affords no subject for 
painting. It wants variety also : since, once seen, it is 
all seen. It must nevertheless be allowed the praise of 
grandeur and beauty ; yet the former is diminished, as 
the latter is materially impaired, by the artificial man- 
ner in which the grounds have been laid out and the 
hills planted. It is plain that it is the base offspring of 
a capability-man ; who, unable to comprehend the cha- 
racter of the scene, has done all he could to reduce it, by 
the clump and the cabbage line, to the standard receipt 
for beauty. Whether deformed by Brown or not, it is of 
his school. The hills are dotted and spotted with dry and 
formal lumps of trees, and the more extensive planta- 
tions are all similarly bounded bylines of iron; filling 
the whole so completely, as to reduce it all to the ap- 
pearance of artifice and stiflTness, and utterly marring its 
natural freedom and grandeur of character. It is like 
Lude, but on a far other scale ; so that while this is but 
a patch in a wide and splendid natural landscape, too 
small to cause much evil, and, in some respects, even 
advantageous, every thing at Taymouth, hills, water, 
valley, and even the sky, cut by ignoble regiments and 
platoons, is an artificial and drilled scene that seems to 
have been modelled in a toyshop and transplanted hither 
by a chain and a theodolite. 

The system of Brown has been defended, because, as 
it is said, his conceptions were correct and in good taste, 
and that the dryness and artifice of the produce were to 
be remedied by time. Admitting that time might do 

VOL. I. H 


much ill removing' the immediate formality, it never yet 
has given, and never will, give ease and grace to his plans; 
nor can it ever destroy the appearance of art, and of an 
ugly art. It is not to art, as such, that we ought to 
object in these cases ; for where man is the obvious mas- 
ter, where he is seeking for convenience and comfort as 
well as for beauty, he is justified in using it. There is 
also a congruity in the artificial arrangement of our do- 
mestic landscape, because it is related to our architec- 
ture. It is proper that the domain should form a portion 
of that artifice which determines the form and position 
of the house; and particularly where that domain is im- 
mediately subservient to our comforts and our uses. 
That portion, however, is limited to certain bounds ; and 
there art may appear with propriety, and ought to appear. 
But it may be magnificent or graceful art, and it ad- 
mits of propriety and congruity ; of adaptation to the 
nature without, as to the architecture within. It is thus 
that the noble stretch of the avenue is justified ; and 
there arc few avenues finer than the well-known lime- 
tree avenue of Taymouth : it is thus that v/c justify the 
shaved lawn, the trimmed walks, and even the archi- 
tectural garden, which, modern fashion, always in ex- 
tremes, has abolished. But in the system to wliich I am 
here objecting, the art oficnds, because it is an attempt 
to imitate nature, and because it is a failure. It professes 
one thing and has performed another. As nature, it Avould 
be ugly, because it is stitl' and graceless ; and, as art, it is 
ugly, because it is careless and clumsy art. It is a kinil 
of enormous topiary work. It has no relation or resem- 
blance to natural landscape ; and it has not the decision 
or the grandeur which evince the conceptions of man and 
prove his power over nature. Such, not to dwell on this 
subject, are the jeatling faults of this system. IJut it is 

landscai't: gardening. 99 

even a greater one, that it holds no regard to previous 
nature. It is an universal receipt which reduces every 
thing to one face and aspect. It is in vain, after this, to 
talk of the genius of its inventor. All scenes, the wide 
plain, the spacious vale, the narrow valley, the undulat- 
ing- hills, and the lofty mountain, become the same land- 
scape. There is no invention : and it is evident that its 
promulgator never could have formed the slightest con- 
ception of the nature of that landscape which he pre- 
tended to produce or to embellish. The receipt is infal- 
lible: it is universal and invariable, and may be applied 
by any one. It is said that Brown was a gardener. That 
may be : but we might have imagined him a cook ; for 
his hors d'ceuvres and entrees resemble fully as much a 
well ordered table as they do the sausages and patty pans 
of a flower garden. The belted and clumped park is, at 
best, but a huge flower garden ; and the obvious imita- 
tion is one source of its meanness, though we do not al- 
ways reflect on the cause. 

If we could be surprised at any thing of this kind, 
knowing how fashion prevails over taste, how rare the 
latter quality is, and how mankind follows him who 
makes bold and high pretensions, we should be surprised 
at the wide adoption and long prevalence of this system, 
and at the consequent enormous expense which has been 
bestowed on these imaginary improvements. There is 
much, even yet, to excite our wonder, when we see the 
facility with which the opulent still yield up their purses 
and their lands to the guidance of any new and upstart 
pretender to taste in these matters. It is impossible that 
persons of such narrow views and mechanical habits, 
can succeed in an undertaking which requires, alike, 
much taste and much education. It is not too much to 
say that it is the highest department of landscape paint- 

H 2 


ing-; implying' the most perfect and universal intimacy 
with Nature under every one of her possible forms, and 
an acquaintance with the general rules and practical 
principles of art, no less perfect. 

I do not mean to follow a party which exclaims about 
the picturesque, which cants about roughness and wild- 
ness, and which would make every scene the subject of 
a painting. This is a mistaken extreme, were the prac- 
tice possible, which it is not. The landscape gardener, 
using that term in its best sense, has no such power over 
his materials and his tools as the painter. Neither can 
he hope, nor ought he to desire, to convert the ground 
which he has undertaken, into a picture or a series of 
pictures. It is his business to study the natural character 
and tendency of the peculiar beauties or circumstances 
with which he has to deal ; to follow and embellish na- 
ture where he can, not to force her to conform to a sys- 
tem. Thus he will ensure alike, congruity and variety. 
An improver of this class will not attempt to reduce the 
mountain and the plain, the wide sweeping hills and the 
narrow valley, to the same aspect. He will study the 
native physiognomy of the lake, the river, the glen, or 
the acclivity ; and he will study also the peculiar fea- 
tures of each river, and of every hill or plain that may 
come under his command. To these he will apply his 
plantations, (for he has little else to work with) as the 
principles of beauty, and congruity, and effect, in nature | 
and in art, direct; and from these also he will remove 
what may interfere with the character or the composition 
of the scenes which he may have the means of thus ex- 
tricating and improving. 

Nor can all ihis be done as it ought, except by him 
who is familiar with nature in all her endless forms, 
whose eye is ever open to seize the most delicate and 


evai)escent beauties, who can discover where a peculiar 
feature of grace is suffocated or where it is imperfect, 
who can see where nature tt^ilds, what she might have 
done, and what obstruciions a v^rfety of acc'dents, in 
defect or in excess, or in CftS-uat misarriii.gemeht, has 
thrown in the way of her attempts. It is he whose eye 
is ever open to natural landscape, who has studied it as 
a painter docs, and as none but a painter can do, who is 
the true landscape gardener; and it is thus, but thus 
only, that this occupation belongs exclusively to the 
landscape painter, and can, as a trade, properly belong 
to no one else. It is among the Turners, and the Wards, 
and the Martins, that we should choose our professional 
landscape gardeners ; not among the Loudons and the 
Reptons. These are not the architects of landscape ; they 
are the stone-masons of this branch of art. It is he too, 
who to the intimate and wide study of nature has added 
an acquaintance equally intimate with the works of 
painters, who can alone extricate, from wild nature, the 
several characters under which she often conceals, rather 
than displays, her forms and her beauties. With the 
eye of Claude, he sees the landscape that Salvator might 
have overlooked ; and thus too he discovers, by the aid 
of Hobbima and Ruysdael, what, if his studies had been 
limited to Wilson, he might have passed unnoticed. 
But, more than this, the landscape painter is not called 
on to do; and more than this, the judicious improver will 
never attempt. To endeavour to manufacture landscapes 
fitted for painting, is to exceed the legitimate bounds of 
improvement, and to become a pedant instead of an im- 
prover. To such I would as little commit power as to 
the capability-man. 

It is another advantage which the judicious landscape 
painter possesses over the common improver, that his 


alterations contemplate equally the smaller and the 
greater features. He is accustomed to trace the separate 
beauties teriiiired for every point of his landscape ; he 
sees where all the elements with which he has been 
accustomed to operate are true, and Avhere they are false, 
where they are marked by grace and where by deformity, 
where and how they may be modified or suppressed, 
brought to light or excluded, or improved by addition 
or retrenchment. Every bank, and stone, and tree, has 
been to him a study, as much as the general composition, 
the colouring*, and the greater features ; and from all 
these he will produce beauty, of which the system-mon- 
ger has no conception. And it is in, the smaller parts 
that such alterations are most easily made; in those very 
parts which do not enter into the contemplation of the 
common capability-man. Our powers over the general 
landscape are very limited ; but we can modify the sepa- 
rate portions to beauty, with little comparative labour 
and expense. To these we look, as to the middle 
grounds and foregrounds of the painted landscape ; and 
thus, often, by means of a single tree planted or removed, 
a few bushes added to conceal a defect, or a (ow cut 
down to display a beauty, or by trivial removals of earth 
from a river bank, or of similar additions to change a 
line or a form, the artist of taste will produce, and often 
at a trivial expense, that which the trading improver is 
unable to see, or, possibly, destroys, with much labour 
and much money. 

I have said elsewhere, when on the subject of archi- 
tecture, that it is one of the great merits of taste to be an 
economical qualify. Nor can this <me of its properties be 
any where more successfully demonstrated than in land- 
scape gardening. When we contemplafe the enormous 
sums of money that hav(; been lavished in raising or 


lowering- groimtl, in forming canals and lakes, and in 
injudicious plantations, and when we see what the effects 
are; and when we reflect, on the other hand, with what 
slender efforts beauty might often have been obtained in 
judicious hands, we may fairly conclude that something 
more than money is required in this line of art, and that 
extravagance and failure are generally allied. The an- 
cient painter who could not make his Venus beautiful, 
made her fine. I have remarked elsewhere, that the art 
of seeing landscape in nature is limited to few, and is the 
result of study and education. Had it been more gene- 
rally dirt'used, there would have scarcely been such a 
trade as an improver of grounds, or it would have fallen 
into far other hands. We should not then have seen 
throughout the country, those artificial grounds which 
we now see ; nor is there now any reason why he who 
has a taste for nature, and who has cultivated it by the 
study of art, should not be his own improver, and thus 
rescue alike his lands and his purse from the fangs of an 
ignorant class of pretenders. It is a cowardly and an 
indolent spirit that suffers taste to become a trade, that 
crouches to the bold assertions and pretension of those 
who are to profit by this timidity. This is a branch of 
the connnercial system, and of the system of division of 
labour, Avhich tends to reduce every man to a twister of 
pin's heads ; which divides, in every thing, as in watch- 
making and cotton-spinning, the whole community into 
the separate and unthinking parts of one great machine; 
a division under which the higher faculties of the mind 
must vanish, whatever dexterity may be acquired by the 
fingers. Were I a possessor of lands, which I shall never 
be, I should as soon consent to place my wife as my 
estate under the direction of a capability-man. 

Yet a word on the garden, before we part with this sub- 


ject. In the ancient system, the garden formed an inte- 
grant part of the house ; but the honours of " the flower 
and the lefe" are no more. It is not now the resort of the 
proprietors, the scene of the morning airing, the shelter 
from the blaze of noon, and the seat of the evening fes- 
tivity, of the rural supper, the promenade, or the con- 
versation. Because the term gardening has changed its 
meaning, the garden has been abolished, or is consigned 
to the gardener and his myrmidons, the nursery of cab- 
bages and leeks. It was not sufficient to send back the 
leaden host of Heathen Gods to the foundery, to break 
the sheers, and once more to suffer the topiary box and 
yew to wander back to their native freedom ; but all has 
been swept away alike, fountain and terrace, and flow- 
ery walk, and shaded arbour, and alley green. All is 
vanished together; and the house is now a cold dry 
specimen of architecture, placed on a cold, dry, shaven, 
and polished lawn, where not even a daisy is suft'ered to 
raise its head ; resembling the elevation in the builder's 
office; a mushroom that seems to have sprung up, like 
an exhalation, we know not why or whence. If we wish 
for a sheltered or a shrubbery walk, we must seek it 
far away amidst the damps and dews, or under a burning' 
sun. If there is a flower garden, it must be attained 
w ith so much labour, that, like the books of our upper 
shelves, we never become intimate with it. It is con- 
nected with nothing, and it is left to the taste of a nur- 
seryman, or of his pupils, to choose, and form, and direct. 
It is as if wc had entered into a conspiracy against our 
own comforts. Nor is it against our comforts only, but 
-against our interests. The friiit and the vegetable gar- 
den are removed from our sight and reach, the gardener 
looks on our visit with as jealous an eye as the coach- 
man or cook if we trespass on their departments; and 


that, over which we have no check of acquaintance, and 
which we seldom see, finds its way to a distant market 
instead of to our own tables. 

It is a new refinement in elegance to have discovered 
that the garden is a disgusting or an ugly object; but it 
is the interest of the gardener that it should be so, as it 
is for his interest also that it should be remote from the 
house. It was not always thus ; nor need it be so now. 
Even the hot-bed department is not necessarily disagree- 
able; nor is there any difficulty in concealing the very 
little in a garden, which is confused, or which cannot be 
kept neat. There is scarcely a plant, or a shrub, or a 
tree, cultivated for use, which has not some beauty ; and 
there are many which are peculiarly beautiful in them- 
selves. In many also, there are two seasons of beauty ; 
the period of the flower and that of the fruit; when our 
ornamental shrubs and trees and flowers have but one. 
The raspberry and the currant, the apple and the pear, 
have their spring- and their summer and their autumn ; 
of sweetness and ornament, of promise and performance: 
the snow white of the strawberry is succeeded by its bril- 
liant scarlet, the Jerusalem artichoke is the rival of the 
sunflower, and the bean emulates in its odour the produce 
of the sweetest flower garden. We have variety of form 
and colour, of plants and shrubs and trees, in our kitchen 
and fruit gardens ; and what more is essential to beauty ? 
It never can take from their ornament, that they are use- 
ful ; and it is a miserable affectation which pretends to 
despise them, because we choose to call them onions and 
cabbages and gooseberries, and to attach false notions of 
vulgarity to the term kitchen garden. If it is injudi- 
ciously disposed for beauty, if formality and nakedness 
are studied in the arrangements, these are neither neces- 
sary nor useful. We are limited to no such dispositions. 


and may intermix and unite the several parts, flowers, 
plants, shrubs, and trees, so as to produce the same orna- 
ment as from our flower gardens and shrubberies. We 
may even make them as irregular and picturesque as 
would satisfy the greatest stickler for roughness and 
rudeness, without incommoding the workmen or imped- 
ing the cultivation. The shrubs and trees for use may 
be grouped, or they may conceal any part which is judged 

Nor are we limited, either to merely useful trees or to 
merely useful plants, nor even to uniformly level ground. 
If the ancient terraces and inequalities are to be rejected 
for ever, as they have been, the ground may undulate in 
any manner that nature may have made it, or art may 
choose. So may mere ornament be intermixed with 
utility. It is by no means necessary that the shrubbery 
and the flower garden should be utterly distinguished 
from the garden of use. They may form its ornaments, 
in any mode and on any scale. They may be used, even 
for concealment. We may have a dressed and an orna- 
mented kitchen garden ; or we may have a flower garden 
and shrubbery containing fruit-bearing trees and vege- 
tables. Thus pleasure and utility may be combined; 
nor does it require any vast effort of taste to render such 
a garden a fit companion for the house ; the hourly and 
commodious, as well as the pleasurable, resort of its in- 
habitants. If the sight of onions offends, it may be 
counteracted by sweet pease and carnations. Rose bushes 
may conceal the cabbage bed ; and even the potagerie of 
aromatic herbs may aid in ornamenting the borders, in- 
stead of being pushed an<l licapcd into a remote corner, 
unseen an<I unknown. The lily of the valley, and the 
violet, lavender, pinks, sunflowers, larksj)urs, asters, a 
thousand th)wcrs succeeding from spring to autumn, may* 

LOCIl TAY. 107 

deck and grace the beds, as the lilac, the laburnum, and 
the barberry, may be used to group the forms, and to 
produce sweetness and effect united. Nor would any 
great exertion of taste or ingenuity be required to render 
our gardens the most attractive objects and the most 
hourly and convenient sources of amusement in our 
pleasure grounds. Let us hope that common sense will 
at length resume its sway, and that fashion may be con- 
fined where it is comparatively inoffensive, to the taylor's 
shopboard and the milliner's secret room. 

Though Loch Tay is a spacious and a splendid piece 
of water, and though its hills are lofty and its margins 
are wooded and cultivated and enlivened by houses, it 
scarcely affords one landscape from Kenmore to near 
Killin ; nor do I know any place in Scotland which, with 
so much promise, produces so much disappointment. 
Nor is this disappointment limited to the artist, or to him 
who is dissatisfied unless he can mark and define the 
composition of a specific landscape; as, to all, though 
pleasing, it equally palls by the want of variety ; leaving, 
after a transit of nearly fourteen miles, with a bright lake 
bounded by mountains on one side, and a continued 
range of wood and cultivation on the other, no recollec- 
tions on which we can dwell, and affording no one picture 
which we can readily distinguish from another. 

This remark must, however, be confined to the north- 
ern bank, the ordinary rout of travellers. It would have 
been far otherwise had the road been conducted at a 
lower level ; at the level which the engineer (any en- 
gineer but Marshal Wade's) and the man of taste would 
have chosen, along the margin of the lake, and among 
the intricate and beautiful promontories and bays by 
which it is bounded. But the Marshal's law was the 
rule of the Norwegian crabs : and certainly neither the 

108 LOCH TAY. 

Medes and Persians, nor this inveterately mathematical 
army of mailed chivalry, ever stuck more religiously to 
their edicts, than the Field Marshal's soldiers when they 
spent a week in removing that hundred tons of stone, 
called Ossian's tomb, in Glen Almond, lest they should 
diverge one yard from the true line laid down by the 
canon law of this Praefectus viarum and rival of Hannibal. 
At present, the artist and man of taste who is condemned 
to travel the dull up and down of the north Loch Tay road, 
will find another powerful ally in the unlucky post-horse : 
and even the innkeeper forgets to "bless Marshal Wade," 
when he recollects that, but for his inveterate rectili- 
uearity, the present fifteen miles might have been twenty. 
It is far otherwise on the southern shore ; since few 
roads oflTer greater temptations, or are more productive 
of a succession of picturesque landscapes. Nor is the 
cause of this difterence difiicult to be seen. While the 
northern road is continued on a nearly uniform, though 
undulating, level, high above the margin of the water, 
the southern frequently runs near the shore, and follows 
all the inequalities of the ground. It happens also that 
the declivity of the northern hills is not marked by much 
variety ; while that of the southern is very intricate. 
Besides this, the bold outlines of the northern hills, in- 
cluding Ben Lawers, form the extreme distance of the 
views from the south side ; while, to those from the 
northern bank, the southern hills present an uninterest- 
ing distance. It is the character of the landscapes on 
the southern side of Loch Tay, to be rich, and full, and 
various in the middle grounds, and to present also a great 
variety of foregrouml. The lake thus becomes rather a 
portion of the picture than the picture itself; and thus 
these views escape that appearance of vacuity which forms 
the leading liiult of our lake scenery. As these middle 


and foregrounds are produced, partly by the irregularity 
of the shore line, broken into bays and promontories of 
various character, and partly by the undulations of hills 
containing- much irregular wood and many fine and in- 
dependent trees, there is a frequent change of scene, and 
as much variety as could well be, where the distance un- 
dergoes no very conspicuous alterations. I need not 
attempt to specify any particular landscape, where the 
whole is a succession of landscapes. 

Of the few objects on the northern side, the wooded 
island containing- the remains of a priory, naturally at- 
tracts the first attention. This was an establishment 
dependent on Scone, founded in 1722 by Alexander I, 
whose queen Sybilla, the daughter of Henry I, is buried 
here. It possesses another kind of celebrity, from having 
afforded a retreat to the Campbells in Montrose's wars. 
It was taken, and surrendered to General Monk in 1654. 
Being a picturesque object, it adds much to the beauty 
of this part of the lake. , 

The most interesting- part of Loch Tay, however, is 
Ben Lawers, one of our highest mountains, since it is 
supposed to exceed 4000 feet. It is often a fine object 
at a distance, particularly from Killin ; but it is much 
more interesting as a mountain to ascend. It has the 
additional advantage, to travellers, that the ascent is so 
easy as to permit riding to the summit. I have ascended 
almost every principal mountain in Scotland, since I have 
made almost as many ascensions as Monsieur Garnerin, 
and have no hesitation in giving the palm to Ben Lawers. 
Ben Lomond alone can compete with it for the view from 
the summit; but there is a much greater variety of 
country seen from this hill, and the range is also greater. 
It is also a great advantage in this case, that Ben Lawers 
towers over all the hills immediately near it, by more 


than a tliousand feet, and that it has no competitor in 
altitude nearer than Ben More, >vhich, while it is also 
inferior, is so remote as not to obstruct the vieAV. It is 
impossible to describe the variety and splendour of this, 
the most masnificent of our mountain vieAvs ; but a con- 
caption of it may, perhaps, be formed from the geography 
which it embraces. To the south, we look down on the 
lake, with all its miniature ornament of woods and fields, 
tenninating- westward in the rich vale of Killin, and unit- 
ing eastward with the splendour of Strath Tay, stretching 
away till its ornaments almost vanish among the hills and 
in the fading tints of the atmosphere. Beyond the lake 
the successive ridges of hills lead the eye over Strathearn 
which is however invisible, to tiie Ochiils, and the Camp- 
sie, and hence, even to Edinburgh ; the details of this quar- 
ter, from Perth, being unexpectedly perfect and minute, 
and at the same time well indicated by the marked charac- 
ters of the Lowmont hills. The place of Dunkeld, and tlie 
peculiar style of its scenery, are also distinctly visible; 
and it is equally easy to make out the bright estuary of 
the Tay, the long ridge of the Sidlaw, and the plain of 
Strathmore. Westward, we trace, without difficulty, the 
hills of Loch Lomond and Loch Cateran; and, in the 
same manner, every marked mountain, even to Oban ; 
Cruachan and Buachaille Etive being particularly con- 
spicuous. To the north. Glen Lyon is entirely excluded ; 
the first objects, in this direction, being Schiliallien and 
its accompanying mountains, leading us to the vale of the 
Tumel and Loch Rannoch, and even to Loch Laggan, seen 
as a bright narrow line : and thus, on one hand, to Glenco 
and Ben N(!vis, and, on ihe other, to Ben-y-gloe, lifting 
itH complicated summit above the head of Fcrrogon; 
beyond which the mountains at the head of Dee, of Marr 
and Cairngorm, marked with perpetual snow, were the last 


objects which I could satisfactorily determine. So great 
a rang-e of view, with so many and such marked objects, 
is unexampled in any other spot in Scotland. From al- 
most every other mountain, there is some obstruction in 
the neighbouring hills, which cuts off' a portion of the 
horizon ; and, from Ben Nevis, where the view around is 
quite open, the objects are so little marked, and so un- 
interesting, that no advantages for the view are derived 
from its great elevation. 

On the summit of Ben Lawers, the rare Lichen crocatus 
abounds ; but this mountain indeed, is, to the botanist, 
a perfect botanical garden of alpine plants. Lochan-na- 
chat, a small lake on its north eastern declivity, is the 
chief place for these treasures; but I need not give you 
a catalogue of my discoveries, as they are probably well 
known to every Scottish gardener : at least I ought to 
conclude so ; as I met two missionaries from the Edin- 
burgh garden, with huge tin boxes slung over their 
shoulders, who seemed to be in a perfect ecstacy of hap- 
piness. The whole of this ridge is also remarkable, hence 
even to Killin, for producing large quantities of a metal- 
lic mineral, which, though it occurs in many parts of 
Scotland, is, every where else, scantily found. This is 
Rutile, an ore of Titanium ; the specimens being also no 
less beautiful than abundant. 

Whenever you may be tempted to ascend Ben Lawers, I 
recommend you to Peter Mac Naughton's inn. Not merely 
because it is convenient, but because of Peter himself, 
who is a pattern Highlander, whatever his house may be. 
Yet that is a pattern house too : for it is a pattern of what 
is here called a " kind of a white house ;" a species, of 
which I remember another, performing the same office, 
in Glen Roy. I have had occasion to notice the generic 


difference between a black house and a white house, else- 
where: but the former has its species. The genuine, 
pure black house is built entirely of turf; walls and roof: 
it is a " ffood black house" when the roof is of thatch. 
The true white house consists of masonry and slate, as all 
the world knows ; but the heteroclite, " kind of white 
house," is covered with thatch, and, what is much more 
essential, possesses a chimney. But Peter's house was 
decorated with a cognizance of Breadalbane, which had 
suffered as severely from the blasts of Ben Lawers as the 
great Sir Colin's could possibly have done in the holy 
wars. What was of more value, it contained excellent 
port wine. We reconcile ourselves to our fate, and nestle, 
without grumbling, in a " good black house," or even in 
the worst black house that ever was flead off the com- 
mon, when Ave are travelling in a land of black houses : 
and there we hail the " sclate house" as we should the 
house of that very civil gentleman at Newark, of whom 
honourable mention is made in Kenilworth. But, in a 
land of white, slate houses, Peter Mac Naughton's house 
did look very black indeed. Still blacker looked the 
truly Augean stable, in which cows and horses had been 
indiscriminately sojourning together, without even a hint 
from shovel or broom, since immemorial time. Was there 
any hay — yes, rushes. Corn — yes, in the sheaf, or grow- 
ing in the field. Any ropes, to tether the cows, and to 
prevent them from tickling the Saxon horse >vith the ends 
of their sharp Highland horns. But what were all these 
wants when balanced against the good humour, and ac- 
tivity, and contrivance of Peter Mac Naughton and his 
wife and his two tall daughters. In a trice they " shooled 
the gruip" as clean as ever did Hercules ; and Mrs. Mac 
Naughton produced her best bl.inkets and whitest sheets, 


and every body did every thing that could possibly be 
done for the stranger's accommodation. I declare 1 
would have slept, like the bride in the song, without 
blankets or sheets either, and my gallant chesnut should 
have lain in the embraces of the Highland cows, rather 
than I would have left Peter's house, to have insulted its 
blackness and his poverty. It was his only fault; and if 
I was my Lord Breadalbane, he should have a better 
house to manage to-morrow. He seemed ashamed, both 
of it and of himself, and looked surprised when I had 
settled myself to remain. Nor did I take my leave of it 
and him, till I had convinced him that, as his poverty 
but not his will consented, so it was my time and not 
my repugnance to his house that drove me from him. 

English travellers are apt to complain that they do 
not meet with this species of Highlander ; and it cannot 
be denied that a different one is somewhat more promi- 
nent ; as is always the case where merit and demerit 
compete for notice. But he may be found by those who 
choose to seek him : and I fear that, if he is often spoiled, 
we have only ourselves to blame, and that, in more ways 
than one. In ascending Ben Lawers, I had met Avith a 
young shepherd boy, who eventually proved to be 
Peter's son. I asked him to accompany me, for the sake 
of conversation, and, when about to part, offered him a 
shilling. This he refused : but it was forced on him, 
and, in so doing, I am sure I did wrong; for it is likely 
that he will never refuse one again, and will possibly 
end by demanding- five. Certainly he will never ascend 
the hill again with a stranger without expecting a re- 
ward : and if he does not receive it, he will be disap- 
pointed. I have probably taught him to sell the civility 
which he was accustomed to give. It is thus that Engl ish- 
men assist in corrupting the Highlanders, as they have 

VOL. I. 1 

114 KILLIN. 

long' since corrupted each other : by an ostentatious dis- 
play of that wealth which, to a genuine Englishman, is 
the substitute for all the virtues ; nay, is virtue itself. 
The condition of society is wrong where every thing has 
its price ; when even the common charities of life, the 
friendly intercourse of man with man, is matter of barter 
and sale. 

The finest view on the north side of Loch Tay, occurs 
at its upper extremity, where Killin first comes distinctly 
in sight; this rich valley being displayed in a continua- 
tion of the lake, and a noble sheet of solid and ancient 
oak forest sweeping down the deep declivity in one 
dark mass, from the road to the water, which is stretched 
out far below. A little industry and attention will also 
discover, hence to Killin, many beautiful landscapes, 
and many of them well adapted for painting, of a closer 
character ; particularly when we first become entangled 
in the valley of the Lochy. Here too we first meet the 
extensive and ancient woods of Finlarig, itself a ruin ; 
one of the seven castles of these Lairds of Lochow, whose 
present estate has the merit, often told, of being the 
longest in Scotland. Finlarig was built by Sir Colin in 
1520; and it was a Sir Colin also, but I know not if the 
same, (Douglas not being at my elbow,) who originally 
built Taymouth, in 1580. 

If you know Killin, you also know that it is the most 
extraordinary collection of extraordinary scenery in 
Scotland, unlike every thing else in the country, and 
perhaps on earth, and a perfect picture gallery in itself, 
since you cannot move three yards without meeting a 
new landscape. A busy artist might draw here for a 
month and not exhaust it. If you do not know this already, 
I may now tell you so. You will not be disappointed 
when you come ; as my friend, whom I must not name, 

KILLIN. 115 

was. This discerning personage, a man of reputed edu- 
cation and, by grace, a philosopher, and, as he doubt- 
less flattered himself, a man of taste, since he was travel- 
ling in pursuit of the picturesque, came up to me at the inn- 
door, after having spent the preceding day there, in great 
indignation and wrath. " He had been told that Killin 
was a beautiful place"—" he had come out of his way to 
see it" — " he never saw an uglier place in his life" — "he 
knew that I was a person of taste and understood these 
things, and he wished I would shew him what there was 
to look at." I might have said, Circumspice ; but to what 
purpose. I might have said, shall I lend you my fiddle- 
stick ; but to what purpose ; to him who could not see the 
fiddle. So 1 even consoled him in the best way I could, 
by telling him that his friends had been hoaxing him. 
And these are the people who travel and write tours, and 
tell the world what they have — what they have not seen, 
I should say. The first art to be learnt is the art of see- 
ing: not landscapes only, but many other things besides. 
Unless the Doctor found a cascade, or a cave, or an echo, 
I dare say he returned from his Highland tour as well in- 
formed on all points as he was on the subject of Killin. 
But this Avill not prevent his travels from being written 
and published : and thus the Avorld jogs on. 

Mac Nab's burying ground might have attracted even 
this Doctor's eyes ; for it is surely remarkable enough, 
and there has been enough written and said about it. It 
is a central object amid this extraordinary scenery ; but 
there is a congruity among all these strange things, which 
is no less admirable than the novelty of the whole. It is 
scarcely possible to conceive so many distinct and marked 
objects collected within so small a space, and all so 
adapted to each other as always to preserve one character, 
and, at the same time, to produce so endless a number of 



116 KILLIN. 

distinct and beautiful landscapes. To find, however, all 
that Killin has to give of this nature, it is necessary to 
pry about into corners, like a cat; as the separate scenes 
are produced by very slight changes of position, and are 
often found in very unexpected places. Fir trees, rocks, 
torrents, mills, bridges, houses, these produce the great 
bulk of the middle landscape, under endless combina- 
tions ; while the distances, more constant, are found in 
the surrounding hills, in their varied woods, in the bright 
expanse of the lake and the minute ornaments of the dis- 
tant valley, in the rocky and bold summit of Craig 
Cailleach, and in the lofty vision of Ben Lawers, which 
towers, like a huge giant, to the clouds, the monarch of 
the scene. 

These pictures are perhaps most remarkable Avhere 
this mountain and the lake form the distance, and where 
the burying' place, with its fir trees, occupies the further 
middle ground. The three bridges which, in succession, 
cross different branches of this wild and rocky river, are 
objects no less conspicuous than ornamental : but, from 
one point, five bridges are thus visible in a line ; removed 
but a few yards from each other, and all in some way 
distinguished by their variety of form or position. You 
have seen the bridges of Cumberland and Westmoreland, 
and must often have been struck l>y their picturesque 
beauty, and by their adaptation to the character of the 
surrounding scenery. This is frequently the result of 
the angular outline of the parapet; but it is also often the 
consequence of a certain carrlcssness, or rudeness, of 
workmanship and design, and of an adaptation of the 
work to the ravine or the river, arising from the attempts 
of the workmen to gain their ends in the most economical 
manner. Thus congruity and harmony of character are 
attained, as if taste instead of convenience had guided 

KILLIN. 117 

the artist's hand; and thus also there is produced a va- 
riety of aspect and design, that we could scarcely have 
expected to find in an architectural form, so simple, and 
which is, too commonly, so uniform. The same remarks 
are generally true of the Highland bridges ; unless where 
engineers have had the direction, or where some pert 
contractor has attempted to display his taste and science. 
The worthy and plodding-Donalds, whothinknomoreabout 
the result than their trowels, turn and vary their arches as 
if they themselves had been generated of an ellipse or 
a curve of equilibration ; producing-, at the same time, 
beauty which might teach useful lessons to architects. 
Of so much moment in art, are that congruity and that 
variety, to which convenience and accident lead them, 
and from which there is no artificial system or fashion to 
direct them. I could easily point out to you examples of 
good and bad, in illustration of these remarks ; and no 
where better than about Blair in Atholl, where, with 
specimens of beauty and fitness every where at hand, 
in the ancient Highland bridges that abound in this 
neighbourhood, a detestable Lowland Pontifex has lately 
destroyed the beauty of the Tilt and of the Banavie in the 
very middle of these splendid grounds. If I were to 
point out more important instances of this nature, 1 
should offend more of our irritable countrymen; and I 
dare say I have made enemies enough already. 

As I cannot pretend to detail the innumerable land- 
scapes on the Dochart at this place, or even to mark the 
points of sight, I shall content myself with naming one 
only, because it might be overlooked, and because it is 
among the most splendid landscapes which Killin affords. 
The station is near a wooded ravine crossing the road 
,nto Glen Dochart, which forms a noble foreground ; dis- 
playing all the details of this extraordinary village in the 

118 KILLIN. 

middle grounds, and succeeded by a magnificent vista 
of the valley and the lake, terminated by the blue 
and towering form of Ben Lawers. But all the beauty 
of Killin is not comprised in the scenery of the Dochart; 
as the Lochy, which here joins to produce LochTay, pre- 
sents also many landscapes, equally various and attractive. 
Nor can any two rivers be more strongly contrasted ; and 
that contrast is the more striking from their proximity. 
While the Dochart is a boisterous torrent, roaring- among 
its wild rocks, forming almost a continuous cascade, and 
split into various parts by its islands and irregularities, 
the Lochy flows without a ripple, placid as a lake, and 
reflecting every leaf of the beautiful trees which over- 
hang its lovely green banks. From the meadows near 
the inn, it affords one river landscape in a style no less 
uncommon than beautiful. Where the mysterious course 
of the stream is concealed by the bend of the valley, the 
mountain towers up, as if overhanging it ; varied by 
woods and rocks and deep precipices, and terminating in 
one bold and broad cliffl On the left hand rises another 
wooded hill, descending suddenly to the water, where it 
meets the green meadows and farms adorned by trees 
of luxuriant growth, which skirt the river banks; while, 
on the right, the rich woods of Finlarig constitute the 
boundary, broken by intervening glades ; ash trees of 
picturesque and varied forms advancing to the very edge 
of the water, and hanging their branches over its tran- 
quil surface. Nothing could be imagined capable of 
adding to this picture of seclusion and repose ; the pas- 
toral sweetness of which is the more striking, from its 
contrast with the lofty and rude alpine scenery by which 
it is enclosed. 

Various beautiful pictures are found o>i this stream ; 
marked in the same manner, by iheir richness, and by 

KILLIN. 119 

the height and the sudden ascent of the including hills, 
which give to the whole of them a peculiarity of cha- 
racter unknown in any of the river scenery of the High- 
lands. The declivity of Craig Cailleach also presents 
much beauty in a different style : a mixture of noble and 
ancient firs, skirting the ravines, the torrents, and the 
cascades, which channel its wild and rocky surface, and, 
with the deep hollows and the lofty precipices, produc- 
ing a species of mountain landscape not unlike that 
which is found among the hills of Mar. But I must leave 
to the pencil that which the pen is inadequate to de- 

Glen Dochart and Strathfillan, forming one valley, 
scarcely admit of a remark. Loch Dochart is quite unin- 
teresting, as is the whole of this nearly naked tract to 
Tyndrum ; the lofty cone of Ben More, and the castle 
situated on its island in the lake, being almost the only 
objects capable of attracting attention. Dochart castle 
like many others in this line, belonged to the Campbells 
of Lochow; and there is a little port on the shore, which 
appears to have formed their landing place. It is a ruin 
without any picturesque features. I believe that the 
reputation of St. Fillan's well as a cure for maniacs, still 
continues. By Crien-larich is the road which all should 
take who desire to see Loch Lomond as it deserves to be 
seen ; unless they should choose to ascend from Tarbet 
or Luss as far as Glen Falloch, and thus return again. 



Should you by this time have cast your eye over all 
the perilous geography of these volumes, over the quan- 
tity and extent of strange flood and field that has been 
traversed, and have computed how many times I and the 
sun passed the Highland solstice together, you will won- 
der, perhaps, what I was doing in this country so long 
and so often; why I explored the unexplored, why I 
risked my neck every day on mountain and precipice, 
and my whole carcase on flood and in ford ; why I walked 
and rode and ferried and sailed and hungered and 
watched, day after day and summer after summer. Not 
for the purpose of writing such writing as this, you may 
be assured. Not to amuse myself; unless it be amuse- 
ment to toil, and to hunger, and to thirst ; to be drenched 1 
in the rains of heaven and in the salt sea wave; to wake 
uneasy nights and spend laborious days; to live the life 
of a Shetland seal at sea, and that of a Highland stot on 

It was Geology, my dear friend ; Geology, divine maid. 
Did 1 not look with eyes of anticipation to the day >vhen 
all my foils were to be rewarded by the display of the 
map of Scotland, with all its bright array of blues and 
greens and carjiations and browns : all, all, my own 
handy work : when every granite and every gneiss and 
every porphyry, coal, lime, had, gold, what not, was to 
be spread out like a Turkey carpet before the wondering 


eyes of Scottish mortals ; of all geological mortals from 
the polar basin to the Himfila. And did I not flatter 
myself that I was to rank with the meritorious worthies 
who occupy one of the sunny nooks, as we are told, of 
Pluto's domain. And did I not foresee that my labours 
M'ere to brinsf to lijrht the treasures of the unknown 
world ; hidden wealth to Highland lairds and Scottish 
heritors; nay, to the very empire itself ; exploring, like 
Garth's delegate, those profound regions " where metals 
ripen in vast cakes of ore." Thus vain mortals foresee 
what is not to happen. Dis aliter visum : and instead of 
writing about all such knowledge as was never known, 
knowledge by which the child that is unborn should 
profit, here I am, calling to mind all that I had marked 
for forgetting: the idle visions of my lost and wasted 
hours, the toys and trifles that had crossed my path, 
uncared for as the grouse that rose before me while I 
was extracting the square root of a mountain with my 
hammer. The pen that should have sung of graywack^, 
must, like Anacreon's lyre, now sing* of cascades and 
antres vast and anthropophagi. 

I could lament over this too: but what on earth was 
ever mended by lamentation. To be sure, I might con- 
sole myself by the reflection that my stars were in fault : 
but, verily, c'est se moquer, de vouloir adoucir un mal, 
par la consideration que Ton est ne unlucky. Well, 
what will you have : I have sunk my hammer, like 
Prospero, ten fathoms deep : ten fathoms ! where line 
never yet sounded. "Now take it up, quoth he, if any list." 
Whoever does, will find it no small weight ; and he will 
stand a fair chance of cracking his knuckles, or his brains 
perhaps, with it before he has done. 

The philosopher whom I met at Killin, seemed to 
think it an ornament and an honour ; like a red ribband 


or a blue garter. By what innate property is it that when 
a man is a fool, he discovers it even before he speaks ; 
nay, before he is seen. And, secondly, why does he 
take so much more trouble to display his folly, than a 
wise man to shew his knowledge. Is it the only gem 
worth wearing ; is it the only quality of which we ought 
to be vain. While at breakfast, I received a message 
from a " gentleman with a hammer," as mine host an- 
nounced him, requesting the honour of a conference, as 
he was in search of knowledge, and expected much illu- 
mination from so celebrated a personage ; as well known 
through all the Highlands as Jack Pudding himself. The 
hammer was bright from the anvil : raw as the philoso- 
pher that bore it; but was displayed in great state, as if 
to gain consequence, as well in my eyes as in those of 
Mr. Cameron, and of all the waiters and ostlers, of Killiu, 
and Tyndrum, and Loch Earn, and Callander. The folly 
and the hammer were equally visible : for he wore both 
on the outside of his coat: the more prudent conceal 
them in their pockets. When it was the fashion for gen- 
tlemen to be " angry," and to fight, every tailor carried 
his sword by his side. Now, every blockhead who has 
cracked a stone at Salisbury craig, must display a ham- 
mer about the country, to the astonishment of innocent 
people and his own vast inconvenience. The world will 
never be the wiser for all their hammers. My philo- 
sopher requested to know what the opposite mountain 
was "made of" — I answered, negiectingly, I know not 
what ; but the word was not very long. Ho looked as 
much confounded as if 1 had spoken in heathen Greek: 
and thus, with one little word, not half an inch in length, 
I fathomed the depth and bottom of his mineralogical 
understanding. Yet he will write a book. And, what 
is M'orsc, he will (lII the world his name. It is not for mo 

LOG 11 EARN. 123 

to gibbet liiin: every man has a right to perform this ce- 
remony on his own person if he pleases. 

This, however, has nothing to do with Loch Earn ; 
and I need not say that this lake is most advantageously 
visited from Perth, through a line of country scarcely 
exceeded in Scotland for wealth and beauty and splen- 
dour; equalled only by Strathmore, but, in one respect, 
superior to it, from the dense succession of the highly or- 
namented seats of the opulent, and from that incessant 
repetition of artificial planting, which, from many points 
of view, seems to render the whole northern side of 
Strathearn one immense park and pleasure ground. 
Much of this, however, lies out of our appointed limits; 
and as I have also brought you to Killin, the examina- 
tion will be better conducted from that point; 

The short ride from this place to Loch Earn head, is 
not without beauty in the midst of its wildness ; yet it 
offers no very striking- character till the latter spot comes 
into view, when a landscape occurs, well deserving of 
more than a passing notice. To the advantages of an 
inn, which, whenever I have visited it, I have found, like 
that of Killin, one of the best in the Highlands, this place 
presents, in addition, a scene of retirement and comfort 
not often excelled; although unmarked by any very 
striking features in its landscape, and therefore apt to 
be underrated, after leaving the brilliant confusion of 
pictures which distinguishes that singular spot. Though 
the high road follows the northern bank of the lake, and 
is of course the limit of most travellers, the beauties of 
Loch Earn will be ill estimated by those who are content 
to do what alone is conveniently done. It has been a 
misfortune to this beautiful little lake, as it has been to 
Strath Tay, that the new road, conducted on a conve- 
nient and low level, has superseded the old one, which, 


in the usual ancient fashion, held its undeviating straight 
course over all obstructions, contemptuous alike of nature 
and convenience. The difference in the appearance of 
the landscape, produced by following the one or the 
other, is such as could scarcely be credited, particularly 
towards the eastern extremity of the lake. Many years 
ago, I had passed the better part of a day here ; and, 
returning some time afterwards, I was surprised to find 
that it was no longer the same place, and could scarcely 
help feeling as in a dream, as if I had mistaken some 
other lake for Loch Earn ; not at first perceiving the 
change. Let the artist, at least, profit by this hint ; as 
the ancient road is still accessible. For similar reasons, 
let him follow the southern shore as far as he can ; not 
only on account of the cascade of Edinample, which 
stands in the list of objects to be visited, but because of 
much more beautiful scenery which he will otherwise lose. 
Limited as are the dimensions of Loch Earn, it is ex- 
ceeded in beauty by few of our lakes, as far as it is 
possible for many ])eauties to exist in so small a space. 
I will not say that it presents a great number of distinct 
landscapes adapted for the pencil : but such as it does 
possess, are remarkable for their consistency of character, 
and for a combination of sweetness and simplicity with a 
grandeur of manner scarcely to be expected within such 
narrow bounds. Its style is that of a lake of far greater 
dimensions; the hills which bound it being lofty and 
])old and rugged; with a variety of character not found 
in many, of even far greater magnitude and extent. It 
is a miniature and a model of scenery that might well 
occupy ten times the s|)ace. Yet the eye does not feel 
this. There is nothitig trifling or small in the details; 
nothing to diminish its grantleur of style, to tell us that 
we are contemplating a reduced copy. On the contrary, 


there is a perpetual contest between our impressions and 
our reasoning's : we know that a few short miles compre- 
hend the whole, and yet we feel as if it was a landscape 
of many miles, a lake to be ranked among those of the 
first order and dimensions. 

While its mountains thus rise in majestic simplicity 
to the sky, terminating- in those bold and various and 
rocky outlines which belong to so much of this geological 
line, from Dunkeld and Killicrankie even to Loch Cate- 
ran, the surfaces of the declivities are equally various 
and bold; enriched with precipices and masses of pro- 
truding rock, with deep hollows and ravines, and with 
the courses of innumerable torrents which pour from 
above, and, as they descend, become skirted with trees 
till they lose themselves in the waters of the lake. Wild 
woods also ascend along their surface, in all that irregu- 
larity of distribution so peculiar to these rocky moun- 
tains; less solid and continuous than at Loch Lomond, 
less scattered and less romantic than at Loch Cateran ; 
but, from these very causes, aiding to confer on Loch 
Earn a character entirely its own. 

If the shores of the lake are not deeply marked by 
bays and promontories, still they are sufficiently varied ; 
nor is there one point where the hills reach the water in 
that meagre and insipid manner which is the fault of so 
many of our lakes, and which is the case throughout the 
far greater part, even of Loch Cateran. Loch Earn has 
no blank. Such as its beauty is, it is always consistent 
and complete. Its shores too are almost every where ac- 
cessible, and almost every where so wooded as to produce 
those foregrounds which the spectator so much desires ; 
while, from the same cause, they present much of that 
species of shore scenery which is independent of the 
mountain boundary. Elegant ash trees, springing from 


the rery water and drooping their branches over it, green 
and cultivated banks, rocky points divided by gravelly 
beaches which are washed by the bright curling waves 
of the lake, the brawling stream, descending along- its 
rocky and wooded channel, and the cascade tumbling 
along the precipice which rises from the deep and still 
water below, these, and the richly cultivated and green 
margin, with the houses and traces of art that ornament 
its banks, produce, in themselves, pictures of great va- 
riety, marked by a character of rural sweetness and 
repose not commonly found among scenery of this class. 
Thus also the style of Loch Earn varies as we assume 
different points of elevation for our views, and perhaps 
in a greater degree than any of the Highland lakes: 
assuredly more than in any one of similar dimensions. 
At the lower levels, and perhaps most of all at the western 
extremity, where the banks are lowest, and at the eastern, 
where the beautifully wooded island forms a leading- 
object in the picture, every landscape is marked by tran- 
quillity and gentleness of character : a character adapted 
to glassy waters and summer suns, to the verdure of 
spring and the repose of evening. High up on the hills, 
the grandeur of the bold alpine landscape succeeds to 
the tranquillity of the rural one; and amid the wild 
mountain forms and the rude magnificence of aspiring 
rocks and precipices, enhanced and embellished by the 
gleaming lights of a troubled sky and the passage of 
clouds, we almost forget the placid and cultivated scenes 
we have just quitted, and imagine ourselves transported 
to some remote spot of the distant Highlands. 

Every one is bound to notice the new village of St. 
Filhm's, situated at the eastern extremity of this lake, as 
an instunc(> of what may be done by good sense and ex- 
ertion, in reforming the comfortless and dirty habits of 


the rural population of this country. The inhabitants are 
now as fond of their roses and honeysuckles as they for- 
merly were of their dunghills and gutters ; a sufficient 
proof that the people are tractable when properly managed, 
and that many of the faults of the lower classes in the 
Highlands which arise from carelessness of comfort and 
cleanliness, and from a want of that petty industry and 
ambition which soon extends itself to more important 
concerns, ought to be attributed to their superiors, who, 
themselves, unjustly complain of what they never attempt 
to remedy. St. Fillan's indeed is near the Lowland bor- 
der, and might, in the progress of time, have acquired 
that polish which it now displays : but the reform has 
been as sudden as it is complete : the consequence of 
regulations rigidly enforced at first, but which are now 
no longer wanted. Every proprietor in the country has 
the same power ; and, unquestionably, the facility is the 
same for all : and it is really incredible, that men of rank 
and education, even without Lord Gwydir's example 
before their eyes, should suffer, on their estates, and even 
at their very doors, those disgraceful sights of neglect, 
and dirt, and of the apparent extremity of poverty and 
misery, which, without oppression, rather to the benefit 
of their poor tenants as of themselves, they might remedy 
by the most simple and justifiable regulations. 

But it would be unjust to censure the Highlanders for 
their inattention to cleanliness, as if it was exclusively 
the fault of this portion of Scotland. Where Mrs. Ha- 
milton's Glenburnie lies, no one knows ; but we need 
not be very anxious ; as we can find a Glenburnie every 
where, and, assuredly, as easily in the Lowlands as in the 
Highlands. The Maclartys are an ancient and a powerful 
family ; I wish I could add that it was an antiquated one 
also; but I fear that it is still a thriving race. If it was 


but possible to prevail on this family to have one thing, 
but one thing, clean about them, the rest would follow 
of course. If it was their persons, then their houses 
would soon become clean, as a necessary consequence : 
or if it was their houses, their persons would probably 
follow, for the sake of uniformity. If but the water or 
the salt was clean, if there was a clean spoon, a knife, a 
plate, if there was even a clean surface on a looking- glass, 
it would detect the vices of the rest so effectually, that, 
like one sturdy honest man in a parish, it would in time 
reform, or at least shame, the whole. But, unfortunately, 
in this family of the Maclartys, every thing is so consist- 
ently, constantly, uniformly, perenially, dirty in every 
part, inside, outside, top, bottom, middle, sides, longitu- 
dinally, transversely, and diagonally, that no article, nor 
any part of any article, is left to tell the tale on another, 
or to blush it into reform. Were I the Dey of Algiers, 
or a Highland Laird, I would enhance even on Lord 
Gwydir, and keep an officer of health, with power to 
wash Mr. and Mrs. Maclarty and all their family by force, 
or to fumigate them like rats, and, in default of ultimate 
reformation, to burn them out. 

I sometimes fear that you will not believe me when I 
bestow, as I have so often done, praise, and praise too 
that may seem extravagant, on scenery which lies at our 
own doors, which is visited by hundreds, and yet which 
no one describes or even mentions. I premise this re- 
mark here, because I am again about to do the same, in 
pointing out the tract which lies between the end of Loch 
Earn and Comrie. But 1 must not be deterred by such a 
fear. If you doubt me, come and see; and then say, 
what is rather the truth, that I have failed, not exceeded. 
Why others have not been equally struck by these scenes, 
it is not for me to explain. 

THE EARN. 129 

The space in question is the narrow valley which 
attends the course of the Earn from the lake to near 
Comrie, exceeded in romantic beauty, as it appears to 
me, by few places of equal dimensions in Scotland, and 
dissimilar to every other; except inasmuch as the style 
reminds us of the best parts of the extremity of Loch 
Cateran. But it is a subject for painting-, not for verbal 
description : abounding also in landscapes, almost beyond 
the power of reckoning-; as distinct, as perfect in com- 
position, and as consistent in their own peculiar charac- 
ter, as they are distinguished from all other scenes, ex- 
cept those to which I have just compared them. Nor, 
onutting- the lake, do they often fall short of the land- 
scapes of Loch Cateran, either in beauty, in variety, or 
in their fairy-like and romantic characters ; uniting- similar 
g-randeur and breadth of manner to all that delicacy and 
multiplicity of ornament which form the leading features 
of that well-known spot. 

Though the river and the road hold a parallel course, 
in a general sense, the meanderings of the former are 
such that they are often widely separated, so as to add 
much to the variety of the scenery, as far as that depends 
on the river's banks. Where they approach, or when we 
choose to follow the wanderings of the stream, we gain 
access to a species of river landscape not less various and 
rich than that of the finest of the Perthshire rivers ; but 
which, with the exception of the best parts of the Tumel, 
maintains a character more consistently alpine and wild 
than any. Though, in some parts, the Earn here holds 
a sinuous course through flat meadows, it is never tame 
nor naked ; nor is it ever wanting in those marked ac- 
companiments which are formed by the rocky declivities 
of the southern mountains. These give a wildness of 
character to its course, even where the flow of the water 
VOL. I. . K 

130 THE EARN. 

is tardy ; and it is every where attended by trees, often in 
great and splendid profusion, which, while they add 
ornament to the general landscape, serve to break the 
continuity of its reaches, and to give value to its bright 
glimpses as they are seen glittering among the dark 
green and under the shadows of the impending moun- 

But the greater part of its course is of a far other 
character; rapid, and wild, forcing its way among rocks 
and trees, a truly alpine river. In some places, having 
cut its own passage where the mountains meet from op- 
posite sides, it struggles among promontories and cliffs 
and overhanging rocks, foaming along its deep and sha- 
dowy bed : in others, it is seen dividing to surround 
islands which it seems to have detached from the skirts 
of the mountains, and which, rising in the middle of its 
wandering and intricate channels, wooded and wild with 
dark tirs and with the more graceful forms of the pendent 
and silvery birch, conceal its mysterious course, and 
cause it to appear as if springing from some unknown 
recesses of the mountain. The bridges, of stone, and of 
rude trees, which cross it, add much to its beauty in dif- 
ferent places : nor does its picturesque character cease, 
even when, escaping from this narrow pass, it opens into 
the wider plain at Comrie, to wander now at liberty 
through its own Strathearn. 

But even this river scenery, beautiful as it is, forms 
but a small part of the attractions of this romantic valley. 
On each side, in some places, the contiimous mountain 
dfolivitios descend rapidly and suddenly, so as nearly 
to meet below, and to give room to little more than the 
river aiul the road ; in others, leaving a space occupied 
by flat but wooded meadows,, yet varied by undulating 
ground. The norliicm side contains the ornamented 

DUNIRA. 131 

grounds of Dunira, rich with planted and natural wood; 
but it is by the southern boundary that the brilliant land- 
scapes of this singular spot are chiefly produced. This 
consists of the skirts of Ben Vorlich, extending in one 
continued and lofty wall from the southern side of Loch 
Earn, till it terminates at the junction of the Earn and 
the Ruchil. With the exception of Ben Venn, the lead- 
ing feature of Loch Cateran, no mountain in Scotland 
presents a declivity so wild and so various ; a continued 
succession of bold precipices and deep hollows, of ravines 
and torrents, and of woods dispersed in every mode of 
picturesque distribution. As these descend to the river 
and the valley, the knolls, which seemed, when aloft in 
the mountain, but protuberances on its surface, assume 
the dignity of distinct hills ; producing thus a variety 
and an intricacy of scenery, as romantic as it is unusual 
and unexpected. Thus the mountain itself, to those who 
choose to wander among its strange recesses, presents 
numberless landscapes of alpine rock and wood, scarcely 
paralleled any where ; lofty cliffs following each other 
in wild confusion to the sky, deep hollows shaded from 
the light of day, torrents and cascades, trees springing 
from the rocks, or crowning their summits, or distributed 
in all that variety of wild forest so peculiar to the High- 
land hills. As at Loch Cateran, which is never out of 
our mind in contemplating this spot, the oak and the 
birch are the principal trees ; but it is to the superior 
advantage of the present scenes, that the fir is also found 
among them ; in groups, or in solitary grandeur spring- 
ing from the precipices ; adding much to the variety of 
character, and peculiarly harmonizing with many of the 

Itisbythesesubsidiary hills, bold and various, rugged 
and precipitous, and rich with all their ornament of wood, 


132 DUNIRA. 

that the peculiar character which distinguished this sce- 
nery from almost all others is produced. Uniting with 
the wanderings of the river below, and with the green 
and woody valley, they produce scenes of splendour, of 
ornament equally rich and wild, which receives support 
and majesty alike, from the lofty and broad acclivity 
above, rising to the sky, and terminating in an outline no 
less graceful than it is rugged and bold. It is by this com- 
bination of breadth in the general form, and of extended 
and massive shade, with multiplicity and variety in the 
parts, with profusion of ornament, and with the perpetual 
play of lights and shadows and half tints and reflections, 
which belong to these rocky knolls and clitfs and hollows 
and undulating woods, that here, as on the Tumel, mag- 
nificence is combined withrichness, and grandeur of style 
with minute splendour of detail. 

Among these subsidiary hills, St. Fillan's is conspi- 
cuous, as well for its grace as for its prominence in the 
picture. Elsewhere, it would be a little mountain; and 
did it rise, like our Arthur's seat, from a plain, all Scot- 
land would not produce an object much more striking; 
from the elegance of its conical form, its successive stages 
of precipice and grey rock separated by green and grassy 
jilopes, and from the beautiful disposition of the trees 
which are scattered about it. Though its magnitude is 
here swallowed up in the overpowering altitude of the 
mountains ;nonnd, it loses nothing of its beauty by this 
position ; giving <liiuacter, on the contrary, to the whole 
surrounding scenery, and being the central and chief 
feature of some of the finest liiii(ls<fipos which this valley 
afiords. Of these landscapes, wild, romantic, and numer- 
ous, as they are singular and decided, I shall only add, 
that the compositions are generally as perfect as can be 
desired, that the illumination, under every position of the 
sun, is what an artist would wish, and that the colouring 


possesses that delicacy, arising- from a mixture of g"rey 
with tender green, which harmonizes so well with the 
airy gracefulness resulting from the scattered positions of 
the wood and the light forms of the birch. Many days 
would not exhaust the subjects which it offers to the 
pencil ; nor are there many places where one day, at 
least, would be better occupied than in a ride from 
Comrie to Loch Earn head. 

Of the town of Comrie I need say nothing; but its 
situation is scarcely exceeded for beauty by that of any 
place in Scotland. The pride of Strathearn lies from 
here to Crieff; a noble river, profusion of wood, a valley 
where ornament and cultivation contend for the supe- 
riority, art and nature both striving which shall embellish 
it most, and, on each side, a range of hills partaking of the 
richness of the grounds below, splendid in variety of form 
as in wood, picturesque without rudeness, and offering 
in themselves a thousand scenes of secluded beauty, in- 
dependent of their effects in the general landscape. But 
while Comrie is the sentinel of two of the Highland 
passes, that of Loch Earn and that of Glen Lednach, it is 
beyond my prescribed bounds ; and I must therefore 
return to this latter valley, which conducts a road to Loch 
Tay, through scenery well deserving of a forenoon's at- 
tention. The cascades of tfee Lednach, situated in this 
pass, a!id at a short distance from Comrie, are among the 
enumerated spectacles; but they possess no great merit, 
either from their bulk or altitude, or from the surrounding- 
scenery. The pass itself is, however, wild and richly 
wooded, as is the whole of the ornamented land on this 
declivity of the hill ; although it would not be easy to 
find out any particular subjects of landscape. But be- 
yond it, when we have reached the open vale of the Led- 
nach, a valley of a pleasing and uncommon character, 


some pictures of great beauty are found ; uniting a dis- 
tant view of the rich extent of Strathearn and of its bound- 
ing hills to the southward, with the bold middle giound 
of the rocky and wooded ridge through which the river 
cuts its way ; where the obelisk, erected to Lord Melville, 
forms an object at once conspicuous and interesting. 

That the Highlanders are inquisitive, and that a 
Scotchman cannot give a direct answer to a plain ques- 
tion, are truths not very new to you or any one else. The 
Scottish Hierocles, for Joe Miller's authority is not clas- 
sical here, will probably furnish you with an example or 
two in point ; and you may consult him. Some of the 
modifications of this process of answering one question 
by proposing another, are amusing enough, and, occa- 
sionally, not a little tormenting, particularly in the High- 
lands ; as the difficulty of extorting the information which 
you may want, is materially increased, or squared, as a 
mathematician would say, by multiplying the indirect- 
ness of the Scot by the curiosity of the Highlander. 
Whatever the metaphysical anatomy of this may be, the 
characteristic caution of the country is an ingredient in 
this compound ; as clearly appears from the noted exa- 
mination regarding a certain ferryboat, which you may 
find, if you will take the trouble to look for it, loco ci- 
tato. In the Highlands, there is a certain commercial 
principle of barter or exchange combined : in short, if he 
is to furnish information, he is determined to get all that 
he can in return for it. But it is part of his birthright 
and descent; for Ctcsar tells us the same of his ancestors 
the Gauls; and, I doubt not, was obliged to relate his 
own history and motives whenever he wanted to know 
his road. 

I wiLs considerably troubled here respecting certain 
roads, and applied to an old snuft'y-looking native who 


was cutting some hay with his pocket-knife by the way 
side. It is true, I suav the inquisition painted in his face ; 
but there was no choice, so I made up my mind to a 
cross-examination of more than the ordinary length, and 
was determined to indulge it for once. " How far is it 
toKillin?"— « It's a fine day."—" Aye, it's a fine day 
for your hay," — " Ah ! there's no muckle hay ; tliis is an 
unco cauld glen." — " I suppose this is the road to Killin," 
(trying him on another tack). — " That's an unco fat beast 
of yours." — " Yes, she is much too fat ; she is j ust from 
grass." — " Ah ! it's a mere I see ; it's a gude beast to 
gang, Ise warn you." — *' Yes yes it's a very good pony." 
— " I selled just sic another at Doune fair, five years by- 
past : I warn ye she's a Highland bred beast." — " I dont 
know ; I bought her in Edinburgh." — " A weel a weel, 
mony sic like gangs to the Edinburgh market frae the 
Highlands." — "Very likely; she seems to have High- 
land blood in her." — " Aye aye ; would you be selling 
her."— " No, I dont want to sell her; do you want to 
buy her." — " Na ! 1 was na thinking of that : has she had 
na a foal." — " Not that I know of." — " I had a gude colt 
out of ours when I selled her. Yere na ganging to Doune 
the year." — " No, I am going to Killin, and want to know 
how far it is." — " Aye, ye'll be gaing to the sacraments 
there the morn." — " No, I dont belong to your kirk." — 
" Ye'll be an Episcopalian than." — " Or a Roman Catho- 
lic."—" Na na, ye're nae Roman." — " And so it is twelve 
miles to Killin," (putting a leading question). — " Na, it's 
najust that." — "It's ten then, I suppose." — "Ye'll be 
for cattle than, for the Falkirk tryst." — " No, I know 
nothing about cattle." — " I thocht ye'd ha been justane 
of thae English drovers. Ye have nae siccan hills as this 
in your country." — " No ; not so high." — " But ye'll hae 
bonny farms." — " Yes yes, very good lands."—" Ye'll 


nae hae better farms than my Lord's at Dunira." — " No 
no, Lord Melville has very fine farms," — " Now there's 
a bonny bit land ; there's na three days in the year there's 
na meat for beasts on it ; and it's to let. Ye'll be for a 
farm hereawa." — " No, I'm just looking- at the country." 
— " And ye have nae business." — " No." — " Weel, that's 
the easiest way." — " And this is the road to Killin." — 
" Will ye tak some nuts," (producing a handful he had 
just gathered). " No, I cannot crack them." — " I sup- 
pose your teeth are failing. Hae ye. any snuff." — Ves 
yes here is a pinch for you."T-" Na na, I'm unco heavy 
on the pipe ye see, but I like a hair of snuff; just a hair :" 
touching the snuff with the end of his little finger, appa- 
rently to prolong time and save the answer about the 
road a little longer, as he seemed to fear there were no 
more questions to ask. The snuff however came just in 
time to allow him to recall his ideas, which the nuts were 
near dispersing. " And ye'll be from the low country." 
— " Yes, you may know I am an Englishman by my 
tongue." — " Na, our ain gentry speaks high English 
the now." — " Well well, 1 am an Englishman, at any 
rate." — " And ye'll be staying in London." — " Yes yes." 
" I was ance at Smithfield mysell wi some beasts : it's 
an unco place, London. — And what's yere name ; asking 
your pardon." — The name was given. •' There's a hantel 
o'that name i'the north. Yere father '11 may be be a High- 
lander." — " Yes ; that is the reason >vhy I like the 
Highlanders." — " Weel, (nearly thrown out) it's a bonny 
country now, but it's sair cauld here in the winter." 
" And so it is six miles to Killin." — " Aye, they call it 
sax." — " Scotch miles, I suppose." — " Aye aye, auld 
miles."—" That is about twelve English."—" Na, it'll 
not be abune ten short miles, (here we got on so fast 
that I began to think I should be dismissed at last) but 


I never seed them measured. And ye'll ha left your 
family at Comrie." — " No, T am alone." — " They'll be in 
the south, may be."—" No, I have no family." — " And 
are ye no married." — " No." — " I'm thinking it's time." 

« So am I." — Weel weel, ye'll have the less fash." — 

«' Yes, much less than in finding the way to Killin." — 
" O, aye, ye'll excuse me ; but we countra folk speers 
muckle questions." — " Pretty well, I think." — Weel 
weel, ye'll find it saft a bit in the hill, but ye maun had 
wast, and its na abune tan mile. A gude day." 

There is much beauty, uniting a secluded rural cha- 
racter to the wildness of mountain scenery, through the 
whole of this valley, and about the picturesque and un- 
expected village of Invergeldy, (I hope that is its name), 
after which the road enters a narrow and rugged pass 
among the mountains, striking to those who are new to 
Highland scenes, but not sufficiently marked or uncom- 
mon to attract much notice from those who are familiar 
with the various wild valleys of the central counties and 
of the west coast. Nor is there much interest in the 
views from the summit of Ben na Chony, which I as- 
cended; although the mountain itself, particularly on 
the east and south sides, oflTers some wild rocks and 
ravines of a striking and picturesque character. To the 
north, the prospect is one of wild and rude hills, entirely 
excluding the sight of Loch Tay, but displaying the 
sources of the Almond ; and, to the south, it is not far 
diflTerent, as the mass of hills in this direction equally 
excludes the valley of the Earn. But I need not trouble 
you with details of a country through which neither you 
nor any one else is ever likely to follow me. Had I in- 
dulged, like Bruce and others, in registering the log 
book of all my Highland geography, had I described, 
with the watch and compass in my hand, what I saw at 


ten and what at eleven, this brook, and that stone, and 
the other tree, I should have wasted precious paper and 
more precious time in writing what no one would have 
read when told of our own country, and what, I suspect, 
very few read when it is told of Caucasus or Sennaar. 
Life may be better occupied; on both parts: and the 
value of other things than the Sibyl's books, may be in- 
creased by the sheers. The worst of it is, that My Lord 
cannot see his own excrescences : as little as Sir Geoffrey 
Hudson, who feels the struggles of a soul six feet long, 
can conceive that it is imprisoned in a carcase no bigger 
than a fiddle case. Fortunately, we can all see each 
other's humps ; and 1 therefore invest you with the full 
rights of top lop and crop, after which we will consider 
what is to be done next. 

In the mean time 1 must go on in the old way ; look- 
ing askance at Strathearn as I looked at Strathmore, and 
half inclined to smuggle across the Highland border, 
Ardoch and the Romans, and Drummond castle, and 
Auchtertyre, and Tomachastle, and the ten thousand 
beauties of the lovely Earn, not only to Crieff but beyond 
it. But this would be an utter breach of contract: and 
luckily it is a country that need not be told ; for it is like 
the glorious sun at noon-day, not to be shut out. Every 
one can see the encampment between the Earn and the 
Ruchil, th(! false scene of the battle of the Grampians, 
which I have already noticed, and of which we have heard 
more than enough. Every one too can see the strange 
and picturesque hills of Tomachastle, can waiuler till he 
is weary, about the banks of the Earnand the declivities of 
both ranges of hills, and every one, — who can draw — may 
draw till his fingers are weary, his pencils worn ouf, and 
his paper expended. Every one too may visit wliat is 
here worth visiling, if he will run th(> risk of steel traps 


and spring' guns, and of prosecutions according to law; 
a refinement in hospitality, thank heaven, which is rather 
English than Scottish, and which has not yet found its 
way across the Highland border. Let those who own the 
treasures thus guarded by the dragons of law, who de- 
light to live in a state of warfare with the whole world, 
enjoy, in solitary hostility, their possessions as they may : 
let him delight in hare and partridge if he can, who 
values them above human life and liberty. Far different 
was the theory of good old Admiral Gell, who planted 
irooseberries and currants in his fields and hedge-rows at 
Crickhowel, for a treat to the boys of the neighbourhood. 
It is but a step in embellishment, from the painted board 
to the irallows : and the latter would be a more orna- 
mental form and a more effectual warning. Unfortu- 
nately, all our ideas of rural beauty, of peace and of 
happiness, of the calm seclusion of groves and gardens, 
and of the liberality of free and bounteous nature, are 
apt to fly before the images that are conjured up by these 
odious warnings ; the summons, the pettifogger, the writ, 
the trial, and the jail. Let those enter at the legal gate 
who delight in steel traps of their own setting : others 
will be content to remain on the outside of this forbidden 

But every one may visit Drummond castle, without 
risk of life, limb, or attorney : yet why none of our thou- 
sand travellers and writers have done justice to Drum- 
mond castle, is more than 1 can say. If it is not all that it 
might be rendered, it is still absolutely unrivalled in the 
low country, and only exceeded, in the Highlands, by 
Dunkeld and Blair. Placed in the most advantageous 
position to enjoy the magnificent and various expanse 
around, it looks over scenery scarcely any where equal- 
led. With ground of the most commanding and varied 

140 J)RU3n[0ND CASTLE. 

forms, including' water, and rock, and abrupt hill, and deep 
dell, and gentle undulations, its extent is princely and its 
aspect is that of ancient wealth and ancient power. Noble 
avenues, profuse woods, a waste of lawn and pasture, 
an unrestrained scope, every thing- bespeaks the care- 
lessness of liberality and of extensive possessions ; while 
, the ancient castle, its earliest part belonging- to 1500, 
stamps on it that air of high and distant opulence which 
adds so deep a moral interest to the rural beauties of baro- 
nial Britain. Yet Drummond Castle is neglected by its 
owners, and yet its owners have taste : while it is capable 
of every thing-, but wanting- almost every thing- which art 
might add. Nor would it require the work of creation, 
nor the aid of time, to make it all, of which it is suscep- 
tible. That which it chiefly Avants, is access. It is a 
wilderness from which even its owners are excluded. It 
requires little or nothing- of those additions which, while 
Nature is making-, man dies. Art might accomplish in a 
few brief years, all which is here demanded, and render 
Drummond Castle the pride of the Lowlands and the 
third jewel, at least, of Scotland. 

But I must return to my appointed bourne and limit. 
There is a wild and pleasing ride into the mountains 
from Criefi; to the little alpine lake. Loch Turrit, whose 
wild ducks have been sung by Burns ; but I know not 
that It IS sufficiently tempting for the ordinary traveller. 
Not so Monzie : and every one who intends to proceed to 
Glen Almond from Criefl^, should choose the circuitous 
road through this beautiful valley. But the beauties of 
Monzie are only to be fairly appreciated from the hill 
above; where it forms the middle ground and the con- 
sj»icuous feature of one of the most magnificent of the 
extended landscapes of Scotland. The ho!ise itself is 
sufficient to give a centre of unity to the picture: and 

MONZIE. 141 

nothing can exceed the felicitous arrangement of the rich 
woods which surround it, occupying its valley, and rising 
up the hills in all that happy mixture of carelessness and 
decision, which holds the due line and limit between 
the profusion of nature and the restraint and attentions of 
art. What art may have done, and what nature has done, 
I know not ; but it is probable that the former has done 
little, and it is at least certain that it never planned or 
executed here, that Avhich it generally contrives to mar 
where it interferes on so large a scale. While Monzie 
may offer a lesson to the gentlemen of the capability 
school, it occupies a species of undecided and undulating 
ground which occurs all over Britain ; and whatever 
therefore it has done, may be done in a thousand other 
places. But few parts, even of Scotland, can parallel the 
noble landscape in which it lies: a landscape which 
seems to have been created for it, and for which it seems 
to have been created ; a continuous scene of richness and 
beauty, of wood, and cultivation, and hill, retiring in 
varied and endless succession till it terminates in the dis- 
tant blue mountains of Loch Earn. While the long 
range of the Highland boundary on the right, guides the 
eye through the splendid vista of Strathearn to the pic- 
turesque and crowded forms of Ben Vorlich and its at- 
tendant mountains, the richly wooded hill which sepa- 
rates the vale of Monzie from Crieff, is followed by the 
more distant southern range which is the limit between 
Strathearn and Strathallan, equally rich, but losing itself 
in the hazy distance. Hence the peculiarity which dis- 
tinguishes this view from all the great vale landscapes of 
the Highlands. It is not, like Strath Tay or Strathmore, 
a continuous valley bounded and terminated by continu- 
ous and consistent ranges of hills ; nor is it , like many 
others, a mere landscape of mountains, and of mountains 


which seem to derive from each other and to belong to 
the same family. On the contrary, it opens to the eye a 
little world of hill and dale, of luxuriant cultivation and 
plain and forest and mountain, of Lowland wealth and of 
Highland grandeur: mountains of every character, yet 
all so disposed that nothing trespasses on the unity and 
integrity of the scene ; while we marvel how, with objects 
various as they are, and numerous enough for a hundred 
pictures, nature has managed to bring the whole into 
one grand harmonious composition. 

Monzie lies in the way, and before the very eyes, of 
those who visit Glen Almond, and who yet manage to over- 
look it. This valley has often been described, and is 
therefore well known. But though dreary and wild, it 
presents no remarkable features. While on a contiacted 
scale, there is nothing marked in the character of its hills, 
or in the course of its stream. It is dark and desolate, 
but no more. To those M'ho are not conversant with 
Highland scenery, it has the recommendation of novelty ; 
and thus it naturally has attracted more attention than 
its intrinsic merits claim. That it is one of the reputed 
burial places of Ossian, may be an attraction to those to 
whom shadows are as realities, and who find no property 
in truth but its inconvenience. Though the large stone in 
question has been used as a monument, it is a fragment 
fallen from the hill above, where the very place whence 
it has been detached is visible: while, from some indi- 
cations that remain, it seems to have been adopted as 
the centre of a circle, a few distinct traces of which are 
still to be seen. But ifthisbethe stone mentioned by 
Birt, as it cannot fail to be^ since there is no other, it 
must have originally been moved for the purpose of being 
used as a monument, before it was displaced by the sol- 
diers who made this road : as he says that, under its 


centre there was found a stone coffin of two feet square, 
containing bones and ashes. He imagines this to have 
been the urn, as he calls it, of a Roman officer ; but 
without reason, as the use of stone coffins and the burn- 
ing of the dead were common among the ancient inhabi- 
tants of this country. Moreover, there is no probability 
that the Romans penetrated the Highlands in this di- 
rection, although they did so more to the eastward, nor 
that they ever used those rude stones as monuments. 
Being almost unquestionably a place of British sepul- 
ture, it seems to confirm an opinion which I have sug- 
gested on other occasions ; that many of the stone circles, 
whatever the purpose of others might have been, were 
monumental, or funereal : the central stone, which an- 
swered the same purposes as the Cromlech, forming the 
stela, and the surrounding ones being an enclosure, giv- 
ing imaginary protection, and indicating the rank or dig- 
nity of the person interred ; as in those cases where that 
wall was erected round the cairn, which became, in after 
times, and among the Greeks in their stage of refinement, 

the irepoiKoSo/XT). 

It is an interesting circumstance about this coffin, 
mentioned by the same author, that as soon as the disin- 
terment became known, " the Highlanders assembled from 
distant parts, and, having formed themselves into a body, 
carefully gathered up the relics and marched with them 
in solemn procession to a new place of burial ; discharg- 
ing their fire-arms over the grave, as supposing that the 
deceased had been a military officer." Not a word is 
here said about Ossian ; and the manner of the ceremonial, 
with the reason assigned for it, prove that no such notion 
was entertained at that time. In fact, Ossian and Fingal 
were then scarcely known. They are never once men- 
tioned by this author: a neglect which would have been 

144 ossian's tomb. 

impossible, considering his long- residence, and his inti- 
mate knowledge of the country, had these names been 
popular, as they are now, throughout the whole of the 
Highlands. I have elsewhere remarked that they were 
equally unknown to Martin. It is since the publication 
of Macpherson's translations, that they have become 
both popular and diffused, and that all these imaginary 
tombs have been discovered and named. Had the stone 
in Glen Almond been thought the tomb of Ossian in 
1720, it would assuredly have been called so by the 
Highlanders who then proved their respect for an un- 
known name. But, like a hundred other stones and hills 
and caves, it has received that appellation in our own day : 
these heroes, like Solomon among the Arabs, appro- 
priating to themselves all the waifs and strays that claim 
no owner. And this is what is called tradition. 

