Letters from the North Highlands, During the Summer of 1816

Author(s): Spence, Elizabeth Isabella


&c. &c.
"......... Led by smiling Hope, an inmate lov'd,
I strive wild nature's image to recall,
And all her glowing colours to portray."
E. Blackader, Typ. Took's Court, Chancery Lane.
SENSIBLE of the proud distinction the
following Letters will acquire from being
addressed to the Author of "The Scottish
Chiefs," I shall be satisfied if I should
have caught only one ray of that Genius
which lives in every page of your admirable
writings, for then I might hope to convey
entertainment as well as information to the
To you, who have so ably exhibited
many of Scotland's noble heroes, such as
they really were, and have painted their
patriotism in colours at once glowing, faithful,
and indelible, I need not be afraid of
describing the national traits of a people,
whose talents, integrity, and persevering
industry, have raised them above the sphere
of other nations. Nor is it merely in the
field of battle in which they had to encounter
difficulties, but in the most trying
scenes of domestic life, the peasantry
struggling by hard labour for a scanty subsistence,
under the pressure of chilling indigence,
had also to surmount the most inveterate
prejudices. They were viewed as
a barbarous people, rude as their wild and
romantic scenery, and supposed to participate
in its general character. The veil of
prejudice has at length been raised; the
country is now better known, and contemplated
with more indulgence, even by the
least informed.
What is faithfully and simply told, relating
to scenes familiar to your imagination,
and so happily interwoven with your
enchanting History, must be interesting.
Whatever was attraction for a mind like
yours, must of itself excite attention, even
though it partake in a lower degree of similar
taste and feeling.
My wanderings through the northern
parts of Scotland, famed for song, "and
Beauty's charms," with the description
which I have given of the region illustrated
by your genius, as well as that of its ancient
inhabitants, may afford amusement
to those who possess a taste for the objects
of grandeur and antiquity, which
abound amidst the wild and extraordinary
scenes that I have lately visited.
The pictures, equally brilliant and faithful,
which have been exhibited in "Waverley,"
"Guy Mannering," "The Antiquary,"
and "Clan Albin," have not discouraged
me from an attempt to delineate
some of the peculiar features of the land
which have given birth to those fair creations
of prolific fancy; or rather, to those
correct transcripts of national manners.
Such productions of powerful and original
genius, have contributed much to the national
celebrity, and give additional interest
to the following slight sketches of a country,
which presents such an endless variety
in nature and art, for the study of the observing
Northumberland Street,
Nottingham Place, April 1817.
THE border scenery. — Flodden Field. — The poet Leyden. — Banks
of the Tweed. — Lines by King James the Third. — Tradition of
Miss Scott of Dryhope. — "The Flower of Yarrow." — Coldstream.
— Ancient Castle belonging to the Earls of Loutherdale. — Leader
Haughs. — General observations.
Description of Edinburgh. — New approach over the Calton Hill,
with a panorama view, combining the Observatory, Bridewell,
Hume's monument, the New Prison, the Castle, Holyrood House,
the Sea-port of Leith, Firth of Forth, Fishing-towns on the coast
of Fife, Berwick Law, the Lomond and Pentland Hills. — Internal
improvements in the city. — The Court of Exchequer. — The Writers'
and Advocates' Libraries.
A Sunday in Edinburgh. — Anecdotes of the Count d'Artois, and his
attendants. — The Rev. Mr. Alison. — Habit of living and society in
Edinburgh. — Distinction of character between the Scotch and English.

Craigmillar Castle. — Mary Queen of Scots. — Petty France. — Pennycuick.
— Ossian's Hall. — Description of the paintings. — Roslin.
State of literature in Edinburgh. — Departure. — Stage between Edinburgh
and Queen's Ferry, with the various seats described. — Inchcolm
Monastery. — Inchgarvie. — Origin of the name of Queen's
Ferry. — Landing of Queen Margaret. — Lochleven — Dwelling of
Michael Bruce. — Kinross. — Strathmore. — Improved aspect of the
country. — Dress of the peasantry.
Progress of improvement in Aberdeen. — Literature. — Christian
Milne, a rustic poetess.
Bamff. — Wild and bold scenery. — Moray Firth. — River Deveron. —
Bridge of Alva. — of Macduff. — Salmon Fishery. —
Duff House. — Paintings described.
Portsoy. — Marbles in the neighbourhood. — Cullen House — Romantic
situation. — Fochabers. — Gordon Castle. — Paintings in the Castle —
Anecdote of Home. — River Spey.
Province of Moray. — Noble appearance of Elgin Cathedral. — The
venerable ruin described. — Ruins of Spinie Palace. — New Hospital.
— Cottage d'ornée.
Pluscardine Priory. — New road to the Highlands. — Village of Rothes.
— Scenery on the Spey — Elegant iron bridge. — Sylvan glade on
the borders of the river. — Arndilly. — Village of Lossie-mouth. —
Coves of Coversea.
Forres. — Singular obelisk. — Lord Nelson's Column. — Nairn. — Rude
tract of country. — Moray Firth. — Distant view of mountains in
Ross. — Sutherland, with the Ord of Caithness. — Hoar Moor. —
Field of Culloden. — Culloden Papers. — Duncan Forbes. — Campbell
Town. — Arrival at Inverness.
Aspect of Inverness,and the surrounding scenery. — The Castle. — Tradition
of Queen Mary. — Origin of the stone bridge. — Cromwell
Fort. — Tom-na-heurich. — Craig Phadric. — Vitrified Forts. — Mod
of Dress. — Old costumes.
Romantic Highland scenery. — Highland hospitality. — The Aird. —
Falls of Kilmorach. — Beauley River. — Salmon Leap. — Anecdote
— Grand scenery of the Drieam. — Romantic Isle of Aigash. —
Cairns. — Druidical circles. — Clanship. — Anecdotes of Lovat. —
Scotch Kirks.
Magnificent Highland views continued. — Ross-shire. — Mountains. —
Alness Manse. — Cromarty Firth. — Bay. — Black Isle. — Hill of the
Suitors. — Alness bridge — Scotch and English education compared.
— Beauley Town and Priory. — Dingwall: — Strathpeffar. — Knochfarril.
— Parish of Nigg. — Braan Castle.
Return to Achnagairn. — Highland entertainment. — Distincton of
Character between the Highlander and Lowlander. — National enthusiasm.
— Highland habitations. — Strathglass. — The sheilings.
Grand objects on the borders of Loch Ness. — General's hut. — Upper
and Lower Falls of Foyers. — Wild mountain scenery. — Remains of
a Cairn. — The warrior Cumming. — Glendoe.
First view of Fort Augustus. — The Fort, town, rivers, and mountains
described. — Magnificence of Loch Ness. — Former residence of
Mrs. Grant of Laggan. — The Caledonian Canal.
Departure from Fort Augustus. — The opposite side of Loch Ness. —
Different aspect of the scenery through the woods of Port Clare. —
Cherry Islands. — Singular legend. — Abertarf. — Inchnacardoch. —
Sequestered grotto. — Extraordinary tradition. — Glenmoriston.
Mansion of Glenmoriston. — The Falls of Glenmoriston — A Cave, formerly
the retreat of banditti. — Singular instance of fidelity to Prince
Vale of Urquhart. — Castle of Urquhart. — Drumnadrochat. — Funeral
ceremony of a Highland chieftain. — The coronach, or funeral lament.
Return to Inverness. — Earthquake at Inverness. — Influence of the
earthquake experienced at Lisbon in 1755, on Loch Ness. — Qualities
of, and effects produced on, the waters of Loch Ness.
Gloomy and mountainous district between Inverness and Avie Moor
Inn. — Country more diversified near Kinrara. — Duchess of Gordon's
Cottage. — Lines to Her Grace's memory. — Bridge of Spey. —
Craigdoe. — Fiery cross. — Attachment and enthusiasm of the clans
to their chiefs. — Vale of Laggan.
Stage from Dalwhinnie to Dalnacardoch. — Wild mountainous scenery.
— Loch Garry. — Highland Inns. — Grand approach to Blair Athol.
Falls of the Bruar. — New and extensive plantations. — Plantations
of rhubarb.
Blair Athol. — Interesting tradition connected with it. — Valley of
Morah. — Church of Blair. — Legend of Donald of the Isles.
Dunkeld. — Anecdote of Rousseau. — Magnificent scenery between
Blair Athol and Dunkeld. — Flascally. — Pass of Kilicrankie. — Rivers
Garry, Bruar, and Tilt. — Arcadian appearance of Dunkeld. —
New streets, and general inprovements.
Stirling. — Cambruskeneth Abbey. — Superstition connected with Marr
Palace. — Bridge of Stirling. — Wallace. — Clachmannan. — Ochil
Hills. — Residence of Mungo Parke and Lord Abercrombie. — Village
of Dollar. — Castle Campbell. — John Knox. — Taste for literature
in a shepherd. — Shrewdness of a Scotch peasant girl. — The
Caldron Linn. — Rumbling Brig. — Devil's Mill. — Town of Alloa. —
Race of beggars, called the King's Beadsmen, or Blue-gowns.
Stage from Stirling to Glasgow. — Dunblane. — TheCathedral. — Anecdote.
— Bannochburn. — St. Ninian's. — Glasgow. — Lunatic Asylum.
— The Rev. Dr. Chalmers. — Remarks on his preaching.
Return to Kinnoul. — Rustic bard. — Banks of the Almond. — Residence
of Lord Lyndoch. — Enchanting scenery through the Carse of
Gowrie. — Dundee steam-boats. — Abernethy Tower. — Abbey of
Aberbroath. — The town. — The Bell Rock.
Red Castle. — Montrose. — Singular caves between Arbroath and Montrose.
— Lunnan Bay. — Whimsical tradition. — Langley Park. — Surrounding
Dunfermline — Antiquities. — Palace. — Abbey. — Traditions. — Queen
Margaret. — Ancient Church.
Return to Edinburgh. — Caledonian Races. — The Theatre. — Mr.
Kean's performance.
General Observations.
Trinity Lodge, near Edinburgh,
HAVING long felt an ardent desire to
revisit my native country, I left London
at a season when its gaieties present to
multitudes the most powerful attraction;
but, at a season, when, to the traveller, nature
puts on a thousand charms; for all
creation hails the new-born spring with
songs of gladness, as it starts into life,
drest in the softest verdure, blooming in
flowers, and prodigal in beauty.
Though journeying along those parts
of England with which you are probably
acquainted, it is yet impossible to pass the
boundaries of the two kingdoms without
slightly touching on the border scenery,
which no traveller, of any sentiment, can
view without peculiar interest; for here
commences not only the land of poetry
and song, but a land, which, in the earlier
ages of national prejudice and dissention,
flowed with blood-shed; but it is now happily
converted into the land of smiling
peace; and those dire contentions which
disturbed and rendered desolate its lovely
plains, now exist only in tradition.
Flodden Field, a green elevation, not
far distant from Coldstream, cannot be
obliterated from any Scottish bosom, in the
traces left of that national calamity, in
which every distinguished family deeply
shared. This dreary spot has been consecrated
not merely by the blood of its warriors,
but the tears of the Muses have
been copiously poured forth, as a tribute to
the unavailing valour of the slain; and the
unutterable sorrow of the survivors. Leyden,
"too early lost, and still deplored,"
has lamented, with his peculiar pathos,
"That ever Scottish maid should sing,
The combat, where her hero fell;
That Scottish bard should wake the string,
The triumphs of our foe to tell."
Little did that enthusiast for his country's
fame then imagine, that his friend would
pour out all the soul of song, and literally
awake the string, "The triumph of our
foe to tell." That he would add to the
faithful and simple drawing of history, such
poetical colouring, as makes the victims of
Flodden Field die anew to the imagination,
and the gory laurels of the southern
victors bloom afresh, to blast the sight of
true and leal Scots.
Setting all nationality and enthusiasm
aside, it is impossible to pass with indifference
a spot marked with such indelible
traces in History, and consecrated to
fame by successive poets. One almost
sees with Leyden, the shades of those
"Rude border chiefs, of mighty name,
And iron soul, who sternly tore
Its blossoms from the tree of fame,
And purpled all their tints with gore.
Lo! bursting from the coming tomb,
The spirit of the ancient dead,
Dimly streaks the parting gloom,
With awful faces, ghastly red.
At once around their martial king,
They closed the death-devoted ring,
With dauntless hearts, unknown to yield,
In sad procession round the pile,
Of heavy corses, moves each shadowy file,
And chaunts in solemn strains the dirge of Flodden
Added to the sadness of which this fatal
field, with all its attendant recollections
inspire, the fate of the author of these
lines, produces a deeper regret than arises
at the destruction of valour, which we consider
only as a tale of other times. The
idea of the poet Leyden, snatched away in
the prime of life, fulfilling his own mournful
predictions, when doomed to follow
fortune to an ungenial clime, individualizes
our sympathy, and mingles with the recollections
his own powerful mind had formed,
when we behold the local memorials to genius
combined with virtues of the highest
order, thus personally extinct in a coeval.
Soon after losing sight of this interesting
place, I entered Caledonia, by a handsome
stone bridge thrown over the silver Tweed.
This beautiful flowing river is the subject
of two admired songs, one, "The Banks
of the Tweed;" —
"To the soft murm'ring Tweed I will sing;"
the other, "Tweed Side;" a beautiful effusion
of real passion. It was written about
the beginning of the last century, by Sir
Ronald Crawford, addressed to his cousin.
This is the same Miss Crawford to whom
Sir Gilbert Elliot, father of the late Lord
Minto, addressed the pathetic strains, beginning

"My sheep I've forsaken,
And left my sheep hook;" &c.
on her marriage with his rival.
Mary Scott, the "Flower of Yarrow,"
renowned in ancient and modem song,
was the daughter of Scott of Dryhope,
a fragment now out of print, imputed
to James the Third, who was said to be
enamoured of this lady, has been kindly
communicated to me by my friend, Mrs.
