Page images

it produces when the Braan is swelled. Like Vaucluse, it must be well filled with water, to produce that sublime and magnificent effect, which no pen can describe, no pencil delineate. The water being low, the scene is now devested of that grandeur; but still we see much that is beautiful, and we hear that brawling noise, which produces in some the voluptuous melancholy of love, in others the soft and romantic sadness so congenial to the contemplative being, “whose imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown.'

From the Craigvignon, where we afterwards walked, we enjoyed a view of the Grampians, which separate the High from the Lowlands, or the Gaelic from the Saxon Scotland. Dunsinane appears at the farthest distance-Dunkeld presents itself in the middle of the prospect, with its beautiful bridge, and its ruined cathedral, the towers and shell of which are still entire; and the picturesque Tay makes one entire sweep, varied by meanderings, across this magnificent landscape.

Variety's a fine young playful cat-

A hopeful imp of spirit, sport, and wbim;
Who, when all other objects fail,
Runs after its own tail. Peter Pindar.

Callander, May 7, 1819.
To John D-

letters to our parents, I have endeavoured to convey an idea of the beautiful sce

ery which distinguishes this romantic and ineresting country, As your taste does not resuire such themes, I will content myself with lescribing the manners, noticing the ridenda, ind just giving you a glance of the beauties of jature which most attract my observation. Iorace Walpole says that this world is a conedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel. As you belong to the former class, I will indulge your risible muscles, by groupng together, in this letter, the few ludicrous objects which have struck me during my peripatetic journey! I ought perhaps to apologize for being so trifling in my letters to you; as your favourite, Sevigné, says, “ Quand je relis nes lettres, je suis toujours tente de les bruler en voyant les bagatelles que je mande”—but you are not fond either of politics, or of general descriptions, or of “babbling of green ields” -as Falstaff was on his death-bedand, as you read all my serious epistles to our parents, I will forthwith endeavour to amuse you, without any more remorseful feelings on the subject!

I had not calculated on a very luxurious diet among the Highlanders, but I scarcely expected to find such abominable fare as I met with. We seldom got wheat bread—but were presented with that horrible stuff, oatcake, which is about as savoury, and equally as nourishing, as a fricasee of white paper! Indeed the general appearance of the people, re

cals to mind the verse which a wag made on Scotland,

"Where half starved spiders live on half starved flies!”

The country people are nourished chiefly on the antiphlogistic plan, if we except the copious draughts of usquebaugh with which they occasionally enliven themselves. Oat and bear cake, cheese and greens, with now and then a red herring by way of a bonne bouche, compose their humble fare. Their tea is little better than a decoction of apple leaves; and as to cof. fes, I believe they seldom indulge themselves with such a luxury! They seem to entertain in perfection the old feud of Burns against the aquæ potores; however I have only to refer you to the Scotch novels for “ proofs damning as holy writ,” of their free indulgence in ardent spirits. Indeed, I remember that Dr. Thom. son of Edinburgh, in his lecture on calculous disorders, attributes the diminution of the stone and gravel among these people, to the more frequent use of grog! This is avoiding Scylla to fall in Charybdis, with a vengeance!

The nasty huts which I visited, filled me with horror and disgust; no curtains on the windows, no clean sheets to the beds! no earth. ly thing to eat but their eternal oat-cake and dried fish, and nothing to drink but their nauseous flip or fiery usquebaugh! And when I beheld the hoary Sybils, with their gray heads imperfectly covered with greasy night caps, and their“ overwhelming brows" and long

skinny arms, my busy imagination always recurred to the witches of Macbeth;---the illusion was rendered still more perfect by their gestures, shrugs and expressions muttered in Gaelic. I once entered one of these hovels alone; I perceived a most hideous looking

wretch sitting in a corner, possessing all the | terrible attributes of a weird sister:

“ Her eyes with scalding rheum were gall’d and red; Cold palsy shook her head, her hands seem'd wither'd; And o'er her crooked shoulders had she wrapp'd The tatter'd remnant of an old striped hanging, Which serv'd to keep her carcase from the cold.” My heart began to palpitate, my hair bristled up, my knees tottered, and I underwent so severe a paroxysm of dismay, that, although I was almost dying with hunger, I made good my retreat and walked six miles farther for a dinner!

I have met with two or three instances of uncommon longevity in this tour. I never will forget a couple of old men whom I saw "feeding their flocks on the Grampian Hills.” They were sitting near each other at their cottage door; their joint ages, amounted to 185! În conversing with them, I related an anecdote of Fontenelle, who died in his 100th year. one of the last years of his life, when a contemporary of his, an old lady of 103, paid him a visit, and observed that Providence seemed to have forgotten him and her upon earth-he put his finger on his lips, with an air of affected alarm, and said, hush! do not put them in


66 In


We came

mind!The two old men whom I accosted, seemed to have been “forgotten by Provi. dence;" but they did not return the compliment, for they were both extremely pious, and never neglected their duty to Him who had preserved them through so long and uninterrupted a life of health and unruffled happiness.

When we were at Perth, we lost our way late in the evening near the town. up to a farm house to inquire the nearest road to the hotel; but our appearance was so unprepossessing, that the man of the house took us for a gang of foot-pads!" Don't come too near (cried he,) or I'll let Towser loose on ye; there has been a grut deil of mischief committed heeraboots lately by the like o'ye; so keep aff, if ye have n't a mind to feel the contents of my gun!” To tell the truth, we were so shabbily accoutred, and our dress was so much the worse for the wear, and had received a taste of the variation of so many bogs and bushes, that we could hardly blame the fellow for taking us for “no better than we should be"—particularly as his imagination was haunted with the stories of depredations lately committed in the neighbourhood, by a horde of daring villains.

On leaving Dunkeld, our guide depicted the scenery of Blair Athol in glowing colours. Although it was going 18 miles out of our way, and I was much opposed to the trip, (from several lies the fellow told us,) the party deter. mined to see this " most beautiful scenery."

« PreviousContinue »