But I believe that the term, Ossian's Tomb, or stone, 
has here in some measure arisen from the corruption of 
another word; as, in Staff a, the name of Fin, or Fineal. 
seems to have been imposed in a similar manner on the 
the great cave. It is, or was, a popular theory in this 
part of the Highlands, that the lark, or some other bird, 
was not to be found further north. The name is uisoa: 
(I know not if I spell it right) and thus Clach na Uisog, 
the Stone of the Lark, became converted, from some 
similarity of sound, aided by the now fashionable belief, 
into the Clach of Ossian. 

The cause for the observance above-mentioned, as 
assigned by a Highland officer to the author whom I 
have quoted, was not respect to the memory of the dead, 
as has l)een generally imagined, but superstitious fear. 
They believed, in those days, whatever they may now, 
that if a dead body should be disinterred by malice or 
accident, and that the funeral rites were not immediately 


performed, "storms and tempests would arise, destroying 
their corn and blowing away their huts," and that many 
other misfortunes would follow the neglect. These have 
been opinions of wide prevalence ; but little trace of them 
remains at present in the country. I have seen human 
bones scattered about, and contemplated with as little 
fear as respect, not only in the cave of Egg and in that 
of Oban, but at Portree, and in Barra, and in many other 

The road through Glen Almond (Avon, properly) is 
that which communicates between Stirling and Dalna- 
cardoch, by Tay bridge; passing through Amulrie and 
by the pleasing little lake, Loch Freuchie. It is now so 
little used, and, like most of the ancient military roads, 
so much neglected, as to be in very bad repair : a con- 
sequence of that mixture of well-meant extravagance 
and misplaced economy which has constructed a Cale- 
donian canal for little other purpose but to enrich con- 
tractors and engineers, and which rescinded a grant not 
amounting to one-tenth of its annual expenditure, every 
farthing of which was productive of valuable results to 
the country. Except that lake and Amulrie itself, a 
pleasing little spot, there is nothing in this line of road 
to induce the mere traveller to follow it; nor is there 
more attraction in the lateral branch which leads through 
Strath Braan to Dunkeld. The Rumbling Bridge, the 
only object much worthy of notice, has already been 
mentioned in speaking of this last place ; and I may 
therefore terminate my proceedings in this quarter, and 
return to Comrie. Hence there is a mountain road to 
Callander ; but I cannot recommend it. If it be shorter 
than that by Loch Earn and Lubnaig, it compensates for 
that by its badness ; occupying at least as much time, 

VOL. I. L 


and being utterly without beauty or interest of any 

After leaving Loch Earn head for Callander, it is 
easy, by diverging about two miles to the right, to see 
Loch Voil and Loch Doine, nearly united, and situated 
among the Braes of Balquhidder. They are pleasing 
little lakes, appearing together to be about five miles 
long, and are surrounded with cultivation. But I cannot 
say that they offer any picturesque scenes ; not much at 
least that can be made a subject of painting, as the valley 
in which they lie is so open, that the hills are at a con- 
siderable distance from the water, while these are also 
without any very marked features. Nor is there any 
temptation to penetrate further in this direction ; the 
country presenting no beauty, and that extremity of 
Loch Cateran which may be reached from this quarter, 
being utterly void of attraction. The church of Balqu- 
hidder is celebrated in Highland legendary lore, as the 
scene of one of the noted exploits of the Mac Gregors,tlie 
children of tlie mist: a story which has been often told, 
like the Raid of Cillechrist and many others which I have 
not thought it necessary to repeat, and which is to be 
found, among other places, forming a part, as you well 
know, of tljc fabric of " The Legend of Montrose." That 
these gentlemen of the mist should have cut off Drum- 
mond's head, in return for the heads of their friends, 
seems justifiable enougii, as matters were conducted in 
those djiys; but he nuist have a considerable tenderness 
towards these descendants of King Alpin, who chuckles 
at the good taste which placed the head on a sister's 
table, with a piece of bread and <heese in its mouth, and 
as a return for her hospitality. There is nothing much 
worse than this in the history of cannibalism ; and really 


if Glenstrae and his followers thought fit to produce the 
head in the church and avow their intention of protecting 
the authors of this joke, they cannot have much to com- 
plain of, if their declaration of war was met by a counter 
declaration in the shape of a commission of fire and sword 
to Montrose. 

The road towards Callander is sufficiently dull till we 
approach Loch Lubnaig; a lake remarkable for its sin- 
gularity, and far from deficient in beauty. It is rendered 
utterly unlike every other Scottish lake, by the complete 
dissimilarity of its two boundaries : the one being flat and 
open, and the other a solid wall of mountain, formed by 
the steep and rocky declivity of Ben Ledi. Though long, 
it therefore presents little variety; but its best land- 
scapes are rendered very striking by their great simpli- 
city, and by the profound and magnificent breadth of 
shade which involves the hill, as it towers aloft, impend- 
ing over the black waters on which it casts a solemn 
gloom. Nor is it deficient in all those minute ornaments 
of rock and tree and cultivation, and of sinuous and pictur- 
esque shores, which serve to contrast with and embellish 
this breadth and grandeur of character. Ardhullary, the 
seat of the Abyssinian Bruce, has acquired a sort of clas- 
sical reputation, as having been the place where he is 
said to have secluded himself for the purpose of concoct- 
ing his Opus Magnum. Enviable dog — when we un- 
lucky scribblers are obliged to work when we can, not 
when we will ; amidst physic, and law, and children, and 
wives, and the ringing of bells, and visitors, and facheux, 
and the thunder of wheels : in cabins of ships, and in 
carriages, in gout, and ague, and rheumatism, in sick- 
ness and in noise, in vexation, and sorrow, and distrac- 
tion. But the charitable world cares not for these dis- 
tinctions : it looks to the end, without enquiring about 

L 2 


the means ; considering only itself. It cares not that the 
vanquished general wanted troops or ammunition; and, 
like the Egyptian task-master, demands the same pro- 
duce from him who has the means and the materials, and 
from him who is in want of every thing. 

The name of Strathire is known to all the readers of 
your poetry, and indeed I am now arriving on classic 
ground, and I may add, ticklish ground; about to tell 
you what you have been telling to other people, to the 
the whole world. But as I have also been obliged to 
fight my way through the same career as the Lord of 
the Isles, I must do the best I can in the regions that 
have been occupied by the Lady of the Lake. There is 
no remedy, at any rate, unless you will take the pen out 
of my hand and fill up this great blank yourself: for it is 
too serious a tract to be left as a hiatus in MS. But 
as this is an event more to be wished than expected, 
and as yourself and Blanche and 3Ialcolm Graeme may 
look at things in one way, a lucky exemplification of 
lunatic, lover, and poet, and as I am but a jog trot proser, 
contemplating them in another, I must even throw the 
reins on the neck of my own humble grey, in hopes that 
he may pick out a path somewhat different from his gal- 
lant predecessor. As in the case of my friend the tra- 
velling cutler, we have all our several ways of envisager- 
ing the world: chacun a ses lunettes. No one who has 
seen the pass of Lenie will ever forget it ; but he who 
has seen it will forget the rest of Strathire, Kilmahog 
and all. As a specimen of a mountain pass, it can scarcely 
be exceeded in grandeur and romantic beauty: as a 
specimen of river landscape, it has few rivals : uniting 
both, it produces a picture, uiiO(]ualled, inasmuch as it has 
no parallt'l in character, and not often equalled in mag- 
nificence and power of efl'ect, in an union of appropriate 


ornament and alpine sublimity. This is one of those feli- 
citous compositions to which the artist can add nothing, 
and from which he can take nothing. The river is all 
that we can desire ; broad and majestic, while rapid and 
rocky, and fringed with wood ; suited to the breadth and 
elevation of the noble precipices of Ben Ledi that rise 
to the sky in one solid grey mass, and to the cliffs of 
wild forest that unite to form this romantic scene, and, 
which, while they are the gate, seem to refuse all further 
access, an impenetrable barrier to the Highlands. 



Though, in the course of my geography, I have 
brought you to Callander from the Highlands, it will 
happen to the far greater number to reach it from Stir- 
ling, and thus to have an opportunity of seeing what well 
claims a visit, Doune castle. The noble trees that sur- 
round this building-, the magnitude and variety of the 
ruin, the river, the position, the country around, all unite 
to render it one of the most picturesque of our ancient 
castles. Here, however, I am again transgressing my 
bounds; but having- got thus far beyond them, why 
should I not go yet a step further, if it will teach those 
who may follow me, what I should have been thankful 
to have been taught myself when I began my career. 
But it is not Stirling of which I need speak, the glory 
of Scotland ; for Mho does not know its noble rock, ris- 
ing-, the monarch of the landscape, its majestic and pic- 
turesque towers, its splendid plain, its amphitheatre of 
mountain, and the windings of its marvellous river: and 
who that has once seen the sun descending here in all 
the blaze of its beauty beyond the purple hills of the 
Meet, can ever forget the plain of Stirling, the endless 
chfirm of this wonderful scene, the wealth, the splendour, 
the variety, the majesty of all which here lies between 
earth and heaven. It is for the purpose of pointing out 

DOLLAR. 151 

the true road hither, that I have thus far encroached on 
my limits; and chiefly for the sake of Castle Campbell ; 
scarcely known, though known to exist; named, but 
named as if it was an every-day sight, and passed every 
day, by hundreds who are satisfied with knowing that 
they are near it, and with hearing a few wretched puns 
upon its name. 

But I ought to be silent about the puns : for the Dea 
of puns, if there is such a one in Varro's list, seemed to 
have pronounced a judgment on me for my contempt. 
Certainly Dollar was a cause of dolour to me ; as I was 
condemned to lie still for a week, and wonder at what par- 
ticular hour I should be choked with a squinancy. The 
throat is an awkward contrivance ; because, as legislators 
know, it is easily stopped up. Fortunately, Dollar, or 
Dolour, contained no doctor. The landlady, however, 
was the howdie of the village, and came to tender her 
services, producing Dr. Young's certificate. I assured 
her that my case was not in her line ; but, by dint of the 
Napoleon practice, I was rescued from this tedious sub- 
stitute for a halter ; and, in a week, was able to receive 
the congratulations of all the auld wives, and young ones 
too, of the neighbourhood. I must agree with you, Sir 
Walter, that it is an odd sex in our hours of ease; and 
the rest follows. Half of the whole sex of Dollar, kind 
creatures, came out of their houses when they saw the 
stranger gentleman crawling up the hill, like a spectre 
from the vaults of Castle Campbell, to offer him seats, 
and milk, and what not; and when I returned many 
years afterwards, to see and again to thank my obstetric 
hosts, I was received, not as one Avho had been a source 
of trouble, but as an old friend. Certainly, when I can 
choose the inn in which I am to have a fever, it shall be 
at Dollar. 


^VTiat a piece of work is man ! He certainly is, master 
Shakspeare. Because his pulse takes a fancy to beat 82 
instead of 72, he is unable, in twelve hours, to sit up in 
his bed ; and, when he gets out of it at length to enjoy 
the fresh air, must hold fast by the wall he could have 
jumped over a few days before. If the pulse continues 
rebellious, the carpenter comes and nails him up in a 
box, and all his half-finished schemes are at an end. 
Some one says, that if a watchmaker's productions did 
not go better, he would get very little practice. How- 
ever that may be, the sun never shines so warm, the flies 
never hum such sweet music, the mossy bank never looks 
so green, and never does the air breathe such perfume, 
as when he first returns from the edge of the giave to 
smell the breeze that blows from the wallflowers of Castle 
Campbell; or of any other castle. 

To the traveller, there can be no choice between the 
road to Stirling by Linlithgow, and that by Dunferm- 
line and Dollar: yet the former is commonly adopted, 
and if the latter is trod, it is by chance, or by the iew 
who may know this lovely part of Fife. Dunfermline 
itself. Saline, Torryburn, the Devon with its rumbling 
bridge and its cascades, the whole country, in short, is 
one continued scene of beauty, rendering this portion of 
Fife one of the most delicious parts of Scotland. From 
the gates of Muckhart, along the foot of the Ochills, is a 
ride exceeded in beauty by very few lines in Scotland 
of equal length; singular too as it is beautiful, bounded 
on one hand by a lofty and continuous wall of green and 
cultivated and wooded mountain, and, on the other, look- 
ing over a wide and open expanse of country which daz- 
zles the eye by the richness of its wood and cultivation. 
It is in a summer evening, however, that this ride is to be 
enjoyed in perfect beauty; when the rich purple and 


yellow haze of the west relieves the majestic rock of 
Stirling, and when the light is glancing along the end- 
less objects, the towns and waters and trees and hills 
and woods and rocks that fill this wonderful picture ; 
throwing its full yellow gleam on the long and lofty per- 
spective of the Ochills, as they stretch away from the eye, 
varied by deep shadowy valleys and wooded dells and 
hanging forests, and streaming down their bright cas- 
cades to glitter in the sun-beams. 

But it is for Castle Campbell that I have brought you 
here ; not for scenes among which days and weeks might 
be occupied without thinking them long. The general 
glimpse of this place, as it is seen from the village of 
Dollar, is sufficiently striking; but those who are satis- 
fied with this superficial view, will form a very inade- 
quate idea indeed of the grandeur and variety of this 
extraordinary scenery. In advancing towards the ra- 
vine, the importance and interest of this first picture 
becomes materially increased ; as the castle is now 
more distinctly seen, perched on its lofty conical hill, 
and embosomed deep in the surrounding mountains 
that appear to overhang it, shadowing it with a per- 
petual gloom ; continuous woods sweeping up the steep 
acclivities on each hand, and the wild river burst- 
ing out from the deep and mysterious ravine amidst 
overhanging trees and rocks, as if it had suddenly sprung 
from the centre of the earth. Many magnificent land- 
scapes of this strange and wonderful spot may be procured 
from different stations at the bottom of the valley, and 
by changing from one side to the other of the river; the 
essential parts of the picture continuing the same, while 
the lofty side screens of Avood alter their form and po- 
sition, and the features become varied by new trees 
and banks and rocks, and by the changes in the aspect 


of this picturesque and winding river. But, in every 
position, it maintains its gloomy and solemn character; 
a depth and a breadth of shadow, at all hours of the day, 
in singular harmony with the noble sweep of the woods, 
the towering majesty of the mountains, and the bold and 
simple form of the hill which rises with inaccessible 
steepness from below, crowned with its romantic castle ; 
a mountain in itself, yet overtopped by the vast amphi- 
theatre around, which, lifting itself to the sky, impends 
over it in all the sublimity of shadowy twilight and repose. 
But whatever grandeur or variety Castle Campbell 
may present from below, these are far excelled by the 
views from above, which offer scenes of magnificence 
and sublimity not surpassed in Scotland, and possibly 
not surpassed any where. It adds no small interest to 
this scenery, that it bears not the slightest resemblance 
to any thing in the country, nor to any thing- that an 
imagination, however conversant with Scottish landscape, 
could have conceived. Various as are the pictures from 
ditt'erent positions, one general character pervades the 
whole. The eye, from whatever point, here takes in the 
whole sweep of this noble amphitheatre of hill and wood; 
plunging, in inaccessible steepness, beneath our feet, 
down to the invisible depths below, in one sheet of wild 
forest, and towering aloft and over head, a range of sim- 
ple and majestic mountain summits. In the midst, arises 
the conical mountain, now seen below us, and bearing" its 
romantic fortress, insulated in the deep hollow; its inac- 
cessible sides being lost to the eye as they tend down- 
wards to the dark depths of the surrounding chasms be- 
neath, where the river struggles amid its rocks and woods, 
unseen and unheard. From some points, this landscape, 
wonderful as it is, receives a great accession of splendour 
and magnificence, by admitting, on one side, a distant 


view of the richly ornamented country which extends 
from the foot of the Ochills to the Forth ; the water itself 
gleaming bright in the distance, and the horizon terminat- 
ing in the hazy forms and long, retiring, hilly range of 
the opposite shore. But it would be vain to attempt to 
describe scenes fitted only for the pencil, and, by a sin- 
gular felicity of composition, admirably adapted to its 
powers, even where, from occupying so high a point of 
view, the landscapes might be expected to lie beyond its 
scope and means. With a perfect unity and balance of 
composition from all points, a characteristic foreground 
is never wanting; while, without breach of perspective, 
all the objects follow each other, in that succession, from 
the very nearest foreground to the remotest distance, 
which is so rarely found in this class of elevated land- 
scape, and which is so essential to a perfect composition. 
There is nothing baseless, nothing tottering, nothing of 
that obliquity of line, and defective balance, and violent 
contrast between the nearer grounds and the distance, 
which form so general a character of elevated landscape, 
and which so commonly render them unfit for painting, 
however striking or grand they may be in nature. 

There is access to the castle at the only point where 
its hill is connected with the surrounding mountains; 
where some ancient and noble sycamores, the remains of 
an avenue, add much to the picturesque effect of the 
building. While its extent is such as to be adequate to 
the grandeur of the landscape by which it is surrounded, 
its forms are picturesque in a high degree ; and it is in 
that precise state of ruin which is sufficient to add to its 
beauty and interest without destroying its importance. 
From the very narrow area around it, the views are fear- 
fully sublime : while it is also impossible to quit its walls 
but for a few yards, without the risk of being hurled into 


the unknown depths of the surrounding valley. So steep 
is the declivity all round, that the eye sees not the slope 
of the ground on which it is standing; looking down on 
a dark and interminable chasm between the opposing 
woods, and striving in vain to penetrate those deep re- 
cesses which even the light of day reaches not. P fright- 
ful chasm in the hill itself, guarded by an outwork, 
appears once to have served the purpose of giving access 
to the water below : it is called Kemp's Score, and still 
bears some marks of a staircase. It is said that Castle 
Campbell was originally called the Castle of Gloom, and 
that these lands were given by a Bishop of St. Andrew's 
to an Earl of Argyll, as a reward for his assistance in a 
dispute respecting precedency with the See of Glasgow. 
The date of the building is, however, uncertain; though 
the estate was possessed by the Campbells in 1465. In 
1644 or 5, it was burnt by Montrose ; since which it has 
remained a ruin. 

But I must return to Callander and to the Highlands, 
leaving to those to whom it more properly belongs, the 
description of all the particulars that relate to this inter- 
esting road. The ancient manufactory of Highland fire 
arms for which Doune was celebrated, has ceased ; as its 
fairs, the resort of the western Highlanders in former 
days, have been superseded. It is a mean little town, 
but will always be a point of attraction to the traveller, 
on account of its castle, and of the Teith, which is here a 
fine river; and as giving a near and immediate prospect 
of those Highlands to which his hopes and plans are 
tending. I know not but that the first view of Ben Ledi 
in thus approaching it, is more striking than any of the 
ordinary approaches to the Highland border. Though of 
no very great elevation, since it is not 3000 feel high, it 
rises in graceful and almost solitary magnificence, broad 


and blue, the chief of the surrounding hills ; thus con- 
trasting more strongly with the open country to the south- 
ward which we are leaving, and holding out the promise 
of scenes yet unexplored, of the landscapes on which our 
imagination has long been dwelling with hope, and of 
gratification now in our own immediate grasp. Never 
at least shall I forget the impression it made on myself, 
when, after a long lapse of years, of absence from this 
fair land of the mountain and the glen, all the recollec- 
tions of boyhood, on which I had so long and so often 
dwelt, were revived in all their freshness ; and the long- 
protracted hopes seemed now at length on the very verge 
of being gratified. It Avas a delicious July evening, the 
bright blossom of the furze was perfuming the sweet still 
air, and the cheerful note of the yellow hammer was re- 
sounding from every hedge and bush around. Every 
thing was at peace ; and as the sun, long delaying over 
Ben Lomond, streamed through its gorgeous attendant 
clouds of crimson and gold, as if loth to quit the lovely 
scene, brightening the broad side of Ben Ledi, and gild- 
ing the smoke which rose curling from Callander along 
the plain, all the dreary past seemed to vanish, and I felt 
for a moment that I was then wandering as I had once 
wandered among the blue hills and the glassy lakes of 
the Highlands, when the world was yet new, and when 
life held out a bright perspective of happiness. 

The situation of Callander is rendered beautiful, no 
less by the broad and majestic form of Ben Ledi and the 
long range of mountains, which, vanishing in the west, 
are crowned by the graceful cone of Ben Lomond, than 
by the winding of the Teith through its spacious and 
rich plain, and by the romantic and rude wooded hills 
which rise immediately behind, screening it from the 
blasts of the east and from the cold north. Among these, 


is found the noted cascade of Bracklin, often described. 
Imagination has discovered a Roman camp in the plain 
of Callander: but the supposed works are the terraces 
which the Teith has left in changing its position, and of 
which the traces are far too conspicuous and decided to 
have given any just ground for such a mistake. It was 
not for want of making the attempt, that I did not see 
whatever there is to be seen from the summit of Ben 
Ledi. I reached it, but in vain ; and I need not conjec- 
ture and describe, like Brydone on ^tna, what I did not 
see. Did I choose thus to deceive you, I should at any 
rate do it with comparative truth, or rather falsehood ; 
since I sat myself down on its topmost stone, whereas 
that personage, like Eustace in other cases, only ascended 
with the pen, and in his closet. Heaven knows, it is 
difficult enouoh to describe what we have seen, without 
troubling ourselves by attempting to look through clouds 
as dense as a millstone, and by stringing together epi- 
thets with a map before us. Yet the views ought to be 
fine, since Ben Ledi commands a very interesting variety 
of country. That they are so in the direction of Stirling, 
I can vouch ; as they also are over Loch Lubnaig to the 
north : but, to me, it was like the vanishing of images in 
a magic lantern : like the glance of the lightning in a 
dark night ; gone before I could say, it is here. I thought 
that I had known Highland rain in all its forms and mix- 
tures and varieties ; in Sky, in Mull, in Shetland, at Fort 
William, at Killin, on the sunnnit of Ben Lawers, and in 
the depths of Glenco. But nothing like the rain on Ben 
Ledi did I ever behold, before or since. In an instant, 
and without warning or preparation, the showers des- 
cended in one broad stream, like a cascade, from the 
cIou»ls, and in an instant they ceased again. We have 
heard, in an ode to Molly, of counting the drops of rain: 


but there were no drops here to be counted ; it was one 
solid sheet of water. 

There is a peculiarity in these summer showers of the 
Highlands, which a Lowlander knows not, but will not 
easily forget when he has experienced it. If he carries 
an umbrella, it will be useful for him to be told, that, like 
his fowling piece when the dogs have scent, he must 
keep it ready cocked. If there is but a button to undo, 
or a ring to slip off, he will often be wet through before 
he can get either effected. There is an interval of fair 
weather: even the cloud which is to produce the rain is 
not very obvious ; when, in an instant, and without a 
sprinkling, or even a harbinger drop, the whole is let go 
on your head as if a bucket had been emptied on it. 

Perhaps the clouds and rain of this cloudy and rainy 
region are the reason that sun dials are so common in this 
country ; not only at Kilmahog, where there are a dozen, 
but wherever you go. So it is in almost all the villages ; 
and even the solitary house, that has not a stone step to 
its door, or any pretence to geometry in its walls, carries 
the evidence of its mathematical knowledge on its front, 
in the shape of a rusty gnomon. These incessant dials 
in this land of clouds, offer some apology for the cele- 
brated question respecting the use of the sun to the dial. 
The policy is, however, profound : because if he should 
miss it at Inverness, he may hit it at Callander, or else- 
where, some time between the vernal and the autumnal 
equinoxes. But nothing equals the ingenuity of the 
artist at Glamis, who seems to have been determined that 
if time escaped him on one quarter, he would catch it on 
some other. It would be hard indeed, if, in the revolu- 
tion of a year, the sun did not light upon one of the hun- 
dred f\ices of this most ingenious polyedron : for he can 
scarcely peep through a pin hole, without being caught 


in the act by the tip of some one of the gnomons, that 
bristle their north poles like a hedgehog- all round it. 

I wish I could speak of the inns at Callander as I have 
spoken of that at Dollar; but it is a mixed world, inns and 
all, and we must take it as it comes. I mistook the golden 
head over the door for that of Galen or Hippocrates: if 
it is not yours, it ought to be ; for the owner is certainly 
more indebted to you than to either of these worthies, or 
to any merits of his own, for bis practice. All the var- 
nish of this inn is insufficient to varnish its defects : from 
the stable to the kitchen, and the kitchen to the parlour, 
and the parlour to the bed room ; wants of all kinds, 
except of pride and negligence ; and of bells, which, the 
more you ring, the more nobody will come. But what is 
this to John Macpherson's inn, to which you may go if 
you please, and whither, possibly, you may be compelled 
to go. It is a genuine specimen of the Maclarty spe- 
cies ; and is indeed so generic, that it Avill serve, as well 
as Tyndrum or any other, for a model of what this kind 
of hostelry is and may be. 

When you hear Pe ggy called, as if the first 

vowel was just about to thaw, like Sir John Mandeville's 

story, and when you hear Pe ggy answer co ming, 

you must not prepare to be impatient, but recollect that 
motion cannot be performed without time. If you are 
wet, the fire will be lighted by the time you are dry; at 
least if the peat is not wet too. The smoke of wet peat 
is wholesome: and if you are not used to it, they are: 
which is the same thing. There is neither poker nor 
tongs; you can stir it with your umbrella: nor bellows; 
you can blow it ; unless you arc asthmatic : or what is 
better still, Peggy will fan it with her petticoat. " Peggy, 
is the supper coming?" In time, comes mutton, called 
chops, then mustard, by and bye a knife and fork ; sue- 


cessively, a plate, a candle, and salt. When the mutton 
is cold, the pepper arrives, and then the bread, and lastly 
the whisky. The water is reserved for the second course. 
It is good policy to place these various matters in all di- 
rections, because they conceal the defects of Mrs 
Maclarty's table cloth. By this time, the fire is dying-; 
Pegg-y waits till it is dead, and then the whole process of 
the peats and the petticoat is to be gone over again. It is 
all in vain. " Is the bed ready." By the time you have 
fallen asleep once or twice, it is ready. When you enter, 
it is damp : but how should it be dry in such a climate. 
The blankets feel so heavy that you expect to get warm 
in time. Not at all : they have the property of weight 
without warmth: though there is a fulling mill at 
Kilmahog. You awaken at two o'clock; very cold, 
and find that they hiive slipped over on the floor. You 
try to square them again, but such is their weight that 
they fall on the other side : and, at last, by dint of kick- 
ing and pulling, they become irremediably entangled, 
sheets and all ; and sleep flies, whatever King Henry 
may think, to take refuge in other beds and other 

It is vain to try again, and you get up at five. Water 
being so contemptibly common, it is probable that there 
is none present : or if there is, it has a delicious flavour 
of stale whisky : so that you may almost imagine the 
Highland rills to run grog. There is no soap in Mrs. 
Maclarty's house. It is prudent also to learn to shave 
without a looking glass ; because, if there is one, it is so fur- 
rowed and striped and striated, either cross-wise, or per- 
pendicularly, or diagonally, that, in consequence of wiiat 
Sir Isaac Newton might call its fits of irregular reflection 
and transmission, you cut, your nose if it distorts you one 
way, and your ear if it protracts you in the opposite di- 

VOL. I. M 


lection. The towel being either wet or dirty, or both, 
you wipe yourself in the moreen curtains, unless you 
prefer the sheets. When you return to your sitting- 
room, the table is covered with glasses, and mugs, and 
circles of dried whisky and porter. The fire place is full 
of white ashes: you labour to open a window, if it 
will open, that you may get a little of the morning air: 
and there being no sash-line, it falls on your fingers, as it 
did on Susanna's. Should you break a pane, it is of 
no consequence, as it will never be mended again. The 
clothes wiiich you sent to be washed, are brought up 
wet ; and those which you sent to be dried, smoked. 

You now become impatient for the breakfast ; and as 
it will not arrive, you go into the kitchen to assist in 
makinff the kettle boil. You will not accelerate this : 
but youM'ill see the economy of Mrs. Maclarty's kitchen. 
The kettle, an inch thick, is hanging on a black crook iu 
the smoke, not on the fire, likely to boil to-morrow. If 
you should be near a forest, there is a train of chips 
lying from the fire-place to the wood-corner, and the 
landlady is busy, not in separating the two, but in pick- 
ing out any stray piece that seems likely to be lighted 
before its turn comes. You need not ask why the houses 
do not take fire: because it is all that the fire itself can 
do, with all its exertions. Round this fire are a few oat 
cakes, stuck on edge in the ashes to dry ; perhaps a 
herring: and on the floor, at hand, are a heap or two of 
bed clothes, a cat, a (ow melancholy fowls, a couple of 
black dogs, and perchance a pig, or more ; Avith a pile of 
undoscribables, consisting of horse collars, old shoes, 
petticoats, a few dirty plates and horn spoons, a kilt, pos- 
sibly a bagpipe, a wooden beaker, an empty gill and a 
pint Rtoup, a water bucket, a greasy candlestick, a rake, 
a spinning wheel, two or three frowsy fleeces and a shop- 


herd's plaid, an iron pot full of potatoes, a never-washed 
milk-tub, some more potatoes, a griddle, a three-leg-ged 
stool, and heaven and earth know what more. All this 
time, two or three naked children are peeping at you 
out of some unintelligible recess, perchance contesting 
with the chickens and the dogs for the fire, while Peggy 
is sitting over it unsnooded : one hand in her head, and 
the other, no one knows where, as she is wondering 
when the kettle will not boil ; while, if she had a third, 
it might be employed on the other two. But enough of 
Mrs. Maclarty and her generation ; for I am sure you 
can have no inclination to partake with me of the break- 
fast, which will probably be ready in two hours. 

Loch Cateran, it need not be said, forms the great 
attraction of Callander; since, although this is not the 
only road to that beautiful spot, it is the most convenient 
one. Such is my orthography, or, if you prefer it, 
Ketterin : but Catharine or Katrine, can by no means be 
permitted. Nothing can possibly be plainer; except to 
etymologists, who so often take a wrong road when the 
right one is before them. Why otherwise the very 
Highlanders, scholars, and natives of the place them- 
selves, should never have seen the obvious origin of 
this name, I know not. Kett urrin, says some one; 
urrin signifying hell, and kett being added euphonire 
gratia: and what others say is of much the same quality. 
But what is this to Mr. Whiter and his Etymologicon 
magnum. Sleep, says Mr. Whiter, is derived from cabin, 
because the first huts were places to sleep in ; and soap is 
derived from sleep, because they are both connected 
with notions of softness. Vir, says the same philoso- 
pher, is the same as fear, because man is subject to be 
frightened ; and war too is the same word as vir and 



fear, because it is the chief of human occupations. 
Enough of the etymologists. 

Loch Cateran, from its convenient vicinity to the Low- 
lands, and from the unsearchable nature of its wild 
recesses, was one of the most noted resorts of ban- 
ditti; maintaining that character to the latest period at 
which any of these tribes existed; a period not "sixty 
years since." A plainer origin for the name could not 
well be desired; and as the radicals themselves are 
Gaelic, it is the more surprising that Gaelic scholars 
should have first made these blunders, and then persisted 
in them. Cateran, pronounced nearly according to the 
orthography, Cath earn, signifies men of war, or sol- 
diers, and, by courtesy, thieves and banditti. Hence, 
according to the (iaelic elided pronunciation, we have 
Cearn, and in the plural Cearnach ; the common name of 
the Donald Bean Leans and the rest of that tribe. The 
old writers sometimes spelt Carnanach, and hence ap- 
parently the of Ptolcuiy ; as his Kepuvt^ seem to 
mean the same thing, from Cearns, or Kearns. Fordun, 
I think, calls them Quatrani ; and I need not tell you that 
Shakspeare's Kernes are the same personages. Ket- 
terin, is, I believe, the last form into which this word has 
been tormentod. Thus much for the honour of etymo- 
logy and of Loch Cateran ; and though I may differ 
from the autiior of the Lady of the Lake, what can be 
said, except that etymologists will differ, and sounder 
casuists fail than you or me, Sir Walter. 

Loch Venachar, the first object that occurs in pro- 
ceeding from Callander towards Loch Cateran, is but an 
insipid piece of water, except when, as seen from the 
westward, it partakes of the scenery beyond it which be- 
longs to Loch Achray ; under which form it oflers some 


very pleasing* pictures. The first very striking view of 
the scenery to which we are approaching, is obtained 
from the hill above the bridge of Turk. Ben Venu, des- 
tined to act so principal a part in all the future landscape, 
is here a leading object : forming a magnificent termina- 
tion to a picture which fills the eye by its parts and its 
ornament. But the chief interest in this part of the ap- 
proach to Loch Cateran arises from Loch Achray; a 
name often unjustly swallowed up in that of its greater 
neighbour, since it may well stand a competition with it 
for the beauty of its landscapes. Those who hurry from 
this lovely lake to reach Loch Cateran, are of the tribe 
which follows Avhere it is led, and which might frequently 
as well stay at home. Unless indeed they come for the 
same reason as a Lady whom I once met, and who drove 
up as if she had been driving through Bond Street, look- 
ing at nothing, but calling for a guide to shew her the 
place where Fitz James first saw the fair Ellen. This 
was the very sword which was exhibited as the one that 
Balaam wished for when he was angry M'ith his ass; but 
the Lady was satisfied, and drove back to London again. 
The very guide seemed to hold his employers in no 
small contempt. I had accompanied, on one occasion, 
a cockney friend whom I met here, and who, after scram- 
bling among the rocks and bogs for an hour, expressed 
vast indignation when he had reached the Coir nan 
Uriskin. " Lord, Sir," said the man, "there is no cave 
here but what Mr. Scott made himself." "What the 

d 1, no cave?" "Na,sir, but we go where the gentry 

chooses, and they always ask for the goblin cave first." 

All that can be said is, that here the Poet and the 
Lake divide the crown ; so that whatever indignation 
Nature and Loch Cateran may feel at this neglect, you. 
Sir Walter Scott, have reason to be pleased with the 


triumphs of imagination over reality. Why the scenes 
of a fictitious tale should excite the same interest as 
those where the great drama of life has been acted in its 
various forms, I shall leave you to explain, as this is your 
affair, not mine : but I am quite sure that many of the 
well-informed personages who come here to see, believe 
the whole tale as firmly as you and I once believed in 
Valentine and Orson and More of Morehall. It was not 
very long ago since I met another party in search of 
this cave of your Uriskins, looking about them on all 
hands, with a mixture of fear and expectation, as if some 
of this Highland satyrhood were about to start up, like 
roebucks, from the bushes. 

But what can one expect from such a clanjamfray as 
your poem has let loose upon this place. I thought ray 
Killin friend had been as perfect an example as could be 
desired, of the power of pictviresque scenery on the mind, 
of that enjoyment of Nature which we charitably sup- 
pose others to possess, because we possess it ourselves. 
But it was at the same place that I met a party which had 
come to see the beauties of the country, and which ar- 
rived after it was dark in a coach and four ; departing the 
following morning with day light, that they might reach 
Callander in time for dinner. Thus the world goes on; 
upon trust and credit. I wish this was the >vorst ; but 
Loch Cateran seems in a fair way of being belaked by 
the same unholy crew which has made the English lakes 
a standing nuisance. The last time I was here, I found a 
young cockney apothecary who had taken a lodging in 
one of the cottngos, and who was employing the 
Edinburgh snmnier vacation in practising on a French 
horn. After three months of weary labour, he had at- 
tained the fourth bar of Cod save the King; and the 
whole, valley, rock, mountain, and water, resounded all 


day long with the odious notes and tlieir more odious 
echoes. I could have wished for Helen Mac Gregor to 
have treated, his horn at least, as she did the exciseman. 
Nay, I am not sure that I was not a little angry with you ; 
wishing you had laid the venue of your poem any where 
else than at Ben Venn. Do, pray, take these matters to 
heart ; and, in future, let it be St. Kilda, or John O'Groat's 
house, or the wilds of Rossshire. There is room enough 
in the Highlands for these irruptions of the Vandals; 
places without number, where they may indulge them- 
selves with the French horn, or any thing else, without 
annoying their sober neighbours. 

I am sure you will agree with me, that whatever su- 
periority the scenery of Loch Cateran may possess, in 
respect to romantic wildness, or variety, or grandeur, or 
splendour of alpine ornament, it does not present many 
landscapes more perfect than those of Loch Achray. It 
is a frequent fault in Loch Cateran, that its landscapes, 
like those of lakes in general, consist, for the most part, 
of a distance and a foreground only ; the vacant water 
occupying the place of the middle ground, and thus pro- 
ducing a meagreness of composition, of which every one 
must be sensible. At Loch Achray, there is water enough 
to stamp the character of the landscape, and to give life 
and brilliancy to the surrounding objects, without en- 
feebling the picture, either by its position or its extent. 
Whether occupying a portion of the middle ground, or 
of the foreground, or of both, it only performs that acces- 
sary part which water should ever do ; contrasting, by 
its vacancy, its tranquillity, and its breadth of colour, 
with the splendour and bustle and multiplicity of the 
rocks, the woods, and the trees ; and thus, while it adds 
variety and life to the landscape, conferring on it that 
repose so essential to good composition. I need not des- 


cribe the particulars of views which can scarcely be over- 
looked by the dullest spectators ; but there are two, at 
least, of this lake, which ought to be pointed out, because 
they lie out of the ordinary track, and have probably been 
seen by few. These are to be obtained by ascending the 
hill in the direction of Loch Ard, and they are most per- 
fect under a morning- sun. At the uppermost point, Ben 
Venn occupies a prominent place in the picture; its long- 
rocky ridge sweeping- down in a l)eautiful curve, and 
separating- Loch Cateran from Loch Achray ; the former 
stretching- far away to the west, embosomed in its bold 
mountains, and the latter buried beneath the romantic 
and rocky ridge of Binean, A finer mountain view is 
rarely to be seen, though it is of a map-like character : 
but at a lower point. Loch Achray itself offers a picture, 
not otdy well adapted for the pencil, but exceeded in 
grandeur by few of the landscapes of this fertile and 
splendid tract. Its elements are the same ; but the rich 
mixture of rock and wood which closes the western end, 
is here seen in all its wonderful splendour of detail, 
uniting with the romantic ridge beyond, to enclose, like a 
diamond in a rich casket, this lovely sheet of water, and 
towering high over it, as if to protect it from the injuries 
of the elements and the intrusion of man. 

There is a singular and a romantic scene where 
the Tcith is crossed, just before its entrance into Loch 
Achray, l)y a rude alpine wooden bridge. The myste- 
rious source of the water among the closing rocks, their 
lofty grey faces, a«id the oaks, rooted in their fissures and 
throwing out their knotted branches and dark green fo- 
liage in contrast with the naked precipices, produce a 
picture altogether in haiinony with the >vhole of this 
collection of wild and almost unparalleled landscape. 
When first I visited this place, when the name of Loch 


Cateran was scarcely known, even at Edinburgh, that 
bridge was entire. I returned after many years, and 
found it so full of holes, that, like the bridg-e in Mirza's 
vision, it was easier to fall through than to walk over it. 
In a few more, I found it again, but now reduced to its 
two elementary poles; and though the only mode of 
communication across this water, and between two near 
neighbours, neither had thought of saving it from des- 
truction, by repairs that would not have cost a few hours 
of labour. Had it been the only instance of this kind, 
I should have concluded that it was the very bridge in 
Glenburnie. But, as I told you before, there are Glen- 
burn ies every where, 

I have rarely been so disappointed of reasonable ex- 
pectations, as with the views from the summit of Ben 
Venu. Its situation naturally leads us to expect a very 
various and splendid expanse of landscape: but, by a 
fatality in the distribution of the mountains, many of the 
interesting- objects that we might have hoped to see, are 
excluded. In particular, a good deal of the wild scenery 
of the Trosachs and of the lower extremity of its own lake, 
as well as of Loch Achray, are nearly invisible ; from the 
difficulty or impossibility of attaining that declivity, so 
as to look down from the summit. There is still, how- 
ever, much of their interesting- anatomy to be seen. Wild 
as this face appears from below, no conception could be 
formed, from any other place, of its inaccessible nature; 
of its tremendous cliffs and precipices, and of the depth 
of the intervening hollows. It is truly a fearful scene, 
yet a splendid one : as much from the variety of the 
ground, as from the scattered wood which covers it, and 
from the marks of apparent destruction and ruin which 
it displays, in its broken rocks and deep fissures. On 
the other sides, the views present little else than the well- 


known mouutaios of Loch Lomond and the west : yet 
there is much grandeur in them: while those which 
stretch from Ben Ledi towards Loch Earn are also visible, 
thouoh the moderate elevation of this mountain does not 
permit a very extensive view over the opener country 
that extends beyond Callander. The places of Glasgow 
and Greenock are easily seen : but. as usual, these towns 
and the Clyde are suflbcated in their own smoke. 

There are two common mistakes committed by those 
who visit Loch Cateran : the one, and the chief, that of 
making exclusive use of a boat ; and the other, that of 
limiting the walk to the northern and most accessible 
side of the water. By the former practice, nearly all that 
distinguishes this place from every other, all the wonder- 
ful and wild variety of its foregrounds and middle 
Sfrounds, is nearly lost; little also remainino- but the 
broad unvarying declivity of Ben Venu, which, however 
grand or picturesque as a distance, loses its interest and 
much of its eftect when it forms the chief or sole object, 
rising from a straight line of vacant water. Thus viewed, 
the picture is a distance without middle or fore ground : 
nor is this object, grand as it is, and romantic as is the dis- 
tribution of its parts, free from a similar fnuh, even when 
seen from the opposite shore with the advantage of a 
line of foreground, while the intermediate space consists 
of water only. This is one of the worst modes of lake 
scenery, as it is the most common ; and though, from the 
magnitude and splendour of the objects, the defect is 
here less sensible in nature than it would be in painting, 
the landscape at length becomes >vearisome by its uni- 
turmity. But many beautiful views may be procured 
alony this shore, by a judicious management of those 
angles and bays which occur: using them so as to ex- 
clude a superabundance of water, and to break that 


straio^lit line which is, throughout, the foundation of the 
distance. Thus there may be procured that which, if it 
is not really a middle ground, answers, to a certain de- 
gree, the same purpose ; by interposing, in some measure, 
between the immediate foreground and the mountain, 
and thus diminishing that sudden and, here, almost in- 
variable, immediate contrast between the foreground and 
the distance, of which the effect is so disagreeable. 

But these remarks regard art chiefly. In nature, and 
without such reference, the whole of this line of scenery 
must always be beautiful; uniting the utmost magnificence 
with a fairy-like and romantic character, and with a splen- 
dour of ornament which is almost unparalleled in Scotland : 
unparalleled I might perhaps say. The declivity of Ben 
Venu has no rival any where ; whatever resemblances to 
it may be found in some of the scenes formerly pointed 
out. It is the singular felicity of this mountain, that 
while its outline is every where elegant or graceful, its 
simplicity and breadth of form and of general surface, 
serve to support and to harmonize, according to the true 
rules of beauty, whether in nature or in art, that endless 
variety of parts of which it consists : its cliffs and knolls 
and precipices and ravines and dark hollows, with the 
masses of wood that are scattered in picturesque confu- 
sion along its side, and the single trees to which are 
chiefly owing that lightness and airy grace which form 
such striking features throughout all the scenerv of this 
lake. To this concurrence of circumstances, must be 
added the breadth of shadow, which, at most times, and 
at noon day principally, involves this mountain; sup- 
porting the playful lights which glitter in the endless 
multiplicity of the rocks and trees of the fore and nearer 
grounds, and casting a tone of sober repose over the 
broad water. No where, perhaps, does so much depend 


on the position of the sun as here ; important as its place 
is to landscape in all situations. To sit still in any one 
spot and to watch its progress from morning to evening, 
is to witness a succession of pictures equally striking and 
unexpected. Though the outline continues unchanged, 
every new light detects some hidden form ; bringing 
into view, hills and woods and precipices and deep 
valleys before unsuspected, and producing an ever-mov- 
ing and changing scene, as if the hand of magic were 
hourly operating a new creation. In the foregrounds, 
an incessant variety occurs in proceeding- along the mar- 
gin of the lake, as the road skirts the edge of the water 
under overhanging rocks and trees, or enters some se- 
cluded bay, or clambers the precipice and winds along 
the intricate hollows, or lastly, as taking its stand on 
some bold promontory, it commands the whole extent of 
the brilliant landscape around. 

To attempt to detail the various pictures on this north- 
ern side of the water, would be to undertake a task alike 
laborious and ineffectual. Only let me remark, for the 
sake of those to whom this lake is new, that neither tlie 
value nor the number of the scenes contained within this 
short space of two miles, will easily be discovered on a 
first visit, nor without certain precautions which experi- 
ence alone will teach. It is natural to fix the eye on the 
great features, to have the attention engaged by the 
whole picture rather than by the parts ; nor is it easy, 
without considerable efl'ort, to withdraw the mind from 
the general and overwhelming- eflbct of the entire scene. 
Thus we overlook the rapid and incessant changes that 
occur near us, and sec but one or a few pictures where 
there exist hundreds. Let the spectator bestow his chief 
atk'iitioii on the objects inunetliately near him, on the 
wonderful variety of rocks and trees, of bays, precipices, 


promontories, and sinuosities along which the road is 
conducted, and from these form his pictures. The dis- 
tance is always nearly the same, and he may safely neg- 
lect it; as there is no danger that it will not command 
his attention whenever that is required. Thus he will 
add, both to his pleasures and to his stores; and will 
discover also, if he was not before aware of it, that, even 
in a single landscape in nature, it is impossible to pay 
due attention to all the parts, without a considerable 
effort, and without a degree of study which may be 
called analytical. I need only further add, with respect 
to this side of the water, that the point where the land- 
scapes first cease, is obvious, and that, beyond this, 
there is no further temptation to proceed up the lake. 
Nothing be so sudden as the transition, or so strong 
as the contrast, between its lower and upper parts. 
From this point to the very further extremity, and on both 
sides, it is among the dullest of our lakes : all the magic 
lies in Ben Venu and the objects immediately surround- 
ing- it, and from the moment we part with these, the 
charm is broken. If there is some little character in 
Glen Gyle, it is insufficient to attract any attention after 
quitting these more splendid scenes. 

I must now return to some points on this lake which 
are known to few, and which are utterly neglected by 
the mass of travellers. Yet those who do not visit them, 
will depart with very inadequate conceptions of the in- 
finite variety of this extraordinary spot. The first sight 
of the lake, as it breaks on the eye after emerging from 
the magnificent pass of the Trosachs, is rather bizarre or 
singular than picturesque, as well from the littleness of 
the parts as from their unexpected forms, though it can- 
not be denied the praise of romantic character. From 
this point, a road or path to the left, strikes off round 


the base of that singular little hill whicli here terminates 
the pass : giving access to the river as it issues from the 
lake, and to various wild landscapes of extraordinary 
beauty. The river itself affords one or two pictures 
scarcely inferior to those of the pass of Lenie, and utterly 
distinct from every thing else which Loch Cateran pre- 
sents. Boisterous and wild, forcing its winding way 
among huge rocks and under the shadow of ancient and 
rugged oaks, its origin and termination are alike myste- 
rious and obscure ; appearing to spring from the depths 
of the mountain, and shortly and suddenly losing itself 
among the lofty wooded rocks which enclose the head of 
Loch Achray. Ben Venn, towering aloft in all its simple 
sublimity, overhangs this scene of romance; of solitude 
which appears inaccessible alike to man and animals, 
and which seems fitted for the resort of supernatural 
beings. Every thing appears wrapt in gloom and in 
mystery; and we wander about this awful wilderness of 
rocks and woods, wondering how we are to extricate our- 
selves from their deep chasms and recesses, and almost 
wondering how we entered into the mountain labyrinth. 
We need not be surprised that such scenes as these were 
the resort of banditti; nor is it even now easy, in con- 
templating them, to cast off the impressions produced in 
our younger days by tales of romantic horror. 

Here also are found some of the finest views which the 
lake aflbrds. That angle, in particular, which gives exit 
to the river, produces some of the grandest scenes about 
this spot ; Ben Venn here rising, close at hand, in a noble 
series of romantic precipices till it is lost in the clouds, 
and stretching away from the eye in a magnificent per- 
spective, while the left hand of the picture is formed by 
all that wild variety of ground whicli conducts the road; 
seen from this point under shapes :is new as they are 


picturesque and wild. The island, celebrated by your- 
self, and not much less famed as the garrison of the wo- 
men and children durina: the invasion of Cromwell's 
soldiers, forms a conspicuous object from this point ; 
while the distant mountains, which enclose the head of 
the lake, retire in airy forms till they are lost in the mist 
of the western horizon. 

But it is time to think of ending Avith Loch Cateran. 
Not, however, till I have advised those who are really 
desirous of knowing this lake, to bestow one forenoon on 
the southern side of the water, and amid the wilds of Ben 
Venu itself, as far as they are accessible. The path 
which leads to Balloch-nam-bo, is not very difficult to 
find ; and the scenery here is, if possible, wilder, more 
magnificent, and more romantic than at any other part. 
The closer scenery about the woods and rocks, formed 
among the grey precipices and dark recesses and knotted 
oaks and pendent birches, is unexampled for wildness 
and beauty ; while the same spot also aflfords various 
general views of the Trosachs and of the lake, entirely 
distinct in character from all the former; more wild, more 
strange, and more romantic. It is an incredible chaos 
of objects, but it is a chaos of beauty and sublimity : 
nor let any man imagine that he can pronounce on the 
merits of Loch Cateran and all that surrounds it, till he 
has passed days, mornings, noons, and evenings, on it 
and about it; till he has explored, even at the risk of 
his neck, all the dark and mysterious places in which it 
abounds, has climbed every grey rock and precipice 
where he can obtain footing, and has threaded all the 
labyrinthine maze of its woods and its torrents, of its deep 
ravines and twilight recesses. 



Returning through the deep and wild woody pass 
under Ardkenknochan, I met a smart young Highlander, 
blazing in a full suit of scarlet tartan, forming a highly 
picturesque and proper accompaniment to the surround- 
ing landscape. He was of the better class of farmers, 
and evidently a Highland dandy of the first water. His 
colours were of that pattern called royal ; and it was to 
be presumed that he claimed descent from the Stuarts. 
Each clan, you know, is supposed to have had its distinctive 
tartan, (for there are philosophers called sceptics who 
doubt even this,) and many of these patterns, formed of 
somewhat dingy mixtures of green, purple, and red, are 
admirably adapted for that which is thought to have been 
part of their original purpose; namely, the concealing 
as is described in your poem, an ambuscade among the 
heath and bushes, or watching the motions of an enemy. 
The scarlet patterns, however, must have been fully as 
efficacious in defeating this object ; if such ever was the 
purpose of a tartan. Some of these mixtures are ex- 
tremely beautiful, even to the eye of a painter : being 
judicious associations of warm and cold tints ; >vell pro- 
portioned and well opposed, and further, finely blended 
by the broken hues wliich arise from the crossing of the 
difl'erent coloured threads in the other parts of the pat- 
tern. Notwithstanding the extreme division of the de- 
sign, they are also frequently managed in such a manner 
as to produce a breadth of colouring which gives an air 
of solidity and repose to a mixture of tints that, for want 


of siicb care, would only dazzle and fatigue the sioht. 
Many of them, it must however be admitted, are dis- 
posed in complete defiance of all taste and harmony ; 
dazzling-, gaudy, and confused, so as to give pain instead 
of pleasure to an educated or correct eye; while others 
are made of colours, either so injudiciously arranged and 
approximated, or so dingy and discordant in themselves, 
as to produce an unpleasant effect. I must not run the 
risk of offending- any of my worthy friends by hazarding 
a more special criticism on them, or by naming- those 
which a painter would admire or those which he would 
reject; since the colour and pattern of his tartan are said 
to be interwoven in the very heart of a true Highlander. 
Among" some of the greater Reges this is true, or may be 
supposed : as to the Achivi, they know little about the 
matter and seem to care much less. 

In some of the clans, the characters of these patterns 
are thought to have been rigidly preserved ; but, re- 
specting* many, there are disputes in which it would 
ill become a Sassanach to interfere. Martin does not say 
that the clans were thus distinguished : he merely re- 
marks that the different islands had different patterns. 
Like most other objects of affection, their value seems to 
have increased just at the moment they were in danger 
of being lost; and hence those who had long neglected 
this relic of ancient distinctions, have been lately busy 
in inventing or imagining what they could not restore. 
New genera and species have thus crept into the arrange- 
ment: and, to increase the confusion which thus reigns 
in the natural history of tartans, the weavers of Bannock- 
burn, backed by the ladies and the haberdashers of 
Edinburgh, have lately spawned an illegitimate off- 
spring, which bids defiance to all classification. Tt is 
chiefly in the country indeed, thai (here is a chance of 

VOL. I. N 


procuring genuine specimens of the original heraldic 
bearings of the clans; while the solidity of the manufac- 
ture as it is woven in a Highland loom, ensures that 
warmth and comfort which we may seek in vain in the 
flimsy Lowland imitations that have now superseded 
them in the towns. 

Whatever may be thought of the convenience of the 
Highland dress, every one must acknowledge that the 
full costume, as it is worn by the Highland regiments, is 
highly picturesque. But even this is corrupted by the 
modern ostritch plume; which, like that of an under- 
taker's horse, nods from the bonnet ; although it cannot 
be denied that it improves the eftect. The chief alone 
was formerly distinguished by some mark of this nature; 
by an eagle's feather; and, according to his clan, by a 
sprig of heath or of some other plant : distinct clans 
being supposed to have been distinguished, as I formerly 
observed, each by its own botanical bearing. The eftec- 
tive part of this dress is the belted plaid, as it is called, 
or that arrangement in which the plaid is fastened to the 
kilt; not a separate garment to be thrown oft' or put on 
when convenient. But this is no longer to be seen in the 
country, except among a few of the gentlemen who 
choose occasionally to wear it in full dress, or as the cos- 
tume of the Piper or the Henchman, where these are still 
retained. It is by no means very common now to meet, 
even with the kilt ; except among those who have much 
occasion for walking, and among the children, with 
whom, from its cheapness and convenience, it is almost 
universal. The bonnet is still a good deal worn, even 
M hen the rest of the dress is merely a jacket and trousers ; 
but it is not a very picturesque ornament at any time, 
when unadorned, and is quite the reverse when worn 
with the coat and the other incongruities of English 


dress. Nor can much be said in this respect in favour of 
the kilt, unless the loose plaid happens to be used at the 
same time. Still less is it to be considered ornamental, 
when worn, as it sometimes is, with a hat. Nothing- in- 
deed can well look more incongruous and mean than this 
spurious dress. The plaid is still much in use; particu- 
larly among old women in their Sunday attire ; when it 
is so disposed as to form a cap and cloak both, and is 
sometimes fastened before, by a huge circular silver or 
pewter broach that has descended through g-enerations. 
The coarse plaid, of a plain brown and white chequer, 
is in universal use among- the shepherds and drovers, 
and among the children who tend the cattle ; and to them 
it serves the purpose of cloak, umbrella, and sometimes 
of bedding; as its texture is sufficiently solid to keep 
off a great deal lof rain. When wet, it is equally im- 
pervious to the blast ; and, however strange it may ap- 
pear, forms thus a very comfortable shelter. An ancient 
Highlander rolled himself in his wet plaid when he lay 
down to sleep on the heath. 

The trousers, which anciently formed a variety of the 
Highland costume, under the name of trews, (whence also 
trouser,) the braccai caligatoe of Giraldus Cambrensis, 
have now quite superseded the kilt among the shepherds, 
who have learnt to know the comfort of warmth. At sea, 
no other dress is worn ; nor do I recollect, throughout all 
the islands, seeing a single boatman in a kilt, except by 
accident, although some still wear the bonnet. They 
have, in fact, adopted the bluejacket and trousers, with' 
the warm stockings, of a common seaman ; sensible of their 
advantagfes in the wet and cold weather in which their 
occupation lies. As long as Highland regiments are 
maintained, the full dress cannot be forgotten : it is de- 
sirable that it should not ; but time, and a sense of its 

N 2 


superior convenience, have now rendered familiar and 
welcome, that which was originally imposed by force, 
and was not adopted without many remonstrances and 
much obloquy against my lord Hardwicke ; of which 
the popular ballads of the times have preserved ample 
record. Every year, even in my own experience, is en- 
croaching on the kilt and bonnet ; and, in no long time, 
it will probably be found only among the few who are 
laudably tenacious of ancient customs and recollections. 

A few enthusiasts have amused themselves with de- 
riving the Highland kilt from one of the dresses of the 
Romans, to which the resemblance is sufficiently vague. 
These worthy antiquaries forget the anger they feel at 
the bare notion that the Romans ever interfered with the 
Highlanders; as much as Macpherson forgot himself 
when he chose to convert Caracul into Caracalla, and to 
send his hero Fingal to make war on the legions, and to 
reward his followers with the " gold of the stranger." 
They were little likely to adopt, either an ornamental or a 
useful part of dress from their enemies; but whether that 
be the fact or not, it is nearly certain that the Gael and 
the Romans had no communication, as the progress of the 
latter lay along the east coast; among Picts or Cale- 
donians, a different race, be their disputed origin what it 
may, until it finally terminated at Cromarty, or rather 
beyond it, at Tarbet Ness, the Arce finium Imperii 
Roman i. 

Shocking as it may be to Gaelic pride, it does not seem 
^ery difficult to trace the origin of the belted plaid ; the 
true an«l characteristic dress from which the other modifi- 
cations have been derived. It is precisely, as has been 
often sai<l, the expedient of a savage, unable or unwilling 
to convert the web of cloth which he had procured, into 
a more convenient shape. Rolling one extremity round 


his body, the remainder was thrown over his shoulder, 
to be used as occasion should require, in covering the 
rest of his person. The Roman theory of the kilt is in- 
deed demolished at one blow, by the fact that this article 
of dress in an independent form, or the philibeg(fealabeg'), 
is of very modern introduction: and, what is stili worse, 
that it was the invention of an Englishman. It was first 
introduced at Tyndrum about a century past, by Rawlin- 
son, the superintendent, or agent for the lead mines ; who, 
findino- his Highland labourers encumbered with their 
belted plaids, taught them to separate the two into the 
present form. To such vile causes have great revolu- 
tions been owing, and by such trifles are ponderous 
theories overthrown. 

I am as much in danger however for any heterodoxy 
which I may have the misfortune to entertain in the 
matter of kilts, particularly if the tartan fever should 
continue, as for those other difficulties of belief that haunt 
all unfortunate wights who choose to hunt among Celtic 
antiquities, and listen to Celtic antiquaries. Nevertheless 
I must go on, and say, with Kecksy, " who's afraid." 

They tell us it is the Roman dress. Antiquaries are 
strange fellows every where, but this is wondrous strange. 
If this hypothesis means any thing, it is that the kilt was 
an imitation of the skirts of the Roman Tunica, or else of 
the loose dangling fringe-like armour, the straps of the 
Lorica, or cuisses, in modern phrase, which were some- 
times worn over them. Now, at whatever time the kilt, 
or rather petticoat, was adopted, it was the lower end of 
the plaid, and nothing else ; not of a waistcoat like the 
Tunica: the proper philibeg, as I said before, is modern. 
There is a sort of resemblance between the kilt and the 
skirts of the Tunica, it is true ; but as to the rest of it, or 
the principle of the two dresses, they resemble each other 


just as much as Macedon does Monmouth. The Roman 
soldiers had no plaid ; nor would it be very easy to ex- 
tract that garment from the Sagura ; except that, as difler- 
ent people may wrap themselves in a simple web, there 
cannot fail to be coincidences in form. It would not be 
amiss also if these Celtic tailors would prove that the 
Roman soldiers who occupied Britain, were so indifferent 
to cold as to be content to cover their bodies with nothing 
but the loose skirt of a waistcoat ; or that their officers 
were silly enough to bring naked men out of the red 
heat of Italy, and turn them bare to the rains, and storms, 
and snows, of our delectable climate. They ought also 
to tell us how it happened that a barbarous people 
adopted the dress of their invaders ; invaders, not even 
conquerors ; and whom moreover it could not have been 
the fortune of many of them to have seen. The matter is 
too plain to require any further commentary. 

The real origin of the dress is obvious enough, as I 
said before, though, probably, extremely remote; but 
the present sho^vy combination, which forms the entire 
dress, seems to be comparatively modern. It has been 
said that the mere philibeg of tartan cannot be very old ; 
and that the harlequin-like masquerade dress, all of 
tartan, and sometimes of more kinds than one, is abso- 
lutely an aftair of yesterday. It has also been said, that 
it must require no common share of Celtic credulity, even 
to believe that the Highlanders could have woven a tar- 
tan two or three centuries ago ; and that they were as 
likely to have made brocade or sprigged muslins. As 
to their distinguishing their clans by the patterns of these 
we})s, that also, as I have just noticed, is said to be more 
than doubtful ; and is .tsscrtcd, at any rate, to be very 
modem indeed. 

The tug of war is severe when Scot meets Gael ; but 


I suspect that the Gael here has got the right on his side ; 
at least for an antiquity much more considerable than 
this criticism would imply; In some canons for regulat- 
ing the Scottish church, enacted about 1240 and 1250> 
the ecclesiastics were prohibited from wearing red, green, 
and striped clothing, as well as garments that were 
shorter than the middle of the leg That, obviously, 
alludes both to tartan and to kilts or plaids. Moniepenny 
also mentions " plaids of divers colours :" but his date 
scarcely passes 1600. Nor is it reasonable to conclude 
that the Highlanders were at any period so barbarous, 
as to have been incapable, either of dyeing or weaving. 
They manufactured arms ; and the arts required for that, 
are fully as refined. It is usual to run into extremes in 
these matters ; while, when extravagant claims are set 
up on one side, the common rule is to allow nothing at 
all. Admitting- that the military or political system and 
the mode of iC, in the middle ages of the Highlands, were 
what we now call barbarous and savage, these critics 
ought to remember that many arts, even refined ones, 
were known to Greece, when its manners were no other 
than those of the ancient Highlanders; and that, even in 
those nations which are now savage, many ingenious and 
difficult manufactures are practised. But history itself 
will shew the unfounded nature of this criticism. To 
take one portion alone, and the most secluded of the 
Highlands, viz. the maritime part, it could not possibly 
have been deficient in arts before 1200, when under the 
Norwegian government ; when it built and manned large 
fleets and gave aid to England ; when its kings resided 
occasionally at the English court, and when, even long 
prior to that date, the state of Norway was similar to that 
of Normandy at the time of the conquest of England. 
Such arts could not have been lost in the Highlands after 


the Norwegian secession : and tlierefore, whatever we 
may choose to think of Highland manners in former 
times, we must beware of imagining them to have been 
that barbarous people which some persons have chosen 
to suppose. But anger on one side excites it on the 
other ; and truth, taking M'ing, flies far away. 

But to return to the antitartanists. Scotland never 
stood very high in the arts, it must be owned, and her 
list of painters is as meagre as it is modern. Conse- 
quently, her galleries of family portraits are rather more 
defective than her pedigrees. Yet if we go back to the 
time of Charles the first, which is not a very great way, 
tliere are no pictures of tartaned gentlemen, nor any gra- 
phic records of kilts and plaids ; though many of the 
Highland chiefs, such as the Gordons, and Campbells, 
and Murrays, had their pictures painted occasionally. 
If Jameson, for one, felt like his master Vandyke, about 
draperies, he would have been very glad to have made 
use of these supposed Celtic paraphernalia; and it is 
probable enough that, like the present Lowlanders, and 
other mob of all sorts, who have adopted, for great occa- 
sions, a dress to which they have no more title than to a 
turban and a banyan, a chadre, or a mantilla, he would 
have extended these picturesque habiliments far beyond 
the verge of their legitimate rights. 

This fact proves, perhaps, some points relating to the 
ancient Highland dress, but it will not prove that the plaid 
or the tartan was unknown. It seems that as the chiefs 
wore mail in war, m hen flic people were unarmed, so 
they also often distinguish<<l (hemselves in peace, by 
adopting the dress of France or of the Scottish court ; 
with one or other of whicJi, all the greater ones at least, 
were in occjisional connexion. That those who were 
Scottihh barons, such as tlie Atliolls and the Gordons. 


should have done so, was to be expected. If also the 
common people, as appears to be true, wore, in latter 
days, chiefly the grey checked plaid, and that of a 
scanty size, rolled close, Avith a naked bonnet, and if, 
as is probable, and, I believe, true, they were in every 
sense poorly clad, the dress, in this form, was certainly 
one which no painter would have wished to copy : since, 
splendid and picturesque as a modern Highland dress 
is, it is quite easy to retain all its elements and still to 
make it hideous. All that follows from the preceding 
remark therefore, is, that the dresses which we now see 
in Edinburgh, were unknown in that form, and that the 
ancient chiefs did not, like the modern, consider their 
native dress an object to be desired, or conceive it ca- 
pable of the improvement which it has recently un- 

What the Highlanders wore in their most ancient 
days, it is not very easy to discover from any positive do- 
cuments ; whether they were Celts, Norwegians, or Ger- 
man Picts. There being no print-shops nor lithography 
in those days, their costumes have not descended to 
us; and there is not much to be learnt from sculptures, 
unless with respect to churchmen, who were pretty much 
the same every where, and who are a modern race. Such 
few warriors as are petrified on the ancient tombs, bear 
no marks of [)hilibeg or tartan ; their dresses and arms 
resemble those of the Lowlanders of the same age; but 
none of these either are of ancient date. The multitude, 
at the beginning, had probably as much dress as the 
ancient Britons or the Chippewas ; and they do not 
seem to have had much more for a long time afterwards. 
A web or blanket of some kind, forming philibeg and 
plaid at once, was probably the whole investment. In- 
deed there are old people in Airdnamurchan and Morven, 


who pretend to have heard from their parents, that, even m 
in comparatively recent times, when the Mac Donalds I 
came to Ardtorinish castle, their followers had no other 
dress than a dirty blanket. 

Mr. Eustace, who is a good hater of every thing 
French, wanted to introduce the Highland modern dress 
at court. Assuredly the French coat and waistcoat, with 
its bag and the rest of the offal that belongs to it, is as 
ugly a dress as was ever invented ; and the full 
plumed, petticoated, plaided, pursed, buckled, pistol- 
dirk-and-sworded (as Homer would say) dress, is a very 
showy and a very picturesque one. The King may adopt 
it if he likes; or any other that he does like. But he 
must not adopt it for Mr. Eustace's reason ; as it never 
was the dress of any court, nor of any king, nor of any 
Scottish noble ; nor, I believe, I may safely add, of any 
people. Charles Edward wore it, only out of compli- 
ment to his Highland army ; and Kemble rigs up Banquo 
and Macbeth in it, because lie knows no better. The 
gentlemen who constitute the Celtic club and other 
clubs, wear it because it is handsome, or because they 
think themselves handsome, or for other reasons; and 
all these reasons, be they what they may, are very good 

But if we are to be dressed up theatrically, I do not 
see why we should not go back to the times of our 
Henrys and Edwards, or even to that of the Charleses. 
There is abundance of splendour and beauty too to be 
found, without stripping ourselves half naked to adopt a 
dress Avhich is not that of ancient England, or even of 
ancient Scothmd. There are historical recollections at- 
tache d to these, that may well heat our minds, as their 
quilk-d doubiels, and hose, and cloaks, and boots, and 
gIov<*i, and hats, and caps, and leathers, would our car- 


cases. Against this, what do the Highlands offer us : 
absolutely nothing. If the phiid and petticoat, and the 
vile thrum cap, are more beautiful than all the dresses 
from Edward the Confessor downwards, then it can only 
be answered in the words of the vulgarest of proverbs. 
Why the Highlanders should claim to attend balls and 
dinners in arms, when they are not soldiers, no one 
knows ; and if that were, we should smile now to see the 
Duke of Wellington at Almack's in the uniform of the 
Blues ; pistols, carbine, broadsword, cross buff belts and 
all. Indeed, if this is to be the system, there is no good 
reason why my Lord A, and the Duke of B, and the 
Marquis of C, and not only these, but all the attorneys 
and merchants' clerks of London, should not walk about 
Bond Street in plate mail, why they should not make 
love in helm and hauberk, dance the queue de chat in 
cuisses, and ride up and down Rotten Row with two- 
handed swords and matchlocks, or make their way 
through Fop's Alley with a morning star or a half pike. 

But the advocates of the kilt, not content with wear- 
ing it themselves in a good warm room, once a year, over 
a bottle of port, want to compel the unfortunate High- 
landers to do the same, all the year round ; in the rain, in 
the snow, in the storm, on a horse, in a boat, over hill, 
over dale, thorough furze, thorough briar, thorough flood, 
thorough — bog. This is somewhat hard : dictating to other 
persons' sensibilities, while, like the gentlemen of Eng- 
land, they themselves live at home at ease. That this is 
absurd, is a conclusion which, like a late Lowland critic, 
you may make if you please, as I never countenance 
such hard words ; thoughtless is a better phrase : for it 
is really nothing worse. 

That same, somewhat rough critic, asserts also that 
there is something metaphysical and refined in this at- 


tempt: that it proves these worthy patriots to have 
studied their humanities, and that it is but a copy, or 
rather, a reverse of a former proceedings. Lord Hard- 
wicke stripped off the petticoat and crammed the people 
into breeches, that he might uncelt them. They are now 
to be rekilted and recelted ; and when they have become 
casehardened with a little practice, heaven knows, as Mr. 
Speaker Onslow said, what the consequences will be. 
But this, he remarks, is only the beginning- of a reforma- 
tion ; which ought to proceed from kilts to clans, and 
from poverty and peace to starvation and war, till the 
Highlanders shall once more " rise beyond all Greek, 
beyond all Roman fame :" when they shall become the 
admiration and terror of the world ; the bugbears of 
George the fourth, and of such unlucky farmers as hap- 
pen to have cattle near the pass of Ballybrough ; or any 
other pass. 

Happy must be such a reformation, or retrogradation 
rather; if our critic is correct: yet from some unknown 
cause or other, the project does not take, has not taken, 
and is not likely to take; to the great discomfiture of the 
Society for the suppression of breeches. Donald, it is 
said by this illnatured person, has found out that, besides 
breeches vice kilts, and heat vice cold, there are many 
other petty consequences resulting from his emancipation 
out of the servitude of great chiefs, which are not to be 
despised. Though not deeply read in the classics, he is 
supposed to know the meaning of delirant reges, and of 
what follows. He is said also to have discovered, not 
only that his interest is, in a good many points, different 
from that of his chiefs now, but that it was so in the 
olden time ; and to smile in secret at those who are for 
returning him to as much of his original J)arbarism and 
discoml'ort as they can, solely to gratify some picturesque 


fancies of their own. If these societies of ardent High- 
landers, who, by the bye, are not Highlanders at all, nine 
times out of ten, but very good-natured quiet gentlemen, 
want to restore things to their old condition, to have 
kilts, and brogues, and clans, and tails, and bards, and 
gillies, and henchmen, and caterans at command, and 
pit and gallows, they had better begin, the same com- 
mentator remarks, by selling or eating all their sheep, 
giving up their rents, living on their estates, and feeding 
their people with dirty puddings, imrich, shins, livers, 
and lights, from the ends of long tables in narrow dark 
stone halls. 

It is not worth this critic's while to be serious in such 
matters : since assuredly these very worthy men are not 
serious themselves. All that need be said, is, that no 
man in his senses will go to sea in a kilt, or mount a horse 
in one, or — but why trouble ourselves any further. 
There is a natural progress in all mundane matters, 
which force may retard, or modify, or divert, but which it 
never yet stopped. Such is the conversion of kilts into 
breeches, of bare feet into sboed ones ; with many other 
matters in many other places, times, and countries than 
the Highlands. But now for a postcript. 

I said some time ago that there are critics who will not 
allow that the Highlanders could have woven a tartan two 
centuries back ; and as I know not who can controvert 
these writers better than he who has examined all the 
evidence, and does not care what is established, provided 
it be the truth, here is another argument on the other 
side. Livy informs us that the great Gaul whom Manlius 
fought, was dressed in a vestis versicolor ; and what can 
that possibly be but a tartan. Diodorus, who also lived 
rather more than two centuries ago, says that the Braccae 
were made of various colours ; and as these were worn 


by the Gauls of one division, that district, or Transalpine 
Gaul, was also termed Gallia Braccata. I wish the Gens 
togata had told us more distinctly what were the braccoe 
of the Gens braccata. It is no matter, however, for the 
main stay of my hypothesis. Bracca is evidently derived 
from the Celtic breachan, variegated, and the Gauls w^ere 
Celts ; and therefore, whether breeches or petticoats, the 
braccsR were tartan, and nothing else. Tartan trews, it is 
likely: and, to see how etymologies come round, breeches, 
though they should be made of black satin or pea- 
green kerseymere, or corduroy, or buckskin, or nankin, or 
everlasting, are derived from tartan, or breachan, perhaps 
from a tartan plaid; just as the rapid motion of posting 
with four or six horses, traces its origin to an immoveable 
wooden post. I hope the Celtic or Keltic (Celt quasi 
Kelt or Kilt) nation, the Gens petticoatata in short, will 
be pleased at the antiquity with which I have thus at- 
tempted, even in subversion and defiance of Lowland 
critics, to clothe the naked posterity of the present Gael. 
Except in St. Kilda, I have never seen the original 
and true corrane, or brogue of raw hide, which, it is some- 
what remarkable, is still in use in the Isle of Mann. In 
St. Kilda, it is found useful among the cliffs, from the 
hold which it affords to the foot; but it is a perishable 
and barbarous contrivance, not much superior to the well- 
used horny sole itself. The brogue of the present day, 
is a shoe of tanned leather, made in the usual form, but 
with a single sole, and open at the side seams for the 
[nirpose of giving free passage to the water, which must 
unavoidably enter it from above, in wet ground, or in 
Ijoats, and which thus finds a ready exit without inoom- 
niodin^ the Avalker. They are made of skins tanned by 
the natives themselves, commonly by the aid of tormentil 
roots ; and sometimes dyed in the water of ferruginous 


bogs or springs. It is extremely rare to see a man bare- 
footed ; and even that only happens on some specific 
occasions, not habitually in any individual ; but it is 
equally rare to see women with shoes, except when in 
full dress, on Sundays, or on the borders of the Low- 
lands. Even among females, however, their use is fast 
creeping in; but the cliildren of both sexes are bare 
legged even to an advanced age, not only among the 
poorer classes, but also in families of condition. It is 
not long since domestic female servants, even in Edin- 
burgh, as you well know, paddled about their duties 
unshod : the fashion is still to be found by those who will 
seek it, and it must be confessed that it is somewhat re- 
pulsive to southern feelings. But out of doors, and in 
the Highlands, it adds much to the general picturesque 
effect of the female attire, which consists of a short 
jacket and shorter petticoat ; and as the limbs of the fair 
sex here are well turned, far different from those of the 
Welsh women, which seem as if they had been shaped 
in a lathe, a painter will be sorry for the day when the 
progress of improvement shall have swept away this dis- 
tinction. I cannot equally praise the mode of dressing 
the hair ; the smoothed locks of all hues, drawn tightly 
back so as to stretch the face till it shines, and secured 
by a huge black comb, form a termination to the general 
effect of the figure which is far from picturesque. lu 
the Long Island, chiefly, though it is found elsewhere, 
there is a head-dress consisting of a dirty coloured hand- 
kerchief tied round the head ; the effect of which is even 
worse than that of the comb or snood, as there is no at- 
tempt to give it a pleasing form. But enough, for the 
present, of tailoring and millinery. 



By pursuing- the road along the side of Loch Cateran 
and crossing its waters, it is easy to reach the upper part 
of Loch Lomond, at a ferry which terminates that branch 
of the old military road which communicated with the 
garrison of Inversnaid, long since abandoned. But it 
offers few temptations; except to those who may wish to 
visit this wild country on account of its historical recol- 
lections, or to examine a cave on this remote part of Loch 
Lomond, said to have been one of the retreats of the 
noted Rob Roy. The same road will conduct to Aber- 
foyle, and there is also a road, across the hills, to this 
latter place: practicable, I must not say more, even for 
gigs, but in no respect interesting. The ordinary route 
to this village from Stirling, will introduce the traveller 
to the pleasing, though tame. Loch of Monteith, rendered 
additionally attractive by the ruins on its island, and by 
the magnificent trees which overshadow it. 

As far as the village of Aberfoyle, this pass into the 
Highlands is not very interesting; but scmie wild and 
pleasing scenes will be found in its neighbourhood ; 
at the Duclira, and at other places which I need not spe- 
cify. The great atfrnction, as 1 need scarcely say, is 
Lo< li Ard; Loch (.^hon, contiected with it by the same 
river, being rarely visited, although not inferior to it in 
pi( tures(^ue beauty, however differing in style. When I 
say that L(»cli Ard is a pleasing lake, it is llic utmost 


praise >vhicli it seems to deserve; having- very little de- 
cision of character, and scarcely presenting- any variety 
of scenery. The best view of it is the first that is obtained ; 
M'here a small portion only of the lake, nearly separated 
from the main body of the water by a wooded promon- 
tory, is seen; a bright and placid basin imbedded in 
surrounding- woods, over which rises the here graceful 
form of Ben Lomond. Passing this point, amid dense 
coppices of oak, the whole lake is shortly displayed ; 
bounded on the west by a range of hill, of no decided 
features, terminated by the same mountain; but more 
open on the east, where the road is conducted along- the 
shore, and where there is a succession of farms and of 
scattered cultivation, extending onwards to Loch Chon, 
A low rocky promontory, advancing so close to the water 
as barely to give room to the road between them, is the 
only very remarkable object on this shore: nor, except- 
ing that, does any material change take place, either in 
the foreground or in the general aspect of the lake, to 
produce any other picture than that which first meets the 
eye. If this be the narrow pass intended in the skir- 
mish described in Rob Roy, a question which you can 
probably answer much better than any one, it has now 
acquired an interest similar to that of the Lady's island 
in Loch Cateran. If Ithaca, Segovia, Bagdad, the Sierra 
Morena, and Datchet Mead^ are classic ground, and if we 
cannot visit without interest the scenes of those fictions 
which have, for centuries, formed the delight of youth 
and age, neither can we now easily contemplate the pass 
of Aberfoyle or the wilds of Loch Cateran without view- 
ing them through that atmosphere of a new enchantment 
which has been lately spread over them. 

