Page images

houses built of stone, and slated, with a neat •kirk and small square tower (a rarity in this region.) Just beyond it rises a beautiful round hill, and another ridge of a longer form adjacent to it, both covered with woods of tall fir. Beyond them, peep over the black hills of Sid-law, over which winds the road to Dundee. To the north, within about seven miles of me, begin to rise the Grampians, hill above hill, on whose tops three weeks ago I could plainly see some traces of the snow that fell in May last. Tothe east, winds a way to the Strath, such as I have before described it, among the hills, which sink lower and lower as they approach the sea. To the west, the same valley (not plain, but broken, unequal ground) runs on for above 20 miles in view: there I see the crags above Dunkeld; there Beni-Gloe and Beni-More rise above the clouds; and there is that She-khallian, that spires into a cone above them all, and lies at least 45 miles (in a direct line) from this place*

Lord Strathmore, who is the greatest farmer in this neighbourhood, is from break of day to dark night among his husbandmen and labourers: he has near 2000 acres of land in his own hands, and is at present employed in building a low wall of four miles long, and in widening the bed of the little river Deane, which runs to south and southeast of the house, from about twenty to fifty feet wide, both to prevent inundations, and to drain the lake of Forfar. This work will be two years more in completing, and must be three miles in length. AH the Highlanders that can be got are employed in it; many of them know no English, and I hear them singing Erse'songs all day long. The price of labour is eight-pence a day; but to such as will join together, and engage to perform a certain portion in a limited time, two shillings.

I must say that all his labours seem to prosper; and my lord has casually found in digging such quantities of shell-marl, as not only fertilize his own grounds, but are disposed of at a good price to all his neighbours. In his nurseries are thousands of oaks, beech, larches, horse-chesnuts, spruce-firs, &c. thick as they can stand, and whose only fault is, that they are grown tall and vigorous before he has determined where to plant them out; the most advantageous spot we have for beauty lies west of the house, where (when the stone-walls of the meadows are taken away) the grounds, naturally unequal, will have a very park-like appearance: they are already full of trees, which need only thinning here and there to break the regularity of their trout-stream which joins the river Deane hard by. Pursuing the course of this brook upwards, you come to a narrow sequestered valley sheltered from all winds, through which it runs murmuring among great stones; on one hand the ground gently rises into a hill, on the other are the rocky banks of the rivulet almost perpendicular, yet covered with sycamore, ash, and fir, that (though it seems to have no place or soil to grow in) yet has risen to a good height, and forms a thick shade: you may continue along this gill, and passing by one end of the village and its church for half a mile, it leads to an opening between the two hills covered with fir woods, that I mentioned above, through which the stream makes it way, and forms a cascade of ten or twelve feet over broken rocks. A very little art is necessary to make all this a beautiful scene. The weather, till the last week, has been in general very fine and warm; we have had no fires till now, and often have sat with the windows open an hour after sun-set: now and then a shower has come, and sometimes sudden gusts of wind descend from the mountains, that tinish as suddenly as they arose; but to-day it blows a hurricane. Upon the whole, I have been exceeding lucky in my weather, and particularly in my Highland expedition of five .lays.

We set out then the 11th Of September, and continuing along the Strath to the west, passed through Megill, (where is the tomb of Queen Wanders, thai was riven to dtthc by stancd horses for nae gude that she did; so the women there told me, I assure you) through Cowper of Angus; over the river 11a; then over a wide and dismal heath, fit for an assembly of witches, till we came to a string of four small lakes in a valley, whose deep blue waters and green margin, with a gentleman's house or two seated on them in little groves, contrasted with the black desert in which they were enchased. The ground now grew unequal; the hills, more rocky, seemed to close in upon us, till the road came to the brow of a steep descent, nnd (the sun then setting) between two woods of oak we saw far below us the river Tay come sweeping along at the bottom of a precipice, at least 150 feet deep, clear as glass, full to the brim, and very rapid in its course; it seemed to issue out of woods thick and

tall, that rose on either hand, and were over-hung by broken rocky crags of vast height; above them, to the west, the tops of higher mountains appeared, on which the evening clouds reposed. Down by the side of the river, UDder the thickest shades, is seated the town of Dunkeld; in the midst of it stands a ruined cathedral, the towers and shell of the building still entire: a little beyond it, a large house of the duke of Athol, with its offices and gardens, extends a mile beyond the town; and as his grounds were interrupted by the streets and roads, he has flung arches of communication across them, that add to the scenery of the place, which of itself is built of good white stone, and handsomely slated; so that no one would take it for a Scotch town till they corne into it. Here we passed the night; if I told you how, you would bless yourself.

Next day we set forward to Taymouth, 27 miles farther west; the road winding through beautiful woods, with the Tay almost always in full view to the right, being here from 3 to 400 feet over. The Strath-Tay, from a mile to three miles or more wide, covered with corn, and spotted with groups of people then in the midst of their harvest; on either hand a vast chain of rocky

« PreviousContinue »