Grant, of Laggan, which, for its originality,
is worth inserting
"Mary's red, and Mary's white,
And Mary is a king's delight;
A king's delight, and a prince's marrow,
Wha loes her, on the braes of Yarrow.
Mary's eyes are violet blue;
O! were her heart but half as true,
I'd scorn a queen to be my marrow,
And live with her on the braes of Yarrow.
Mary's breast is lily fair,
With it no breast can e'er compare;
She's tall and slender, like the arrow,
That wounds the deer on the braes of Yarrow."
Mary Scott was married to the famous
marauding chief, Scott, of Harden, and
was, by that marriage, mother of five
sons, renowned in border history.
There is a tradition of the lover of her
choice being killed in single combat, selected
by her relations, which has been the
foundation of a lay of exquisitely simple
pathos, written in the spirit of the ancient
pastoral ballad, by the Scotch Tibullus,
Hamilton Hamilton of Banagour. It begins
to this purpose:
"Why does she weep, my bonny bonny bride?
Why does she weep? my winsome marrow."
After a sad narrative of the tenderest
plaints, breathed from a bleeding heart, it
"Return, return, thou mournful bride;
Return, and dry thy useless sorrow,
And loe me, on the banks of Tweed,
And think no more of the braes of Yarrow."
After this long digression on Scottish
song, I return to Coldstream, to notice a
small house on the north side of the bridge,
where it is said Hymen has fixed his court;
and many an eager couple repair thither to
tie the happy knot. They now however
disdain so vulgar a priest as Vulcan, and
the ceremony is performed by a regular
Coldstream is a mean looking little town,
situated on the banks of the Tweed. It
derives some importance in history, from
having been General Monk's station, previous
to his restoration of King Charles
the Second. It was here he raised his men;
and the Coldstream regiment have retained
that name from the circumstance. The
adjacent country is open, bare of trees, and
by no means pretty; but the lands are fertile,
and produce excellent crops. It must
be confessed, in journeying northward, the
eye in vain looks for the soft, yet bright
verdure of English pastures, where every
mead is now glowing with cowslips, and
enamelled with daisies. The cold appearance
of the Northumbrian hills, however,
charmed me; having at their base, many
sparkling and clear streams, with rude
bridges thrown over them, which is very
The ancient castle of the Earls of Lowtherdale,
called Leader Fort, or Thirlstane
Castle, built as far back as the
reign of Edward the First, stands on the
banks of the Leader, partially wooded,
on the verge of another sparkling river,
thus celebrated in song, by the name of
"Leader Haughs."*
"The morn was fair, soft was the air,
All nature's sweets were springing;
The buds did bow with silver dew;
Ten thousand birds were singing."
You may have observed the superiority
which the simple Scotch ballad possesses
over the same kind of composition in English.
A lake, a river, even a tree, becomes
important in Scottish song, because there is
always some old legend annexed to them,
often of a pathetic nature. The cause is
evident. Remote from commerce, the politics,
and the frivolity of the day, they
have leisure to cherish their native enthusiasm,
which every object tends to excite.
* Leader Haughs can scarcely be translated Leader
meadows. This peculiar appellation is given to
low grounds occasionally overflowed.
Trinity Lodge, June.
IT was the last evening of May when I
entered Edinburgh. The setting sun, as
I approached Dalkeith, illumined with his
parting rays the dark hills of Fifeshire, and
presented the peaceful waves of the Firth
of Forth* rolling at their feet; a scene
truly sublime and beautiful. The environs
of Edinburgh are as rich in cultivation as
the vicinity of London, and possess an air of
grandeur, which mingles with every object,
in a manner it is impossible to describe.
My present residence is in a very inviting
situation; two miles distant from the great
city; the pleasure-grounds of Trinity
* Firth of Forth, the mouth of a river flowing
into the sea.
Lodge sloping to the borders of the sea,
with an extensive view of the opposite coast,
which is enlivened with numerous little
fishing-towns and villages.
Childish recollections blend so imperfectly
with departed time, that you will naturally
expect a description of the Scotch
metropolis. Like most other large cities,
it possesses a mixture of grandeur and
meanness, much to excite admiration, and
much to fill the mind with a painful sense
of contrast: yet, take this city as a whole,
the combination is so happy, of magnificence
and sublimity, of symmetry and irregularity,
that no stranger can behold it
without admiration. Such are the universal
zeal and public spirit for improvement now
diffused over every part of the world, that
not a year passes without additional advantages
being suggested in large cities, for
comfort and utility.
The improvements that have taken place
in the Scottish capital since my last visit,
are indeed to the natives most gratifying,
and to strangers astonishing.
The approach to Edinburgh from the
south, was formerly very mean, and calculated
to give a most unfavourable impression,
at a first view of the city. There
is a new one now opened, at a very considerable
expense; the design of which could
not be executed without conquering difficulties,
apparently insurmountable. This fine
road, which is thirty feet wide, passes over
the Calton Hill, and joins the old one near
a mile from the city. The design has been
accomplished with incredible labour, at the
expense of taking down a street of houses
to make way for it. There has also been
a bridge thrown over an intervening hollow,
between the town and the hill. This
makes the third of those singular erections,
which distinguish this from every
other town; adding to it another feature,
not merely of singularity, but of magnificence
These lofty bridges, connecting
one eminence with another, unite convenience
with grandeur.
On the eminence, over which this new
road passes, are several buildings, which
adorn the prospect, and present a cluster
of interesting objects to the traveller.
These are — Nelson's monument — the New
Bridewell — the Observatory — the monument
erected by David Hume, for himself,
and the New Prison, nearly finished;
it stands in an airy, wholesome situation,
and makes room for removing the greatest
nuisance, which has so long disgraced one
of the noblest streets in Europe; I mean
the Tollbooths and Luckenbooths, now
condemned to speedy destruction. A
stranger coming in sight of the city by
this new approach, will meet with an assemblage
of objects scarcely to be paralleled
in one comprehensive view. The
New Town, in all its completeness and regularity;
the Old, in all its antique majesty
of building, and dignity of situation. The
Castle, proud in stately magnificence, overlooking
all below; and the towers of Holyrood
House, at the other extremity, terminating
the prospect, bearing a dignified
memorial of departed royalty. From the
same spot, when turning to the, east or
north, appears the thriving sea-port of
Leith, with its spires and grove of masts.
The Firth of Forth, with its rocky isles,
and gliding sails, and a wide panorama of
the coast of Fife, sprinkled with fishing
towns on its romantic shores, together with
East Lothian, the granary of the neighbourhood,
in the highest state of cultivation.
The prospect to the east is terminated
by the lofty insulated mountain of
Berwick Law; while the Lomond, in Fife,
seems to the eye, a barrier on that side;
and the Pentland, on the opposite direction.
On all sides the city appears to extend
itself; St. Bernard's Well, which the
liberality of the late Lord Gardenston enclosed,
and adorned with a temple of Hygeia,
after the model of that at Tivoli,
stands on the borders of the waters of
Leith, to the north-west of the New Town.
This temple once stood in a seclusion so
deep, sylvan, and romantic, that it was hardly
possible, while surveying it, to believe it
situated in the vicinity of a vast and busy
city. The immediate spot is still sacred.
from the intrusion of a spreading population;
but in its neighbourhood a new town
has sprung up, which possesses all the rural
neatness and quiet comfort of an English
village. It is inhabited chiefly by that
respectable class of the community, whose
minds and manners being rather beyond
their fortunes, induce them to shun public
resort, and live together in a quieter and
less expensive society with each other.
The internal improvements of Edinburgh
are fully commensurate with those
new erections. The Court of Exchequer
is an elegant new building, particularly
adapted to the purpose for which it is intended.
The Writer's Library is a very
large and truly magnificent room; finished
with pillars, galleries, rich gilding, and all
sorts of architectural ornaments, in a style
that must astonish every stranger. At the
same time, this astonishment is converted
into admiration, on observing, that love of
literature, which seems to be inherent in
the Scotch character, displayed in such a
splendid establishment; and that, erected
solely at the expense of a body of men,
who might be supposed too busy for the
cultivation either of scientific or polite literature;
and scarcely rich enough to erect
such a costly repository for the treasures of
learning. Their collection is said to be
worthy the receptacle in which it is deposited.
Above this grand apartment, under
the same roof, is the Advocate's Library,
not entirely finished, but seemingly inintended
to preserve, if possible, the superiority
which is claimed, by that higher
class of the profession, from which the
judges are chosen, and all other great officers
of the law. Their library is preeminent
not only in the number of the
books which it contains, but in valuable
manuscripts of great antiquity, and other
literary curiosities. They are rich in all
the wealth of learning; not in consequence
of their acute and diligent search
after every thing worth preserving, but by
their possession of a privilege, like that of
our universities, of having a copy of every
work published, deposited in their library.
The Advocates in Edinburgh, are what the
Templars were in the Spectator's time,
the wits and critics of the town, from whose
literary judgments there lies no appeal; as
was the case in England, in Addison's day.
The heirs of estates study law here, by way
of usefully occupying their time, though
not intending to follow it as a profession.
Without being always very diligent in their
studies in this profession, they acquire a
taste for intelligent conversation, and a
degree of acuteness in what relates to business,
that proves very useful in life.
I refer you to my former "Sketches of
Scotland," for a description of Holyrood
House, together with my remarks on the
pictures contained in that ancient pile of
Trinity Lodge, June.
You, who possess such genuine piety,
would be greatly struck and delighted with
the sanctified appearance of Sunday in
Scotland: it differs as widely from England,
as I suppose England differs from
France, where not even the outward semblance
of the sabbath is preserved.
To the sound of the church bell, as if
by universal consent, the streets instantaneously
become crowded by one vast multitude,
of every rank, all thronging for the
same devout purpose, to public worship
so well, but modestly attired, that no stranger
can behold this interesting and impressive
scene, without a sentiment of surprise
and veneration. There is no giddy levity
in the demeanour, uncharacteristic of the
pious occasion which takes them abroad.
The sabbath in Scotland is literally a day
of rest, both for man and beast. Not an
article is either vended in the streets, or
the shutter of a shop unclosed. Except the
mail-coach, no public vehicle is suffered to
travel, but on what are denominated,
"lawful days."
Justly may one exclaim, in the words of
the Scottish poet, Graham,
How still the morning of this hallowed day;
Mute is the voice of labour:"
And literally hail the sabbath, as
"—— The poor man's friend:
The poor mechanic here has time to breathe."
When the Count d'Artois resided in
Holyrood House, the severity of his English
creditors confined him to the privileged
limits of the palace. Sunday being the
only day of entire freedom, he used to walk
the streets, and was exceedingly struck
with the decorous behaviour of the people,
and their regular attendance at public
worship. He observed, that certainly the
Divine blessing must protect, in a peculiar
manner, a nation who honoured God in
so holy a way. On his return to the palace,
he forbid his own people to play at tennis,
as was usual. Unwillingly relinquishing
this amusement, they had recourse to
back-gammon. This he also forbade.
They were inconsolable under the heavy
evil of spending a day without amusement,
and warmly remonstrated, that their religion
required no such austerity.
"True," said he, "this forbearance makes
no part of my religion; but I think it is a
respect which we owe to their hospitality,
and the morally decent conduct of the nation
under whose protection we live, to give
up a trifling gratification that is incompatible
with their ideas of sanctity and
Is not this, my dear friend, a powerful
instance of the effect of good example,
thus to check in an instant the idle sports
of people habituated to pleasure, who were
even awed, if not convinced, into compliance,
by the genuine piety of an opposite
race, who consider no self-denial too
austere to practice, when they wish to shew
a proper reverence to their God:
When the family of this prince left Edinburgh,
a few of his followers, either from
infirmity or narrow circumstances, remained
behind, receiving much kindness from
the neighbouring gentry, who daily sent
them presents of game, fruit, &c. On the
restoration of the Bourbons, they prepared
to rejoin them; but before their departure,
a general illumination took place, after the
battle of Leipsic, on which occasion they
placed a transparency in their windows,
bearing this inscription, not too familiar
to Frenchmen, "Eternal Gratitude for
generous Hospitality."
The Rev. Mr. Alison (whose church I
attended), so eminently gifted with all the
grace of pulpit eloquence, fully realized the
expectations formed by the perusal of his
sermons. There is a dignified sanctity in his
deportment and delivery, at once encouraging
and persuasive, when listening to those
scriptural doctrines, which he illustrates
with all the rich decoration of language,
elegant, energetic and deeply affecting.
Edinburgh, every way distinguished, is
more particularly so, as being the only
great city which may be said to subsist by
the talents of its inhabitants. Here is no
court, no commerce, no manufactories,
and scarce any resident nobility, who, by
spending great incomes in the place, encourage
artists and tradesmen. The principal
difference to be observed in the modes
of living, of the genteel class, from others
of the same rank in England, is, that in
proportion to their incomes they are better
lodged, inhabit more substantial houses,
and have larger apartments. This is partly
owing to the ambition which the Scotch in
general have, for what they call a good
exterior, and partly to their practising
more frugality. Servants neither ask such
high wages, nor are so luxuriously fed;
firing is comparatively cheaper, as also fish,
vegetables, and every other article of food.
A carriage does not, as in London, of necessity,
make a part of the establishment
of those who move in the first society.
Many here possess that accommodation,
but, like Bath, a greater number, in other
respects, on an equality, live without it.
This is easily managed, where walking the
streets is both safe and creditable. Chairs,
which stand at every corner of them, are
a cheap and easy conveyance. In Scotland
no person thinks of a carriage, unless
in affluent circumstances. They would
not limit their friendly and hospitable style
of living, for the sake of ostentation, and
an indulgence incompatible with it. A
lady's-maid is by no means indispensible,
as in England; none but people of large
fortune think of a personal attendant of
this nature.