The character of Loch Chon, including its miniature 
associate Loch Dhu, is utterly distinct from that of Loch 

VOL. I. o 


Ard, and, though small, it is a very picturesque lake ; 
rooky and wild, with bold and steep boundaries ; pre- 
senting scenes where the surrounding land is of more 
importance than the water, but wanting in that high de- 
gree of ornament, derived from scattered wood, which 
we have so lately parted with. There is little temptation 
to pursue this road any further towards Inversnaid, or to 
follow the wild country tracks which lead to the source of 
the Forth and to the summit of Ben Lomond. This is 
true, at least, for those who are strangers to this country : 
as what might be gained by taking this route, is far more 
than compensated by the beauties of the road along the 
eastern shore of Loch Lomond to the same point, which 
would thus be lost. Curiosity alone may be, to many, a 
sufficient temptation to trace the springs of the Forth ; 
but this river acquires little beauty till it arrives near to 
Abcrfoyle, to join the water issuing from Loch Ard, its 
second principal source. Nor, though thus originating 
in the Highlands, is it long a Highland river ; losing its 
claims near the pass of Aberfoyle, as its first great con- 
tributor, the Teith, does at Callander. 

But whatever enchantment that pen of yours, whether 
wielded by yourself or your shadow, may have thrown 
over these scenes, there is a compensation of evil in it, to 
us who have lived in other years. In the early days 
when T wandered first among these wild and lovely re- 
gions, there was an old romance in every thing-, in the 
hikes, in the hills, in the woods, and in the streams, as 
there was in the tales of former years that were repeated 
in every house; a charm, gilding alike the present and 
the past, causing the heart to beat at the name of the 
clans and heroes of old, i)rightening every blue moun- 
tain nnd hoary rock, and brcafliiiigfrom every whispering 
)>ii< li, :iiul from every billow that curled on the pebbly 

ABERFOYLr:. 195 

shore. But the mystic portal has been thrown open, and 
the mob has rushed in, dispersing- all these fairy visions, 
and polluting every thing with its unhallowed touch. 
Barouches and gigs, cocknies and fishermen and poets, 
Glasgow weavers and travelling haberdashers, now 
swarm in every resting place, and meet us at every 
avenue. As Rob Roy now blusters at Covent-garden 
and the Lyceum, and as Aberfoyle is gone to Wapping, 
so Wapping and the Strand must also come to Aberfoyle. 
The green-coated fairies have packed up their alls and 
quitted the premises, and the Uriskins only caper now 
in your verses. If I have lived to see these changes, I 
must be thankful that I lived before them ; and 1 may be 
thankful too that I have been able to wander where the 
sound of Cockayne, which has gone out into all lands, 
is yet unknown. But the circle of pollution is spreading 
fast, to the far north and the remote west; and as the old 
Highlander said when the law had come to Tain, I also 
may say, " take care of yourselves to the north," the 
troops of Cockayne are let loose and will soon be upon 
you. Time was, when I strayed about these wild scenes, 
and, as I listened to the endless tales of Rob Roy and his 
Mac Gregors, could imagine myself glorying in past 
times, as if I also had been sprung from the children of 
the Mist. But now they have found their way to every 
circulating library, Brighton and Margate flaunt in tar- 
tan, the citizen from Pudding Lane talks of Loch Hard ; 
and recollections of Miss Stephens, Diana Vernon, and 
Listen, with the smell and smoke of gas lights, and cries 
of " Music, Off, Off," confound the other senses, and re- 
call base realities where there was once a delicious 

These are among the things which prevent us, who 
have fallen upon these evil days, from now viewing ancient 



Highland maimers, and listening to ancient Highland 
stories, and entering into all the spirit of clanship and ro- 
mance and wild chivalry, as many would fain flatter 
themselves they still do. We look to the dark backward 
and abyss of time, in search of all these illusions, in vain. 
The mist has rolled away ; and the provoking rays of 
provoking reason and truth, display past images in all 
their native shapes and hues, even where they have not, 
as here, lost their magic, by intimacy and by the fatal 
effects of vulgar associations. Who can even hope to tell 
a Highland tale, in the teeth of such company as this. 
You talk of Rob Roy's cave, or of Inversnaid, or Ben 
Lomond, and your hearer immediately figures to himself 
a few feet of painted canvas and twenty-four fiddlers. 
You speak of a creagh, but the mysterious vague is over 
and past, and there arises to the eye, a drove of bullocks 
pricking in to Smithfield market. So I must even strip 
poor Rob and his oppressed clan as naked as ever the 
law did, since I dare not pass over such important per- 
sonages, and exhibit them to you in the style of the New- 
gate calendar. 

Of the antiquity of this clan, whatever difficultv there ^ 
may be in deriving it from Alpin or any of his succes- ■ 
sors, there can be no doubt. It is quite sufficient that 
it was opulent and powerful in the days of James HI, 
and some time before that period. To ascertain their 
ancient possessions, is not a very easy matter, that is, in 
terms of the law ; as they seem to have held some lands 
allodially, if this phrase is allowable, and others, as 
branches, or ilopcndants, or vassals. Of the latter class, 
wore their possessions in this district; the former ex- 
tended from Taymouth to Glenorchy, and are said also 
to h.ive iiirlnded the rich and fertile valley of Glen Lyon. 
I do iidt find that rhe (radifions about their early history 


are very consistent; and I conjecture that you have ex- 
perienced the same difficulties. Whether they were more 
lawless or ferocious than the other clans who were, in a 
similar manner, seated near the Lowland border, does 
not appear; but they were the most conspicuous sufferers 
from the statute of 1581, authorizing' private reprisals on 
any predatory clans, and which was, of course, frequently 
made a pretext, as I have noticed in the historical sketch, 
for private feuds and unfounded aggressions. Under this 
precious mode of ensuring- the energ-y of the laws, the 
Campbells proceeded to levy war on the Mac Greg-ors, 
weakened at that moment by their contests with the 
Mac Nabs ; and having- slain the heir of their Chief, 
Mac Gregor a Ruari, or Roderick, celebrated in song^, 
their principal possessions fell into the power of this ris- 
ing-, though already important clan. The statute of 1587 
thus, virtually, rendered them outlaws ; since, condemned 
now to live by depredation, they were totally disabled 
from finding- that security for their good conduct which 
that law demanded. 

Traditionsaystliattheybecame,nowat least, sufficiently 
lawless to justify the severity of a proceeding-, which, after 
all, seems, by its injustice and folly, to have given rise 
to their desperate conduct ; and thus, numerous as well 
as desperate, and occuping a district almost inaccessible, 
in times when roads were unknown and the country more 
covered with wood, they were enabled from their fast- 
nesses, to carry on a cruel, as well as a predatory, sys- 
tem of war on the sun'ounding- clans, and of inroads on 
the Lowlands. Li 1589, a party belonging to an inferior 
leader of the tribe, called Dugald of the Mist, having slain 
Drummond, one of the king's rangers, with circumstances 
of peculiar cruelty, noticed, in speaking not long ago 
of Loch Voil, a writ of fire and sword was issued against 


them, and was carried iuto effect with considerable 
slaughter. Still, however, unconquered, they contrived 
to fight the celebrated battle of Glen Fruin in 1602, in 
which the Colquhouns were nearly exterminated ; while 
their chief, Alister of Glenstrae, having surrendered on 
terms, was treacherously hanged. 

The clan was now formally outlawed; their very 
name being proscribed, and the adoption of it made a 
felony. Thus, hunted like wild beasts, and executed 
without trial, they retreated in small bands to the most 
inaccessible parts of that difficult country which sur- 
rounds these lakes and Loch Cateran; becoming the 
very banditti from which that lake seems to have derived 
its name. Among these fastnesses, they seem to have 
been a good deal disturbed by Cromwell's soldiers ; and 
they were also materially kept in check by the garrison 
established at Inversnaid, which, though long aban- 
doned, still remains a memorial of past times. Still, they 
were fav from extirpated ; and, under the same system, 
sometimes changing their names as convenience dictated, 
to Stuart, Campbell, or Drummond, they continued to 
survive, if not as a clan, yet ready again to be united 
under any chief who should arise, and wlienever circum- 
stances should become more favourable. Thus many of 
them joined Montrose under these assumed names; and 
so valua)>Ie were their services thought, that, out of 
gratitude as it is said, a virtue for which that personage 
was not very particularly distinguished, Charles the second 
caused the aiirjrnt act of outlawry to be reversed in 1633. 
As this act was, however, renewed by William in 16i>3, 
it seems tolerably certain, without a minute enquiry into 
particulars, that the former statutes against them must 
have l>cen more or less merited, and that the past lenity 
had been misplaced, it is indeed certain, that, during 


that period, they tarried on, aj^-ainst the Lowlands, that 
system of plunder and as^sumed protection which was so 
common at various times among the Highland borderers : 
proving that the indulgence was as useless,as a means of 
reform, as they were unworthy of it, and juslifying their 
claims to some, at least, of the former harsh laws : though 
one of them really seems to have been an instance of op- 
pression and injustice. I allude to that which followed 
the battle of Glen Fruin, hereafter noticed. 

It was from their predatory mode of life that the moon 
in this country still goes by the name of Mac Gregor's 
lantern. And thougli it does not, I believe, appear at 
what time their regular system was first organized be- 
tween the two periods just mentioned, we find that there 
was a Captain Mac Gregor in 1658, who seems to have 
been the pattern to his far better known namesake in 
more recent times. So well understood was his system, 
and so acquiesced in, it must indeed be thought, that 
the justices of peace met formally at their sessions, to 
levy the contributions paid to him for protecting the 
western borders of Stirlingshire from the murders and 
depredations of their Highland neighbours ; the greater 
part of whom were probably his own people, who were 
thus always ready, like thorough-bred police officers in 
our days, to justify their own necessity, and to take care 
that the profitable trade of protection should not expire 
for want of offences. 

In this manner they seem to have gone on ; gaining 
the upper hand whenever there was a Captain Mac 
Gregor who had more courage than the justices and more 
wit than the law ; and, at other times, paying back, for 
the black mail and the cattle which they had levied 
and stolen, the lives of ruffians who were easily spared, 
and probably of far less value than so many cows. In 


1715 they seemed still to be powerful, though still op- 
pressed; a circumstance accounted for, in some measure, 
by the general state of the country down to that time, and 
by the interest which some of the neighbouring rival 
clans had in making use of them as checks on each 

It was thus that the feuds between the orreat houses of 
Montrose and Argyll, induced the latter to protect the 
celebrated Rob Roy, now known far and wide, thanks to 
the author of Waverley ; the vicinity of tlie Mac Gregors 
to the estates of the former, enabling him to commit 
depredations on them Avith facility, while he could, in no 
long time, escape and shelter himself in the lands of 
Argyll to the northward. The first important act that we 
hear of this worthy, was at the battle of Shirramuir; 
where, it is said, he was kept out of action by the Duke's 
influence, having a command in the rebel army; while it 
is even asserted that the strange fortune of this day, was 
the consequence of his having left the field, Rob Roy 
is said to have been brother to the chief of this tribe, Clan 
Alpin ; and, like his innnediate followers, generally as- 
sumed the name of Campbell, as being under the pro- 
tection of tliat powerful family. His adventures form 
the subject of many a tale, as you well know : but of 
tales too often told to be repeated again. Captain of 
bandifti, and, like his great ancestor, protector of those 
whosul)iniJt«>d to pay for protection, he continued to be 
the scourge and terror of the surrounding country till the 
day of his death. 

But the whole tribe of Glenstraes and Jack Straws, 
alike, have never wanted good reasons for their conduct; 
and when they have, their friends the poets and antiqua- 
ries have always been rca<ly to step forward with some- 
thmor sonorous in their defence : showy if hollow, like 


the turbans and well drawn fiirurcs, the vigour and the 
grace that render the banditti of Salvator Rosa so capti- 
vating". Thus did this deep-Avronged hero declare, that 
the lands on which he chose to levy war, those of the 
Buchanans, the Murrays, and the Drumnionds, were his 
own by inheritance and right, and that he drew the sword 
to revenge the wrongs of his ancestors: in other words, 
burning the barn yards and stealing the cattle of inno- 
cent tenants, who could have no concern in what their 
lords had done long before their birth, and thus re- 
venging the punishments inflicted by a people long dead 
and gone, on his own lawless ancestry, by repeating the 
very crimes committed ages before by these very ances- 
tors, who seem, by their own showing, to have well de- 
served the sallows. Had he confined himself to watch- 
ing the Duke of Montrose's steward, as he is said once 
to have done, and robbing him of the rents he had col- 
lected, this kind of retributive justice would have been 
more intelligible ; admitting that his own statement of 
the case was the true one. 

But to the other qualities of a great man, like the be- 
nevolent cut-throat, Rob Roy added the generosity of 
Robin Hood ; being a friend to the widow and the 
orphan, as the story goes, and robbing the rich to pay 
the poor. This is very fine ; particularly if it could be 
proved that there was any thing to be got by robbing 
widows and orphans who had nothing to give. But it is 
the generosity of the whole breed, from 1720 to 1820, 
from Italy to the Lennox. The character was cheaply 
purchased by a few shillings out of the bag of Montrose's 
steward. After all, Rob Roy may have been a most 
amiable personage, for aught that any of us may care, 
setting aside these trifling peccadilloes ; and who indeed 
dare doubt it, with the fear of Clan Alpin before his eyes. 


The goodness of his character is the more probable, as 
he brought up his sous Jauies and Robert in the same 
heroic line, dying quietly in his own bed. Poor Rob 
the second was not however so fortunate. Escaping the 
vulgar punishment of his crimes, by an act of outlawry 
for murder in 1736, he was tried in 1753 for the forcible 
abduction of an heiress, and hanged in the Grass-market 
at Edinburgh : unjustly enough, as it appears, and pay- 
ing the penalty, rather of his own general character and 
that of his ancestry, than of this particular deed. James, 
his brother, concerned in the same act, contrived to 
escape, and thus ends the history of the free Mac 
Gregors. Every one knows that the name and legal 
rights of this race were afterwards restored, in 1775, and 
that they are now as respectable as they are ancient. 

From Aberfoyle, it is easy to proceed to Loch Lomond 
in different modes. By the way of Drymen, there is a 
good road along the eastern side of the lake, as far as 
the Row of Dennan, situated at the foot of Ben Lomond, 
whence there is a carriage ferry across. Or else, the 
road by the southern side will lead the traveller to the 
same point on the western margin of the lake as if he 
had taken the route by Dumbarton. It is not, however, 
from the eastern shore that the beauties of this queen of 
the Scottish lakes can be appreciated or known; nor can 
any difference well be greater than that of the general 
pictures of this lake as seen from the eastern or from the 
western bunk. I must not, however, be understood to 
s:iy that this little frequented side of Loch Lomond is 
ileficient in beauty. Far from it; as the road is various 
and interesting throughout; always accompanying the 
lake, generally well wooded, and with many changes of 
characJer produced by the indentations of the shore, and 
by the irngnlar and undulating line which it folIo>vs. 


It is indeed a more beautiful ride from Bahnaha to the 
Row of Dennan than from Renton to Luss ; but it pro- 
duces few well-marked landscapes: a defect chiefly 
arising from the tame and uninteresting- outline of the 
mountains which bound the western side. I need not 
specify the particulars of scenes that are little likely to 
become much frequented ; as the western bank of the 
lake will find occupation for far more time than is com- 
monly allotted to it: but those who may value Loch 
Lomond as it merits, will not be content unless they have 
examined every point at which it is accessible, or from 
which it can be seen. There is one very fine view at the 
point where the Inversnaid road descends on the ferry, 
not far from Rob Roy's cave. 

The attraction of Ben Lomond, however, draws, to this 
point at least on the eastern shore, many of those who 
take only the more common course. It is the advantage 
of this well-known mountain, that its ascent is without 
toil or difficulty, a mere walk of pleasure ; and that the 
views from its summit are exceeded by very few moun- 
tain views in Scotland. Many a time have I sat on its 
topmost stone, enjoying the magnificent prospect around; 
ranging over the rich and splendid expanse, and tracing- 
the place of each well-known object, or watching the 
wild flight of the clouds as they blew past, around, above, 
and beneath my feet. It was at my last visit to a spot 
which I never yet quitted without regret, that I wit- 
nessed one of those remarkable caprices of the wind, 
some of which I have noticed on other occasions in these 
letters. It was blowing a fresh breeze below, and the 
waters of the lake were rolling down in long billows, and 
breaking in a heavy surf on the shore. Armies of white 
clouds were sailinef in from the west in endless succes- 
sion ; now wrapping the mountain's head far down, then 


breaking- away for a moment, and again settling* dense 
upon it in silvery heaps, brightly contrasting with the 
huge shadowy and dark mass, whose mysterious forms 
were dimly illuminated by the light reflected from the 
wide-spread fields of snowy vapour. 1 ascended never- 
theless ; enjoying, during the ascent, the magical effects 
of the landscape, as its glimpses were occasionally 
caught through the dividing clouds, and the splendid 
and rapid changes of light and shadow, as the bright sun 
now gleamed for an instant on the lake and on its green 
islands, or flew like a brilliant and transitory vision 
across the mountains, followed, like the flitting joys and 
hopes of life, by one broad and universal shade. Half 
lost at times, in the universal grey mist, or struggling 
with difficulty against the gale, 1 reached at length the 
last summit, cushioned with the bright Silene, an island in 
the wide field of air. 

What was my surprise to find a still and dead calm. 
The breeze had ceased; the nodding rush of the moun- 
tain hung its head by me unmoved, gemmed with the 
brilliant drops which the thin mists had left on it; not 
an air rustled, but all was silence and repose; a death- 
like stillness, a solemn vacuity, as if all nature had 
suddenly ceased to be. Above, was the clear blue sky, 
but around and beneath was an endless field of vapour, 
in which I felt as if suspended, far above the regions of 
earth. But soon it all rolled off', displaying for a mo- 
ment the majestic landscape ; fresh clouds succeeding, 
as, in solid battalions, they continued to arrive from the 
west, crowding above and behind each other, and, as 
th(!y advanced, swelling out their Mhite and expanding 
bosoms, ;md then again «lrawing their misty veil at in- 
tervals Ixforc the bright and changing picture. I then 
saw that thr calm was mine alone; as the waves were 


still visible, far and deep beneath, whitening- along- the 
rocky shore of the lake. The same gale that I had left 
below, was still also hurrying the clouds past, around, and 
overhead ; while, beneath, the thin vapour of their edges 
was scudding by with the rapidity of lightning. Yet 
all around was still and at peace: the long grass droop- 
ed near nie unmoved, and the mountain flower that I 
threw into the air, fell quiet by my side. The silence 
was awful: it was the silence of death amid a thousand 
moving forms of confusion and uproar : of turbulence 
and commotion, seen, but not heard. All seemed under 
the influence of a supernatural power: as if amidst the 
fury of the elements and the war of nature, the power 
who rules the storm and commands the winds, had said, 
they shall not come nigh thee. 

Capricious indeed are the winds, in more senses 
than the popular one ; and obscure is their philosophy. 
The analagous instances which I have elsewhere pointed 
out, are sufiiciently difficult of explanation ; but this per- 
haps more than all, though bearing a strong resemblance 
to the case hereafter described in Arran. There was a 
single portion of the atmosphere which here, as there, they 
avoided. It included the summit of the mountain, but no 
more ; and that too, for a very limited space. As I re- 
mained upwards of an hour watching- this strange appear- 
ance, I easily perceived that immediately as the arriving 
cloud struck the side of the mountain beneath, it seemed 
to recoil and ascend in a perpendicular stream, till again 
meeting a horizontal current over my head, it blew on- 
wards and passed away with the same stormy velocity that 
it had arrived. Other portions, separated by the moun- 
tain, flew off" on each side beneath ; while the eddying- 
breeze which circled round its precipitous eastern face, 
brought up from the depths below, masses of curling and 


twisting- vapour, whicli, at the moment they reached the 
edge of the precipice, recoiled also to mount aloft and 
mingle with the flying rack. Electricity, which accounts 
for every thing that is obscure, must account for this too ; 
as well as it can. 

Next to Ben Lawers, Ben Lomond must, perhaps, be 
allowed the pre-eminence as the seat of mountain views in 
Scotland. On the eastern side, while it looks down from 
its fearful precipice into the deep and dark valley where 
the Forth is seen springing from the mountain side, as yet 
a trifling rill, it includes the whole mountainous reoion 
about Loch Cateran, with its various lakes : a splendid and 
variegated picture, stretching far away till it is lost among 
the crowded hills that include Loch Earn and Loch Tay. 
On the same side, further to the northward, the view ex- 
tends over the whole range of the low country, from 
Stirling even to Edinburgh, the marked and romantic 
outline of which is distinctly seen. Pursuing the horizon 
in the same direction, the eye is guided to Glasgow, 
scarcely recognised except by its smoke, and thus to the 
well-known and strongly marked form of Dumbarton 
Ciistle, and to the foot of Loch Lomond. The remain- 
der of the lake, however, for a considerable space, is 
exduded by the shoulder of the mountain itself; but 
the western hills, crowded in a long succession ofromantic 
aiMl fine forms, are seen, even to the sea; portions of the 
deep inlets of Loch Long and Loch Fyne being distinctly 
visible, ami llie eye assigning, without difliculty, the 
highly characterized forms of the Cobler, of Cruachan, 
and of the other distinguished mountains of this tract. 
Those, ranging round to the north, unite to a wild and 
wi.lo extended region of elevated land; an ocean of 
•non.iJains, in which we discern, among others, the strik- 
Migconcof Ben More, and the more distant aud towering 


summit of Ben Lawers; while, heneath, the upper and 
narrow division of the lake is seen, bright gleaming 
among the noble ranges of hills by which it is included, 
and on which we now look down, as if at our feet, from 
the proud elevation of this monarch of the lake and the 
wide landscape. 

This extreme picture, as it maybe called, is seen par- 
tially from different parts of the ascent, and, often, under 
more pleasing forms, from the diminished elevation of the 
point of sight. Of these partial views, however, I need 
only point out one, to be obtained at about a third or 
fourth of the ascent ; because it is one of the finest gene- 
ral pictures of Loch Lomond, similar in style to that from 
the hill of Luss, and not much inferior in magnificence. 
It includes the whole of the lower and wide part of the 
lake, with all its islands, a splendid and dazzling expanse ; 
and, with some contrivance in the management of the 
nearer grounds, not incapable of being painted, although 
approaching to the character of a bird's-eye view. In 
quitting Ben Lomond, I may remark that, like Ben Lawers, 
it is one of the botanical gardens of the Highlands; pro- 
ducing some of the rarer alpine plants, and containing a 
large proportion of those usually met with in these situ- 
ations. I need not enumerate the whole ; but among the 
most interesting, are the following ; Salix herbacea, and 
reticulata, Silene acaulis, Saxifraga stellaris, oppositifolia, 
and hypnoides, Sibbaldia procumbens, Juncus triglumis, 
trifidus, and alpestris, Poa alpina, Carex atrata, Cerastium 
alpinum, Gnaphalium supinum, and the beautiful Azalea 

As I was about to ascend the hill on this occasion, I 
met two young ladies descending, who had most courage- 
ously performed this feat unattended. Man speaks ta 
his fellow man in the desert of Arabia, though they 


should even be Englishmen, and though it should be the 
meeting of a peer and a porter ; nor indeed would the laws 
of chivalry have permitted me to pass. I remarked that 
the hill was steep and the ways deep, on which the 
youngest and the fairest displayed, for my coinmisseration, 
a delicate silk stocking and a more delicate shoe, which 
had suffered what might have been expected, in the cam- 
paign. You need not ask me whether the ankle and foot 
that bore them were handsome. Had they been other- 
wise, it is probable there would have been other shoes and 
other stockings spoiled in the bogs of Ben Lomond ; and, 
whatever these might have been, it is very certain that my 
pity for them would not have been solicited. There is a 
dexterity in all this,which is delightful. Anacreon will tell 
you better, how nature has provided the dear sex in this 
matter. It was not a less ingenious fair who contrived to 
discover my name, on a similar expedition, where I had 
acted the part of a preux chevalier ; after having tried a 
ofrcat number of ambages and circumvolutions in vain. 
She succeeded at last. "Oh dear, sister, let us Mrite our 
names on this rock." The names were written with the 
point of a scissars, and the scissars were very politely 
handed over to the mysterious beau. Anacreon is right, 
I must now return to the western side of Loch Lo- 
mond, following the usual track from Dumbarton; a road 
Ii(tlc frc(|uentcd in my earlier days, but now encumbered 
with «lie idlers who make this lake, like Loch Cateran, a 
perpetual fair during the finer months of summer. And 
as if there was to be no peace either by land or water, 
the steam boat is now to be seen, daily ploughing its fiery 
way over the tranquil expanse ; loaded with freights as 
iiKcllcctual as those of a Margate hoy ; a proof of the in- 
crease of taste among the people, if you please, or, what 
is much more like the fact, of the spreading of wealth 


and idleness, and of that neglect of the drudgery of the 
counter and counting-house which was, not long ago, and 
in the times of Baillie Jarvie, the characteristic of Glasgow, 
as, in the days of the " tall apprentices" of London, it 
was the habit of the metropolis. But we must not mea- 
sure the enjoyments of others by our own scales; and, 
doubtless, the groups which contrive to emerge for a 
week from the profundities of the salt-market or the hum 
of the jeannies, feel pleasures in eating their cold fowl 
and drinking their Madeira on Inch Cailleach or the Point 
of Firkin, as captivating, and far more substantial than 
the shadowy delights enjoyed by you or me, as we gaze 
with rapture on this bright lake of lovely islands, or 
follow the bold perspective of its noble mountains, or 
watch the sun descending among the brilliant hues of the 
west, throwing its crimson rays on the broad sides of Ben 
Lomond, and gleaming upon the silent waters. 

Loch Lomond is unquestionably the pride of our 
lakes ; incomparable in its beauty as in its dimensions, 
exceedinjr all others in variety as it does in extent and 
splendour, and uniting in itself every style of scenery 
which is found in the other lakes of the Highlands. I 
must even assign it the palm above Loch Cateran,the only 
one which is much distinguished from it in character, the 
only one to which it does not contain an exact parallel in 
the style of its landscapes. With all its strange and 
splendid beauties, it is a property of Loch Cateran to 
weary and fatigue the eye; dazzling by the style at»d 
multiplicity of its ornament, and rather misleading the 
judgment on a first inspection, than continuing to satisfy 
it after long familiarity. It must be remembered too, 
that, splendid and grand as are the landscapes of this 
lake, and various as they may appear from their excess 
and boldness of ornament, there is an uniformily, even in 

VOL, I. P 


that variety, and that a sameness of character predomi- 
nates every where. It possesses but one style : and nu- 
merous as its pictures are, they are always constructed 
from the same exact elements, and these frequently but 
sliffht modifications of each other. 

As, with regard to the superiority of Loch Lomond 
to all the other lakes, there can be no question, so, in the 
highly contrasted characters of its upper and lower por- 
tions, it offers points of comparison with the whole ; with 
all those at least which possess any picturesque beauty ; 
for it has no blank. It presents no where that poverty of 
aspect which belongs to Loch Shin, and to many more, 
and which, even at Loch Cateran, marks nearly three 
fourths of the lake. Every where, it is, in some way, 
picturesque ; and, every where, it offers landscapes, 
not merely to the cursory spectator, but to the painter. 
Nor do I think that I overrate its richness in scenery, 
when I say, that if Loch Cateran and Loch Achray are 
omitted, it presents, numerically, more pictures than all 
the lakes of the Highlands united. With respect to 
style, from its upper extremity to a point above Luss, it 
may be compared with the finest views on Loch Awe, on 
Loch Lubnaig, on Loch Maree, and on Loch Earn ; since 
no others can here pretend to enter into competition with 
it. There are also points in this division not dissimilar to 
the finer parts of the Trosachs, and fully equal to them in 
wild grandeur. At the lower extremity, it may compete 
uitli the lakes of a middle character, such as Loch 
Tuniel ; excelling them all, however, as well in variety as 
in extent. But it possesses moreover a style of land- 
scape to which Scotland produces no resemblance what- 
ever ; since Loch IMaree scarcely oH'ers an exception. 
This is found in the varied and numerous islands that 
rover ils noMc expanse; forming the feature which. 


above all others, distinguishes Loch Lonionil, and which, 
even had it no other attractions, would render it, what it is 
in every respect, the paragon of the Scottish lakes. 

The Levcn, covered with manufactories, and its green 
banks whitened with cotton and muslin and table cloths, 
is no more the pastoral stream which Smollet sung-; and 
his monument, rearing its head among paper-mills and 
print-fields and white houses, and modern Gothic castles, 
has no longer that interest which it possessed when, 
alone in the midst of these lovely and tranquil scenes, 
it pointed to the place of the poet's birth and the gliding 
waters of the poet's song. The funeral obelisk in the 
desert, is affecting and sublime : in the town or the vil- 
lage, it is a lamp-post or a mile-stone. Nothing can well 
be more striking than the first view of Loch Lomond : 
its spacious expanse of silvery water, its lovely islands, 
the rich meadows and trees by which it is bounded, and 
the distant screen of fading hills, among which Ben 
Lomond rears its broad and gigantic bulk, like an Atlas, 
to the sky. Still, most of the landscapes belonging to 
the lower part of the lake, are meagre ; on account of the 
great expanse of the water, and a consequent emptiness 
and want of objects in the composition. Yet that does 
not prevent the ride, even as far as Luss, where this cha- 
racter becomes changed, from being one of the most en- 
gaging that can be imagined ; whether from the beauty of 
the general views of the lake, as it varies in consequence 
of the changes in the relative positions of its islands, or 
from the incessant variations of the foreground, both 
along the road and along the margin of the water. Had 
it no other beauties than those of its shores, it would 
still be an object of prime attraction ; whether from the 
bright green meadows sprinkled with luxuriant ash trees, 
that sometimes skirt its margin, or the white pebbled 



shores on which its gentle billows murmur, like a minia- 
ture ocean, or its bold rocky promontories rising from the 
deep water, rich in wild flowers and ferns, and tangled 
with wild roses and honeysuckles, or its retired bays 
where the waves sleep, reflecting, like a mirror, the 
trees which hang over them ; an inverted and softened 

Here, even the artist may find occupation : but there 
is much also which is beyond the reach of art. Nor is 
there any thing which is, at the same time, so beautiful 
and so incapable of representation as one of its most 
common features : the rich and graceful ash trees hang- 
ing over the margin, and rooting themselves in the very 
wash of the silvery waves, while the bright expanse of 
water glistens between their trunks and through the in- 
tervals of their drooping foliage. When the sun sets on 
this delicious landscape, crimsoning the lofty summit of 
Ben Lomond, throwing its yellow light on the glassy 
water, and gilding every woody island, every grey rock, 
and every tree, with its parting rays, while the evening 
smoke is seen curling blue under the shade of the wooded 
hills, and the voice of the shepherd's boy and the low- 
ing of cattle is heard breaking on the universal silence, 
then it is that Loch Lomond is seen and felt as it deserves, 
then alone is it appreciated. But thus will it be known, 
only to the solitary traveller. There is a soul in the 
scene, a spirit in its whispering woods and tinkling 
waves and airy hills, that shuns society, that flies the pro- 
fanation of the noiny equipage and the glare of fashion 
and folly. Procul O procul, ye gigs and barouches 
and haberdashers : but it is in vain to anathematize them, 
for they will follow you to Luss; making Luss long since 
what llif (iailowgate is, and now, unforlunately, making 
'J ai hut also u li;it Luss was before. 


On the east shore of the lake, the pass of Balmacha, 
not far from Drymen, forms the Highland boundary ; 
but its position on the western side is not so strongly 
indicated in the physical geography of the country. 
Loch Lomond was thus a border country, and the Lennox, 
with which it was conterminous, was therefore always sub- 
ject, and, as it appears, in an unusual degree, to inva- 
sion and plunder, and to forced contributions under the 
title of black mail. A story is told at Luss, which is not un- 
likely to be true, and which marks the cool and persever- 
ing nature of some of the Highland feuds. It is of a gun, 
said still to be preserved, which was planted in a house, 
and from which the Colquhouns of Comstraden used to 
fire at those of Luss, every Sunday, as they turned round 
an exposed corner in their way to the church. But the 
clan Alpin, or Mac Gregor, already mentioned, were 
the Kers and Armstrongs of this district ; and I have 
already noticed the fight of Glen Fruin, acted near the 
very spot to which I have now brought you. The cir- 
cumstances which relate to this affair are both obscure 
and contradictory: but there seem reasons for believing 
that this clan was unjustly marked as being more fero- 
cious than its neighbours ; and that, however necessary 
or right it was for the law to interfere, it was rather from 
convenience and accident than from any peculiar de- 
merits, that they were selected as subjects of the act of 

It appears that they had long been in a state of hos- 
tility with the Colquhouns of Luss, and that their Chief, 
having attempted to settle these differences by an ami- 
cable negotiation, was treacherously assaulted by a far 
superior force of the enemy; notwithstanding which, be, 
by greater skill and courage, gained a victory ; leaving 
200 of the enemy dead on the field, including most of the 


leading men, and making many prisoners. The loss on 
the part of the Mac Gregors, as the tale is related by 
themselves, was so trifling, that the Laird's brother and 
one man only, were missing, although some were 
wounded. The news of this event, as it is reported, 
reached James VI. through the widows of the deceased, 
who appeared at Stirling, in solemn procession, each 
bearing the bloody shirt of her husband displayed on a 
pike. The consequence of this appeal was the act of 
outlawry, already mentioned : and, if the narrative be 
true, it was an unjust act, since the Colquhouns must 
have merited, at least the same punishment as the victors. 
(f the right of private warfare was still permitted, it 
should have been permitted to all ; or else the whole 
system should have been abolished by general laws, in 
place of adopting a plan, at once vengeful and timid, 
oppressive, because partial, and, at the same time, in- 
efficient, both with respect to the whole country, and to 
the peace of this particular district. It has been said, in 
justification of the severity of this law, that the battle of 
Glen Fruin was attended by circumstances of peculiar 

The atrocious deed in question, which is however 
denied by the Mac Gregors, was the murder of some 
youths of the sept of Colquhoun, whom curiosity had 
led to see the fight ; but graver historians have been so 
much trouldcd to reconcile the discordant narratives of 
much more important events, that the historian of the 
Highlands, or the collector of tradition^^, need not much 
regret if he also is unable to reconcile jarring narratives, 
so as to satisfy all the parties concerned. These tales, 
like those of ghosts, and njany others, are best adapted 
to a winter firc-side. i know not that they are desirable 
commentaries on the lovely and peaceful scenes where 


they have occurred, and which now speak of every thing 
but rapine and bloodshed. I must confess that they af- 
ford me little pleasure ; and if they give you as little, you 
will prefer accounts of cascades and lakes and streams 
and woods and mountains, to stories of anthropophagi 
like the Mac Gregors ; even though all the account that 
words can give you of these delicious landscapes are 
but unideal shadows. 

The banks of Loch Lomond, not far from Smollet's 
monument, display a modern Gothic castle, in which, if 
the artist has failed to produce any thing very striking, 
he has at least avoided absurdity, and, what commonly 
accompanies it, extravagant expense ; matters in which 
the most fashionable architect of Scotland in this line, 
hcis been remarkably successful. Doubtless, this inge- 
nious person takes great credit to himself for his inven- 
tions: and doubtless also it would trouble any one to 
discover, either the use or ornament of all the pastry 
which he has embodied in the shape of masonry. It is 
a delicate matter to jest with architecture, or to try ex- 
periments in stone and lime: partly on account of its 
expensive nature if it proves a bad one, and partly on 
account of the extreme durability of the jest. The castle 
is a weapon particularly difficult to wield : and it is one 
which has proved too weighty for most of the hands that 
have attempted it. 

If we analyze the elements of which castellated archi- 
tecture consists, we shall find that this style admits of so 
much variety, that scarcely any general system can be 
formed from the works of the ancient artists in it ; and 
that such a latitude is, in consequence, given to modern 
imitation, that there is room for the unbounded exertions 
of fancy. An appearance of strength, and the property 
of being defensible, either against sudden insult or more 


regular attacks, seem to be the only indispensable prin- 
ciples which must be seen predominating through all the 
variety which may be adopted. The supplementary parts, 
whether these consist in the defensive works, or in the 
mere ornaments of the building, have varied according to 
the dates of the various structures which remain. They 
have partaken of the rudest, and of the most refined 
Gothic; and they have descended, in time, till they 
became contaminated with the no-style of Elizabeth 
and James, and till nearly all traces of the Gothic man- 
ner have disappeared. Yet even these buildings retain 
peculiarities which are characteristic, and which bespeak 
their uses. 

To be more particular: the peculiar elements on 
which their character depends, are to be seen in their 
massive walls, their buttresses, their flanking and watch 
towers, their machicolations, their spare and distant win- 
dows, their ponderous and fortified gates, their loop- 
holes and battlements, and in a few of the more trifling 
ornaments in fashion at one time or another, the pre- 
sence or absence of Avhich produces little difl'erence in 
the general effect of the building. If, to all these, we 
add a moat, and, as in some rare cases, a barbican out- 
work, we have every thing of which an ancient castle 
may consist. These simple elements, subject to no gene- 
ral rules, but disj)osed according to the caprice or design 
of the architects, have afforded us structures, of that infi- 
nite variety and picturesqiie effect which we see in Car- 
narvon, and Conway, and Raglan, and Pembroke, and 
Caerphilly, and Kcnilworth ; and in innumerable others, 
equally well known, and unnecessary to enumerate. They 
have varied in size as they have varied in disposition : yet 
in almost all instances, they retain the peculiar character 
ol their style, and are productive of striking effects. 


With the full power of recofnpounding and varying, 
or copying their material parts, it has still happened that 
modern artists have almost invariably failed to convey 
the same ideas, and to produce similar effects. If we 
were asked for instances of failure, it would be a much 
easier task to enumerate the examples of success. They 
scarcely exist. A great part may be the fault of the ar- 
chitect ; but not the whole. He is perhaps required to 
combine the conveniences of a modern structure with the 
aspect and effect of an ancient one ; two things, probably, 
in themselves scarcely compatible. But it is he who is 
in fault when be attempts to convey, merely by appear- 
ances, and by ornaments instead of reality, that notion of 
strength, of defence, and of solidity, which is, in fact, 
inseparable from actual mass of masonry, from real 
strength and capacity of being defended. The eye is 
never deceived in this ; but detects the trick, and des- 
pises the imposition. Hence, these imitations have the 
effects of pasteboard models or of scenes in a theatre. 
Thus the architect fails, even where his copy is genuine, 
or his composition legitimate. When he has attempted, 
on the other hand, to invent and compound for himself, it 
has too often been his fate to fall into absurdities of his 
own, which have produced a ludicrous and contemptible 
building; either by incompatibility of combination, or by 
those heterogeneous assemblages which we may witness 
in many more places than I choose to enumerate. 

But there is, beyond these, a difficulty to be over- 
come, which perhaps no architect, however versatile his 
fancy or profound his knowledge, can surmount. The 
idea of a castle is, in reality, a very complicated one, and 
does not depend on its architecture alone. It recalls to 
the mind all our chivalrous and historical lore, all that of 
which it was once the scene ; bringing in a lively man- 


ner before us the deeds which were there acted; its 
sieges, its defences, its feasts : the dark dungeon, the gay 
hall, the tilt yard, and the solemn service of the chapel. 
Here the modern building must fail. It is now also an 
essential part of an ancient castle, that its towers are 
perhaps in ruin ; the ivy mantles over its walls, its moat 
is choaked with rubbish, and its stones are stained with 
<rray lichens, overgrown with mosses, and fringed with 
wallflowers and tangling plants; while the owl hoots 
from its watch towers, and the jackdaw and the rook soar 
over its roofless chambers. Take away all these adven- 
titious, but powerful accompaniments, and the charm is 
at an end. Here, still more, modern architecture must 
fiiil : and were even Conway once more to come bright 
from the mason's hand, with all its walls smooth and 
fresh-jointed, its towers complete, and its gates and win- 
dows entire, it would probably fail to excite any great 
admiration beyond that which depended on its bulk and 
situation, and on the perfection of its workmanship. 

The finest general view of the lake, that wliich con- 
veys the most perfect idea of its lower portion, is ob- 
tained from the hill above Luss; resembling in character 
ihat already mentioned from the shoulder of Ben Lomond, 
but much superior in the distribution and richness of its 
middle ground, and forming a more entire and perfect 
picture. The double peak of Dundjarton is distinctly 
seen, with the Clyde and the land beyond it; the noble 
expanse of water being now entirely displayed, with all 
its green and various islands floating on the bright mirror. 
Inch Lonich, stretching out its long ridge of wild wood, 
and approaching to the shores of Luss and Comstraden, 
iiiiilos wilji their richly ornamented grounds, and wilh the 
bays and promontories of this varied shore, to produce 
thai splnidid middle ground which renders this view all 


that wo could desire ; while it enchants the merest spec- 
tator, by its combination of magnificence and tranquillity, 
of grandeur in the general aspect, and of the most ex- 
quisite ornament in the details. 

In quitting Luss and turning northward, we take 
leave of this portion of the lake, and enter on that class 
of scenery, so entirely distinct in character, which be- 
longs to its upper part. The islands are now left behind, 
with all that peculiar effect which depends on them; the 
few that are found henceforward, conferring no longeron 
the scenery that peculiar character which distinguishes 
the lower division of Loch Lomond from all other lakes. 
The lofty hills that enclose it on each side, now approach 
nearer, and the beauty of the landscapes, which formerly 
arose chiefly from the water, now depends principally on 
the forms and ornament of the boundaries. Thus it dis- 
plays, not only that more common style of lake scenery 
which I have noticed on former occasions, and have 
sometimes noticed for its sameness and for its insipidity, 
but that far superior species of landscape where the 
nearer grounds, constituted by the declivities of the hills 
and by the variations of the shore, occupy the principal 
share of the picture, and leave the water, what it ought 
always to be, a subsidiary object. It would be endless 
to point out all these scenes, since they are extremely 
numerous and no less brilliant: but among the first 
which occur, is one where the road both ascends and 
winds round a bold promontory. Here it is proper to 
ascend the hill by the ancient road, as well as to follow 
the new one which leads round it along the shore ; as 
without that, much of this fine scenery will be lost. Ben 
Lomond, now approaching near to the eye, towers over 
the whole scene with great magnifi»ence ; still however 
retaining that peculiar form which it has displayed dur- 
ing the whole progress from Dumbarton. 


A similar style of landscape continues to Tarbet; and, 
at Inverouglas, a small island, beautifully wooded, and 
containing the remains of a castellated mansion once the 
seat of the Mac Farlane, forms a principal object in a 
scene of unexpected beauty and tranquillity ; where Ben 
Lomond, having now entirely changed its character, has 
put on the form of an elegant and acute cone, lifting its 
head high above the long and picturesque ridge which, 
hence to the upper extremity, bounds the eastern side of 
the lake. There is a fine view also here from the summit 
of Ben Vorlich, an elevation not much inferior to that of 
Ben Lomond itself; including Loch Lomond on the one 
hand, and, on the other, looking into Loch Long and 
over the mountains that extend henc^e towards the Clyde 
and the ocean. 

From Tarbet onwards, to the upper extremity of the 
lake, the breadth of the water becomes materially con- 
tracted; the opposed hills rising like an enormous wall, 
and throwing their shadow upon it; wooded, from the 
water's edge, with a continuous forest of oak, which, 
spreading over their rocky faces and clambering along 
the deep ravines and water courses, at length vanishes in 
scattered groups and single trees, adding richness of 
ornament to their already picturesque and rocky outlines. 
This character of ground, added to the bold promontories 
and deep indentations, and to the wild cjireer of the road 
itself, constitutes that peculiar range of grand scenery 
which renders Loch Lomond, in this part, as superior to 
almost all the Highland lakes, as it is distinguished from 
the whole of them by the splendour of its lower portion. 
One angle of this roa<l cannot fail to attract attention ; 
ami it is here that the landscape particularly reminds us 
of Loch Cateran ; the rocky an<l woody declivity of the 
mountains, with all its precipices and trees, resembling 
the romantic skiiLs of Ben Venn and the recesses of the 


Trosachs. Marshal Wade has here excelled all his 
other outdoings ; but if we " deem our hoar progenitors 
unwise" for making such roads, what shall we say of 
their posterity, who, with far more ample means, and 
much more crying wants, suffer them, bad as they origi- 
nally were, to become utterly impracticable, by neglect, 
and by what is called economy. 

Shortly after passing this formidable obstruction, the 
upper extremity of the lake comes in sight ; forming, in 
itself, a striking landscape ; a single island, the last of 
all, appearing to float far away on the water, which is 
here rendered doubly brilliant by the loftiness and 
strongly marked character of its boundaries, and by the 
succession of mountains which tower above each other to 
enclose it. A huge and bold fragment of rock by the 
road side, equal in size to the celebrated Bowder stone 
of Keswick, meets us on descending the hill where the 
view is obtained ; and hence to the last point of the lake, 
the road follows the level of the water. Here, as well as 
in the first portion of Glen Falloch, many wild and beau- 
tiful scenes occur, of various characters ; and, among the 
rest, several very picturesque views of the lake, which, 
now reduced to an apparently small compass by the lock- 
ing over of the hills, displays some of its finest pictures. 
I know not that it contains any one superior, in this style, 
to the view from the hill above the inn at Glen Falloch, 
though almost a bird's-eye scene. This road, I need 
scarcely add, conducts to Tyndrum and Glenorchy ; but 
it ceases to possess any interest soon after we lose sight 
of the lake. 



A FRIEND who has been looking over my shoulder 
this last week, somewhat in the way I suppose in which 
the devil looks over Lincoln, to watch for prey, tells me 
that I talk so much about scenery and drawing, that it 
might be supposed I was an artist, that I am only writing 
for artists, and that I am as bad as Gilpin. With his per- 
mission, I should choose to bisect this compliment ; as I 
have no esteem for the latter half of it. However that 
may be, cousole yourself that you are within sight of 
land. The days of the picturesque are drawing to an 
end ; for Scotland is not every where what it is in the 
Perthshire lakes and on the bright margin of Loch 
Lomond. You will not always have to complain that the 
country is too beautiful, or that I am too warm an ad- 
mirer of it. As to the former part, Lord Arundel says, 
that a man who does not draw, cannot be an honest man ; 
and therefore I am writing for honest men. I think that 
I am writing for all the world, because I think all the 
world ought to draw. So does the noble antiquary : who 
seems to have viewed this art as Shakspcare did music. 
The axiom comes from a warm heart at least, in both. 

IJut there is a greater authority. The Greeks con- 
kjnplatcd the art of painting in so high alight, that they 
forlcub' their slaves to learn it. At the same time, it was 
part of the education of all children in the higher ranks ; 
being ronsi<lered as a liberal art. You may consult 
Pliny, if yuu please : or Aristotle, who, in his politics, 


says that it ought to be, what it was in Atliens, a branch 
of general education ; " not to prevent its possessors from 
being- cheated in tlie purchase of pictures, but because it 
taught the art of contemplating and understanding beauti- 
ful forms." It was the same with the Romans ; who had 
very little respect for any art but that of fighting, or for 
any science but that of governing and plundering their 
neighbours. Hse tibi erunt artes, Castiglione is not a 
very bad authority in matters that concern a liberal edu- 
cation. What he says of the utility of drawing, might 
have been said a hundred ways, and therefore I need 
not quote it. But the following sentence contains his 
opinion of what just now concerns us ; landscape painting. 

" Et veramente chi non estima quest' arte, parmi che 
molto siadalla ragione alieno : che la machina del mondo 
che uoi veggiamo, con I'amplo cielo di chiare stelle tanto 
splendido ; et nel mezo la terra da i mari cinta, di monti, 
valli, et fiumi variata : et di diversi alberi et vaghi fiori 
et di herbe ornata: dir si puo che una nobile et gran pit- 
tura sia per man de la natura, et di Dio composta. La 
qual chi puo imitare, parmi esser di gran laude degno." 

His notions of the nature of a courtier differed some- 
what from my lord Chesterfield's ; that is certain. But 
that is not the reason why drawing is not, in this country, 
considered a part of a liberal education. Neither can I 
assign one ; unless it is that the gentlemen of this land 
are too much occupied in corrupting Cornish boroughs, 
driving barouches, reading newspapers, and practising 
law, physic, divinity, and horse-racing ; and that all the 
knowledge of art which is requisite for talking about, 
can be acquired in a few hours by reading Pilkington, 
and Mr. Haydon's criticisms on the British Gallery. 

I could be very learned, and diffuse too, on the 
iitility of drawing. But to take the negative side, as the 


shortest method of proof, I wish any body would point 
out a department of life, excepting law, divinity, and 
taxation, in which it is not of use ; nay, in which it is 
not necessary. If it really can make a man honest, as 
Lord Arundel asserts, there are at least two of these 
trades in which it is particularly required. There are 
none, at any rate, to which it may not prove a relaxation ; 
nor are there any persons who may not find, in some of 
its numerous departments, an amusement. And really, 
there are so many idle, so many tedious, so many mis- 
chievous, and so many bitter hours in life, that he will 
be a wise man who contrives to multiply whatever re- 
sources may diminish their weariness, add to their inno- 
cent employments, or lighten their weight. 

Indeed, we have reason, every day, to lament the rarity 
of this talent among us, in the lighter matters of life, as 
well as in the weightier ones. It is not a small merit, that 
it saves vast and vain circumlocutions in many things of 
daily passage, and that it renders many an obscure tale 
intelligible. Many a tale, indeed, cannot be told without 
it ; from the professor in his chair to the traveller with 
his quarto, the inventor with his schemes, and even the 
milliner with the project of a new cap. The lawyer and 
the beau are the slaves of Mr. Vickery and Mr. Stultz, 
because they cannot describe " the essential form of 
g^ace" in the swelling rotundity of a wig, or the iron con- 
straint of a collar: one little line, less than that which 
Protogenes drew, might, in the hands of the hero of the 
barouche club, raise him to immortality; when he must 
now, with sleepless anxiety, watch the progress of his 
mail coach in Mr. Leader's yard : and even the fair must 
depend on Mr. Taylor's apprehension of the poco piu 
poco nieno, which is to determine the beauty that she is 
compelled to commit to his charge. 

nnAwiNC. 225 

Nay, the depths of ohl ocean have been ploughed for 
years, and countless are the myriads of shapeless mon- 
sters, nereides, vorticellfe, medusee, salpae, naides, 
holothurioe, and other unspeakable things, whose souls 
and bodies have been cut through in vain, because they 
will neither pickle nor preserve, and because our children 
have not learnt to draw: and even when the hortus 
siccus has been dried and packed, and the beetles and 
butterflies have been boxed, and campliorated, and 
scaled, with infinite toil and thought, behold, they arrive, 
and all is swallowed up in dnsty death. The cockroaches 
and the white ants would have found little temptation in 
a few strokes of a pencil and a halfpenny worth of Indian 
ink : but the pencil and the paint are created in vain, and 
the world remains as Avise as it was before. Thus also 
we are dying with curiosity to understand some piece of 
architecture of the days of the Sassanides, or a monument 
of the age of Nimrod, or a mountain that lifts its head to 
the moon, and distributes its waters to half the g1ol)e; 
we read, and wonder, and wish, and when the tale is 
told, it is nothing: the traveller is nothing, and his toils 
are worth nothing : he could not draw. Thus too, in 
this enlightened country, we sufTor taste to become a 
trade ; and he who ought, alike, to dictate to the mecha- 
nical retailer of this commodity and to despise him, now 
opens his purse, and surrenders his house and lands, to 
every pretender ; because he has not learnt to draw. 

But putting out of the question, as too minute for the 
present time and purpose, the particular kinds of utility 
or pleasure resulting from a diflTused knowledge of draw- 
ing, I am desirous to go further than Aristotle, and to 
maintain that it is a valuable liranch of general educa- 
tion, from its cultivating one of the most needful powers of 
the mind; namely, the faculty of observation in general. 

VOL. I. Q 


This mental quality, or power, is much more connected 
with accuracy of vision, and with habits of making mi- 
nute distinctions, than careless thinkers imagine; and 
there is nothing which so cultivates accuracy of obser- 
vation in all visible matters, as drawing. Accuracy, and 
tenacity, of memory, hang on the same faculty ; and thus 
it is that minute and careful observation is accompanied 
by distinct and tenacious recollection. Costard will not 
allow that he forgot ; but he confesses to the " not mark- 
ing of it." It will surprise those who are not accustomed 
to analyze and study their impressions and recollections, 
to find how little of accuracy their ideas of visible ob- 
jects really possess : not only in remembrance, but even 
at the moment of the impression. But it does not sur- 
prise a painter to find that, even at the distance of years, 
he can recall a subject which he once intended to paint ; 
or give, at any time, the true characters of objects long 
since impressed on his mind. As far as painting is merely 
imitative, this is its essence : a correct notion of visible 
forms, and of colours : and he who cannot paint, differs far 
more from the artist, in his eye for present observation, 
or in his inemory for past ones, than he does in dexterity 
of hand. In truth, ordinary observers have but vague 
notions of form, whatever they may imagine ; and the 
test is, that they cannot draw them. When the eye has 
acquired its knowledge, the hand will not be long in 
learning to record it. It is something to be able, even to 
copy accurately, forms that are present ; but the artist 
has yet much to learn, of the human figure for example, 
who cannot display it in all the attitudes of Rubens, or 
contort it into the postures of Michael Angelo. To do 
this, is to have acquired a thorough idea of the form of 

FIc who will take the trouble to reflect on this sub- 


ject at more length than 1 dare illustrate it, will be con- 
vinced of the truth of the principle; and will find, on 
trial, how little he really knows of visible objects as they 
ought to be known, and how fast his knowledge increases 
by the practice of drawing. When, after that acquisition, 
he compares or examines himself at two distant periods, 
he will soon become convinced of what he would not at 
first easily have admitted. Nothing else can produce 
this conviction ; since, in every thing that relates to the 
senses, we all follow our own standard, and cannot, in 
fact, follow any other. It is in vain, therefore, to tell the 
idler who has travelled to Rome, that he cannot truly 
distinguish between St. Peter's and St. Paul's; since he 
judges truly enough according- to his own vague scale: 
although, as an artist, or an architect, falsely, and there- 
fore, incorrectly and imperfectly. It is no less vain, than 
it is to say to him whose optical defects disable him from 
distinguishing' between blue and crimson, that he does 
not know colours. Modesty may make him yield his 
opinion to the majority ; but he is not morally convinced 
that he is wrong. Yet he is so, because he judges by a 
wrong- standard: and that is precisely the case with him 
who judges of art without the education; or, what is, 
fundamentally, the same thing, of the nature and forms 
of visible objects Avithout the power of drawing. It is 
possible indeed that there may be an eye without a lisnd. 
But power of hand is at least the best proof of its pre- 
sence ; and we can never be thoroughly convinced that 
the one exists, if we can find no proofs of the other. 

But, for the present purpose, it is of little moment 
whether that be true or not, as one of the chief objects 
here in view, was to shew the utility of drawing as a 
means of cultivating the faculty of observation-. Whether 
we are to make drawings or not, that faculty is in con- 

Q 2 


stant requisition in every step of ordinary life; and very 
particularly so, in many portions of its business. The 
enumeration would be as tedious as that which relates to 
the utility of drawing ; and I will not therefore enter on 
it. Yet, among- many other things, were it more gene- 
rally diftused, the relations of travellers would differ far 
less from each other than they now do, even on ordinary 
matters ; and would convey far more accurate as well as 
consistent ideas. No one who has not attended to this 
subject, can conceive the extensive influence which the 
art of drawing has in improving the power of observing; 
and that, even on points with which it would seem to 
have little connexion. Where works of art are concerned, 
and even where natural objects are to be described, no 
one who knows its value, I should rather say its neces- 
sity, will pay much attention to the narratives of ordinary 
travellers. It is the fashion, however, for every one to 
imagine that he can describe pictures and buildings ; 
though ignorant of painting and architecture, and unable 
to mark on paper the outline of a column or the angle 
of a pediment. The public at large has no resource in 
these cases, but to submit with sad civility, or to believe 
and be deceived. But he who knows what art is, will 
pay the same attention to these tales, as he does to the 
criticisms which he daily hears in picture galleries; 
where a knowledge of all that belongs to art, is sup- 
posed innate or inherent in those who do not possess one 
of its principles, but whose claims to knowledge consist 
in wealth to purchase or in birth to dictate. Sir Joshua 
shifts his trumpet and takes snuft'. 

But enough of this; as I must not write treatises for 
you not to read : so let us turn from utility to pleasure; 
which, nine times out of ten, is the better thing of the 
• "<'. And here I must limit myself to landscape, as the 


only question that is before us, and as that which must 
make my apolog-y ; if an apology for all this sugary 
writing is possible. If the pleasures derived from any 
art, from painting, architecture, poetry, or music, are 
greatest to those who are educated, a truth which will 
only be denied on the general ground of the felicity of 
ignorance, then we ought to cultivate the art of draw- 
ing; not merely for the amusement which it affords by 
improving the taste, agreeably occupying the time, and 
preserving the records of useful or beautiful objects, but 
to enable us to derive from natural scenery all the plea- 
sures which it is capable of affording. Nature, as Cas- 
tiglione says, is a great picture painted by the hand of 
the Creator : it is an endless collection of pictures, offer- 
ing inexhaustible sources of pleasure and study and criti- 
cism; containing-, not only all that art ever executed, all 
its principles and all its details, but infinitely more than 
it can ever attain. If it requires deep and long study to 
understand art, if none can truly judge of it but he 
whose hand can follow his eye, or whose eye at least has 
acquired that knowledge which makes the painter, it 
cannot require less to understand nature. Nor must it 
be said that, in the study of art, any more than in that of 
nature, taste may be independent of this accuracy of 
knowledge, or that a perfect perception of beauty can 
exist without it. As well might it be said that a perfect 
perception of the beauties of poetry or music may exist 
without critical knowledge. I do not mean technical 
criticism ; but a distinct comprehension of all the sources 
of beauty, of their nature and causes. In effect, taste, 
in its true sense, is the result of study and of critical 
knowledge. It is the produce of comparison and analysis, 
in all the arts; and it is futile to say that, in painting, 
more than in any other art, it can exist without know- 


ledge; though there may be much minute technical dis- 
crimination without a great deal of taste, and much 
knowledge also in the possession of him who hardly sus- 
pects it. 

Applying this rule to the simple enjoyment of natural 
scenery, as the object now before us, it is only the poeti- 
cal painter, he who is, at the same time, every thing that 
a painter ought to be, who can derive from landscape, all 
the pleasures which it is calculated to yield. And the 
ignorautor uncultivated spectator will receive less enjoy- 
ment from it than he who, though not an artist, has studied 
the art of painting ; or who, from his practical knowledge 
of drawing, has learnt to observe and compare truly, and 
to attend to a thousand minute circumstances, in colour, 
form, shadow, contrast, and so forth, which escape ordi- 
nary spectators. He is the poetical critic examining a 
fine poem. The obvious beauties may strike the coarsest 
reader; but the refined one alone will appreciate the 

There is an art, even in discovering landscape at all in 
nature, much more limited than will readily be believed 
by those who have not long and seriously studied de- 
sign ; who have not studied it in nature as well as in the 
works of artists, and even who have not reduced their 
studies and observations to some practice. Everyone 
who, after a certain progress, will review his past ex- 
perience, by travelling again among the scenes which 
he had before visited, will easily convince himself of 
this. He will often «lctcct beauties which had before 
escaped his notice; and will often also be surprised to 
find, at some<listant day, that he had unconsciously been 
long residing amid scenery of the most exquisite nature, 
hee.lless of it charms. In this art, as in all others, his 
powers in eliciting knowledge, in striking fire fnnn the 


dark flint, in discovering hidden or retiring- beauties, will 
depend on his previous acquirements. The ignorant and 
uneducated man overlooks the phenomenon or the sub- 
stance, from which the philosopher draws important con- 
clusions or extracts valuable results ; on which he founds 
the greatest discoveries. It is the experience, guided by 
the taste of Salvator or Poussin, Mhich elicits the most 
sublime or varied landscape from a confusion of objects 
where a common eye sees nothing, or sees nothing but 
disorder and chaos. 

Among artists also, each has his particular bent ; each 
observes something which another will oveilook. While 
the eye of Claude comprehemls the whole extent of a 
rich or fertile country, dressed up in all the luxuriance 
of art and nature, adorned with mountains and rivers and 
trees and temples, and teeming with life, that of Cuyp 
will content itself with a sunny bank and a group of cat- 
tle, as that of Berghem too often does with a few ruined 
walls : while the degenerate taste of others is satisfied, 
where nature spreads all her beauties around, to grovel 
among hay-fields and pig-sties, to study and detail the 
anatomy of a wooden bridge or a muddy wharf. 

As we are quite sure that, of the thousands who read 
Milton or Shakspeare, there are very few who can appre- 
ciate, or even discern the far greater number of the 
beauties of these writers, though, as they receive all the 
pleasure of which their standard renders them suscep- 
tible, they imagine that they are enjoying the whole, so, 
in the contemplation of natural landscape, we may be 
convinced that the far greater number of spectators re- 
ceive but a very vague and limited pleasure; even ad- 
mitting that, as far as it exists, it is legitimate. Were 
not the general principle true, it would be easy to con- 
vince ourselves of this practically, by observation on the 


impressions which fine scenery produces on individuals 
of different talents or acquirements. Among the abso- 
lutely uneducated, there is an utter insensibility to this 
class of beauty. The rustic sees nothing- in the rude 
magnificence of alpine landscape but its inconveniences 
and barrenness; and in the richest scenes of ornamented 
nature, nothing but the agricultural value. To him, 
that is the most beautiful country whose produce is the 
most abundant, where the corn is yellowest and the grass 
greenest, where the enclosures are most perfect and the 
woods fittest for the axe. As we ascend in the scale of 
society, we find similar insensibility, if in a less degree. 
The apprehension of natural beauty continues to increase 
with general education and general improvement; or 
with experience in it, which is education. Thus there is 
a gradation from insensibility to criticism ; that last point 
of full enjoyment, >vhich cannot be attained without a 
knowledge of art, and which is rarely attained in per- 
fection but by the thorough artist ; by the Salvators, the 
Claudes, and the Turners. 

No point can be fixed where a high sense of natural 
beauty, unaccompanied by a critical knowledge of art, 
stops ; because Nature must be felt as well as studied by 
means of art. Nor is this a false or a technical opinion; 
since the rules of art are derived from Nature: they are 
her own canons of beauty. Art is the concentration or 
quintessence of Nature; and it therefore forms her laws. 
Those, consequently, >vho arc higlily sensible on this sub- 
jet t, have ma<le a step in art, even when unaware of it. 
They arc artists to a certain stage, and are in the progress 
of their education. Rut as, in all the sciences, a single 
mind tatinot do every thing for itself, but must profit by 
the observations of otluTs, by the concentrated light of 
former cultivators, so, in this study of natural beauty, the 


progress of education is accelerated by an acquaintance 
with that art which contains and concentrates the accu- 
mulated taste of ages. Hence the utility of art in direct- 
ing the taste for natural landscape, and in forming that 
sensibility which must otherwise have been of slow 
growth, or which might never have been attained. 

I will not proceed further to illustrate that, of which 
the truth ought to be apparent. But the Critic in Art 
finds other sources of enjoyment in landscape, which are 
unknown, even to those whose acquired taste may, short 
of this information, stand at a high point in the scale. 
A thousand circumstances attract his eye and delight his 
mind, which, to others, are imperceptible, or which they 
cannot appreciate. In the accidents of light and shade, 
he perceives beauties which those do not know how to 
feel or value, who are unaware of their powers in giving 
force and attraction to paintings. In the multiplicity 
and harmony of direct, reflected, and half lights, under a 
thousand tones for which there are no terms, he sees 
charms which are only sensible to a highly cultivated 
and somewhat technical eye. It is only such an eye that 
can truly feel the beauty of colouring, that is sensible to 
its innumerable modifications, to all the hidden links by 
which it is connected, and to all the harmony which results 
from arrangement and contrast. 

Even omitting all consideration of the general land- 
scape, not a cloud, a rock, or a tree, or even a casual bank 
or a group of weeds, can occur, in which he does not dis- 
cover beauties that are insensible to those who have not 
studied as artists ; who have not learnt to analyze and 
value whatever they may have occasion to transmit to 
paper. Thus also, a critic in forms, he learns, froni the 
heap, to select and dwell on those alone which are fine, 
to make these his study and enjoyment; omitting such 


as are unpleasing, and thus extracting beauties where 
ordinary spectators see only deformity. It is only the 
critic also in forms, who can trace those which are really 
beautiful, or who can derive from them the pleasure which 
they can yield, but will only sun*ender to him who pos- 
sesses within himself a knowledge of the principles of 

The mere art of omission in contemplating landscape, 
is a most material one ; nor is it one that can be acquired 
without study and technical knowledge. Nature is rarely 
indeed faultless ; more commonly she is full of faults to 
counteract her beauties. And as the deformities are 
commonly the most obvious, invariably so to the unedu- 
cated, so these often turn with neglect or aversion from 
scenes whence the educated and the critic, without diffi- 
culty, extract beauties. This is the species of criticism 
which is the result and produce of real knowledge : it is 
tiue criticism; a source of felicity instead of discontent : 
and thus the real critic in art, multiplies the enjoyments 
which are to be derived from nature. It is in that which 
is called composition in landscape, that this art of omis- 
sion is of most use; for it is inseparable from the art of 
composition. To an ordinary eye, nature is often a heap 
of confusion, as it is a mass of faults. The artist omits, 
while he may also add and alter: and thus he extracts 
l>eauty from deformity, or discovers what appears to have 
had no existence. 

This chiefly constitutes the art of seeing landscape, 
already noticed: an attainment, like many more, to be 
ao(piired by practice, :ind by study of the principles of 
painting. He who possesses this art, will not only see 
innumerable beauties undiscoverabic by a common eye, 
but will extract distinct and enlirc landscapes, where 
a less practised person feels no pleasure, comprehends 


nothing-, and finds nothing but confusion. Thus he may 
also, if he practises drawing, fill his portfolio with sub- 
jects, from countries where others would not make a 
single sketch ; or, if that is not his object, he still travels 
in the midst of beautiful scenes, when his companions, if 
he has any, are dull and uninterested; with the addi- 
tional satisfaction, if he thinks it such, that results from 
his consciousness of superiority, and with the much more 
legitimate one, that lie is enjoying the reward of his own 
exertions and studies. Any one who will take the trouble 
to review his earlier impressions, will be soon convinced 
of the truth of these views; he will easily recollect the 
time when he saw little or nothing; and will the better 
know how to appreciate the deficient comprehension, and 
the far less perfect and lively pleasures, of those who 
are inferior to him in this acquirement. 

Nor is it alone by alterinjv and omitting-, by varying, 
transposing, or adding, in his imagination, that he thus 
discovers or creates landscapes. To an uneducated eye, 
the very magnitude of Nature is often no less an enemy 
to her picturesque beauties, than her apparent confusion, 
or occasional want of grace, unity, and consistency. That 
magnitude he learns to reduce, as he acquires the art of 
bringing her confusion into order, till he sees it as it 
ought to be seen. She is every where full of graces, 
but they are often concealed from every eye but his. He 
too who knows how to produce consistency himself, will 
find it in nature; as he will fix on the point where every 
thing tends to a centre of character or composition ; thus 
discovering that unity of intention without which land- 
scape cannot exist. It is the same for the distribution of 
light, so essential to the composition of landscape, and so 
essential, even to its existence. Of all the lights which 
a day may yield, few landscapes can bear the whole ; and 


there are innumerable cases where, at certain periods, 
every thing- is confusion, or even deformity, while, at 
others, all is beautiful. It is for the practised eye to see 
here, beauty in the midst of confusion : to anatomize and 
illuminate the mountain and the valley, according to the 
rules of art or the possibilities of nature; or to view in 
his mind's eye, under the broad shadows and subdued or 
harmonious colouring of a morning or evening sun, that 
which is lost in the glare of noon. 

Such are the chief principles of the art of seeing 
landscape, on which I might easily dwell at great length, 
were I not sure that every one must coincide with me in 
these views. This is the education which, not only 
teaches us how to enjoy nature, but which absolutely 
creates the very scenes for our enjoyment. This too is the 
education which is attainable by all. But the artist who 
is versed in the works of his predecessors, finds still fur- 
ther sources of pleasure in comparison ; as the critic does 
in comparing the several styles of authors. He traces, 
through the hands of the great masters of the art, the 
several sources in nature whence their ideas were formed, 
and compares them with each other and with nature, 
referring them to their great and original standard. He 
observes what different personshave selected for study and 
imifaf ion, and thus improves his powers of criticism in art. 

But even this is far from all which he derives from 
that source of study. Thus he learns to look at nature 
alfernaJely with flu- eye of Poussin, or Claude, or Berg- 
hem, (»r Rembrandt, or W'aterlo : detecting, by their aid, 
beauties that would otherwise have escaped him, and 
multiplying, to an incalculolWo degree, the sources of his 
enjoyment as well as of his studies. It is of the character 
of one artist, perhaps, as I before remarked, to dwell on 
all that IS placid and rich in composition and colour; 


another delights in the foaming torrent, the ravine, and 
the precipice; the simplicity of rural nature exclusively 
attracts a tiiird ; and others yet, select for imitation, the 
edifices of art, the depths of the forest, the ocean decked 
with smiles or raging with fury, or the merest elements 
of landscape, the broken bank, the scathed tree, or the 
plants that deck the foreground. Viewing with the eyes 
of the whole, personifying the infinite variety of tastes 
that has gone before him, stored with the ideas which he 
has accumulated from the study of their works, his atten- 
tion is alive and his senses open to every thing ; and not 
a beauty can pass before him but he is prepared to see it 
and to enjoy it. There are pleasures in nature for all» 
when they know where to seek or how to enjoy them. 
This it is to learn how to see Nature, and thus we must 
form our own minds : nor let any one imagine that he 
has exhausted half her stores, unless he knows all that 
his predecessors have extracted from them. 

In every thing, moreover, the art of seeing is really 
an art, and an art that must and may be learnt. It must 
be learnt for the plainest of reasons. It is not a simple 
eflTort, nor the result of simple sensations. It is the con- 
sequence of short and quick, but complicated, trains of 
reasoning, and is necessarily connected with, or depen- 
dent on, a thousand associations, without which it were 
the same if the objects were exhibited to the eyes of a 
child or a quadruped. 

After all, this is but the history of all human know- 
ledge. It is only the application of a simple and admitted 
principle, to a daily and common pursuit, which the 
thoughtless are apt to imagine an easy one, because its 
objects are daily and common. He who views nature 
without previous and fundamental knowledge, is no other 
than he who expects to relish the beauties of poetry with- 


out reading, or the works of art without study of their 
principles. It is he who travels into foreign lands with- 
out the requisite preliminary acquirements, and whore- 
turns as uninformed as he went. It is the incipient bota- 
nist or juvenile mineralogist, who presumes that he has 
only to open his eyes, to see and to collect treasures ; but 
who, yet uneducated, discovers nothing but common 
weeds and stones. In every science and art, our acquisi- 
tions of novelty bear an exact proportion to our previous 
knowledge; and he who expects that it shall be other- 
wise, forgets the great law of nature, that neither the 
mind nor the earth shall yield its stores to those who do 
not choose to cultivate them. 

It is natural for us to imasfine that we must know well 
and thoroughly, that with which we are familiar; that we 
cannot fail to understand what we see every day. Thus 
the vulgar, which imagines itself a judge in music, for- 
gets also that there may be more in this art than meets its 
own ear, and refuses to yield its judgment to the learned. 
As little can it comprehend the natural beauties which 
surround it, and thus also it disbelieves what it cannot 
understand. Yet this taste is of slow growth, and is 
among the last to appear. If we doubt that it requires 
much and various study, much practice, great delicacy of 
feeling, a warm and creative imagination, and many col- 
lateral acquisitions, we have only to examine our own 
progress, to compare our present state with any previous 
one, and, in admitting that there may be a much longer 
path before us than the one we have left behind, learn to 
be modest. 

As to the public at large, we have ourselves almost 
witnessed the rise of the very slender degree of taste on 
this sul)j«;ct which it yet possesses. The varied and beau- 
tiful scenery in which Scotland abounds, had not been 


dreamt of a century ago. That of England was equally 
unknown, though accessible to a larger population, and 
to one in which the number of the educated was arith- 
metically, if not proportionably, greater; and though the 
arts were there more diffused, from the presence of col- 
lections of pictures, the possession of ancient buildings, 
a longer existence of ornamented villas and rural scenery, 
and other causes that need not be named. So little was 
the scenery of its lakes known, that even the lakes 
themselves are scarcely noticed in the popular work on 
geography which goes by the name of Guthrie. These 
beautiful spots are barely mentioned, without even an 
enumeration, as being " called Derwent waters," and 
they are classed with Whittlesea mere, to which also the 
principal place is given. If Gray was not the first to 
notice them, he was among the first to direct the public 
attention to them, as Mr. Wyndham did to Wales ; and 
how rapidly they have risen in fame since,! need not say. 
You and I can yet remember when all the knowledge 
of Scottish scenery was confined to Loch Lomond and 
the most accessible of the Perthshire lakes. At the 
time of Pennant's and Johnson's tours, now only fifty 
years past, scarcely any suspicion of the beauty of our 
scenery was entertained ; nor, excepting Staffa, too re- 
markable a spot to be easily passed without notice, was a 
single picturesque object named throughout the country; 
while even that was then but just known. Johnson, it is 
true, could not see them, from physical defects; but 
Pennant talked of pictures, since ho described those at 
Duplin and had an artist in his service : yet he has 
scarcely mentioned one spot of all that he saw, as a man 
who felt the beauty of scenery. The account which Birt, 
long before, gives of the hideous Highland mountains and 
glens, is absolutely ludicrous. I know not exactly when 


Edinburgh was first discovered to be the most romantic 
city in the world ; but that is a discovery of no high an- 
tiquity. I myself was one of the first, and, I believe, the 
very first absolute stranger, who visited Loch Cateran. 
I had then a Scottish map in which it was not even in- 
serted : you and the Lady of the Lake can tell another 
tale now. Even in another and kindred art, it is well 
known what was thought of Gothic architecture not very 
long ago ; and whence, indeed, the very nam*^ originated. 
Every one knows what even professional architects 
thoughtofit; nor was it till the time of Gray and Walpole, 
that the public began to discover that it was not a ponder- 
ous, gloomy, and tasteless style, the produce of barbarism, 
and fitted only to delight barbarians. 

The great increase of domestic travelling, while it ap- 
pears to originate in a taste for the beauties of Nature, is 
that which chiefly tends to generate it. The people be- 
gins by imagining that it sees, and admires, and under- 
stands ; and it ends in doing what it had but fancied be- 
fore; in seeing and admiring and understanding. If a 
taste for the arts of design is also yet low in Britain, there 
is a certain moderate portion of it widely diflfused, as is a 
species of rainbling and superficial literature; and all 
this aids the cause, at it is equally an earnest of future 
and further improrcment. Let us all strive for more ; 
and, to attain it, begin by convincing ourselves of our ig- 
norance. There are few pleasures better worlh the pur- 
suit, for there are few that cost less and produce less pain ; 
few that yield more refined and delicate satisfaction, either 
in the present enjoyment or the future recollection. The 
coiilctuplation of nafnrc is a perpetual and a cheap gra- 
fifiration; improving the heart while it cultivates the 
mind, and abstracting us from the view, as it helps to 
yiiard IIS from tln' intrnsion, of those cares, against 


which it requires all our watchfulness and attention to 
shut the door. 

