Page images
PDF
EPUB

guage of the 66

Osbaldistone met Rob Roy, soon after his arrival at Glasgow. To use the beautiful lan

of the “ great unknown,” the growing darkness gave to the broad, still and deep expanse of the brimful river, first, a hue sombre and uniform, then a dismal and turbid appearance, partially lighted by a waning and pallid moon. The massive and ancient bridge which stretches across the river, was now but dimly visible, and resembled that which Mirza, in his unequalled vision, has described as traversing the valley of Bagdad. The low-browed arches, seen as imperfectly as the dusky current which they bestrode, seemed rather cavo erns which swallowed up the gloomy waters of the rivers, than apertures contrived for their passage.

How can I venture on a description of the Cathedral or High Church, after the magnificent picture of it presented by the author of the inimitable work I have been quoting! I will merely observe, that it is one of those few Gothic piles in Scotland, which were left unirjured by the madness of the Reformation. The architecture is perfectly Gothic, the capi

. tals of the columns especially are of exquisite workmanship. The cross aisle of the building was never finished, and is now used, (like Westminster Abbey,) for monuments erected to those who had been esteemed during their lives.

Having put myself à la queue on Sunday morning, I went to church to hear the famous

Dr. Chalmers preach. The first impression he produces is by no means an agreeable one; his features are rather coarse, his face is overspread with something of a ghastly paleness, his eyes have a certain pensive expression about them, and there is such an appearance of constraint in his manner, that

you

feel interested in his supposed bodily sufferings. His voice is not melodious, “non circum præcordia ludit,” and it commences in a low drawling key; yet, with all these disadvantages, it gradually awakens the feelings, like those murmuring notes

" That fall as soft as snow on the sea
And melt in the heart as instantly."

His eyes are light in colour; his gestures are not graceful, and his pronunciation is broadly national: but then with what tenfold richness, (says the author of “ Peter's Letters,”) does this dim preliminary curtain make the glories of his eloquence shine forth, when the heated spirit at length shakes from it its chill confining fetters, and bursts out elate and rejoicing in the full splendour of its disimprisoned wings!

To-morrow I will set off for Ireland, in the Rob Roy steam-boat. After spending a short time at Belfast, I will make an excursion to the Giants' Causey, proceeding through Antrim, where I will remain a day or two, in order to visit Loch Neagh, which is one of the largest lakes in Europe, being 22 miles long and nearly as broad.

[blocks in formation]

LETTER XXVI.

"How like a worm was I wrapt round and round
In silken tho'l, which reptile fancy spun!

Night Thoughts.

Antrim, May 26, 1819.

AFTER a very agreeable voyage, we arrived at Belfast on the morning of the 22d inst. All that I can say of this town is that it contains 25,000 inhabitants, and is situated on the river Lagan and the sea-shore. A long bridge of 21 elegant arches bestrides the river. Bleachfields extend round the country in the environs of Belfast, which are beautifully sprinkled with trees and gently rising hills. Towards the harbour, there is a projecting mound, called Cave Hill, which, with the surrounding scenery, would form an excellent subject for the pencil; there is a wild and variegated kind of beauty about it, which produces a fine effect. The lofty back ground is adorned in every crevice with varied and thriving plantations, and country seats.

Between Belfast and Antrim, the landscape is by no means striking; but the country is well cultivated, and adorned with neat cottages and gentlemen's seats. Antrim is 48 miles from Dublin. Near it is that magnificent body of water called Lough Neagh, which has rather the appearance of an inland sea, than of a lake; there is not a single island on it. At the edge of the lake is Lord O'Neal's country seat,

which, with its various beauties of wood and water, recalled to my mind the description which the younger Pliny gives of his villa. Within and near the lake there are a great many petrifactions, or, as Delille says,

“Les bois que les eaux ont transformés en pierre:
Soit qu’un limon durci les couvre au dehors,

Soit que des sues pierreux aient pénétré leurs corps." You know that the best hones are made of the wood petrified in this lake. In the Rebellion of '98, Lough Neagh resounded with the cries of massacre, and the father of Lord O'Neal was one of the victims:

" Alas! thou lovely lake, that e'er
Thy banks should echo sounds of fear!
The rocks, the bosky thickets, sleep
So stilly on thy bosom deep,
The lark's blithe carol, from the cloud,

Seems for the scene too gayly loud.” Yesterday morning early I hired a boat and made a delightful excursion on the lake: during the whole time, I was favoured with a beautiful sky, such as Claude would have painted, and such as he alone knew how to represent; the day resembled one of those so finely described by Madame de Sevigne,“ des jours files d'or et de soie.” As soon as light's first blushes tinged the distant hills,” I descended to the bank of the river, and stretched myself in a sequestered grot: the noise of the billows lashing the shore, and the agitation of the rippled surface of the stream, made me

feel the pleasure of existence, as it were, without taking the trouble of thinking; and the transiency of the waves presented a melancholy image of the instability of fortune and happiness. I entered the boat, and rowed for some distance, in order to gaze on the scenery on shore; then I laid up the oars, and let the bateau glide along the stream of its own accord. I gazed on the crystal abyss, and watched the fish darting like arrows through the water, displaying their golden oars through the transparent waves, or leaping from the bosom of the stream, and skimming along its glassy surface. The nightingales on the surrounding trees, had been rocked to sleep by the zephyrs, gently agitating the limbs on which they rested; but as nature dawned into strength and brightness, they poured forth torrents of melody from their mossy boughs. Now and then the shrill voice of the dove filled the wide groves; while the lark springing up from a neighbouring meadow, towered

into an invisible speck, leaving a strain of music in its rapid career.

As I walked towards the town, I stepped into a rustic grave-yara, reading as I went along, the beautiful elegy of Gray, which appeared illustrated in the objects before me. Some of the old tomb-stones were sunk below the surface of the earth, by the weight of time and oblivion. On the new-made graves had been scattered, by some pious hand, dew drops like the recent tears of grief, and daisies which lay withering on the fresh clods. The silence,

« PreviousContinue »