A degree of pedantry and self-opinion
might be supposed to prevail, when ladies
are so well informed; it is by no means the
case; and indeed it is a fancied, not a real
superiority of knowledge or of intellect
which engenders conceit. Where women
possess either, in any eminent degree, we
have existing proofs of the modesty inseparable
from excellence. There is in Scotland
a sort of republican equality in this
respect, which prevents an individual assumption
that cannot be easily borne, as
well as pretension, which cannot be easily
detected. With less elegance of form,
sweetness of voice, and persuasive grace of
manner, there are more of nature and
decided character in the Scotch than English
females, in the same condition of life.
This, I imagine, is owing to their being
educated at home, except a year given to
a boarding-school, where only accomplishments
are taught. At home young ladies
learn to think and feel in a well-regulated
and well-informed family, which alike cultivates
the heart and understanding. Their
living together from childhood, in the reciprocal
exercise of the best affections,
lays the foundation of that strong, yet
tender family attachment during life,
which forms so marked a feature in the
Scotch character. Early associations, like
early habits, make up a large portion of our
enjoyments through life. A superficial
education generally forms a superficial character,
wholly engrossed with self; but in
a home education, I could instance an
English family, who form a striking proof
of the force of my observation, in the
happy effects produced of parents rendering
their daughters rational and useful
members of society. That prudence and
circumspection too, for which the Scotch
are alternately, (and perhaps with equal
justice) praised and blamed, may, in some
degree, originate from this family union.
A person in the habit of merely thinking
of the fancy or convenience of the individual,
can never form those habits of caution
and reflection, which are the result of
a constant fear to offend, or the wish to
please many others, on whom their comfort
much depends.
I have been led into the above remarks
from the observations which I have made
on the opposite character of the two nations.
Trinity Lodge, June.
YESTERDAY morning, accompanied by
a party of my English friends, I visited
the ruins of Craigmillar Castle, once the
favourite residence of Mary Queen of
Scots, during her short and perturbed
reign. As a mere ruin, in my opinion, it
possesses little to excite admiration. What
remains, shews it to have been a place of
considerable strength, with accommodation
for a baronial, or even princely retinue;
but in its present decayed state, it possesses
nothing of the striking grandeur of many
remnants of antiquity in Wales. Yet,
when Craigmillar is viewed as the retreat
of the beauteous Mary, imagination instantly
peoples its now mouldering apartments,
and anxious we look to the interesting
period, when she withdrew thither, on
her return from France.
There is a tower almost entire, now a
lodgment for pigeons, which, it is said, contained
the apartment of the royal beauty;
and in which she was accustomed to use a
bath of white wines. This, it seems, was
considered a preservative of the fairness
and the smoothness of the skin. Some
author, whom I have read, says, Diana of
Poitiers used a bath of this sort for the same
purpose. There is a very elegant poem on
the subject of these ruins, published many
years ago, containing some pathetic allusions
to the fate of this accomplished and
extraordinary personage, who was the possessor.
I only recollect one verse, relating
to this said tower, its former use, and present
"The chamber, where the queen, whose charms
Bade wandering nations own the power of love,
Once bathed her snowy limbs in sparkling wine,
Now proves a refuge for the lonely dove."
It is impossible to traverse this once gay
residence of the Graces, without the most
painful retrospect. That a being, unrivalled
in charms, naturally humane and gentle,
with an affectionate heart, and a cultivated
understanding, inheriting also, not only the
long descended train, but the distinguished
qualities of her immediate ancestors; uniting
the spirit of the Stuarts, with the
beauty, the address, the manners of the
Guises. — That such a being, at whose birth,
"Nature and fortune strove to make her
great, should fall," not faultless, into such
a gulph of wretchedness and woe, is astonishing,
as well as humiliating, to every
reflecting mind.
It was to this castle, the scene of her
short-lived happiness, that Mary retired,
when overcame by sorrow, stung by
pride, and wounded in affections. She
kept her bed on the discovery of her husband's
excessive folly and hopeless depravity;
she said that life was odious to her;
and, according to a cotemporary writer,
"sought ane knife, that she might end
her days, being so sair grieved and affronted
by king Henry's doings." She
was surrounded by her oldest and most
faithful counsellors, who were so much
moved by her distress, that they strongly
advised her to divorce him. She had at that
period such a high sense of honour, that
she positively refused, least she should thus
dishonour her son, and be exposed, by his
father wandering a spectacle of vice and
wretchedness in foreign courts.
How the queen so soon changed her
mind, and at last connived at the fatal expedient
which covered her remaining days
with shame and sorrow, it is difficult to
This castle* was the residence of James
* Craigmillar anciently belonged to a family of that
name. In 1574, it was purchased by Sir Simon de
Preston, which family was sometimes styled Prestons
of Craigmillar, Prestons of Gerton, as well as Prestons
of Preston.
There is no evidence for ascertaining when this
castle was built; but the rampart wall, as appears
from the inscription on the gate, was built in l427.
the Fifth, during his minority, when the
plague raged in Edinburgh.
There is a small village near Craigmillar,
called Petty France. The name is
now changed, but originally was the abode
of such of the queen's menials, as had followed
her from France. Their descendants
still remain, and are distinguished by very
odd names, the Gallic origin of which, is
almost lost in the Scottish pronunciation.
The dark eyes, thin visages, and foreign
features of the inhabitants, still attest their
A morning we devoted to examine Pennycuick,
one of those houses which excite the
curiosity of strangers. Some fine paintings,
taken from the most striking parts of Ossian,
is the subject of attraction. Amply is the
eye feasted, and the imagination delighted,
by the faithful delineation of the poem of
the Celtic bard, regarded with such enthusiasm
by the Scotch.
The apartment called Ossian's Hall (Lady
Clarke's favourite sitting-room) is of large
dimensions. The paintings occupy the
coved ceiling, and consist of twelve departments,
exclusive of the large oval, or
centre, and is a most conspicuous piece.
The figures are as large as life; the subject
is taken from the third book of the poem.
Ossian, seated at the harp, displays all the
wrapt enthusiasm of the bard, as his aged
hand gracefully sweeps the strings, blended
with an elevation of soul, which the rolling
years of time has not chaced away, according
to his fine expression of countenance.
Close behind him, stands a Culdee, bent
with age, leaning on his staff, full of mute
attention. At his side is seen a young
soldier, who rests on his spear in thoughtful
admiration, as he listens to his song, yet,
at the same time, wearing an expression of
regret for not having existed in earlier
times. Malvina is seated in a pensive attitude;
her countenance, of the Grecian
cast, is very lovely. The drapery, all white,
is not unlike the vesture of a nun, and
graceful. It is called, the arasaig, and is
still worn in the highlands. Three lovely
girls make up the rest of the most prominent
of the numberless figures in the piece.
The inspiring strains of the bard appears
to have recalled the departed heroes, whose
figures are seen hovering in the clouds.
"Let Caril," says Ossian, "rejoice in
their mist. The woeful faces of other
times, look from the clouds of Crona."
The clouds of the scene where this part
of the poem is laid, I am informed, sometimes
assume such fantastic shapes, as to
realize existing figures; and probably gave
rise to the poet's peopling the sky with the.
It is to these figures the young girls are
pointing with amazement, having been just
discovered by an armed chief, standing
behind the women. The scene is the ice
shore, with promontories, and castles,
backed by the blue hills of Morven. The
subject of the twelve other paintings are
from the most leading and interesting
events in the work. The four principal
rivers of Scotland, the Clyde, the Spey,
the Tay, and the Tweed, occupy the four
The execution of these paintings, by
Runciman, are bold and striking, but will
not bear minute criticism. The wild character
of many of the figures reminded me
of some of Fussili's designs.
The death of this artist is said to have
been occasioned by the painful position of
laying constantly on his back, with his
hands and eyes elevated to the ceiling,
while painting the figures, which so fatally
affected his eyes, that they sunk into their
sockets, and he instantly expired on finishing
his undertaking.
The apartments at Pennycuick are hung
with the works of many eminent artists;
but as the family were at home, and Lady
Clarke very politely withdrew while we
visited the hall, I had no leisure for further
remark. — The mansion, a stately edifice, is
ornamented with a fine portico, supported
by noble columns, and entered by a considerable
flight of steps. The drive from
Edinburgh to Pennycuick, is extremely
diversified and pretty all the way. At the
foot of the green Pentland hills, where,
sequestered in a woody recess, stands the
seat of the late Lord Woodhouselee. I
notice this spot, as having been the residence
of a gentleman whose elegant and
fine taste for literature, will ever bear a
distinguished name, and also, as the spot
where Allan Ramsay laid the scene of his
Gentle Shepherd, the most beautiful pastoral
drama in either Scottish or English
poetry. At the end of an avenue leading
to Pennycuick, is to be seen an obelisk, to
the memory of this poet.
After devoting the morning to Ossian's
Hall, we closed it amid the romantic and
enchanting beauties of Roslin. My English
friends climbed the woody steeps bordering
the sparkling Esk, to look into the
cave, where your heroic Wallace sought a
temporary retreat in one of these wild recesses.
Your imagination has so faithfully
painted the romantic beauties of Roslin, it
were vain to add any thing on the subject
to you. In my former tour, is an account
of the ancient chapel, and the singular
caverns of Hawthorn Den.
Kinnettles, Angus-shire,
HAVING unfortunately been too sensibly
alive to the cold and penetrating air,
which, even in June, is felt in the city of
Edinburgh, (for it is there Æolus may be
said to reign supreme.) I lost much of that
society it may so proudly boast in persons
of eminent genius, and have been deprived
of some of those golden hours rarely afforded
in the common intercourse of life.
I however had the honour of a visit from
the author of various well known works,
pre-eminent for that elegant simplicity and
affecting interest, which powerfully awakens
the finest sympathies of the heart.
Mr. M. so distinguished for his talents,
his manners, and particularly excelling in
the powers of conversation, is also to be
venerated as the last remaining pillar of
that temple of genius and taste, by which
Edinburgh was illumined during the middle
and end of the last century. Those
lights of literature which were declining,
when he was advancing, still live in his
memory, and enrich his communications.
His cotemporaries were, the Robertsons,
the historian and professor, Black, Maclaurin,
Ferguson, Adam Smith, Hume, Dr.
Blair, Henry, Carlysle, Beattie, in short,
the whole constellation of genius, that
might be said both to rise and set together,
he lived with, in cordial intimacy.
He has survived them all, to be now regarded
as a kind of patriarch in literature,
by the present heirs to their fame; Dugald.
Stuart, Scott, Campbell, Jaffery, Playfair,
Alison, and many others, worthy successors
of those stars now set, who were not
mere recluse scholars, but formed the delight
of that social circle in which they frequently
and easily mingled.
Mrs. F — is the Mrs. Montague of
Edinburgh, her house being the centre of
all that is literary, amiable, and distinguished,
and is herself no less characterized
by intellect, than by virtue, by wit than
by taste, softened by a captivation of manner
rarely equalled.
The refinement of mind, the ease of
manners, and general infusion of intelligence,
which is to be met with in the society
I mingled, during my sojourn in the
immediate vicinity of Edinburgh, with a
certain cordiality of kindness always grateful
to a stranger, has left on my mind an
impression of respect and good-will towards
the community, and a feeling of
attachment to individuals, which time will
never chace away.
The stage from Edinburgh to Queen's
Ferry is greatly enlivened by handsome
villas boadering the road. To the left is
seen the noble seat of the Earl of Roseberry,
verging on the sea. Shortly after
passing Barnbaugle, the view opens with
much grandeur on the Firth of Forth,
where Earl Hopetoun's magnificent mansion
forms a conspicuous feature in the
landscape. Indeed, many are the objects
of attraction. The church of Dalmany,
seen at a distance, derives importance from
Robertson, the historian, having been minister
of that parish, where he is said to
have written his history of Mary Queen of
The rocky island of Inchcolm, with its
ruined monastery spreading on the summit,
is a very picturesque object, rising out of
the Firth; as also Inchgarvie, with the old
castle of Rothes standing on the brink of
the water. According to tradition, Inchcolm
was founded by Alexander the First,
in the year 1143. On crossing the Firth,
he was overtaken by a storm, and driven
for refuge on the island, where he was hospitably
received, and entertained with such
fare as a poor hermit afforded. His Majesty,
grateful to his saint, to whose protection
he attributed his safety, founded on
the island a monastery of the order of St.
Augustine, and dedicated it to St. Columba.
Inchgarvie is a building of modern date.
It is an asylum for persons given to inebriety.
On an island of Lochlomond is
one of the same description.
This ferry (two miles wide) obtained its
name from Queen Margaret, the wife of
Malcolm the Third, who,
"Here, o'er the rapid tide, by rocks confined,
A passage safe prepared;
From distant ages still her name it bears,
And shall for ave her monument remain."
Queen Margaret was the daughter of
Edmund, King of England. When William
the Conqueror ascended the throne,
Edgar, son of Edward, with his mother
and sisters, Margaret and Christian, attended
by several of the Northumbrian
nobility, sailed for Hungary; but the wind
proving adverse, they were driven by a
severe storm on the coast of Scotland. The
small squadron was anchored in a little
bay, about a mile west of Queen's Ferry,
called the Hope, or Saint Margaret's
Malcolm the Third, son of King Duncan,
murdered by Macbeth, no sooner heard of
the landing of these illustrious persons, than
he paid them a visit, and being enamoured
of the Princess Margaret, was shortly afterwards
espoused to her.
The country from Queen's Ferry to Kinross,
barren of cultivation, affords nothing
until Lochleven, with its picturesque island
and ruin, rises from its glassy bosom, sheltered
by the dark green hill of East Lomond.
This is another scene of the piteous
vicissitudes which the Scottish queen
was destined to endure; for,
"———— In yon solitary isle,
Ill-fated Mary, captive and dethron'd,
Was wont to walk, musing with heavy heart,
On happier days, and fortune's sad reverse.
Her beauteous form, alas! her high-born hopes,
And former bliss, how little these avail,
To sooth the anguish of the sickly soul,
Ruthven to melt, or Lindsay's ruthless lord,
Or bend the heart of unrelenting guard.