Thus I have tried to defend the art of drawing, and, 
at the same blow, to answer my critic friend. I admit, 
that those who have never seen, and never are to see, the 
scenes thus described, are very likely to turn over the 
pages and to ask, — why all this. But I know that those 
who have seen them, will be very glad to have them 
brought again to their recollections, even by the vague 
and empty array of words; and I believe that this very 
array of words which, tell what tale they may, can never 
tell the reality, will induce others to search in nature for 
what might have escaped their notice, and thus, by stimu- 
lating their attention to the improvement of their discern- 
ment, tend to increase their pleasures. Let me have your 
approbation, ray dear Sir Walter, and we will defy the 

VOL. I. R 



I MUST now return to Tarbet, for the purpose of con- 
ducting you to Loch Long-, separated from Loch Lomond 
by a low neck of land about a mile and a half in breadth, 
which here forms the sole barrier between Loch Lomond 
and the sea. This is the Tarbet itself, or carrying place, 
whence the hamlet derives its name ; a term applied to 
many places in Scotland similarly situated, and, among 
others, to the narrow neck which occurs in Harris, and 
to that which, in Cantyre, separates the east and the 
west Loch Tarbet. The boat-carrying-, is the literal 
meaning; and these places are analogous to the Cana- 
dian portages, and to the 8«oXko« of the Greeks, one noted 
example of which existed near Corinth. It is probable 
that, in this particular case, the name was imposed ia 
consequence of the celebrated raid of Ilaco (Hakon) in 
12G3, performed l)y a detachment of his fleet while he lay 
at the Ciimbrays ; as it does not appear that the natives 
have ever made a similar use of it as a means of commu- 
nicafiun between Loch Lomond and the sea. At present, 
indeed, it is a Tarljet, but of a far other character; serv- 
ing to convoy, in carts, from one steam boat to another, 
the idlers whom Greenock and Glasgow evacuate daily 
in this direction, in pursuit of happiness. 

In the general historical sketch of the Islands here- 
after given, I have noticed the leading facts Avhich ap-l 
prrtnin to tho afl'air of Largs; but there are a few par- 
ticulars, and this inroad among the rest, which arede-lj 


servino- of a more particular mention. After the conquest 
of Bute by Rudri, or Roderick, Haco proceeded round 
Cantyre from Gigha, and anchored in Hereyiar-sund, or 
the sound of Arran : probably in Loch Ransa, as there is 
no other anchorage in Kilbranan sound, which must be 
the place meant. He there received some monks whom 
the King- of Scotland had despatched to confer with him 
about a pacification, and soon after sent an embassy him- 
self to treat about the proposed peace. Having given 
them an audience, Alexander returned a commission with 
counterproposals; and, as far as can be discovered, it 
appears that he was content that Haco should retain all 
the Western Islands, or all the Sudreys that lay beyond 
the mainland of Scotland, if himself was allowed to keep 
Arran, Bute, and the Cumbrays. No terms were, how- 
ever, concluded ; and as the weather was now becoming 
boisterous, the Norwegian fleet sailed up the Clyde and 
anchored in the sound between the Cumbrays and Largs. 
A fresh negotiation was then commenced ; which, pro- 
ducing no results, Haco sent an ambassador, to propose 
that the two sovereigns should meet with all their forces, 
and treat about a peace ; and that if they could not come 
to an agreement, they should engage with their whole 
armies and trust the issue to God. But as no decisive 
answer was given to this proposal, the truce was declared 
at an end : and it seems probable indeed that it was the 
design of the Scots, to draw on these discussions till the 
advance of winter should render the station of the Nor- 
wegian fleet untenable; while they were at the same 
time gradually collecting forces in the neighbourhood. 

The war being thus recommenced, and the fleet being- 
in want of provisions, the Norwegian king sent sixty 
ships up into Loch Long, commanded by Magnus the 
King of Mann, Dugal, of Isla 1 conjecture, who is also 



called a Konongr, his brother Allan, Angus, and Mar- 
gad, all Western Island chiefs, with Vigleik Priestson, 
and Ivar Holm. Having anchored, they drew their boats 
across this neck of land into Loch Lomond ; wasting the 
islands, which are said to have been well inhabited, with 
fire, burning also the houses about the lake, and making 
a great devastation. Allan proceeded far into Scotland, 
killing many of the inhabitants and taking many hundreds 
of cattle. Returning afterwards to their fleet, they met 
with a violent storm in Loch Long and lost ten of their 
ships ; Ivar Holm dying also of an acute disorder. The 
afthir of Largs, hereafter narrated, followed immediately 
after this inroad : yet this large detachment did not re- 
turn till it had ternunated : a proof that what has beea 
considered by some Scottish historians as a pitched and 
intended battle, is to be attributed to accident ; as Haco 
could not have intended to fight with less than the half of 
his forces. 

I have had occasion to remark incidentally, in various 
parts of these letters, that the condition of the Western 
Islands, and probably that of the Highlands in general, 
was superior, in point of civilization and order, previous 
to 1300, or during the period of the Norwegian rule, to 
what it Mas afterwards, when the separate clans had, not 
only renounced the controul of the Scottish government, 
but had set up as petty princes, and were engaged in a 
constant succession of mutual hostilities. I think that 
conclusion is justified, not only by a variety of facts 
which have been stated on different occasions, but by the 
conduct and character of Haco, who appears to have been 
both an enlightened and amiable personage; as does John, 
who se<!mK to have l)een an ancestor of theMac(lonalds,and 
wIk) was the greatest, after Magnus, of the insular princes 
lioldiny under the Norwegian crown; though, whether 

LOCH LONc. 245 

he held his lands through the intervention of Magnus, as 
King of Mann, or immediately from Norway, does not well 
appear. The several embassies and negotiations seem 
to have been conducted with all the formality and dignity 
usual in modern and civilized countries ; the Bishops of 
Hamar and Orkney, Avith other distinguished persons, 
having been among the Norwegian envoys. In a similar 
manner, all the formalities of the several truces were 
rigidly followed, even where these were demanded and 
granted for burying the dead ; matters which formed no 
part of the system or ftishion of clan warfare or policy in 
after times, where, on the contrary, we find that every 
species of treachery was, not only adopted, but held to 
be justifiable. 

When Haco had anchored in Gigha, John came to 
meet him, in a single ship, accompanied by Bishop 
Thorgil, and without any precautions. But when, on a 
former occasion, he had consented to meet Alexander the 
second at Kerrera, it was on condition that four Scottish 
Earls should pledge their honour for his safe return, 
whatever the event of the negotiations might be. This 
marks a striking difference between the manners, or 
morals of the two courts ; as his situation was nearly the 
same with respect to both, though holding lands of greater 
value under the Scottish than under the Norwegian crown, 
and therefore having stronger claims to its good faith and 
protection. John's conduct in this case was strictly 
honourable : as, although pressed by Alexander to de- 
liver up Cairnburgh and three other castles which he 
held from Haco, with the promise of the King's favour, 
and of estates in Scotland of greater value, and though 
much urged by his friends and relations to comply, he 
persisted in refusing to break his oath to the Norwegian 
king. His conduct to Haco in the conference at Gigha, 


was equally firm and honourable; refusing to join him, 
on account of his oath to the King of Scotland, and choos- 
ing to resign the lands which he held under Norway, 
rather than break his allegiance to Alexander. But al- 
though having this subject thus in his power, Haco used 
neither force nor treachery to procure his compliance; 
not even choosing to credit the imputations of rebellion 
and disaffection that were laid to his charge, until he 
should have the actual experience of facts. The same 
mild and upright conduct marked the whole of his tran- 
sit through the isles; granting written protections to the 
churches which applied for them, dismissing the alarmed 
suppliants from various quarters in peace, and removing 
the apprehensions which they had justly entertained on 
account of their late rebellious conduct. In the same 
manner, he received the apologies of the rebel lords of 
Isla and Cantyre, Margad and Angus ; countermanding 
the intended invasion of their estates, confirming them in 
their lands, and being content, in lieu of their merited 
punishment, with a supply of cattle for his fleet. When 
also he at length dismissed John, after having carried him 
to Arran, he loaded him with rich presents, suffering him 
to remain neutral, according to the dictates of his own 

It is remarked in a general manner, in the historical 
sketch, that the defeat at Largs could not be considered 
in any other light than that of an accidental series of skir- 
mishes, caused chiefly by the injuries which the Norwegians 
had suftercd from the weather ; and not as a battle, decid- 
ing the superiority of Scotland, and involving the cession 
of the islands. So far indeed is that from being the fact, 
that when Haco had arrived at the harbour of Tobermory 
in his return northwards, he confirmed Dugal and Allan 
in their estates, gave Bute to Uudri, or Roderick, who had 


rebelled against Scotland and had been employed as 
commander in the invasion of that island, and also gave 
Airan to Margad. Thus even the two, and the principal, 
islands which had been the subject of negotiation with 
Scotland, and the immediate cause of the affair of Largs, 
remained in the possession of Norway: which could not 
have happened had the success of the Scots in this action 
been as decisive as has been commonly imagined, and 
asserted by Scottish historians. So far indeed was the 
Norwegian power in the islands from having been shaken 
by these losses, that the event of Haco's expedition was to 
regain, and once more to settle under Norway, all that 
had originally been acquired by Magnus Barefoot. 

Though it is well known that the earlier northern in- 
vaders of Britain and Ireland conducted themselves with 
great cruelty, it must be remembered, that these Ostmen, 
or Easterlings, Avere not a people living under a regular 
government, but independent and fierce pirates. They 
were the Vikingr, the regular sea kings, whose home 
was, literally, on the deep ; pirates by trade, without 
land or settled abode, and occupied in ranging the seas 
for plunder. But the Norwegian kings in after times, 
and their subjects equally, committed no unnecessary 
atrocities ; and in the time of Haco, as I have already 
shewn, conducted themselves according to the received 
usages of civilized warfare, and probably with not much 
less moderation and regularity than is the custom of our 
own days. That they exceeded the Scots of the same age 
in civilization, is proved, not only by the facts abovemen- 
tioned, but by other circumstances which have been else- 
where narrated, and by many which it is beyond ray 
limits to enter on ; and which, as no such parallel or con- 
clusion is drawn from them by the narrators, are the 
more worthy of reliance. In the invasion of the isles by 


the Earl of Ross, in the time of Alexander the secon d 
among' other cruelties, the Scots destroyed even the child- 
ren ; lifting them on the points of their spears, and then 
throwing them on the ground. This practice had long 
been forbidden in Norway, by Olver, who thence ac- 
quired the name of Barna-kall, the protector of infants. 
Thus also when Haco, in his progress to Orkney, had 
landed at Giafiord, which I presume to be Loch Eribol, 
some Scottish prisoners were brought in ; one of whom 
he detained as a hostage, while he suffered the others to 
depart, on a promise that they would bring in some cattle. 
On the same day, nine of the Norwegians had gone 
ashore for water, seven of whom were killed by the na- 
tives; notwithstanding which, and the failure of the for- 
mer party in performing their promise, Haco dismissed 
his hostage uninjured. It is safe to conclude, from these 
facts, and from other circumstances which it would be 
tedious and unnecessary to state, that the inhabitants of 
the Western islands and of the western coast, whether 
Highlanders, (Celts,) or Norwegians, were a far more 
civilized people before the thirteenth century, than we 
find them in those after days, when they had split into 
many states and were equally free of the controul of 
Norway and of Scotland. 

I remarked that the character of " Haco the aged" 
himself, seems to have been that of an eidightened and 
amiable man. On various occasions, we find him studi- 
ous of the comfort and accommodation of his friends and 
warrioj*s, and conforming to tlieir wishes, even when 
these did not coincide with his own views. At all times, 
the Norwegian nol)les seem to have possessed an aristo- 
cratical influence, but of a far different nature from that 
of the turbulent nobility of Scotland ; and in this parti- 
cular instance, the king and his people appear to have 


had a common and friendly interest, and to have lived to- 
gether like brethren. His death, which took place in 
Orkney, was tedious, and his nights sleepless; and he 
passed his weary hours in listening- to a succession of 
readers, who relieved each other at his bedside. When 
sensible that he was dying, all his friends were sum- 
moned, and each of them kissed him as he took his leave 
for ever. 

It would be a matter of interest could we ascertain 
the nature and size of these Norwegian vessels, and of 
those generally used at that period in the Western Isles. 
But we can only form conjectures. When Haco had ar- 
rived at Kerrera, it appears that he had a hundred ships, 
most of them of a large size, and well provided with men 
and arms. The general dimensions of these are not 
stated, but those of his own vessel may be conjectured 
from some of the particulars that are related; and though 
it should have been the largest, it will convey an idea 
of the nature of these vessels, which seem to have been 
of three kinds, transports, galleys, or long ships, and 
boats. The king's ship was built entirely of oak, and 
ornamented with heads of dragons beautifully overlaid 
with gold. There was a quarter deck, a main deck, a 
fore deck, and a forecastle, to each of which a distinct set 
of officers was appointed, and there were twenty-seven 
banks of oars. According to the enumeration, there must 
have been 200 men, or more, and upwards of thirty-four 
officers ; as the names of individuals to that amount are 
given, besides some chamberlains and priests who are 
not named. All else that we can discover about this 
vessel, is, that she had eight anchors ; as it is mentioned 
that, in the gale at Largs, she could not be brought up 
till she had let go her eighth, or sheet anchor. But I 
need not pursue further that, on which every one, from 
these few facts, may form his own conjectures. 


Having, in the account of the Clyde hereafter, de- 
scribed the lower part of Loch Long" as far as it required 
description, I have only now to notice its upper extre- 
mity, so enclosed among mountains as to resemble a 
fresh-water lake, and only to be recognised as an arm of 
the sea, at low water, when the long lines of brown 
weeds betray its real nature. I know not but that the 
first view of this spot disappoints those who have just 
quitted the magnificent scenes of Loch Lomond ; simple 
and unpretending as it is. But he who, after spending a 
few hours at Arochar, leaves it with the same impression, 
may proceed to Inveraray as fast as he pleases, for he 
would gain nothing by a longer abode. He, however, 
who has the faculty of seeing- landscape in places where 
it is less obvious than at Luss or Stirling Castle, will 
easily discover that, with all its simplicity, Loch Long- 
here affords many beautiful pictures, and in a style of 
considerable grandeur. Putting out of question the Cob- 
ler, the form of which is fantastical rather than pleasing, 
the general character of the mountains is no less pictu- 
resque than simple and broad ; while, being sufticiently 
near to fill the eye, they give to the landscape a fulness 
and richness of effect not often found in lake scenery, 
and not much unlike to that of the upper and bolder 
parts of Loch Lomond. The fine trees which surround 
the inn, and the picturesque outlines of the house itself, 
form middle grounds, at once various and rich, to 
this bold distance ; while the foregrounds, where there 
is an incessant variety produced by the sea banks, the 
trees, the mountain torrents, and the rocks, possess 
that happy congruity and continuity of character, which 
render the composition of these pictures as perfect and 
harmonious as they are numerous and striking. Many of 
the landscapes are, however, of a coy disposition, and 
will not be found without some study, and some of that 


courtship which Nature, true to her imputed sexual cha- 
racter, delights in and demands. I may add that the 
whole of these picturesque scenes are limited to a very 
small space about the house of Arochar; nor need any 
one, to whom this is the sole pursuit, follow the margin 
of the water downwards, beyond the point at which the 
hills first appear to lock over each other ; a point situated 
nearly opposite to the house of Ardgartan. I may also 
add that there is no peculiar interest in the road that leads 
hence to the Clyde, though it offers a convenient method 
of terminating a tour in this quarter. 

I think the Highlanders are more interested in the act 
of drawing, and more civil about this matter than the peo- 
ple elsewhere. That is a consequence of their general 
intelligence and politeness ; nor do they always suppose, 
as is common with the lower classes, that you are making 
" plans of the country." In Jersey, I have been taken 
up by a corporal and a file of men, and introduced to the 
main guard. In Cornwall, I have been marched ten miles 
to a justice of peace, as a horse stealer. In the same lu- 
minous county, I have been taken for the merry Andrew 
and distributor of drugs to a quack doctor. In Plymouth, 
I have been carried by a Frenchman before the Port Ad- 
miral. In Wales, ajack-ass, whom I met in the ruins of 
Lamphey, was the only person who seemed to take any in- 
terest in the matter. In every town and road of England, 
all the people crowd round you ; the half pressing- on 
your shoulders and elbows, and the remainder standing 
right in front. In the Highlands, they have held an um- 
brella over me to keep off the rain, smoothed a stone for 
me to sit on, lent a hand to hold down the leaves of my 
book in a gale of wind, and begged to look at the draw- 
ing when it was done. As I was amusing myself here with 
drawing the Cobler among a crowd of herring fishers, 


one of them who had been very intent on the proceeding, 
said, when it was done, "I wish I could draw like you." 
I remarked that herring fishing was a better trade. " I 
canna think fhat," was the reply. I assured him I made 
nothing of it. " That's your fault," said the fisherman ; 
" if I could draw like you, I would make money of it." 
So would I, were I Parmenio. 

There is but little beauty in the ride round the upper 
extremity of the Loch, even to the mouth of Glencro ; 
although, about the point where the road quits the water 
to plunge into this rude defile, there are some striking 
shore landscapes, including the house of Ardgartan. The 
sun never shone on a brighter vision than the house of 
Ardgartan contained in our younger days : doubtless, 
you remember it well : but many suns have rolled over 
your head and mine since that time, and our flaxen locks, 
at least, no longer glitter in his beams. 

But, to the Cobler, time rolls on in vain. Still he 
lifts his head to the clouds, defying the sun and the storm ; 
still he hammers at his last, unmoved, unchanged ; look- 
ing down from his proud elevation on the transitory sons 
of little men, reckless as his noted namesake, of the tur- 
moils and mutations of the world at his feet. Absurd as 
is this object, the resemblance is indeed striking. This 
name is, however, modern : as, to the Highlanders, this 
strange hill is known by the appellation of Arthur's Seat, 
like the ponderous guardian of your own smoky and 
romantic city. Arthur, who has a mountain and a seat 
also in Brecknockshire, Cadair Arthur, as well as a castle 
in Brittany, has been a puzzling personage at all times, in 
all his characters and places, since Milton and Hume are 
at issue even about his existence ; but no where more 
than on this s de of Tweed. The south of Scotland in- 
deed was filled with his fame, while the romances of the 


north of England even place his court at Carlisle: but 
how did he obtain a throne in Glencro. His Queen 
crossed me formerly, at Alyth and Glamis ; and if I could 
not solve the enigma as to the lady and her ubiquity, I 
am not a whit nearer the mark here, where her lord is 
concerned. If, however, Arthur had three spouses, all 
of the name of Gwenhwyfar, then indeed Pennant and 
Glamis church-yard may be right still, and I must beg 
that worthy man's pardon : and the lady who lived at 
Alyth, is not the lady who deviated with Sir Launcelot 
and took the veil at Ambresbury, nor the lady, if that be 
a different one, whose skull was found by Edward Long- 
shanks, and preserved, together with her lord's, as a relic. 
I hope that you have a theory on this subject, as you are 
in honour bound to have. Perhaps the Arthur of Loch 
Long is Owen's allegorical personage, and not he who 
is descended from the Trojan Brutus, who kept a round 
table, had a frail wife, was buried at Glastonbury, born at 
Tintagel, conquered all Europe, and is now flying about 
in the shape of a raven. If so, he is the Great Bear, 
Charles's Wain; the Northern Wain of our Scandinavian 
ancestry, the chariot of Odin or Thor. These allegoricjil 
personages are very convenient on occasion. If that will 
not do, then, Arar, in the ancient British, signifies a hero; 
so that this may have been the mountain of the hero, ge- 
nerically. It would be a base conclusion, after all this 
learning, to suppose it had been named after some mo- 
dern Highland Arter, or Macarter,of the race of Campbell. 
But why should I trouble myself about what is not the 
business of Davus: as my concern at present is with the 
mountain itself, not with its godfathers and godmothers. 

It is well worth ascending: and, as far as the foot of 
this extraordinary object, the ascent is not difficult. The 
resemblance is preserved in all its integrity, even to the 


base of the precipice ; but the whimsical effect of the 
form is there almost obliterated by the magnificence of 
these bold rocks, towering high above, and perched, like 
the still more noble Sciiir of Egg, on the utmost ridge of 
the mountain. The effect here is truly grand ; from the 
extent, no less than from the altitude, of these cliffs, and 
from the beauty and breadth of style which render these 
rocks a study for a painter. In one sense, however, it was 
my misfortune to have a day of bright sunshine : for I 
can easily conceive the romantic effects this object would 
assume, if seen, as I have seen the rock of Esff, amid 
the driving mists and among the wild and changing clouds 
of a stormy sky. Even amidst all the glaring and un- 
poetical truth of a full sun and an azure heaven, it was 
almost a scene of enchantment, like the work of a maei- 
cian ; the castle of the gigantic genius of the mountain 
and of the wide spread and wonderful landscape beneath. 
An English s^avant, whom I met in Glencro, was nearly 
of the same opinion. " Whose castle is that: the fellow 

must be a d d fool to build it so high." 

There is a tradition that the heir of the Campbells of 
this country, was obliged to seat himself on its loftiest 
peak, and that, in default of this heroic deed, his lands 
passed to the next heir. 1 had no lands to inherit or lose, 
no tenement but the uncertain lease of a worthless car- 
case, but was resolved to place it as high as ever did a 
Campbell. Not, however, to boast of more courage than 
was really my own, I could not well shun the honour; 
for I found myself, unwarily, in that position, common 
enough in these cases, where it was easier to ascend than 
to go downwards. This clambering of mountains is not 
unlike that moral clambering which leads us on, occa- 
sionally, to fi descent equally involuntary and rapid. 
Whatever the fact may be in this latter case, it is often 


much easier to ascend a mountain acclivity than to des- 
cend it : the labor et opus is to go down hill ; and the 
steeper and the more difficult the ascent, so much greater 
is the necessity of ascending-. We feel an imaginary 
security in the next step which we have not in the pre- 
sent; but when we have attained it, all the danger still 
lies downwards, and still we hope for a surer and a firmer 
footing on the next shelf or the next tuft of grass. Thus 
clambering, and thus moralizing, I reached the summit 
of the ridge, and found myself astride on this rocky 
saddle, with one foot in Loch Long and the other in 
Glencro : in the very position, doubtless, of the bold 
Campbell's bold heir. There is a pride and a pleasure 
in surmounting difficulties, even when there is no one 
present to applaud. 

I was surprised to find the summit so acute and so 
narrow. It was the bridge Al Sirat, the very razor's 
blade over which the faithful are to walk into Paradise. 
But it was a magnificent scene ; and, secure in my ele- 
vated seat, I could contemplate it without anxiety or fear. 
The cliffs themselves form a set of objects at once sublime 
and picturesque ; and, most of all, that square mass at 
the western extremity, which rises, in lofty and broad 
magnificence, to a height of 200 feet or more, like a gigan- 
tic tower rooted on the mountain's brow. These huge 
masses of rock, equally grand in style and powerful in 
their eflfect, give this an advantage over most of the moun- 
tain views which I have seen in Scotland, by the wonder- 
ful foregrounds which they afford ; but the surrounding 
and distant scenery is also various and splendid. To the 
sea of mountains eastward and northward, among which 
Ben Lomond towers, distinguished from all the rest, and 
to the bright gleaming waters of Loch Cateran and Loch 
Lomond, beyond which even Stirling is recognised, sue- 


ceeds, to the west, the wild chasm of Glencro, on which 
we look down, a tremendous depth below. Beneath, 
stretches the whole sinuous extent of Loch Long ; wind- 
ing- bright beneath our feet, and prolonged between its 
mountain boundaries till it reaches the Clyde and the 
sea. The glittering courses of the Gare Loch, of Loch 
Goil, and of Loch Fyne, add to the variety and bril- 
liancy of this landscape map ; and we pursue the Clyde 
through all its boundaries, displaying on its wide ex- 
panse the well-recognised Cumbrays, the lofty rock of 
Ailsa, and the rude mountains of Arran; while, beyond 
all, T could distinguish what appeared to be the island of 

Glencro, with its continuation Glen Kinglas, has na- 
turally attracted the attention of the general body of 
travellers; as it is the only valley of this peculiarly 
wild character which lies in the course of the ordinary 
tours. Yet it is very uninteresting: rude, without gran- 
deur or beauty of any kind, and nearly as void of variety 
as of magnificence or grace. The prolonged simplicity 
of Glen Kinglas, is, in my own estimation, far more strik- 
ing than the rudeness of Glencro ; though, in neither, is 
there any thing capable of making a strong impression 
on the mind, and, certainly, nothing picturesque. The 
single point where the road attains the highest elevation, 
well known for its resting place and often-quoted in- 
scription, is, perhaps, the only striking one along the 
whole line ; though the small lake, surrounded by rude 
and misshapen hills and rocks, has neither beauty nor 
interest. At the termination of Gh'n Kinglas, the inn of 
Cairndhn introduces us to Loch Fyne and to disappoint- 

To me, at least, it was disappointment at my first 
visit ; and, instead of improving on (he second, at each time 


I have revisited it the disappointment has been greater 
I ought to be in the wrong, nevertheless, as no place is 
more talked of or more visited than Inveraray. But how 
is it possible we should all agree on these and similar 
matters, when a man finds it sometimes difficult enouoh 
to agree with himself; as, if he keeps a journal of his tra- 
vels during successive years, he assuredly will. What 
chance is there that half a dozen difl^erent persons, labour- 
ing under the various accidents of dullness, wit, inexpe- 
rience, study, watchfulness, inattention, learning, igno- 
rance, besides the other more casual incidents, of rain, 
sunshine, good humour, bad, before dinner, after» to say 
nothing of the toothach and other aches, should agree; 
and what wonder is it that we do not always agree with 
ourselves, when we are not always ourselves. At any 
rate, let us not quarrel about the beauties of Inveraray, 
but recollect the elegant apologue of Jack Sprat. 

But if I am in a right minority, then the multitude is 
wrong, as happens occasionally in other matters than their 
judgment of picturesque beauty. And this is probably 
true, when the praises which are lavished on this place and 
on Taymouth, are withheld from Killin, and Dunkeld, 
and Drummond castle, and Blair, and Kinrara, and the 
Tumel, and a hundred other places which have had no 
advocate, which have not been puflfed into fame. If there 
are places which are deservedly admired, it is not because 
their beauties have been discovered by these admirers, 
but because, like Inveraray, they have been written into 
notice ; Loch Cateran by yourself, and Loch Lomond and 
others by a numerous herd of tourists. But it is the same, 
in this case, for men as for lakes and mountains. It is a 
mistake of the heathen goddess that she goes before with 
her trumpet, instead of following in the rear of perform- 
ance. Thus the various wonders of the day are blown 

VOL. I. s 


into notice; in science as in literature; in talents as in — 
what not ; it is all the same. 

I knoAV no term by which I can so well characterize 
the style of Loch Fyne from Cairndhu to Inveraray, as 
meanness. There is wood at Ardkina^las, and there is a 
profusion of it at Inveraray ; but, excepting those places, 
the hills are rude and bare. Even rudeness and bareness 
may however be beautiful, as they are at Loch Long, pro- 
vided the forms and the outlines are fine. But there are 
no such redeeming beauties here. The form of the water, 
the form of the hills, the shores, the outline, all is tame, 
though lofty, and, though rugged, deformed. And this 
is as true of Inveraray itself as of all that surrounds it. 
The hill of Dun y quaich is the only characteristic feature 
it possesses, and that is rather an object than a beauty. 
The style of the house, or castle, could not well be worse: 
a heavy solid square, one story of which is absurdly 
sacrificed by being sunk within the ground, bearing a 
sort of double casino ; as if, in succession, the three parts 
had been protruded, one out of the other, like a telescope, 
or as if the whole, had, like the Santa Casa, flown, no one 
knows whence, to alight on the top of this ponderous 
mass, itself pitched naked on a green lawn. The praise 
of magnificence, in point of extent, and wood, and wealth, 
must however be allowed to the parks or pleasure grounds. 
But that is all. Nothing here displays that character 
which we should expect in an alpine country: and that 
splendour which results from their space and their profu- 
sion of fine trees, though it would render the pleasure- 
grounds of Invtraray a noble domain in an open country 
like England, is here insufiicient to atone for the utter 
want of that picturesque beauty which we are entitled to 
expect among the mountains of the Highlands, and which 
we meet almost wherever we go. The present building, 


I need scarcely say, is modern ; but the stone of which it 
is built is not potstone, as is commonly said, but a soft va- 
riety of micaceous slate, approaching to the talc slate of 
mineralogists. There was an ancient castle here prior to 
1480, but it has long since disappeared. 

It was not very long since, that I was in a company, 
where a gentleman, describing Inveraray, mentioned, as if 
incidentally, that the castle was built of lapis lazuli. 
The company stared, particularly as he was what is called 
a man of science, and had been talking about rocks and 
minerals. In hopes of giving him an opportunity of re- 
calling his malaprop blunder, which was obvious enough, 
I whispered the word ollaris ; to which the dignified an- 
swer was, " you must give me leave, sir, to understand 
these things, as this is a subject to which I have paid par- 
ticular attention." The argument was unanswerable, and 
lapis lazuli it remained. I have been for some time watch- 
ing for the publication of this philosopher's travels; but 
it is probable that the printer's devil will interpose to pre- 
vent the catastrophe of the lapis lazuli. This class of 
people nevertheless does write books, and we read them : 
like Macaulay, whom I have elsewhere mentioned, and 
who found that St. Kilda was 5000 feet hioh. He was 
equally fitted for an observer and a traveller, with whom 
I was dining not very long ago. There was a white lilac 
tree in full bloom opposite the window, which he must 
have seen on every sununer day of his life, for many 
years before. " You cannot conceive" said he " what a 
beautiful purple that will be in a week." 

As I have elsewhere noticed the remainder of Loch 
Fyne, hence to the sea, I may now conduct you to Glen- 
orchy; accessible from this quarter, as well as from Kil- 
lin and by the way of Tyndruni. There is nothing 
remarkable in the valley of Glen Ara, nor throughout 


260 LOCH AWE. 

this ride of twelve miles, till ^e gain sight of Glenorchy 
itself. And that I may here dismiss the greater portion 
of Loch Awe and of the country through which it extends, 
1 may as well add, that almost the only interestmg part 
of this lake is that which lies between its upper extremity, 
in Glenorchy, and its exit, which, contrary to the usual 
rule in our lakes, is at its side, and not very far from this 
extremity. To the mere traveller, there is no induce- 
ment to pursue this long lake throughout its exten- 
sive course ; as it lies in a dull and uninteresting tract of 

In approaching from Inveraray, the first views of the 
lake are very striking, and, I may add, equally magni- 
ficent and M'ild. They are very different in character 
from those which occur in approaching from Tyndrum; 
the water appearing to be a confined basin enclosed 
among lofty mountains, rude and savage in their aspect, 
but lofty and grand ; filling at once the eye and the pic- 
ture, and, literally, towering to the clouds. It is the 
elevated ridoe of Cruachan which forms the distant boun- 
dary: majestic and simple, and throwing its dark sha- 
dows on the water, which, spacious as we know it to be, 
seems almost lost amid the magnitude of the surrounding 
objects. The castle of Kilchurn, hence a mere spot in 
the landscape, adds much to the sublimity of the effect, 
as affording a scale and an object of comparison. 

Tyndrum, the ramifying point of the road to Glonco, 
is noted, only for the dreary aspect of its position, and, 
if it is not changed since my day, for its unspeakable 
badness and dirt as an iini. This is a base remark: but 
1 only follow the example of all my predecessors. What 
Mould modern travellers do, without an inn to abuse. 
And llien, when I have found three bad inns, why should 
1 not say that all the Highland inns are bad. Here too f 


am borne out by ubuiidaiit examples: and besides, this is 
the exact mode of philosophizing- hiid down by my Lord 
Bacon ; which proceeds to generalization from a few sim- 
ple facts. He who does not find comfort, even at Tyn- 
drum, must learn to make it: and if it is on this and such 
like things that he has pinned his happiness, let him stay 
at home ; in Porlsoken ward, or elsewhere. The lead mine 
in its neighbourhood was never very productive, and has 
been wrought, and again abandoned, at different times, 
as the price of the metal has fluctuated. 

Pennant, whose general accuracy 1 need not here 
praise, as I shall often have occasion to do so, thought fit 
to imagine, I know not why, that Tyndrum was the highest 
inhabited land in Scotland; I think he says Britain, for I 
have not his book. It would be easy to shew him many 
houses in far more elevated positions, in his own princi- 
pality; and, in Scotland, there are numerous inhabited 
places which far surpass it in elevation. Dalwhinnie ex- 
ceeds Tyndrum by many hundred feet; as does Garva 
more, together with many situations in Badenoch. Boles- 
kine, and an extensive tract of inhabited land about the 
sources of the Nairn, are much higher; and, about Blair 
in Atholl, corn is cultivated, both on the skirts of Ben- 
y-gloe and above the pass of Killicrankie, at a far more 
considerable altitude. It is the same in Glen Isla, and in 
many other places along the whole southern ridge of the 
Highland mountains: the Duke of Atholl's house at 
Fealair is probably not much less than a thousand feet 
higher : but 1 need not extend an enumeration that might 
easily be quadrupled. 

If no one would willingly go to Tyndrum a second 
time, or remain there an hour, so, no one will, from choice, 
take the road from this point to the King's house and 
Glenco, which is dreary in the extreme. Loch Tidla 

262 DA LM ALLY. 

makes no kind of atonement for the hideous blank pre- 
sented by the remainder of the way over Baadnashoag-, 
or the Black Mount, and for the dreary vacancy of the 
moor of Rannoch, along- the marg-iti of >vhich it is con- 
ducted. If there be any advantage in Tyndrum and its 
chilling deserts, it is that of rendering the first view of 
the vale of Glenorchy and of Loch Awe more acceptable. 
That view forms a fine landscape, more various, though 
less grand, than the first sight of the lake from the In- 
veraray road, and deriving from the tower of the church, 
bad as is its style, an air of civilization the more striking" 
from its contrast with the preceding blank. The inn of 
Dalmally is a convenient station for those who are desir- 
ous of mastering all the beauties of this noble valley, 
which may assuredly be reckoned among the most at- 
tractive spots of the Highlands. 

Of all the civil and political usages of the Highland 
inns, I perceived that the one whicli most surprised the • 
London companion whom I had on one occasion, was the 
very kingly and courtly practice of keeping a fool. The 
Davie Gellatly at the court of Dalmally, seemed to be 
kept partly for the purpose of sweeping the court, and 
partly, I suppose, for the entertainment of the courtiers 
and the guests; unless there were better reasons in the 
raggedness of his nether garments and the club >vhich he 
wore in reseml)lance of Hercules, whose duty also he per- 
formed in the stable. He of Tyanuilt, might have sat as 
a model for the god Anubis; wearing his arms by his 
sides with the most inveterate perpend icnlarity, and 
always moving both together as if they had been copied 
from a parallel ruler. Hut the varieties here are infinite. 
It is a branch of the human species indeed, well worth 
studying, and which has not yet met with half the atten- 
tion If deserves; though you have given it a good-na- 

KiLCHimx. 263 

tured push yourself in the poeticiil Davie. There was 
another Iiere, a merry fool, who, had he been well rubbed 
down and decorated with a cap and a bauble, might have 
procured a place at a higher court than the miry court of 
Tyanuilt, in the olden time. I cannot discover that any 
particular worship is now here paid to this much neg- 
lected race, as of yore ; but it is plain to be seen that 
some latent wisdom is thought to lie hid under the ob- 
vious deficiency of it ; as, in the world at large, a want of 
common sense is ordinarily held to conceal sense too deep 
for vulgar use and every day wear. 

Whatever grandeur and variety the lake may here 
derive from the lofty mountains by which it is surrounded, 
from its fine expanse, and from the bold and various 
character of its margin, Kilchurn castle forms its leading 
object and chief attraction ; producing, in itself, many 
fine pictures, and being the principal feature of many 
more. In the Western Highlands, at least, it claims the 
pre-eminence, no less from its magnitude and the inte- 
grity of the ruins, than from the very picturesque arrange- 
ments of the building; nor indeed has it many rivals in 
the country at large. If there is nothing very marked 
in the style of its architecture, the lines and masses arc 
finely disposed, and the irregularity of its form causes it 
to appear under a great variety of picturesque aspects. 
At the same time, the various and bold back-grounds 
produced by the surrounding hills, and the fine sheet of 
water in which it is nearly insulated, serve to add, ma- 
terially, both to the beauty and the number of these 

It is not recorded, as far as I can discover, that the 
rocky elevation on which it stands was ever an island in 
the lake. Yet there can be no doubt of this; whether 
the building was originally erected on the island, or only 


after it had become a peninsula. The flat and wide 
meadow which now connects it with the higher shore, is 
evidently alluvial, even now subject to inundation, and 
obviously rescued, at no very remote period, from the 
water. This has probably been the result of two distinct 
operations : the one being* a gradual elevation of the bot- 
tom of the lake at this part, from the deposits of mud, 
and the other being the deepening of the bed of the Awe 
by the action of the river, causing a partial drainage of 
the water. Whether that bed might not yet be further 
deepened by art, so as to rescue much more land in the 
same manner, is a question which does not appear to have 
been examined as its importance merits. 

The date ofKilchurn castle is 1440; having been built 
while Sir Colin Campbell, who was a Knight Templar, 
was absent at the crusade. While it bespeaks a degree 
of architectural taste, such as it is, and of splendour, un- 
usual in Scotland at that period, it is also an evidence of 
the opulence of this ancient family. Tliat opulence is ren- 
dered more striking by the number of castles possessed 
by his son, the next Sir Colin, named Dliu ; consisting- 
of Finlarig, Taymouth, Dochart, Bercaldine, and two 
others whose names I cannot at this moment recollect, as 
well as by the great extent of that property which now 
belongs to the title of Breadalbane. Kilchurn was gar- 
risoTied in 1745; and it would be a stigma on its present 
and late owners that it should have been allowed to fall 
to decay, were it possible to maintain and occupy all the 
ancient buildings on an estate of such enormous extent. 
Oil Innis Fraoch, elsewhere noticed as the region of one 
of the Highland fairy tales, there are also the ruins, now 
triHing, of a castle m liich is said to have been a royal 
one, and to have been granted by Alexander III to 
Mac Naughtane, on the condition of entertaining the 

LOG 11 AWE. 265 

King whenever he should pass that way. Two other small 
islands in this lake, are also marked by ancient ruins : 
Innis Hail, as the seat of a nunnery of the Cistercian 
order, and Innis Eraith, containing- the remains of a 

The hereditary f^imily of blacksmiths, Mac Nab, that 
sempiternal artist who, like the Lama, never dies, and the 
tombs of Glenorchy burying ground, have so often been 
described by all the tourists, that I may safely pass them 
over. Not so the magnificent scenery which occurs before 
entering the rugged and deep pass of Loch Awe, where 
the road winds high along the face of the hill amid over- 
hanging woods and rocks, looking down over the sum- 
mits of the oaks on the black and deep water far below. 
The remainder of the pass, conducting the road and the 
river, is singularly wild ; particularly near the bridge 
which is here thrown across this boisterous and rude 
river. Here was fought the celebr.ated action between 
Bruce and John Lord of Lorn ; the ratification, if not the 
original cause, of the downfal of that great family, for- 
merly noticed. This chief had taken the side opposed to 
Bruce, and the impulse on the part of the king seems to 
have been revenge, as he had already gained the con- 
tested ascendancy. A detached party of archers having 
taken a commanding position on the hill, annoyed the 
Argyll men so much that they retreated ; and, having 
attempted in vain to break down the bridge across the 
Awe, they were defeated with great slaughter. John 
escaped by means of his boats on the lake. This defeat 
argues little for the military tactics of John and his fol- 
lowers ; as the pass of Loch Awe might easily be de- 
fended by a handful of men against a very superior force ; 
it is a stronger position than even Killicrankie. 

There is no longer any beauty after arriving at Tyan- 


uilt, which forms the intermediate stage to Oban, and is, 
at the same time, the alehouse of the workmen employed 
at the iron furnaces of Bunawe. As here also I have 
arrived at the spot which I shall reach hereafter from 
another quarter, I need proceed no further in the descrip- 
tion of the country round Oban. This is the most con- 
venient place whence to ascend Cruachan, though still at 
a considerable distance from its base. While strolling 
about these wild moors, my eye was caught by a huge 
erect stone, which I concluded to be, of course, the grey 
stone of Ossian, or Carril, or Rhyno, or of some of the 
bards or heroes of old. No; it was the monument of a 
hero to whom even Fingal must bend ; whose deeds have 
eclipsed those of the Cuchullins and the Oscars and of 
the Norwegian ploughers of the deep. It was an obelisk 
to Nelson, erected by the labours of the workmen of 
Bunawe. Of all the monuments which have been 
placed to this great name, there is not one, of which 
the effect is so striking : striking, from its very rudeness, 
and from the simplicity of the testimony, from the con- 
dition of those who erected it, and from its unexpected 
occurrence in this wild and vacant country, which we 
might fancy the sound of his deeds had never reached. 
It was here indeed that I could feel that his name had 
gone out into all lands; while the huge, grey and rude 
fragment, lifting its head among these wild mountains, 
the scenes of the exploits of the heroes of other days, 
seemed already to have ranked him among the worthies 
of the past and poetical ages, a name long consecrated to 
history; as it is a name which will descend to posterity 
till these rocks and mountains shall pass away. 

I was amused with the disappointment of the fierce 
antiqu;iry wiio happened to accompany me. He had ex- 
pected to find it a Druidical monument, and had scram- 


bled over bog and heath with much energ-y to reach it. 
When he had attained it, he turned round with cfreat con- 
tempt ; not deigning- another look. As if it was the only 
merit in the eyes of these learned personages to possess 
none; the only fame, to retain no record. He must have 
been a powerful Druid or a formidable Celt, let his stone 
be shewn where it may, who has lived to better purposes 
and higher fame than Nelson ; whose name shall descend 
louder and further to posterity. He must have per- 
formed other deeds than even the poetical Fingal, if his 
arm has been in more battles than that of Nelson, if the 
nations have been more humbled beneath it. The an- 
tiquary who shall succeed to my friend a thousand years 
hence, will not turn his back on the stone of the mighty 
warrior which lifts its grey head on the skirts of Cruachan. 
The ascent of Cruachan is tedious, but not difficult; 
and, from its position no less than its altitude, it presents 
some of the finest and most extensive mountain views in 
Scotland. Compared to Ben Lomond it is a giant; and 
its grasp is no less gigantic. From the bold granite preci- 
pices of its sharp and rugged summit, which is literally 
a point, we look down its red and furrowed sides into the 
upper part of Loch Etive and over this magnificent group 
of mountains, which, extending northward and east- 
ward, display one of the finest landscapes of mere 
mountains in the Highlands. Its commanding position 
not only enables us thus to bring under our feet the whole 
of this group as far as Appin and Glenco, and even to 
Ben Nevis, but opens a view of the whole of the eastern 
ocean of mountains, reaching from Rannoch as far as Ben 
Lawers and Ben Lomond, and, beyond them, to lands 
which only cease to be visible because they at length 
blend with the sky. So marked also are their characters, 
so rocky and precipitous their summits, and so varied 


their forms, f.hat this landscape excels, in variety as in pic- 
turesque character, all other landscapes of mere mountains, 
excepting perhaps that from Ben Lair in Rossshire. The 
view which it yields, of the opener country, is not much 
inferior to that from Ben Lawers, if indeed it is inferior ; 
and, in this respect, it can only be compared with that 
mountain and Ben Lomond. Whde it looks down on the 
lone- sinuosities of Loch Awe and over the irregular 
lands of Lorn, bright with its numerous lakes, it displays 
all the splendid bay of Oban and the Linnhe Loch, with 
Jura, Isia, and all the other islands of this coast : com- 
manding, besides, the horizon of the sea, even beyond 
Tirey and Coll, together with the rude mountains of 
Mull and the faint and blue hills of Rum and Sky ; a 
scene as unusual as it is rendered various by the inter- 
mixture of land and water, by the brilliant contrast of 
these briffht and intricate channels with the dark and 
misty mountains and islands by which they are separated, 
and by the bold and decided forms of all the elements of 
this magnificent landscape. 

If I did not choose to tell you how I breakfasted at 
Callander, at Mrs. Maclarty's inn, that is no reason why 
I should not tell you how you may breakfast at Tyanuilt. 
I jidrnit that the inn at Tyanuilt is a vile pot-house; but 
the fashion of a breakfast here is not so singular but that 
the resemblance may be found in more places than one 
in this country. Have 1 not undergone it myself. 

The morning is fine, it is seven o'clock, and you are 
in a hurry to depart for the top of Cruachan, which you 
know will occupy you nine or ten hours. Consequently, 
you have no time to lose ; nor can you aflbrd, cither to 
wait, or to go without your breakfast, as you will find no- 
thing >oca( till night. You order it innucdiatcly — immedi- 
ately ; having ordered it, the preceding night, to be ready 


at six, liaving- ordered it ag-ain when you got up, an hour 
before. After ringing, stamping, and knocking nine times, 
that is, three of each notice, up comes a bare-footed wo- 
man again, half dressed, without a cap, and her hair hang- 
ing about her ears like a mermaid ; wondering what you 
want. Yourepeat, breakfast, immediately. "Aye," says 
she, "is it breakfast you was wanting," and down she 
goes. In another quarter of an hour, you repeat the same 
complicated notice. The maid re-enters. " Is it break- 
fast you want." " Yes, to be sure, did I not tell you so an 
hour ago." " It is coming," says she. You must not be 
angry with the fair sex, and therefore you wait patiently 
another quarter of an hour ; assuming much merit to your- 
self. At length she walks in, with a look of much self- 
approbation and a table-cloth : having evidently made no 
common exertion to deserve your praise. 

All this time the sun is shining temptingly bright 
on the summit of Cruachan, as it may not shine again 
for six months, and another period of patience is passed 
in wishing yourself there. Lo, the tea-board arrives ; 
displaying a tea-pot never washed since it issued from 
the furnace, a milk-jug containing half as much milk 
as you are likely to want, and a tea-canister holding 
a mixture of black dust and little white sticks. In 
the mean time you are carrying on two new wishes be- 
sides the wish to be on Cruachan ; one, for the tea- 
kettle, and the other for some peats to repair the fire, 
which is at its final gasp. As the maid enters, the last 
spark is extinguished. You console yourself that at 
least the kettle is come; behold, it is the sugar-dish. You 
point to the fire and ask for the kettle. She returns after 
the usual time; not with the kettle, but with an apron-full 
of wet peats. You sigh, first at Cruachan and then at 
the peats ; but the kettle really comes ; think of that. 
With the kettle, there arrives a delicious herring, hot from 


the fire, and you perceive that Peggy takes no small praise 
to herself for having brought two things at once. Hav- 
ing poured the water on the tea, it floats. Why would 
you not give the kettle time to boil. This is, however, a 
minor evil, and you turn up the top plate and regale your- 
self with the smell of the herring. That is a consolation 
for the want of knife, fork, and bread. You have ordered 
the bread ; you hear her heavy foot on the stair, you draw 
the herring close to you ; when she enters — with a couple 
of eggs. You ask again for bread. " Is it bread you was 
wanting?" To pass the time, you crack an egg, and it is 
hard. You pour out a cup of tea, and, going to sweeten it, 
find, in the sugar bowl, a dingy mixture of white and 
brown sugar, damp and melancholy. You ring, some- 
what violently perhaps, for white sugar. " There was 
some last month, but its a' dune." You wonder where 
the bread is. " She should have brought it, but she 
thought you rang for something." You then discover at 
last, that although you can bring up Peggy, you cannot 
bring up what you want at the same time. You pour the 
milk into your tea: it curdles. You go on drinking it 
nevertheless ; now out of hope. But she comes. With 
the bread? No, with the salt. The herring is now cold, 
but you eat your herring and your salt, and when it is 
done, the bread arrives ; a musty damp loaf. You desire 
to have it toasted. " The toast is making." It comes, 
half brown on one side and more like paste than before. 
You resort to tiie oat cake. It sticks in your throat for 
want of butter: you call for butter: she brings a pl.ite- 
full of cheese, and another of salt butter pulled out of a 
pot by her fingers and plastered into it. You depart for 
the top of Cruachan, and arrive just with a cloud that re- 
mains there the whole day, and will probably remain till 
you come this way again. 

APl'IN. 271 



There are few parts of the Western Hig-hlands more 
beautiful than the district of Appin; and travellers, par- 
ticularly the gentlemen and ladies who drive gigs and 
barouches, have only to lament that the two ferries of 
Connal and Shian are, not only wide and boisterous, but 
not so convenient for exit and entrance as a few pounds 
spent on landing j)laces might make them. The former 
is in fact abominable. Are ferries always to be bad be- 
cause it is classical. Because there was a villainous one 
across the Styx, must there be a bad one at the Shian ; 
and because the gentlemen whom Achilles dismissed to 
this navigation, were obliged to wait shivering in the 
cold till Charon chose to admit them, must we wait, in a 
Highland shower, on a naked rock, till he of the Connel 
chooses to see or hear. He who comes to the Connel ferry, 
will require a large share of the patientia ferryboatica : 
it might be well to take a previous course in South Wales. 
To say nothing of a landing place where you can neither 
enter nor land, since there is no landing place at all ; or 
of being landed, or rather tumbled out, two or three miles 
out of your road, under a precipice, or in a bog. As if it 
was not enough to have a Highland horse who does not 
choose to take his seat in a boat — neither recte nor 
retro, nor blindfolded ; and whom, even the hat, which, by 
a sort of figure of speech, is assumed to contain corn, 
cannot entice. The Athenians committed a blunder when 

272 APPiN. 

they made Neptune the progenitor of horses: and if I 
was condemned to live among Highland ferries, I would 
feed my horse on pitch and tar till he had learnt to hand, 
reef, and steer. I wish they would take pattern by Bala- 
hulish ; but I hare praised the general management of 
Highland ferries elsewhere, and if I pick out two or 
three for blame, it is from the wish to see every thing in 
this country such as to enable it to defy censure. 

As to the want of civility, generally speaking, those 
who have met this, must have provoked it; which is 
not very unusual among the gentlefolks who wander 
hither from the precincts of Cheapside. At Ulva, I met 
a party who were indulging themselves, for the honour 
of Oxford, if they were rightly entered in Mr. Macdo- 
nald's album, with abuse and noise, and with coarse jokes 
on the barefooted girl who attended, and who received it 
all with a silent contempt, and with that proud air of High- 
land breeding which you know so well. She came to 
apologize for some deficiency; assuringus that when these 
English gentlemen (with an emphasis) were gone, it 
should be rectified. Really, we have little reason to com- 
plain if we are not always very particularly respected ; 
here or elsewhere. It is absurd enough sometimes, to 
meet these bucks, as they consider themselves, blowing- 
bugle horns, wearing Highland bonnets, drinking whisky 
ill the morning, talking of the " Heelands," provided 
with stores of biscuit, wine, and hams, in their gig seats, 
as if they were come into Churchill's land of famine, 
ami looking at every hand they see, in expectation of 
that which must not be named. Then out comes the 
nHiiioiiUidum book, with a tour or a guide, written forty 
years ago by some one who knew and saw as much of 
the country as themselves; and, in due time, we have 
the old stories fresli h;ish<Ml, maniu'is that have become 

AppiN. 273 

a dream, and a race of people that are now at least aa 
rare as that disorder itself; which he who would find, 
had better g^o into an English barrack. 

When they do not take the people for Fingalians, they 
at least suppose them bare-legged savages with "plods ;" 
and are astonished to see hats and breeches, and, still 
more, to find a good dinner, and, that criterion of merit in 
the eyes of a true Englishman, a bottle of port. One of 
this tribe came up to me here at the inn door, with a fish- 
ing- basket on his back, containing, not fish but shirts ; 
and, " pray. Sir," said he, " what is that for ;" taking me, 
I suppose, for a road surveyor. The end of the handle 
was visible out of my pocket. " I'd thank you to take 
that out. Sir," said the cockney, expecting' to be obeyed 
at a word. " Sir, I want to see that instrument." As 
Donald is not at all accustomed to this style, except from 
his chief, I declined. " I suppose. Sir, I am taking- a li- 
berty," said the man of the basket. " Really, Sir, I 
think you are." *' Sir, I dont understand this usage, Sir. 
Sir, I'd have you to know. Sir, I'm a person of conse- 
quence in my own country." And these are the people 
who go home and write tours. I suppose I have figured 
in his journal as a savage Highland road-maker. 

As to the Shian ferry-boat, it would not be amiss if 
there Avas a step to the mast. The Charon made a step 
of his foot, and held on with both hands. That answered 
the purpose very well as long as it was not wanted ; but a 
breeze came, and away went the mast and sail into the 
water; nearly carrying- overboard Donald himself and 
both the ponies. The scenery here is beautiful ; but 
every thing- is beautiful between these two ferries. 
There are but five miles; yet it is a day's joiuney to a 
wise man. The wooded and rocky intricacies of this 
narrow strait produce endless pictures ; as does the whole 

VOL. I. T 

274 APPiN. 

of Loch Creran, from numerous points of view. I do not 
suppose that the name of tlie ferry has any such allusion : 
it is more likely to have one that I do not know ; but it is 
fairy land, as far as scenery is concerned. Bercaldine 
Castle is a heavy mass of building', and its extinguisher 
turrets are far from ornamental. But the views from it, 
and near it, are magnificent ; and it is, with all its defor- 
mity, an important and an interesting object in the pic- 
ture. It is not, apparently, very ancient, but was, I be- 
lieve, built by the same Sir Colin Campbell who built 
Finlarig, though I do not know its date ; and it is the 
only castle of this particular style that I have seen in the 
remote Hishlands. But, with its freshness and all its 
living trees, it carries us back to the habits of times past, 
with more vividness than most of these buildings that I 
have met with. 

The granite hills that bound Loch Creran, are equally 
the boundary of Loch Etive, and are exceeded by few, 
in elegance of form. They constitute the great features 
of the outline ; but, on the opposite quarter, the moun- 
tains of Mull are also visible. On this side, we catch a 
glimpse of the Linnhe Loch ; and, from different points, 
obtain views of the bay of Oban and of the distant is- 
lands; the castles of Dunnolly and Dunstaffnage, and all 
the shipping that frequent the sound, adding to the land- 
scape that vivacity and living interest which so especially 
belong to all the views of this inlet, from whatever quar- 
ter. But the promontory of Ardmucknish, with all its 
deep woods of oak, always a striking feature, is here also 
the most characteristic and conspicuous part of this 
varied and s[)lcndid landscape; nor do I know a place 
where all the elements, often incongruous ones, of moun- 
tains, lakes, wood, rocks, castles, sea, shipping, and cul- 
tivation are so strangely int<Mnnxed, where they are so 

APPiN. 275 

wildly picturesque, and where they produce a greater 
variety of the most singular and unexpected scenes. I 
need not say that wood abounds throughout the western 
Highlands, in all the sheltered sea lochs and valleys; but 
I know not many places or tracts of equal extent among 
them, where the richness of woody scenery is more strik- 
ing- than here. It is not only that the great forests of 
coppice, which cover the whole promontory of Ardinuck- 
nish and skirt the declivities of the mountains, are con- 
spicuous, from their extent, but their effect is heightened 
by the contrast of their deep green with the surrounding 
rocks, with all the grey and airy tints of the distances, 
and with the bright expanse of sea and lake. This 
strange intermixture, while it adds to the splendour of 
the whole, gives often the effect of ancient wood to that 
which is only coppice; while that deception is aided by 
the innumerable trees of fine growth which surround 
Ardmucknish house and Airds, and are scattered up and 
down in various places about the margins of the water 
and the declivities of the hills. 

There is something in the presence of ancient trees in 
a country, which produces a greater impression on the 
mind than can arise merely from their picturesque or or- 
namental effect. The effect of such coppices as these, 
and that of young wood, are often nearly the same, as to 
the landscape ; but the impression is fiu* different, and T 
believe that we must seek it in those moral influences to 
which the consequence of buildings, however mean, and 
of castles and ruins, however insignificant or uninterest- 
ing, is owing. The coppice conveys with it notions of 
commerce, or of want, or waste : we foresee also the day 
when it is to fall before the axe, and the prospect is that 
of ruin and deformity. Young wood may excite hope ; 
but that is to the possessor only. The spectator may be 

T 2 

276 APPiN. 

pleased at the prospect of improvement or the sight of 
industiy ; but he contemplates, whether truly or not, the 
upstart wood, as he does the upstart villa and the mush- 
room proprietor. But ancient trees imply gentility, for 
they are ancient wealth ; and that, according to Cicero's 
definition, is gentility. They remind us of all the splen- 
dour, the comfort, the protection, and the kindness, which 
surrounded the baronial residence or the mansion of the 
ancient gentleman : they are the marks of a country that 
has long enjoyed peace and wealth, and they are the re- 
cords, as they are the proofs, of an antiquity that had 
looked forward to be perpetuated in a long posterity, and 
that was solicitous about the preservation of all its usages 
and fashions, of all its dignity and opulence. 

It Avould be endless to specify all the points in this 
neighbourhood which afford particular landscapes ; but 
I cannot help mentioning the view from the tower above 
Ardmucknish house, which, for magnificence and variety, 
is scarcely rivalled in the Western Highlands. I am 
among the unfortunate few now, who have not visited 
Athens: I do not mean the modern Athens, formerly 
called Auld Reekie, but that town which contrived to 
unite the largest number of great and wise men with 
something approaching* to the worst government which 
the world ever saw. But I have seen it in the Strand ; 
and, judging by the Panorama, there is a correspondence 
of character between Attica and Appin, which is quite 
striking. Nor does the view from this point yield to that 
of Athens in grandeur of style, while it exceeds it both 
in extent and variety. 

It is time to enquire about some other matters, in 
this narrow but amusing district, which must not be for- 
gotten. It is the seat of Dun Mac Sniochain, which was 
once a volcano but is now a vitrified fort ; and of a capital 


city, which was once the capital of Scotland, and called 
Berigonium, and is now nothing at all. Who Mr. Mac 
Sniochain was, is rather an obscure point. He must 
therefore wait till we elucidate the other, which is mar- 
vellously clear. We have all seen antiquaries who could 
find Roman camps on ground where a mouse could not 
have lain in ambush, and discover a Gordian or a Galba 
on an unminted Bromagem flat. Such optics may find 
the streets of Berigonium. Tradition, for he is the steady 
friend of the feeble historian, points out, or rather talks 
of, a meal street and a market street, the Cowgate and 
the Kyning-gate (not Canon-gate, mind that) of Beri- 
gonium the capital of Scotland. The people also pretend 
to point out a causeway. If there be one, it is likely to 
have led to the vitrified fort ; for, in Aberdeenshire, that 
is an appendage to these works. But when it is pre- 
tended that wooden pipes for conveying water to this 
capital have been discovered, we have nothing to do but 
to believe or wonder; unless we have courage or scep- 
ticism enough to deny or doubt. At what age the Beri- 
gonites discovered the art of boring and laying" wooden 
water-pipes, it would be well to know ; while we must 
lament, for the sake of some of our senses, that they did 
not teach it to the rival capital of Dun Edin. When 
water was conveyed under ground to a Highland city, it 
must have been when there was no rain in Appin ; as 
there is now every day. The Morld must have been very 
dry three centuries before the Christian cera. Thus an- 
tiquities prove history ; and we must now see how history 
proves antiquities ; tradition proves them both, and they 
all prove each other ; and it is pretty much the same how 

the ujatter is managed. 

The Highland name of Berigonium is Balenrigh, or 

Bal-an-ree, the king's town ; which proves that it was 


a capital city : exactly as Ossian's tomb does that he was 
buried in five or ten different places. The minister in 
the statistical survey says it was the residence of the 
Scottish kings at the end of the third century. So his 
nurse told him. But Maule is more particular. He says 
it was a strong castle built by Fergus the first, in the 
year 330 before Christ. He, at least, is not sparing of 
his antiquity. He eays, moreover, that it was the usual 
dwelling of the ancient Scottish kings : but really when 
a man is wTiting Scottish history from the times before 
the flood, he need not trouble himself to be very precise 
in the evidence. We cannot wonder that people write 
any thing ; but in this sober age, worse than sober, worse 
than sceptical, we well may wonder to find that there are 
believers in Hector Boethius, and Maule, and such like 
things as Berigonium. Unluckily the historians cannot 
agree; for others hold that it was built by Fergus the 
second ; and the still better informed, that it was the 
Selma of Ossian; in which case it was built by Fingal. 
The people say that this Fergus built seven towers, like 
the king of Bohemia ; and some one says that king Josina, 
the ninth of the Scottish kings, was buried here. Last 
of all, comes the catastrophe ; for Berigonium was des- 
troyed by a fire from heaven. 

This brings us a little nearer to a solution ; for the 
whole affair resembles, if I mistake not much, the history 
of the three black crows. The causeway I explained 
l)efore ; some rotten and hollow fir tree, found in the peat 
moss, has probably been converted into water pipes; the 
seven towers, and the strong castle of Maule, are palpa- 
bly a magnification of the vitrified fort on Dun Mac 
Sniochain, and the fire from heaven is the same thing. 
Here then is a three-headed specimen, of tradition, his- 
tory, and antiquities : if 1 were to say Highland, or Scot- 


tisL, I should affront all Highlanders and all Scots : and 
yet they need not care ; for all the Morld can produce 
parallels ; even GreRcia mendax and fabulous Rome. 
I am very sorry for Berigonium ; and so I am for King 
Fergus and his seven castles, and for King Josina, and 
the volcano, and the kingdom of the Highlands three 
hundred and thirty years before Christ; for there is here 
a great destruction of knowledge at one blow. But really 
it is so laborious and so puzzling to make out what has 
actually existed in history and antiquities, that we may 
be excused for not loving to encumber ourselves with 
ascertaining the dates and existences of what never be- 
longed either to time or space. 

The solution however is not complete till we can ex- 
plain the name Berigonium, which has a very strange 
sound, that might pass for Greek in Appin. I at first 
thought it the contrivance of some of those monks who 
invented King Constantine Centimachus and such like 
gentlemen; who smell strong of the shop in which they 
were compounded. Awkward dogs these ; who had not 
wit enough to cover their forgeries with a few well- 
sounding Celtic or Teutonic names. But the blunder 
seems of another cast, and is somewhat more amusing: 
though whether Maule is tiie original blunderer, or who 
is, we need not much care. The etymologists will, of 
course, tell us, as they have done, that Berigonium is a 
corruption of Balanree, or Balanree of Berigonium; 'tis 
all one. But we need not mind them, as there seems to 
be another road to the capital of King Fergus. 

Loch Ryan appears to be the PepiywLoq mX-noq, of Ptolemy; 
and the name Vtftyomv, in some of the copies PeV.yo'wov, 
belongs to a place supposed to be now Bargeny. The 
anonymous geographer of Ravenna, who appears to have 
borrowed the little knowledge he possessed of Britain, 


from the Greek mathematician, and whom, by the bye, 
he misquotes, converts the first P into B, retaining the 
second p ; and he therefore writes Berigonium. Thus the 
real Rerigonium or Berigonium, of antiquity, is a place 
in Ayrshire, not in Appin. Moreover, Ptolemy has no 
town at the mouth of Loch Etive, which he supposed to 
be the estuary of a river, and has called "Itvo? mraiMv 
l/.^oKat; which should have been the case had there been 
an ancient capital like the visionary Berigonium here. 
And it is quite plain that his Loch Etive and his Vepiyonov 
are distinct places ; as the astronomical situations are 
laid down widely asunder : thus, "Iti^o?, lat. GO. long. 27 : 
Plp.7o'noy, lat. 60. 40. long. 20. 10. ; and the koXtto?, lat. 60. 
45. long. 20. 30. 

As to Ptolemy's geography, or astronomy, I need 
scarcely say that he misapprehends the form of Scotland ; 
making the western parts the northern, and thus inter- 
changing latitude and longitude. However, to give 
Berigonium all the chances we can, let us suppose that 
the Fergus who built it, was Fergus the second, the true 
and real Fergus; and that his reign commenced about 
503, instead of being nearly 900 years earlier, as some 
Scottish antiquaries choose to say. Then, as Ptolemy 
wrote iti 140, he might have known nothing of this Beri- 
gonium. I shall leave you to consider tae value of this 
solution ; which I oflTer to the friends of Berigonium, lest 
they should hereafter discover il, and think that they 
had knocked down my theory, as I wish to knock down 
their capital. 

It would have been rather odd if Kinfv Femus had 
alighted on this very name for his new city; not less than 
that ho and his wild Dalriadans should have built a capi- 
tal, when Scotland had no capital for many centuries 
after, and in such a country, and with water-pipes. 


That it is a modern blunder, or invention, or rather a 
transference of a name, is almost certain. By what slight 
of hand the real Berigonium became thus transferred, 
is another question; but it does not appear a very diffi- 
cult feat. Richard of Cirencester, following the Greek, 
writes Rerigonium ; but if we may judge of this learned 
Theban's geographical acquirements by his works, he 
seems to have been about as well acquainted with the 
real topography of Scotland, as the gentlemen in Messrs. 
Lawrie and Whittle's drawing room are with the moun- 
tains and rivers of Africa ; which, with a pair of com- 
passes in their hands, they create and allot as is most 
conducive to the picturesque beauty of their work. Now 
if you will look at the map which belongs to this Monk's 
description and itinerary, or to Ptolemy's, to Scotia vete- 
ribus nota, in short, where things are placed strangely 
enough to puzzle a better man than Maule or Boethius, 
you will find that his Lelanonius sinus is Loch Fyne, 
and that our Linnhe Loch is his Longus Fluvius ; reach- 
ing from Mull, between the Epidii and Cerones, to the 
Varar oestuarium, or the Murray firth. But you will be 
very much troubled to make out a place for Oban bay or 
Appin ; and, what is much worse, if you do not under- 
stand the Longus fluvius, you will, perhaps, look for 
these places in the Clyde, or even further south. There, 
upon Loch Ryan, which looks still more strange than the 
rest, stands Rerigonium, as a town ; long since vanished, 
and without a mark, unless Stranraer is come in its place, 
or unless Bargeny was intended to be there. Now it 
seems plain that the inventor of the present Berigonium, 
mistook Loch Ryan for Oban bay or the mouth of Loch 
Etive, in this map ; and it only required the same blun- 
der which has been made by the Ravenna geographer, 
a blunder resembling that which has irrevocably palmed 


the Hebrides on us for the Hebudes, to do the rest. A 
city in an ancient map, B for R, a vitrified fort, a rotten 
tree, a transposition of place, tradition, or rather inven- 
tion, and to sura the whole, the close of all, King Fergus. 
Thus rose Berigonium : thus it falls. 

If it does not, I will believe in the fire from heaven 
which melted these walls, or, with Pennant, in the volcano. 
Not that he is the only believer in this matter, here or 
elsewhere. In Aberdeenshire, they believe still, in the 
ueio-hbourhood of Noath. Pennant was a bad antiquary, 
says Walpole; but he never spoke well of any body, 
except General Conway. He was a good naturalist, 
thinks the same gentleman. Not in volcanoes at least: 
nor in marble either ; for he rides over miles of " white 
marble" in Sutherland, striking fire at every step, and 
does not find out that it is quartz. Spite of all this, he is 
a good traveller : the best that we have had : better than 

all his followers. But that is nothing to , I must 

not name him, for he is alive and may repent. He too 
saw mountains of bare white marble in Sutherland, bare 
from the foot to the summit, and white ; and that there 
may be no mistake, he compares them to icebergs. This 
too is part of a tour in two quarto volumes. Certainly, 
travelling is a very difficult art : truth is a very difficult 
art; seeing is a very difficult art: but every thing is 
diflicult in this dirticult world. The traveller, however, 
might have been allowed to mistake quartz for marble, 
))ecause he Avas not a lime-burner. Still, what are we to 
do about the icebergs. lUit the very lime-burner in Loch 
Torridon, holding the ipsissimum fragment in his hand, 
told me that he had burnt the quartz into lime, and used 
it for mortar. Really these things make us rub our eyes; 
and truly, as Bayle says, it is not very surprising that so 
many people *' ayent donnr dans le Pyrrhonisme," for 


other reasons than that it is, " la chose du monde la 
plus commode." 

But to return to Dun Mac Sniochain, which, thoup^h it 
is not a volcano, displays a very g'ood specimen of a vi- 
trified fort; because it is very accessible, because the 
plan is distinct, and because it is instructive. If more 
ruined than Craig- Phadric, Noath, and many others, it is 
still not difficult to trace the design ; while, in respect to 
the condition of the materials, it presents a greater variety 
of substances than any among the whole that I have 
examined. Those who, like Pennant and the people of 
the country, had not the requisite knowledge to guide 
their opinions, may really be excused their error ; as there 
is often a very striking resemblance between its fused 
and scorified stones, and the produce of volcanoes. Many 
kinds of rude glass occur among them, and some of the 
scoria are so light as to swim on water ; while, in other 
cases, some of the slaty rocks are inflated, bent, or con- 
torted, in a manner very instructive to geologists. 

It is situated on a small rocky hill which forms a kind 
of island in the plain, of a narrow prolonged shape, and 
scarped all round, except at one extremity, which aftbrds 
access to the summit and the fort. The height of this 
hill, or rock, above the plain, seems to be about forty or 
fifty feet; and it is, even in the modern military sense, a 
strong position. It is important to remark, that the rock 
consists of limestone and slate intermixed; the plain it- 
self being chiefly alluvial, and the nearest hill and rocks 
being of trap, and of that pudding stone, so well known 
to all travellers, which also abounds in the vicinity of 
Oban. That stone is itself formed of fragments of various 
trap rocks, and is remarkable for its ready fusibility, while 
the rock on which the fort stands is of an infusible nature. 
The fort itself is so contrived as to occupy nearly the 


whole summit, which is about 250 yards long", and con- 
sists of three distinct parallelogramic enclosures. The 
dimensions of these are as follows, as nearly as that 
could be measured by pacing : The outer is about thirty 
yards long and about twenty-four broad ; the next is 
about thirty-seven, with a similar breadth ; and that at the 
further extremity is about fifty-six yards in length ; but, 
being imperfect, it may formerly have been longer. Be- 
sides this, between the first and second works, there is a 
transverse wall which reaches from the one precipitous 
face to the other, so as, when entire, to have cut off the 
communication from without to the two inner works. The 
circumferences of the two inner enclosures make, col- 
lectively, a line of about 260 yards ; which, according to 
the modern military computation for a redoubt, would 
contain more than 500 men. The external work would 
dispose of about a hundred more. Hence it is plain that 
this must have been a military work of some consequence, 
as capable of holding a large garrison. 

Now this disposition is so well calculated for defence, 
that, bating the necessary differences between modern 
and ancient modes of warfare, a modern engineer could 
not have occupied Dun Mac Sniochain in a better manner. 
It might be a redoubt to conunand and defend a pass 
now, or it might have been a garrison and a citadel then. 
Of whatever age, it bespeaks considerable ingenuity, and 
much practical knowledge of the art of defence. Of the 
height of the walls, it is impossible to judge from this 
specimen ; so much is it ruined. Except M'hcre the 
ground has been broken from curiosity, it is chiefly co- 
vered by turf, so as to present only the appearances of 
an earthen bank: and the quantity of soil that has accu- 
mulated, here and in other specimens in Scotland, assists 
in iiidiciting the high antiquity of all the works of this 


class. It is only, therefore, by the comparison of many 
different specimens in different parts of the country, and 
by estimating- from such parts as remain entire and from 
the quantity of fallen materials, that we can conjecture 
what the height of the walls was in this instance. Every 
thing' leads us to conclude that they did not exceed five 
or six feet, or that they were perhaps little more than 
breastworks : and, in this respect, they seem to have re- 
sembled the circular works in loose stone, dispersed all 
over the country, and popularly, though wrongly, attri- 
buted exclusively to the Danes. From their ruitied state, 
it is also somewhat difficult to be certain about their 
original thickness, as the fallen parts are heaped up or 
dispersed about them ; but, from various measurements 
and comparisons, that of the walls in this place may be 
taken, with sufficient accuracy for any useful purpose, at 
twelve {eet. 

When it is said that the walls, here or elsewhere, are 
vitrified, it must not be supposed that they form a solid 
mass of glass or slag. That condition is very various in 
different specimens throughout Scotland ; and if it is 
here more perfect than in many, it is less so than in some 
others. To speak more accurately, many of the stones 
which form the walls are more or less perfectly slagged 
or scorified ; so that while some have been thus changed 
throughout, the surfaces only of others are affected ; 
while others again, consisting of less fusible materials, 
are only burnt. A certain proportion has escaped the 
fire altogether, or has never been exposed to it: and if 
we may judge from the ruins, this has taken place chiefly 
towards the upper part of the wall. The general result, 
however, is, that, in some parts, the wall forms a solid 
mass, but of an irregular composition ; consisting of 
scoria, slag, burnt stones, and stones scarcely altered* 


united together, but with vacant intervals ; while, in 
other places, it is separable into lumps of various sizes 
and into single stones. 

I need not be more particular in describing- this spe- 
cimen; as although many conclusions of some value may 
be drawn from it, with regard to the nature and origin of 
these works in general, the subject at large could scarcely 
be made as intelligible as it ought, without a reference 
to other examples. At the same time, it deserves much 
more consideration than attaches to this single instance. 
The very obscurity of the subject would demand this, 
even if it had not been made a question of controversy, 
and had not unnecessary difficulties been accumulated on 
it, by persons who have not studied these works with the 
attention which they deserve. The high antiquity of 
these fortresses renders them further interesting; but 
their highest interest arises from their being* hitherto con- 
fined, with scarcely an exception, to Scotland ; while they 
abound in various parts of this country. Tiioy form, in 
fact, by far the most curious branch of our local antiqui- 
ties; nor is it easy, even to conjecture the age and people 
to which they have belonged. At any rate, whatever is 
to be conjectured respecting their age, their uses, or the 
means by which they were produced, that can only be 
done, to any purpose, by the examination and comparison 
of different specimens; and I shall therefore make no 
apology for deferring that subject to another letter. 



That very friend, who, like other friends, loves the 
sound of his own advice, even when he knows it is too 
late, looks over my shoulder again, and complains now 
that there is too much vinegar, as there was, before, too 
much sugar. As the drummer said, strike where I will, 
it is impossible to please you. If such things as Beri- 
gonium and cockneys and ferries and Tyanuilt breakfasts 
will come in the way on one day, and Loch Cateran or 
Castle Campbell on another, what can we do, except, 
as the faculty says, follow the indications. If you care 
not, my dear Sir Walter, I shall answer him from an old 
countryman of yours : " They say— what say they — let 
them say." So, now, let us attack the vitrified forts. 

I am far from thinking- that 1 am acquainted with the 
whole of these singular buildings that have been dis- 
covered in Scotland, nor do I think that all those which 
it contains are as yet known. Many years have not 
passed since they first attracted attention, and they often 
exist in situations not much frequented ; particularly 
now, that so much of the population has been transferred 
from the interior. Besides this, from their state of ruin, 
and from the soil and grass which have accumulated above 
them, they are often so thoroughly obscured, that nothing 
but an accidental fracture of the surface can detect them. 
I am convinced of this, in particular, from examining that 
district in Aberdeenshire which extends from Noath to the 
North Sea. Fragments of vitrified matter abound all 
over this tract, and are carried by the rivers along their 


beds, even to their estuaries. Yet, with the exception 
of Noath, the sources of these have not yet been dis- 
covered ; although I have found large blocks and even 
quarries of such scoria and slag, which must have formed 
parts of these forts, and are possibly their very seats, 
thouoh their forms can no long-er be traced. I shall 
however give you a list of such as I have myself seen, or 
have found mentioned by others; making the proper 
apology for its imperfection ; ignorance. 

Dun Mac Sniochain : Argyll. 

Knock Farril : Ross. 

Craig Phadric : near Inverness. 

Dun Evan, 

Castle Findlay : both near Calder. 

Tor Dun : near Fort Augustus. 

Dunjardel : in Glen Nevis. 

One near Balbegno, in Mearns. 

Finhaven : near Brechin. 

Creich : in Sutherland. 

Dun Jardel : near Fyers. 

One near Troup. 

One near Cullen. 

One near Stirling. 

One near Ford en : Mearns. 

One near Invergarry. 

One in Bute: parish of Kingarth. 

One in Cantyre : bay of Carradale. 

Barryhill : parish of Meigle. 

Laws Hill: near Drumsturdy, Forfar. 

DunFhionn: on the Bcauley. 

One in Loch Sunart. 

One in Loch Teachus: Morven. 

Aniwoth : Galloway. 

The Moat of the Mark : diUo. 


Castle Gower : Galloway. 

Diinscaich, in Sky : doubtful. 

One in Lsla : Thurot's Bay. 

Dunadeer : Aberdeenshire. 

