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to find lovers fit to inhabit the delicious retreat, which I have been describing. Virtuous minds alone can relish the charms of such a sweet solitude; to worldly and sordid beings, it would prove the most frightful of all dungeons.
" Farewell to the land where the clouds love to rest,
Dunbarton, May 13, 1819. My pedestrious tour is now at an end. After leaving the delightful scenery described in my last letters, I feel, (to talk medically,) the languor of previous excitement.
At this moment, I experience a lassitude of mind similar to that which we feel after having been powerfully agitated by agreeable sensations: it is like returning to the insipidity of ordinary life, after witnessing the most splendid and interest. ing exhibitions of the theatre.
In this country, the works of nature are formed on such a magnificent scale, that one feels deeply impressed with an idea of the comparative littleness of the works of man. The immense rocky mountains frowning over smiling valleys, the beautiful dells and regions overhung by towering crags of vast height, the
picturesque rivers serpentining over the vales, and above all the lochs clear as glass and full to the brim, and embosomed amidst mountains on whose tops the clouds repose,-present the most magnificent idea of the omnipotence of nature, and make the heart adore the Creator of all these wonders. Tracts of horrible barrenness, terrific precipices, rocks rioting on rocks, and mountains “ tossed round by Nature's careless hand” in chaotic confusion. To be sure, every one is not susceptible of those emotions which are kindled in the bosom of the enthusiast of nature, of him whose sense of immediate delight is fixed deep in the beau. ty of surrounding objects. It seems to me that I hear an insensible being, after perusing my reveries, ironically exclaim with West: it must surely be a pretty thing to fetch a walk in the clouds, and to have the snow up to one's ears! I will not waste my time with such poor, stupid wretches; but will content myself with exclaiming, in the words of one of the most enthusiastic admirers of the works of the Supreme Being: “Oh! how fair art thou, Nature! how beautiful in thy smallest works! Happy he whose calm mind, unclouded by remorse or care, is open to every impression of thy beauty! For him Nature unfolds all her charms; his senses find continual and inexhaustible sources of delight in every step he takes, in every shade under which he reposes: rapture springs for him, from the murmuring stream; it diffuses itself with the perfumes of the flow
ers, and whispers among the gently waving
Nothing but the castle is worthy of observation at Dunbarton. It is situated in the environs of the town, on an isthmus formed by the union of the rivers Leven and Clyde. At a distance, this dungeon presents the appearance of a mitre; the sides consist of upright columns of basaltic rock, from which immense masses have been detached, and hurled along its slope, with a romantic confusion-exhibiting in appearance “ the fragments of an earlier world.” The elegant Buchanan has honoured Dunbarton castle with a particular description, as an
arx inexpugnabilis.” It is inaccessible on all sides, except in one place, where the entrance is guarded, and is so admirably contrived by nature and art, that, to use Scott's language,
“ An bundred men might hold the post
With hardihood against a host." The passage to the summit of this fortress is between precipitous and dark rocky masses, which present a peculiarly romantic gloom. General Simond was confined in this dungeon, during a period of the continental war. When Napoleon confided himself to the boasted hospitality of England, it was proposed to make Dunbarton castle his prison, instead of the Isle of Rats; but the government thought proper to make him expiate cruelly his former
glory. History will speak of this characteristic trait, and will enroll it among other instances of detestable policy.
Like wand'ring Arabs, shift from place to place
ACCORDING to your desire, I will throw into one letter, the observations which I have collected on the Highland manners and character. I will preface by observing that the introduction of arts and industry, and especi. ally the general diffusion of knowledge, has within a short period produced such an alteration in the habits of the natives, and the Highland character is so rapidly assimilating itself to that of the southern inhabitants of the country,—that, in a few years, what is now a matter of observation, will be looked on as the fictions of romance, or as the creations of a poetic fancy.
In England, the knowledge of the Highlands was, prior to the rebellion of 1745, extremely faint. The natives were regarded by those wko happened to mention them, as a race of Vandals. Dean Swift, in his Journal to Stella, talks of a couple of gentlemen from the Highlands, and expresses his surprise at finding them persons of ordinary decorum and civility,
For a great length of time, this singular people repelled all attempts at improvement and submission. Separated by their romantic mountains, and divided by asbarbarous language from the civilized parts of the country, the Highlanders have continued inaccessible to the arts of polished life, and hàve preserved the unadulterated remains of the ancient Celts. Tribes of banditti called clans lived together in the strongholds and fastnesses of the country; where they led a rambling licentious life. Each of these tribes was governed by a chieftain, whose authority was never eclipsed or restrained by the presence of a superior. Their habits were incompatible with a life of sobriety and industry; they laid the country under contribution, carried off the cattle of those who would not pay the price which they were pleased to stipulate, and regaled themselves at the expense of the peaceable inhabitants. They went armed on all occasions, and were ready at the command of the chieftain to commit the most horrid depredations. “Never another law hae they, (says Nicol Jarvie, but the length o' their dirks—the broadsword's pursuer or plaintiff, and the target is defender; the stoutest head bears langest out-and there's a Hieland plea for ye.” They followed droves of cattle, plaided, bonneted, belted and brogued, is said to have scattered his manure, with an air of great solemnity and importance!