Yet deem not lost the empire of her charms.
Her beauty, bathed in tears, young Douglas saw;
Nor saw unmoved the sorrow of the queen;
His generous loyal bosom beating high,
Nor selfish love, nor mad ambition there
Had room to enter. Eager to release
The captive fair, Hope lends him every aid;
Points out the means, exulting in success.
Mild evening scarce had shot her parting rays;
'Twas then with jovial mirth the castle rung,
When Douglas, watchful and alert, the keys
Secured. A beam of light brightly illum'd
The sovereign's breast; illusive soon to fade.
They pass the gates behind them bolted fast;
The massy keys swift to the deep consign'd
And boats and oars adrift prevented all pursuit.
Sudden they push from land; he plies the oar,
The moon-beams gently playing on the flood.
Swift flies the boat, and quickly gains the shore,
Where loyal lords, with swiftest steeds, await
Their sovereign's high command, and joyful hail
Her near approach. Meanwhile th' alarm is spread;
What wild confusion fills the castle walls;
Each guilty heart appal'd with dark dismay;
Her flight made known, dread vengeance for her
Time, instead of diminishing, seems to
add to the interest awakened by the errors
and misfortunes of this accomplished and
ill-fated queen. The subject of her personal
history, which has been so much
canvassed, was in some degree lately revived,
by the discovery of the keys of the
castle, which was dragged up in a fisherman's
net. They were thrown into the
lake by the enamoured Douglas, when he
quitted the island with the captive Mary.
The dwelling which memory consecrates
to departed genius, as being once inhabited
by Michael Bruce (the Scotch Kirk
White), arrests the attention of the traveller,
who, with a sentiment of mournful regret,
bestows the tribute of a sigh to his early and
untimely fate. When the small sashed window,
entwined with honeysuckles, described
by Lord Craig, in a paper of the Mirror,
is presented to the eye, Bruce's pathetic
lines, on the returning spring, wherein he
anticipates his own premature death, so
tender and beautiful, are forcibly recalled
to my memory, beginning thus:
"Now spring returns, but not to me returns,
The vernal joys my better years have known;
Dim in my breast life's dying taper burns,
And all the joys of life with health are flown."
After four more stanzas in the same melancholy
strain, he concludes the two last
as follows: —
"Farewell, ye blooming fields, ye cheerful plains;
Enough for me, the church-yard's lonely mound,
Where melancholy with still silence reigns,
And the rank grass waves o'er the cheerless mound.
Here let me sleep, forgotten in the clay,
When death shall shut these weary aching eyes,
Rest in the hopes of an eternal day,
'Till the long night is gone, and the last morn arise."
The parents of Michael Bruce, though
in obscure life, yet contrived to send him
to the University of Edinburgh. On his
return to his native sequestered vale, amid
its pastoral scenes, he indulged his taste
for poetry, at the same time devoting his
hours to the instruction of youth, until a
pulmonary complaint, at the age of twenty--
one, put a period to his existence. The
summer before his death, he finished his
beautiful poem of Lochleven. in a letter
to his friend, Mr. Pearson, to whose classic
taste he was much indebted, he takes
his leave in language so pathetic and sublime,
I cannot forbear adding this portraiture
of his mind: —
"Farewell, my rival in immortal hope!
"my companion, my trust in eternity.
"Though far distant, I take thee to my
"heart; souls suffer no separation, from
"the obstruction of matter, or distance of
"place. — Oceans may roll between, and
"climates intervene in vain. The whole
"material creation is no bar to the winged
"mind. — Farewell. Through boundless
"ages may thou shine when the sun is
"darkened. — Mayst thou live and tri"umph,
when time expires. It is at least
"possible, that we may meet no more in
"this foreign land, this gloomy apartment
of the universe. But there is a better
"world, in which we may meet, to part no
more. — Adieu."
"Oh, reader," (says some unknown
author of him) "bless the memory of the
gentle bard; and whilst the tear of pity
trembles in thine eye, mayst thou feel the
glow of emulative hope, and learn to live
like him."
The most conspicuous feature in Kinross
is the large and handsome mansion belonging
to Mr. Graham, on the borders of
Lochleven;* a fresh-water lake, said to be
fifteen miles in circumference. It is bounded
by the Lomond Hill,† which is seen at a
considerable distance.
The castle, a complete ruin, was founded
by Congal, son of a Pictish king, and owes
all its present interest to its picturesque situation,
and the memorial attached to it of
Queen Mary's misfortunes.
Kinross, a small mean looking town, is a
place of no trade, nor has any manufactory,
except an inconsiderable one of coarse
* Lochleavain, the lake of tranquility, or waveless
water, four miles in length, is the same in breadth.
† Lomond, or Lommon, means the barrier, or the
exposed isolated one.
Kinnoul Manse, June.
UNIFORM dulness marks the road,
until the traveller arrives within a few miles
of Perth, when every object becomes enchanting
beyond description. The road
winds at the foot of Alpine steeps, glowing
with the burnished gold of the luxuriant
broom, which emits the most delicious
fragrance. These elevations, broken into
rocky fragments, are often covered with
dark fir trees, and the vallies are rich with
sylvan beauty.
Perth has been described in my former
Tour, to which I again refer you. Yet
'ere I take my leave of it, permit me for a
moment to dwell on those striking beauties
which the fineness of the evening eminently
heightened, as the sun retiring in
full splendour threw rays of gold on the
summits of the snowy Grampians. On beholding
the singular contrast, of the white
clad hills, with the luxuriant plains, drest
in all the gay verdure of summer, I could
almost have imagined myself transported
amongst the Alps; for, in truth, it was a
perfect Italian scene. Nothing in nature
could be more lovely than the viw of this
picturesque town (which is thought to resemble
Florence), reposing on the banks
of the silver and pellucid Tay, with the
bridge, the river, and encircling hills, all
luxuriantly wooded, reflecting their leafy
shadows in the full clear stream. This
sweetly tranquil spot, seems always to
breathe repose to the spirits, which usually
partake, in some degree, of the character
of the place.
After resting a night with my relations
at Kennettles (an elegant villa, not far from
Glames), I proceeded through Strathmore,
to my excellent friends at Kinnoul Manse
in the vicinity of Perth, the same unusual
aspect of the country continuing the whole
road. The distant range of the dark
Grampians, all topped with snow, while
the vallies were decked in the softest verdure,
was quite a novel scene to me, on
midsummer day.
It was with pleasure I remarked the
wonderful improvement in civilization and
comfort amongst the lower orders in this
part of the country, within these last few
years. Neat substantial farm-houses, with
the appearance of abundant corn-fields,
bespeak the ambition of the husbandman
to enrioh their lands, which wave with the
promise of prolific crops. Nor are pastures
here uncommon, divided by green hedges.
Agriculture is no longer neglected in Scotland;
it is now become a pursuit of the
first importance, and exalted into a science.
There is a professor of that useful art in
the University of Edinburgh, Coventry, by
name, who reads agricultural lectures,
which are very much attended. If I am
not mistaken, he is the only person in Europe
whose learning in this public way is
made subservient to the most useful of all
arts. Both in Perthshire and in East
Lothian the reputation and success of the
farmers is such, that many young men
come from England to serve an apprenticeship
to these skilful farmers. Certainly,
those efforts which produce crops equal to
those in the south, from a less fertile soil,
and genial climate, must be a proof of more
than common skill and industry.
After leaving Kinross and Cowper of
Angus, poverty and dirt no longer excited
disgust. The visible change for the better,
is most grateful to the eye, and pleasant to
the feelings, in the progress of improvement.
The neat cottages of the poor are
now built of the good substantial stone of
the country, finished with slate, instead of
thatched roofs, and sashed windows, which
admit the light of heaven. The dunghill
before the door has disappeared, and rural
gardens, with fruit-trees and flowers, embellish
the walls. How greatly are the lower
class indebted to Mrs. Hamilton, for the
"Cottagers of Glenbervie:" which has
tended to effect such a happy change
amongst that community of people, that
must ensure not merely comfort, but
Home truths, though most unpalateable
to digest at the time, yet, are like nauseous
medicine, frequently effecting a surprising
cure, when it comes to the root of the disease.
Surely that of dirt, is one of the
most loathsome.
The dress of the peasantry remains, as
yet, unchanged by time. Blue flannel is
still worn for a petticoat, with a short
striped bed-gown. A cloth night-cap is
the head-dress, tied under the chin; but
young girls always go bare-headed, and
still consider themselves fettered by shoes
and stockings. This habit, though less
pleasing to an eye accustomed to that of
the south, is certainly better adapted than
a close gown, to the drudgery which, in
these northern districts, is assigned to the
weaker sex, who always milk and attend
the cattle, reap the corn, and take more
than an equal share in all rural toil. Mary
Woolstonecroft, who was an acute observer,
remarks, the English, in the midland counties,
are the only women who, among the
lower class, have not some short and simple
vesture, of the jacket or bed-gown sort,
adapted for those occupations, in which the
long gown is an encumbrance. These
habits of convenience prevail, not merely
in the north of Scotland, but all over
northern Europe. Perhaps one reason
why the apparel of the higher and lower
classes assume the same form in our southern
district is, that the women do less outdoor
work than the northern damsels. The
eye accustomed to the uniformity of habit,
is not easily reconciled to the Scottish
homespun garb of these fellow-labourers
with the husbandman.
Belvidere, near Aberdeen,
THE short interval of time, since the
close of my last letter, has been filled up
with an interest so entirely personal, egotism
is unavoidable, if I recur to those
mournful yet tender recollections, which
ever associate themselves with the renewal
of early friendship. Yet, who is there,
but at some period of life has not felt their
heart glow with delight, when, after a lapse
of time, the same objects are again presented,
which formed a large portion of
enjoyment. The same scene again meets
the eye, the same hand is again extended,
formerly pressed in youthful friendship. If,
however, juvenile companionship awaken
these sensations, there is, alas! others,
of even a tenderer and more affecting nature;
and which may you be long, very
long in experiencing. It is, my dear Miss
Porter, in beholding the last remaining
friends of our parents sunk into the vale
of years, gradually retiring from this mortal
scene, when, scarcely terrestrial, the
spirits seem almost soaring to that blessed
region whither it is hastening; when in a
last farewell, the tender cord of friendship
is torn asunder, and all that diffused joy
and sunshine to the heart exists no longer.
Those who are strangers to such sensations,
and cannot therefore enter into the
nature of them, I will forgive their passing
over the above. To those who possess
a mind like yours, alive to the tender and
delicate feelings of the heart, no apology
is requisite, as I shall readily be forgiven
for partially dwelling on that friendship,
which lent a peculiar charm to life, and
which, even with time, can never fade from
my remembrance.
I am at present on a visit to a younger
branch of this family, who is married to a
lovely young cousin of mine.
Cultivation and improvement is rapidly
extending in this northern part of Scotland.
Aberdeen, always a commercial and
flourishing town, is also eminently distinguished
as one of the first seats of learning.
The two Universities have sent forth
a constellation of talent, by which they
have been brightly illuminated; men, whose
names, as divines, philosophers, poets, and
classical scholars, are sufficiently known, to
render it necessary for me to enumerate
their names to you.
Your acquaintance, Mr. Scott, the editor
of the Champion, who justly ranks high in
the list of modern tourists, perhaps you are
not aware, is a native of Aberdeen. With
no other advantage than his own excellent
natural talents, aided by an education in
this University, he has been enabled to entertain
and interest the public, in no common
degree. But when talents burst forth
from the dark clouds of obscurity, and are
lit up by a bright ray of genius, which discovers
itself under every disadvantage of
poverty, oppression, and discouragement,
surely a generous and feeling mind will not
merely sympathize with the object who has
such evils to contend with, but will be inspired
with an interest for such a person, of
no ordinary nature.
I allude to Christian Milne, a woman in
very humble and obscure condition of life,
to whom I was tempted to introduce myself
from the perusal of one of her little
manuscript poems (shewn me by a friend)
an effusion of genius, so full of tenderness
and beauty, when viewed as the production
of an uneducated woman. Many circumstances
in her hard lot, forcibly recalled
to my recollection the powerful, though
too ardent muse, and hapless fate of Lactilla,
the Bristol milk-woman, whose short
sunshine of patronage, only gave place to
deeper clouds of adversity, and plunged her
in more hopeless misery. Christian Milne
does not possess the same ingenious imagination;
but, with due encouragement,
might afford greater pleasure by her performances.
She has an ear far more attuned
to harmony; her verse is smoother:
and the cast of her mind more gentle in
adversity. In all its bitterness it has not
tinctured her mind with the misanthropy
which darkens the productions of Lactilla,
whose lofty spirit resisting oppression in
the veil of kindness, struggles, like the
tawny lion, striving to get free. Christian
Milne complains, and with great cause
her's is the plaintive tone of a gentle and
subdued mind.
I found her seated in the midst of her
children, clean, neat, and employed at her
needle. Her homely apartment had none
of the litter and disorder, seen in many of
the dwellings of the poor in Scotland. Her
countenance pale, melancholy, and sickly,
is marked by intelligence. She rose, with
timid surprise, when I entered, accompanied
by a friend, and addressed me, when
drawn into conversation, with modest confidence.
She is the wife of a common carpenter.
The narrative which Mrs. Milne
gave me of herself, drawn up in her own
words, is told with such interesting simplicity
and truth, I am induced, without any
emendation, to give it verbatim, together
with two specimens of her poetry.
My father, Thomas Ross, was a housewright
and cabinet-maker. He was the
son of a farmer in the parish of Aberdeen,
Bamffshire. My mother, Mary Gordon,
was the daughter of Charles Gordon, who,
at the time of my father and mother's marriage,
was a school-master in the town of
Forres, in the county of Murray. A
neighbour of my mother's hearing that my
father was a clever ingenious man, invited
them to Inverness, where he assisted to
set my father up in business. I was born
on the 15th of May, 1773. My mother
died when I was very young. About a
year after her decease, my father married
Mary Denton, who had been eleven years
house-keeper in the family of the Honourable
George Duff, brother of the late
Lord Fife. My step-mother's relatives
lived in the parish of Marnoch, near
Bamff. That she might be near them, my
father left Inverness, and came to live in
the new town of Auchentoul, where I was
taught to read and write. I learned to
read of an old woman, who also taught me
to knit, but I soon read better than my
teacher, because I practised it more; for
the good woman never stopped her spinning-wheel
while she gave her instructions.