Noatb : ditto : with many indications in the same 
Vitrified substances bad been observed in more than 
one of these places, long- ago ; and they had, by some, 
been attributed to volcanoes, by others to the accidental 
demolition of buildings by fire, and, by a third party, 
to the effect of beacon lights. Mr. Williams, well known 
as an able miner, nuist have the merited honour, not 
only of pointing out their real nature, as being forts, but 
of explaining the mode in which they were constructed. 
As is usual in all similar cases, no sooner had he rendered 
the subject clear, than every one recollected that he had 
understood it before ; while a few, ambitious of the nierit 
of discoverers, as is also an invariable rulc^ propounded 
other explanations. The history of all discoveries has 
been similar. Every thing that has ever been found is 
as obvious as America: when it has been found. Every 
one can explain what has already been explained: while 
those who have not judgment enough to appreciate the 
real explanation, nor candour enough to yield the honour 
to whom it is due, hope for som(> poor fame by assigning- 
a new or a bad hypothesis. But Mr. Williams's memory 
must bear this, as it best may. Many have endured it 
before him, and many shall endure it hereafter. On the 
question of their construction, at least, there is little left 
for me to do, but to state his views; but I niay add some 
facts, unknown to him, and some reasonings which did not 
occur to him, to confirm what appears as perfectly de- 
monstrated as any thing of which we have not witnessed 
the rise and progress can be. 

VOL. I. u 


In constructing' these singular buildings, it was sug- 
gested by Mr. Williams, that, by raising a mound of earth 
on each side of the intended wall, and filling it with fire- 
wood and stones, a suflacient heat was produced to ope- 
rate the intended eflfects. Of course, this acute observer 
presumed that the design of the artists was to produce a 
cemented or solid wall ; while it was a natural conclusion, 
that structures of the forms which these present, were of 
a military nature. These works having thus been taken out 
of the rank of volcanoes, and the matter being now ob- 
vious to all, another philosopher set himself forth to prove 
that Mr. Williams was wrong, and that he himself was 
right; that the walls had been originally constructed of 
wood and stone intermixed, and that they had been vitri- 
fied by the assailants, who had destroyed and taken these 
works by means of fire. A third party, determined also 
to intrude for some portion of fame in this question, as- 
sured the world that both his predecessors were wrong, 
and that he was the real (Edipus: that these works were 
merely beacons, and that they had been vitrified by the 
lighting of the beacon fires. Thus our unlucky >vorld is 
fated to be pulled and pushed about, in deeper matters 
than vitrified forts, by every man who cares not what be- 
comes of it, provided ho can find an opportunity of dis- 
playing himself on the arena. 

It is beyond my intention to describe all the specimens 
in the preceding list which I have examined. To do this, 
would not convey instruction or amusement commensu- 
rate to the teiliousness of detail it would require; and 
my object is rather to investigate the general question. 
It is ;i highly interesting suhject; as well from the sin- 
gularity and ingenuity of this mode of architecture, as 
from its hcing limited, nearly, perhaps entirely, as far as 
is yel known, fo Scotland, and from its obscurity, and ap- 


parently remote antiquity. A sketch of the two remark- 
able forts of Noath and Dunadeer, added to the preced- 
ing- account of Dun Mac Sniochain, will however be ne- 
cessary, for the purposes of the general illustrations in 

The hill of Dunadeer, having an elevation of about 
600 feet from the irregular plain on which it stands, with 
a steep acclivity all round, has a flat oval summit, which 
is entirely occupied by the enclosure, so as to form a 
strong military position. Though much ruined, and con- 
sequently obscured, having apparently been used as a 
quarry for building a more modern castle in the same 
spot, it is not ditficult to trace, either the dimensions or 
the disposition of the original work. The form is a paral- 
lelogram, of which one extremity is curved so as to be 
nearly semicircular : and its longest side is about 58 yards, 
the shortest beino- about 24. The thickness of the wall 
seems originally to have been 18 or 20 feet; although, 
from the state and nature of the ruin, it is impossible to be 
very accurate in this particular. The highest remaining 
portion is about six feet above the present surface; 
and if one foot be added for the increase of soil, and 
two for the loss which it has sustained at the summit, 
to be computed from the ruined part at its foot on each 
side, we shall have eight feet as the probable original 

The materials of the hill are chiefly grey granite, an 
infusible rock ; but there are scattered in the surrounding- 
plain, blocks of a black variety, which, from containing 
hornblende, is very fusible. To pass over the obviously 
more modern ruins at this place, as not concerning the 
present question, there are, at a certain stage down the 
hill, the well-marked traces of a work which once seems 
to have encircled the whole. It is a kind of fortification 

u 2 


well known to antiquaries, as occurring" frequently in the 
ancient British hill forts ; and it resembles a modern mili- 
tary field work, as it consists of a single ditch and wall ; 
the latter being formed of loose stones, not vitrified. I 
consider this as part of the original defences, because a 
similar one is found on Noath. 

The materials in the vitrified wall are, as at Dun Mac 
Sniochain, partly roasted without adhesion, and partly 
vitrified, or glazed, or scorified, in a similar manner. It 
is easy to see that the dark granite forms the vitrified and 
scorified substances ; but, not to enter on the more minute 
details, which rather concern the chemist and mineralo- 
gist than the antiquary, but which are very interesting to 
them, I shall only further remark, that wherever stones 
not capable of vitrification themselves, have undergone 
this change, it has been produced by the alkali of the 
wood used in the process ; whence the glazed surfaces of 
many unvitrifiable substances. 

Now I remarked that, at Dun Mac Sniochain, the ma- 
terials of the hill itself were not vitrifiable, but that a 
very fusible rock was present at a short distance, or scat- 
tered iti fragments about the plain. The same is true 
here ; and, in both cases, the forts are not erected out of 
the materials nearest at hand, which are infusible, but 
collected with considerable labour from a distance. It is 
hence evident that the l)uilders of these works were aware 
of the qualities of these various rocks: and it is equally 
evident that they chose the fusible in preference to the 
infusible, although with a considerable increase of labour. 
The obvious conclusion is, that they designed, from the 
beginning, to vitrify their walls : and this single fact 
niii^ht serve, in itself, to establish the truth of Mr. 
Williams's views, against the theory of his ill-informed 


To turn now to Noatli. This mountain is the highest 
point of its own ridge, rising to a height of about 1800 
feet above the level of the sea, and of 300 above any 
part of the surrounding ground, with a steep acclivity. 
The summit is a plain : and, as at Dunadeer, that plain 
seems to have regulated the size of the fort, as it occupies 
the whole space: an arrangement which is equally found 
at Dun Mac Sniochain. Nothing can more clearly prove 
the military and common design of all these works ; since 
they vary in form and size according to the ground they 
stand on, and are so contrived, just as a military work 
would be in the hands of a modern engineer, that they 
may command all the points of access, and prevent the 
enemy from advancing* any where under cover. If the 
Duke of Wellington chose to occupy Noath to-morrow, 
he would order his works on the same principle. The 
area on Noath is nearly twice as large as that on Duna- 
deer; yet the same system is followed ; and in Dun Mac 
Sniochain, as I already showed, though the mode of oc- 
cupying the ground is different, the principle of a coni- 
plete command is equally kept in view ; while other va- 
riations are made for the purpose of conforming to the 
j)eculiar shape of the hill. If the same great soldier 
were to fortify this hill too, he could only follow the plan 
of his predecessor General Mac Sniochain ; whoever he 
was. I notice these points, to shew the folly of that fancy 
which chooses to consider these as beacons merely; a 
notion which could not have entered a mind that had ever 
seen or heard of a military defence. 

The enclosure on Noath is a long parallelogram, of 
about 90 by 32 yards, slightly rounded at the angles ; and 
it contains a well. Hence also we may conclude that this 
was a station and a garrison. An entire deficiency of the 
wall at the eastern side, seems to indicate the entrance, or 


gateway : a notion confirmed by its being continnous with 
a spacious causeway that extends a considerable way 
down the hill. That connexion also leads us to con- 
clude that this causeway was not a posterior work, but 
that it originally belonged to the fort. It is made of 
laid stones, of considerable bulk, with great care and 
strength ; resembling a Roman road : and it is remark- 
able that a similar causeway leads to the fort of loose 
stone on the top of Ben-na-chie. 

At Noath too, as at Dunadeer, there is a similar field- 
trench and wall, or outwork, on the declivity of the hill ; 
and though much obscured, it seems also to have for- 
merly surrounded the whole. In both cases, it seems to 
have been intended as a covered way to retard the attack 
on the body of the place. The vitrified enclosure is far 
more perfect here than in any of these works in Scotland : 
and it is infinitely more remarkable, since, being unen- 
cumbered with soil and vegetation, scarcely even bearing 
a lichen, we see at a glance the whole effect of its black- 
ness, its bulk, its regularity, and its extent. We may 
indeed wonder how any one could have imagined such 
a work the produce of a volcano ; and not less, how any 
one capable of the least degree of observation or reason- 
ing could have conceived it the effect of beacon fires. 

The parts of the wall which have been most perfectly 
vitrified, are, as might have been expected, the most en- 
tire : where highest, they measure eight feet from the 
ground, and the accumulation of soil at the base would 
justify the addition of two, or perhaps three feet more in 
some places. That rubbish prevents the breadth from 
being correctly estimated; but this seems, as at Duna- 
deer, to have been eighteen or twenty feet. And if, from 
that rubbish, we may form an estimate of the total height 
of the wall before dilapidation, and before the growth of 


soil below, it may probably be taken at 12 feet. 1 must 
also remark that the fallen rubbish, where the standing 
and vitrified part is eight feet high, consists of unvitrified 
stones : so that here, as at Dun Mac Sniochain, and in 
other examples, the wall, after having been vitrified to a 
certain height, seems to have been raised, by some 
courses of dry masonry, to its total altitude. 

The state of the various materials that have here been 
exposed to the fire, is so like their condition in the in- 
stances already described, that I need not repeat the de- 
scription. But it will be useful to remark, that in many 
of these works, and remarkably here, the largest frag- 
ments of micaceous schist and gneiss are inflated and 
contorted; and that where quartz and felspar, or quartz 
and mica, have been in contact, a species of porcelain 
has been produced. These effects will enable us, will 
enable chemists at least, to judge, both of the duration 
and the intensity of the heat, and to prove, if additional 
proof were wanted, the futility of that theory which 
supposes they had been vitrified by accident, or by an 

The presence of stones untouched by fire, of those 
which formed the upper part of the Avail, is equally valid 
against both the idle hypotheses which I have here no- 
ticed. No stone could have escaped, had the wall been 
originally compounded of stone and wood, and burnt 
down : and, in the same way, had the walls been the en- 
closures of beacon fires, every stone from the summit to 
the base must have felt their effects alike. It seems in- 
deed a waste of words to argue against such a hypo- 
thesis as this last, when we consider the great variety 
found in the forms and sizes of these works, their obvi- 
ously military and defensible character, and the enor- 
mous size of some of them; as, for example, of the pre- 

296 viTKHiKD Fours. 

sent. The w ork on Craig Phadric is also very extensive 
and complicated, and is as obviously a military post as 
the present. At Amwoth, in Galloway, the hill has been 
scarped by art, so as to form a deep ditch, close to the 
foot of the wall. Nothing of this kind could have been 
required for a beacon ; and it is further remarkable that 
the transverse wall at Dun Mac Sniochain is a common 
expedient for defence, in the ancient British works that 
occupy peninsulas or promontories; as at Castle Trereen, 
Zenor, and Tintagel, in Cornwall. The advanced co- 
vered ways of Noath and Dunadeer, and the causeway 
of the former, would be equally unnecessary on such a 
supposition: nor, at Noath, could any possible purpose 
of a beacon have demanded or justified such an enormous 
work, Avhether we consider the area enclosed, or the 
height and thickness of the walls. To imagine an area 
of 2700 square yards covered with burning wood, and 
to conceive a wall that would have required the labour 
of many hundred men for weeks, built for no other pur- 
pose than to enclose what did not want enclosing, are 
dreams not deserving a serious examination. If a che- 
mical argument were wanted in addition to these, it 
would be found in the fact, that though all this wood, a 
forest in itself, were collected and lighted, and lighted too 
when a square yard would have served the purpose as well 
as two or three thousand, it would not vitrify its enclosure 
in the manner in which these walls are vitrified ; as the 
current of air fiom without, would, by cooling the exter- 
nal part, impede its action on the outside; where the 
fusion is as complete as within. 

It has been asserted that these vitrified forts actually 
did communicate in chains, or in connexion, throughout 
the country. Nothing but a similar ignorance respecting 
these works and their places, could have led to such an 


assertion : it is not the fact : iu many instances it is phy- 
sically, geographically and optically impossible: and 
the mere supposition involves equal ignorance of the po- 
litical state of Scotland in ancient times, or else a hypo- 
thesis respecting its union under one organized govern- 
ment, which is purely gratuitous. Many of them indeed 
are placed in situations so low or so entangled among 
hills, as to preclude all communication of this nature; as 
is the case in Isla, in Morven, in Airdnamurchan, in Gal- 
loway, and apparently along the course of the Bogie in 

It is fruitless to say more on this hypothesis, and not 
necesary to say much more respecting the manner in 
which these works became vitrified. I remarked already 
that the appearances of the burnt and vitrified substances 
proved that a long continued heat had been applied, and 
that this heat had also been intense. Neither of these 
effects could have arisen from the burning down of a 
wall formed of stone and wood ; even if it were easy 
to imagine what the nature of such a wall must be. It 
must have been of far greater dimensions originally, of 
dimensions inconceivable, to have admitted of wood 
enough for the production of this eflfect : and the result 
must have been the subsidence of the stones into a form- 
less pile of rubbish; whereas the walls, at Noath in par- 
ticular, vehere they are most perfect, are erect, and, if 
not possessing parallel sides, are at least of a mural 

The antiquary who is the father of this theory, had 
forgotten that he was unacquainted with chemistry. But 
really there are so many sciences which must conspire to 
the making of a good antiquary, since there are none on 
which his pursuits may not touch, or whose aid they may 
not require, that we may perhaps pardon the present one, 


as not more presumptuous than many of his fraternity. 
It has been an unlucky opinion, that antiquities, or anti- 
quarianism (to coin a word) was a pursuit and a distinct 
trade, of itself. As if it was not the very perfection and 
overflowing, the luxuriance of accurate knowledge in 
every art and science on which it may touch : as if it was 
not the most abstruse and refined species of criticism, and 
as if he could be a critic in antiquities who was not a 
critic in all those arts and sciences which they may in- 
volve; in literature, poetry, language, history, architec- 
ture, mvisic, painting, geography, the art of war : but why 
prolong the enumeration. The Roys and the Rennels 
are the true antiquaries in their own departments; as are 
the Burneys in music and the Carters in architecture ; 
and even the gigantic Seldens and Lipsius', if they have 
grasped more than one department, it is because they 
were Lipsius' and Seldens. 

The plan suggested, that of constructing a species of 
furnace by means of earthen mounds, into which stones 
and fire were introduced till the structure was erected, 
not only answers all the conditions, and among the rest, 
that of vitrifying the materials below more perfectly than 
the upper ones, but is confirmed, as to its efljcacy and 
probability, by a practice in use in some parts of India, 
where, according to the report of a French engineer, 
M. Legoux de Flaix, houses of clay are burrt into a solid 
brick, in this very manner, and at this day, to prevent 
the effects of inundations. Nor does this art appear, 
from other circumstances, to have been absolutely limited 
to Scotland ; although the same proceeding has been re- 
sorted to for the production of a different effect. Not 
very long ago, there was demolished, in Shropshire, Gat- 
acre house: a part of which was of unknown antiquity, 
and, in all probability, very ancient, as the same vcncr- 


able family has now resided on the same lands from the 
time of Edward the Confessor. This part, the western 
gable, was covered witli an entire crust of glass; appa- 
rently designed to guard against the effects of weather. 
But enough of these details : as it must be impossible 
any longer to question, either the purpose for which these 
works were intended, or the manner in which they were 

Before attempting to form any conjecture respecting 
the antiquity of these buildings, which, after all, is per- 
haps a hopeless task, it is interesting to remark the 
analogy existing in the practice of Hindostan, just men- 
tioned. It is the same principle, the same systein, ap- 
plied to different materials, and to different purposes. It 
is not less remarkable, that in Sir John Chardin's travels, 
a similar process is described as in use in some of the terri- 
tories which he visited. And I have also read, what it is 
almost fruitless thus to recollect by halves, since I cannot 
now refer to the author, that vitrified towers existed in 
some parts of Tartary. I did not then foresee that I 
should ever care whether even Ben Nevis itself had been 
vitrified ; else my Tartarian evidence should have had 
two legs instead of one. In spite of this deficiency, there 
appears thus to be an oriental cast about the history of 
this art and these vitrified forts, which leads us back to 
the early Celtic tribes ; while this species of antiquity 
and origin, is countenanced by all those numerous facts 
noticed in various parts of these letters, which indicate 
the remote eastern origin of that far-spread people. 

There is little to be conjectured respecting their date, 
from any local evidence or appearances. If indeed, put- 
ting aside Berigonium as a visionary capital, we could 
find any proof, or render it probable, that Fergus, the 
real Fergus, had actually built the fort on Dun Mac 


Sniochain, as is not impossible, we should have dis- 
covered the date of these works, or the age at least which 
produced them. But as Fergus and his followers were 
Irish, or Hibernian Scots, we should be entitled to ex- 
pect similar structures in Ireland, where none have as 
yet been found. 

I can extract nothing like an argument from nearly 
all the rest of these buildings. Noath and Dunadeer 
alone, are situated in a country where the presence of 
other ancient remains may allow us, at least to form con- 
jectures. These seem to be of different ages, and to 
have been the works of different people. Druidical 
works, as they are called, sculptured stones, and circular 
stone forts, are the chief. The age of the latter is so far 
conjectured, that they seem to be safely referable, both 
to the natives before the northern, even the latest Nor- 
wegian invasions, and to those invaders themselves. 

Now it is remarkable, that although in this part of 
Aberdeenshire, where these works abound, the work, or 
masonry, if it may so be called, of the vitrified forts, and of 
the stone forts, is so very different, the same military prin- 
ciple pervades both. It is equally the case in Cornwall, 
where the principal work, or body of the place, has a de- 
tached or advanced field work, or covered way, like those 
at Noath and Dunadeer. Further, the stone fort on 
Bennachie has a causeway like that of Noath ; and there in 
a similar causeway to the most splendid and perfect of all 
our circular forts, that of Castle an Dinas in Cornwall. 
These are remarkable coincidences : they may probably 
be nothing more; yet they may give a colour to the sup- 
position that the vitrified and ihe circular stone forts are 
the produce of nearly the same age and people. 

I know of only one other point which we might endea- 
vour to bring to bear on this question. These works 


occur in Galloway, in the Highlands, and in the Low 
country of Scotland on its eastern side. If therefore, as 
might be concluded without much presumption, they were 
the works of one people, they ought to have been built 
when one people possessed all this country. Now the 
ancient Caledonians, or Picts, never seem to have pos- 
sessed the Highlands. The Scots, the real Scots I mean, 
whether the Dalriadans or others, and the more modern 
Highlanders, consisting of Scots and Norwegians, had, on 
the other hand, no possessions on the east of Scotland. 
Thus, if built by one people in these widely separated 
places, they ought to belong to a time prior to the divi- 
sion of Scotland into a Pictish or Caledonian, and a 
Scottish, or a Celtic and Norwegian dominion. Thus they 
should be referred to the aboriginal Celts, or first settlers 
of Scotland ; that people whom the Pictish invaders 
found, and on whose defeats they settled themselves. 
This speculation may probably be thought to give sup- 
port to the notion of their being specimens of remote 
Celtic or Oriental art ; and, in the same manner, to receive 
support from that view of their nature and origin. 

But, after all that we can do or conjecture, the date of 
these works, and the people by whom they were erected, 
must remain a problem: and it is one not very likely 
to be solved. Yet I should be unworthy of the office of 
antiquarian bottle-holder into which I have unwittingly in- 
truded, if I also did not declare my own hypothesis, by 
stating my hope that some future traveller in the East, 
will find further reasons to prove that they are among the 
earliest military works of our oriental Celtic ancestors. 

302 APPiN. 


The road from the Sliian ferry to Balabulish is, 
throughout, interesting, and psesents rauch landscape 
scenery. It is perhaps most so where it skirts the mar- 
gin of the water; displaying a lively and moving picture 
produced by the crowd of vessels and boats which navi- 
gate the Linnhe Loch ; a picture much enhanced in value 
by the magnificence and rudeness of the mountain boun- 
daries, and by the islands which are scattered through 
this part of that great inlet. Among- these, Eilan Stalker 
is a striking- object ; from the strange disproportion, often 
remarked, between the building and the domain on which 
it stands. It is a very perfect and entire specimen of the 
ancient incommodious Highland castles, but is utterly 
without beauty : a kind of square tower with different 
roofs, in the worst possible taste. But I need not detain 
you on this road ; as there is no want of a guide here, 
where every thing is open to the most inattentive spec- 

It is with justice that Glenco is celebrated as one of 
the wildest and most romantic specimens of Scottish 
scenery ; but those who have written about Glouco, forget 
to write about Loch Lcven, and those who occupy a day 
in wandering from the inns at Balahulish through its 
strange and rooky valley, forget to open fheir eyes upon 
those beautiful landscapes which surround them on all 
sides, and which render Loch Leven a spot that Scotland 
does not often exceed, either in its interior lakes or its 
maritime inlets. From its mouth to its furthest extremity, 


a distance of twelve miles, this Loch is one continued suc- 
cession of landscapes, on both sides ; the northern shore 
being accessible by the ancient road which crosses the 
Devil's Staircase; but the southern one turning away from 
the water near to the quarries. The chief beauties, how- 
ever, lie at the lower half; the interest of the scenes 
diminishing after passing the contraction which takes 
place near the entrance of Glenco, and the furthest ex- 
tremity being rather wild than beautiful. 

I was much amused by meeting here with an antiquary 
and virtuoso who asked me where he should find Loch 
Leven castle. He had been enquiring among the High- 
landers, and was very wrathful that he could obtain no 
answer. I M'as a little at a loss myself at first ; but soon 
guessed the nature of his blunder. He had been crazing 
himself with Whitaker, and Tytler, and Robertson, and 
Chalmers, like an old friend of mine who used to sleep 
with the controversies under his pillow, and had come all 
the way from England to worship at the shrine of Mary ; 
stumbling, by some obliquity of understanding, on the 
wrong Loch Leven. This genius would have made a good 
antiquary for Foote : but he was a perfect Hearne, com- 
pared to an old Lady I had met not two months before at 
Bullock's museum. Among other things, there was a 
bronze of the well-known wolf; and her companion, who 
was reading the catalogue, came to the names of Romulus 
and Remus. Romulus, said the old lady : " Ah, I re- 
member, he was Serjeant at arms in the time of Burdett's 
riots." The good old gentlewoman had entangled her 
identities in no common manner; first confounding the 
Oflicer of the House with Sir Samuel Romilly, and then 
turning him into the Roman King. 

Approaching from Ardshiel to Balahulish, the road- 
side is a continued picture : the bright water of the 


Linnhe Loch stretching away on one had, bounded by the 
rugged mountains of Morven and Ardgower, and the 
hills, on the other, descending with a rapid and various 
slope; covered with woods, and diversified by rocks and 
torrents, and by valleys leading into many wild and pic- 
turesque recesses among the hills. Some striking land- 
scapes occur, in particular, as we approach to the narrow 
strait which forms the ferry ; the two inns, on opposite sides, 
appearing like the guardians of the passage, and the re- 
markable saddle-shaped mountain which rises beyond 
the house of Glenco, forming a conspicuous feature in the 
distance. You may take your choice of these Yspyttys, 
for each has its merit. I had asked an old dame whom I 
met by the way side, which was the best, seasoning my 
question with asneeshing. She assured me that I ought 
to go to Mrs. Forsyths', as she was " a very sensible 
woman, a very sensible woman indeed ; she had al- 
ways plenty of good meat and drink in her house." This 
is not a very bad definition of sense to a hungry traveller : 
and if it is the Highland one, we can only lament that 
sense is so rare a quality in the country. The definition 
of wisdom is not so well judged. I had hired a horse 
that would only go his own way, and his way >vas not 
mine. On complaining to his friend — " Ah," said he, 
" he is a wise horse." This is a scene which particularly 
demands two feudal castles in the place of these mean 
buildings: and if ever I regretted the past days of High- 
land turbulence, it was here, where I could have wished 
Cameron of Lochiel and Stewart of Balahulish at war, 
each threatening the other from his high tower, and each 
levying pontage and murage on the wights who should 
pass between their hostile shores. 

The ascent of Ben-na-vear, on the south side of the 
ferry, is not diffinilt, though long, as it is a loftv moun- 


ain ; and if its prospects are not to be compared with 
those from Ben Lawers or Ben Lomond, they are far more 
interestinof than the views from Ben Nevis. Of Ben 
Nevis itself, this position affords a very perfect view; af- 
fording- even a glimpse of Loch Treig, with a detailed 
picture of the wide range of wild mountains which ex" 
tends to the eastward. Thus also it displays, in great per- 
fection, the no less wild, but more marked and picturesque 
groups of mountains which stretch from Gletico to Crua- 
chan, surrounding Loch Etive and Loch Creran ; the 
variety of their outlines, and the intricacy and distinctness 
of their valleys, producing much more beauty than is 
usual in scenery of this class. The bird's-eye view of 
Loch Leven itself, forms a very splendid and amusing- 
scene ; as does the long inlet of the Linnhe Loch, !)old- 
ing its course northwards beneath the rugged mountains 
of Ardgower, till it is lost among the mountains of Loch- 
aber; and, at the other extremity, exhibiting- the endless 
variety of the bay of Oban, and all its creeks and ishuuls. 
The western sea presents a picture equally various and 
engaging, in the whole of the islands from Jura even to 
Sky: among which Mull forms a leading object; as the 
eye ranges over the promontory of Airdnamurchan and 
along the shores of Loch Sunart, hence exhibited with 
all the distinctness of a map. Unfortunately, Gletico is 
but partially visible from this point; taking a sudden 
turn among the hills, so that we can only conjecture its 
place, from the general appearance of a chasm among the 
rugged summits that enclose this wild valley. 

As I have so recently noticed some of the Highlani' 
ferries for evil, it is but justice to say, that the readiness, 
and precision, and connnodiousness, of the Balahulish 
ferry, confer great credit on the proprietors. It is fortu- 
nate when a ferry does fall into the hands of men of 

VOL. I, X 


business and right feeling- ; who, instead of tyrannising^ 
over a helpless public, because they dare so to do, are 
anxious for their convenience and accommodation, and 
justly attentive to render services for reward, not to take 
the latter and withhold the former. In a country like 
ours, where the whole empire is in perpetual motion, 
where so much of its commercial prosperity depends on 
facility of intercourse, and where so much has been done 
for that end, by means of roads and bridges and public 
carriages, it is perfectly incredible that this barbarous 
remnant of feudal monopoly should be suffered to con- 
tinue, to the injury of the public, and often to the defeat 
of all the other conveniences by which travelling is se- 
cured or accelerated. While a long line of road is the 
public property, managed for the public benefit, by per- 
sons who can have no motives, from interest or temper, 
to do wrong, and placed under the controul of laws which 
prevent them from doing « rong by neglect, that portion 
of such a road, its waters, which is the most important as 
it is the most inconvenient, is suffered to remain a private 
monopoly, where every species of abuse, of delay and 
danger and extortion, may be accumulated, and almost 
with impunity; as there are scarcely the means of legal 
redress, and as these means are too expensive and operose 
to be available in the ten thousand petty delays and vex- 
ations which thus occur in the course of travelling-, and 
which are not the less grievous because they would not 
make much figure in a court of justice. Thus the public 
is obliged to bear with every kind of hazard, as well as 
of delay and extortion : inconunodious or dangerous land- 
ing places, insufficient boats, and incapable, or insolent, 
or drunk(!n boatmen, whose convenience, or will, they 
must conform to or wait for, and who exert their petty 
powers of tyranny with impunity, because they too are 

RALAllULI»iH. 307 

monopolists, not subject to competition and scarcely to 
legal controul. We may bring- an action, possibly, for 
the loss of life or property, against the proprietor; but 
we have no remedy if a drunken boatman keeps us for 
hours in fear and risk of our lives, or exposed to storms 
and rain ; or if an insolent or a lazy one chooses to delay 
us for half a day, perhaps to our serious inconvenience 
or loss. Nay, while these absurd rights are sutTered to 
exist, a proprietor may, as happens now in Wales, refuse 
to keep a sufficient boat, and refuse to permit any other 
boat than his own to land on his estate; thus havino- it in 
his power to put a total stop to travelling. 

That this view is not overcharged, must be well known 
to all those who have travelled much in England and 
Wales. In the latter country, it is notorious; and the 
Conway ferry, in particular, is not only a disgrace to its 
proprietor, but to Great Britain : it would even dis- 
grace the negroes of the Congo and the Niger, or the 
barbarians of the Jenisei or the Lena. The numerous 
and serious accidents which occur every year at our fer- 
ries, arise indirectly from this system of monopoly : from 
misconduct on the part of the proprietors or the lessees, 
over whom the public has no effectual check. There 
need never be any loss of lives at any ferry in Britain; 
and when there is, it may always be traced to causes that 
might, with proper care, have been avoided. It would 
be easy to collect a volume of tragic events in proof of 
this assertion: but I am not writing the preamble of a 
bill for Parliament, The very last time that I crossed at 
Conway, and with a heavy cargo of cattle and carriages 
and passengers, both the boatmen were so drunk that they 
fell, one after the other, overboard into the water. It 
was with great difficulty that we saved them from drown- 
ing; but we were obliged to stow them away in the 

X 2 


bottom, and to navigate the boat ourselves. Had there 
been no male passengers, the boat and the men too would 
probably have been lost. Yet this event neither excited 
comment nor enquiry ; a sufficient proof of the ordinary 
state of things here. We may well ask, what are the 
feelings of the proprietor of this ferry. Having none of 
his own, it should be the business of the law to make him 
feel, by obliging him to part with a property which he is 
unfit to manage. It would no more be an oppression to 
compel the lords of ferries to sell their rights to the public, 
than it is to oblige them to give passage to roads through 
their lands. Ferries should, in all cases, form a part of 
the system of the roads, and be placed under the same 
controul ; so that the public might have a complete 
check over their management, and over the conduct of 
the people employed on them. If ever, like Sancho, I 
should be King and Parliament for a day, Charon and 
his crew, wherever they may be found, shall be among 
the first to feel the weight and impulse of a new broom. 

The north shore of Loch Leven is much superior 
in point of scenery, to the south one, whether as to the 
character or the number of its landscapes. For a con- 
siderable space, even from the point where it turns north- 
ward towards Fort William, the road side presents a con- 
tinued succession of pictures, in a style which is at once 
g-rand and simple and ornamented. The noble extent of 
water is bounded by ;i distant screen of mountains, as 
striking in the outline as they are various in the forms; 
descending in a gradual succession of lower lands to the 
edge of the Loch, varied by woo<ls, and terminating, at 
length, in an intricate and picturesque line of cultivated, 
rocky, and rude ground. In the middle; and fore grounds, 
-we have a long shore sprinkled with scattered trees and 
(arms and houses, in variety of disposition ; rising gra- 

LOCH lbvi:n. 309 

dually up into a beautiful range of liill, which is covered, 
on its lower declivities, by ancient woods, and by g^roups 
and scattered trees; while its higher reg-ion is diversified 
by rocks and intersected by torrents, which, as they 
reach the lower grounds, become beautiful mountain 
streams, ploughing- their way through their wild chan- 
nels, under the shade of ancient ash trees of the most 
luxuriant and picturesque forms. These objects, ever 
varying, and united to the numerous boats Avhich are 
drawn up on the shores or employed in navigating the 
Loch, and to the frequent passage of sloops and vessels 
of larger size to the quarries, combine to render the whole 
as lively as it is picturesque. 

Proceeding westward along- the ancient road, the cha- 
racter of the nearer or immediate grounds undergoes an 
important change; while, as we also rise higher above 
the level of the water, the distant mountains and the in- 
tricate expanse of the Loch, assume new consequence 
and new forms. The hilly ridge above us becomes here 
more rocky; rising into cliffs or precipices, Avhich, in 
many places, tower over head, or descend suddenly to 
the water beneath. Protruding rocks, and deep hollows, 
often giving passage to some mountain stream, also con- 
duce to vary its surface, and to multiply its intricacies; 
thus producing a peculiar class of mountain scenery, in- 
dependent of the lake and the distant hdls. The general 
character is precisely that of the beautiful declivity of 
Ben Venn at Loch Cateran ; and it is wooded in the same 
various and intricate manner, with wide forests of oak and 
birch, or Avith the lines and groups of wood which take 
advantage of some rivulet or sheltered spot, or with single 
trees, perched on the shelves of the rocks and the sum- 
mits of the knolls, or rooting themselves in the fissures. 
The elegant pendent forms and light foliage of the birch, 


here, as in that place, give that airiness to the outline 
which produces an effect so beautiful, and, at the same 
time, so peculiar ; communicating a lightness and a grace 
even to the solid masses of rock, and conferring a ten- 
derness and transparency on the colouring, which no 
one who has seen Loch Cateran can ever forget. 

That similarity is even more remarkable in wandering 
along the margin of the water, wherever that is accessible. 
At the place now mentioned, the boundary of the Loch 
is very irregular, and strongly marked ; projecting in 
bold and varied promontories, and retiring in deep and 
intricate bays ; the trees, as they start from the precipices 
or crown their summits, hanging over the lake, or des- 
cending along the intermediate hollows till they are seen 
reflected in the waves ; while the cliffs sometimes rise 
suddenly out of the deep v.ater, or, descending more 
gradually, are skirted with insulated rocks and fragments, 
adding much beauty and endless variety to these rich 
and uncommon foregrounds. Thus there is produced a 
species of scenery partaking equally of (he shore scenery 
of lakes and of that which belongs to mountain decli- 
vities ; presenting numerous landscapes of great beauty, 
resembling in many places the analogous scenes of Loch 
Cateran, and, in others, excelling them, by uniting, with 
these details of rock, and wood, and precipice, and water* 
the magnificence of a more varied expanse of lake and of 
a grander alpine distance. 

The upper extremity of Loch Leven, is rather wild 
than picturesque; and the cascades which arc mentioned 
in some of the tour books, are rather grotesque than 
beautiful. The slaty rocks which conduct the torrent, 
are excavated into bad forms, which are at war with all 
the principles of grace or of landscape. But the road 
never ceases to be interesting, and the navigation of 


the Loch is not less pleasing. In many places, the viewsj 
from tlie water are extremely beautiful, but no where 
more than under that singular hill which rises above the 
house of Glenco ; where a continued sheet of wild rock 
and wood towers aloft to the skies, not unlike a part of 
Killicrankie, and where, as it reaches the lake below, 
it produces a continuous fairy landscape of wood and 
water and rock intermixed, luxuriant as it is wild, and 
strange as it is new. Every where, at this part of the 
navigation, we forget that we are upon an arm of the 
sea ; nor even when we see the brown weeds laid bare 
by the falling of the tide, can we easily convince our- 
selves that the trees, whose branches are dipping in the 
water, and whose roots are laid bare by the wash of its 
waves, are growing on the shores of the ocean. 

At the upper extremity of this Loch indeed, though 
an open inlet, the water is quite fresh for a considerable 
space. And such indeed is the check to the tide at the 
very narrow strait of Balahulish, that it is no where 
thoroughly salt : the great supply from the rivers, not 
only serving to freshen if, but generally staining it of a 
dark colour throughout: a colour often carried out, even 
to the sea. Hence also there is a rapid current of fresh 
water at the upper extremity, at the fall of the tide; from 
the great accumulation which has taken place during its 
flow. I have reason to remember it well. To have been 
drowned in a boat, by settling on a stone in a current in 
Loch Leven, in a calm, after all that I had weathered for 
so many years among the endless perils of the Western 
Islands, would have been as provoking as the case of the 
unlucky Admiral, Avho, after retiring from forty years 
service, and having escaped a dozen of shipwrecks, was 
drowned in his fish-pond. 

St. Mungo's Island is an interesting spot, no less 



on account of the various views which it affords, than 
because of its burying ground, crowded with grave- 
stones and ornaments, and with sculptures which, in a 
place so remote and unexpected, attract an attention 
that more splendid works would scarcely command in the 
midst of civilization. There is an impressive effect also, 
a check, and an awe, produced, by thus suddenly meet- 
ing >vith the emblems of mortality in these wild and se- 
cluded spots: a feeling well known to those who have 
thus, in their wanderings among the Highlands, un- 
warily fallen upon these repositories of the dead. The 
English church-yard is habitual to our sight, nor is it 
ever unexpected ; proclaiming itself from afar, by its 
spire or its church, by its walled enclosure or its ancient 
elms. We pass it coldly ; and if we look at its monumen- 
tal stones, it is seldom but to amuse ourselves with their 
barbarous emblems or the absurdities of their mortuary 
verse. But in this country, in the midst of the beauties 
and sublimities of the fairest nature, when, rejoicing in 
the bright suns of an alpine summer, in all the loveliness 
that surrounds us, we are suddenly and unexpectedly 
recalled to the thoughts of that hour when these glorious 
scenes shall be to us as to those who are sleeping at our 
feet, then it is that we feel the full force of the narrow 
green mound, the rude letters, and the silent stone, 
which seem to say, — the time is at hand when thou too 
shalt see these bright lakes and blue hills no more. 

But St. Mungo's Island is the ci^metcry of Glenco; 
and it is inipossibic to contemplate it without recalling to 
mind an event which the lapse of more than a century 
seems to have left in all its freshness of horror. We 
cannot help feeling that we are walking on the remains 
of those unfortunate victims of feudal cruelty, and that 
we are now viewing the very spot where this tragedy was 

GLENCO. 313 

acted. The tale, too painful to relate, is also far too fa- 
miliar to be related again, since it has passed into Eii'^lish 
history. But whatever blame we may throw on William, 
we must remember that, like other kings on too many 
occasions, he was misled by interested advisers: advi- 
sers so conscious of the wrong they were meditatinfr^ as 
to force him to the unusual step of doubly signing his 
warrant. Let us remember too, that the really guilty 
were Breadalbane and Glen Lyon ; guilty of every thing; 
of unjustly extending the power of the unjustly obtained 
warrant, and of enforcing it, thus doubly unjust, by an 
act of cowardly treachery. Let us do justice to all. 
The massacre of Glenco was not the act of Wil li; m.lf 
his ministers were culpable in having sanctioned the 
eventual and possible penalty, they were Mrought on by 
the demon of feudal and civil jealousy and revenge; but 
the deed itself was executed by Highlanders against High- 
landers, in the true and ancient spirit of clan treachery 
and clan vengeance. Such a deed could have been per- 
petrated, only in the spirit of ancient feuds, and by none 
but Highlanders of the ancient leaven. Let the stigma 
remain where it is due; not on the house of Nassau, but 
on that of Campbell. 

The slate quarries of Balahulish have generated a 
considerable village: and the workmen, the noise, the 
shipping, the women and children, and the confusion of 
all kinds, form a strange contrast with the dark and 
dreary solitude of Glenco itself, scarcely a mile removed. 
It is a busy-looking and an industrious population ; yet 
possessing all those Highland peculiarities which are 
more or less rapidly disappearing, wherever similar 
manufactories produce an intimate communication with 
Lowland shipping and Lowland opinions. Here only, 
and among the poor people at Bercaldine Castle, (let me 


say it for the honour of the country) throughout all my 
wanderings, I found in vogue that pleasure which our 
Solomon is reported to have thought too great for a sub- 
ject. My English companion, on this occasion, was de- 
lighted, as I had persisted in denying the existence of 
this pleasure in modern days. I was obliged to allow 
him his triumph at last; after having long assured him, 
on the faith of the well-known French proverb, that it 
was indifferent whether it was in his imagination or his 
fingers, which were never to be seen without gloves. 
Whether the name of this amusement proves it to have 
been peculiarly a Celtic one, gale quasi Gael, is a ques- 
tion of etymology into M'hich I cannot enter. 

Here too I saw, what is not often to be seen now, the 
wanking of a cloth : coming suddenly on the bare legged 
nymphs in the very orgasm and fury of inspiration, kick- 
ing and singing and hallooing as if they had been pos- 
sessed by twelve devils. Surely the twelve Valkyrs 
whom Darradussaw, and whom the Saga and Gray have 
sung, must have been one of these living fulling-mills: 
or the Highland practice has been derived from the my- 
thology of Ostrogard and Asgard, from the Pantheon of 
the North. The web of fate here, was but a blanket ; 
notwithstanding all this labour, Avhich a couple of 
wooden hammers would have perfornied much better, 
and, if with less fun, certainly with far less noise. As 
to the music, it is worthy of the dance: and wi(h all my 
regard for Highland airs, I must confess that the fulling 
song, as well as that of the Highland Argonauts, the 
Ho ieroc of your Lady of the Lake, is too sublime for my 
comprehension. But (h(!y have all equally the u»erit of 
classical anti(juity and example in their favour. If the 
music of the (iuern is no better than their argonautics, still 
the auld wife who drones it through her nose ayont the fire. 


may boast that she sings, probably, as good a song as the 
Lesbians, who, as Clearchus tells us, had a Quern sonjr 
also, called, 'tuiiA-vXio^. I have heard the 'fm/Av'Xw? dl>ri in St. 
Kilda, and it is worthy of the lulling song. 

No contrast can well be more striking than that of the 
rich, and open, and beautiful scenery of Loch Leven, 
with the wild, and narrow, and terrible Glenco; and no 
transition can well be more sudden than from its smilinar 
banks and green woods and glittering waters and bright 
sunshine, to this rocky and dreary valley, without tree 
or verdure, a valley of shadows, where the sun scarcely 
penetrates, and where there is twilight even at noon-day. 
We entirely lose sight of all the previous scenes, as we 
enter its narrow depths; the commencement of a succes- 
sion of barrenness and desolation, which is scarcely to quit 
us again till we reach Killin or Rannoch, I must not for- 
get that Ossian was born in Glenco; or buried: it is indif- 
ferent which ; and that the little stream, the Cona, which 
runs out of it, was sung by him : or by Macpherson. He 
who sang Caracalla, may be allowed to sing Cona: be 
he who he may. There is nothing to which the scenery 
of Glenco can be compared: there are only two scenes 
with which it can be named: Coruisk in Sky, and Glen 
Sanicks in Arran. But there is no resemblance, in either 
case. Coruisk is a giant, before which this valley, eren 
such as it is, sinks into insignificance. Glen Sanicks is 
single and simple in its sublimity: a terrible vacuum. 
In Glenco every thing is wild and various and strange: 
a busy bustling- scene of romance and wonder: ter- 
rific ; but terrific from its rudeness, and its barrenness, 
and its spiry rocks, and its black precipices, not from sub- 
limity of forms or extent of space. Li its own character, 
it excels all analogous scenes: and yet there is in it, that 
which art and taste do not love; a quaintness of outline; 

316 GLENCO. 

forms uBusual in nature, and therefore extravagant : 
when painted, appearing fanciful and fictitious rather 
than true. Such it is also when viewed in nature : we 
rather wonder than admire : and the gloom of its lofty 
and opposing precipices, the powerful effect of its deep 
shadoMS, the impression produced by its altitude and 
extent and bulk, are injured by a form of outline which 
attracts the eye as unnatural, and which forces it to ana- 
lyze and reason, instead of allowing it to feel. 

Thus, though Glenco presents many scenes of suffi- 
cient unity, its pictures are scarcely pleasing, and they 
are also deficient in grandeur. If the bizarre which it 
displays in nature is somcAvhat overcome by its magni- 
tude, that advantage is lost in the representation : and 
we dwell on what is wrong, unable to balance or over- 
come it by what is right. Nor, even in nature, does it 
display much variety, though its extent is so consider- 
able. The southern mountain outline, which is alone vi- 
sible, although it undergoes variations of form as we pro- 
ceed, is never thoroughly altered. We trace the same 
shapes from the beginning to tlie end : and are almost 
wearied at length by finding that our hopes of promised 
novelty are disappointed. Thus also it diminishes in 
interest in proceeding from the eastward : the most per- 
fect view being found near a l)ridge at the commence- 
ment of the descent, and nearly all the scenes that fol- 
low being depreciated changes of the same. Hence it is 
preferable, if we have a choice, to enter it from TJalahu- 
lish,or, what is best, to pass it twice. He who has time, 
however, must be told that all the beauty of Glenco will 
not be found from the road side. The noble ravine which 
conducts its waters, the deep chasm through >vhich they 
flow, the perpendicular precipices, the varied rocks, and 
the scattered trees wildly dispersed among them, offer 

MOOR OF rannoch; 317 

many scenes of a close character, of great interest and of 
mucli grandeur. But, for these, we must labour, as they 
are not otherwise to be attained. The change of cha- 
racter, in proceeding eastward, is completed as soon as 
we have surmounted the ascent, and reached the common 
head of the eastern and western waters. But here 
Buachaillo Etive forms a noble object ; rising in a regu- 
lar pyramid, the king of the rude chain to which it 
seems to belong. All, every beauty, every thing, va- 
nishes before we reach the King's House ; where the 
hideous, interminable, open moor of Rannoch is spread 
before us, a huge and dreary Serbonian bog, a desert of 
blackness and vacuity and solitude and death ; the death 
of nature. 

It was on my last visit to Glenco that I formed the 
courageous resolution of exploring this almost unknown 
spot ; unjustly, perhaps, neglected, since it might form an 
easy connexion between the central Highlands and the 
Western Sea. If you know how you may breakfast at 
Tyanuilt, why should I not also tell you how you may 
hire a hoi-se in Glenco. I had taken the precaution of 
engaging mine on the preceding evening, and it was pro- 
mised by six in the morning ; the distance to Rannoch 
being calletl twenty miles; a day's journey. The price 
for the horse and guide was two guineas ; which, for one 
day's ride upon a Highland poney with two shoes, whose 
value was five pounds, and whose annual keep was no- 
thing, while the usual day labour of the guide was a shil- 
ling, should have satisfied even a Glenco conscience. 
The same sum would have procured a chaise and a man 
and two horses, for the same distance, or more, at London 
or York ; but Donald, no longer able to make a creagh 
on Saxon cows, must now, he seems to think, compensate 
for it by a creagh on a Saxon purse. In the morning, 


the equipage, of course, was not to be found; as the 
horse had slept on the hill, and was to be caught, not 
before six, but after nine, and was then to be shod, and 
saddled, and haltered ; and as the shoes were to be made, 
the saddle to be borrowed from some one, two or three 
miles off, and the halter from some one else. There is a 
pleasing prospect in all these cases, a train of pithy re- 
flections, by which you amuse the hours of waiting : cal- 
culating at every hour that passes, in which of all tbe 
coming- bogs you are to spend the night, on which moun- 
tain you will break your neck, or in which ford be 
drowned : knowing that the longest day is too short, 
knowing that even the sun himself could not perform the 
journey in view, in less than the time you have allotted 
for it. 

After walking three miles in search of the horse, and 
Availing seven hours, he was found : but it was plain to 
see that, even then, all was not right : Sandy Macdonald 
" could not leave his harvest to-dav," thou<>h he was 
paid for it. Let no man imagine that he understands the 
ti'ue nature of patience, till he has made a Highland tour, 
on Highland ponies, and in Highland boats. I agreed 
to go on alone and sleep at the King's house ; to Mait for 
his convenience. As usual, we were to start the next 
morning at six : but the Highland six — to day it was 
only nine. Even then, though the horse was ready, the 
man was not. 1 departed alone, but was speedily lost 
among rocks and bogs ; nothing was visible but the wide, 
black, open, tlat waste, all around ; and far away, the 
blue hills of Peithshiie rising in the distant horizon. 
Not even the mountain bee was on the wing to give life to 
the scene; nay, the very midges seemed to scorn the moor 
of Rannoch : no water stirred, to indicate that something 
yet moved or lived ; but the black pool stagnated among 


the scanty and yellow rushes of the dark bog. The 
heart-sinking" stillness of this solitude, the more dreary 
that it was so spacious, was undisturbed even by the 
rustle of a breeze ; since there was not even a bush of 
heath in which a breeze could have rustled, had it been 
so inclined. I and the world were alone together, as 
some one says ; always excepting the horse, who, very 
sensibly refused to go any further. At length the guide 
appeared, and soon found a track, which, in no long time, 
neither man nor horse could follow ; for in no long time 
there was no longer any track. What distance remained 
between this and Loch Rannoch, I know not, and nobody 
knows ; but at five o'clock, the guide, the patient, and 
the horse, found themselves, severally, at the head of the 
lake ; having spent eight hours of hard labour in tra- 
versing twelve miles, as it is called. As to the horse, he 
might as well have remained at Glenco. A ride, this was 
not, by any figure of speech : I cannot even call it a walk ; 
for half the space was traversed by jumping over bogs, 
and holes, and ditches, and pits, which were generally so 
wide as to demand much serious meditation. I may 
fairly say that I jumped half the way from Glenco to 
Loch Rannoch. 

Pray imagine the moor of Rannoch ; for who can de- 
scribe it. A great level (I hope the word will pardon 
this abuse of it) 1000 ^eet above the sea, sixteen or twenty 
miles long, and nearly as much wide, bounded by moun- 
tains so distant as scarcely to form an apprehensible 
boundary ; open, silent, solitary ; an ocean of blackness 
and bogs, a world before chaos ; not so good as chaos, 
since its elements are only rocks and bogs, with a few 
pools of water, bogs of the Styx and waters of Cocytus, 
with one great, long, sinuous, flat, dreary, black Acheron- 
like, lake. Loch Lydog, near which arose three fir trees. 


just enough to remind me of the vacuity of all the rest. 
Not a sheep nor a cow ; even the crow shunned it, and 
wheeled his croaking" flight far off to better regions. If 
there was a blade of grass any where, it was concealed 
by the dark stems of the black, black, muddy sedges, and 
by the yellow, melancholy rush of the bogs. 

As our trio proceeded in such a saltatory and dis- 
jointed manner, I had not much opportunity of talk with 
Mr. Macdonald ; but if he thought he had caught a 
Saxon, I knew full well that I had caught a Highland 
Tartar. He talked of his harvest, and of the favour he 
did me by coming, and of the time he should lose in re- 
turning; with much more that, I well knew, M-as, in no 
long time, to lead to some demand beyond his bargain. 
This however was a point not to be argued in a bog : 
I hoped that it would be reserved for terra firma. On 
terra firuia we at length found ourselves; some whisky 
and a supper were ordered as an extra gratuity, and the 
two guineas were presented, with all imaginable thanks 
in addition. " I shall lose another day of the harvest," 
said Sandy Macdonald, " and I expect ye'll give me 
another guinea." I could only request him to excuse 
me, as he had named his own price, and as two guineas 
was not a bad exchange for the two shillings he would 
have gained by his harvest. He remained inflexible : 
no, did not remain any thing; but became insolent. At 
length, finding his eloquence unavailing, " Then you 
maun give me aght shillings for carrying your uni- 
brrlla." The knav<' had carried this in his hand for a 
few miles, at his own desin'. I went up stairs. In a 
minute however he was at the door, swearing that he 
would stay there all night, that 1 should have no supper, 
anti thai 1 should not stir til! he was paid all his demand. 
Accordingly, I betook myself to my little Horace ; listen- 


ing to much objurgation and vituperation, both in Gaelic 
and English : the former having a very ferocious sound, 
but being, fortunately, a dead letter. But finding, after 
an hour, that he made no impression on Saxon obstinacy, 
he at length consoled himself by saying that I was not a 
gentleman, but that he would take the money. I as- 
sured him that he was right, that I was not a gentleman, 
but an informer, and that instead of paying him, I would 
lodge an information against hiui for letting horses on 
hire without a license. I had learned this expedient 
from your friend and mine, Daniell, who had been driven 
to it on similar occasions. I thank thee Daniell for 
teaching me that word ; for it was an astounding and 
an unexpected blow: and like oil on the stormy sea in 
the Naufragium of Erasmus, it caused the rage of the 
mountaineer to fall at once to a moderate level ; but not 
till after he had protested that he had been once ruined 
already by an information, and would be ruined again 
rather than submit to a Sassanach. I need not tell you 
that the man got his money and departed : vowing re- 
venge against the next Saxon who should fall into his 
clutches. It is not very wonderful that travellers in the 
Highlands call the people extortioners : for, in the mat- 
ter of horses, you will find nearly the same wherever 
you go. 

VOL. I. 



He who does not know what is the meaning of a "soft 
day," must come to Fort William ; or he may go to In- 
veraray, which will do as well. This is the usual friendly 
salutation when it is raining what the Scots denominate 
an even-down-pour, what the Americans call stoning rain, 
what the Cornish very expressively term lashing, and 
what is vulgarly denominated cats and dogs. Express- 
ing my dissent from the propriety of the Highland epithet, 
after having been confined three days and three nights at 
Mrs. Bell Mac Lauchlan's inn, by what is called a shower, 
in these quarters, the Ilighlaniler said with a mixture of 
fun and surliness, " If you want fine weather you had 
better go back to England." If dew, as the poet says, 
is the bridal of the earth and sky, the rains of Fort William 
bear some resemblance to a Georgian wedding, where the 
bride is taken, like a hostile garrison, at the sword's point. 
I rem(!njber that when I was at Inveraray, I was told by 
the ostler, with a knowing leer of the eye, that it would 
certainly rain, as the clouds were coming from Fort 
William. When at Fort William, they always deter- 
mined when it was to rain by looking towards Inveraray. 
Just so, the rain of Keswick comes from Wastdale, and 
that of Wastdale comes from Keswick. Either, I be- 
lieve, might say of the other, "The self-same heaven 
that frowns on me, looks sadly too on Richmond." I 
Khould like to know where the Inver is, where it does not 
rain two monflis out of the flirce which pass by the name 


of summer here ; but I never found the man who would 
alh>w it could be fair anv where when it was raininof at 
his own Inver. 

Thus three years had passed ; and as it had rained, in 
each of them, on all the days and weeks that I had been 
within sight of Ben Nevis, I g-uessed, and perhaps truly 
enoug-h, that it had done nought else during my absence. 
At length, in the fourth year, the shower ceased ; and, on 
the 20th of August, as I looked out of the window of the 
inn at Balahulish, at six o'clock in the morning, it was a 
fine day. It was but twenty miles to the top of Ben 
Nevis. To wait for the boiling of the kettle, to say no- 
thing- of the lighting of the fire and the awaking of Peggy, 
and of the ostler, and of much more, was out of the ques- 
tion ; so I stole my own horse, saddled him, roused the 
ferryman, launched the ferry-boat, rode oft' to Fort Wil- 
liam, breakfasted, and by one o'clock was on the top of 
the mountain. In half an hour, it snowed as if it had been 
January ; and as it has probably been raining or snowing 
there ever since, it is certain that I secured the only op- 
portunity which occurred in the space of ten years, by 
copying Ceesar, or by recollecting that valuable maxim 
in Cordery which all shivering school boys remember. 
By the same rule it was that a single vessel of a fleet 
slipped her cable one morning, made her voyage to Smyr- 
na, and returned, full of oranges, to find her comrades 
still wind-bound in the Downs. The morality of this is 
on the surface. We may all owe it deeper debts, if we 
choose, than the sight of a shower of snow in August. 

From the rarity of fair weather and a cloudless sky 
at Fort William, and because the distance to the top of 
Ben Nevis is considerable, and the ascent laborious, it is 
not often visited. Measuring it as well as I could by 
pacing, I found it al)out eight miles; the path on the 



mountain, which is very circuitous, amounting to about 
six, out of which there are two of a very steep and labo- 
rious ascent. The perpendicular height is more than 
4000 feet ; but it is exceeded, geometrically, by Ben Muic 
Dhu, and, I believe, by others of the mountains of Mar. 
But it must be remembered that Ben Nevis (the Hill of 
Heaven) is a much more independent mountain ; and that, 
on the west side at least, it rises, almost immediately, from 
a plain which is nearly on a level with the sea. Hence 
it is, in reality, still the highest mountain in Scotland, 
thouoh not the most elevated around : while its effect to 
the eye is far more striking than that of any other: all 
the rival elevations, either springing from high land, or 
beinsf entangled amono- other hills so as to lose their con- 
sequence. Its form is, at the same time, heavy and grace- 
less; particularly from Inverlochy and Loch Eii, where 
the eye takes in the whole. That form is also very pecu- 
liar, as if one mountain had been placed on another; and 
this effect, as of a casual and posterior addition, is ren- 
dered still more striking by the difference in outline and 
character between the two portions. This appearance, 
so remarkable to the ordinary spectator, is easily ex- 
plained by the geologist ; who finds that the lower portion 
is formed of granite and schistose rocks, and that the 
upper is a mass of porphyry. 

Doubtless, the ascent of Ben Nevis is considered a 
mighty deed; and, in consequence, there are various 
names inscribed on the cairn within the plain; while 
some had been written on scraps of paper, and enclosed 
in l)ottles which had been drained of their whisky by the 
valiant who had reached this perilous point of honour. 
Such is the love of fame, " that the clear spirit doth raise," 
to carve its aspiring initials on desks, and to scratch them 
on thr windows of inns. Is there a man so unworthy of 

BEN NF-VIS. 325 

a name, were it even Macg'uffogorBumfif,asnot to desire 
that it should be heard of hereafter; even did it prove no 
more than that its owner had emptied a whisky bottle on 
Ben Nevis. If I read nanies here that none but the g"od- 
mothers and gossips had ever heard of, and none but tlie 
sexton would ever hear of aoain, there was not one of 
them all who did not feel a secret satisfaction in thinking 
to himself, " nomenque erit indelebile nostrum;" in re- 
flecting that some future Mac Jock or Mac Taw would 
read that Angus Mac Lehose or Dugal Mac Breeks had 
been able to scratch his name here on a slate with a horse- 
shoe nail. But we must not enquire too curiously into 
this folly; and when we are inclined to sneer at those 
who are now inscribing their unheard-of names on the 
tombs or barracks of Pompeii, we must remember how 
grateful we are to those, who, probably with no other or 
greater ambition, scratched their own, two thousand years 
ago, on the statue of Memnon. 

Some of the rarer alpine plants grow on Ben Nevis; 
conveniently situated for the botanist, as they lie chiefly 
near the sides of the path by which tiie upper portion is 
accessible. But the summit itself is utterly bare, and 
presents a most extraordinary and unexpected sight. 
If any one is desirous to see how the world looked on the 
first day of creation, let him come hither. Nor is that 
nakedness at all hyperbolical ; since the surfaces of the 
stones are not even covered with the common crustaceous 
lichens; two or three only of the shrubby kinds being 
barely visible. It is an extensive and flat plain, strewed 
with loose rocks, tumbled together in fragments of all 
sizes, and, generally, covering the solid foundation to a 
considerable depth. While these black and dreary ruins 
mark the power of the elements on this stormy and ele- 
vated spot, they excite our surprise at the agencies that 



could thus, unaided by the usual force of gravity, have 
ploughed up and broken into atoms, so wide and so level 
a surface of the toughest and most tenacious of rocks. 
Certainly Nature did not intend mountains to last for 
ever; when she is so fertile in expedients as to lay plans 
for destroying a mountain so apparently unsusceptible of 
ruin as Ben Nevis. 

Situated in the midst of this plain, whence nothing 
but clouds and sky are visible, the sensation is that of 
being on a rocky shore in the wide ocean ; and we almost 
listen to hear its waves roar, and m atch as if for the break- 
ing of the surge, as the driving rack sweeps along its mar- 
gin. As the clouds began to close in around, curling and 
wheeling over head, and hurrying up in whirlwinds from 
the deep and dark abysses which surround it, a poetical 
imagination might have imaged itself on the spot where 
Jupiter overthrew the Titans ; the bulk, the apparent 
freshness, and the confusion of the frajiinents, resemblinsf a 
shower of rocks just discharged by a supernatural power 
from the passing storm. The wild and strange sublimity of 
this scene i.s augmented by the depth of the surrounding 
precipices, whence the eye looks down into interminable 
vacancy, on the mists that are sailing in mid air, or into 
the rugged depths of chasms, black as night, impenetrable 
to the eye or to the light of day. The distant view pre- 
sents no inferest. The whole is a heap of mountains ; 
but so remote and so depressed, from the altitude of this 
station, that scnrcely any marked feature is to be seen; 
and the etfectjon the east side in particular, resembles a 
congregation of moIe-hills. 

I had not time, however, to walk round the whole 
phiin before there came on as <lense and bitter a storm of 
snow :is I over experienced: so that what else remains 
of Ben Nevis, nuisl be told by some more fortunate person. 


1 was not, however, alone, since I had with nie what is 
commonly called a guide; a lad who had volunteered his 
services, and whose good humour had secured him the 
place which his talents in pilotage would not have com- 
manded. I had gained too much experience in guides 
not to know that, for the purpose coniniordy understood by 
that term, they were, generally, either useless or mischie- 
vous ; and had long been accustomed to trust to my organ 
of geography, as well as to another organ, of not much 
less use. The event here did not belie my theory; for 
when my guide found himself in a whirlwind of fog- and 
snow, so thick that we could scarcely see each other, and 
without prospect of any thing better, he began to cry ; 
lamenting that he should never see his mother again, and 
reproaching himself for having undertaken the office. I 
might have been angry and alarmed both, and with good 
reason ; nor did I think him too much punished with 
half an hour of despair. Feeling safe also, there was 
something ludicrous in a terror which 1 knew to be un- 
founded, and which was rendered much more amusing by 
the mixture of Gaelic and English in which it was ex- 
pressed, and the extraordinary gestures of the unhappy 
animal, who vowed that if ever he lived to get home, he 
would never guide a gentleman again. He would even 
surrender his five shillings, if 1 would show him the way 
down the hill. In truth, it might have been a very se- 
rious adventure to both of us, had there not been a 
piece of philosophy in the world of which my friend had 
never heard. There was but one way down from this 
wide plain, scarcely visible at any time ; while every 
point of the surface Mas exactly like every other, and the 
whole was surrounded by precipices, which we might 
have stepped over without being aware of it ; landing in 
mid air, like the eagles, to whon> night would, in any case, 


have probably left us for a supper, I had observed the 
bearing of this path at first, and therefore, taking out the 
compass, walked boldly on ; while my guide followed, 
crying, and wondering where all this was to terminate. 
But to express his astonishment and rapture when Ifouad 
the very track, close to the edge of the deepest precipice, 
is impossible. I thought that he would have fallen oa 
his knees and worshipped me and the compass; nor did 
I succeed in making him understand how, though it 
would show the way to Fort William, it could equally 
direct him to Inverness. 

It was intensely cold, and my pilot, who had squatted 
down on a stone in the snow, till we could venture to 
proceed over this dangerous descent, lamented that he 
had not his B^jaxa?, if indeed the braccse of Diodorus were 
breeches, and not a coat or waistcoat; which seems to be 
the real fact; since, according to Aulus Gellius, the 
braccfe covered the whole body. The ava^vfn; was proba- 
bly the very trews of our own Gael, as his a-aryo^ must have 
been the plaid : and if the xi-rZv was a jacket or upper 
coat of any kind, then the whole dress is really as well 
described as we could desire, even to the ifXivdloi, or little 
tiles, or squares, if we may so translate this word, which 
formed the checqucr, and rendered the whole dress so 
xaTa7rX7jxTj/.o^. The virgatum sagulum of Virgil is equally a 
tartan plaid: and, according to Propertius, the Gaul 
Virdomarus had striped braccce. You see how anxious 
I am for the honour of the Gael, by recurring to this 
subject on fhe top of Ben Nevis in a snow-storm ; and, 
I ought to add, for that of Diodorus, to whom I did not 
do full justice. But when ] said there, (hat the ancient 
Highhuulers did not esteem their own dress as we esteem 
if now, 1 might ;ilso have «|UOte<l the authority of Mrs. 
Gil«l<;ro> , that was to have been ; who boasts that her 


lover " never wore a Highland plaid, but costly silken 
clothes:" and that he was a Cateran, need not be told, 
since the lady never wanted for " cow nor ewe," and the 
hero " never annoyed those who paid their cess" to him. 

By the time his kilt was thoroughly cooled, and that 
he had vowed never to wear one again, the storm 
cleared away, and we returned by the road of Glen 
Nevis : his spirits so elated, that he frisked about like a 
goat, and would, I believe, have followed me all over the 
world, as he besought me to let him attend me through 
the Highlands. 

The descent from Ben Nevis by the glen is not incon- 
venient, and it is wild and romantic. It is said that 
Cameron of Glen Nevis holds his lands by the tenure of 
an unfailing snow-ball when demanded. He is certainly 
not likely to fail in his rent; but as this is said in other 
places also, I know not if it is a truth or a popular tale. 
There are the remains of a vitrified fort in this neighbour- 
hood which stands enumerated in the list lately given, 
and requires no further remarks ; and my guide also 
pointed out a rocking stone, which is poised in a very 
unusual manner on the flat and bare ground near the 

The peculiar magnitude and situation of Ben Nevis, 
serve to account for the singularly rainy climate of Fort 
William, as they do for the violence of the winds. I was 
informed by a seaman long engaged in this coasting 
trade, that he had seen one of the small sloops blown out 
of the water and laid on the beach ; nor, from what I had 
seen, did I doubt his report. The situation of the town 
is wild and rude ; and, in general, the surrounding coun- 
try ig very bare of wood. The margin of the western 
branch of Loch Eil, and the elevated land immediately 
west of the canal, aft'ord the most picturesque views of 


Ben Nevis; the castle of Inverlochy always forming an 
interesting object in the landscape. The town is suf- 
ficiently respectable, in appearance, and is the capital of 
this part of the country ; while it is the port of a country 
coasting trade, and the center of a fair for sheep and 
cattle. The loss of the garrison has probably contributed 
to diminish the means and employment of the inhabitants ; 
and it remains to be seen whether, and what, it will gain 
by the opening of the Caledonian canal. The operations 
required in constructing this work formed a source of 
wealth for a considerable period, and something of this 
must still adhere. The town contains all such trades 
and shops as are required for rural consumption ; and, 
the latter, in an abundance which impresses strangers 
with a notion of a more dense surrounding population 
than they are able to discover. A casual visitor might 
indeed wonder how all these shopkeepers exist, unless 
they have agreed to live on gingerbread kings and carra- 
way comfits, and to buy all their pins and tape from each 
other ; forgetting, or ignorant of, the distances whence 
the people resort to have their wants supplied. 

In one respect, Fort William possesses the distin- 
guishing marks of a capital : idleness. This is ])recisely 
the consequence which the Highlanders themselves say 
is produced by the building of Highland villages. Per- 
haps it is more conspicuous l)ecause more condensed : 
while social or gregarious idleness is more prominent 
than the solitary doing of nothing; being active instead 
of passive. It is the agere nihil iristead of the nihil agere. 
To lounge about the streets, impede the way, and to be 
busily aiul oft'ensively idle, is a Scottish fashion : and to 
those therefore who are well acquainted with the High 
Street or the; Gallowgate, Fort William will not appear 
very new. To Londoners, it may be new to see the 


single street of which it consists, croAvded with idle men 
walking- about with their hands in their pockets, or col- 
lected in groups to yawn together or converse in mono- 
syllables; except when roused to louder talk by an occa- 
sional sojournment to a whisky house. Even the rain of 
Fort William has no effect on these coteries, which stand 
under the torrents that are showering down on them, un- 
heeding, undiscomposed; less concerned than the very 
ducks, which quack remonstrance against the sky, and 
not even retiring into their own ever open doors. My 
very guide, whose respect and confidence the compass 
had secured, lamented the bad example and the want of 
employment, complained that his own morals were in 
danger, and was willing to attend me for anything or 
nothing, if he could but escape from Fort William. 

If the project of building Highland towns is to be pur- 
sued, as certain politicians seem still to wish, it would be 
convenient to discover some better employment for the 
people than that of loitering about in the rain with their 
hands in their pockets. To build hives for drones, was 
never reckoned good policy: and that contagion which is 
most condensed, is commonly reputed to be the most 
active. To form these into communities, is to provide 
for their perpetuity, and to diffuse and extend it by re- 
verberation and example. It is a premium also for popu- 
lation, as well as for idleness: and, to borrow from the 
argument of the nominalists against universals, *' Entia 
non sunt multiplicanda prseter necessitatem." 

In the case of country towns, where aHighlaiid laird or 
a speculating society has not interfered, it is m.itter of 
analysis, for the fashionable science of political economy, 
to discover how one of them has grown, or by what ce- 
ment it is united. There is a church ; that is the ordinary 
foundation. Where there is a church, there must be a 


parson, a clerk, a sexton, and a midwife. Thus we account 
for four houses. An inn is required on the road. This pro- 
duces a smith, a saddler, a butcher, and a brewer. The 
parson, the clerk, the sexton, the midwife, the butcher, 
the smith, the saddler, and the brewer, require a baker, 
a tailor, a shoemaker, and a carpenter. They soon learn to 
eat plum-pudding ; and a grocer follows. The grocer's wife 
and parson's wife contend for superiority in dress, whence 
flows a milliner, and, with the milliner, a mantua-maker. A 
barber is introduced to curl the parson's wig and to shave 
the smith on Saturday nights; and a stationer to furnish 
the ladies with paper for their sentimental correspon- 
dences : an exciseman is sent to gauge the casks, and a 
schoolmaster discovers that the ladies cannot spell. A 
hatter, a hosier, and a linen-draper, follow by degrees; and 
as children are born, they begin to cry out for rattles and 
gingerbread. The parson becomes idle and gouty, and 
gets a curate, and the curate gets twenty children and a 
wife ; and thus it becomes necessary to have more shoe- 
makers and tailors and grocers. In the mean time, a 
neighbouring apothecary, hearing with indignation that 
there is a community living without physic, places three 
blue bottles in a window; when, on a sudden, the parson, 
the butcher, the innkeeper, the grocer's wife, and the 
parson's wife become bilious and nervous, and their chil- 
dren get water in the head, teeth, and convulsions. They 
are bled and blistered till a physician finds it convenient 
to settle : the inhabitants become worse and worse every 
day, and an uinh rtaker is established. The butcher 
having calle«l the tiiilor prick-louse, over a ])ot of ale, 
Snip, to prove his manhood, knocks him down with the 
g-oose. Upon this plea, an action for assault is brought 
at the next sessions. The attorney sends his rierk over 
to fake (bpoKJlions an«l collect evidence: the clerk, find- 


iog a good opening, sets all the people by the ears, be- 
comes a pettifogging attorney, and peace flies the village 
for ever. But the village becomes a town, acquires a 
bank, and a coterie of old maids; and should it have ex- 
isted in happier days, might have gained a corporation, 
a mayor, a mace, a quarter sessions of its own, a county 
assembly, the assizes, and the gallows. 

The Fort is not dismantled nor absolutely abandoned, 
as was intended ; the Duke of Wellington, with his usual 
steadiness of character and contempt of idle clamour, 
having opposed this design as to all the Highland gar- 
risons. Originally it was built by Cromwell, at Monk's 
suggestion ; and it was then called the garrison of Inver- 
lochy, being calculated for 2000 men. It was rebuilt on 
a smaller scale, but on a stronger plan, by William, 
whence the present name : yet it is still a feeble work. 
It was besieged in 1746 for five weeks, but that siege 
was abandoned. I need not however d^vell on matters 
known to every one, nor describe its military details. I 
need only add that the town was originally built by 
James VI with the intention of " civilizing the High- 
lands;" Campbelltown and Stornaway having also been 
made borougrhs with the same view. It is said that 
Corpach, where the canal basin has been formed, is 
the place where the bodies of the kings were deposited 
before their final journey to lona. The same has been 
said of Pencross in Ayrshire: we may let that question 
cool for the present. 

There is a good deal of military and historical interest 
about this spot ; but it has been so often printed and re- 
printed, that it is all a tale told. Of early and distant 
events, one of the most remarkable is the battle of In- 
verlochy, fought by Donald Balloch in 1427, against the 
Earls of Mar and Caithness ; and another, is that fought 


between Argyll and Montrose in 1645, when the former 
was defeated. Whether the fame of this action, or that 
of Major Dugald Dalgetty, is to be the most imperish- 
able, time must prove. The occurrences that took place 
in this quarter also, during the days of Cromwell, in 
which the energy and fame of the Cameronsare so deeply 
involved, add not a little to its interest; but the memoir 
of Sir Ewen, a name not soon to be forgotten by friend 
or foe, having been printed by Pennant, they are toler- 
ably well known. Every one has heard of Sir Ewen Dhu 
and of his duel, and I need not chronicle again a ten- 
times told tale. 

The castle of Inverlochy, however, possesses a distinct 
interest; arising partly from its former magnificence and 
the obscurity of its origin, and partly from the share which 
it has been supposed to possess in the early fabulous his- 
tory of Scotland. Those who choose to believe in that 
arcli fabulist. Hector Boethius, may continue to enjoy 
their belief; but the doubts of profound historians and 
laborious antiquaries, are surely far from deserving their 
indignation. Romance and history, each possess their 
separate kinds of merit: but the value of the latter would 
be low indeed, were it founded on any other laws than 
those Avhich the judicious have, in all ages, acknow- 
ledged. Scotland has ample stores of real fame and 
honour, witliout wishing to augment them by such 
moans. She need not have recourse, as Pinkcrton has re- 
marked, to false history or false honours of any kind : 
the truth would render her far more illustrious. He 
therefore who refuses his assent to the imaginary league 
between King Achains and Charlemagne, signed at 
Inverlochy, may be permitted to indulge his doubts in 
peace, even though he could not shelter himself under 
thcshirbls of Hailes and Chalmers. 


Butlnverlochy isnot only the place where this vision- 
ary treaty was signed, since, it is, like Berigonium,the re- 
puted capital of ancient Scotland. Nay, Dunstaffnage is 
a third : so that the former kingdom of Scotland has no 
less than three competing capitals, when it is, by the same 
patriots, held to have been one undivided powerful king- 
dom. The life of St. Columba, if that is held worthy of 
regard on a historical question, further proves that Inver- 
ness was the capital, and others assert the same of Aber- 
nethy ; so that there are no less than five places claiming 
the honour of a metropolis, when all the judicious and 
acute antiquaries who have examined this question, deny 
that there existed any. It is something to show that tra- 
dition is at variance with itself; even though these anti- 
quaries should have judged incorrectly on the bare ques- 
tion. If tradition be authority, we must take it as it 
exists; for if we only admit what suits our own hypothe- 
sis, it nu'ght as well not have existed. But thus it always 
involves itself in a chaos of moral, physical, and historical 
contradiction, and then gravely calls on us to believe: 
scarcely even gravely; as the indignation, in this, as in 
all other cases, is commensurate with the feebleness of the 

But not to quote Hollinshed and others, whose testi- 
monies to this point have been adduced, and who are just 
as good authority on Scottish history as the immortal 
Xixofou would be, the Bishop of Ross, Lesley, pretends, 
as does Boethius, that the Highlanders had a great 
trade with France and Spain, in ancient times, from the 
city of Inverlochy. He calls it " opulentissima civitas 
Inverlothsea appellata." These foreigners, as he says, 
came there with ships and carried away the valuable 
commodities of the country. His indignation serves to 
fix something like a date; since he is very angry that this 


city was not restored after it had been burnt and plun- 
dered by the Danes. He should have told us whence he 
derived his information and opinions ; what species of 
commerce could have been carried on with these countries, 
and what produce exported to them, from a region, which, 
even in the present state of improvement, can do little 
more than maintain its inhabitants, and which, in the days 
of Highland independence, could scarcely do that. Ac- 
cording- to the Fingalian theory also,and theacknowledged 
manners of the Fingalian tera, to which his date must al- 
lude, Caledonia, if it was not here a forest, which, accord- 
ing to the very theory of the Parallel roads, it was, was 
then, in its mountains at least, said to be a nation of Mar- 
like hunters: and that this stage of society is incompati- 
ble with commerce, the Reverend author appears to have 
forgotten, or never considered. It requires more know- 
ledge of history and policy, of man and of morals, than 
the Bishop of Ross or the natives of Glen Roy possess, to 
construct theories and invent fables that will even hang 

Enough, and more than enough, of this. But such 
is the extent of this belief, as even to cause the faithful to 
assert that the present castle of Inverlochy was the very 
palace of these imaginary kings. The date of this 
building is not known; but we have here, fortunately, 
a species of evidence, which, within certain limits, is 
quite satisfactory, and by which we can so far ap- 
proximate to the cera of its erection, as to show that 
it cannot be very ancient. It is, at the same time, as 
a Highland castle, a speciinen well meriting description. 
Its situation near the liver, and on the borders of the 
great peat moss of Inverlochy, is a strong one; but is 
scarcely such as a Highland chief would have selected, if 
we may judge from the various examples dispersed all 


over the country, and on wlwcli 1 have made some g-eneial 
remarks elsewhere. If its situation is not well chosen, 
according- to modern military systems, still it is more con- 
sonant to these than the g-enerality of the Highland castles, 
as it also differs from them in the nature of its defences; 
both marking, alike, a different set of military opinions, 
and the engineering of a distinct people. It is alsq of 
superior masonry and construction to most of the High- 
land analogous works, and consists of a quadrangle, with 
round towers at the angles. The walls are about nine 
feet in thickness, and the measure of the curtains is about 
an hundred feet; so that the flanking- defences are here 
perfect, and formed on a regular design; wiiile, in most 
of the Highland castles, they are wanting, and, in many, 
appear to have been accidental. That opinion is the more 
confirmed by the prevailing want of loop-holes in the 
towers of the latter, or of other means of defensive an- 
noyance, in them. Here, on the contrary, there are both 
loop-holes and sally-ports ; so that while its size proves 
it to have been intended for a garrison, its defences show 
that it was prepared for a siege : the whole of the sys- 
tem being utterly different from that of most of the other 
castles of the Highlands. Not to enter into details un- 
necessarily minute, it is surrounded by a moat, and there 
are the traces of a former drawbridge between the south 
and the east towers ; circumstances in which it also differs 
from the general plan of the Highland castles ; as 1 have 
more fully shown elsewhere. 

