Page images
PDF
EPUB

and the interior corresponds with the exterior, I saw but little woodland scenery on the road, and no oaks whatever; the principal trees were firs. In our approach to Perth, we visited the vault of the Montrose family, a few miles from Auchterarder. I distinguished 4 coffins covered with crimson velvet, containing the bodies of the father, mother, wife and child of his present grace. The humble repositories of the dead in the adjacent grave-yard, when compared to the superb vault of Montrose, recalled to my mind the melancholy observation of

the poet,

" Metit Orcus Grandia cum parvis, non exorabilis auro!"

Soon afterwards, we found ourselves at Duplin, the seat of the earl of Kinnoul. The beautiful river Earn meandered near the road which leads to the mansion house, which we visited in all its details. Most of the rooms are adorned with family paintings, and one of two by B. West.

The battle of Luncarty was the origin of the Kinnoul family. An old man with his two sons at the plough, rushed into the field and gained the victory. Being afterwards asked to name their title and coat of arms, the hawk and earldom of Kinnouil were chosen. The present earl is a young unmarried man; he was colonel in the Perthshire militia in the last war. He has two sisters; one married to the duke of

Athol in the Isle of Man, and the other to the celebrated banker Drummond.

The trees in the park are loaded with rooks which produce a melancholy croaking, and we observed here and there the carrion-bird,

“Heavily flapping his clogg'd wing,

Which reek'd with that day's banqueting.” We had the Earn to our right, beautifully meandering in a gently tortuous sweep along the vale. The prospect of Perth, in our approach to that city, with the picturesque appearance of the surrounding scenery, gave us a pleasing avant goût of the delight we will experience in the remainder of our excursion.

The new town of Perth is very elegant. A neat bridge stretches over the Tay, whose water is as clear as crystal. History relates that when the army of Agricola, (Augustus' general) saw this fine river and beautiful common, they enthusiastically cried out ecce Tiberim! The most agreeable Belvidere of Perth is Kinnoul craigs. From this spot, the Tay is seen sweeping with gentle curves over the fertile common below. The depôt, built for the French prisoners, next attracts the eye, and then the city of Perth is seen, shaped like two ellipses meeting each other. The Romans, who compared the Tay to the Tiber, might have taken the craigs for the Tarpeian rock, such is their precipitous appearance! And their elevation is such, that the jackdaws

[blocks in formation]

that wing the midway air, Look scarce so gross as beetles.” After breakfast, I accompanied Mr. Frazer (to whom I had a letter,) to visit the Gaol and County Hall. Near it, I first noticed the Gowrie palace, famous for an attempt made by the two Gowries to assassinate king James VI., afterwards James 1. of England. The Gaol is a strong, new and very prison-looking edifice. There being no lunatic asylum in this place, the maniacs are confined in a separate part of the gaol. The cells are neat, strong, and have Gothic ceilings. Debtors, smugglers and criminals are confined in various parts of the building. The passages, doors, &c. are secured by means of chains and locks, which

produce a terrible clanking noise when opened. An awful silence prevails along the corridor which leads to the cells of the malefactors; that silence was only interrupted by the dreadful sound of the opening doors, and the clanking of chains.

" Portals we passed, where deep within
Spoke prisoner's moan, and fetters' din."

In one room, I observed a boy 16 years old! under sentence of death for house-breaking. He was lying on his bed in a state of despondency; a parson sat by him, reading prayers aloud--the whole presented a picture, the impression of which will never be effaced from my mind. Oh! how I then did execrate those

barbarous laws, which are, like Draco's,* writ. ten in characters of blood!

In one of the debtors' cells, I saw two old men, who had been confined for several years. The gaoler told me that they were always together, consoled each other in their misfortunes, and mutually enjoyed the least gleam of hope that irradiated their gloomy cell. Thus, these unfortunate beings are like two feeble shrubs, which lean against other and acquire strength to resist the violence of the storm.

Our last visit was to the depôt built in 1812 for the French prisoners of war. Seven thousand were confined in this dungeon; there were 150 guards to watch over them, and a picket of 50.

Every thing seems to have been disposed here for health and convenience—the prisoners enjoyed good ventilation, cleanliness, wholesome food, and abundance of water, which was brought from the Tay meandering near the prison. This body of buildings is now used for the military stores, accoutrements, heds, &c. There were only 11 prisoners confined at one time in the hospital, which proves that their health was carefully attended to; it is probable that they lived a good deal on the antiphlogistic plan! The French prisoners were liberated in 1814, when they left the country by Dundee; but several of them had the good

* Draco boasted that he punished all crimes with death; because small crimes deserved it! and he could find no bigher pun. ishment for the greatest.'

luck to escape from the depôt, and to visit their " dulcia arva” in 1813.

LETTER XVIII.

Admiring Nature in her wildest grace,
These Northern scenes with weary feet I trace;
O'er many a winding dale and painful steep,
My savage journey, curious, I pursue. BURNS.

Dunkeld, May 4, 1819. Soon after we left Perth, we visited Scone, the earl of Mansfield's estate, situated on a ground rising gradually from the Tay. The old castle, of which scarcely a vestige exists, was formerly the residence of those interesting beings, the monarchs of Scotland. The kings were crowned here; thus Shakspeare:

" Then 'tis most like
The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.
Macduff He is already named, and gone to Scone

To be invested.". The only vestiges of the royal residence now remaining, are an entrance by an arched gate, a part of a mausoleum and the frame of a door: all the castle, as it now stands, has been built since 1803.

The earl of Mansfield is grand nephew to the famous Lord Chief Justice of the same. name. Lord Stormount, the nephew of the first earl, received the title of Mansfield in his

« PreviousContinue »