I was an hour every morning at a writing--
school, where I wrote a page, and employed
the rest of the hour learning arithmetic.
This hour was the only happy one
during the day; as I was obliged to spin
my task, or stay from school the next
morning. At this school I was only six
months, though the whole expense was
only one shilling and sixpence per quarter.
I delighted so much in writing, that I carried
a piece of broken slate always in my
pocket, and when I could get out of sight,
sat down and wrote upon it, so long, I was
afraid to go home. I delighted in copying
every thing in the form of verses. I
did not think any unworthy of being written
down. My reading and writing was all by
stealth, as my step-mother was justly offended
with me for neglecting my work.
To prevent my scribbling, she would hide
my inkstand, behind chests, or where it
was least possible for me to think of looking
for it. There were a good many
books in my father's house: but as I got
no time to read, I profited little by them.
Those which I liked most, were the Spectator,
and Guardian, two old romances,
and two or three old plays. There was no
poetry in the house, except Allan Ramsay's
Gentle Shepherd, and Milton's Paradise
Lost. All these I stole out, volume by
volume, and fastened them under my frock;
and when I was sent on errands, I sat
down by the way, and read till I forgot I
had to return home; but when I recalled
home, and my errand came to mind, I
wept bitterly, from fear of the reward due
to my thoughtless conduct. I then made
a resolution never to yield to the temptation
of reading again, but, alas! those
resolutions were always broke.
"When about fourteen years of age, I
was sent to Aberdeen, and went to service.
I had neither books, nor leisure, but I was
treated with kindness, and was happy.
There I composed many things while I
was at work, and wrote them down on the
Sunday evenings. After keeping them for
some time, I destroyed them, that it might
not be known, that I fashed my head
with such nonsense. Then I went on
writing, and destroying, till I was twenty--
two years of age, when I became a servant to
Dr. Jack, Principal of King's College, Old
Aberdeen. I had a slight illness, during
which time I was very low-spirited, and
lamented that I had no home to go to, in
case I should get worse, (my father being
then dead.) I sat up in bed, wrote the
little poem, published, "Painful Recollections."
Just when I had finished it, and
laid it down, Mrs. Jack came to my closet,
with the kind intention of enquiring how I
did. The paper lay on the table. Mrs.
Jack asked me if I had been writing, and
if it was my own composition, or if I had
copied it. I was afraid to acknowledge
myself the author; but the Doctor and she
told me I needed not to be ashamed. At
this I was encouraged to confess that I had
written much, but destroyed them. Dr.
Jack advised me to preserve what I might
write in future, which I did.*
"In my twenty-fourth year I was married
to Peter Milne, a journeyman ship-carpenter.
Soon after, I became known to the
lady of Capt. Livingston, who commended
what was shewn her, and made me happy
by speaking to me with kindness, and expressed
a wish to see whatever I wrote.
When I had collected a good many little
poems, Mrs. Livingston shewed them to
Doctor Livingston, and his lady kindly
invited me to their house; and never shall I
forget how proud and happy I felt that day.
Dr. Livingston shewed my poems to the
Right Rev. Bishop Skinner, and Mr.
* Principal Jack told me, when conversing with
him on the subject of Christian Milne, that she used
to steal from his library, volumes of Shakespear, and
the other poets; and until found in her chamber,
he had no suspicion of her being the thief.
Ewen, who called upon me; and to my
utter astonishment, offered me their support;
and proposed to publish my little
writings, which were published by subscription
in 1805. The profits amounted to
£100. which was a great sum to me.
"I have been afflicted with very bad
health for eleven years. During the winter
and spring, I am seldom able to rise
from my bed. I have eight children, five
of which I have nursed with the spoon.
Though the profits of my little book, and
the patronage of some of the worthiest people
have been very sweet to me, yet those
blessings have been much embittered by
the ridicule and contempt I have been
treated by those among whom I am obliged
to live,* because I have been so idle as to
write rhymes. But those respectable ladies
* Mrs. Milne's habitation is in a second floor, of
very mean house, in a small fishing-town, called,
Foot Dee, where all the uncivilized fish-wives live.
Foot Dee, or, the Foot of the River Dee, is of the
same description of place as our Billingsgate.
and gentlemen, whose names I have mentioned,
can witness, that I have not been
the more idle on that account; for I have
composed my poems, such as they are,
when I was most busily employed about
my washing, baking, or when rocking the
cradle with my foot, the inkstand in one
hand, the pen in the other, and the paper
on my knee, with my children about me.
When busy at work, I laid the paper and
ink beside me, and wrote the stanza as it
came into my mind, and then to my work
"I have suffered many difficulties and
much sickness. My husband has been
twice taken captive by the Americans, and
lost his clothes and wages. But still I
have kept my little treasure untouched.
The world may blame me in suffering what
I had done to save it, but it was from a
good intention; for when I saw so many
widows, when I looked around, left by seafaring
men in poverty, I felt, if deprived
of my husband, this was intended by a
kind Providence to keep me from want.
when I should be left a helpless widow with
a large family.
"I have written very little for these last
six years; I have been so sickly, and had
so much care. The half of my husband's
wages, which is all I am allowed when he
is at sea, proves insufficient for our support,
though I teach my girls to read and write
myself, but send the boys to proper teachers.
When these are paid, there is little left behind
to purchase clothes for them, so that
I am obliged to descend from Parnassus,
and doubling my former diligence, in piecing,
darning, and making one thing out of
another, that they may be whole and
"The gentleman who has been my husband's
employer for twelve years, has built
a new vessel of 120 tons burthen, and has
been made master of her. My long-saved
money has just purchased a sixteenth share
of the said vessel. If he is successful, we
may be in a little better circumstances in a
year or two; but I must leave that to
God, who has done so much for me.
On seeing the last Rose for the Season hanging
"YON lovely solitary rose,
That bends the stem whereon it grows,
And droops in seeming woe;
Those flow'ry friends it seems to mourn,
Who've left it, never to return;
They strew the dust below.
Despoil'd of beauty, see them laid
Beneath their mother's leafy shade;
They tell yon lovely flower,
That this, like them, must quickly die,
Then wafted by the zephyr's sigh,
Its leaves will strew the bower.
Returning spring again will grace
Their mother with another race,
As sweet and fair as they
They'll kiss the sun, and drink the dew,
Be praised while they're unspoil'd and new,
Yet they'll but have their day.
Thus man's frail race spring up and bloom,
To-day they're fair, but in the tomb
To-morrow low they lie;
Yet when the soul's unspoil'd by crimes,
Tho' sinks the frame, the spirit climbs,
And blooms above the sky."
"Now spring in her beauty is seen,
With garlands adorning her head;
The vales she has painted with green,
And with daisies enamell'd the mead.
The songsters are warbling their loves,
On the new spreading leaves on each spray;
Their music resounds through the groves,
Where, lost to enjoyment, I stray.
This garden that once was my boast,
Sweet spring has delightfully drest;
To me its attractions are lost,
Since Mary's retir'd to her rest.
When primroses last were in bloom,
With sorrow I follow'd her bier,
I laid her lov'd head in the tomb,
And bath'd it with many a tear.
The violets, so fragrant and blue,
That grow by the foot of yon tree,
Are emblems how sweet and how true,
Her friendship and love were to me.
My secrets were safe in her breast,
When I griev'd she was soothing and kind;
But now she has fled to the blest,
Whilst cheerless I wander behind.
How oft have I seen her employ'd
In rearing those flow'rets so gay;
They'll blossom and fade unenjoy'd,
Since Mary, lov'd Mary's away.
If angels from regions above,
E'er visit the mansions below,
Where those they once bless'd with their love,
Sits sunk in dejection and woe.
Come, Mary, and mark how sincere
My grief for your absence has been;
Adown my pale cheek) where each tear
Has pass'd, a deep furrow is seen.
Stand oft by my pillow at night,
Array'd in your robes of the sky;
Oh, brighten my dreams with your sight,
And whisper the hour I shall die.
And, oh! when that hour does arrive,
How bless'd shall I be when we meet;
Tho' enjoy'd, our bliss, when alive,
'Twill then be refin'd, and complete."
Bamff, July.
THE Scotch afford us an example of
warm-hearted hospitality, which I am sorry
to remark, we are very backward in bestowing
upon strangers. If they are behind
our southern neighbours in refinement,
they amply compensate for its absense,
in all that glowing kindness, which
at once sets a person at ease, in the comfortable
feeling of considering themselves at
home. It literally is only to be a stranger,
to be kindly taken in.
The situation of Bamff is wild and singular:
it rests on green elevations, bold,
and picturesque; and is strongly marked
by an appearance of antiquity. On a high
point of ground, which commands a wide
extent of sea, are the slight remains of
what was the violent covenanter, Archbishop
Sharp's palace. Adjoining, is a good
modern house, called, Bamff Castle, formerly
the habitation of the last Countess
of Findlater. This old family mansion has
no pretension to the title of a castle, from
its architectural form. There are a few
good pictures here, and the walls of one of
the apartments are painted in fresco. In
a part of the country, so bare of trees, the
few which shade the Castle are very grateful
to the eye; for, except the rich plantations
of Lord Fife's, which extensively
spread along the banks of the Deveron,
the climate here does not admit of their
growing spontaneously. The Murray Firth
forms a noble bay, stretching from the
bold rocky promontory of Trouphead to
the shores of Portsoy. In a fine clear
evening the wild mountains of Ross-shire,
Sutherland, and the ord of Caithness, form
a magnificent feature in the landscape.
The entrance into the town is by a
handsome stone bridge, thrown over the
river, which meanders at the foot of partially
wooded rocks, through Duff Park,
till its course seems to be lost amid the
wild and romantic glen; above which is
suspended the bridge of Alvar.
Bamff, the capital of the county, is a
royal borough. The town lies in two divisions;
the upper, and the lower. The principal
streets are spacious, and contain several
respectable well built houses, and possess
an air of neatness and cleanliness, which
gives it, in that respect, a superiority over
many more important Scotch towns. The
church, and town-house, are each handsome
structures. On an eminence, about
half a mile distant from Bamff, is the busy
little fishing-town of Macduff, where the
salmon is carried to an immense storehouse,
and there prepared for our London
markets. The produce of this fishery
brings a vast revenue to the Earl of Fife.
One evening, I saw no less than five hundred
taken in nets. It is a very amusing
and enlivening scene to Bamff. The pier
is neither commodious, nor good, and the
harbour considered so dangerous, that no
large vessels anchor here.
The manufactories of thread and cotton
are not extensive; and Bamff appears to
be more a place of resort for genteel families
of small independent fortune, than one
appropriated to trade. The society here is
considered remarkably select and good.
The Earl of Fife spends a great portion of
his time at Duff House, where, by his
elegant and condescending manners, joined
to a splendid hospitality, his lordship has
secured to himself the esteem of the neighbourhood.
I understand he has past much
of his life in visiting foreign courts, and
travelling through most of the countries of
Europe. With respect to the emancipation
of Spain, he shewed, when Lord Duff,
the most noble and disinterested zeal.
That nation conferred on him the rank of
major-general. He fought with the utmost
gallantry in their battles, suffering
frequently the greatest privations. His
lordship was severely wounded in the affair
of Matagorda; and in cases where that
oppressed country required his aid, he
spared neither his fortune or his person.
Duff House is at present a quadrangle;
the original plan of the celebrated architect,
Adams, never having been completed,
of adding the wings. The front is decorated
with Corinthian pillars; a handsome
balustrade runs at the top, terminated
at each corner by a square turret.
Ascending by a flight of steps, I was
shown into the vestibule. Over the chimney-piece
is a fine painting of the angel
Michael, trampling Satan under his feet.
The north dining-room contains a striking
resemblance of the present Earl, by
Rayburn, as major-general in the Spanish
service. He is drest in the costume of
that country.
Next to his lordship is a full-length of
General Sir John Downie, a native or Sterlingshire,
who also performed a splendid
part in the Spanish warfare. The sword of
the celebrated Pizzaro, long in the possession
of one of the most noble and ancient
families in Spain was presented by a lady
of high rank to General Downie, as an
acknowledgement for his distinguished intrepidity
and humanity, in preserving her
magnificent palace from the ravages of the
ferocious French. This valuable relic, Sir
John, by a happy presence of mind, when
afterwards wounded and taken prisoner, he
saved from the enemy by throwing it
across the river, when it was picked up,
and afterwards restored to him, accompanied
with many other honourable testimonies
of gratitude and approbation, by
the allies, in that district of Spain.
There has lately been added to the collection
of pictures at Duff House, a series
of paintings in the Spanish character and
costumes, which occupy the lower apartments.

On the grand staircase is a very striking
piece, of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Adam is seated beneath the fatal tree of
knowledge, to which Eve is pointing.
Entwined amid the branches, lurks the
serpent, bearing the apple in his mouth.
while Eve is regarded by Adam with a
countenance of sorrowful anxiety and apprehension.
Her's portray a tender and
timid apprehension.
The suite of apartments are hung chiefly
with portraits, many of them eminent characters.
Amongst the most conspicuous
are Cecil Earl of Burleigh, and Devereux
Earl of Essex, by Zuchero. Also, Gen.
Monk, in armour, done by Sir Peter Lelly.
Mrs. Abingdon, is exquisitely painted. Sir
Joshua Reynolds has given her all that
comic archness of character, of which her
unrivalled powers have left no copy.