It is impossible for any one who is acquainted with 
ancient castles, and who has studied the principles of 
their fortification in England and Wales, not to detect 
here, an imitation at least, if not the work of the English 
engineers of that day. However various are the works 
of Edward in Wales, and those of parallel date which 

VOL I. z 


may not have been his, they almost all develope sounti 
principles of defence ; often so very remarkable, that 
Harlech, which might, in other respects, almost be 
the work of a modern engineer, possesses a complete 
fansse-bray; a contrivance supposed peculiar to modern 
fortification. Inverlochy is palpably of the same school ; 
and the nature and integrity of its ruins, bespeak also an 
age that could not have been much higher than that of 
Edward. It was probably therefore the work of the 
Cumins, about that date. They were the possessors of 
this territory, and the building bears the marks of an 
opulence, and of a knowledge, of which, except at Kil- 
churn, we see no display, and >vhich is there accounted 
for in a similar manner, by the wealth and the education 
of his Colin, the Knight Templar. The abilities or in- 
formation of the Cumins, niay be supposed, like their 
wealth, to have been of a superior nature to those of the 
age in this country, from ol)vious causes; and their po- 
litical connexion and history are too well known to require 
mention in aid of this supposition. The probability there- 
fore is, that Inverlochy was not only built by this family 
about the time of Edward, but with assistance or advice 
from bis engineers; nor is it even impossible that, as 
Aylnier de Valence both built and garrisoned Bothwell 
castle, this work also was an English fortress and an 
English garrison. But the records of friends and foes 
have vanished alike. I need only add, that the western 
tower is still known among the natives by the name of 
Cumin's tower. 

To him who is in search of picturesque beauty, this 
neighbourhood affords little temptation besides those I 
have already named. The road from Balahnlish is pleas- 
ing, without offering any striking scenery ; as there is little 
of character in the rude hills of Ardgower, which form 



the western boundary of Loclieil. There is as little 
temptation in the western branch of this inlet, which, but 
for the ebb and the sea weed, might be mistaken for a 
fresh water lake. High bridge is a striking object; from 
the depth of the ravine and the height of the arches above 
the water, which is ninety-five feet; nor is it wanting in 
picturesque beauty. Of tlie surrounding country, how- 
ever, Glen Roy most deserves attention ; not merely on 
account of its singularity and its philosophical interest, 
but of its truly picturesque beauty, and of the very strik- 
ing and magnificent effect of the Parallel roads, as they 
are called. The subject itself is, however, too intricate for 
the tail of a letter, so that I must defer it. It is, un- 
luckily, one of the Fingalian stumbling-blocks; but we 
become habituated to this eternal contest, and must learn 
to bear it as well as we may, in hopes that the age of 
reason on these subjects will arrive at last. My hetero- 
doxy, I grieve to say, cost me a dinner and a night's lodg- 
ing : for, armed with the best of letters, I was not mvited 
into a house, at the door of which I stood, because it was 
known that I was an unbeliever. Highland wrath must 
be powerful, so to overcome Highland kindness. It was 
far otherwise at good old kind-hearted Keppoch's : but he 
is gone where my gratitude is alike useless and un- 


340 GLEN ROY. 


The popular opinion to which I have alluded, respeot- 
ino- the singular appearances in Glen Roy, is no proof 
that they had been observed by the ancient Highlanders: 
nor does the existence of that opinion prove that it is an 
ancient and traditional one. I have already remarked, 
what I shall probably have occasion to remark again, that 
the personages who figure in the Fingalian drama, have, 
since the time of Macpherson, been invested with a right 
over all streams, caves, mountains, and stones, every 
where; even where some of these objects have only been 
brouglit to light in our own days. It may be doubted 
whether the fancy in question respecting^ these Parallel 
roads, is of much earlier date than the christening of the 
stone in Glen Almond and of the cave in Stafia, which we 
have ourselves witnessed. So little was known also, out 
of the bounds of the Highlands, of their antiquities or 
scenery, even at the time of Pennant's visit in 1772, that 
the public was ignorant of the very name of Glen Roy, 
until he printed a short notice of it in his appendix, from 
the communications of a neighbouring clergyman; not 
even having seen it himself. Ten years have indeed 
scarcely elapsed since these very singular appearances 
attracted any further notice: my own visit was anu)ng 
the earliest; and, even now, I doubt if the.y have been 
seen by twenty people beyond those of their iinnnuliate 
neighbourhood, though so interesting ami so accessible. 

The scenery of Glen Roy, of its lower part at least, 
is both pleasing and pictnres<|ue: and indeed, indepen- 

GLEN ROY. 341 

dentJy of its Parallel roads, it is among the most beauti- 
ful of the Highland valleys; being richly ornamented 
with scattered wood, and its boundaries being marked 
equally by simplicity and grandeur of style. The upper 
portion, distinguished by the turn which it makes to the 
eastward, is bare and wild, and the most remote, which 
is only terminated by Loch Spey, the summit of the 
eastern-flowing waters, is without any other interest than 
that which belongs to the appearances under considera- 
tion. It is a part of the geographical description of this 
valley, required for understanding the nature and con- 
sequences of these phenomena, to say that it terminates, 
so as to be lost, in the great valley of the Spean, which 
includes Loch Laggan ; a valley with which Loch Treig-, 
communicates: and that there is also a communication 
with Glen Gloy, by uieans of Glen Turit ; while some 
shorter valleys, such as Glen Glastric and Glen Fintec, 
also open into it. 

On entering Glen Roy, where the Parallel roads are 
most remarkable, every one must be struck by their ap- 
pearance and their effect. Nothing indeed that I have 
ever seen in nature or art, is so striking. There is a 
magnificence, a grandeur of apparent effort in them, 
which excites more than wonder: incredulity: and we 
look again and again, as if there was some deception, as 
if that which is before us could not be. The impression, 
in fact, is that of a work of art; because Nature pro- 
duces nothing similar: yet we contemplate it as impos- 
sible art. Nature deals not in mathematical lines and 
forms: and thus, even though we know it is her works 
that are here before us, we cannot shake off the impres- 
sion that we are contemplating a work of man, and still, 
that it is a work, of which the gigantic dimensions and 
bold features exceed mortal power. We need not won- 

342 GLIiN KOY. 

der, if the Highlander should have attributed to the ideal 
and poetical beings of his heroic ages, works which, 
scorning the mimic efforts of the present race, hold their 
undeviating course over the mountain and the valley, 
heedless alike of the impassable crag and the destroying 

The more calm impression is, that these traces, so 
strong-ly marked, drawn with such mathematical exact- 
ness and truth, so regular in the midst of irregularity, so 
unlike every line by which they are surrounded and to 
every form on which they seem to rest, are not in the 
landscape. It is as if they lay between our eye and the 
hills, as if they were drawn in the air, or as if they were 
the transverse wires of a telescope through which we are 
contemplating the scene before ns. Let it be added to 
this, that the world has not yet produced, any where 
else, a similar phenomenon; and while we may pride 
ourselves on possessing what might once have ranked 
among its seven wonders, let us also add to that wonder, 
the still greater one, that it should hitherto have received 
so little attention. 

I need scarcely tell you, that if the Highlanders have 
their theory, so the philosophers have theirs. This is, 
that they have been produced by the action of water. As 
to the mode, however, in which this has acted, opinions 
have differed. My own solution, of course, I consider 
the only and the right one ; else, you know, 1 should not 
be a true philosopher: while, having been the first to 
investigate and describe them, I must also swagger and 
assume the honour of a discoverer and a teacher ; as is 
usual among this race, not less watchful over their vision- 
ary property than kings and nations are over their boun- 
daries and rights, and not one whit less ingenious in 
.iltempling to encroach on those of their neighbours. 

GLIiN ROY. 343 

Never lef us hear, my dear Sir Walter, of the jealou- 
sies and squabbles of the fair sex. Did they know us as 
well as they ought, now that they are become our rivals 
in science and literature, they might retort on us our 
academies and our societies, our jieologist sand ourcheni- 
ists, our Pinkcrtons and Ritsons and Scaligers. 

I will not allow Donald, however, to be treated witli 
injustice: for, let his betters romance as they may, there 
is a bottom of good sense and a sharpness of intellect 
in him, which, while they may give to Fingal all that is 
his due, and to his ancient clans and chiefs as much re- 
spect as they merit, will not suffer him to surrender his 
own senses and his own reasonings to any one. I met 
one of them here who entertained me much with his own 
philosophy on the subject, and who smiled when I re- 
marked that the roads had been made by Fingal. What- 
ever the value of his priori arguments might be, he was 
very deficient, poor fellow, a posteriori; yet 1 recom- 
mend future travellers to apply to this Gymnosophist, 
who held even his minister in great scorn on this point, 
and whose theory was not so wide of the truth but that a 
very (e\v words sufficed to render it perfect. He was 
delighted that he had found a partizan, and fresh argu- 
ments ; and I doubt not, has, by this time, converted all 
his neighbours to the true belief. Yet he too could point 
out the Dal Sealg where the deer were killed, after hav- 
ing thus been deluded into the mouse-trap, the kettles 
where Fingal and Rhyno cooked their venison, and the 
lee rock where Carthon, or Fillan, or some other hero of 
the swift foot and the bright shield, was detected in an 
intrigue with the " Wabster's dochter." So careful has 
tradition been, and so delicately minute. 

But before we enter on causes, it will be proper to 
en(|uire a little further about effects. In the inferior part 

344 GLEN ROY. 

of the valley, where these parallel lines are most perfect, 
there are three, traced above each other. The correspon- 
dence of each of these to its representative, or fellow, on 
the opposite side, is such, that they ai*e on an exact 
water level, as determined by levelling-. Of the three, 
the vertical distance from the lowest to the second, or 
middle one, determined in the same manner, is 212 feet; 
and that from the second to the upper one 82 : and, these 
distances being invariably preserved wherever they oc- 
cur, hence arises that parallelism whence they have de- 
rived their name, and of which the effect is so striking. 
At the lower part of Glen Roy, the lowest line is about 
600 feet, perpendicular, above the bottom of the valley, 
or 633 above the junction of the rivers Roy and Spean ; 
but as the bottom of the valley itself necessarily rises in 
proceeding- up tlie stream, the two lowest lines become, 
in succession, excluded, and disappear; the upper one 
alone, continuing to be traced to its most remote ex- 

These lines, however, are only found, in this perfec- 
tion, in some places, and diiefly in the lower part of the 
glen. There, the whole three are often to be seen, on 
both sides, and for a considerable space; but, in other 
places, they are interrupted or wanting, so that but two 
are present, or only one is sometimes to be found ; while, 
in a few, they are all deficient. In many cases, this can 
be accounted for by circumstances in the nature of the 
ground : a very steep acclivity, or a rocky bottom inca- 
I)al)le of receiving the impressions, or the sliding of the 
loose surfaces of the hills, or the posterior action of 
water; while, in a few remarkable* cases, no apparent 
cause for the deficiency can be assigned. In one or two 
points moreover, there are errors of level, evidently 
caused by a descent of the loose gr»>und ; ;uul some frag- 

GLEN ROY. 345 

nieiits ot lities also uppear in some places, which tlo not 
belong- to the principal ones, but which are easily ex- 
plained by an action of water similar to that by which 
these were produced. 

I need not detail more minutely what could not be 
rendered intelligible without a map ; nor is a more mi- 
nute detail necessary for the purpose of this popular view 
of the subject. But it is important to describe the nature 
of the lines themselves, that it may be seen how small 
the resemblance is which they bear to roads. As the 
surfaces of the hills are alluvial, except where rocks oc- 
casionally interfere, the lines are necessarily and unavoid- 
ably formed in, or of, alluvial materials, as roads might 
be. This, which has been used as an argument for their 
being- roads, proves nothing; as they could not have been 
formed in any other manner ; and, indeed, had not these 
alluvia been present, would not have been formed at all, 
by any action of water. Both the internal and external 
angles are very much rounded, and their surfaces are ex- 
tremely irregular. There is no where an inferior talus 
or slope ; nor a superior one, except in one casual spot; 
ch-cumstances inseparable from a road constructed on the 
side of a hill. In one most essential circumstance, they 
bear no resemblance to roads, inasmuch as they are not 
level or flat; the angles of their deviation from the horizon- 
tal plane varying from twelve to thirty degrees, in which 
last case they are scarcely distinguishable from the slope 
of the hill on which they lie. Hence it is that they are 
sometimes invisible, or nearly so, except from below, 
where the shadowy line produced by the foreshortening, 
renders them apparent. When we are on the same level, 
so that they are prolonged from the eye, and when we 
look down on them, we often cannot see them at all ; and 
when even on them, it is frequently very difficult to be 

346 GLKN ROY. 

aware of if, far less to suppose that we are standing- upon 
a road. Where widest, they are about seventy feet in 
breadth ; and from that they vary to one as low as ten 
or twelve; fifty or sixty being- perhaps the most common 
dimension ; while, as might be expected from their 
causes, they are most perfect, or most flat and most wide, 
where the slope of the hill is least and the alluvia deepest, 
and most obscure where the declivity is gTeatest and the 
ground rocky. Where there are protruding rocks, they 
do not exist; and tbey are deficient in the ravines and 
water courses, although marked in some places, on the 
outer parts of these. 

Where the smaller valleys above-mentioned open into 
Glen Roy, the lines are traced on them in a similar man- 
ner. But what is of much more importance, the same 
appearances, to a certain extent, are found rn the greater 
valleys with which it communicates. In Glen Spean, one 
line only is found, corresponding in level to the lowest 
of those in Glen Roy; much interrupted, but capable 
of being traced in difl'erent places, and on both sides of 
the valley, from the furthest extremity of Loch Laggan 
to that spacious and open vale which lies between Tein- 
drish and the foot of Ben Nevis; disappearing finally 
about this place. This is not far from the point on the 
north side of the valley, where was fought the celebrated 
battle between Keppoch and the INiacintosh ; the last act 
of private warfare which the Highlands produced ; but 
a tale that has been told again and again. The same 
line enters into the valley of the Gulb;ui, and also sur- 
rounds Loch Treig. Lastly, with respect to the geogra- 
phical distribution, similar appearances are found in 
Glen Gloy, which opens from Low bridge, where it dis- 
charges its waters into Loch Lochy, and which commu- 
nicates with Glen Roy by a level .so high as to exclude 

GLKN ROY. 347 

the connexions of their respective lines. 1 need only 
remark that the uppermost line of Glen Gloy appears to 
be twelve feet higher than the highest in Glen Roy ; 
which, if there is no error in the measurement, would 
lead us to conclude that the appearances in the former 
valley were in some measure independent of those in the 

It is only further necessary to remark as to these 
appearances, that where the lines terminate in the upper 
parts of Glen Roy, by their meeting or approaching to 
the bottom of the valley, they often end in those deltas 
and terraces which are so common in alluvial valleys 
every where. Numerous terraces, at various levels, also 
skirt the present course of the river in these parts ; and 
similar ones are found at the lateral entrances of the 
streams which join the Roy. This also happens in Glen 
Spean; but 1 need not detail with geological minute- 
ness, what is not necessary for a popular sketch of this 
curious subject. 

But to understand it, it is still necessary to point 
out the relation of the height.* of these several lines to 
the present elevationsof the surrounding communications 
with the sea. Supposing that water were now elevated 
to the highest level or line in Glen Roy, it would tlow 
out at Loch Spey till it was depressed thirteen feet ; that 
being the difterence of their respective heights. Its ele- 
vation above the western sea is 1262 feet, and above the 
German ocean 12G6, as far as the barometer can be depended 
on ; while that of the lower line above the former is 908, 
and above the highest part of the great Caledonian valley 
at Loch Oich, which is 90 feet above the sea, 878. Thus, 
through Glen Spean and this valley, water, so circum- 
stanced, might flow, either into the Murray firth or the 
Linnhe Loch ; while it might also find its way through 

348 GLEN ROY. 

Loch Eil and Locli Shiel info the Mcstein sea, as the 
elevation of the land is here also inconsiderable. At 
the eastern extremity of Glen Spean, near the head of 
Loch Lag-gan, the land is 304 feet below the uppermost 
line of Glen Roy, or ten beneath the lowest ; so that if 
Glen Roy and Glen Spean formed one lake, as must have 
been the fact, at least at the lowest line, the water might 
have issued at this aperture also, as well as by the greater 
western communication. The same reasoning, as to the 
western communications, applies to Glen Gloy. 

Enough of the facts and appearances ; and we can 
now more easily enquire about the causes. I need not 
return to the subject of Inverlochy, or the Fingalian 
kings, or the imagined traditions. But the use of these 
pretended roads, is said to have been to give facility in 
hunting the deer of former days. The valley, it is added, 
has been covered with m ood, so that these avenues give 
access to it; while, being fenced in with stakes, which 
are said to have been actually found, they served as 
decoys to force the deer into some spot where they were 
afterwards killed. That stakes should have been pre- 
served for more than a thousand years, is not the least 
wonderful part of this theory. It would bo useful also to 
show the necessity of avenues so numerous and so 
parallel ; to shew further why they cease where they do 
cease, in consequence of the rise of the valley, when the 
Fingalian engineers might have continued them by 
assuming a higher level ; why there are no remains of 
bridges, as well as of stakes, since without these they 
must have been useless ; why that enormous, yet vari.ible 
breadth ; why they follow every useless indentation, 
useless for the professed object, merely for the sake of 
preserving a mathematical level, where a mathematical 
level was also useless. Deer never were, and never 

GLEN ROY. 349 

could have been hunted on any such principle, as every 
true Highlander knows ; so that, even if artificial, tliey 
could not have answered the imaginary purpose, or any 
other. We should also be pleased to know how the 
Fing-alian engineers contrived to preserve, not only in 
Glen Roy, but throughout all the other valleys, levels 
which would cost a modern surveyor, with the best of 
instruments, no small toil and thought, and which, 
without them, could not be executed at all : and, more 
particularly, how this could be done when the valley was 
a forest, and the surface, of course, invisible. I have 
already shown that they bear no resemblance to roads, 
in their form; while it is further evident, that if they had 
ever been roads, they must have been most perfect or best 
preserved where the bottom was rocky, where, on the 
contrary, they are, invariably, either imperfect or want- 
ing. But, enough of these fancies. 

It has indeed been said by some who still clioose to 
consider them works of art, that they were levels intended 
for irrigation. Every objection already urged, applies 
equally to this most unreasonable notion ; while we might 
ask, in addition, what probability there is that irrigation 
was used when agriculture was little known, and refined 
systems of domestic pasturage, less ; and in a forest, and 
on the sides of barren hills, by a nation of hunters, utterly 
wanting in the arts that could have enabled them to 
execute such works; since, of their high antiquity there 
can be no doubt. 

The mode in which they have been produced by 
water, seems perfectly clear and simple; whatever diffi- 
culties there may be in explaining the posterior changes 
which have taken place. Of four modes, however, that 
havebeensuggestedjthere are three evidently incompetent 
to the effects, and which could not have been proposed 

350 GLKN ROY. 

by any one who had bestowed the requisite attention on 
the subject. 

They could not have been formed by a diluvian and 
temporary current, or rather by three successive currents, 
depositing- on their margins, as is said, a line of gravel 
or alluvium. The forms of the valleys and of the sur- 
rounding land, will not admit the possibility of such a 
current : it could have had no origin : while, even could 
it have existed, it must have formed the lines on a de- 
clivity, not on a level, by spreading in dimensions, and 
thus losing its depth, in advancing from the shallower 
and narrower, to the deeper and wider parts of the val- 
ley. Nor could it thus have been distributed through 
the communicating valleys, by any contrivance ; nor 
could a current through Glen Spean and one through 
Glen Roy, have maintained a common level. And, to 
say no more, the appearances at the salient and re- 
entering angles, are not those which such a current 
would have produced; as it would have left its deposits 
in those places only where the motion of the water was 

Next, they are not the traces of the action of a river 
on a solid alluvial plain which it has cut down ; the re- 
mains of the terraces so connnon in such cases, and of 
which there are examples here. The river which wan- 
ders through such a plain from side to side, as it cuts its 
way downwards, leaves, necessarily, the terraces of 
opposite sides at different levels : nor, in any case, could 
such an accuracy of dienension, so prolonged, so distinct, 
and so narrow, and such a regular correspondence, have 
been preserved ; while, to snppose that the conunon level 
line of Glen Spean and Glen Roy could thus have been 
maintained over ground of such extreme irregularity, 
throughuut such an enormous extent, and through val- 

GLEN ROV. 351 

leys of forms and dimensions so various, is to suppose 
more than a miracle; a physical impossibility. The 
connexions of these lines with some of the terraces, are 
easily explained on the true theory of their nature and 

Lastly, they cannot be the shores of the sea, as has 
also been suggested. To suppose this, is to suppose that 
the sea once stood here, 1262 feet higher than its present 
level. It could not, since it was the sea, have stood thus 
hio'h without coverinoinore than the halfof Britain. It could 
not have stood thus high over Britain, unless the whole 
ocean had once been 1262 feet higher than it is now ; 
and we need not ask, either respecting- causes or con- 
sequences, in this case. Those who propose such ex- 
planations, must be strangely unwilling to admit an ob- 
vious and simple solution, for the sake of suggesting an 
impossible one, or of appearing to have a distinct system 
of their own. 

The Parallel roads are the shores of ancient lakes, or 
of one ancient lake, occupying successively different 
levels, and long- since drained. In an existing lake 
among hills, it is easy to see the very traces in question, 
produced by the wash of the waves against the alluvial 
matter of the hills. By this check, and by the loss of 
gravity which the stones undergo from immersion in 
water, they are distributed in a belt along the margin of 
the lake : a belt broadest and most level where there are 
most loose materials and where the declivity of the hill is 
least, narrowest and most imperfect where these circum- 
stances are different, and, wherever rocks protrude, ceas- 
ing to be formed. In every one of these points, the shores 
of a living lake agree precisely with the lines of these 
valleys; and were such a lake suddenly drained now, 
it would be a Glen Roy. Thus also is explained the 

352 GLEN ROY. 

coincidence of" the great terraces and deltas of Glen Roy 
with the lines. In the living- lake, the delta at the main 
entrance is necessarily prolonged into its shores, as are 
those of the lateral streams ; and this is precisely what, 
occurs in Glen Roy. 

Ancient Glen Roy was therefore a lake, which, sub- 
siding first by a vertical depth of eighty-two feet, left its 
shore, to form the uppermost line, m hich, by a second sub- 
sidence of 212 feet, produced the second, and which, on 
its final drainage, left the third and lowest, and the pre- 
sent valley also, such as we now see it. At its lowest 
level at least, it formed a common lake with the valley of 
the Spean, of which lake Loch Laggan remains a memo- 
rial, as does Loch Treig of the portion whicb occupied 
that valley. Whether Glen Gloy was united with this 
great lake at its lowest extremity, is a difficult point, to 
be examined immediately ; but I have already shown, 
that, from the high level of its communication through 
Glen Turrit, there could have been no communication at 
that end. 

Thus far all is simple ; but the difficulty that remains, 
is to account, not merely for the waste or destruction of 
the barriers which dammed these lakes, but for the places 
M'hich they must have occupied. Whether they were 
demolished by the usual causes, the corroding actions of 
the issuing streams, or by more sudden and violent ones, 
it is not easy to conjecture; but the decided interval 
between each line, would indncc us rather to suppose the 
latter, of whatever obscure nature thoy may be. We can- 
not admit, in this case, of the action of eartlujuakes, the 
vulgar solution of most similar difficulties ; because such 
catastrophes should have disturbed that beautiful regu- 
larity whicb forms (he most striking part of these appear- 

GLEN ROY. 353 

A very violent supposition, violent in every sense, 
might be proposed on this system, capable of solving the 
whole difficulty of the western barriers, and of the Great 
Glen na Albin also, at one blow. But such theories 
transcend the bounds of legitimate philosophy, and must 
be left to those to propose seriously, who are fonder of 
system than anxious for evidence or truth. Let it be 
imagined that the Great Glen had formerly no existence, 
and that its opposite or including mountains were once 
Jn contact. If it is further supposed that the present se- 
paration had actually been produced by some great sub- 
sidence or enormous fissure in the line of the stratification, 
or by what the vulgar call a convulsion of nature, then 
the waters in question Mould find an exit, and produce 
the appearances under review. 'J'his supposition, it is 
plain, requires many modifications, and it is also liable to 
the objections just stated. 

The more important difficulty, however, is to assign 
the places of these dams or barriers. There must have 
been one at Loch Spey, at least equal to the present dif- 
ference of its elevation and of that of the uppermost line. 
But that is trifling- ; and it is not very diflicult to sup- 
pose causes capable of wearing it down to the present 
level of this waterhead. There must have been another 
at Loch Laggan. If Glen Spean and Glen Roy formed 
a common lake at the level of the highest of the lines, of 
which there are no indications, that obstruction must 
have had an elevation of about 300 feet, as before shown r 
if this was not the case, except at the lowest level, one of 
ten feet would have been sufficient. In this case. Glen 
Roy, at its two higher levels, was a distirict lake, and must 
have had a dam towards Glen Spean, where the two valleys 
join, which must have given way at successive intervals, 
before these two valleys formed one common lake. 
VOL. I. A A 

354 GLEN ROY. 

Of the causes which destroyed the barrier, or eastern 
dam at Loch Laggan, it is unnecessary to enquire further ; 
but it is now plain that, under any supposition, there 
must have been one at some point beyond that where the 
lines of Glen Spean, which are the lowest of Glen Roy, 
terminate, and where the valley is about five miles broad. 
If this were the case, then Glen Gloy must have Iiad a 
separate barrier, because it opens into the great Cale- 
donian valley at a distant point ; and in this case also, 
the phenomena of Glen Gloy must have been indepen- 
dent of the others, and its lake a distinct one. If the 
lines are really on a different level, this must have been 
the fact. 

There is only one other supposition to be made ; which 
is, that this latter valley communicated at its mouth with 
Glen Spean, through the intervention of that portion of 
the great Glen which lies between them. But from tlie 
circumstances I already stated respecting the elevations 
of the land in this quarter, it would require, in this case, 
that the Caledonian Glen should have had one barrier to 
the north, one towards Loch Shiel, and another towards 
the Linnhe Loch; a supposition which is still more com- 
plicated and eventful. Unquestionably, from the great 
breadth of the valley of the Spean near Teindrish, where 
the lines terminate, the difficulty of imagining a barrier 
there, and that barrier removed so as to leave what we 
now sec, is considerable: while, in this case, we must 
suppose a distinct one for Glen Gloy, as well as a sepa- 
rate one for Glen Roy, as far, at least, as the lowest line, 
besides the eastern ones, which, however, under any 
view, are necessary. Yet perhaps this is the least difficult 
supposition of the two, and ought to be that in which we 
should rest. Whatever difficulties yet remain to be ex- 
plained, it must he remend)ercd that there is in this 

GLEN ROY. 355 

theory, neither geological nor mathematical impossibility, 
nor even improbability, involved : and, such as the diffi- 
culties are, they are analogous to hundreds that we meet 
with in every attempt to explain the posterior changes of 
the earth's surfiice. 

Thus the solution of the phenomena of Glen Roy and 
its associated valleys, is as complete as we can expect in 
the present state of our knowledge ; and it is, at any rate, 
sufficient, as including- a positive class of proofs, to esta- 
blish their natural origin in opposition to their artificial 
one, even independently of the negative arguments l)efore 
adduced against this theory. I will not examine the 
other remarkable geological deductions which may be 
made from these appearances, because that is beyond 
my prescribed limits. But if the indignation of a Fin- 
galian can be satisfied by any thing, he ought to be 
proud in the possession of one of the most striking and 
magnificent phenomena of the universe; singular, unex- 
ampled, and no less interesting to philosophy than it is 
splendid in its effects and captivating by its grandeur 
and beauty. Let us hope that we shall all at length be 
reconciled, and that we shall learn to pride ourselves on 
our real, and not on our imaginary, merits. 

A A 2 



Every one who can find time or make it, should be- 
stow a day on an excursion from Fort William to Arasaik. 
It is a beautiful ride of forty miles. As to the road itself, 
it is, like all the new ones which are so little used, a kind 
of plusquam perfecfum road, more like a gravel walk in 
a garden, than a highway. Indeed there are i'ew gravel 
walks to be compared with them : for it is no exaggera- 
tion to say, that you might often eat your dinner from 
them without a table-cloth ; so smooth and so compact 
are they, and so much resembling a piece of dressed 
sandstone. It is a great pleasure, unquestionably, to see 
and to use such roads as these ; but it would be much 
more pleasing to find them cut up, or, at least, marked 
by wheel tracks and hoof marks ; that we might have 
the satisfaction of knowing that they were used, and that 
some interchange of something, if it was but that of ideas, 
was going on in this country. 

After losing sight of Ben Nevis and of Loch Eil, al- 
though the road is wild and varied and [)leasing, it dis- 
plays no very distinguishing features till we arrive near 
Glen Finnan. The form of this valley, opening in four 
different directions, is uncommon ; and, from some points, 
picturesque. Its interest is much increased by the ter- 
mination of Loch Shiel ; of which lake, two or three miles 
are seen, till, by the closing of the hills, it disappears. 
The boundaries of Loch Shicl, however, have the irre- 
mediable fault of smoothness and uniformity, though in a 
much less degree than many other of the remoter High- 


land lakes. In Glen Finnan, the most striking scenery 
lies near its entrance from Fort William; the forms of 
the hills being", not only fine, but their acclivities being 
diversified by rocks and precipices, in a grandeur of 
style extremely rare ; while their beauty and variety are 
much enhanced by the remains of an ancient fir forest 
scattered over them ; exhibiting magnificent examples of 
the Scottish fir, in its most picturesque forms, flourishing 
with as much luxuriance as in the wilds of Braemar. The 
bleached trunks of huge oaks, prove that this was once also 
the seat of one of those oak forests, the traces of which are 
still found in many parts of the Highlands. 

It was in Glen Finnan that Prince Charles first raised 
his standard, when as yet his army was not much more 
than sufficient to have dethroned the two kin^s of Brent- 
ford. Thus Glen Finnan combines, with its natural at- 
tractions, a degree of interest, about which, were I in 
the humour of it, as Pistol says, I might write a page or 
two, even without copying from my predecessors. But 
that may be left lor the notes to your next poem; and, 
therefore, to far better hands. Whenever you do under- 
take this task, I trust you will give all due praise to Mr. 
Macdonald, Glenaliadale I think, who, most generously, 
has erected a monument to perpetuate the memory of 
an event, which was followed by consequences too deeply 
important, to permit such a spot as this to be neglected 
without diso-race to all of us. 

But when you do write these annotations, I do be- 
seech you to remonstrate with the architect, be he who 
he may, if he is yet alive, who made that monument a 
cake house. A cake house, without even the merit of 
containing cakes ; and with a tower — tower, is a profana- 
tion of such a word, since the whole building resembles 
a carpenter's mallet with the handle uppermost. It is 



id that Wiiistanley's Edystone was modelled after 
the pattern of his pastry; and, if we may reason in this 
manner, we should conclude that the projector of this 
deformity was a carpenter. I am glad (hat I never heard 
his name ; as I should not like to be obliged to tell him, 
that I hope he will never put his hand beyond the mallet 
and chisel again as long as he lives. But an architect, 
like a poet, is a public character. His works are pub- 
lished for the world, and the world is his critic. No 
one receives praise more universal and more permanent, 
when it is merited ; and he Avho labours for praise, 
must, if he misses it, learn to endure censure. Let him 
who may shrink under criticism, recollect that he is thus 
ranked among the finer spirits of the world, and that he 
has thrown his lot, not as an artisan, but for the chance 
of lasting reproach or permanent fame. There is a com- 
pliment, even in that blame which thus acknowledges 
his rank in the department of mind. 

It really is very hard upon poor Scotland, that its 
money should be thus spent in blotting and deforming 
its land with such monstrosities; of which it is full from 
one end to the other; from Nelson's Pillar on the Calton 
Hill, though that is not the worst, to the genealogical 
tree which I have either seen or dreamt of. Are we 
never to acquire a decent portion of architectural taste ; 
yes; when the Parthenon is built: I hope so. A pillar, 
a cairn, even an obelisk, (and let any one invent a meaner 
object if he can,) would have been preferable to this un- 
lucky mallet. Surely it must be the same Ostrogoth 
>vho has covered the country with turrets, and tower- 
lings, and turretinis, who has intermixed Castles, abbeys, 
churches, houses, Greek, Gothic, Chinese, plandrikan^ 
no one knows what, all in the same building : for it is 
as impossible that there should be two architects of this 


calibre, as that there should be two men, (as the judge 
wisely remarked) called Richard Tittery Gillies. Let 
him repent as fast as he can. The public at large has a 
claim over the architecture of a country. It is common 
property, inasmuch as it involves the national taste and 
character: and no man has aright to pass himself and 
his own barbarous inventions as a national taste, and to 
hand down to posterity, his own ignorance and disgrace, 
to be a satire and a libel on the knowledge and taste of 
his age. Against this, we have all an interest in enter- 
ing our protests ; and thus, for the present, ends the ex- 
plosion of my architectural anger. Do, my dear Scott, 
put yourself in a passion for once, like Archilochus, and 
write some Iambics against these people. jp Q, 

Loch Ii;0:H4t4j, which shortly follows on this road, is 
pleasing though small ; having that miniature air, de- 
rived from the variety of its boundary within such narrow 
limits, which gives it the appearance of a toy ; an imi- 
tation, in a model, by the hand of Nature herself, of her 
own more extensive works. In arriving at Loch Aylort 
head, the mountains, now further asunder, display their 
forms, even to the summit, in all that intricacy of rocky 
surface which is so peculiarly characteristic of this tract 
of country. Here too we first obtain sight of salt water, 
if not of the sea ; as the maritime connexion of Loch 
Aylort is not at first visible. Its character is that of 
wildness and grandeur united ; but its scenery is little 
accessible except from the sea. After passing this spot 
we enter on the more intricate, yet more open country of 
Arasaik ; if that can be called open which is one entire 
confusion of rock and hill. But there is rarely any thing 
so high as to obstruct the view; and we thus acquire a 
general conception of that peculiar class of country which 
occupies so consideiable a space on this coast; an idea 


not to be obtained so well in any other place. There is 
no very accessible tract of Scotland that bears much 
resemblance to this last portion, consisting- of eight or 
ten miles, which leads to the village of Arasaik : and 
there are few more entertaining, from its variety and 
beauty as well as from its singfularity, than the first few 
miles, somewhat resemblino- the Trosachs and not inferior 
to that well-known spot. At one moment you are on 
the top of a rock, at the next in a deep valley, or en- 
tangled among wild woods, or in a ravine, or ascending 
a hill that seemed impracticable, or descending in the 
same manner, or crossing a bridge, or hanging- over a 
precipice, or on the sea shore, or winding through an 
excavated rock; and all these varieties are repeated 
within the space of a few hundred yards, over and over 
again, throughout a considerable extent. Jumble, is a 
vulgar word ; but 1 know none else that will convey a 
notion of this strange country. It seems as if it was a 
first conception, an accumulation of materials intended 
for another purpose; or as if some powerless hand had 
attempted to imitate Nature in her mountains and valleys 
and rocks, and had made, out of her fragments, a 
dwarfish blunder and a caricatured model. 

The first impression which it conveys, is, that no road 
can possibly lead through such a labyrinth of confusion ; 
and it is impossible to give too much praise to the inge- 
nuity which conducted this, as M'ell as some other of 
these Highland roads. But that praise has too often been 
bestowed on those who have little title to it. In many 
cases, the new roads have been traced, along, or very 
near to, the ancient cattle and country tracks ; leaving 
little for the entiineer to do but (o make slender and 
obvious alterations: and, in many nu)re, the <listribution 
is dnrto thf conniion Highlanders thomsclvcs, sometimes 


contractor^:, and sometimes overseers ; when the eno^i- 
neer, who has done notlung- except receiving- his pay for 
the ideas and exertions of others, carries off all the credit. 
But that is 4oo common in many matters besides road- 
making-. Oidy, I, for one, will lift up my voice, as tlie 
fanatics have it, in defence of the talents and ingenuity 
of these Highland workmen: amonjr the lowest of whom 
I have found such an eye for ground, and such a quick 
conception of its height, and distribution, and inclination, 
and relations of all kinds, as even a general officer or a 
quarter-master might often envy. They are natural geo- 
graphers : and as this has formed a part of my trade, I 
think, as Jock Jaboz says, I should ken something about 
it by this time. Whoever thinks Donald a didl fellow, 
never made a greater mistake in his life ; and wlioever 
thinks that he cannot be improved by attention, would 
probably, if he was in the same situation himself, remain 
in it for ever. 

These roads arc, however, very treacherous, in spite 
of all the care bestowed on them : for, against torrents, it 
is often impossible to calculate, and, even when foreseen, 
they are sometimes not to be resisted. Many a time have 
I found the bridge vanished, and indeed the road too ; 
and many a time have I expected to sleep in the moors. 
By some means or other, however, we get out of these 
adventures: on foot, commonly well enough; with a 
horse, comparatively ill ; but with a carriage, not at all. 
Even from day to day, there is no security. This very 
road was in perfect repair when I passed it first. When 
I returned in a few days, a foundation wall had slid 
away from a steep face of smooth rock, and the road was 
gone. We read of narrow ways along precipices, and of 
terrors and dangers, because perhaps the declivity be- 
neath is a thousand or two thousand yards long or deep, 


when there is no more real danger than on a high road. 
The three or four hundred yards of depth in this place 
would have served the purpose as eft'ectually as the same 
number of miles : for the rock descended to the valley 
unobstructed and unbroken. I never made myself 
smaller, and never trod on ice with a lighter foot; uor 
did I ever hold a rein >vith a lighter fineer. 

It was here, on this very sea-shore, at Boradale, that 
Prince Charles landed, and not in Loch Moidart, as is 
sometimes said ; and it was hence also that he reimbarked. 
From the hill above, is seen the iirst and the finest view 
of Arasaik itself; forming- a landscape as singular in 
character as it is extensive and crowded with unexpected 
forms and objects. Tn the blue expanse of sea, and far 
off in the misty horizon, the romantic ridge of Egg rises, 
more striking, and assuming an air of greater magnitude 
in this position, than under any other distant view that 
I know. In the same place, the congregated mountains 
of Rum add to the richness of the distance ; while the 
intermediate sea displays numerous rocky islands ad- 
vancing into the open entrance of Lochan na nuagh, and 
forming many pleasing combinations with its flat rocky 
irregular shores and promontories. Skirting the intricate 
bays, are seen the scattered houses which belong to 
Arasaik, with their boats drawn up on the beaches and 
lying at anchor in the creeks ; while a confusion of rock 
and hill and valley fills the remainder of the scene. The 
sea shores about the village, and most parts of the sur- 
rounding country, abound in similar scenery ; nor are 
there many points on the west coast where a traveller in 
search of amusement may enjoy himself ujore, from the 
variety of the landscape, as well as from the freedom of 
motion in every direction, which is so seldom tobefoun<l 
upon these shores. 


It is another reason why Arasaik should lonn part of 
a Highland tour, that it is the readiest, and, indeed, the 
only convenient way to Egg, as it also is to Ruin. 1 have 
elsewhere said, that there is nothing in the Western islands 
much better worth visiting tiian Egg ; or, at least, nothing 
which is, at the same time, of such easy access. It does 
not imply one quarter of the trouble, expense, and in- 
convenience, of a journey to Staff a ; and a traveller can 
never be disappointed of landing; while the voyage is 
scarcely so long as that from Ulva to that celebrated 

Hence also there is a ferry to Sky ; if that is a ferry 
which is derived, according' to the well-known rule, a 
non ferendo. 1 had been directed to Sky by this route, 
as the best and the most commodious, and as there was, 
at Arasaik, the best of all possible ferry boats. But when 
the enquiry came to be made, nobody knew any thing 
about a ferry boat. There might be one, or not : if there 
was, it was uncertain if it would carry a horse; whether 
it was on this side of the water or the other ; whether it 
would choose to go; whether there was a ferryman; 
whether the wind would allow it to go; whether the tide 
would suffer it. The Arasaik road had been made on 
account of the ferry, or the ferry on account of the road; 
and though a carriage ferry, and a horse ferry, there was 
no boat that could hold a carriage, and no horse had ever 
dared to cross. Furthermore, the ferry-boat, if there 
really was one, was two miles from Arasaik, somewhere, 
among some rocks; and there was no road to it, nor any 
pier. Lastly, I at length found a ferry-boat, a mile from 
the sea, as fit to carry a camelopardalis as a horse, and a 
ferry-boat man who could not speak English. 

While I was meditating on this ingenious mode of 
reaching Sky, I was soon surrounded by the various naval 

364 . ARASAIK. 

characters, who expected to extract as many guineas out 
of the Sassanach as he should prove silly enough to give. 
One of these Vikingr, half drunk, his mouth streaming 
tobacco from each angle, desired to know if I was the 
gentleman who wished to carry a horse to Sky, and in- 
vited me to drink a glass of whiskey with him. " Had 
I seen the ferry-boat :" " I had seen two boats." "And 
which did I like best." *' The one with the blue side." 
"Aye," said he, "that is ray boat; Dugald Finlay." 
" Are you then the ferryman." " Na — God forbid I 
should tak the bread from any man ; for ye see," with a 
leer and a whisper, " I belong to the same place ; and he 
pays for the ferry ye ken ; he pays rent; but his boat 
canna carry a horse : and suppose your horse was to put 
his foot through the boat : and he has no rigging; but I 
dinna want to carry you ; na ; my name is Dugald Finlay 
— ye may ask the landlord — nor tak awa any body's 
bread — ye may ask the landlord — and I live in the same 
place as he, ye see ; but his boat is no worth ; and ye 
may ask the landlord — I'm telling ye the truth — but I 
dinna want to tak awa any body's bread — ye may ask the 

In the meati time it blew a gale of wind and was Sun- 
day ; and all those who had heard the sermon, and those 
who expected to get five guineas out of the stranger, col- 
lected in the public house, where, as Froissart says, 
" ils se saoulerent tres grandement, et s'amuserent selon 
la coustume de leur pays bieti tristement." In the morn- 
ing, the whole afliiir seemed to have been forgotten, and 
I proceeded to the rival boats. Both were high aground; 
they would not float till the evening; so that, to the other 
blessings, of a rotten boat and a drunken Celt, there was 
to be added a night voyage of fifteen miles on a stormy 
sea wifli a refractory horse. It was impossible idso to 


reach Sky without the flood tide ; and the boats were so 
ingeniously drawn up at high-water mark, that they could 
not float till the ebb. The Highlanders have somewhat 
degenerated from their ancestors of Norway in the matter 
of boats, it must be allowed. At last, it was discovered 
that the blue boat was still drunk, and that he of the 
black was unwilling to go. It would be better to go 
to-morrow. To-morrow, the boat was found alongside a 
rock. Alongside; — it was not worth while to speculate 
how the horse was, first to jump fifty yards, then clear 
the back stay and the shrowds and the fore stay, and, 
lastly, not make his way through the bottom of the boat; 
because, firstly, he could not get on the rock, nor, second- 
ly, stand on it if he had been there. It was little worth 
M'hile to speculate on any thing; for the ferryman was 
gone, no one knew where, and there was no one to na- 
vigate the vessel but the ferryman's wife, and she was 
employed in whipping her children. Thus I rode my 
horse to Sky by the best of all possible roads and 

I turned to the small ferry-boat. Still there was no 
ferryman ; but that was of no consecjuence, as the boat 
had been lent to some men, to go somewhere or other. 
In the end, the men admitted me, where I ought to have 
admitted them ; with a promise to land me somewhere in 
Sky ; if they did not change their minds. The horse did 
as he liked: it is sfood to conform to all events in this 
part of the world ; and I was thus accommodated, " where- 
by I might be thought to be accommodated," with a 
passage to Sky, or elsewhere, in a ferry-boat over which 
I had no controul : in a ferry-boat which was not a ferry- 
boat, and which had no ferryman. All the arrangements 
were of the usual fashion; no floor, no rudder, no seat 
aft, oars patched and spliced and nailed, no rowlocks, a 

36*6 ARASAIK. 

mast without stay, bolt, or baulyards ; aud all other 
things fitting-, as the advertisements say. 

My companions were soon tired of rowing, and, as 
usual, would set a sail. As it could not be hoisted, for 
want of haulyards, the yard was fastened to the mast, and 
thus it was all set up together, after much flapping and 
leeway. It was then found that there was neither tack 
nor sheet; besides which, three or four feet at the after 
leach were torn away. The holes in the sail were conve- 
nient ; because they saved the trouble of reefing, in case 
of a squall. I tried to prove that it could be of no use in 
this state, upon a wind. That was too refined a piece of 
nautical philosophy. One of them made a tack of his 
arm, and held it over the gunwale: another pursed up 
the after leach with a rope's end; so that when the sail 
was set, it was very much of the shape of a night-cap. 
And then the boat began to go backwards. I did not 
care ; it was a fine day and a long day, and an entertain- 
ing coast: they were good-natured fellows, and I was as 
well at sea as in Sky or Arasaik. But every now and 
then, the night-cap turned iitside out, and then the men 
began to suspect that the Sassanach duine wassel was in 
the right, and that we should soon beat Arasaik again, or 
elsewhere. So the mast and the sail were first diaouled 
and then struck, and, by the time it was dark, I was 
landed, very much like a mutinous Buccaneer, on some 
rocks; which proved, in tlie end, to be Sky. As to the 
boat, for aught I know, it may be in Sky still. But we 
must return to Locliaber — you and I. 

And we must also bid farewell to Lochaber; since we had 
passed High bridge before. Well might 1, at least, luisten 
from L<ichal)er. Not merely on account of its rain, which 
riuisf have been the reason why King Robert Bruce die<l of 
an universal rheumatism, but because there was a seneral 


commotion in Lochaber. When I opened the stable 
door, there rnshed out an army of horses, in pads and 
sacks and lialters and bridles and all sorts of accoutre- 
ments. " ThisJs an odd way of packing- horses, my g-ood 
friend." — "They're no pack horses," said the ostler; 
*' they're a preaching- yonder out bye." Which of all 
the dissents the orator belonged to, I know not ; but the 
dissensions of the horses in the stable were considerable. 
As my horse belonged to the Established Church, I 
kicked the remainder of the dissentino* horses out of 
doors, lest they should either kick him, or try to convert 
him ; as is usual with this tribe. This is one of the un- 
countable mishaps which dog the heels of an unlucky 
traveller, to fill the vacuity left by a fair, or a visitation, 
or a meeting- of justices, or a convocation of commissioners 
of taxes, or a divan of drovers, or the halt of a reg-iment 
or the debates of a presbytery, or a bevy of excisemen, 
or a pack of fox-hunters, or a flight of fiddlers, or a drop- 
ping of road trustees, or a county ball. If you escape 
the sessions, it is but to fall on the assizes, or on the sal- 
lows which they have left in their rear: if you dodge 
the overture at the Warwick music meeting, it is but to 
light on the finale at Birmingham or the races at Shrews- 
bury ; or, if there is not a bull-fight at Wrexham or Stam- 
ford, some squire is born, and there is a bull-feast at 
Grantham or Chirk. If the Highlands have not all these 
varieties, they have enough ; while they make up in 
noise for what may be wanting- in numbers. 

When all is done, it is but a dull journey from Fort 
William to Inverness; compared, at least, to the other 
lines which belong to the fashionable tours. But what 
would the ghosts of Carthon, and Darthula, and Oscar, 
and of the Fingalian dynasty which made the Parallel 
roads, say, if they were to see the stage coach now travel- 


ling this way, and the steam boat ploughing its fiery 
career over Loch Ness: or their Sassanach conquerors, the 
Guelphic dynasty, sailing its frigates where they chased 
their deer. 

Low bridge has the merit of producing some little 
variety on this dull and uniform line of scenery ; and 
hence, those who wish to examine the water-lines of Glen 
Gloy, may enter it. But that valley presents no other 
interest. Having passed this point. Loch Lochy is with- 
out features : the forms of the boundaries being such, that 
the whole valley resembles a notch in a cheese as much 
as any thing else. At Letter Finlay, this nakedness of 
character is seen in great perfection. Yet, in many parts 
along- this road, there is an effect produced by the pro- 
longation of vacuity, which is greater perhaps than any 
variety in the scenery Mould have yielded. While, on 
each hand, the mountains rise with an acclivity, alike 
sudden, uniform, and unbroken, bounding a valley so 
narrow, as to leave but a small space where they meet 
below, they confine the eye, and concentrate its efforts 
within this narrow line. Thus, whether looking back- 
wards or forwards, it pursues the long, linear, empty 
vista, straining for a termination whicli it is not to see. 
The impression is almost painful ; conveying the feeling 
as of a goal which is never to be reached, an image of 
the eternal future. Who has not felt this, when looking 
forward through a lengthened avenue, or chasing with 
his eye, a long line of straight road. Hut who can ever 
feel it as he may here; Avheii, after travelling mib>s, the 
same lofty walls are on his right hand and on his left, 
and still no termination appears, and still nothing occurs 
to divert his eye from the emptiness towards which his 
course is directed: when still he is compelled to fix his 
sighf on that vacuum, and when, leaving emptiness 


behind him, and hoping- that he is to leave it at leng-th 
for erer, the coming- is like the past ; a hopeless nothing-. 
There is a vague sublime, an appalling- stamp of eternity, 
on that which has neither beg^inning- nor end. The 
bridge in the vision of Mirza would lose all its effect, if 
we could disperse the dark clouds which hang- on its 

To quit our poetics, the soberer impression is, that 
the island is here divided into two parts, and that, at each 
end, we ought to discover the sea. And this is the truth. 
This long valley, the Glen more na Albin of the High- 
landers, generally called the Great Caledonian Glen, 
extending for a space of nearly sixty miles, is a continua- 
tion of that valley which contains the Linnhe Loch, and 
its direction is accurately parallel to the stratification of 
the rocks which form the country. Taking the length 
from the angle of Morven, or from Loch Don, which may 
be assumed as the extreme southern point, it amounts 
altogether to ninety miles. The greatest elevation of its 
surface above the sea-level westward, is ninety feet; so 
that if the sea ever did communicate through it, that 
depth, and much more, of the materials, must be gravel, 
or an alluvial deposit. This is what we are never likely 
to know ; whatever probability may attend the suppo- 
sition. That, at a great depth from the surface, this is 
the fact, is certain; and that both Loch Lochy and Loch 
Ness have been thus separated from the sea, appears 
more than probable. There is less certainty respecting 
Loch Oich; nor could any thing but an examination that 
must ever be impracticable, settle the <loubts that must 
naturally arise on the whole of this subject. Supposing 
that the whole valley, or at least the great bulk of it, 
were alluvial, it is not very difficult to show how these 
materials might have been accumulated through a long 

VOL. I. B B 


course of time : but I shall become too geological if I 
enter further into this subject. 

It is said that Loch Arkeig is a picturesque lake, 
though unknown ; which seems probable, from the forms 
of the hills and the nature of the country. But, on this, 
I must confess ignorance and plead misfortune, not guilt : 
the flight of what never ceases any where to fly, — time; 
and the fall of what seldom ceases here to fall, — rain. The 
latter is thegreat enemy of all Highland tourists, and the 
former is the universal enemy: the indomitable foe of the 
idle when it stands still, and the implacable, unappeas- 
able one of the busy when it moves. It is easy enough 
to visit Loch Arkeig from Low^ Bridge, or from Letter 

It is not quite so easy to be satisfied with these roads; 
particularly after quitting such very difl'erent specimens 
of road-making as are found on the lines of Arasaik or 
Loch Laggan. The epigram on Marshal Wade is well 
known ; but we might easily make a Marforio to it, and 
turn up our eyes at the manner in which the roads are 
made. If Fingal was a far greater hero, he was un- 
questionably also a much better road maker: and, really, 
it is somewhat marvellous how the Marshal could have 
imagined he had adopted the best of all possible plans, 
when he formed the heroic determination of pursuing* 
straight lines, and of defying nature and wheel-carriages 
both, at one valiant eftbrt of courage and science. His 
organ of quarter-masteriveness must have been woefully 
in arrear; for there is not a Highland Donald of them all, 
nay, not even a stot or a ((uey in the country, that could 
have selected such a line of march. Dp and «lown, up 
and d(»wn, as the old catch says; it is like sailing in the 
Bay of Biscay. No sooner up than down, no sooner 
down than up. No vooncr has a horse got into his pace 


again, than he is called on to stop; no sooner is he 
out of wind, than he must begin to trot or gallop. 
And then the trap at the bottom, which receives the 
wheels at full speed. The traveller, says some sentimen- 
tal tourist, is penetrated Avith amazement and gratitude, 
and so forth, at General Wade's roads. The amaze- 
ment is probable enough. Pennant, who, if he is not 
very sentimental, is at least the very pink of good- 
humoured travellers, supposes the General had some 
valid military reasons for his hobby-horsical system: 
which is very kind. Yet thus we must arrive at Loch 

The old castle of Glengarry oft'ers some variety after 
all the preceding sameness; but else. Loch Oich is suf- 
ficiently insipid. Loch Garry, they say, is picturesque ; 
but I have the same excuse for not having seen it. When 
I was here, there was nothing particular to be seen ; or 
else, possibly, I was seized with the malady of not 
marking. Mr. Du Pin tells another story now ; when 
he describes the Fountain of Heads ; a monument erected 
in 1812, to commemorate the triumphs and the superior 
merits of what is called feudal justice. The pleasing 
spectacle of seven heads on a pyramid, is displayed, says 
Mr. Du Pin, to the admiring eyes of the cockneys who 
wander this way; that they may learn to reverence jus- 
tice and law: Highland justice and Highland law; and 
to regret that they cannot now be hanged and beheaded, 
without the trouble and delay arising from counsellors 
in big wigs, and warrants, and habeas corpuses, and wit- 
nesses, and juries, and judges, and such like villainous 
drafts on a man's time and patience. The owners of 
these heads were supposed to have murdered the Kep- 
poch family;— -so says Mr. Du Pin :— they were be- 
headed without trial by an ancient Glengarry ;— so says 

B b2 


Mr. Du Pin : — their heads were washed in this fountain 
that they might be presented in a decent manner to Glen- 
garry; — so says Mr. Du Pin. And then Mr. Du Pin 
says, — " May my feeble voice make known this infamous 
monument from one end of Europe to the other." Fie ! 
Mr. Du Pin, Iiow can you expose your ignorance in this 

No one \s\\\ stay an hour at Fort Augustus if he can 
avoid it. This garrison was established in 1716; the 
original design having been to build a Royal borough, 
out of pique, it was said, to Inverness. Anger is com- 
monly silly enough in its projects. But many of the 
wild schemes for civilizins" the Hia-hlanders, had not that 
additional excuse. However, there was just wit enough 
left to abandon the project before the town was built; 
when it was found that it was likely to prove a town 
without inhabitants. It is amusing, to read the attempts 
to explain why Loch Ness does not freeze. We laugh at the 
vanity of those ambitious personages who are determined 
to make the reason which they cannot find ; as we ridi- 
cule the ancient dealers in occult causes, those who dis- 
covered that opium was narcotic, because it possessed a 
" virtus dormitiva, cujus est natnra sensus assoupire." 
Yet the lowest of the vulgar have their philosophical 
reasons and systems too, as well as their betters ; and, 
in them, we ought to laud the aspiring etfbrts which, in 
their superiors, are only the contorsions of vanity and 
ignorance. The cjunrryman who accounted to me for a 
fissure in a rock, by the earthquake which happened at 
the Crucifixion, shewed a boundingand philosophicalspirit 
worthy of a seat among the geologists of the age; and 
migjit, with a little German discipline, have produced a 
professor at Frcyl)erg. 

FYBRS, 373 


The new roads are now valued as tliey deserve; yet 
the people still follow many of the ancient country tracks, 
both on foot and on horseback, from their real or apparent 
shortness. The roads, however, like the breeches, were 
originally considered the infliction of tyranny, and an 
innovation to be resisted ; and the " turnimspike," in 
particular, was held in as much al>horrence as ihe gal- 
lows Avould have been. That the sumptuary statute, the 
parliamentary bi'eeches, should have been g-alling-, at 
first, to Gaelic feeling^s, we can understand : but the dis- 
like to the roads was only the effect of thatantinomianism, 
which induces the universal people, every where, to re- 
sist all law and reg^ulation ; or of that respect for the 
follies of their atavi and proavi, which is not less efficient. 
Even I can remember when they were yet far from wel- 
come, " Which is the road to Aberfeldie" — there were 
two branching- from a point. " You may gang either," 
said Donald. — " But the one looks better than the other." 
— " It is the most fiishionable wi' they gentry." — "And 
which is the shortest." — " The narrowest is the shortest." 
" What is the use of two." — " They chused to mak a 
new ane" — with a sneer and a huff. " Then I suppose 
the old is bad," — " We like the auld ane best." — " Very 
likely." — " It is the shortest," — trying to defend him- 
self. "Which will take me to Aberfeldie soonest."— 
" The new ane ;" in a surly lone. " Then it is the 
shortest." — " It's three mile langer," said the advocate 
of antiquity. " But it is an hour shorter — some new 



fashions are ffood." Hunsfh ! said Donald, with a snort, 
and v\ alked away. 

Those who prefer a good road and their ease above 
all other things, will take the road to Inverness by the 
west side of the lake; and those who are of the contrary 
opinion, will follow Marshal Wade on the east; not, 
however, because of Donald's reasons. This is as wild a 
line of road as can well be : since it speedily leads up 
among the mountains, to a high table land which is the 
source of the Findhorn and the Nairn rivers. There is 
something unexpected in meeting with large lakes in 
such a situation, when we had imagined that we had 
surmounted the region of lakes: and we feel a surprise, 
as if we were in a new country, with other skies, when 
we find repeated what we had left a thousand feet below. 
With such a general view, ordinary observers must be 
content ; as this is a very inconvenient country to traverse. 
There is something alike terrifying and melancholy, in 
the snow-poles, which lift their bleached bones at inter- 
vals, to the winds and rains of this wild region; remind- 
ing us of winter and death and abandonment, and of the 
figure our own bones would soon make, under the event 
against which they stand a warning and a speaking 

We receive the first notice of the fall of Fyers, by 
the drizzling rain which crosses the road, and by the 
perpetual dripping of the birches, and the freshness of 
the green ferns. But there is a smaller cascade above 
it, which must not be overlooked; as it affords some 
excellent landscapes in this class of scenery, and, par- 
ticularly, « hen viewed from the bottont of the chasm, 
where the bridge is seen towering over head. The 
Ilighlan<Is do not afford many better scenes in this par- 
ticular style ; but even these are soon forgotten in the 

FYERS. 375 

overwhelming inagnificeiice of Fyers, or of the greater 
fall ; since the same river forms both. This celebrated 
cascade, not more celebrated than it deserves, may serve 
to prove how much of the merit of this kind of scenery 
belongs to the surrounding parts, and how little to the 
water. The river is small, and if the fall is high, we see 
little of it, from the impossibility of gaining a sufficient 
access. Yet this defect is not felt: and even were the 
water absent, Fyers would still be a striking scene. 

From above the cascade, and near it, those who are 
contented with noise, and smoke, and spray, may enjoy 
all these things with little trouble; and it is the interest 
of such spectators to choose rainy weather, as, in dry 
seasons, the fall is trifling indeed. But the dryer weather 
is preferable : as, without this, it is nearly impossible to 
reach the really dangerous point from which alone this 
magnificent scene can be viewed in perfection. The 
fall is always sufficient to give all the character that is 
required to the landscape; and, when largest, it does 
little more, as it never bears any proportion to the mag- 
nitude of this deep and spacious chasm. Chasm is not 
a very correct expression ; as it is rather an open cavity ; 
the rocks rising on one hand, in complicated clifl^s and 
perpendicular precipices, to the height of 200 feet, 
beautifully ornamented with scattered trees and masses 
of wood, and the other side presenting a mixture of rocks 
and of steep slopes similarly wooded. 

Nothing" can well exceed in beauty that combination 
of grandeur and of profuse ornament which is here pre- 
sented. Still, the first impression is, that the scene is of 
no unusual magnitude, and that the trees are but bushes ; 
so uncommon is it to find landscapes of this character, 
of such overwhelming dimensions. It is not till we dis- 
cover that we are contemplating trees of the ordinary 

376 FYERS. 

size, repeated again and again in succession from the 
very bed of the river to the sky, that we become fully 
impressed with the magnitude of the whole. At the 
further end of this spacious cavity, is seen the cascade, 
descending in one stream of white foam ; its origin and 
termination alike invisible, and thus receiving any alti- 
tude which the imagination chooses to suggest. The 
smoke rising from it as from a furnace, curls aloft among 
the woods, distinguishing the parts while it adds conse- 
quence to them ; and, by diffusing a damp atmosphere 
throughout the whole, producing that aereal perspective 
and harmony of colour, which give that effect of unity 
and of delicacy so peculiar to cascade scenery. Soon 
after the first cascade is lost, it re-appears in the form of 
a second fall and of a boisterous torrent : thundering' 
along- in a succession of rapids and cascades, among huge 
fragments of rock, and amid trees, far beneath our feet, 
till it is finally lost to the eye by the closing of the chasm 
below. It is matter of much regret, that so little access 
is aflorded (o this place, and that it is impossible to attain 
the margin of the river; as, from the extent and intricacy 
©fits course through the chasm, and from the variety of 
the forms, these landscapes must be as numerous as 
magnificent. It cannot be disputed thatFyers is the first 
in order of all our cascades : but it is as vain to attempt 
to compare it, in respect of beauty, Avith that of the 
Tumel or those of the Clyde, as it would be to compare 
a landscape of Cuyp with one of Rubens, or the bay of 
Naples with Glenco. Such pictures are not comparable; 
and, to draw comparisons, is to compare names, not 
things: it is only in the word cascade that there is a 

If, hetjce to Inverness, the country prescntsno pictur- 
esque scenery, there is one part of the road which may 



well redeem the whole. There is none such throughout 
the Highlands, so that it adds novelty to beauty ; a green 
road of shaven turf, holding its bowery course for miles, 
through close groves of birch and alder, with occasional 
glimpses of Loch Ness and of the open country. I passed 
it at early morning, when the branches were still spangled 
with drops of dew ; while the sun, shooting its beams 
through the leaves, exhaled the sweet perfume of the 
birch, and filled the whole air with fragrance. 

It is always fortunate f(tr a traveller when he has 
arrived at a place which is known to the whole world, 
because it saves him a marvellous quantity of trouble. 
Unless, indeed he wants to make a book. Even then, 
who would not prefer cooking up new cookery books, 
like Dr. Kitchener, to manufacturing gazetteers. The 
man who can quietly sit down to compose Guthrie's 
Geographical Grammar, or even a tour in Scotland, ought 
to be immortal, like the steam engine which he rivals: 
for his arteries and nerves, like that, must be of brass 
and iron, and his first mover, instead of a heart, must, 
like the boiler, be his stomach. When I have said that 
Inverness is a clean town, and a good-looking town, and 
that it has a handsome bridge, and that its castle has va- 
nished, and that it possesses the best, and the civilest, 
and the cheapest inns in Scotland, and that it has a steeple 
to its jail instead of to its church, there seems nothing 
left to say about it. 

But who shall describe its beautiful situation in ten 
times that number of words. When I have stood in 
Queen street and looked towards Fife, I have sometimes 
wondered whether Scotland contained a finer view in its 
class. But I have forgotten this on my arrival at Inver- 
ness. 1 will not say that I forgot Inverness when I 
stood on the shore at Cromarty ; nor do 1 know now 


which to choose. Surely, if a comparison is to be made 
with Edinburgh, always excepting its own romantic dis- 
position, the firth of Forth must yield the palm to the Moray 
firth, the surrounding- country must yield altogether, and 
Inverness must take the highest rank. Every thing too 
is done for Inverness that can be eftected by m ood and 
by cultivation ; the characters of which here, have alto- 
gether a richness, a variety, and a freedom, which we 
miss round Edinburgh. The mountain screens are finer, 
more various, and more near. Each outlet is different 
from the other, and each is beautiful ; whether we pro- 
ceed towards Fort George, or towards Moy, or enter the 
valley of the Ness, or skirt the shores of the Beauley 
firth; while a short and a commodious ferry wafts us to 
the lovely country opposite, rich with woods and country 
seats and cultivation. Inverness has been strangely un- 
der-rated. To compare the country again with Edin- 
burgh, since it is the nearest comparison that can be 
made, there is an air of careless wealth of surface about 
it, a profusion of rurality, as the grandiloquous phrase it, 
which is strongly contrasted with the dry and cold eco- 
nomy of Edinburgh, where the trees that are seen, only 
serve to remind us of the millions that are wanting, and 
where every field and road is deformed by a stone wall, 
as if it was a land of thieves and law, as if the bones of 
a country were appearing through its meagre surface. It 
is also tho boast of Inverness to unite two opposed qua- 
lities, and each in the greatest perfection ; the characters 
of a rich open lowland country with those of the wildest 
alpine scenery: both also being close at hand, and, in 
many places, intermixed ; while, to all this, is added a 
series of maritime landscape not often equalled. 

The singular hill, Toin-na-hcurich, and the hill of 
Craig Phadric, add much variety U) the valley of the Ness, 


which is now a noble river, broad, clear and strong: 
nor do the extensive sweeps of fir wood produce here that 
arid effect which so commonly attends them ; contrasted 
and supported as they are, by green meadows, by 
woods of other form, and by the variety of the surface. 
Tom-na-heurich, not ill compjjred to a vessel with its 
keel uppermost, is, or rather was, a reputed haunt of fai- 
ries; and it is plainly a relic of the ancient alluvium, 
the remainder of which has been carried forward to the 
sea; and of the original depth of M'hich, in this part, it is 
a standing measure and testimony. Of Craig Phadric I need 
take no particular notice, as I have had occasion to men- 
tion its celebrated vitrified fort already. It is by no 
menns however so satisfactory a specimen as that of Dun 
Mac Sniochain, in regard to its plan, which is far more 
difficult to trace : n6r, in its vitrification, or perfection in 
any respect, is it to be compared with the example on 
the hill of Noath. 

Tom-na-heurich, however, requires another word, 
from some traditionary tales connected with it, that are 
not without their interest, in more ways than one. It is 
the reputed burial place of our poet, Thomas of Ercil- 
doune, the rhymer; though by what means this hap- 
pened, it would be difficult to say. It is, in itself, the 
tumulus that covers his body ; his barrow : and it is as- 
suredly a most respectable one, as the armies who fought 
at Hara Law might all lie under it, and find room withal. 
But this is not all. About three hundred years ago, 
there arrived at Inverness two itinerant fiddlers,who gave 
public notice of their profession, and were shortly hired 
by a venerable old gentleman with a long beard. By 
him they were conducted, in the night, to a palace, of 
whose previous existence they knew nothing, and the 
name of which they could not divine. They found there 


an assembly of august personages, to whose dancing- tltey 
played all night, and by whom they were well enter- 
tained. In the morning, being dismissed, they were sur- 
prised to find that it was not a palace which they were 
leaving, but the side of a hill. They walked, of course, 
back into the town, where they were also surprised to 
find, in so short a period, extraordinary changes: houses 
in ruins, faces which they did not recognise, and other 
marks of antiquity and decay. In vain they looked 
round for their former acquaintances ; till, at last, an old 
man recollected that they must be the same persons 
whom his grandfather had entertained a hundred years 
before. They attended him to the church, it being- 
Sunday, when, behold ! at the very first word which the 
clergyman uttered, they fell to dust. 

Here is the very story, you see, of Rip van Winkle, 
in another shape, and substituting Thomas Lermont for 
Old Hudson. But the Highlanders have not borrowed 
from GeoflTrey Crayon. It is the same well-known Ger- 
man tale which is the common and remote parent of both ; 
The two fiddlers must represent Peter Clans as well as 
they can ; but our mountain countrymen have afar other 
claim to it than the excellent American poet, and a claim 
of a far other antiquity. Whence this community be- 
tween the superstitious and fairy lore of our Highlanders 
and of their Celtic and Gothic progenitors, I need not 
tell you ; but 1 shall have occasion hereafter to trace 
some of these points of resemblance more particularly. 
Why Thonnis the Rhymer, above all men, should have 
been selected as the fairy king, it would be hard enough 
to conjecture : possibly from his imputed prophetic ta- 
lents and supposed cxtrannindane knowledge. But some- 
thing similar happens in all countries. The old tale 
continues to be transmitted ; sometimes modified by the 


peculiar usages or feelings of the people to which it 
passes, and not unfrequently corrupted in various wavs ; 
while the popular hero of one country is substituted for 
him who was popular in another. Michael Scott here 
builds the bridges, which, elsewhere, are constructed by 
no less a personage than the Devil himself. Jack Hick- 
athrift, who slays the Danes with the axle tree of his 
cart, and who, after all, is not a genuine Norfolkian, be- 
comes the ploughman Hay, who destroys other Danes in 
other places with his yoke. The Highland wife, be 
her name what it may, who performs her cantrips by 
means of hell broth made out of a white snake or a dead 
man's head, is often no other than Medea in a tartan 
cloak, just as Conan is Theseus, or as Thor is Jupiter, 
or as Diana herself has a head for each region of the 
universe, because Siva had three heads before she was 
born. But enough of this kind of learning for the 

Those who have not seen the Highland fair washing 
clothes in the Ness, have probably seen the same displays 
elsewhere ; yet they have not any where seen this show 
in greater purity and perfection. But it has not hap- 
pened to every one to see the Inverness ferry-boat 
launched by the same hands. Hands, to be sure, is not 
the right word ; but it must pass, for want of a more ma- 
nageable term. President Forbes, and other physiologists 
have asserted that the activity of the Highlanders is owing- 
to the use of the kilt, which renders the inferior muscles 
elastic. Thus also, says this great lawyer and worthy 
patriot, the scanty clothing of these mountaineers pre- 
vents them from suffering by the inclemency of the wea- 
ther. " My wound is great because it is so small." I 
need not fill up the couplet; but the learned Judge has 
left his own conclusions incomplete. How much better 


would it be for the Highlanders to wear no clothes at all ; 
and thus study, like the Scythian of old, to be " all face." 
Face is not the word either ; but that also must pass. 
From the same cause, doubtless, must arise the elasticity 
of the nymphs of Inverness. The winds of heaven visit 
them quite as roughly, in launching ferry-boats and in 
washing in the Ness ; and thus their — faces — assume the 
same Scythian insensibility. 

It was Inverness fair. The streets were crowded 
with little Highland tarts and little Highland ponies and 
stots and gingerbread and ribbons and fishwives; and 
when the fair was over, the great ferry-boat was aground. 
Twenty damsels, and more, besieged the ferryman, and 
the ferryman vowed that the boat would not float for two 
hours. They might launch her if they were in a hurry 
for a passage. No sooner said than done. To lift her out 
of the mud by force of hands, was impossible : but, in an 
instant, a dozen or more ranged themselves on each side, 
and, at the word of command, two lines of native fairness 
were displayed in contrasting contact with her tarry sides, 
when, with one noble eftbrt, they bore her on their backs, 
(that is an incomplete word too) and launched her into the 
sable flood. O for the peiK il of Wilkie. 1 thought that 
my English friend would have died on the spot : so bad 
a philosopher was he, as not to know that it was easier to 
wash (he tar out of the othrr [)lace than out of the 

The Caledonian canal is finished : at last. Whatshall 
I say about the Caledonian canal. AVhat, except that I 
wish, since the object was to spend money, that it ha»l 
been built on arches, like the Ptmt du (iard ; that poste- 
rity too might have some enjoyment for its expense, that 
Britain might hand down to futurity some testimonial of 
its wealth and uiagnilicence, that he who, two thousand 


years hence, shall seek for its public works, its aque- 
ducts, or its Coliseums perchance, may not be condemned 
to labour for them, he knows not where, in vain, or, as 
here, to seek them in the doubtful ruins of a ditch. But 
its public wealth flows in mouldering canals and ploug-hs 
the sea in perishable ships, its bridges are of rotting iron 
and its houses of crumbling" gingerbread ; " and when 
time with his stealing steps shall have clawed us into his 
clutch," our public works shall be "as if they had never 
been such," and the future artist and unborn antiquary 
shall ask in vain for what their fathers did, shall labour to 
account for evaporated millions, and, weary of the search, 
turn to the still youthful remains of Egypt, and deter- 
mine, perchance, that it flourished at a day when the his- 
tory of Britain was that of some unknown people of the 
ages of the flood. Rome too thought otherwise : else the 
rivers which art brought to purify and adorn her towns, 
would have tended to, " rumpere plumbum," and have 
sought their way, like moles, beneath the ground, unseen 
and unknown. Yet we too have wrought for posterity. 
Long yet shall Conway and Carnarvon stand, the records 
of energetic Britain ; but, alas, that her ecclesiastical 
splendour should be subject to the fate of all beauty. 
But fashions change; and the strong-built castle, the 
rival of the rock on which it stands, the temple that aspires 
in airy magnificence to heaven, is superseded by the 
workhouse, the hospital, the bedlam, and the jail. These 
are the buildings which are to descend to posterity, the 
records of our diseases and our crimes ; which now adorn 
the entrances of our towns and greet us at every avenue, 
as if our miseries were our pride and our vices our boast. 
The posterity that contemplates the ruins of agricultural 
Egypt, of philosophical Greece, and of warlike Rome, 
finds the records of theirreligion, their arts, their splendour, 

884 Beau LEY. 

their pleasures,and their triumphs: the posterity that shall 
seek, two thousand years hence, for the character of Britain 
in her works, if indeed it finds aught, will conclude that 
she had outlived her religion, that her art was commerce, 
her pleasures, disease and misery, and her triumphs, the 
triumphs of executive justice. 

But, you will ask if this is all that can be said on the 
Caledonian canal. No ; it is not. It is a splendid work. 
Is it not more : who shall answer that question. Opinions 
differ: I have no opinion; and why should I thrust my 
fingers among the contending- parties. It is enough that 
I have had to fight my way through Glen Roy, to besiege 
Berigoniumand attack Inverlothaea, to draw the sword in 
defence of Mr. Williams, to bring down on my midnight 
dreams the grim and angry ghosts of Boece and Manle 
and Moniepennie and Lesley, and to rouse the Fingalian 
dynasty in their airy halls of mist. I have had my share 
of fighting windmills: let whoever chuses, kill the next 
Percy himself. Besides, like Old Jack, I only war with 
the dead. It shall stagnate in peace for me. 

There are not many rides of a more various and ani- 
mating character than that from Inverness to Beauley. 
The road runs along the border of the lirth, M'hich is ge- 
nerally enlivened by boats and by shipping; and there is 
an air of comfort and opulence, rarely seen in Scotland, in 
the cottages and farms by which it is skirted. The oppo- 
site side is singularly rich and picturesque ; sloping^ 
gently dovt'n to the Mater's edge, and covered with culti- 
vation and trees, aniong which are scattered the country 
houses of the opulent proprietors. Advancing to the 
west, the blui; mountains of llossshire continue to open in 
endless variety : leading the eye along into numerous 
wild iuid rocky vallrys, at the entrance of which are seen 
plantations of fir, and the cultivated grounds of the 

BEAU LEV. 385 

Frasers, Chisholms, and others, who are the ancient inha- 
bitants of this district. A handsome new bridire renders 
easy the access to the miserable town of Beauley and to 
the ruins of its abbey. Little of this establishment re- 
mains; and the church, which is the principal part, is 
neither picturesque nor interesting; beingbuilt of a dark 
red sandstone, and without any features of architecture to 
atone for its disagreeable raw colour. It is a ruin without 
even those hues of age and other accessories, which so 
often render, even more shapeless masses picturesque or 
pleasing. The floor is covered with tombstones, but 
evidently of very different dates. On those which appear 
the most ancient, are sculptured crosses with the usual 
accompaniments of flowery patterns, swords, animals, and 
other obscure symbols. On a few, dated in the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, are inscriptions in the Saxon cha- 
racter, which I need not detail, as this piece of antiquity 
is well known, and has been sufficiently described. 

Much wild and entertaining- scenery is found in the 
neighbouring valleys which lead into the Highlands; but 
he who has arrived thus far, will scarcely open his eyes 
to look at it. It is tlie sugar plums, which are first en- 
ticing, which at length become insipid, and which end in 
being maukish. There is little attraction in the road to 
Dinffwall. Nor is there auoht on the wild roads which 
branch hence to Loch Broom, Loch Ewe, Loch Carron, 
and Loch Duich, to compensate for their inconveniences, 
or to entice a traveller whose sole object is the gratifica- 
tion of ordinary curiosity. In genei-al, it is wildness and 
rudeness without beauty or grandeur; and if a casual 
scene occurs worthy of attention, it is overwhelmed in 
the surrounding waste, and neglected amid the weariness 
and toil and disappointment by which it is sought. I need 
not occupy pages in describing what none will visit: in 

VOL. I. c c 

386 NAIRN. 

repeating, I may add, descriptions which can have no 
value except to those who have seen, or are to see, the 
ohjects themselves. For other reasons, I may pass over 
Fort George, often described ; a strong- place, though 
neither built by Tielke nor Vauban, yet without any in- 
terest but that which arises from its military strength. 
For similar ones, I may omit all else that lies in this di- 
rection between Inverness and the Highland border; 
even Castle Stewart and its pepper boxes. The country 
is every where uninteresting: and of Calder Castle, and 
Tarnaway, and other well-known objects, I could tell 
nothing that has not often been told before. As to Nairn, 
what can I say. They build ships in ditches in the sand, 
and cut them out when ready. Part of the people speak 
Gaelic, and the rest Enolish, because it is the Highland 
boundary. The baker and the brewer are not so rich as 
at Inverness, and tlie attorney, being- poorer, is probably 
a greater rogue. Those who trust to the apothecary, die 
of him, here as elsewhere; the old maids abuse their 
neighbours; and those wlio have the misfortune to come 
into the town, get out of it again as fast as they can. It 
is otherwise in proceeding to the southward, whither we 
may now beml our steps. 

After quitting the brilliant shores of Inverness and 
losing sight of its magnificent firth, there is little beauty 
till we reach Aviemore. This country appears too the 
more dreary, from the scenery which we have just quitted; 
nor is it much otherwise when, having taken the contrary 
course, we recollect that we have so recently parted with 
the romantic Spoy atRofliiemurchus and Kinrara. Those 
who know that they shall not pass in vain over the scenes 
of great or noted <lccds, those who flalter themselves that 
they may feel what is reserved but for the ihosen t'ewy 
and those whose highest ambition is to purchase or pick 

MOT. 387 

up a bullet as a memorial of CuUoden, will, all equally, 
turn aside to seek for its green graves ; and the particular 
gentleman, who fancies that he can amuse and instruct 
the world, as we all do, good and bad, will leave a blank 
in his memorandum book, that he may hereafter fill it, in 
peace and o|)portunity, from the pages of John Home 
and the Chevalier Johnstone. But this is the business 
of the apothecaries, as Old Burton calls them. The plain 
of Marathon itself, is not a much more trodden subject. 

In any country, less empty and less dub, the rocky 
ravine of the Nairn would be unnoticed : such is the aood 
fortune of the borgnes dans le pays des aveugles. It is 
not nmch otherwise for Moy ; which is Vne a pea»l in a 
hog's nose, and no great pearl either, looking as If it had 
mistaken its way to come and sit down in this hopeless 
country. Its lake, and its trees, and its island, are a gleam 
of sunshine in a cloudy day : yet one that makes all the 
surrounding brown browner, and all the wide waste that 
encloses it, more dreary. Moy, however, as the seat of 
the ancient and powerful Clan Chattan, lias its historical 
interest as well as its beauty. At what remote period it 
possessed a castle, is unknown ; but the island where 
that was situated, is said to have been garrisoned in 1420, 
or thereabouts, by 400 men. Thus, it is probable, this 
structure must have resembled Ci)isamil, and was not 
merely the strong" house of the chief: while the strength 
of such a standing force bespeaks, what scarcely require 
such testimony, the opulence and power of this long- 
independent dynasty. The marks of the ruins are in 
themselves sufHcient to prove the magnitude of this build- 
ing; but the date which remains, indicates a later erec- 
tion, or later additions; since it only reaches to 1665. 
Lauchlan, said to be the twentieth Chief, is the recorded 
founder of at least this part. A smaller island, which is 

c c 2 

388 MOY. 

thought to be artificial, is related to have been used as a 
prison. Its name is Eilan na Clach ; and the tale is, that 
it was so kindly contrived, that its inmates were com- 
pelled to stand up to their middles in the water. It must 
be presumed that those who could remain long here, 
must have been amphibious animals, but that, less dex- 
terous than frogs, they could not swim. The sword of 
James the fifth, a present from Leo the tenth, is still 
preserved at Moy. 

As I was about to quit the ruins of Moy, I observed 
that a very smart gentleman, not a gentleman rider I 
assure you, but a gentleman in a barouche, who happened 
to be investigating them at the same time, slipped a large 
card, together with his shilling, into the Cicerone's hand. 
Being a printed one, my curiosity could not be improper. 
It was the trade card of a certain noted Baronet, &c. &c. 
" as above :" in which the dignified manufacturer assured 
the good people all wherever they be, that he would 
serve them, and so forth, on the lowest terms. The 
young Squire, in the true spirit of trade, had filled his 
pockets with these warnings, that, amid the pursuit of 
pleasure, he might not forget the main chance. Sic fortis 
Britannia crevit. Two and two make four. 

Many a tale of feud and battle is related about Moy, 
and many times have most of them been told. I shall 
only notice one, a familiar one, because it has also been 
related of the Forbeses and the Gordons, and because I 
suspect that it is not the only one which, like many other 
pointed tales, and many pointed sayings, has been ap- 
plied to whomever it will fit. To appropriate such an 
action, or to claim the exclusive right to it, would not 
now appear an object of ambition or pride : but when 
treachery was a virtue, and when cruelty and revenge 
Kfood Jijoh in the srah^ of morality, a ('ninin ;iiul a Forbi's 

MOY. 389 

might laudably have disputed the priority of the inven- 
tion and the right to the praise. In a great battle be- 
tween Cumin and Macintosh, the former was defeated, 
and being unable or unwilling to renew the war, a peace 
was proposed and accepted. To celebrate it, the Cumins 
invited the Macintoshes to a feast ; the hospitable de- 
sign of these hospitable and honourable personages, 
being to seat a guest alternately among themselves, as 
a distinguished mark of friendship, and, at a concerted 
signal, to murder them; each stabbing his neighbour. 
The signal was the introduction of a bull's head : but its 
purpose having been revealed by the treachery of a 
Cumin, (for thus do words change their significations,) 
the tables were turned on the hosts, and all the Cumiiw 
were killed. 




" Let no man say, — come, 1 will write a duodecimo." 
Take up your pen, says Dr. Johnson, and if there is 
any thing- in, it will come out. The pen is indeed the 
key or the picklock, the " open sesame" that is to give 
access to all the trash which has contrived, in the pro- 
cess of time, to get itself crammed and crowded into the 
cells and nooks of a man's brain. But, unluckily, when 
the dyke is perforated and the water begins to flow, who 
knows where the current will stop, whether the duo- 
decimo may not prove a quarto, whether an inundation of 
ink and ideas may not follow; till some lump of mud, or 
a dead rat, comes, fortunately for the reader, across the 
aperture, and stops the breach. Mr. Locke says that the 
animal spirits walk up and down in a sort of garden walk : 
but they have an unlucky trick, at the same time, of di- 
verging into the several bye-paths which lead to fish- 
ponds and hog-sties and other such things, and so on 
from one ramification to another, till a great deal " comes 
out" that had better staid within, and the reader is in 
danger of becoming distanced by the vagaries of the 
writer. Let him who feels the disease of concatenation 
stealing on him, concatenate his own legs, like the hero 
in the fiiiry tale, lest he overrun his game or vanish from 
the reader's sight. But surely a walk among fir trees 
may be allowed, even in IMr. Locke's garden; and a 
writer's hands are not to be tied up from gathering such 
flowers as grow by the margin of his great grav(>l walk. 


Near the Dulnairi river there are the remains of an ex- 
tensive fir forest, stretchino- far up the valley, which still 
gives employment to a few saw mills ; and similar woods 
are still remaining on the Findhorn, here utterly with- 
out beauty, to its very source. This mountainous tract 
indeed, included between the great Caledonian valley 
and Strathspey, and reaching to the sources of the Nairn, 
the Findhorn, the Spey, and the Roy, is, though high, 
the least interestinoaiul the least marked of all the Hi»h- 
land mountain land. The fir woods, however, to which 
1 here allude, bear no resemblance to those n)agnificent 
remains still found in Braemar, in Glen Finnan, and else- 
where; the far greater nunjber of the trees being of com- 
paratively modern date, and many of them less than a 
century old. As they stili propagate by means of the 
winds, we have an opportunity of seeing the Scottish fir 
in its natural state at all ages, and of remarking the 
striking- difference between its character and that of the 
artificially planted wood. Where the latter produces 
only tall poles with few lateral branches, and those of no 
dimensions, the former throws out strong ramifications at 
short distances from the ground, which proceed to en- 
large with the growth of the tree, finally producing a 
form which is often as broad as it is tall; while, in the 
planted wood, all the lateral shoots decay in succession 
towards the summit, leaving at length a scraggy and 
scanty foliage on the top of the mast-like trunk. This 
also remains slender to the end of its existence; almost 
ceasing, after a certain time, to increase in its lateral 
dimensions; when, in the natural tree, the trunk and the 
branches enlarge alike, so as to produce those magnifi- 
cent and picturesque objects which scarcely have a rival, 
even in the oak. The timber partakes, in the same man- 
ner, in both cases, of the general character : being feeble 

392 FIR wo JDS. 

ill tlie planted tree, and bearing the lowest possible price 
of fir wood, while the natural wood is nearly equal in 
value to the best timber of this nature. Lastly, it is 
necessary to remark, after the age of seventy or eighty 
years, or within a century, the planted wood ceases to 
grow, and very often wastes till it dies; when, in the 
natural forests, trees of three or four centuries are found 
flourishing with all the luxuriance of youth. 

So striking are these differences, that it has become an 
opinion among some planters, that the natural and the 
planted fir were distinct species ; and this has even been 
maintained by botanists and professional nurserymen, 
whose duty it was to have known their art better. Other 
persons have attributed the difllerence to the practice of 
transplantation : and thus remedies have been sought in 
sowing the seed where it was to remain, and in sowing 
the seeds of the natural instead of the culti\ated tree. It 
might be thought surprising that experience should never 
have taught planters the real reason, and that oppor- 
tunities of observation, prolonged through centuries, had 
produced no fruit, did we not know that experience is as 
nothing without capacity to profit by it, and that to see 
facts daily displayed before the eyes, does not constitute 
observation. It may be thought more surprising, that 
those whose scientific or practical pretensions ought to 
have enabled them to apply one of the simplest princi- 
ples of botanical physiology, should have thus gone on 
in this error, and should so long have overlooked a solu- 
tion so perfectly simple. 

It is by the agency of the leaves, not of the roots, that 
all the matter of vegetables is formed ; the wood and the 
bark, as well as the blossom, the fruit, and the l<>aves 
thciiiselves. The roots supply the simple elements; but, 
without the leaves, these cannot be converted to their 

FIR WOODS. 31>3 

destined purposes. The leaves may be considere<l the 
stomach of tlie plant, as the root is its mouth. Thus, a 
tree possessed of all the leaves which nature has allotted 
to it, proceeds through its destined stages and performs 
its natural functions; its produce in wood, beit)<>- in a 
certain sense, proportional to the bulk or quantity of its 
leaves, because, on their actions, that production de- 
pends. Whatever therefore is taken from the leaves, is 
taken ultimately from the wood : for every leaf which is 
destroyed, a proportional quantity of wood is not formed ; 
if the whole are destroyed, the growth is suspended. 
This principle, therefore, explains the apparent mystery. 
Excluded from the light by close planting, leaves are not 
produced where they otherwise would be. Thus the 
branches which depended on their actions, first cease to 
ofrow and then die. Hence the trunk also is robbed of 
its organs of nutrition, and the tree is checked through- 
out; and as the evil proceeds upwards, from the in- 
creased operation of the cause, the branches and leaves 
disappear in succession, till, the few remaining leaves at 
the summit being now incapable of maintaining the vital 
actions, the wbole tree dies. Hence also becomes evi- 
dent, the folly of removing the lateral branches of trees, 
for the purpose of increasing the quantity of timber in 
the trunk. That operation may modify its form, but it 
diminishes the total weight and bulk, as it sometimes does 
the good quality of the wood. In this way are the 
trimmed elms of England destroyed ; and in this way, I 
am sorry to observe, are some recent planters of spruce 
ruining their trees, with the notion of forcing them up 
into mast timber. That tree, left to its own resources, 
will produce better masts, with all its lateral branches in 
vigour, than when thus trimmed : and if this system is to 
be pursued, or if the Norway spruce is to be planted in 

394 si'iiY. 

this country as close as the Scottish fir has been, with 
the hope of producing Norway timber, the event, under 
the former practice, will be little better than it has 
proved in the case of our native tree ; although it is 
a property of the spruce to preserve its leaves and 
lateral branches, even in woods, when not excessively 

It is also a leading enor in planting, a consequence of 
the same ignorance of principles, to set the trees at short 
distances, whether these be fir or larch ; hoping to make 
profit of the thinnings first, and to obtain valuable forest 
timber afterwards. The planter must learn to be content 
with one of these; for it is certain that he cannot obtain 
both. It is far too late to remove the superfluous plants, 
when those which are to remain have lost their lateral 
branches. These cannot be replaced; and though the 
upper ones may perform a portion of the necessary duty, 
that will always be imperfectly done, and the best of such 
trees will for ever be comparatively feeble. If planters 
will not be convinced by this reasoning, they have only 
to examine their own forests, where they will find that 
the outermost trees are the largest, and that, in every 
situation, that is the largest trunk which possesses the 
most branches, or, what is the essential fact, the most 
leaves. That they have here mistaken cause for effect, 
is also certain : conceiving that it was the vigorous trunk 
that produced the full foliage and the healthy tree, when 
the full foliage is the parent and cause of the healthy and 
thriving trunk. 

As soon as we approach Aviemore, we become sen- 
sible that we have entered on a new country : a wide 
and open space now intervening, between the hills that 
we have quitted and the distant and blue ridge of Cairn 
Gorm. Through this lies the course of the Spey ; and 

spiiv. ij.05 

Iiere, principally, are concentrated such beauties as that 
river has to show. I have traced it from its mountain- 
well to the sea : and, whatever the Strathspey men may 
boast, it would be a profanation to compare it, in point 
of beauty, with almost any one of the oreat branches of 
the Tay ; as it would equally be to name it as a rival to 
the Forth, and, I must add, to the Dee, and to the Isla, 
and to the Earn. In point of magnitude, I believe it must 
follow the Tay : and in beauty, it may be allowed to fol- 
low the Earn ; preceding- alike the Tweed, and the Clyde, 
and the Don, but beingstill inferior to many of our larg-er 
rivers, in the important particular of not being- navigable, 
and in being- therefore nearly useless. The small lake, 
or rather pool, Avhence it originates, is its most un- 
questionable head; since, unlike the Tay, none of its 
subsidiary streams, not even the Truim, can pretend to 
compete with this primary one. It is one decided Spey 
from its very spring; receiving numerous accessions, 
but no rival. Its course is almost every where rapid ; nor 
does it shew any still water till near the very sea. It is 
also the wildest and most capricious of our large rivers ; its 
alternations of emptiness and flood being- more complete 
and more sudden than those of any of the streams which 
I have named. The causes of this are obvious, in con- 
sidering the origin and courses of its tributary waters; 
while the elevation of its source, amounting- to more than 
1200 feet, accounts for the rapidity of its flow. Though 
inferior, both to the Tweed and the Tay, in its produce 
of salmon, it must be allowed the third rank in this re- 
spect; and the single fishery at its mouth, belonging to 
the Duke of Gordon, is rented for more than £C000 a year. 
From the spring, its course displays little beauty till 
it reaches Clunie and Spey bridge. Hence, nearly, it 
increases in interest as it approaches Kinrara ; whence. 


for a few miles, it is attended by a series of landscapes, 
alike various, singular, and magnificent. If, after this, 
tbere are some efforts at beauty, tbese are rare, and offer 
little that is new or striking: while, near its exit from the 
mountainous country, it loses all character, and continues, 
from Fochabers to the sea, a wide and insipid sheet of 

Though many splendid landscapes are obtained along 
the road side between Aviemore and Kinrara, constituted 
by the far-extended fir woods of Rothiemurchus, the 
ridge of Cairngorm, the birch-clad hill of Kinrara, and 
by the variety of the broken, bold, and woody banks of 
the Spey, no one can form an adequate idea of the beau- 
ties of this tract, without spending- days in investigating 
what is concealed from an ordinary and passing view. 
By far the larger proportion of this scenery also, is found 
near to the river, and far from the road ; and the most 
singular portions of it lie on the east side of the water, 
and far beyond it, in places seldom trodden and scarcely 
known. This too is a country hitherto undescribed, and 
therefore unseen by the mass of travellers ; though among 
the most engaging parts of the Highlands, as it is the 
most singular : since there is nothing with which it can 
be compared, or to which indeed it can be said to bear 
the slightest resemblance. Much of this depends on the 
peculiar forms and distribution of the ground and of the 
mountains, and still more on the character of the wood, 
which is always fir and birch ; the latter, in particular, 
assuming a consequence in the landscape, which renders 
the absence of all other trees insensible; and which is 
seen no where in the same perfection, except at Blair, 
an<l for a short space along the course of the Tumel. 

Of this particular class of beauty, Kinrara is itself 
the chief seat; yielding to very few situations in Scot- 


land for that species of ornament, which, while it is the 
produce of Nature, seems to have been guided by art, 
and being' utterly distinguished from the wohk; in 
character. A succession of continuous birch forest, 
covering its rocky hill and its lower grounds, intermixed 
with open glades, irregular clumps, and scattered trees, 
produces a scene at once alpine and dressed ; combining 
the discordant characters of wild mountain landscape 
and of ornamental park scenery. To this it adds an air 
of perpetual spring, and a feeling of comfort and of 
seclusion, which can no where be seen in such perfec- 
tion : while the range of scenery is, at the same time, 
such as is only found in the most extended domains. If 
the home o-rounds are thus full of beauties, not less 
varied and beautiful is the prospect around : the Spey, 
here a quick and clear stream, being ornamented by trees 
in every possible combination, and the banks beyond, 
rising into irregular, rocky, and wooded hills, every 
where rich with an endless profusion of objects, and, as 
they gradually ascend, displaying the dark sweeping 
forests of fir that skirt the bases of the further mountains, 
which terminate the view by their bold outlines on the 
sky. A week spent at Kinrara had not exhausted the 
half of its charms; and when a second week had passed, 
all seemed still new. But time flew, never to return : — 
for I had scarcely taken my leave of its lovely scenes, 
when the mind that inspired it Avas fled, and the hand 
that had tended and decked it was cold. That was a 
loss indeed. But these matters must not be thought on 

To wander along the opposite banks, is to riot in a 
profusion of landscape, always various and always new: 
river scenery, of a character unknown elsewhere, and a 
spacious valley crowded with objects and profuse of 


wood, displaying every where a luxuriance of variety, 
as well in the disposition of its parts, as in the arrange- 
ments of its trees and forests and the versatility of its 
mountain boundary. Advancing- further into the in- 
terior, we are soon lost amidst thewoods of Rothiemurchus, 
which, for many miles, cover the ground, extending far 
away to the great and noble Gleninore. Here we may 
imao'ine ourselves wanderino; in an American forest: 
while this impression is aided by the saw mills, the log- 
bouses, the dams for floating- the timber into the Spey, 
and the trees in all the stages of preparation, which are 
lying in the various open glades which the woodman's 
axe has made. Nor must it be supposed that these 
woods exhibit that wearisome and interminable unifor- 
mity which is found in the great plantations about Foch- 
abers, or in the other forests of planted fir. Nature, who 
performed this work, has avoided that error. Where art 
has not, by levelling portions of theni, introduced ave- 
nues and glades and roads, the variety of the soil and 
surface have produced the same eft'ects. Here a stream 
holds its course through them, or a small lake, or a mo- 
rass, or a portion of rocky ground, repels the growth of 
the trees; while, elsewhere some huge rock serves to 
contrast, by its grey faces, with the dark green above, 
and with the bright splendour, below, of the arbutus and 
the vaccinium, whose vivid green is also embellished by 
their profusion of scarlet berries. 

But even this is but a small part of the variety which 
prevails throughout this wide forest. In many places, it 
rises high up the rocky sides of the mountains, or sweeps 
down into the valleys, or is seen following Mi(> course of 
a ravine; while the broken margin where the growth of 
the wood becoiues gradually clucked, or tln^ outstanding 
and irr<'gnhi clumps which have chosen for themselves 


some favourable position, with the single and separated 
trees, stationed like out-posts on its borders, by which the 
forest fades gradually into the mountain, produce effects as 
beautiful as they are unexpected by him who has con- 
templated at a distance its w ide extended sweep of heavy 
and solid green. More entertaining and unexpected still, 
are the rocky hills that shoot suddeidy up in the middle 
of the forest; lifting their grey crags high above the 
surrounding wood, and crowned with ranks and masses 
of trees, the very formality of whose long rows of trunks, 
as they range along the edge of the precipice, is cha- 
racteristic and ornamental. Here too, some solitary fir, 
taking advantage of a fissure, or perched on an occasional 
shelf, and throwing fiir out its wide arms and dark fo- 
liage, serves to embellish the broad tints of grey, and to 
soften the harsher masses which crown the summit or 
spread in one broad body of green beneath. 

Of the lakes which are here found, adding also much 
to the variety and beauty of this forest, I need only no- 
tice Loch-an-eilau. A fir lake, if I may use such a term, 
is a rare occurrence ; and indeed this is the only very 
perfect example in the country. No other tree is seen ; 
yet, from the variety of the shores, there is not that mo- 
notony which might be cxj)ected from such linnted ma- 
terials. In some parts of it, the rocky precipices rise 
immediately from the deep water, crowned with the dark 
woods, that fling a profound shadow over it: in others, 
the solid masses of the trees advance to its edge; while 
elsewhere, open green shores, or low rocky points, or 
gravelly beaches, are seen ; the scattered groups, or 
single trees, which, springing from some bank, wash 
their roots in the waves that curl against them, ad- 
ding to the general variety of this wild and singular 
scene. This lake is much embellished by an ancient 


castle, standing on an island within it, and, even yetj 
entire, though roofless. As a Highland castle, it is of 
considerable dimensions ; and the island being scarcely 
larger than its foundation, it appears in some places to 
rise immediately out of the water. Its ancient celebrity 
is considerable, since it was one of the strong holds of 
the Cumins; the particular individual whose name is 
attached to it, being the ferocious personage known by 
the name of the Wolf of Badenocli. It has passed now to 
a tenant not more ferocious, who is an apt emblem and 
representative of the red-handed Highland chief. The 
eagle has built his eyrie on the walls. I counted the 
sticks of his nest, but had too much respect for this wor- 
thy successor to an ancient Highland dynasty, even to 
displace one twig. His progeny, it must be admitted, 
have but a hard bed : but the Red Cumin did not proba- 
bly lie much more at his ease. It would not be easy to 
imagine a wilder position than this for a den of thieves 
and robbers, nor one more thoroughly romantic; it is 
more like the things of which we read in the novels of the 
Otranto school, than like a scene of real life. If ever you 
should propose to rival the author of Waverley in that 
line of art, I recommeiul you to choose part of your scene 
here. As I lay on its topmost tower amid the universal 
silence, while the bright sun exhaled the perfume from 
the woods around and all the old world visions and 
romances seemed to flit about its grey and solitary ruins, 
I too felt as if I coubl have written a chapter that might 
hereafter be worthy of the protection of Minerva; the 
Minerva of Leadenhall-street. liut, for these things, we 
must have the licence of speech which belongs to those 
cases. Such is the necessity of acting in character. We 
may perform any antics we please^ if we choose to put 
o\i H;irlc(|iiiM's jacket, to wear tUv. whole purple cloiik ; 


but there is no mercy for him who tacks two or three 
rags of the purpiireus pannus to his tling-y cassock or 
his amice of sober grey. 

I must therefore "jog- on the foot-path way," in the 
old matter of fact pace, to Glen More ; though it was 
not quite merrily that I passed " the stile a." I have 
passed many stiles, but never one like the entrance into 
Glen More, I vow. There is the clamber stile, where 
you find yourself astride on a knife edge, like a dragoon 
on the wooden horse ; and there is the in and out stile, 
which reminds you of what philosophers call the vis in- 
ertia; and the turn-stile, where you either break your 
behind or your before ; and the squeeze stile, where you 
stick like the weasel in the fable; and the gate stile 
where you break, first your shins and then your heels ; 
and the ladder stile, which if you escape without break- 
ing your neck, it is well ; and the Cornish stile, where 
you slip your foot, crack your tibia, the bone protrudes, 
the apothecary saws it off, and you die of a lock jaw. 
When 1 had scrambled to the top of the Glen More stile, 
among cross branches, and brambles, and thorns, j)lunib 
beneath me was a deep and wide river roaring along-, 
with a bridge formed of a single fir tree, which nature, 
or the water-kelpie more probably, had kindly thrown 
across the torrent to entice gentlemen to drown tlioni- 
selves. Perpendicularity of conduct and character is of 
many other uses in life besides that of hitting on the axis 
of a fir tree and on your own axis at the same time, across 
a deep river in Glen More. Spite of these mathematics, 
I might have remained balancing yet; but all the chi- 
valry of Kinrara was on the other side, and I— oh how 
deep and strong did the water seem, and how narrow 
did the smaller end of the tree become. 

What a fearful sight is Glen More. But it will not 
VOL I. t> o 


do to begiu in this violent manner. It had long been 
known that the timber of these ancient fir woods was 
very valuable; and, of all Scotland, the trees of Glen 
More were the finest. The Duke of Gordon still preserves 
one plank from near the root, which is six feet wide. 
But so backward in science was our dear country, that it 
was esteemed impossible to transfer this wood to the sea 
at such a price as could be repaid. The engineer em- 
ployed by the York Buildings Company, however, 
thought otherwise ; and it was accordingly purchased for 
£10,000. How it was carried off, partly by aid of the 
Spey, is well known ; and the profits are said to have 
been £70,000. Of such value is the old maxim in our 
spelling books : the learning was more valuable than the 
land, in this case at least. 

Without any picturesque features. Glen More is a 
magnificent scene, from its open, basin-like form, rising 
at once up the lofty acclivities of the high and unbroken 
mountains which surround it, from its wide extent, and 
from its simple grandeur of character. High above all, 
towers (he summit of Cairn Gorm; and, in the valley. 
Loch Morlich adds the variety of its black, still, shining 
waters to the whole. Every where is seen rising, young 
wood of various ages, promising, when centuries shall 
have passed away, to restore to the valley its former ho- 
nours. But it is the wreck of the ancient forest which 
arrests all the attention, and which renders Glen More a 
melancholy, more than a melancholy, a terrific spectacle. 
Trees, of enormous height, which have escaped, alike, the 
axe and the tempest, are still standing, stripped by the 
winds, even of their bark, and, like gigantic skeletons, 
throwing far and wide their white ami bleached bones to 
the storms and rains of heaven ; while others, broken by 
the violence of the gales, lift their split and fractured 


trunks in a thousand shapes of resistance and of destruc- 
tion, or still display some knotted and tortuous branches, 
stretched out, in sturdy and fantastic forms of defiance, to 
the Avhirlwind and the winter. Noble trunks also, which 
had long resisted, but resisted in vain, strew the ground ; 
some hanging- on the declivity where they have fallen, 
others still adhering to the precipice where they were 
rooted, many upturned, Avith their twisted and entangled 
roots high in air; while a few, prostrated with all their 
branches still entire, astonish us by the space which they 
cover, and by dimensions which we could not otherwise 
have estimated. It is one wide image of death : as if the 
angel of destruction had passed over the valley. The 
sight, even of a felled tree, is painful : still more is that 
of the fallen forest, with all its green branches on the 
ground, withering, silent, and at rest, where once they 
glittered in the dew and the sun, and trembled in 
the breeze. Yet this is but an imajre of vesretable death : 
it is familiar, and the impression passes away. It is the 
naked skeleton bleaching in the winds, the gigantic bones 
of the forest still erect, the speaking records of former 
life, and of strength still unsubdued, vigorous even in 
death, which render Glen More one enormous charnel 

The ascent of Cairn Gorm is easy, with little variety 
from protruding rocks or water courses. Yet, though 
among the highest of the Scottish mountains, the views 
from it are very uninteresting. One smooth and undu- 
lating surface of granite mountain, without the variety of 
bold precipice or deep ravine, follows another, so far and 
so wide, that when other objects appear, they are beyond 
the reach and power of the eye, and produce no effect. 
It is even less interesting than Ben Nevis while, to the 
botanist, it is almost a blank; its dry stony soil produc- 

D D 2 


ing' few alpine plants, and none, except tbe Lichen nivalis, 
of any peculiar rarity. 

But tbe sunshine that slept on Cairn Gorm, gave 
beauty, even to its barren and torrid surface, and the 
waste and vacant expanse smiled to the wide azure of a 
cloudless sky. Still brighter was that sun and bluer 
were those skies beneath the influence of other smiles ; 
and even the arid rock and the misty desert seemed to 
breathe of loveliness and spring. A single mind ani- 
mated all the landscape; that mind which animated all 
it reached, which diifused happiness around, the joy and 
delight of all. 

Yet the happiest, like the most wretched hours, must 
end. That day fled fast indeed. But I did not then fore- 
see, that, for Her, that blooming and youthful, that intel- 
lectual and lovely being, who seemed born to be a light 
and a blessing to all around her, the record which this 
useless hand is now writing, would be written in vain. 
We ascended the hill together, we looked together for 
Craio" Elachie and Tor Alvie. Often have I seen Tor 
Alvie since ; but She can see it no more. 

Hence it is easy to descend into Loch Avon ; a scene 
which Nature seems nearly to have buried beyond hu- 
man resort; as, though accessible also from Mar, the 
distance from any habitation is, on that side also, such, 
that it is scarcely possible to go and return within the 
longest summer day. 

The surface of Cairn Gorm is strewed in some places 
with fragments of the well-known brown crystals, which 
are generally named from this mountain, from whatever 
place they may be procured. But they are by no means 
pe( nlinr to this spot, since they occur on Ben-na-Chie, 
in lir.uMnar, in St. Kilda, in Arran, at Loch Etive, in 
Morror, and in many other situations. They are the ob- 

tAIRN OORM. 405 

jects of a petty and poor trade among the country people 
and the shepherds, and of a much more profitable one 
among- the jewellers of Edinburgh, who sell Brazil crystal 
under this pretence, at twenty times its value; thus wisely 
making- a profit out of a silly modification of patriotism. 
Of the bro-wn crystal indeed, which is thus sold. Cairn 
Gorm, or even all Scotland, does not produce the fiftieth 
part; and of the bright yellow, and only beautiful kind, 
it never furnished a single specimen. These stones, in 
fact, are almost all imported from Brazil, of whatever 
colour they may be, and often ready cut, at a price of a 
few shillings, which, by elevating them to the dig-nity of 
Scottish crystals, become converted into as many pounds. 
Such is one of the varieties of vanity. Even on the spot, 
the shepherds demand guineas for what pence will pur- 
chase in London : and if they can find purchasers, I 
know no good reason why they should not. I cannot 
defend in the same manner the harpy whose horse I rode 
for a hundred yards, and who could not have been more 
master of his art if he had been educated at Oban or in 
Mull. The ingenuity of the plea indeed almost deserved 
the money. One of the party had hired ihe horse, and, 
wishing to walk over some particular spot, rcquesfed me 
to mount ill his place. The hour of reckoning being 
come, the knave insisted that I should pay a day's hire 
also, as his pony had thus been let to two persons. Is it 
wonderful that a late traveller calls the Highlanders 
" the most impudent extortioners on the face of the earth." 
One remark, however, I must offer, for the consolation 
of those whose anger may be roused, not by the quantity 
of the fraud but by its spirit, as is the fact in all these 
(.ases. Did they know how well the gains are applied, 
to compensate for the wrong by which they are obtained, 
they would probably often give freely, that which they 


indignantly withhold when thus claimed. The High- 
lander is an economist, and a good and generous one. 
The money thus obtained will not be wasted in riot and 
drink, but laid by to pay his rent, or better his farm, or 
maintain his poor relations. There is a balance of good 
in Donald's extortion, unknown to most of those who 
suffer from it. 

If the Spey presents little beauty henceforward to the 
sea, there is equally little interest in the remaining tract 
of the Highlands to the northwards. The vale of the 
Spey itself, those of the Avon and the Fiddich, and a 
few other small tracts which are traversed by rivers, are 
the only accessible parts ; the rest being a mass of rude 
uninteresting mountains. Indeed nearly the whole moun- 
tain tract to the northward of the great central granite 
mass of Aberdeenshire, including Cairn Genu and the hills 
of Mar, is without distinguishing features ; Bell Rinnes, 
the great ridge of the Cabrach, and that of Bennachie, 
forming almost the only exceptions; while, with little 
exception also, the rivers and valleys are very deficient 
in picturesque beauty. It would be unjust however to 
the Spey, not to say that the rides along its banks, north- 
ward from Aviemore, are, in many parts, pleasing, if 
not striking; while, of some, I am bound to plead such 
imperfect knowledge as I could obtain by the light of a 
comet ; not an usual lantern to travel by. 

Balvcnie is perhaps the most interesting object in this 
tract of country. The valley is pleasing, and the situa- 
tion of this castle on an independent knoll, is such as to 
display its cHect to great advantage ; while its magni- 
tude aids in rendering it one of the most striking of our 
ancient buildings. It is apparently an erection of dif- 
ferent periods; though we cannot l)e sure that any of it 
is of so old n date as the eleventh century, when Jhcrc 

BALVKNU:. 407 

was a castle of some kind here. There is :i tradition that 
Malcolm the second defeated the Nor\ve<> ians in an action 
at this place; and, to confirm the possibility at least of 
this being- the actual spot, there are traces of ancient 
monuments sufficient to indicate some field of battle. 
The tower at the south-west anole is strong- and iarae> 
and appears to be the oldest part of the building, but 
those at the other angles are ruined. The histories at- 
tached to this castle are far longer than I have time to 
relate ; and it seems to have undergone the singular for- 
tune of having been as eflfectually as it was often assailed* 
so as to have passed in succession into many different 
hands. Cumins, Douglases, Stewarts, and others, seem 
to have been in turn its masters ; and, among many other 
cognizances, the " Furth fortune and fill the fetters" of 
the Atholl family, is still visible over the gateway. But 
I must return with you to the southward. 

The pearl muscle is found in the Spey, as in all these 
rivers ; but this fishing is rather a trade than a general 
pursuit. And wisely: since, at Conway and Bangor, 
this lottery produces universal poverty among the people 
who pursue it. It is there the remains of the Roman 
conmierce in pearls ; one of the apparent inducenients to 
the invasion of Britain. Hollinshed, a motive monger 
by trade, is very metaphysical on this subject. " Doubt- 
lesse, they have as it were a natural carefuUnesse of their 
commoditie, as not ignorant how great estimation we 
mortall men make of the same amongst us ; and therefore 
so soon as the fishermen do catch them, they binde their 
shells together." The cunning of the Welsh muscle, 
like much other cunning, outwits itself; since he is boiled 
and made into soup for his pains. 



The little lake of Alvie, which lies at the gates of 
Kinrara, is a jewel in this barren road ; nor is Loch 
Inch without its merits. I cannot indeed say that they 
have much picturesque beauty. Yet there is, in the least 
of all these Highland lakes, a charm, which depends, not 
on their boundaries or their magnitude, their variety or 
their grandeur; a beauty M'hich even the cloud and the 
mist, tiiat conceal their mountain summits and destroy 
the landscape, can scarcely obliterate. This lies in their 
foregrounds; in their local colouring and minuter forms. 
It is the pellucid water murmuring on the pebbly shore, 
the dark rock reflected on the glassy surface or dancing 
on the undulating wave, the wild water-plants, the broken 
bank, the bending ash, the fern, the bright flowers, and all 
the poetry of the " margent green," which give to these 
scenes a feeling that painting cannot reach; a beauty 
that belongs to nature alone, because it is the beauty of 
life; a beauty that flies with the vital principle which 
was its soul and its all. If I cannot give nuich praise to 
the elegant town of Kingusie, I cannot admit that this 
portion of the Inverness road, as far at least as Spcy bridge, 
is so detestable as it is connnonly reputed. Pitmain is 
far from being an ugly spot ; and to those who do not 
enquire too minut<'ly, Ruthven may still pass for an an- 
cient castle ; thus deceiving them into the enjoyment of 
a vision quite as good as the realify. It was indeed an 


ancient castle once, belong^ing- to the Cumins; but that 
metaphysical entity commonly called Government, which 
is no more free from Gothicism than Alaric and Attila, 
thought proper to pull it down and replace it with the 
barrack, which may, in its turn, be an object of antiqua- 
rian admiration to our posterity. Doubtless, it will be 
then a record of events somewhat more important than 
the squabbles of savage Highland chiefs, and not so easily 
forgotten. It was built in 1718, assaulted by the High- 
land army in 1745, and burnt in 174G; having been de- 
fended by twelve men under the command of Sergeant 
Mulloy ; a hero, doubtless ; but what is a hero with three 
chevrons on his arm. 

AYho shall praise Dalwhinnie. No one, surely, but the 
commissioners who built it, and who desire you to be very 
thankful that you have a place to put your head in. But 
these thanks can be paid only by the gentlemen who have 
not forgotten what they acquired at school ; for, like the in- 
scription on Tay bridge, it is a Latin tablet. That bridge 
might better have stridden over Tay in its own tongue; and, 
pardon the pun again, I cannot help thinking this an in- 
sult to our own language, spite of the opinion of Dr. John- 
son. Is not this vile pedantry. As if the English language 
will not last as long as that of ancient Rome, as if we are 
to descend to posterity, a nation without a tongue of its 
own, or as writing Avhat we can neither read nor speak, 
or as despising a language which, in a few brief years, 
has produced more valuable literature, and conveyed 
more instruction to posterity, than all which Rome ef- 
fected from the time of Romulus to that of Constantine. 
Thus, we have epitaphs which the very owners could not 
read, were they alive again ; inscriptions, which, if they 
record any thing, it is that a pagan people erected a 
Christian church, and a Roman king, unknown in the 


annals of that city, called Georgius tertius ; nay, a whole 
series of Gothic Tudors, and Plantagenets, and Stuarts, 
and Guelphs, all Roman Kings. Why is not all this done 
in Greek : it is a more enduring and a nobler language; 
it would confer still more of the honours of pedantry ; 
and, as to the story which is to be told, the Latin itself is 
but Greek to the million. But the days of logic are 
passed, and those of other pedantries must pass too; 
whenever the S^avans en us shall have discovered that 
education means something more than a knowledge of 
as in praesenti, or a memory for all the overwhelming 
learning enclosed in the treasures of the Gradus ad Par- 

In spite of this learned tablet, and though the 
" tellus calva benignuni monstrat viatori signuni." no 
one will ever wish to enter Dalwhinnie a second time; 
and no one who has crossed its hideous, cold, desolate, 
naked, starved, melancholy, moors, will ever willingly 
cross them again. The vicissitudes of human life are 
strange enough. Yesterday I was in a Highland cottage, 
with an assemblage of three Duchesses and a Comet, 
with many minor stars of no small note and bearing ; and, 
to-day, at Dalwhinnie, in company with three travelling- 
haberdashers and a farthing candle. But we must bear 
this and much more, in our transit, whether through the 
Highlands or through life: we must even endure the wet 
peat of Dalwhinnie, which, since fire and water are ever 
at variance, as Ovid and Milton assure us, chooses to send 
forth nothing but indignant smoke. Hence you may go 
by the way of Garvic More, and across Coryaraick, to 
Fort Augustus ; but it is probable that this road will now 
be deserted in favour of the new line by Loch Laggan. 
liy Garvie More also, lies a road into Glen Roy, if road 
if ran bo called ; and, to study Glen Roy as a philoso- 

BLAIR. 411 

pber, this is tlie most useful method of proceeding. There 
is much wild and rocky scenery about Garvie More; but 
it is scarcely such as to tempt an ordinary traveller from 
the main road. All that I need say of Loch La<»-j>an, is, 
that the eastern extremity is somewhat picturesque, but 
that it does not afford much variety of scenery. The 
most remarkable feature is a rocky hill, split by a fissure 
of great magnitude, and conveying a strong impression 
of recent and sudden violence. 

With the slight exception of Loch Garry, of which a 
glimpse is afforded in proceeding- from Dalwhinnie south- 
wards, and which, any where else, would be unnoticed, 
it is all a Dalwhinnie, not only to Dalnacardoch,but even 
to the bridge of Erochie; houseless, treeless, lifeless; 
wanting in every thing but barrenness and deformity, 
while there is not even an object so much worse than 
another, as to attract a moment's attention. Like life 
itself in the same circumstances, it is as tedious in the 
passage as it is disagreeable; but, when passed, leaving 
no impressions of time or space. But it forms an admi- 
rable introduction to Blair, which shortly l)rcaks on the 
eye like sun-rise after a stormy night. The first view of 
this magnificent and rich valley is obtained the 
bridge of the Bruar, but it is still an imperfect one ; and 
it is one of the chief boasts of this place, that it proceeds 
increasing in beauty till the moment at which we part 
with it entirely. Those who may visit it from the south, 
will not enjoy the same effect of contrast ; but, fortu- 
nately, it is suflicieut in itself to disdain all such adven- 
titious aids. 

A book might be written about Blair and its neigh- 
bourhood, without exhausting the subject; as I ought to 
know, since 1 have written one. Nothing less than the 
art which squeezed the fairy's, tent into a thimble, could, 

412 BLAIR. 

cram this country into a letter; and therefore I pray you 
not to expect it. Read my book, as those dexterous 
persons say, who write one work to puff off another, and 
then you will know all about it. But 1 must say some- 
thing: or it would be ingratitude to a place, of which I 
know each dingle, bush, and alley green; ingratitude to 
its lovely scenes and to its hospitable towers; to the Noble 
Owner of which, this country owes a deep debt, for the 
unwearied activity of his exertions and his example, 
and of whom it is praise enough to say, that he is the 
pattern of a truly British Country Gentleman. 

The well-known cascades of the Bruar, are the first 
objects which meet those who arrive from the north. But 
he who has that eye for scenery, without which travellino- 
loses half its value, will see here something more, in a 
fine landscape of the valley, and in some very pleasing 
pictures of close scenery, about the mills beneath the 
bridge. Hence to Blair itself, different views occur by 
the road-side ; the elegant conical form of Ben Vrackie 
constituting the termination of the picture. He to whom 
landscape is a leading object, ought also to diverge into 
a spacious park on the left of the road ; remarkable, not 
only for the beautiful disposition of its own ground, but 
asaftording some of the finest views of the vale of Blair. 
Similar views, but under considerable variations, will 
be found in the same direction, at higher elevations: 
and, at a still higher sfage, upon Craig Urrard, the same 
materials are displayed : but assuming now a far different 
character, from the altilude of the position, and affording 
a view of the valley, splendid and rich in the exircme, 
though somewhat approarliiiig to a bird's-eye view. The 
interior grounds, or the park, of Blair, abound in beauti- 
Ad scenery in various styles; nor is it too much to say 
that, excepting Dunkeld, it has no rival in Scotland : 

BLAIR. 413 

while the difference of character in the latter is, at the 
same time, such, that the two will not admit of a com- 
parison. Indeed, if all that lies within the immediate 
reach of this spot be included, it may justly be said to 
contain a greater quantity of landscape than any tract of 
equal dimensions in Britain. Besides this, it presents a 
greater variety ; the objects being' as different as the 
styles, each scene having a decided character, and the 
compositions being- remarkable for their integrity and 
perfection. But an ordinary eye will not at first suspect 
all this; and thus the first impression made by Blair, 
is far different from what will be found by industry 
and attention, and by that power of discovering natural 
beauty under all its combinations, which only belongs 
to taste, experience, and education. 

Such appearance of artifice as occurs in these grounds, 
belongs to the period of 1742, at which thoy were laid 
out. But it scarcely any where offends ; being over- 
whelmed by the majesty and extent of the scene, and 
by the careless or felicitous arrangements of the princi- 
pal objects: while it is also proper to observe, that the 
artifice which chiefly catches the eye, is that which 
belongs to Lude, ornamented on the clumping system : 
though it may be doubted whether this is not, on the 
whole, an advantage to the general scenery, rather than 
a blemish. The house is a conspicuous object, from its 
magnitude and extent ; but it is to be regretted that it 
is not the grey castle which it anciently was; and still 
more, that its castellated character has been destroyed. 
Its ancient outline was irregular, and it was much more 
lofty. But having been besieged by the Highlanders in 
1745, when it held out for a month under Sir Andrew 
Agnew, and until it was relieved, the two upper stories 
were afterwards removed, with the design of preventing 

414 BLAIR. 

its ever being used again in a similar manner. It is a 
building of great strength ; and although the date of 
its erection is not known, it is supposed to have been 
built by John of Strathbogie, a Cumin, who became 
Earl of Atholl in right of his wife. His name is still 
preserved in Cumin's tower, now an inconspicuous part 
of the building, in consequence of the loss of its summit. 
As a Highland castle, it has shared, on other occasions, 
in the casualties of domestic warfare ; having been also 
occupied by Montrose in 1644, and taken by Daniel in 
1653, on the part of Cromwell. Subsequently, it was 
taken possession of by an officer of Dundee's army : 
and being- then threatened by Lord Murray, Dundee 
marched to its relief: that event being followed by the 
well-known battle of Killicrankie. 

It was necessarily an important military post, from 
its commanding one of the main conununications with the 
northern Highlands ; while it also derived importance 
from the same cause tliat rendered it necessary, namely, 
the position of this district towards the low country. 
Atholl was thus a sort of border land: and from this 
cause also it aro^e, that the Atholl men were among the 
most celebrated of the Highland soldiers : their habits 
of warfare and depredation rendering them, like the other 
borderers elsewhere, always prepared for war. I know 
not, however, that they were ever noted as marauders, 
like the Liddisdale men, of whom Maitland snys, " They 
plainly throw the country rydis, I trow the mckil devil 
them gydis;" carrying off "hors nolt and scheip, and all 
the laif, (luhatcver they haif." As soldiers, on the other 
hand, the esteem in which they were held, appears in 
the histories of Montrose, to whom, it is said, they dis- 
played an extraordinary affachmcnt. Dundee also is 
reputed to have had 1500 of them in his army. The 

BLAIR. 415 

proverb of the AthoU tinkers arose, as you doubtless 
know, from the circumstance of Alister Mac Colla, your 
friend Colkitto, having been relieved by an Atholl 
tinker, in one of Montrose's actions, when he had been 
surrounded in a sheep-fold by a body of Covenanters. 

Of the scenery immediately at hand, the cascades of 
the Fender are peculiarly worthy of notice : as well from 
their differences of character, as for the beauty which 
each, in its several way, exhibits. Though the stream 
is not large, the accompaniments of the whole are such, 
that no additional force of water could improve them. If 
the uppermost is the most singular, the middle one is 
the most picturesque and the most ornamental. The 
lowest depends more for its interest on the scenery of 
the Tilt, into which it falls. There are few scenes in 
this class of landscape more novel and more striking 
than this last ; from the depth and narrowness of the 
rocky chasm which conveys the Tilt, the wild and deep 
basin into Avliich its thundering waters are first received, 
the prolonged narrow tunnel which aft'ords it an exit, 
and the variety and ornament of the trees which over- 
shadow it, leading the eye up along the overhanging and 
romantic landscape to the sky. 

The beauties of Blair extend along the whole valley 
into the pass of Killicrankie ; but they will be imper- 
fectly seen by those who are contented to pursue the 
ordinary road, attractive as that is throughout. On the 
opposite side of the water, the hill of Tulloch affords a 
magnificent display of the grounds and the valley ; 
off'ering a totally distinct picture from those on the eastern 
bank, and introducing a view of the mountains of Glen 
Tilt and Ben y Gloe, before invisible. On the summit 
of the hill, this view is as splendid as it is extensive: 
admitting, together with the whole valley, the surround- 

416 BLAIR. 

ing mountains to a wide and far range. Below, and 
near the river, a new style of landscape appears ; con- 
tinuing for two or three miles, and displaying some of 
the most perfect compositions in river scenery that can 
well be imagined : uniting also the richness of cultivation 
and wood, with the grandeur and variety of an alpine 
country. There is one spot on the river in particular, 
marked by a deep and wide pool surrounded by rocks, 
where, on both sides of the water, the views are pecu- 
liarly fine, and where, from the variety and perfection of 
the foregrounds, nothing is wanting to render the pic- 
ture complete. The character of the rocks are in them- 
selves studies ; and the water presents every variety, 
from the dark silent pool sleeping under the shadowy 
banks and under the trees and bushes which spring up 
around, to the smooth flowing stream, the rushing tor- 
rent, and the clear waves rippling over the pebbly shore. 
Ash trees of the most elegant forms, in groups, or scat- 
tered along the banks, assist, with the farms and the cul- 
tivation, and with all the splendour of woods and trees 
diminishing as they retire in gay confusion, to produce 
the luxuriant middle grounds; while the distances are 
formed by the richly covered hills which rise high on 
each hand, closed, far off, by the elegant conical out- 
line and rocky surface of Ben Vrackie, and by the bold 
and woody mountains that impend over the pass of Killi- 

On the east side of the Garry, or along the high road, 
the whole valley otters a continued and unremitting suc- 
cession of new landscapes, among which Alt Girneg is a 
place to dwell on. Even along the road, it cannot fail to 
attract attention; from the striking and strona;- characters 
of ifs landscapes. The lofty precipice on the opposite 
side of the river, the noble and picturesque ash trees, the 

URRARl). 417 

splendid confusion of bold and varied ground, tlie bridge, 
the river, the wooded banks, the mills, and the houses, 
form altogether a group of objects condensed into a small 
space, seldom equalled for romantic beauty, and of a 
character as peculiar as it is beautiful. It is a spot 
which, like others in the dazzling course of the Tay 
and its branches, reminds us of Barnaby's description ; 
" Pontes, fontes, montes, valles, Caulas cellas, colles, 
calles, Vias, villas, vices, vices." Nor is it a small 
part of the merit of this singular collection of marked 
and striking objects, that it is impossible to move, even 
for the shortest distance, without entirely varying the 
composition ; so that within the small space of a few 
yards, Alt Girneg presents numerous landscapes of dis- 
tinct and decided characters, and of such equal, though 
different, merits, as to render a choice among them 

The cascade of Urrard, little known, but not often 
excelled, lies on the same stream. The breadth of the 
river is inconsiderable, nor is the fall high. But why 
should I say again, that the beauty of these Highland 
cascades does not consist, either in the bulk, the breadth, 
the violence, or the height of the fall. The beauty at 
Urrard lies where it must exist every where ; in the re- 
ceptacle and course of the water, in its boundary, and in 
the including landscape. It consists in the deep, shadowy, 
and wooded chasm out of which the river appears to flow, 
as from some magical and unknown source, in the exqui- 
site disposition of the ftilling and departing water, in the 
forms of the rocks which surround and divide the stream 
below it, in the overshadowing woods which receive it 
into depths as unknown as its source, and in the orna- 
ments of plants, and shrubs, and stones, and the no less 
beautiful colouring which harmonizes the whole into such 

VOL. I. K r: 


a scene of mixed reality and deception as is seen in the 
dark mirror or the camera obscura. 

To pass over endless scenes on which 1 dare not dwell, 
Killicrankie is, among others, a place too well known to 
require more than a bare mention. That remark must 
however be limited to the views from the high road ; as 
it possesses much fine scenery, hitherto unknown. The 
site of the chapel, whence it probably derived its name, 
recently existed here. Its military history is almost as 
familiar as that of Culloden or Marston Moor; but the 
stone commonly shown as a monument erected to Lord 
Dundee, appears to have been a far more ancient mark. 
Nor was that the spot where he fell, >vhich was in the 
grounds of Urrard far above: while he was interred in 
the burying ground of Blair church. Omitting such 
scenery belonging to this romantic and magnificent pass 
as is visible from the high road, the most detailed and 
perfect conception of its general form must be sought 
from an elevated spot in the grounds of Coilivrochan : a 
scene well detailed in Robson's popular and accurate 
work. A totally difl'erent style of landscape will be found 
by descending into the bed of the river, generally sup- 
posed inaccessible, and consequently unknown. The 
bridge of the Garry here affords a striking object from 
below, as it does from above : but the most interesting 
part is that where the river is seen from the high road, 
struggling through rocks and forming a dark pool. At 
this part, and for a considerable space, its course is 
under high clifls and banks and amid obstructing rocks; 
sometimes forming cascades and rapids, at others a rip- 
pling and gentle stream ; now breaking like a miniature 
lake on a pebbly shore, and, in another place, a silent 
pool sleeping beneath the shadow of overhanging trees. 
Dense woods tower aloft on one side, and, on the other, 


noble ashes and oaks, perched hig-h above, tlirow their 
arms wide over tlie water; while, springing- from the 
chasms of the rocks below, the silvery branches and the 
pale trembling foliage of the aspen, serve to contrast 
with their dark recesses; aiding, with the bright green 
of the woodrush, the feathering ferns, and the wild roses, 
to relieve the broad masses of rock, and adding ornament 
of detail to grandeur of forms. Nor is it a small cause of 
the peculiarly striking effect of this scenery, that almost 
in an instant, after leaving a village and a frequented 
road, we find ourselves in a spot which human foot 
has never trod, Avhere all traces of the world without 
have vanished, and where no sound breaks the silence 
but the murmuring of the stream and the whispering of 
the leaves. It is as if we were suddenly transported into 
the deepest wilds of unknown mountains, amid masses of 
ruin and marks of violence, strangely contrasting and en- 
hancing the profound stillness, while they speak the de- 
vastations of past ages, which seem as if they could 
never again return to disturb the calm repose of this 

Even yet the unknown scenery of Killicrankie is not 
exhausted. On the west side of the Garry, access may be 
obtained to the summit of that dark and steep woody 
hill, which, almost overhanging the river, forms the most 
conspicuous feature of the pass. The river is here invi- 
sible, intercepted by the woods beneath, which, like 
a precipice of forest, sweep down to a fearful and un- 
known depth ; an interminable surface of trees and rocks. 
On the opposite side, rises, steep and sudden, the moun- 
tain face ; bare and rocky above, its light birch groves 
below, scattering as they ascend, then skirting a ravine 
or a mountain torrent, till at length they disappear; while 
a single tree, perched here and there on some solitary 

E E 2 


rock, stands like a centinel on the brink of the sky. It 
is difficult at first to feel the full effect of this scene : it 
seems as if we could almost touch the opposite side, or 
discern the minutest objects below. It is with difficulty, 
however, that we perceive the road, undulating, like a 
white thread, along the side of the hill ; and it is only 
when a carriage chances to pass, when we see it an almost 
invisible point, advancing with almost imperceptible mo- 
tion, that the whole magnitude of the landscape breaks 
on us in all its overwhelming depth and dimensions. 

Such is the closer landscape here : but the same place 
affiards views more general of the valley of Blair and of 
the hills which surround the pass, equally grand, but in 
a far different style. Let the spectator, if he can, choose 
the evening for these views ; when the western precipices 
are under deep shadow and the pass seems a bottomless 
chasm ; and when the sun, shining full on all the splen- 
dour of wood and water and cultivation below, gilds the 
whole valley upwards to Blair; glistening on every reach 
of its bright river, and tinging the sides of the noble 
mountains, which, rising from beneath his feet, and tow- 
ering high aloft in all their variety of rock and wood and 
ravine, retire in a long and bold perspective till they 
vanish in the conical and airy sununits of Ben-y-gloe. 
Nor must he quit this place till ho has ascended to the 
Cairn above, conunanding a view all round this majestic 
country ; ranging down the vjile of the Tumel, and 
adding <o that of the Garry, the wild forest of Atholl, 
with all the long succession of moorland and mountain 
that stretches away to the rude ri<lgo of Forrogon, the 
elegant cone of Schihallien, and far beyond it, to the wild 
lands ofClenco. But if I have eaten of lotus at Blair, that 
is no reason why I sliouhl serve it all up again to you, 
recoctus: let us shift our ground to the Tumel. 

TUMtL. 421 


If the course of the Tuinel is not extensive, it is still 
a very considerable stream; receiving-, among many 
minor tributaries, the united and powerful aid of the Tilt 
and the Garry. With a total course not exceeding 
twenty-five miles, it is thus, at its termination, the rival 
of many Scottish rivers of a far longer career. But the 
Tumel has no infancy ; no period of weakness and uncer- 
tainty struggling through moss and moor, and claiming, 
rather from caprice than right, the honours of dominion 
over contesting streamlets. It rises in its vigour from 
Loch Rannoch, already a river; yet a vassal, and owing- 
feudal service to the all-devouring Tay, in which its name 
and its waters are alike swallowed up at Logierait. The 
fate of the Tumel is too often that of human life ; 
for if merit and beauty could have rescued it from a 
violent and premature death, it would have borne its name 
to the latest hour, and only have terminated its existence 
in that emblem of eternity where, sooner or later^ all must 

There are no rivers in Scotland that possess more 
beauties ; there are few that possess greater : but there is 
not one which presents so few blanks, and there is not 
therefore one which, through an equal course, displays 
the same proportion of landscape, the same number of 
scenes so brilliant, so various, and so perfect. Yet, with 
the exception of its splendid cascade, the Tumel is, to the 
world at large, as if it had never been; unpraised, nay, 
unrecorded and unknown. 

422 TUMEL. 

The northern division of the beautiful road between 
Dunkeld and Blair, as far as from Moulinearn to Garry 
bridge, owes all its charms to the vale of the Tuniel, in 
which it lies ; following the river so as nearly to keep it 
in sight the whole way. At that inn, better known from 
its interior merits and the colour of Mrs. Pennicuik's 
nose, than for its picturesque situation, ungratefully over- 
looked, the beauties of the Tumel commence. On the 
opposite side of the river, there is also a good road, dis- 
playing the scenery of this romantic valley under totally 
different characters, and finally conducting to Loch 
Tumel. The ordinary high road presents a succession 
of beauty too obvious to require detail: and by diverging 
a mile or more from Pitlochrie to the village of Moulin, 
much beautiful and unexpected scenery will also be 
found. It would be difficult to point out a village more 
picturesque: an irregular mixture of houses, and mills, 
and bridges, and falling waters, and noble trees ; a care- 
less profusion of the elements of rustic landscape, to 
which is added a rich and singular surrounding country, 
offering all the characters of ancient wealth and cultiva- 
tion, backed on one hand by the beautiful declivity of 
Ben Vrackie, and extending its views over the mag- 
nificent expanded vale of the Tay. Edradour presents a 
cascade far too important and striking to be overlooked ; 
and hence also there is a very pleasing mountain ride 
into Strath Airdio, and thus into Braemar or Strathmore. 
The closing of the road, by the hills on one hand, and 
by the woods of Fascally on the other, render a con- 
siderable space, after passing Pitlochrie, a sort of forest 
side, always romantic and full of character: but, near 
Fascally, the scenery opens again, to display the singu- 
larly wild hills which enclose this part of the valley. 
This too is well known; but all the beauty of Fascally is 

TUMEL. 423 

exhausted at tbe first view ; for, from the lower grounds 
and near tbe house, the forms of the mountains become 
rather distasteful tlian otherwise, nor does tbe greater 
proximity of the river offer any compensation. Hence, 
however, tbe peculiar and most characteristic beauties of 
tbe Tumel conmience ; occupying, first, a space of five 
miles or more, included between tbe exit of the lake and 
tbe junction of the Garry. Here tbe river runs through 
a close and woody valley, with a lofty and various boun- 
dary ; so narrow throughout, that, with very little excep- 
tion, the mountain acclivities rise immediately from the 
water, leaving no flat land or space of any kind on its 
margin. While this range of scenery, with the exception 
of tbe cascade, is nearly unknown, and, through a very 
large part, utterly so, there is no exaggeration in saying 
that no equal space can any where be selected in Scot- 
land, so full of beauties in so grand and romantic a style, 
and, at tbe same time, so thoroughly distinguished from 
all other Scottish landscape. To say that it is a woody 
valley, is to use terms applicable to a hundred places. 
The distinguishing characters of this one, consist in its 
narrowness and prolongation, in the sudden rise and 
loftiness of the boundaries, in the great variety of their 
rocky outline, in tbe wonderful intricacy of their surfaces, 
and of the woods, rocks, and ravines, which cover and 
intersect them, in the highly ornamented and varied 
course of tbe river, and in the exquisite forms and ar- 
rangements of tbe forested and scattered birches which 
here constitute the only wood. So large and so perfect 
are these trees, that, where they form continuous woods, 
their effect in the landscape is equal in richness to that of 
oak forest ; round, full, and swelling, and, from the shape 
of tbe land, thrown into broad masses of endless variety ; 
while, where they are disposed in groups or in scattered 

424 TUMEL. 

clumps, or where they stand as solitary trees, their effects 
are even more beautiful ; more airy, and more in character 
with that general lightness which, here, as at Loch Ca- 
teran, forms so essential a part of the effect of the scenery. 
To see all this, however, it is necessary to take three 
distinct lines, each having its separate kind of beauty 
and style of landscape; nor can any one duly appreciate 
the high merits of the Tumel, who does not bestow this 
labour on it. These are, the two roads which conduct to 
Loch Tumel, and that which follows the margin of the 

There is a great difference of character between the 
scenery along the southern road and that on the other two 
lines; while it is in a grander style; lying also rather 
above the woods than among them. There is here a con- 
stant succession of new pictures through a space of four 
or five miles; every angle of the road producing a dif- 
ferent one, and almost every one being such as to make 
us forget the preceding. The termination of this road, 
as far as our purposes are concerned, is at Loch Tumel : 
of which beautiful lake it exhibits views quite distinct 
from those which are obtained from any other quarter. 
There is no generally known scenery by which this can so 
well be illustrated as the skirt of Ben Venu at Loch 
Cateran, to which it does not yield in variety or grand- 
eur. In taking the northern and best road, the views 
from Garry bridge, both upwards, and down the stream, 
arc striking: and they are still more so within the ^ute of 
Coilivrochan, where the bridge itself forms an important 
object: the deep vista of the Garry and of Killicrankie, 
terminating in the finely conical form of Cairn Gower. 
15ut amorig these endless landscapes, the most splendid 
are to be obtained from various positions near the house 
of Coilivrochan. Some of these cannot fail to arrest the 

TUMEL. 4-25 

most superficial attention; others will be readily dis- 
covered by tlie experienced student of nature; but, to 
the multitude, they are a sealed book. Nor let the mul- 
titude be surprised at hearing this ; for as well might 
the spectacled crone who can read every word in her 
Crook in the Lot, or the attorney whose literature never 
wandered beyond the magical regions of a Qui tarn or a 
Quo minus, expect to appreciate the differences between 
John Gilpin and John Milton, as he who has not studied 
for that end, hope that, without an effort of his own 
mind, the trees and mountains and rocks and rivers of 
Nature, will arrange themselves into a landscape on his 
sensorium. In almost every thing, she gives us little 
more than the materials which it is our business to appro- 
priate and to work up ; and though liberal in her land- 
scape, there is much also that she offers in vain to him 
who has not learnt to administer to himself. 

By a singular felicity of accident, the casual building 
here mentioned, has been run out into a long line; and, 
by an accident no less fortunate, having been rudely 
crenellated, and being entangled among trees, it as- 
sumes, in the landscape, an air of castellated antiquity, 
particularly appropriate to the scenery, and completing 
that romantic character which so peculiarly belongs to 
this spot. There is a fulness, a luxuriance of ornament, 
and a minuteness of subdivision here, combined with the 
rudeness, the breadth, and the grandeur of alpine scenery, 
which is exceedingly rare, and which forms the peculiar 
and distinctive character of this place. While the lateral 
mountains display all that richness of outline, all that 
irregularity of surface which is the produce of precipices 
and hollows and ravines, and all that wildness of scattered 
and intermingled wood and rock which belongs especially 
to the rudest and grandest mountain scenery, the distant 
boundary is the simple and single broad form of Ben 

426 TUMEl. 

Vrackie, finely pyramidal, and deeply ploughed by one 
dark ravine, which descends, skirted with trees, till it is 
lost in the lower woods of the valley. But the intricate 
ornaments of the lateral boundaries do not detract from 
the breadth and grandeur of their forms; rather, serving 
to embellish them ; so that there is thus produced a basis 
of landscape, the simplicity and consequent repose of 
which, no profusion of ornament could afterwards destroy. 
This is a valuable lesson which Nature teaches to art, and 
no where more than in this very place ; not, according to 
the current practice of indolence, or ignorance, or system, 
to sacrifice every thing to breadth, and to what is called 
repose, but to adopt every embellishment which the cha- 
racter admits, rendering these subservient to the unity 
and eft'ect of the picture. If excess of ornament be an 
error, it is when that is allowed to distract the eye ; when, 
in contemplating the parts, we are unable to comprehend 
a whole. But this is an error in excess : in art, it is the 
error of inexperience, or of wantonness, or juvenility, and 
it admits of easy correctives : for the error which, am- 
bitious to deal only in generalities, produces nothing but 
emptiness, there is no remedy. 

You may imagine that my comparison rese?nbles that 
of the blind man who likened scarlet to the sound of a 
trumpet; but this landscape always reminds me of some 
of the symphonies of that great master of his art, Beet- 
hoven. Listen to the violin part alone, and you will 
imagine it to be a fantastical chaos of endless subdivision 
and extravagance, without a connecting medium or a 
possible harmony. Turji your attention to the orchestra, 
and you have a composition, of the most magnificent re- 
pose and simplicity, and with a continuous series of melo- 
dies which would almost render the absence of the violin 
imperceptible. United, you trace the power and the 
dexterity of art; an excess of ornament, an extravagance 



of eiabellishment, restrained within the bounds of the 
general design, and, like the innumerable stars in the 
blue expanse, adding splendour to tranquillity and 
breadth. This is a simile " a longue queue," I admit. 
If you prefer a metaphysical to a musical comparison, it 
resembles a well-conducted argument ; where, however 
a luxuriant mind may wanton in illustration and orna- 
ment, may riot amid the flowery fields of rhetoric, it still 
keeps hold of the severer logic by which its end is to be 
obtained ; playing like the wanton cat, with her fated 
prey, but never suffering it to escape from its grasp. 

Such is here the character of the landscape. On the 
basis just described, is engrafted a profusion of ornamen- 
tal detail that seems absolutely overwhelming, but which 
leaves all the great features of the picture to produce 
their full effect. As the southern mountain descends 
into the deep and shadowy ravine which conducts the 
river, it receives a broad mass of shade from its position 
and depth, which supports the whole splendour of the 
valley and of the opposed hill ; where woods on woods in 
endless succession, rise up the acclivities, subdivided 
into a thousand forms by the knolls which they crown, 
by the dark hollows and ravines which they fill, by the 
strangely irregular shape of the valley, and by the intri- 
cate course of the river beneath : while, to add to this un- 
exampled profusion, naked rocks are dispersed through- 
out the whole, and single and scattered trees, clambering 
the mountain and perched on the margin of the sky, add 
to the lightness and grace which ever attends the scenery 
of birch forests, and which is increased by the pale green 
and grey that forms the harmonious and tender colouring 
of all this valley. 

The little green glen of Fincastle offers a momentary 
and pleasing relief to this continuous woody scenery ; and 


hence, of two roads, tlie lower conducts to the river. 
The upper proceeds with a similar charactes, still through 
woods which seem never about to end, and hemmed in 
by a towering and now narrow mountain pass which ap- 
pears interminable. When, in an instant, in the space 
of one yard, the whole, wood, mountain, and valley, 
vanish as if they had never been, and there opens on our 
dazzled sight, the spacious and splendid green vale of 
the Tumel, glittering with trees and cultivation and 
houses, and backed by the noble form of Schihallien, 
from which the breaks of its bright river are seen wander- 
ing along till they reach the brilliant lake beneath; a 
splendid mirror, reflecting the blue sky and tlie trees 
which adorn its lovely pastoral banks. From a lofty and 
wooded precipitous rock at the left hand, this view, 
under some variation, may be contemplated at leisure. 
The lake is now far beneath our feet, and we look down 
upon its exit where it is yet a contest between the cha- 
racter of a river and that of a lake; a fine and bold 
wooded rock throwing its shadow over the water, Avhich 
here, black and silent, and reflecting the subdued co- 
lours of the rocks and the trees w hich overhang it, gradu- 
ally unites with the more distant blue expanse. Here also 
we trace the progress of the vale, from the broad green 
meadows checkered by the luxuriant ash trees which are 
sprinkled all over it in gay profusion, to the more remote 
plain, where, as they retire from the eye, the forms be- 
come more grouped and more indistinct; at length mix- 
ing in one scene of rich and miniature confusion, which 
vanishes at last in the accumulating haze of the distance, 
without permitting us to define its termination. On each 
side, the hills slope gently upwards; the woods and the 
<ulfivation still attending them, till, beconu'ng brown and 
rocky, (hey terminate in a varied outline on the sky. 


The left hand range, particularly marked, displays the 
lono- serrated and irregular ridge of Ferrogon, rising 
gradually up into the blue and elegant cone of Schihal- 
lien, the most graceful of mountains ; while, far in the 
distance, is seen the triple mountain which separates 
Loch Etive from Glenco. 

In the opposite direction, we look back through the 
close valley we have quitted, so that no contrast can well 
be greater than that of these opposed landscapes ; each 
equally magnificent, but in styles thoroughly contrasted 
to each other. The valley has now, however, a character 
entirely different from that which it presented near 
Coilivrochan : more grand and more simple, but closing 
at the bottom, and still guiding" the eye along a profusion 
of alpine ornament of rocks and woods, till the long- vista 
terminates, as before, in Ben Vrackie ; that mountain 
which we are doomed never to lose through all the sur- 
rounding country, which forms the leading* feature at 
Blair, as here, but which is always graceful and always 
grand. It is a remarkable part of the character of this 
spot, that an impression resembling that produced by 
close scenery, is excited amidst magnitude and space. 
We feel as if in and among the objects we are contem- 
plating : the valley is under our feet, the mountains are 
over our heads ; it seems as if every tree was near and 
about us. Yet all is overwhelming by its extent: and 
even when the first confusion of mind produced by mag- 
nitude and midtiplicity subsides, we cannot well explain 
to ourselves how this compound effect is produced. 

Tracing, lastly, the line of the river, the character of 
the scenery is still distinct, while the landscapes are 
scarcely less numerous, or less rapid in their succession. 
But I dare not dwell on them, or I should never quit this 
fascinating spot. The great cascade of the Tumel, the 


chief of these, may be seen from the southern bank of the 
riv^er, under a point of view little known, as well as from 
the northern. Every where it is fine ; though, as I have 
already said, it cannot be compared with that of Fyers. 
They are both first in rank, of the Scottish cascades, each 
in its distinct character: and though the altitude of the 
present bears no comparison to those of the Clyde, no 
one can hesitate an instant as to the preference. Except 
those, I ought to say, whose sole notions of beauty, in 
this matter, are regulated by the noise, the bulk, and 
the turbulence; who find nothing" in a waterfall but an 
object of wonder, who are most contented where they 
are most deafened, and to whom the criterion of merit 
is to depart as far as possible from the soft gliding- of 
the New River, and the sleep of the canal in St. James's 
Park. It is a peculiar and a rare merit in the cascade of 
theTumel, that it is beautiful in itself, and almost without 
the aid of its accompaniments. Though the water breaks 
white, almost throughout, the forms are so graceful, so 
varied, and so well marked, that we can look at it long, 
without being wearied with monotony, and M'ithout at- 
tending to the surrounding landscape. Whether low or 
full, whether the river glides transparent over tlie rocks, 
to burst in foam below, or whether it descends like a 
torrent of snow from the very edge, this fall is alwfiys 
various and always graceful. Tlie inunediate accompani- 
ments are, however, no less beautiful and appropriate ; 
and the general landscape is, at the same time, rich and 
romantic; nothing being left to desire, to ren<lerthis one 
of the most brilliant scenes which our country produces. 
1 know not whore the efiects of cascade scenery can 
be more enjoyed, the impression which it produces can 
bo more I'elt, than here. If the principle of life, a princi- 
ple that seems to animate all around, is one of the great 


causes of the effect which the cascade produces on the 
mind, not a little also is owing to that image of eternity, 
which its never beginning, never ending, flow conveys. 
Nor is that the eternity of the river alone, which flows 
and will flow on, till time is no more: but every moment 
is a moment of power and effort, and every succeeding 
effort is, like the former, unwearied, unabated. It is a 
tempest and a fury that never cease. The other wars 
of the elements are transient : the ocean billows subside 
in peace, the thunder rolls away, and the leaves that 
sounded to the tempest, soon glitter again with all their 
brio^ht drops in the sun-beam. But the cascade is eternal ; 
every instant is a storm and a tempest, and the storm and 
the tempest are for ever. It is a similar feeling which 
overwhelms the mind in contemplating the grander 
efforts of machinery; the steam engine and the tilt ham- 
mer. It is not only the power, the noise, the fire, and 
the magnitude and brilliancy of these operations, 
which dazzle and astonish us. Every moment is a mo- 
ment of violence and effort, every instant seems the crisis 
of some grand operation ; but every succeeding one is 
like the former, and the unwearied storm of machinery is, 
like the cascade, the emblem of eternity and of eternal 

You will think that I never intend to quit the Tumel. 
In truth, I am very sorry to part with it ; because I know 
that when I do, I must shortly bid adieu to hill and dale, 
forest and mead, to banks whereon the nodding violet 
grows, and liquid lapse of murmuring streams. These 
indeed are the pleasures to which there is no alloy. Let 
who will, possess the lands, their beauties are the property 
of all ; and even to the Lord of these wide domains, the 
« laif," as old Dunbar says, is but " a sight." But if I 
have often hastened over scenes long known, it was to 


dwell on those which have been neglected. To make 
them known, is equally to do that justice to our native 
scenery which it has never yet received, and, to add to 
the pleasures of those who may follow me ; while I can- 
not help feeling a sort of parental affection for what I 
could almost fancy myself to have discovered ; with less 
of folly, at least, than the young gentleman who ima- 
gined that he had made the discovery of Dryden's Ode 
to Music. After all, the term discovery, in matters of 
this nature, is rather of precarious application ; and, occa- 
sionally, perhaps, not less ludicrous than the finding of 
Alexander's Feast or the vale of the Tumel. If we deify 
Columbus, who discovered a country known to ten mil- 
lions of people, we should laugh at Jack Sacheuse, or 
the Little Weasel chief of the Crees, should they return 
to Greenland or the Great Slave lake, to announce to 
their nations the discovery of Europe. He who makes 
known to the fine gentlemen and ladies of England, what 
was known before but to a few Highland shepherds, may 
erect his pole and display his flag. 'Tis true, he cannot 
take possession in the name of King George : and there's 
the rub. Yet had his lot been cast in the days of James 
" the first and sixth," he might even have done that. 

The valley of the Tumel continues splendid, even in 
its expansion ; a bright vale of rich wood and green 
meadows, united to that magnificence of the mountain 
boundary, of which Schihallien always forms the prin- 
cipal feature. Every where, Loch Tumel is the same 
bright mriror : and, we might almost imagine that the 
hand of art had been employed in forming and decorat- 
ing what we know to be beyond its powers. Thus it has 
a character of its own, utterly distinct from that of all 
our lakes. The mountain boundaries do not press on it ; 
and the landscape, therefore, is rather formed by the 

TUMEL. 433 

beautiful trees which adorn it, by the low banks, and by 
the windings of the river, than by what we expect to find 
in a Highland lake. Loch Tumel, on its banks, might, 
like the whole of its valley, be imagined a scene in the 
rich plains of England. 

To pass over much on which I dare not dwell, the 
Tumel assumes a new character above Tumel bridge, 
appearing in a succession of broken rapids and cascades, 
often very picturesque; foaming among- rocks whence 
spring- ancient and picturesque firs, and producing a va- 
riety of romantic scenes resembling the Norwegian land- 
scapes of Ruysdael. At Mount Alexander, its character 
is once more changed : forcing its way through a narrow 
and romantic pass under the foot of Schihallien, and be- 
ing ornamented by the woods of this picturesque spot on 
one side, and of Crossmount on the other. The whole of 
this space is exceedingly rich in that mixture of wood 
and rock which is so characteristic of this skirt of 
Schihallien ; and the various wider landscapes which are 
found about this place, yield to few in extent of scope, 
and in splendour of romantic and ornamented mountain 

Mount Alexander derives some historic celebrity from 
its poet, Struan ; whose printed works, whatever their 
poetical merit may be, display a disgusting mixture of 
profligacy and religion. But I need not tell you what 
they are. I looked for his argentine spring in vain ; it 
appears to have been forgotten in the revolutions of time. 
He, as all the world knows, was out in 1715. But his 
estate, after having been restored, was forfeited again, 
and annexed in 1745. He returned nevertheless, and 
resided on it ; a poet and a sot. This was a somewhat 
extensive clan, known by the name of Clan Donachie, 
and supposed to be a ramification of Mac Donald. This 
VOL. I. p f 


extensive estate, including a large portion of Rannoch, 
was granted, it is said, as a reward for apprehending 
Graham, the murderer of James the first. I know not 
when this district belonged to the Mac Gregors, nor how 
much of it they possessed. But the whole tract was a 
long continued scene of their persecutions ; and many a 
spot is now pointed out hy the country people, where 
some act of petty warfare or murder took place ; a preci- 
pice whence some one was thrown, a rock where a des- 
perate leap was made, or a cave in which some of this 
proscribed clan were concealed. What supereminent 
demerits the Mac Gregors possessed, it is almost too late 
to ask : but they could not have been much w^orsc than 
the celebrated Mac Robert in James the fifth's time, a 
noted specimen of the Clan Donachie banditti, nor than 
that " last of all the Romans," Donald Bean Lean ; whose 
conceptions of the nature of international justice do not 
seem to have been very clear, when he imagined that he 
had a right to any man's cow, but that no one had a 
right to hang him in return. 