In the blue bed-chamber, is a full-length
of Elizabeth Stuart, the mother of Oliver
Cromwell, whom history represents as a
staunch royalist, always reproaching her
son for his usurpation, which he parried off
with a kind of playful humour, throwing
his handkerchief at her, when she proceeded
to extremes. The expression of
countenance is homely, contracted, and
mean. She is drest in a black hood and
Some interesting portraits hang in the
adjoining room. One, of Louis the Fourteenth
possesses a strongly marked countenance;
the eyes dark and penetrating,
with an open and commanding brow.
The interesting portraits of his two mistresses,
Madame de Montaspar, and the
tender and lovely Duchess de Valliere, I unfortunately
did not see; they were sent to
London to be cleaned.
It is impossible to contemplate Louis
le Grand, without recurring to the private
vices of this magnificent monarch, and bestowing
a sigh to the memory of Madame
de Valliere, who, amid the severe penance
of a cloistered life, as a Carmelite nun (the
most austere of all orders) sought to
tear from her heart the recollection of that
capricious king, whose glorious reign still
is worshipped by nations not his own.
A half-length of Jane Shore, is a very
attractive portrait. The face is that of a
Madona, with eyes dark, and melting.
The lips are small and pouting, the brow
high, and hair auburn. There is an air of
melancholy in the appearance of this unfortunate
female, which powerfully recalls
her sufferings, greatly aggravated by her
merciless foes, who, adding insult to cruelty,
permitted her to languish under every accumulated
There is a picture of the late James,
Earl of Fife, in his robes, and one of his
Countess, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds:
likewise, in the same apartment, Queen
Albertina, of Orange; Princess Mary,
eldest daughter of King Charles the First;
Prince Henry of Wales, his son, who died
young; likewise a picture of the great Earl
of Mansfield, by Sir Joshua.
There is an exquisite picture of King
Henry the Seventh in the great drawing--
room. Dignified beauty is in the countenance;
the eyes are mild, yet intelligent.
His majesty is attired in a dark brown
robe, and wears a black cap. This was
painted in the decline of life.
A portrait of Queen Elizabeth, two
years before her decease. The countenance
wrinkled, bearing evident marks of that
remorse which clouded her latter days,
after the favourite she loved, and the sister
queen, whom she meanly envied, had
fallen victims to her malignant passions.
Possessing all the great qualities of a man,
it is mortifying to see her in these, and
other instances, descend to all the littleness
of an exasperated and low-minded
In viewing the picture of Lady Jane
Gray, what interest is excited in recurring
to the fate of this youthful and lovely woman,
whose learning was alone surpassed
by that genuine piety which marked all
her short life. This picture, by Zuchero,
by no means convey the idea of that heavenly
expression of face, which must have
characterized Lady Jane Gray. The features
want softness; and though certainly
lovely, do not bespeak that captivating
sweetness one pictures from so pure a
being. The dress is ill chosen. She
wears an embroidered robe, with a mantle
flowing from the shoulder. The hair drest
high and stiff, with a hat worn at the back
of the head, ornamented with pink ribbons.
gives a bold, rather than a beaming expression
of softness to her eyes, which are
dark and full.
In the next apartment is a full length
picture of the portly Henry the Eighth.
This portrait was originally in the possession
of his ambitious favourite, Cardinal
The Earl's bedchamber is hung with the
pictures of the following celebrated persons;
Madame de Maintenon, drest in a close
robe, and a blue mantle, with a veil negligently
thrown over the head. The face is
rather expressive of "fat contented good
humour," than that deep and profound sense
which won the lasting affection of the capricious
Lewis. Her dark eyes, mild and
tender, are not expressive of that lively
wit, and those irresistible talents, which
held her lover captive all his days.
The two courtezans, Nell Gwynn, and
Lucy Waters, were very beautiful women,
according to the representation of them.
There is a playful archness in the face of
Nell, that proclaims her a daughter of
The portrait of the late Lady Coventry,
gives the most perfect idea of her radiant
beauty, and realizes Mason's description
"Whene'er with soft serenity she smil'd,
Or caught the orient blush of sweet surprise,
How sweetly mutable, how brightly wild,
The liquid lustre darted from her eyes.
Each look, each motion, waked a new-born grace,
That o'er her form its transient glory cast;
Some lovelier wonder soon usurp'd the place,
Chac'd by a charm still lovelier than the last."
The suite of apartments at Duff House,
are airy, elegant, and tastefully fitted up;
and have an appearance of comfort, which
always exist, when these stately mansions
are inhabited by the possessor.
The country between Aberdeen and
Bamff, is entirely destitute of beauty. I
can only describe it as a wide uninclosed
tract of land, the sterile appearance of which
is sometimes broken by crops of corn, and
a few plantations of firs.
I passed through the small towns of
Old Meldrum and Turiff, destitute of any
thing remarkable. Fyvie Castle, which
I saw on the road to Bamff; belonging to
General Gordon, is a noble edifice. On
approaching Bamff, there is a grand sea
view, which the town commands.
College Elgin, July.
I PROCEEDED from Bamff to Portsoy,
Cullen, Fochabers, and Elgin, where I am
arrested by the venerable antiquities of the
At Portsoy, Mr. Clark, the lapidary,
shewed me a variety of marbles, collected
from the neighbouring rocks, which produce
some singular specimens of serpentine,
asbestos, feldt-spar, and a remarkable
flesh-coloured granite, which, on being
polished, assumes a resemblance in the
figures upon it, to the Arabic character.
The mineralogist has here ample field to
explore; and also in the neighbourhood
of Bamff, and the quarries of Robislaw,
near Aberdeen, will find some valuable
productions. In the avenue at Kennettles,
and amongst the rocks which rise at the
back of the house, there are some composed
of the brecca, or plum-pudding stone; and
I picked up agates, cornelians, and fine specimens
of jasper. Indeed there is scarcely
a part of Scotland that does not abound
with some of these beautiful productions of
Cullen,* though a small place, is a royal
borough, and formerly a constabulary, of
which the Earls of Findlater were hereditary
constables. It was then called Inverculan,
being situated at the mouth of the
water of Cullan, or Cullen, at the north
end of the town. Two miles distant are
the remains of an ancient castle, overhanging
the sea, called Castle Hill; and the
ruin of a house is shewn, where the queen
of King Robert Bruce is said to have
"Near this town the Duke of Cumberland, after
his march from Bamff, joined the rest of his forces
from Strathmore, and encamped at Cullen."
At the base of two conical elevations,
yet founded on a rock, stands the antique
mansion of Cullen House, once the noble
seat of the Earls of Findlater, but which
has now descended into Lord Seafield's
family. The beautiful sweep of woods,
hanging in wild luxuriance over the banks
of the Burn of Cullen, above which is
suspended a stone bridge of one arch,
gives a romantic and beautiful appearance
to the pleasure-grounds, finely diversified
with hills and dales. The wild
sequestration of this lovely place, possesses
a pensive solemnity, in character with the
venerable and ancient mansion.
There is an air of much grandeur in the
suite of apartments, all decorated in good
taste; and without being inconsistently
modernized, attach much comfort to their
On the grand staircase is a fine scripture
piece of Queen Esther brought before
King Ahasuerus.
Over the door, leading to the drawing--
room, is a beautiful Magdalen; also a good
picture of sea-nymphs.
The drawing-rooms are adorned with
several scriptural subjects.
One of the conical hills, called the Bin
Hill, which rises at the back of Cullen
House, is said to be 1050 feet in height.
Within these few last years it has been
richly planted. The house, to the north,
commands a fine view of the Moray Firth,
extending to Inverness-shire.
The road from Cullen to Fochabers,
for the most part, through the centre of
sombre fir-woods; when those of Cullen,
give place to a sterile and desert waste for
some miles, till the traveller enters upon the
Duke of Gordon's princely domain, approached
through long avenues of these
melancholy trees, but on one of the finest
level roads in the kingdom.
Fochabers consists of one short street,
in the middle of which stands, in solitary
beauty, an elegant new church, built from
the model of that of St. Andrew's, in the
New Town of Edinburgh. Its stately appearance,
in such a mean looking place as
Fochabers, has a very imposing effect.
The town is terminated by the grand entrance
into the extensive park, belonging
to Gordon Castle, which noble building is
situated a mile from the gate, and is not
visible until a near approach, from the
luxuriant decoration of fine trees thickly
grouped, in every part of this extensive
park. The branches of one tree, I was
informed, when measured, spread in width
to no less than seventy-three yards.
The Castle, built of the fine free-stone
of the country, covers a vast extent of
ground, and is a most superb and princely
The Castle rises to the height of four
stories, and is terminated by a pavillion, of
two stories, united by a gallery of two
lower stories. The extent of this noble
front is 568 feet.*
* "Gordon Castle was originally a gloomy
tower in the Bog of Gight, closely environed by an
impassable morass, and accessible only by a causeThe
hall is ornamented with copies of
the two most celebrated statues, the Apollo
Belvidere, and the Venus de Medicis, by
Harwood; also busts of Homer, Julius
Cæsar, Cicero, and Seneca.
The great drawing-room contains some
scripture pieces. The one of Abraham,
dismissing Hagar, is exquisitely copied
by Angelica Kauffman, from Guercino.
The child stands in an attitude of grief, with
his hands raised to his eyes, which are concealed.
Abraham has his extended, in
the act of dismissal, and wears a look of
dignified concern in his countenance.
way and drawbridge. Its most ancient tower, the
structure of the 10th or 11th century, is, by much
architectural ingenuity, preserved, in the middle of
the southern side of this present fabric, which in
height it considerably surpasses; while by the thickness
and cumbrous strength of its walls, it forcibly
runs back with our imagination to that unpleasant
state of society, when its lord was not only obliged
to reside in a fort, but that fort constantly under the
apprehension, if not actually suffering by the pressure
of a siege."
Hagar, with frowning indignation, regards
him, as Sarah seems to view them with a
look of composed indifference.
There is one on the same subject at
Cullen House, I was informed an original.
The other pictures are, Venus and Adonis,
Dido, and a Saint Cecilia, and Danæ,
by Titian.
The picture of St. Paul rebuking St.
Peter (in the breakfast room), copied by
Angelica Kauffman, from the original by
Guido Rheni, for which ten thousand sequins
had been offered, was considered the
most valuable painting in the Sampieri Palace
at Bologna. In this room are two
excellent portraits of His Grace and the
Duchess, by Sir Joshua Reynolds; also, a
good likeness of the Marquis of Huntley,
in regimentals, by the Scotch artist, Robertson.

I was pleased with the expression of the
countenance of the Rev. John Hume,
whose portrait hangs in the library. Such
was the rigid discipline of the presbytery of
Scotland in his day, that when it became
known that he was the author of that beautiful
dramatic piece, the tragedy of Douglas,
it was deemed so unbecoming in a
man of his function to turn his talents in
that channel, he was deprived of his gown,
and his character aspersed for attempting a
dramatic work. Even in the present times,
when these illiberal prejudices have somewhat
subsided, and the people are become
less scrupulous of joining in public amusements,
a minister of the kirk would not
venture to shew himself at the theatre,*
nor dance at an assembly, however young
he may be; for the example would not
only be considered highly indecorous, but
he would be chastised, in all probability,
by the general assembly.
Instrumental music, which is not yet
tolerated in the kirk of Scotland, is still
considered an innovation of the sanctity
of the day, however sacred the subject.
* With the exception of the performance of Cato;
when, I am told, some of the clergy regularly attended
on Kemble's appearance in that character.
I remember hearing an anecdote of an
English lady, who attempted to introduce
music on the Sunday evening in Edinburgh.
Soon after the performance commenced,
one of the magistrates waited on
her, in order to put a stop to it, being
against the habits of the country, and
therefore not allowed, but on lawful days,
as it disturbed the peace of the sabbath.
To return to the environs of Gordon
Castle, where I first had a view of the
rapid Spey, one of the most magnificent
rivers in Scotland, there is a handsome
new bridge, erected within these few years,*
* "The danger of getting across this impetuous
river, often for days impassable, sometimes from
floods, sometimes from frost, and floating ice; all
ranks joined, according to their respective means,
in contributing to the expense, of which the State
bestowed nearly the half, from the revenues of the
empire; and the contract being completed, with
Mr. Burns, of great celebrity in that department of
architecture, the foundation-stone was laid the 29th
June, 1801, by the Most Noble the Marquis of
Huntley, attended by a numerous retinue of the first
respectability, and by more than ten thousand specover
which the high road passes to Inverness.
The scenery of this part of the
country owes what little diversity it possesses,
to the noble domain of Gordon
Castle, being naturally sterile, and the
hills rude and uncultivated.
The venerable towers of Elgin cathedral,
seen at a distance, as they proudly
rise above embowering trees, on entering
the province of Moray, have a fine effect.
tators. It was completed in the year 1804, at the
cost of £14,880, of which the Duke of Gordon advanced
£5000, out of his own private fortune."
College, Elgin, July.
THE situation of Elgin might be almost
denominated rural, if it was not for the air
of pensive solemnity, the magnificent ruin
of the cathedral produces, with its ancient
grey towers mingling in the landscape.
There is here a degree of soft repose in
every object, which, after losing all traces of
the sea, is very grateful to my feelings, for
the gentle breath of summer comes fraught
with the most salubrious temperament,
produced by every vegetable object, several
weeks forwarder than in Aberdeen.
Every sylvan glade, every shady bank, is
covered with blooming rose-trees, and a
profusion of other lovely flowers; and cornfields
wave, with the promise of cheering
I am told, from calculation, that there
are forty days less rain during the year in
the province of Moray, than in any other
part of Scotland.
From a high point of ground, called,
New Hill, on the Lossie Mouth road, the
view of Elgin, resting in the vale, with the
towers of the cathedral caught in the view,
the double row of painted windows, belonging
to the grand choir, terminated at their
base by a superb arched one, produce an
effect singularly magnificent, and rendered
eminently beautiful, when contrasted with
scenery so soft and luxuriant. This vale is
justly called the garden of Scotland. The
gentle Lossie, still yet pellucid, glides through
the pretty green meadows enamelled with
a variety of wild flowers.
Proceeding from the town to the ruins,
a circular window forms a fine vista, at the
termination of the college, as seen from the
cross. The grand arched gateway, separated
by the noble west towers, in which
are five niches, supposed formerly to contain
figures; also in an oval medallion, one
of the Virgin. The noble arch of exquisite
tracey work, was filled with coloured
glass; the ornamental part is still most beautiful.
On proceeding forward, the grand
choir becomes an object of surprising grandeur.
The light elegant stone-work is of
the florid gothic, consisting of the greatest
variety of ornament; and the fluted columns,
instead of standing in even uniformity, gracefully
recedes. From the centre of this mass of
ruin, magnificent even in decay, was pointed
out to me where the grand tower formerly
stood, to the height of 199 feet: I next
entered the choir, in a more perfect state
than the other parts of the cathedral. A
rich stone gallery terminates the top, beautifully
carved. Beneath, are five windows
to the east, with two on each side to light
the grand altar. One grand stall remains,
where the bishop sate during the performance
of religious ceremonies, with five others
of the dignified clergy.
The chapter-house, with a clustered pillar
in the centre, and bearing the bishop's
arms, is a fine remnant of antiquity. That
this majestic ruin may not further fall into
decay, it is now undergoing a proper repair,
which is done in so judicious a manner,
at the liberal expense of Lord Fife, it
will sustain the same appearance of venerable
Bishop Andrew Murroff is said to have
laid the foundation-stone of this cathedral,
built in the form of a Jerusalem cross, and
according to Mr. Forsyth's account, had
five towers, two of which were on the
corners of the west end, one in the middle,
and two on the west end, between which,
was the grand entrance. The gateway, an
arch terminating in an angle, is 24 feet
broad at the base, and 24 feet high. There
were aisles on each side of the church, eastward
from the transept, which were 18 feet
broad, outside the walls. Besides the large
window in the aisles, there was a range of
windows above the aisles, each 6 feet in
height. In the west gable, above the gate,
there was a window 27 feet high, and 19
wide at the base. In the east gable there
was a range of five windows, each 10 by 2
feet; above, four more, each seven feet
high; and over all, near the centre, a circular
window, near ten feet in diameter.
The chapter-house is an octagon, 34 feet
high, 27 in breadth. The vaulted roof is
supported by a clustered pillar, 9 feet in
circumference. From this pillar, ribs stretch
along the roof, to each angle of the octagon,
each of seven sides, has a window;
the eighth side joins the choir."
When this chuch was entire, it must
have been a most superb fabric, and, according
to the account which I have taken
the liberty to quote of its dimensions, it
had covered a considerable extent of ground.
It was sacrilegiously stripped of the lead,
together with that of the cathedral in Old
Aberdeen, and shipped for Holland, where
it was to be sold, but the vessel sunk within
a mile of the harbour of Aberdeen, from
whence she sailed.
What was formerly the college, is now
converted into a family mansion, which
some agreeable friends of mine occupy.
The thick and massive walls, in the stone--
arched kitchen, is the only remaining specimen
of its former antiquity. The Bishop
of Moray's palace, now a ruin, is situated
two miles from Elgin, and stood on the
banks of Loch Spinie; but the lake having
within these few years been drained,
the large square tower, with the detached
fragments of the pondrous walls,
now lies in the midst of marshy ground, on
a gentle elevation. This pile of buildings
when entire, was considered one of the most
magnificent edifices in Scotland. It is related,
that Bishop David Stuart, having a
dispute with the Earl of Huntley, the Gordons
threatened to pull him "out of his
pigeon holes," meaning, the small rooms of
his former episcopal residence. The bishop
answered, "he would build a house, out
of which the earl and his whole clan should
not be able to pull him."
There is something very mournful, my
dear friend, in contemplating the fallen
grandeur of these noble remnants of ancient
architecture, which fancy again peoples
with the dignified personages who filled
these splendid sanctuaries; and a sentiment
bordering on regret, mingles with a
view of such places, when it is considered,
that as the age becomes more enlightened
and refined, the taste partakes rather of
the airy and light, in the style of architecture,
than the solemn and sublime,
which on being regarded, naturally elevates
the mind to a feeling above the daily insignificance
of worldly objects.
Several houses in Elgin bear marks of
great antiquity, and had been the residence
of the nobility. The church and toll-booth
stand in the middle of the High-street,
which is terminated by a green mound,
called the Ladies' Hill. Not far from
thence, there is a public building now
erecting, of such magnitude, it will produce
a fine object in the principal entrance,
as a noble specimen of modern architecture,
composed of the free-stone of the
Doctor Alexander Gray, a native of
Elgin, bred to medicine, by a long residence
in India, acquired a handsome fortune.
After bestowing part of it on his relations,
he generously gave the sum of thirty
thousand pounds to endow an hospital for
the sick and poor of the town, and county.
He also gave the interest of three thousand
pounds, to be divided into annuities
for old-maids, of respectable and indigent
families, who had been resident in Elgin.
Likewise a further donation of four thousand
pounds, to be applied to the building
of a new church. The trustees for the management
of these funds, have began the
hospital, now considerably advanced, from
a plan of Mr. Gillespie's, of Edinburgh.
The situation is happily chosen, and the
execution of the design promises to be
very grand.
These gentlemen have lately admitted
twelve elderly maidens to the benefit of
their annuities, — a very desirable addition
to their comfort.
The church, I am informed, cannot be
commenced until the death of Dr. Gray's
widow, as her annuity arises from the
capital to be applied for that purpose.
Not far from the hospital, and commanding
a delightful view, there is an
elegant cottage erecting, after a model of
some of our most beautiful English ones,
in the gothic style; quite a new plan of
building in Scotland. It is to be occupied
by Miss R — of Elgin, a lady
who has displayed much taste in the
model of her cottage, as also in the situation
which she has chosen.
College Elgin, July.
FEW monastic ruins can boast the
stately grandeur of Pluscardine, which reposes
in a valley of the same name, situated
three miles from Elgin. It is sequestered
at the foot of steep hills, and shaded by
high embowering trees. Here reigns
"Silence and solitude, twin sisters old."
* * * * * * * *
"The pealing organ and the nightly prayer
No more is heard. The solitary owl
Her vigils keep, and, moping, lonely sings
The solemn dirge of desolation drear,
Amid the ruins of these mould'ring walls."
This priory was founded by Alexander
the Second, in the year 1230, in honour of
the patron of Scotland, and was called
Vallis Sancti Andrea. The monks were
of the order of St. Bennet, and the house
was subject to the Abbey of Dunfermline.
The number of the monks were only fourteen,
the younger sons of families of distinction
in the neighbourhood, with a prior
at the head.
This ruin is now the property of the Earl
of Fife, who, with much liberality, has
employed masons to repair the mutilated
parts of this beautiful fabric.
When I stood in the centre of this vast
building, I was opposite the spot where
formerly was placed the altar. On the
left hand of the body of the church, it was
evident the walls had been painted in fresco.
A catholic priest informed me, the subjects
had been taken from St. John the Evangelist.
Part of the monastery, containing
a long gallery, together with the dormitory,
are now demolished. The cemetry still
contains a few mutilated tombs: one in particular
is marked, as having contained the
body of a monk, from the sign of the cross,
which is rudely carved on the stone, and
bearing a nearly defaced Latin inscription
There is a cell visible in the cavity of the
wall, where penances were performed.
Scrambling up some decayed steps, I came
to the walls of the dormitory, from whence
I discovered the broken fragments of what
had been the prior's house, leading to the
dormitory, and by a winding staircase, led
into an open court, overshadowed by five
tall ash-trees, which was a place for exercise
and recreation. Looking over the
broken high arched window of this ruinous
edifice, the green branches of the trees
waving over them, cast "a dim religious
light," by no means unpleasing.
This priory, divested of all florid ornament,
is, like Elgin cathedral, chaste, classic,
and superb, and may be considered
one of the most perfect specimens of that
description of building. It was esteemed
by a traveller* of correct taste, as bearing a
* The author of that elegant and classical work,
"Remarks on Italy."
Mr. Forsyth's description of, and reflections on,
greater resemblance to the antique and sequestered
monasteries in Italy than any
other ruin in Great Britain.
Rome and the Coliseum, must come home to every
bosom, and every heart must contract in exclaiming
— it is too true!
"Every nation" he remarks, "has undergone its
revolution of vices; and, as cruelty is not the present
vice of ours, we can all humanely execrate the
purpose of amphitheatres, now that they lie in ruins.
Moralists may tell us that the brave are never cruel;
but this monument says 'No.' Here sat the conquerors
of the world, coolly to enjoy the tortures and
death of men who had never offended them. Two
aquaducts were scarcely sufficient to wash off the
human blood which a few hours' sport shed in this
imperial shambles. Twice in one day came the senators
and matrons of Rome to the butchery: a
virgin always gave the signal for slaughter; and
when glutted with bloodshed, those ladies sat down
in the wet and streaming arena to a luxurious supper!
"Such reflections check our regret for its ruin.
As it now stands, the Coliseum is a striking image
of Rome itself; decayed, vacant, serious yet grand;
half gray and half green, erect on one side, and
fallen on the other, with consecrated ground in its
bosom, inhabited by a beadsman; visited by every
cast; for moralists, antiquaries, painters, architects,
devotees, all meet here to meditate, to examine, to
Mr. Joseph Forsyth was a native of
Elgin. The last twelve years of his life
were spent on the Continent, except its
close, when he returned to England on the
peace with France, and died while on a
visit to his brother, in the neighbourhood
of Elgin. His writings declared him a
man of fine taste, and a finished scholar.
To much learning he united a diffidence of
character most uncommon.
It is generally admitted, that in his remarks
on the works of art in Italy, there
are more correct taste, originality of sentiment,
and profound knowledge of their
auxiliary sciences, than can be found in
any writer on the same subject, either ancient
or modern. Were it not that our
minds are more influenced by the moral
sympathies than the abstract dictates of
draw, to measure, and to pray. 'In contemplating
antiquities,' says Livy, 'the mind itself becomes antique.'
It contracts from such objects a venerable
rust, which I prefer to the polish and the point of
those wits who have lately profaned this august ruin
with ridicule."
judgment, it would be difficult to determine
which we should most admire, his
exquisitely delicate moral sentiment, or his
refined and singularly just criticisms on
the products of art. To his superior mind
every thing extravagant, inconsistent, superfluous,
low or irrational, was intolerable;
and he was too good a judge of men and
things, as well as too independent in sentiment,
to follow the vulgar notions of the
present age, that because superstition is
old it is therefore harmless, or is become
less noxious. His pictures, indeed, whether
of manners or of the arts, bear internal
evidence of being drawn on the spot,
and in presence of the subjects which they
profess to delineate. Mr. F. often conveys
more information in one sentence than Mr.
Eustace has done in a whole quarto page;
and I have been assured by a gentleman
who is well acquainted with Italy and its
curiosities, that this verbose Catholic writer
is as much inferior to him in topographical
accuracy, as he unquestionably is in religion,
reason, or morality. It was the intention
of the one to conceal his latent design,
to smooth away the offending parts,
and gild the bitter pill of superstitious immorality;
while that of the other was
truth, and the vivid representation of things
as they are. His success has been complete
even in the estimation of those who,
being less informed, are of different sentiments.
It is only to be regretted that he
did not live to enjoy the well-merited and
wide-extended fame which his works have
justly received.
A few harmless cattle were grazing on
the long grass which covered the path of
this solemn and desolate scene. They were
tended by a mountain girl, drest in the wild
attire of her country. The remnant of a
blanket thrown over her half naked figure,
and her long dark hair, unconfined by any
cap, carried by the breeze from her face
and shoulders, gave a character to her
appearance, not unsuited to the scene.
Adjoining to the priory are the remains
of an entire orchard, which supplied the
monks with abundance of excellent fruit.
A little clear stream sparkling through the
trees, afforded them fish for their table.
Elgin, and the immediate neighbourhood,
abounds with beautiful relics of antiquity.Persons
of taste will have a rich
treat in walking over such classic ground.
There is a new romantic road from
Elgin to Craig Ellachie, which leads into
the Highlands, extremely beautiful, and
worth the notice of those tourists (particularly
the pedestrian) who travel for the enjoyment
of a rich diversity of scene. The
first six miles I admit to be through a
tract of very bare country; but on leaving
the village of Rothes, which is terminated
by the ruin of an old castle, the prospect
begins to assume all the soft luxuriance
and pastoral beauty for which the province
of Moray is justly admired. The noisy
and rapid Spey expands itself into a variety
of fanciful and meandering forms, through
sylvan vallies, gaily fringed with the glowing
broom. Sheltered hills crowned the
trees to their summits. For the accommodation
of travellers, a most elegant iron
bridge has lately been erected over the
river, which is overhung by bold precipitous
rocks, fantastically covered with
white and pink roses. The digitalis, and
tufts of purple heath, soften the rude
grandeur of these mis-shapen masses, by
some appearance of vegetation. Proceeding
beyond the sequestered village of
Aberlour, into a little silent glade, watered
by a babbling stream, and sheltered by the
pensile branches of the weeping birch, we
spread our simple repast on a carpet of
wild thyme. Nothing in nature could be
more beautiful than this sylvan spot, on a
day when a bright sun gladdened every
object. The gentle murmur of the pellucid
water at our feet, with the opposite
bank covered with the sweet-scented exuberant
broom, and ourselves almost embowered
in trees of wild roses, was such a
novel and delightful scene, that I seemed
to be transported on the luxuriant banks
of some Italian scene, rather than into the
wilds of Scotland.
On the opposite side of the Spey* a
river, grand and picturesque in all its
windings, buried amidst the wooded hills
of Beneagan, the elegant villa of Arndilly
forms a beautiful object. Mr. G — informed
me, vast herds of the red deer and
roebucks shelter, during the winter, in his
woods, which spread to a considerable extent.