It is easy to ascend Schihallien from Kinloch, as the 
distance is not great. Its mathematical celebrity offers a 
natural temptation to this attempt ; but, in other respects, 
it will produce disappointment. Viewed from this eleva- 
tion, the valley of the Tumel appears trifling as it is 
remote; and Loch Raiuioch affords no beauty to com- 
pensate for it. With little exception, all else is a heap of 
mountaitis, among mIucIi the eye traces few striking 
forms ; while the great elevation of Ben Lawere excludes 
the southern horizon, where the most beauty would be 
expected. In a similar manner. Glen Lyon is shut out, 
by the breadth and ahitudi; of the inter[)osed mountains. 
It was in vain that I souirht for the remains of Dr. Mas- 
kelyne's observatories; for time set^ms to have performed 


its appointed duty towards them. But I discovered what 
I had long- before suspected : the error of this celebrated 
experiment, and the consequent wreck of its conclusions. 
Nor did our late friend Play fair succeed in effectually 
correcting them by his geological investigation ; since 
that itself was insufficiently conducted ; having proceeded 
on an incorrect and superficial view of the structure of 
the mountain. A fundamental element in this problem 
remains therefore yet unassigned : that, namely, which 
implies the specific gravity of Schihallien. Still, his 
correction forms a much nearer approximation to the true 
density of the earth than the original computation; while 
both the attempts prove the importance of geology, even 
in questions of astronomy, and serve to draw a strong 
line between that science, when judiciously pursued, 
and that which is too often dignified by this name among 
the collectors of cockleshells and specimens. But all is 
vanity alike. While the very words are fidling from my 
pen, Dr. Hutton is gone where, we trust, all the labyrinths 
of the universe will be revealed to him; leaving, to ma- 
thematicians, a name seldom equalled for science, for 
utility, never; and, to his friends, the memory of a cha- 
racter adding^ to that science an unwearied fund of know- 
ledge and conversation, a cheerful and kind disposition, 
and the simplicity of a cliild. Smeaton, Maskelyne, 
Burrowes, Playfair, all are gone. My turn is next. 
While I write, my pen threatens to stop for ever. It will 
remain for another to determine the attractions of Sclii- 
hallien. He too must follow : but the njountain will re- 
main ; a monument to its mathematicians, to terminate 
only with the great globe itself. 

Time too has clutched the knavish Donachie who 
erected himself to the post of my guide; uninvited. 
There was some ingenuity in this particular Vulture, en- 

F F 2 


titling him to a distinction among tliat new class of Cear- 
nachs, now to be found wherever a Saxon traveller is seen 
or expected. Why he concluded that I was an astro- 
nomer or a mathematician I know not ; unless he saw the 
mark of a parabola, or a sinister aspect, in the third house 
of my face. But he talked of zenith distances, and of 
Dr. Maskelyne, and was, I doubt not, very profound when 
he was in proper company. He should be happy to ac- 
company me if I would permit him ; he would meet rae on 
the morrow, and explain every thing. I wanted no ex- 
planation. I suppose he thought otherwise; for, the next 
day, he was at my elbow. I thought this somewhat too 
much ; however, for the honour of astronomy, I gave him 
a crown. I found that he had expected a guinea : which, 
assuredly, was perfectly mathematical ; because if the 
former was a proper fee for two hours of hire, what re- 
ward could be sufficient for him who had generously 
volunteered his services. As he turned off, grumbling, I 
prepared for my own departure ; when I discovered that 
this scientific scion of Clan Donachie had taken care to 
arrive at the inn the night before, where he had regaled 
himself with all the delicacies he could procure, repeat- 
ing the same process in the morning, and, for the third 
time, having ordered a dinner, to be registered in the 
astronomical bill. This was the very cube of Highland 
knavery; but unless he and the landlord solved the 
equation between them, it remains undetermined to this 

The beauties of the Tumcl cease at Mount Alexander. 
There is none at Kinloch Kannocli, and the general view 
of this lake is insipid ; as its i)oundaries have no marked 
character,and as the hills of (ilenco, which form the remote 
distance, are lost in that very distance. But the south 
side of Loch Uannocli oti'ersa very beautiful ride through- 


out its whole length of nine miles ; yet if it presents any 
decided landscapes, they are unknown to me. To dis- 
cern landscape where it is not very obvious, and, some- 
times, even to see it where it is, requires an undivided 
attention, even from those who have made this subject 
their study. Often have I passed through the Highlands, 
thinking of their agriculture or their economy, or watch- 
ing the people, or the rocks, or the plants, or perchance 
dreaming, and, when the journey was over, have noted it 
as void of beauty. On another occasion, and in another 
season, I have almost wondered if it was the same scenery. 
Never yet was it a land of pictures when there were 
angles to be measured or a mountain of trap to entrap my 
attention. Such are the ups and downs of our observa- 
tion; while it is the fault of the hobby horse of the day, 
that he is very apt to kick his rivals out of the paddock. 
This is often the real excuse of travellers, when they are 
accused of in&ttention. If there be a man who can see 
every thing, it is certain that there is no one who, like 
Argus, can see every thing at the same time. Of simul- 
taneous objects, some will not be seen at all ; and of simul- 
taneous impressions, some will not adhere. Among the 
herd, he who grubs in beetles and botany, will never 
raise his eye to the beauty of the temple or the sublimity 
of the mountain ; and if he whose object is to study and 
delineate the drift of states and men, can also descend to 
material nature, it is very certain that it will often pass 
before his eyes, imageless. unimpressive. 

The leading character of this shore of Loch Rannoch, 
lies in the fir Mood which skirts it, rising high up the 
hills: a forest destroyed ; but still containing many trees, 
and even more picturesque than if it had been entire. It 
presents also much beautifully wild cultivation, and many 
farms of a rural and singular character: while the open- 


ings in the wood, and the dispersed trees, produce a 
variety of fir scenery quite distinct from that which 
occurs at Rothiemurchus or in Mar. The north side of 
the lake possesses also a good road, but with far less of 
character, and presenting nothing remarkable except the 
extremely ancient and decrepit, yet picturesque remains 
of a birch forest, which appears once to have contained 
trees of unusual size. Unfortunately, it has been dis- 
covered that birch will make casks for the herring trade ; 
and Scotland is thus fast losing the most picturesque of its 
trees ; and that too which could least be spared, because 
nothing can ever grow again in the same situations. 

The traveller or the artist who writes a book of in- 
dignation at the sight of a coppice or felled tree, forgets 
that we must build ships and houses, and wear boots and 
shoes, and that there are some other uses for a tree than 
ornament ; that its proprietor did not plant for the public 
amusement. But in this case of the birch, the miserable 
profit bears no proportion to the general injury, nor even 
to that by which the owner himself suffers; as this de- 
struction is often committed on his own ornamental 
grounds. That it should ever be replaced is impossible, 
for want of enclosures ; while it is a loss even to the 
proprietors themselves, by depriving the cattle of a shelter 
which is often much wanted. 





Thus, in the revolution of things, I have brought 
you once more to the end of Loch Raunoch, as I brought 
you to it before, from Gleuco ; and, to the very field itself 
of the battle of Rannocb. But 1 should be very sorry 
indeed to think that either Sandy Mac Donald, or my 
astronomical friend, was a specimen of his countrymen. 
They are in truth, exceptions, or, at least, specimens of 
exceptions : and that justice may be rendered where it is 
due, I shall demand your patience on this point a little 
longer. Generalization is no less the fault of the vulgar 
than of philosophers. Thus all the world agrees that 
the Highlanders are the most hospitable and generous 
people in the creation. Another party, which is, of 
course, out of the world, asserts that they are the greatest 
extortioners on the face of the earth. I need not say of 
whom the first party consists ; and, as to the latter, the 
extramundanes, they are only travellers, and may be de- 
spised. So much for hypotheses ou national character. 
There is a third party, consisting* of I know not whom, 
that believes neither the one nor the other. The Ba- 
conian philosophy directs us to make experiments and 
observations, instead of building up theories out of 
nothing. A few of these, judiciously selected, are, as all 
philosophers know, as good as a thousand. 

I once came'to anchor in the roadstead of loua, and 



there were shirts to be washed : a base conclusion, you 
will say, to a paragraph tliat begins on Col uinba's sacred 
isle ; but such vulgar events will happen in every slate of 
life. The shirts returned in due time ; and, as they 
always do in the Highlands, not much whiter than before; 
unironed, unstarched, unannealed ; but not unsmoked. 
A seaman was sent on shore to pay tlie bill, but a violent 
dispute arose between Mrs. Mac Phail and her maid ; the 
former determining- to charge two shillings each, and the 
maid maintaining that one was enough. But this, and 
many similar events, are matters of commerce: English- 
men call it Highland extortion. I have paid worse bills 
than this one ; though Mrs. Mac Phail's conscience was 
among- the most capacious: a true example of Adoniram 
Byfield's definition; who says that it is a catskin pouch 
to put money in. 

A year had scarcely elapsed, and I found myself in 
Isla. I had walked, as I thought, enough ; but I had 
yet ten miles before me. I had lost my comb. I went 
into a shop of all wares, the usual Highland storehouse, 
and took up a sixpenny horn utensil of this kind. How 
much ? — eighteen pence. I knew I must pay a triple 
price, in this country, and therefore was determined to 
work the extraordinary shilling out of my chapman in 
talk. How else should we learn any thing- about the 
people and the country. Of course, I was obliged to 
give an account of myself in return. " And was I deter- 
mined to walk ? — I seemed tired ; — I should have his 
horse." I not only got his horse for nothing, but was 
treated in his house with three times the overcharged 
value of the comb: and, when I returned some time 
afterwards, was domiciliated in it for two days, and might 
have staid twice ixa many more. Here is the spirit of 
conunerce, the artificial graft, vegetating on the radical 


generosity of the specieis:. If I had walked out of the 
shop straightway, with my comb in my pocket, I should 
have ranked Mr. Mac Arthur with Mrs. MacPhail. 

I was on an expedition to Sky. Loch Cateran lay in 
my way ; two young countrymen were in a boat : I asked 
them to row me across ; and this was done. I offered 
them half a crown, which was repulsed, with some indig- 
nation, but politely expressed: " They did not put me 
over for the like of that." I imagine, however, that Eng- 
lish communication has improved their manners of late ; 
as this was not an adventure of yesterday. I arrived in 
due time in Sky. I asked the same question on the shore 
of a strait of the same breadth. "Aye, aye, we'll put 
ye across, but it's two guineas for the boat," A Ports- 
mouth wherry would have done as much for a shilling*. 
Am I to say that a Highlander is generous, or must I call 
him an extortioner; here are irreconcilable facts for an 
hypothesis on national character. Montesquieu would 
say that it was because the climate of Sky differed from 
that of Loch Cateran. 

In Arran, I was encumbered with minerals ; and 
meeting an idle lout of a boy half asleep on the common, 
with an old jade of a pony, offered him two shillings to 
carry them two or three miles to a place pointed out. 
No; he would have four. But this is invariable: had I 
offered ten it would have been the same : and the boy 
and his horse both would have been a bad purchase at 
twenty. When I arrived at the place of destination by 
another road, he was not there: he had repented perhaps 
that he had not asked more, and preferred lounging in 
the old way, to gaining four shillings by an hour's exer- 
tion. This is common everywhere. Not three hours after, 
I hired a boat for three shillings, to cross a piece of 
water which a London waterman would have undertaken 


for sixpence. The boat was to be launched, as was ob- 
vious: and indeed never could, at any period of its ex- 
istence, have been used without launching. Yet when 
the account was to be settled, there was an additional 
demand of three shillings for launching- the boat. 

Then, to balance all this, I have had my watch re- 
paired in Cromarty by an artist whom I could not induce 
to name a price or take a fee ; my shoes have been mended 
on the same terms at Comrie, and my nether garments 
by the Shemus-na-suahdt who keeps the inn at Kinloch 
Raunoch. But what is this to Greenock ; where your bag- 
gage is pulled and hauled and carried about by boys and 
men, who seem never to trouble themselves whether they 
get a reward or not. Being* somewhat bewildered once 
with trunks and such-like things, one man with a knot 
on his shoulder, said, " it is a pity to carry them to the 
inn, only to bring them down again ; it is putting- you to 
expense for nothing." We should listen long for such a 
speech in London. But this is partly Highland and partly 
Lowland : and as I have now and then thrown a stone 
at your countrymen south of the " Grampian chain," it 
is but fair to give them the praise which is amply their 
due. There is a high point of honour among them, as 
among the Highlanders, which it is quite delightful to see; 
putting out of question the pe(ty economy of our purees 
which it may favour : for it is not the paltry loss of a few 
miserable shillings which is the evil from which we ever 
sufter, but the odious and fraudulent spirit which accom- 
panies the imposture. 

At Pluscardine, but Pluscardine is not in the High- 
lands, I gave ujy horse to a woman to hold, who, besides 
this, very goodnaturedly sup|>licd me with a chair, and 
was abounding in all kinds of civility and attentions. 
She was poor enough too : but when 1 ofl'ered her a shil- 


liiig-, she said — No ; that it was a great deal too much, 
as she could only earn twopence-halfpenny a day, and 
she had only held my horse an hour. As the twelfth part 
of twopence-halfpenny was a problem too deep for either 
of us to solve, she insisted on threshing- out some barley 
for him ; and, in the end, I was obliged to compound 
the superfluity of the shilling, by consenting to take a 
" spark" of juniper whisky out of her bottle : " vital spark 
of heavenly flame." Shillings are seldom so well be- 
stowed any where, and certainly rarely better earned in 
the Highlands ; but it is due to the virtue of Moray and 
Aberdeenshire to say that they are utterly free of the 
propensity to extortion, and, if I mistake not, form the 
civilest portion of the Scottish population. 

There was a rigidity of virtue in the arithmetical con- 
scientiousness of my old dame of Pluscardine, which is ex- 
cellently amusing. And again, what are we to conclude 
about the national character on this point. What, but to 
take the amiable side, and allot them the palm of virtue; 
as the noted jockey determined that crop-eared horses 
were the best trotters, his own having been thus orna- 

As to the hiring of boats in the Highlands, it is at 
their weight in gold nearly. Putting aside hyperbole, 
however, three days' freight will pay the value of any 
boat that swims, if swimming it can be called, half full of 
water, as is the fashion, on the west coast. The half of 
a board, shoved into the angle of the sharp stern, serves 
to remind you that there is no seat. As there is no floor, 
your feet are in the water to the ancles ; the remains of 
the fish that were caught on the day it was first launched, 
are there still ; odorous, but not of violets. A man with- 
out a coat and a boy without breeches, pull upon a 
couple of oars hung on pins: pretty hard, I admit, if 


the machinery is new ; but if old, as is more likely, there 
is danger of their breaking, and you sit in terror; for 
what is a two-oared boat with only one oar. If, unfortu- 
uately, there is wind, and a sail, that sail is a blanket, 
without sheet, haulyard, or tack, and you must steer as 
well as you can, yourself, with one of the oars. If the 
wind is short, you go all to leeward and nothing forward : 
if baffling, you are taken aback and overset: if aft, you 
cannot scud, and are pooped and swamped ; or else your 
sail gibes beyond the power of art to prevent it, and 
down you go like cormorants before a musket. Suppos- 
ing you escape, you must pay a guinea, or two, as it 
happens ; that is, if you have made such a bargain. If 
not, and you are sulky, and of true English l)lood, you 
go before the justice : like a travelling poet wiiom I once 
met. The justice was the landlord, and he said, "Ah! 
poor fellow — it is hard work:" — and the two guineas 
served to pay the rent when term day came round. Such 
at least was this poet's conclusion. But the poet reasoned 
like the jockey. The fares are often regulated. And 
there are boatmen too whom I have paid M-ith pleasure. 

If boats are thus, what shall we say about horses. The 
value of the beast is five pounds: his annual grass, 
possibly, as many shillings; commonly, nothing. If he 
has any shoes, there are but two, and he is not, perhaps, 
much accustomed, even to these. Halter or bridle, it is 
tolerably inditfercnt which ; but the halter is the softest 
in your hand. I have ridden on a quadrupled sack, and 
the stirrups were two nooses of rope. This is perhaps 
better than a saddle with the flaps curled upwards, which 
has undergone all the vicissitudes of rain and fire for 
twenty years; an application which neither man nor 
horse can bear long. This Biu'e|)halus was hired fi>r the 
day, and you rose to mount him al six. lie was in flic 


hill, however ; was chased for a dozen or two of miles 
before he could be caught ; arrived at two o'clock, blown, 
and more ready to lie down than go on ; and you pay 
half a guinea, or a guinea, as it may be, for crawling out 
the remainder of a rainy day on him. The guide, who 
earns a shilling if he stays at home, that is, if he can 
find one to earn, will not Avalk by your side to bring him 
back, without another half guinea ; and, for less than 
all this, you might have ridden one of Mr. Fozard's best 
hunters to Epsom races. 

But these are all matters of commerce again ; and 
your commerce is a sad enemy to your generosity, A 
man, as Dr. Johnson said of Mr. Thrale, never gives what 
he can sell. 

It must be owned that the novelty of commercial 
profit will cover, or at least mollify some of these sins. 
A young trader does not know what to ask, according to 
the usual phrase : or, in common parlance, does not know 
how to ask enough. The infant tiger is quiet enough 
till he has tasted blood. 1 have tried to excuse my High- 
land friends as far as I can ; but I do not find that my 
Enoflish acquaintances, who have been half drowned, and 
have flayed, and altogether cheated, will back me in 
this : but that is from their imperfect experience. They 
have only seen the worst side, because they are them- 
selves a principal cause of the evil. As to the Highland 
Lairds themselves, they are no judges in this case. Per- 
haps they know nothing about this laudable spoiling of the 
Egyptians : possibly they do : and it is not wonderful if, 
in the former case, they deny it : in the latter, the sound 
policy would be to admit the exceptions, and to claim 
for their countrymen, only that general character which 
they really deserve. 

The narrow line that divides this generosity from this 


commerce, is at times amusing- enough. I have sent a 
sailor on shore for a bottle of millcfor breakfast. It has 
been a penny — twopence — sixpence — nay, a shilling-. I 
have drank many a gallon ; it has been forced on me ; for 
love. I have eaten, and drank, and slept, and ridden, 
and been rowed, for pure love, often ; and 1 have done 
all this at the expense of those who were ten thousand 
times poorer than myself, and to whom I could make no 
return ; who scarcely thought they were doing a favour. 
And I have praised their generosity ; and hereby it is 
praised again. But I have been made to pay, and to 
some purpose, for every one of these things ; and all that 
I say, is — These individuals are extortionate dogs ; but 
it is new to them to get money at all, and they know not 
yet how to do it with grace and moderation. 

But they think too that an Englishman is made of 
guineas: and who does not, wherever an Englishman 
g-oes. " Ah ! you are all so rich in England," a High- 
lander said to me once ; " there is nobody poor in your 
country." If he raises the market on his own country- 
men, let them complain of each other. A Highlander in 
Sky, not long ago, asked me a guinea for a crystal. I 
offered him sixpence. " Ach ! now, it's just a guinea — 
it's all the same to you, a guinea or a saxpence." The 
following ingenious reasoning was well worth something-, 
but not what it cost. The captain wanted a sheep. The 
sheep was brought in ; a cand!(! would have shone through 
his flanks. « How much." — " Twenty-five shillings."— 
"Twenty-five shillings! why, I could buy a fat sheep 
for this in Falkirk market." — " Aye, so ye would, but 
this 'ill be fat too some day, and I can na tak less." One 
must not starve for the sake of twenty-five shillings, 
Avhich (he rogue well knew; and the sheep produced 
ten pounds of uneatable mutton. \Vithin a week after 


this, a little farmer, of" whom I ki)e\v no more than that 
I had g-one into his house for shelter and had eaten his 
dinner, sent me a present of abetter sheep. 

And now I leave you to draw your own conclusions; 
for I only undertook to furnish you the materials. But 
you will say, not only in this case, but in many others, 
that you are puzzled with the irreconcileable features of 
the Highlanders, that they have no steady feature, that 
their properties are contradictory to each other, and that 
your Highland acquaintances differ from me. That is 
not unlikely : but you may enquire first how far your 
friends are agreed among each other on any of these 
points. I have heard no censure on them so severe as 
that of their own countrymen : while others again say, 
that a Highlander combines all the possible and impossi- 
ble virtues that belong to civilized and uncivilized society 
together. That they have a large and an enviable share 
of good, I verily believe : but we must learn to be reason- 
able. Perhaps the truth is not very difficult to hit : the 
obscurity all arises from setting out on a false theory; 
no unusual source of difficult judgment. 

It is necessary, first, for us all to forget that we have 
ever read a word on the Highlands : or, if that cannot be, 
to recollect, that "tis" more than " sixty years since" the 
battle of Culloden, that it is about fifty since Pennant 
and Johnson wrote, and that what was fading then is 
nearly vanished now : there is much of it indeed that is 
vanished altogether. In the next place, the term High- 
lands is now, scarcely even a geographical distinction : 
the shade by which it unites with the Lowlands, is evan- 
escent and undefinablc ; and, every year, the colours 
blend more, and the neutral tint widens around the border 
that once separated them. The term Highlander is still 
less definite : the metaphysical gradation is nearly imper- 


ceptible ; the political condition of Scotland is identical 
in theory, and nearly so in practice ; and the Highlands 
have long ceased to form a nation and a people. The 
country preserves many peculiarities, it is true ; fostered 
by language, occupation, residence, and a little, perhaps, 
by ancient recollections : but they are fast melting away 
into the misty shadows of realities that were once as 
striking as their own rocks and mountains. 

But these changes are, also, neither simultaneous nor 
equal everywhere. According to the natural and neces- 
sary progress of civilization, or change, if that term 
offends you, they cannot be so ; and thus, what is true of 
some parts of the country, is false of others. This is one 
of the great sources of all the difficulties in question. 
Nothing more is proved by the dissatisfaction of those 
who are displeased : and their own discordance, when 
narrowly questioned, proves this to be the real cause. 
Every one judges by the district which he knows best : 
no one thinks of examining the whole : there are few who 
know the country in general, even among the High- 
landers themselves; and why then should we be surprised 
if we find a discordance in the reports that we read and 
hear. The genus is the same, if you please, but the 
species differs everywhere. We cannot easily trace, on 
the borders of the Lowlands, or in the vicinity of towns, 
fisheries, manufactures, and improvements, any very 
violent character of difference between a Scot and a Gael : 
but, take a wi<le interval, and the differences are still 
strongly marked. Mixture of breed has done something : 
language, example, industry, agricultural improvements, 
have done more: every day the differences diminish, and, 
at some day, distant though it assuredly nuist be, it will 
be still less perceptible. 

But this is as true of England and of Wales : it is the 


term Highlands that always misleads us ; because it is a 
term of history. Let me carry you to St. Kilda. It is as 
little like the St. Kilda of Martin, as it is to Owliyhee ; 
though so remote a part of the country. The Gannets 
build as they did, and they are caught and eaten pretty 
much in the same manner : but, for any thing else, neither 
Martin, nor even Macaulay, would know their old friends 
again could they rise from tlic; dead. St. Kilda and the 
generality of the Long* Island may now rank together 
pretty nearly : but what resemblance does the Barra 
where the Macneil could once muster a thousand men 
within the walls of Chisamil castle, bear to the Barra 
which sends a dozen or two of boats full of salt ling to 
Greenock, every summer; bringing back, in return, 
Greenock manners and the Greenock tongue. If the 
Danes who occupy the Butt of the Lewis, still comb their 
heads as little as their ancestors did, yet, where the Mac- 
kenzie once led bare-legged clans to battle behind the 
braying of a bagpipe, the ladies of Stornaway are forming* 
nightly coteries of cards and scandal. 

Perhaps the wild Mac Raws, as they are called by 
courtesy, are now the most genuine pictures that remain 
of the ancient Highlander ; and the superficial view is 
not a very flattering one. Contrast them with the opulent 
agriculturists of Isla, once the centre of power, the focus 
of the Macdonald dynasty, the seat of piracy and ^)lun- 
der, and virtue and valour. Go to the slate quarries of 
Seil and Luing, and there ask for Highland manners : or 
to the salmon fisheries of Pol Ewe and Lnxford, and find 
them in the hands of Berwickers; heterociite dogs, nei- 
ther Scots nor English. Follow the kelp manufacture 
and the fisheries; tread in the steps of the excisemen and 
justices; ride on a turnpike road, finer and better than 
any in England, from Fort William to Sky, and then ask 

VOL.1. GC 


for Highland manners, and expect that he who can wear 
breeches, dig in the Caledonian canal, go to Glasgow and 
weave cotton, or has returned from a Spanish campaign 
with a leg- less and a shilling a day more, Avill not be a 
corrupt dog and no Highlander. If you would see him 
in a state as rude as heart can wish, explore the wilds of 
Sutherland : but what will you find ; a starving melan- 
choly wretch, half clothed, living in a dunghill, paying 
no rent, stealing a sheep when he can catch him, cutting 
down his landlord's trees, defying all laws, and preferring 
rather to starve than work. Thus, at least, it was lately. 
Pursue the same creature to the sea-shore where Lord 
Stafford has driven him, to the great annoyance of all 
romantic oentlemen, and find him in a comfortable cot- 
tao-e, with a boat, a cow, and a few acres of oats, active, 
industrious, and happy ; and then ask why travellers do 
not give a consistent character of the Highlanders. No- 
thins- was ever more unlike himself; except Horace's 
friend : and, in some places, the savage even elbows the 
neophyte. Bute and Arran for example : but Arran has 
changed under my very pen ; thanks to the excise, the 
steam boats, and the Duke of Hamilton. What with 
sheep, and ribbands, and excisemen, and shoes, and mus- 
lin, and rents, and taxes, and absentees, and kelp, and 
English, and cod, and herring, and lobster smacks, and 
justices of peace, and breeches, and shops of all wares, 
and schools, and roads, and cockneys travelling in gigs, 
and innkeepers who have learnt little from their instruc- 
tors but the art of making them pay for what thoy do not 
get, Donald or Dougal himself. Mere they alive again, the 
great fathers of all the Donalds and Dougals of the day, 
would wonder as much what was become of their own 
dear country as Owen Glendwr or Jorwerth ap Drwndwn 
would do if they were to see a bridge over Bangor straits, 


or as the votaries of Mr. Sams do, that a modern traveller 
in the Highlands does not make them appear the thing- 
which they are not. The Mac Raws are one thing, and the 
Mac Kenziesare another, and the Campbells are a third ; 
and as to the Mac Intoshes, and the Mac Phersons and the 
Grants, and the Frasers, and the Mac Raes, and the Mac 
Kays, and the Camerons, and the Mac Donalds, and the 
Mac Leans, and the Mac Callnms, and the Mac Farlanes, 
and the 3Iac Gregors, and the Mac Neils, Mac Nabs, Mac 
Arthurs, Mac Alisters, Mac Phails, Mac Naughtons, and 
so forth, they are all worthy descendants of worthy and 
ancient stocks : but, of nine tenths of them, it would be 
difficult to discover in what respect they belonged to the 
bold names which they have inherited from their warlike 

The romance is pretty nearly expiring : and to those 
who have found it much otherwise in their books, I can 
only say, travel, look, enquire. Let them travel the 
country where they please, if they will but take care to 
wipe the Highland mist well off from their eyes, they 
shall see as various a people, and puzzle themselves as 
much to reconcile the facts and their theories, as they 
may perchance be puzzled by my lucubrations, or as 
wiser politicians have often puzzled themselves before in 
their speculations on a national character. 

It is not very easy to separate ideas of beauty and of 
picturesque scenery from that of a lake ; particularly, 
after an intimacy with those of Perthshire and Dumbar- 
ton, or in the minds of those, to whom the word lake recalls 
all the bright remembrances connected with Cumberland 
and Westmoreland. Yet lakes, like ladies, are not neces- 
sarily beautiful : and after laking it for some years 
through all the Scottish ones, I have come to the conclu- 
sion that nearly half of my labour has been thrown away. 

G G 2 


Still, the very name lake is something: and it is some- 
thing to have pursued Loch Ericht, over moor and moun- 
tain, through bog and heath, though the result should 
have proved but an enormous gutter, or a huge cess-pool. 
The half of our pleasures are no better. You meet a 
pack of ferocious barking curs galloping across a coun- 
try, and, by and bye, comes another pack, of auxiliary 
hounds, as Butler calls them, mounted and mad, bloody 
with spurring, fiery red with haste, supposing that they 
are pursuing a miserable hare or a stinking long-tailed 
fox. In time, it is reported that the prey is taken, pulled 
to pieces, and swallowed ; and the arrival and the death 
of the supposed joy are one: the imagined happiness is 
realized in another supposition, and it is gone. It might 
be an improvement in this case to suppose the dogs and 
horses too : for the one supposition would be as valid as 
the other. 

But he who is bogged to his saddle bows first, and 
his own neck afterwards, in attempting to reach Loch 
Ericht, Avill not at least suppose himself wandering 
through flowery meads of asphodel. He who wishes to 
see this lake must seek it. A walk indeed from Dal- 
whinnie will shew its northern extremity : but, certainly, 
he who sees that, will not desire to see more. However, 
it is not all so bad : for though, like Loch Shin and Loch 
Ness, its margin is without variety, and that the hills 
descend plumb to the water, so as to give it that ditch-like 
character which these display, the loftiness of the boun- 
daries, and the extreme steepness of the acclivities in 
soni*' places, confer a striking air of wildness on it. 
Moreover, those declivities are, in many parts, rocky, and 
marked by huge precipices; while the scattered and 
perishing remains of the ancient birch forests on its 
eastern margin, serve to add some kind of ornament to 


its general air of desolation and solitude. If the western 
bank presents no great attractions, it enjoys imperishable 
fame in its Tober na phaisaic at least : an 'Aj/6<k'v not less 
celebrated than that of Eleusis, and bidding fair to be 
somewhat longer remembered by all honest Highlandmen. 

At the southern extremity, Loch Ericht terminates in 
flat meadows, vanishing by degrees in the moor of Ran- 
noch, and in that wild and hideous countrv which ex- 
tends to Glen Spean along the eastern side of Ben Nevis. 
This is indeed the wilderness of all Scotland. The wild- 
est wilds of Rossshire and Sutherland are accessible and 
lively, compared to this. They might, at least, contain 
people though they do not; which this tract never could 
have done, and never will nor can. I know not where else 
we can travel for two days without seeing a human trace : 
a human trace, — a trace, a recollection, of animal life; 
and with the dreary conviction that such a thing is im- 
possible. It is indeed an inconceivable solitude; a dreary 
and joyless land of bogs, a land of desolation and grey 
darkness, of fogs ever hanging- on Auster's drizzly beard, 
a land of winter and death and obhvion. Let him who is 
unworthy of the Moor of Rannoch be banished hither: 
where he can go next, 1 know not; unless it be to New 
South Shetland. Everywhere else in Scotland, wild as 
it may be, (and assuredly it is often wild enough,) if we 
do not see the marks of a living world, of something* that 
speaks of man or beast or insect, we can yet conceive that 
such things might have been, or that they may be at some 
future time. If even there is not much expectation of 
life, there is still the hope left. But, here, to live, is im- 
possible: and if there are any trout in its waters, doubt- 
less they escape to Loch Ericht, or elsewhere, as fast as 
they can. 

Certainly, if a traveller has nothing to do but to hunt 


after scenery, he may spare himself the toil of a journey 
to Loch Ericht; it is to toil without reward. There are 
persons, however, who have thought it worth their la- 
bour to come here, for no other purpose than to see 
one of the hundred places where Prince Charles was con- 
cealed between the periods of his defeat and escape. 
It is lucky that I have met with a Prince, to elevate the 
dignity of my travels a little, after all the previous base 
and beggarly account of shillings and sixpences, fitted 
only for " the reckoning of a tapster." But life will 
have its ups and downs; and travelling too: and if I 
owed my Highland friends the best defence I could 
make for them, how could I have pleaded their cause 
without bringing all the parties into court. Details are a 
sad drawback on dignity : but I have the example of 
Demosthenes to back me ; and even the veracious his- 
torian who relates the fall of empires and the devouring 
march of armies, is condemned to notice that his armies 
were without shoes and that their shirts were in rags. 
This particular spot was certainly as well chosen for con- 
cealment as Mas the wild country itself in which it is 
situated. The place, such as the Highland shepherd 
pointed it out, though called a cave, was merely the in- 
terval between two huge masses of rock, that had so 
fallen as to meet somewhat like the roof of a house ; and 
these were but two masses out of many hundreds that were 
scattered for miles aloiijj the face of the mountain. This 
cavity would with difficulty have held three people; but 
it is said that they had erected a wicker hut, called the 
cage, at the opening, so as to have rendered it somewhat 
more spacious and commodious. 

I have an excellent opportunity now of gaining such 
praise for my historical, topographical, and antiquarian 
accuracy, as I much fear will never come to my share ; 


for, in the very inn at Kinloch Rannocb, I read the 
whole story in John Home : a very unusual piece of good 
luck. Let him who would acquire this kind of fame, 
take care to have his books at his elbow : he who chooses 
to leave that glory to his predecessors, and to his suc- 
cessors as it may chance, must submit to be called names 
as well as he can. Let him at least take care of his little 
red book and of his daily entries ; lest, trusting to the 
tablet of his brain, he finds that, like the colour of his 
mistress's cheek, the impression is faded, or that he has 
wandered, like Christian, into bye-path meadow, and 
has lost his track before he is aware of his deviations. 
After all, which is worst; a little original blundering, or 
the tenth transmitted copy of a foolish tale. I doubt, as 
the Lord Chancellor says. Let John Home, however, 
sleep in peace at present : or seek him, if you please, 
where he is to be found ; in his own pages : or else, what 
will do quite as well, in your own head. Sir Walter. 

My landlord's library at Kinloch Raunoch had one 
prime merit, at least in the eyes of the Roxburghe club : 
for it was very black. Nothing is much more amusing at 
times, than the libraries of these Highland inns: and I 
need scarcely say how creditable to the people it is, to 
find these unexpected books in these unexpected places. 
To be sure, they are often " neither new nor rare;" still 
you " wonder how the devil they got there." I have met 
with Adam Smith's Vyealth of Nations in a house of dy vots 
and thatch ; if that is a phenomenon, what will you say 
of Lempriere's Dictionary, and of Montaigne; Mon- 
taigne, himself, in his own egotistical amusing na- 
tive dress. On the same shelves, I have seen Pope's 
Odyssey, Virgil, not Dr. Trapp's I assure you, but the 
genuine Mantuan, in his own cloak, a Treatise of Men- 
suration, Grotius de Veritate, Quin's Book-keeping by 


double entry, Clarke's Ovid, Guthrie's Grammar, tbe 
Spectator; and far more, and more strange mixtures. 
As to the good books, such as Hervey and Boston, and 
countless more, and countless worse and more unintel- 
ligible, always excepting John, the great John Bunyan, 
there is always store of them. What most of these good 
books, as they are politely termed, are good for, it would 
be somewhat hard to say ; particularly when they deal in 
" experiences" and other such confessional exposes. 
Lord Shaftesbury calls this " taking physic in public;" 
and, truly, they are often medicinal enough. But we 
are in danger of losing sight of Prince Charles amid 
these concatenations. 

In examining this unfortunate personage's different 
hiding places, as I have done, and in tracing his migra- 
tions, we cannot help wondering at the necessity of such 
frequent and, as happened more than once, injudicious, 
not to say perilous, changes. The reward was unques- 
tionably great; but unless Highlanders themselves had 
been his blood-hounds, he could scarcely have been 
discovered in any one of the places where he took refuge. 
English soldiers might have hunted him in vain till now. 
Of the fidelity of his immediate attendants, no one seems 
to have doubted; and that some splendid and heroic 
examples of attachment were displayed, is well known. 
Yet M'e can scarcely help thinking that he must have 
been betrayed, or at least followed and hunted, on some 
occasions, by those who knew both him and the country 
well; having finally been saved, only by the zeal, at- 
tachment, and resources, of the few true hearts who 
never forgot him. 

This virtue of fidelity is one for which, among many 
others, the Highlanders have been praised, and juslly. To 
repeat the noted story of Kennedy, or others of the same 



d.ate, or of the rewards offered for this uiducky Prince, 
would be to take the trouble of writing' what every one 
knows. The most extraordinary instance of fidelity, how- 
ever, on record, is that which occurred in the reign of 
James V; when the Earl of Moray, who had made some 
prisoners in a battle with Macintosh, in which the chief 
liad escaped, proposed terms of pardon to any one who 
would discover his retreat; which the whole refnsing,even 
at the gallows, an hundred and thirty were hanged. If 
this tale has even been exaggerated, it will bear a little, 
without losing its value. Like Virgil, however, 1 fancy 
we must consider this as a kind of prisca fides; though, 
to lament over its loss, would be quite as silly as Virgil 
himself; who might as well have grieved that his kitten 
had grown to a cat. The truth is, that this extreme 
fidelity, like many other extreme virtues, belongs to 
periods of imperfect civilization; and, thus far oidy, was 
it ever a national character, or will it ever be. It was as 
much the virtue of the whole race as of Kennedy; and I 
doubt not that hundreds might have been found who 
would have acted in a similar manner. But, in the same 
way, it was the virtue of the sera rather than of the 
people. Not that 1 mean to detract from the merit of the 
Highlanders in this respect. They possessed the virtue 
in question, whatever the cause may have been ; and it 
is far from unlikely that there are many who possess it 
still. Virtue is a good thing, arise from what it may. 

I may say the same of their honesty with regard to 
exposed property, which has been, foolishly, ridiculed; 
and I might do so, were it necessary, of many other 
things. But the fact in general, is a fact with regard to 
the race of man ; not the characteristic of this or of any 
other single people. Neither you, nor I, nor deeper 
moralists than either of us, can explain why civilization 


refines away these extremes of virtue, great and small ; 
for it happens in both : as if the perfections of a rude 
people were, like their faults, asperities that necessarily 
wore off in polishing. Wherever we find a barbarous 
people, we find something- of a similar character: virtues, 
refinements, even etiquettes, that would shame all the 
civilization of all Europe. The bread and salt, the oath 
of an Arab to his guest, even were it his enemy, is a 
noted example. The American Indian provides a house 
for the stranger : his name is not asked : it miaht be that 
of a hostile tribe. It was formerly the same in the High- 
lands : precisely ; and has often been told of them as an 
exclusive merit. The taboo of the South Seas is but one 
of many things which we might in vain strive to establish 
among- ourselves. But indeed all the etiquettes of these 
singular people are as singular as they are rigidly ob- 
served. Such barbarous refinements leave even those of 
the ages of chivalry far behind ; and I doubt not that the 
very same causes aided in producing the sameeflfects; 
giving rise to those specimens of superfine and romantic 
politeness, those ultra observances, about which we have 
all either written or read romances. Who is it that tells 
us, that, in Africa, a mere mat placed at the door, is suf- 
ficient to prevent tbe entrance of any one ; nay, even that 
of the husband who knows that the gallant is present 
with his wife. In other places a pair of slippers is a 
tfiboo fully as eflicacious. Connnerce is carried on among 
many people, of nearly the same standing in civilization, 
in a manner in which the gentlemen of Lombard-street 
would not be long of outwitting each other. But the 
instances are endless ; and in fact, when an uncivilized 
race does possess any of these virtues, small or great, 
they are always more perfect than among their refined 
neighbours. Law and order, which take from us the 


charge of our own personal security and defence, seem to 
take care for our virtues also. They make machines of 
us: or, if not machines, calculators. In such a case as 
this, in a people of law and order and commerce, of regu- 
lation and system and quid pro quo, fidelity is a com- 
modity of no price ; because, from its very nature, it can 
have no reward. The application of this principle to the 
virtue of hospitality, is too trite : but you will see that it 
also assists in explaining the politeness so characteristic 
of the Highlanders. This mode of that virtue, is, as a 
logician might say, inherent: that which follows refine- 
ment is adherent ; and, unluckily, when the original sur- 
face is ground oft, the new varnish is apt not to stick at 
all. I shall leave you to spin this out into a system. 

It is absolutely necessary, in all tours, outlandish or 
domestic, insular or continental, to abuse inns and postil- 
lions, and all else, be it what it may, in which the coun- 
try ad quem differ from the country a quo ; most parti- 
cularly, if that latter be England. How else should a 
traveller fill up his pages, and make two or three octa- 
vos ; or six quartos ; as it may happen. If you doubt, 
consult Twiss, or — but why fill a page with names; the 
rule is established. And in conformity to it, while the 
very dinner at Kinloch Rannoch still crowds, in all its 
vacuity of substances, on my soul, I am going to abuse a 
Highland dinner : of which I thus give you due notice, 
that you may skip the next page if you please. Different 
philosophers, you know, each according to his own trade, 
say that the civilization of a country is best known by the 
state of its roads, or its women, or its police, or its postil- 
lions, or its theatres, or its literature, or its sign posts. 
The French say it is all in the Cuisine. I hope, by the 
bye, that you have not dined ; for it makes a wonder- 
ful difference whether these things are discussed on an 


empty or a full stomach. Hie impransi mecum disquirite: 
the authority is classical ; and I quote it, that I may 
prove to you that I could read the tablet at Dalwhinnie. 
If the French hypothesis be the true one, then are the 
Highlands — what must not be told : always excepting 
the exceptions; as in duty bound. The west is worse 
than the east; that is true; and the middle worse than 
the circumference. Always the same never-ending din- 
ner : no attempt at variation in the nutritive art. Boiled 
mutton and roasted mutton, roasted mutton and boiled 
mutton : without even the meritorious variety of the Cu- 
rate's rabbits. And then, a fowl whose progress you have 
traced from the midden to the table, who was making* 
" tyrannic love" as Purcell calls it, " stoutly strutting" to 
his wives, an hour before; cro^ving defiance from his 
dunghill of vantage, and now about to crow in your crop. 
If you see a fish, it is one swimming in the lake or the 
river at the door; unless you chance to fall on a shoal 
of herrings by good luck. As to beef or veal, you might 
as well expect to meet them in Hindostan. A hog in- 
deed is not an object of worship, like a calf: but then he 
is tabooed for other reasons, and therefore no hams hang 
from the black ceiling, brighter to a hungry guest than 
pearls would be in an iEthiop's ear, nor does the cate- 
nated and goodly pudding dangle in lovely festoons from 
the rafters. If the Muse turns to sing of vegetables, Avhat 
does she find : a potatoe. A potatoe, if potatoes are ripe : 
if not, nothing. Long you may long for some of the leeks 
and onions which the masons devoured at the pyramids: 
but why talk of such superfluities as these, when you 
nught as well seek for a banana, as for carrot, tnrnip, pea, 
iK.'iri, celery, fhyme, parsley, — and small herbs, as Mrs. 
( jjiisse says. Kale ; — is not kale Scottish, par excellence ; 
yet who ever saw kale, cabbage, or brocoli, or any one of 


the whole tribe of sauer kraut. You may look too till 
you are weary, forpudding and pye and all their hosts ; 
you will not here be troubled to determine the physical 
and metaphysical difference between a pudding- and a 
pye. Dr. Johnson said, half a century ago, that the High- 
landers had egg-s and milk, but had not learned to com- 
pound them into a custard : perhaps it is from their anger 
at him, that they have not learnt it yet. Moreover, as 
misfortunes never come " by single files, but in batta- 
lions," where the meat is bad, the cookery is bad, the 
fire is bad, the bell is broke, the salt is black, and the 
mutton is cold before the potatoes are warm. What would 
Catius say to all this. You probably will say — enough. 
But you must bear a little more ; for I have Horace him- 
self for authority, as well as Le Sage. I shall not, how- 
ever, treat you with as many dinners as Gil Bias, or even 
Homer, has done : content with telling you how you may 
dine; as I fear that, in spite of these examples, you would 
find more than one of these dinners rather indigestible. 

For indeed the gastronomy of this country is not 
commendable : nor aught that is connected with it. A 
dumb waiter is but a substitute, at best; but what is that 
to a deaf one. At CaHander, you may ring the bell forty 
times in a quarter of an hour, or else for a quarter of an 
hour at one time : it is pretty much the same. At Luss, 
you wait four hours for your dinner, the cloth being laid ; 
and if there be any bread, you have devoured it all be- 
fore the dinner arrives. When it does, it consists of her- 
rings which might have been cooked in ten minutes, and 
of mutton which was cooked yesterday. Unless indeed 
the time has been more justifiably expended in killing 
the sheep. At Broadford there is a picturesque dish of 
milk set on the table at four o'clock, with salt, mustard, 
and knives and forks. The problem is how to eat milk 
with a knife and fork; but, at five, a shoulder of mutton 


enters to apologize for them. In half an hour more, you 
have a plate full of potatoes and the cheese ; and when 
you have eaten the cheese and said grace, you receive a 
dish offish. At this very Kinloch Rannoch, you are pro- 
mised kale, good mutton kale : you mistake kale for 
cabbage, foolishly enough; and find a species of barley 
water, spangled with the glittering- drops elicited from a 
few mutton bones, in which it is difficult to discover whe- 
ther the meat or the bone is hardest. 

Supposing also that you travel in the mutton time of 
the year : — for if you do not — : the mutton is placed on 
the table. Do you prefer it roasted or boiled. Only wish, 
and the thing is before you. If roasted, it has been so 
begravied with hot water that it is boiled: if boiled, it 
has been kept so long at the fire, to wait for the salt, or 
the mustard, or Peggy, that it is roasted. Then, what 
with dry potatoes, dry oatcakes, and the water of the Tay 
and the Tumel and of all the rivers of the Highlands, of 
which you cannot procure one drop, you are shortly in 
the condition of Pantagfruel when he had breakfasted on 
Euphorbium. Whatever you do, beware of that thing- 
called a mutton chop. Boiled fowls you may know by 
the impossibility of eating them, any more than as you 
might eat oakham ; and roasted ones, by the blackness 
of their skins. Eggs, there are none, in mutton time; 
because then the hens are confined, as the phrase is here: 
and the effect of confinement on hens is just the reverse 
of what it is upon our own females. If the salt is black, 
however, the table cloth is white. Thus censure delights 
in many words, and praise in few. Eat your dinner, 
prepare for it with Spartan sauce, drink your whisky, 
and above all keep your good humour ; for after all, what 
is a dinner when it is eaten. Would that life had nothing 
worse than the worst Highland dinner you and I shall 
ever be condemned to eat. 




If Ben Nevis were to tumble down, or Loch Lomond 
to be evaporated to-morrow, the printers' demons who 
construct the tour books, would still, like Eustace, go on 
describing their height, and length, and depth, and 
breadth, and beauties. You and I take another course, 
in seeking for something new ; and if we do no more, we 
shall at least furnish them with some fresh plunder. But 
1 must premise that you cannot travel from Blair to Brae- 
mar in a gig : indeed you must often reverse the plan of 
Master Robert Hewitt, and use two legs when four are 
weary, or puzzled. Lovers of ease must enter by the Spilal 
of Glenshee, or else from the eastward. 

Glen Tilt itself belongs to the scenery of Blair ; of 
which indeed it forms an important part. The Tilt, flow- 
ing from a small lake in the hills, holds its way through 
a valley so narrow as seldom to give room for more than 
the river; while, in many places, its channel is only a 
ravine, made by its own corroding action, through the 
solid rocks. This valley, throughout its whole course, is 
of a character purely its own; distinguished from every 
other Highland glen, no less by its extreme depth, nar- 
rowness, and prolongation, than by the wildness of its 
upper extremity and the highly ornamented beauty of 
that part which approaches to Blair. A very magnifi- 
cent landscape occurs immediately on entering the glen, 
where the river is just seen, rushing deep through its 
dark chasm overshadowed by the graceful birches, whose 


silvery trunks, springing from the rocks, hang their light 
and transparent foliage above the water. There is no 
place, nut even the Tumel, where the character of the 
birch is more perfect and more beautiful than at Blair; 
tall, graceful, and full in foliage, generally erect, but 
often drooping in elegant forms, while, in the forest, it 
has all the beauty that arises from roundness and fulness 
of outline. The landscape never wants wood where there 
is birch ; and there is none that would suit so well the 
style and colouring of the scenery. In this spot, the 
hills on each side rise to a great height; green, or culti- 
vated, or densely wooded, or covered with wild groups 
and single trees of oak and ash as well as of birch ; while, 
on one side, high above, larch and fir continue the forest 
to the sky, and, on the other, the mountain outline is 
formed by the lofty and finely flowing lines of Ben-y- 
gloe, contrasting, by their nakedness, the splendid 
richness of the valley and the variety of the lower de- 

The farm ofiices here form a highly ornamental and 
appropriate object; similar in design to those at l)un- 
keld, and to those which occur, very unexpectedly, in 
the remote island of Rasay. It would be unjust not to 
point out the merits of their architect, Stewart, when 
others have been here shown up for punishment. Here, 
there is elegance without expense, and ornament without 
ornaments. All the beauty lies in the proportions ; in the 
purity of the taste; and, on the same uncostly terms, 
may all the beauty required of rural architecture be 
everywhere obtained. " Somelhing there is, more need- 
ful than expense;" and in<lced 1 know not where the 
principles of that art which has here so often come undt'r 
review, are better laid down than in I*ope's epistle to 
Lord Bnrlini>'(<)n. The artist has ihc* command and 


choice of form and colour; and, on the good and the bad 
in these, every thing- depends. Such buildings are neces- 
sary, and it is a grievous error that does not render what 
IS necessary, ornamental. It is a still greater act of folly 
to conceal them. They belong to the character of British 
landscape: and it is not by Greek temples and Follies that 
we are to embellish our rural scenery, but by the struc- 
tures which appertain to its nature and essence. We are, 
especially, a rural people; and it is to our houses, our 
lodges, our farms, our stables, and even our dog ken- 
nels, that we should look for our ornamental architec- 
ture, since the numbers of our churches and our bridges 
must be limited. If proprietors knew, and artists would 
reflect, how much could be done for this end, without 
unnecessary expense, how little depends on mere ex- 
penditure, our landscape would assume a far diflferent 
character from what it does at present, and we should 
everywhere trace, not only the occupations of our coun- 
try, but its taste; instead of being pained, sometimes by 
deformity and sometimes by desertion. 

For some miles along the course of the Tilt, the 
scenery continues equally rich and still more various ; the 
road passing through dense groves, or skirting the margin 
of this picturesque and wild stream, or opening into green 
meadows where the woods are sometimes seen towering 
in a continuous sheet to the sky, and, at others, scattered 
over the sides of the hills in a thousand intricate forms. 
Innumerable torrents and cascades fall along their de- 
clivities, adding, with the numerous bridges which cross 
them, much to the beauty of the scenes; as do the roads, 
which, windino- about the hills in various directions, dis- 
play those traces of human life, the want of which is so 
often felt in Highland scenery. Thus there are formed 
numerous landscapes, all distinguished by peculiarity of 

VOL I. 11 11 

466 BEN-Y-OLOE. 

character, as tliey are by their wild beauty. But these 
characters are even better seen from the two roads which 
are conducted above the glen at a high level. Each of 
these displays many striking landscapes of this valley, as 
they do also of the valley of Blair ; often including-, in 
the distance, the long and varied ridge of Ferrogon and 
Schihallien, and the more remote Highland mountains of 
Loch Ericht. On these several scenes I cannot pretend 
to dwell ; as Glen Tilt might, in itself, afford amusement 
for many days. 

Though the height of Cairn Gower, the highest sum- 
mit of Ben-y-gloe, is estimated at 3700 feet, it nowhere, 
at hand, appears so high, from the great height of the 
land in which it is entangled. It is oidy when viewed 
from the distant eminences, from Schihallien or Ben 
Lawers, that it is seen towering above all the rest. The 
ascent is easy, particularly from the south ; but the view 
is quite uninteresting; presenting but one continued sea 
of mountains, among which, nearly all are so equally 
marked, that the particular characters of any one pass 
unnoticed. From this remark, however, must be ex- 
empted the mountains that lie about the sources of the 
Dee; their bold and broken precipices of granite being 
strongly distinguished, no less by their wild forms and 
savage aspect, than by the snow which never melts in 
their deep recesses. 

On this mountain is found, in abundance, one of our 
rarest and most elegant of alpine plants, the Azalea pro- 
cnmbens, as it also is on the range of hills opposite. The 
neighbourhood of Blair is, indeed, a tenjpting field for 
the botanist. Near the dense an<l tniiling cushions of 
this delicate shrub, and even among its bright crimson 
flowers, it is not unusual to find the rare Rubus arctica 
with its elegant berry, and the still rarer Cornus suecica. 

KRN-Y-OLOE. 467 

The Rubus chamjietnorus, and the more ordinary alpine 
plants, are found in profusion ; and, in one place, there 
is a miniature forest of the Betula nana ; a plant almost 
limited to this spot. The rare Lichen nivalis occurs all 
over Ben-y-gloe, as it does on Cairn Gorm ; and, on 
Ben Derig, the Lichen islandicus almost covers the 
ground in some places; while the more ordinary alpine, 
shrubby and imbricated plants of this tribe, abound every- 
where upon the higher hills. On the calcareous skirts of 
Glen Tilt, the Dryas, with the Satyrium viride and hir- 
cinura and some other rare Orchideae are seen every- 
where; and here, even in the bed of the stream, at a 
lower elevation than I have ever elsewhere seen it, the 
rocks are covered with the longf trailina: stems and bril- 
liant crimson flowers of the Saxifraga oppositifolia. Here 
also, as in Shetland, the cushioned Silene acaulis grows 
at a low level; while there are few of the alpine Saxi- 
frages which are not found somewhere : the golden 
flowers of the Autumnalis decorating every rill and cas- 
cade, a treasure in itself when all the plants of the sum- 
mer have vanished. In the wet grounds above, the 
Antheiicum calyculatum occurs in profusion, as does the 
Trollius, a plant far from common in Scotland. About 
Blair, the delicate starry flower of the Trientalis is the 
daisy of the heaths and woods ; as the two commoner 
Pyrolce emulate the lily of the valley in profusion, as 
they do in odour. In the fir woods also, the very rare 
Pyrola secunda abounds; and, near the Fender, I found 
the most rare of our plants, the Convallaria verticillata, 
only known as yet in one other place, near Dunkeld. Of 
the Fungi, the parks and woods of Blair are a perfect 
magazine; containing almost every Agaricus that exist.*, 
together with a great number of species in all the other 


H h2 


From Ben y gloe towards the Bruar and the Geonly, 
lies the extensive forest of Atholl, a portion of this dis- 
trict, the Adtheodle and Gouerin of some ancient greoofra- 
phers, the Athochlach of the Colbertine manuscript. It 
is a wild mountain range ; a forest, only in the sense of 
the chace ; containing about an hundred thousand Eng- 
lish acres, and allotted to deer. Till lately, it contained 
the chief, indeed almost the sole remains of these ani- 
mals, now extending over the contiguous estates of the 
Duke of Gordon, Lord Fife, and Invercauld ; and it is 
estimated to possess about six thousand. Here is a sur- 
viving specimen of the taste and occupation, I may almost 
say of the population, of ancient Scotland ; producing 
amusement instead of profit, and occupying the room of 
nearly 20,000 sheep. But that concerns not us who fatten 
on the well-fed haunch, and who rouse the noble stag 
from his wild lair in the mountain. Taylor, the waterman 
and pedestrian, has told the m orld his adventures; and 
Pennant, among many more, has transcribed Pitscottie's 
account of the Earl of Atholl's magnificent hunting party. 
Such huntings cannot now befall ; but the deer do not 
rest in peace, nor does the hospitable board of the modern 
Duke ever cease to smoke, beneath venison as abundant 
and wine as profuse, as ever the ancient Earl placed upon 
it. Four lodges, situated in different parts of this forest, 
afford convenient stations for the hunters, and not a day 
throughout the whole season passes in repose. It is a 
noble sight to watch the army as it advances over the 
brow of the hill, with all its forest of horns, like a winter 
wood, on the sky, to see it smoke along the face of the de- 
cliv ify, wi(h its long train of vapour, ascending, as from 
a furnace, to mix with (he mists of the mountain. It is a 
noble sight too, to uncouple the rough deer houmls, to 
bring t]w lofty animal lo bay, to see liiin with his back to 

GLliN TILT. 469 

the precipice, or percbed on a rock in the midst of the 
foaming- torrent, looking- disdainfully at thr dogs, who, 
afraid to advance on him, make the hills and valleys ring 
with the echoes of their long and deep baying. Nor is 
the last scene of all to be disdained ; when, after the mist 
and the moor, the hot sun, the wild shower, and the keen 
blast of the hills, the white towers of Blair are seen gleam- 
ing in the last rays of the twilight, and when, amidst 
splendour and plenty, surrounded by elegance and beauty, 
the triumphant haunch is placed on the welcome table. 

Thus much of the philosophy of Glen Tilt can be ap- 
preciated by all the world. What remains, belongs to 
those who seek their pleasures in other quarries than the 
quarry of a wounded deer. The geology of Glen Tilt is 
far too abstruse for you and me ; partners as we are in 
the present adventure ; you to read, and 1 to write; your 
duty to read all that 1 do write, and mine to take care 
that I write nothing which you may be tempted, most 
ungratefully, to skip. He who would not be skipped, 
must take care that he writes nothing skippable. But 
beautiful marbles and beautiful specimens are every one's 
business ; and in these Glen Tilt abounds. The quarries 
that have been opened, render them visible to all. Is it 
not odd that in this country of ours, the land of philoso- 
phers and ologists of all kinds, the land of Huttonian 
theories, and of disputes as fierce as ever were the homoi- 
ousian and the homoousian squabbles. Glen Tilt should 
have been made of marble, that it should have had bridges 
of marble, and that its marbles should have remained un- 
known, though the scenes of geological examinations and 
dissertations without end, till J, even I, thought tit to fire 
at an enormous stag three yards off" and missed him. 
Such, says the philosopher w hose optical range is limited 
to his nose, is the history of all discovery : we look for a 


mouse and we find a monntain. But such, says the 
seaman, a truer philosopher, is the consequence of keep- 
ing- a bright eye to windward. Yet thus I missed the deer. 
While the green marble of Glen Tilt is exceeded by few 
foreign kinds in beauty, its minerals are also numerous and 
beautiful ; including-, among many more, huge rocks of 
that rare substance Salite, and the largest, the most splen- 
did, and the most numerous varieties of that most brilliant 
of minerals, Tremolite, which the world has ever produced. 
If Glen Tilt displays, in its mountain torrents, the 
power of water in cutting through solid rocks, these also 
preserve some histories of past days, which, but for that 
aid, might have slept in peace. Did I wish to preserve 
my name for posterity, I would as lieve lose my puddings 
at Alt na marag, as be the incendiary of Ephesus. " That 
is the pudding burn," said Mac Intyre the forester. I 
thought of plum puddings or black puddings; I ought 
to have been thinking perhaps of plum pudding stone; 
but each way I should have been wrong. Cumin, (they 
were all alike,) thinking it proper to envy Mac Intosh of 
Tirinie, attacked him in his castle of Tomafuir, murdered 
the family, and took possession of his estates. This is 
what the admirers of the Highland Libitina call honour- 
able warfare. But one child was saved by a tenant called 
the Bigstone Carle, and placed under the care of Camp- 
bell of Achnabreck in Argyllshire. It is pleasing to find 
some good among all this bad. When Owen had giown 
up, he proved to be an expert bowman, and proceeded to 
Blair to revenjje his father's death. Cumin was routed 
and chased up Glen Tilt; where, in the pursuit, one of 
his followers, blowing his nose, (thus minute and Homeric 
are the particulars,) it was shot off" and fell into a stream, 
now called Alt an sroin, the brook of the nose. "The 
puddings of another," said Mac Intyre, were" let out" at 


Alt immarag. As to the Cumin liiniself,his hand was nailed 
to his head by an arrow, as he was wiping the sweat from 
his brow, and his cairn is still shewn at Loch Lochs. 

At Forest Lodge, Glen Tilt becomes a bare valley, 
bounded on both sides by steep and lofty hills; and thus 
it continues for many miles, seeming almost to lengthen 
as we go. From the upper part of this portion, it pre- 
sents an extraordinary spectacle, prolonged almost be- 
yond reach of the eye, an uniform, deep, straight 
section of the country ; a ditch to guard and separate a 
world. Some parts of the road here are sufficiently 
fearful to an unpractised traveller ; being a mere sheep 
track along the side of the hill, high above the bottom 
of the valley, and the declivity being so steep as to appear 
like a precipice to the inexperienced. The ford of Tarff, 
who is quite as furious and uncontroulable at times as 
his horned namesake, will serve the purpose of drowning 
a man, as effectually as any ford 1 ever saw in my 
life. This seems to have been a favourite name for 
rivers ; or a comparison at least : " sic tauriformis volvitur 
Aufidus." He who escapes the bogs thai lie between the 
TarfF and the Dee, Mill do better than he Avho escapes 
the Tarfi' alone ; and he who crosses all the fords of the 
Dee in safety, will do best of all. Why there should be 
so many fords on one river, I did not at first discover : a 
wiser man will take care that he does not cross one of 
these convolutions, till he is quite sure that he will not 
be compelled to cross the second, and as many more as 
shall happen ; and he will also keep an account of the 
odd and even numbers, lest, like me, he finds himself, 
after crossing four of them at the risk of his carcase, on 
the same side of the river that he commenced from. 

With all my efforts, and all my Pagan love of high 
places, I cannot trace the springs of the Dee for you : 

472 MAR. 

I never could re.icb the summits of these mountains. I 
have been about and about them, many times ; but in 
vain. I had calculated that all Highland impediments 
were to consist in rain, and I never expected to find the 
very grass of the mountains converted into dust. Far 
and wide had I travelled before this, in search of High- 
land dust, and often as I had been in Mar, I would 
willingly have given gold dust, if 1 had had any to give, 
for the dust Montaigne complained of, or for the clouds 
which attended Lot and Belisent, " for the poudre of 
whose charging, no might man see sonne shining." One 
entire July month did I wait to see the dust of Mar. But 
he that travels in the Highlands must learn to " make 
content with his fortunes fit." At length, however, the 
shower ceased, or seemed to cease. I met a shepherd. 
" Will it rain to-day." " Na,Sir, it's a tine day, — but it 
rains here every day." Then you have no dust in this 
country." — "Dust!" said the shepherd: enough, I 
thought, and rode on. I arrived at Braemar. 1 was re- 
ceived by the Maid, by Peggy : the ground was stream- 
ing water through all its channels. " Pray did it rain 
here yesterday." — " Oh no, Sir, it has not rained here 
these many days." — " Why, then, are the roads so wet." 
— " Oh, Sir, it rained last night." — Admirable distinction. 
But at last Aquarius was departed and gone, to Fort 
William, or elsewhere; the sky was burning and blue, 
the grass itself Mas dust, the rivers had left their beds, 
or remained at peace in their mountain springs, and the 
waterfalls had ceased to roar. It is a trifle in the land- 
scape that the waters under the firmament are all burnt 
up, that the long grass of the lake is bleaching on its 
hot shores, and the cascades mourning their fountains 
dry. Let the rivers and lakes cream and mantle, and 
the torrents run with stones. Let the Misses of Grosvenor 


Square or Cratiboiini Alley lament the emptiness of the 
waterfalls, so that we are smothered in the dusty whirl- 
wind, and that the dogs are lolling out their tongues and 
running mad for want of water. Thus would I see the 
Highlands ; and thus, at length, I saw Mar, even Mar. 
It Avas in 1819. But it was as impossible to ascend the 
hills as if they had been made of ice. Thus I was pre- 
vented ascending Ben Avon and Lochan na gar by the 
sun, as I had often before been prevented by mist and 
rain. But the infant Dee is a bare and wild torrent 
without interest. It is not till near Mar lodge, at the 
rapids commonly called the Linn of Dee, that it begins 
to assume any beauty; but hence, as far at least as Ban- 
chory, it amply compensates for all former wants ; being- 
rivalled by few of our rivers, while it resembles none. 
While the structure of the landscape is marked by its 
magnificence of design, it is no less distinguished by 
its peculiarity. It is like nothing else. Neither the 
Tay nor the Spey, in any of their numerous branches, 
offer the least resemblance to it. Though the glen is 
narrow and the mountains lofty, they are totally unlike 
those which bound the Tumel or the Lyon ; and though 
the peculiarities of its character depend chiefly on the 
fir and the birch which form its woods, these do not 
here produce the same system of landscape as they do 
about Rothiemurchus and Kinrara. Yet the Dee is un- 
known, except to the citizens of Aberdeen, Avho come 
here to wash off the rust of the counter and the smoke 
of the shop, and who probably hold it in much the same 
estimation as the cockneys do a trip to Margate or an 
expedition to Richmond. 

Before reaching Castletown from the west, the gene- 
ral valley presents many splendid landscapes, of what 
may be called vale scenery. Whatever of richness the 


straths formerly described may show, no one of them dis- 
plays any where that wildly alpine boundary, at once dis- 
tant and lofty, which characterizes the vale scenery of the 
Dee. The river also, winding- through green meadows, is 
everywhere skirted by trees of various kinds, which, whe- 
ther solitary or in groups, cover the plain. As they rise up 
the steep acclivities of the hills, the oak and the ash give 
way to birch and to fir, which continue upwards to the 
very limits of vegetation, in all the wildness of nature; suc- 
ceeded by precipices and rocks, where a few solitary strao-- 
glers are still seen, adding ornament to their grey faces and 
deep hollows, and lightening the outline on the sky. 

Castletown is a wild, straggling village, scattered 
amid rocks and rapid streams, and among a confusion 
of all kinds, that seems as if it had been produced by the 
subversion and wreck of a former landscape. Those who 
enter it in the night, for the first time, will wonder 
where they are, and what is to happen next. After a 
house, you meet a plain, or a hillock, or a rock, or a 
thundering river; and then there is a house again, or a 
mill, or a bridge, or a savvpit. You follow some jack-a- 
lantern of a light, and when you think it is close at hand, 
you find yourself separated by a ravine : all around you 
are lights, you cannot conjecture where, with the roar- 
ing of water, and the noises of saw-mills and fulling 
mills, and when the village seems to be at an end three 
or four times, it begins again. I thought of Sancho and 
his mills more than once, and, when the day broke, was 
not much less surprised than I had been in the night. 

If I have told you how you may dine at Kinloch 
Rannoch and nlsewlxre, lam bound in honour also to tell 
you, that you may dine at Castletown, of a dinner that 
Apiciushimself might have eaten, if he had rid<Ien through 
Clcn Tilt hither, and forded all the crook-s of Dec. lam 


of a very different opinion, as you have long seen, from 
the old poet who says, " All wyes men will hald me 
excusit, For never in land quhair Eriche was usit, To 
dwell had I delyte." There is abundance of" delyte" in 
the Highlands : even in their dinners, for those who do not 
carry about them that which renders all appliances vain. 
The amiable Peggy who performs all the functions of this 
place, was officious with her custards and her preserves, 
and was mortified that I would not eat of them. Thus it 
is; when we were young and delighted in custard, we 
were not allowed to eat it, and now that we are grown 
old, and custard delights no longer, we may eat till we 
burst. Thus, in other things than custard, by one false 
system or other, the age of delight is made an age of 
mortification, and when the period of inevitable mortifi- 
cation is at length arrived, we are pestered with happi- 
ness which Me can no longer enjoy. There is no want of 
plausible pretences to restrain the enjoyments in which 
the happiness of childhood exclusively consists, by con- 
finement, privation, study, punishment; whatnot. But 
we are to be tormented in early youth, that we may 
better bear the disappointments which are to be our lot 
hereafter. They will arrive soon enough : and is the well- 
flogged breech less sensible to a kick than that which is 
unprosodied, unannealed. Will not the head that ached 
at fourteen, ache at forty also. And will the tooth indeed 
live to be hollow to which the sugarcandy is forbidden. 
It is not a matter of indifference whether the years of 
childhood are spent in happiness or misery. Let the age 
of tops and sugar plums have its adapted enjoyments: 
the time will soon come when we shall say, I have no 
pleasure in them. Is it that life is so filled with enjoy- 
ment that our whole attention should be sedulously 
turned to appropriate checks. But it is the dregs of the 


Ascetic system. Because we like wine we must drink 
water: because we prefer a soft bed we must sleep on a 
hard one, we must walk for exercise when we -would 
rather sit still, and eat horse because we delijrht in wood- 
cock. And this is the road to heaven, say the Francis- 
cans and the Flagellants. And Nature fabricates pine- 
apples and venison and eiderdown to tempt us to our 
destruction. There is a better and a better tempered 
philosophy than this. There is — there will be a disserta- 
tion if I do not stop ; and thus end my Meditations on a 
custard. Harvey Mould have made more of it. 

Notwithstanding the occasional deliberation of Peggy, 
it is still a pleasure to find a female attendant in these 
Highland inns, instead of the clumsy, half sober, half 
dressed, male Highland animal who affects the manners 
of a Bath waiter, — quantum distans, — and mIio is now 
fast usurping the place so much better filled everywhere 
by the charming- sex. This aftectation of quality here, 
is most ludicrous : but it is amusing too to trace the pro- 
gress of refinement, in this matter, as in every thing else. 
In the primitive hostelry, the traveller who walks in at 
night, wet and Mcaried, is received with civility and 
treated with kindness. If he chance to come with a horse, 
alacrity itself is exhausted for his reception. In the 
second stage of refinement, the pedestrian is received 
with coldness, and civility is reserved for the man who 
rides or drives a horse ; while worship is paid to him who 
comes in a chaise and pair. It is not long before the inn- 
keeper learns to scan from head to foot the man who at- 
tempts to walk into his inn : he who comes on a sole 
horse must call the ostler twice, and the waiter is reserved 
for him who drives boldly up in the soumling- chaise. It 
must thunder with lour horses, however, before it can 
hring (he landlady and her whole establishment to the 


o-ate. As pride and wealth increase, the pedestrian is 
refused admittance, the horseman, neglected, turns away 
elsewhere, the chaise and pair drive to the other Lion, 
the four horses are barely welcomed; but the dignity of 
the landlord is consoled by the barouche and four and 
the coronet. In time, his ambition rises to two mounted 
servants and an outrider, and the end is the Gazette and 
the King's Bench. 

The castle of Braemar is perfectly French ; a pepper- 
box square, with a high roof, and within a wall. It 
would have no analogy to the scenery if it was even 
much better supported than it is ; and standing, bare and 
white, as it does, we can only wish it transported back 
to its native country. It was occupied for King William, 
burnt in Mar's rebellion, and was, I believe, afterwards a 
barrack, as long as barracks were supposed to be neces- 
sary. At Invercauld, the views are exceedingly fine. 
Among many that might be named, those in which Loch- 
an na gar on one hand, and Ben y bourd on the other, 
form the extreme distances, are perhaps the most strik- 
ing. Finer mountain outlines cannot be imagined than 
those in which the former hill is implicated : so graceful 
is its pyramidal shape, and so beautifully contrasted 
and varied are all the lines and forms of the mountains 
out of which it rises, king of all ; while they seem to 
cluster round it as the monarch of all the surrounding- 
country. In the middle grounds, are the rich valley and 
the windings of the Dee; its dark fir woods sweeping 
along the sides of the hills, while the rocks and torrents 
and precipices and trees, that surround us on all hands, 
vary the landscape till we are almost weary of pursuing 
it. The character of this scenery is much changed where 
Ben y bourd bounds the distance; nor can we help ad- 
miring how Nature contrives to produce grandeur from 



forms the most opposite. This mountain, as its name 
expresses, is a flat table ; yet so broad and simple are its 
lines and its precipices, and so grand the long sweepino- 
lines of the hills which support it, that it produces, with 
the valley, a landscape not less grand than the very 
different pyramidal composition in which Lochan na 
gar is the principal object. At one point, where the two- 
arched bridge of Dee becomes a main feature in the mid- 
dle ground, the pictures are peculiarly complete and fine. 
In all this part of the valley, the character of the 
scenery is especially stamped by that of the fir woods ; 
and yet that character is quite diflferent from what these 
confer on the scenes about the Spey. It is just what we 
might imagine of Norwegian landscape, and we feel 
as if no other tree could have suited the forms of 
these hills, and the details of this country. With all 
this, there is no air of heaviness or of formality ; nothing 
that can for a moment remind us of the black, dingy, 
solid, never-green forests of planted wood, no iron out- 
lines that assimilate with nothing on earth or sky, no 
murky files or clumps blotting the fair horizon. All is 
ease and variety and grace, all is careless and wild. Even 
the long ranks that are sometimes seen drawn up on the 
mountain outline, are in place and in character: they 
belong to the more extended forests below : and we are 
sensible, that, to want them, would be for the picture to 
want something; while we see too, how Nature contrives 
to blend them with the general landscape, and to harmo- 
nize the whole into one broken and ornamental forest, 
by scattered trees, evanescent edges, and a thousand 
delicacies which art can never hope to imitate. 

In the closer scenery about this country, there is not 
h'ss to admire in a different style. There is a wildness in the 
torrents and the rocks, that sceniK peculiarly appropriate 



to the fantastic and bold forms of the ancient and noble 
firs that are everywhere scattered about ; or the imagi- 
nation, which is always ready with its aid, makes us think 
that all this is in harmony, and that we could not substi- 
tute an oak for a fir without injury to the landscape. 
Where the foaming stream rushes down the mountain 
amid huge blocks of granite, and all else around is the 
brown heath, towering up towards the blue and far-oflf 
precipice, some solitary tree that has stood the storms of 
centuries, is seen raising its rough and knotted trunk, 
drooping its yellow branches and dark masses of foliage 
over the water; and, in other places, a giant of the forest 
spreads wide its fantastic and twisted arras, the chief of a 
group which seems to have sought shelter from the winds 
beneath its protection. Aloft on the precipice, long yield- 
ing to the blasts, but still rooted against their utmost 
force, some massive trunk stretches forth its tree-like 
branches from the fury of the west; a dark canopy of 
shade, contrasted with the graceful and tall forms which 
rise beneath the shelter of the rock, uniting the elegance 
of the poplar and the cypress with the freedom and de- 
licacy of the drooping birch.. It is said, that there is no 
solitude where there is a tree. But it is not always thus. 
Neither is the maxim true. There is no perfect solitude 
but by a species of Bull. There must be some one pre- 
sent to whom it is a solitude ; or it is nothing. The lone 
fir in the brown and bare valley of Ben Avon, where 
nothing else is seen but the interminable wide heath, 
spread far around and above, lifeless and void, is solitude 
itself: it is man in the desert ; it is the desert, because 
there is a beina: to which it is a solitude. 

It is among these hills, exclusively, that the blue 
topaz and the beryl are found : but the latter is ex- 
tremely rare. Of this mineral, Scotland may boast if it 

480 THE DEE. 

pleases: but under cover of its name and of that of the 
beryl, thejewellers of Edinburgh sell foreig-n stones of the 
same kind at fanciful prices, as they do foreign amethysts 
and garnets : while some have even offered the emerald as 
the produce of Scotland. Itis not surprising if the country 
people sometimes waste, in this pursuit, time that might 
be better employed; since, as in the case of mining and 
fisheries, there is a mixture of idleness and hope which 
offers insuperable temptations to the not uncommon union 
of indolence and avarice. It is gambling and the lottery 
in another form. As to the lottery, in spite of moralists 
and politicians, it is a noble invention. If Hope is the 
great sweetener of life, how can we enough praise a con- 
trivance by which that visionary entity is stored up in the 
pigeon-holes of Messrs. Bish, and Goodluck,and Hazard; 
to be retailed by the pound and the ounce, by the month, 
the day, and the hour. 

To see the rest of the Dee as it deserves, it is necessary 
to follow both sides of the river: it is also preferable to 
go from the east, as the landscape then faces us, gradually 
improving till it terminates in the full blaze of Inver- 
cauld. Abergeldie is peculiarly interesting, as are the 
vale and the hill of Ballater; nor indeed do the beauties 
of the Dee cease till it reaches the open country. Aboyne 
yields to few places in the Highlands for magnificence 
and splendour. But I am in danger of passing my bounds. 
As to the northern road by Corgarth, nothing can well 
be more dreary, nor is there any temptation to explore 
thatdistrict wherethe Highlands vanish info the Lowlands 
of Aberdeenshire. 


.losKPii MAi,r.ETT, Printer, r>9, Wnrdoiir Strict, Soho. London. 

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