During the last year he has planted
on Beneagan one million two hundred thousand
A traveller desirous of taking the route
from Elgin to Avi-moor, will be delighted
with the road along the borders of the
Spey, proceeding from Aberlour, the first
pass into the Highlands.
Six miles from Elgin, situated on the
verge of the sea, is the village of Lossie
Mouth, a retired watering-place, frequented
during the summer months for the benefit
* "Spey seems to have its name from the Teutonic
or Pictish word Spey, Speetum, because the rapidity
of it raiseth foam or froth."
of bathing. It has a small but indifferent
The principal sea-port near Elgin is
Broughead. During the period the harbour
was building, a Roman wall was discovered,
in the shape of a bath, which
evidently shews it to have been at one
period a Roman station.
Extending along the shore, three miles
from Lossie Mouth, is a series of extraordinary
excavations, called, the Caves
of Coversea. Though they are no doubt
inferior to the hall of Fingal, yet they
merit the attention of the naturalist, who
may visit the enchanting province of
Moray,* to which I now reluctantly bid
* "Moray, or Moravia, the name by which the
country is called. Hector Bathius writes, that in
the first century a colony from Moravia settled in
this country, and gave it the name from which it is
Inverness, July.
THE stages from Elgin to Forres and
Nairn, through a pleasant champaign country,
bespeaks the most smiling fertility.
Near Forres, on the right, I passed a
magnificent obelisk, variously ornamented
in different divisions, with curious sculptured
figures, the character of the devices
very extraordinary. The column erected
by the gentlemen of Forres to the memory
of Lord Nelson, is commemorative of his
signal victories, which are inscribed upon
Forres derives its name from Far-nus,
near the water. The river Finhorn flows
close to the town, which is approached by
a handsome stone bridge. The fortification
was situated on an eminence. It was
in this fort King Duffus was said to be
murdered, in the year 966. At the period
Donald, grand-uncle of Bancho, Thane of
Lochaber, was governor, the king came to
Forres, to condemn some villains, and
would not grant remission for their crimes,
which Donald and his wife warmly solicited;
upon which they had his majesty
strangled, and hid his body beneath the
bridge near Kinloss. Donald, conscious
of his guilt, fled; but his wife, on being
put to the torture, betrayed her husband,
who, with his accomplices, were seized and
put to death. No traces of the fort, which
was razed, are visible.
Forres is a large handsome looking
town, and stands in a richly cultivated
Nairn had also a royal fort, placed on
the banks of the river, not far from the
bridge. It is a place of great antiquity,
and is mentioned as far back as the year
1008. Nairn, or Inevernairn, in Gaelic,
is so called, from the alder-trees which
surround it.
Taking leave of all the soft charms of
rural scenery, I passed over a barren tract
of country, bounded by the Moray Firth,
with a grand stretch of the dark mountains
of Ross and Sutherland, which rise in gigantic
heaps on the opposite coast, and
were beautifully touched with golden
streaks of the setting sun, which brilliantly
gleamed on the dark waters of the Firth.
A few miles beyond Nairn, the aspect
of the country became desolate in the
extreme, wild, gloomy, and naked. Far
as the eye could discern, extends the
Haar, or Hoar-moor, the most interesting
classic ground. Here all the
magic imagery of Shakespear was before
me. The Weird Sisters, with Hecate at
their head,
"So wither'd, and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants of earth,"
I fancied I beheld, when the guard of the
mail-coach pointed out the spot where we
are told Macbeth encountered them. A
shuddering sensation of horrow mingles
with the fancy, while gazing on this peculiar
spot, when a frowning sky, casting a
melancholy shade on this boundless heath,
aided the wild fantasies of the imagination.

I could not but remark, in the present
instance, the contrast of character between
the Scotch and English, in the ordinary
class of society. The coachman and guard
were perfectly versed in every part
Macbeth; nor was it in Shakespear alone,
but in every tradition which the country
afforded. In another spot on the heath,
was pointed out to me, some Danish entrenchments;
also, the field of Culloden, so
fatal to the Scotch in the year 1745. The
history of every antique castle and ruin,
was related to me by these men, in the
most distinct and faithful manner.
The people of this country, accustoms
from infancy to live in some of the rudest
scenes of nature, and to hear from the
cradle the traditionary tales and superstitions
for which Scotland is famed,
over again the ages that are past, an
imbibe an ardour and enthusiastic attachment,
not merely for their simple and
pathetic songs, but a sort of veneration
for the antiquities of their country, and
the valorous achievements of the people
to whom they belong.
Culloden Moor rises to the view, changed
indeed, from the appearance it had, when
it became the field of blood. Plantations
of firs shade a portion of that fatal field;
but in such parts of it as have since yielded
to cultivation, the peasant still turns up
with the ploughshare, the bones of the
slain, and bullets used in that decisive
battle. A native Scot cannot view this
ground without melancholy reflections; and
never ought to behold it without a prayer
dictated by national and humane feeling,
that such catastrophes may be henceforth
averted from this happy country. There
is no pleasure (notwithstanding its beneficial
effects to the country) in recollecting a
combat, where the courage and fidelity of
the suffering side, were such as expiated
their unconscious guilt; while the wanton
cruelty of the victors, stained and dishonoured
their better cause. The remembrance
of these sad times is again powerfully
recalled, by the late publication
the Culloden Papers. While they throw a
new effulgence round a character always
exalted and admirable, they blacken with
double gloom, the recollection of the times
in which Duncan Forbes lived; and the
instruments he was forced, by the perplexities
of that unhappy juncture, to use for
the best purposes. Patriot, orator, poet,
philosopher, and, above all, Christian, as
he was, in the highest sense, which those
lofty appellations bear, we cannot, without
regret, view his noble exertions for the
public weal, at this terrible crisis, when we
think of what followed. That the short
remainder of his life should be embittered
by the ingratitude, worse, if possible,
than the ingratitude, of those powers whom
he had so faithfully served, and most evidently
died of a broken heart, after vainly
pleading for the mitigation of endless severity,
to add one to the illustrious number
of whom the poet laments, that,
"After a life of gen'rous toil endued;
The foe subdu'd, and property secur'd,"
is truly to be deplored.
"Good laws establish'd, and the world reform'd,"
"Clos'd their long glories with a sigh, to find
The unwilling gratitude of base mankind."
The interest which the Culloden Papers
have excited, has led me to thus
branch out on the subject connected with
I shall now travel back to Campbell
Town, a small place situated on Moray
Firth, and proceed thence to Inverness,
the capital of the Highlands, which I
hailed with delight.
Here I found Mr. and Mrs. S —
and their beautiful young daughter, whom
I had agreed to join. The meeting in a
land of strangers, so far distant from home,
was truly grateful to the feelings of each.
Miss S —'s elegant accomplishments
and highly cultivated mind, renders her
not merely a pleasant, but an interesting
companion. United to these graceful
endowments, she possesses a purity of heart
which gives the finest tones to her disposition.
How delightful is it, my dear Miss
Porter, to behold all the gaiety and loveliness
of youth blended with accomplishments
which never fade, and can alone
render a female permanently attractive.
Inverness, July.
INVERNESS stands at the foot of a
magnificent amphitheatre of hills, so picturesque
and diversified in shape, as to form
one of the finest natural landscapes it is
possible to imagine. The town is bounded
on one side by the Moray Firth, which
separates the county of Ross from that of
Inverness, and the Ness river unites with
the sea at one extremity, and at the other,
with Loch Ness, rendered very grand in
its appearance, by the wild mountainous
scenery which rises on all sides.
Inverness is the capital of the Highlands,
and considered the only town, north of
Aberdeen, of importance. It is large and
populous; but the idea I had formed of
noble streets, and elegant houses, greatly
disappointed me, on a near approach.
Like several of the Scotch towns, which
owe all their beauty to situation, the charm
is lost on entering, from the old and irregular
appearance of many of the houses,
to which a handsome one often unites:*
and the quantity of fish hung over the doors
of the ordinary dwellings, for the purpose
of drying, is very disgusting in warm weather.
The squalid dirty aspect of the children,
take from all the engaging attraction
of infancy. Civilization in the lower class
seems here to be almost a century behind,
as far as regards necessary comfort; this
is the more extraordinary, as there is
such a striking superiority of refinement, in
language, and courtesy of manner, in the
* "One thing I observed, of almost all the towns
that I saw at a distance, which was, that they seemed
to be very large, and made a handsome appearance;
but when I passed through them, there appeared a
meanness; and all the outskirts, which served to increase
the extent of them at a distance were nothing
but the ruins of small houses."
Letters from the North of Scotland, Anno 1726.
inhabitants of Inverness, which extends to
the humblest individual. English is here
universally spoken, and in a state of purity
and correctness, which renders it perfectly
beautiful. It gives a softness to the manners,
extremely graceful, which, united
with the Highland urbanity of character,
at once win upon a stranger.
Dr. Johnson notices, in his Tour, the
language of Inverness, which, he says, has
long been considered particularly elegant.
The Gaelic used, I am told, by all the ordinary
people, is very comprehensive and
powerful. It seems, to my ear, to have
great affinity to the Welch.
The Castle, formerly situated on the
east end of Inverness, belonging to the
Thanes of Cawdor, was the one, where,
according to Shakespear, King Duncan
was murdered, by Macbeth;* but on Mal*
From several records connected with the history
of Macbeth, it appears that King Duncan was
murdered at Glames Castle, not Inverness. But,
according to Lord Hales' Annals, the tragical scene
colm Kenmore succeeding the usurper, he
is said to have razed the castle to the
ground, and removed the town to the spot
where it now stands. A new castle was
built on the site of the old town, finally
destroyed in the year 1745.
The ruins of the old Castle of Inverness
remained till about twelve years ago, when
they were entirely removed, by the direction
of His Grace, the Duke of Gordon,
who is the hereditary keeper.
When Queen Mary came hither with
her brother, the Earl of Murray, and suite,
with an intention to inhabit the Castle, the
Earl of Huntley, ancestor of the Duke
of Gordon, and governor of the Castle,
gave orders, that if the Earl* accompanied
the Queen to the north, the Castle was
not to be opened to her Majesty; and on
was near Elgin; and he is supposed to be interred in
the cathedral.
* The fair, or balmy Earl of Murray, as he is commonly
called, was supposed to be murdered, on account
of a jealousy James the Sixth entertained,
of a passion the queen had for him; at least such
their arrival they were refused admittance.
This excited such indignation in the inhabitants
of Inverness, for the insult offered
their sovereign, that a house was erected in
an incredibly short space of time, for her
reception. The house stands near the
bridge, and is at present inhabited.
The handsome stone bridge, built in the
year 1688, owes its foundation to a singular
circumstance. When Provost Duff
filled the civic chair, in passing over the
wooden bridge thrown across the Ness, it
suddenly gave way, and he was precipited
into the river, on one of the planks, which
floated him down in safety to Cromwell's
Fort, a distance of half a mile. The following
day he commenced a subscription
for a more substantial bridge, to which the
was the popular opinion, as appears from an old ballad
on the occasion:
"He was a brave gallant,
And he play'd -upon the gluve;
And the bonny Earl of Murray,
Oh! he was the Queene's love."
gentlemen of Inverness contributed, when
the present one was erected.
The church clock is a great curiosity,
from its antiquity. It belonged to the cathedral
of Ross, before the Reformation.
When Cromwell visited the north, his destructive
hand demolished the cathedral,
palace, and the bishop's residence. He
had the materials conveyed to Inverness,
to build the Fort, which yet bears his
name, though scarce a vestige is now to
be seen. The clock was thrown into a
vault, where it long remained, till within
this last century, when it was taken out,
repaired, and fixed in the church.
The citadel, built by Oliver Cromwell,
at the mouth of the river Ness, was demolished
by Charles the Second, in 1682.
It was a pentagon, with bastions, ramparts,
and wet ditches, and could lodge men to
the number of two thousand, and four hundred
horse. On walking over the green
mounds of this fortification, the invading
hand of that unsparing tyrant, is here, as
in various parts of the kingdom, forcibly
recalled to mind; and we have reason to
bless the mild and happy government of
our own peaceful times. A very extraordinary
shaped hill, called Tom-na-heurich,
or the Hill of the Fairies, rises near Inverness,
which has rather the appearance
of being artificial, than natural, for it looks
like a boat with the keel upwards. The
length is four hundred yards, and the
breadth one hundred and fifty, at the bottom.
It seems in every point to end at the
top in a narrow ridge, and is covered with
fir-trees. When arriving at the summit
of this singular elevation, there is a plain
sufficiently wide to draw up two or three
battalions of men. The signification of
the Gaelic, Tom-na-heurich, is, the Hill
of the Fairies, or under-ground inhabitants,
who are supposed to visit it at
certain times, to hold their revels. It is
superstitiously believed to this day, that
various cures are effected upon the sick;
and women have been known to commit
their children to these nocturnal revellers
for four-and-twenty hours, when, if found
alive, after such an exposure, they are supposed
to have recovered by their kind influence.
Though superstition is wearing
fast away, yet ignorant people will not pass
Tom-na-heurich at night; for,
"——— On that verdant hill,
If common fame in aught can be believ'd,
What fairy forms illusive mock the gaze.
In airy rings, alternate lost and seen,
All robed in green, they win, and sportive weave,
The magic dance, to music's melting sound,
Their tiny forms seen by the silent moon."
Thomas the Rhymer, is supposed by the
northern populace to be buried under this
hill, from whence he is to arise at a certain
period, and prophecy the consumation of
all things.
The vitrified forts in the neighbourhood
of Craig Phadrie and Knochfarril, are
each so ably described by the late Lord
Woodhouselee, and Dr. Garnett, I shall
refer you to their account in the Appendix;
for amongst some of the geologists it is a
matter of doubt, whether they are vitrified
or not; but of whatever matter these
forts may be composed, they at least are
very numerous in the Northern Highlands.
Craig Phadrie, which rises to the sight,
a short distance from Tom-na-heurich,
was originally a pointed hill, levelled to a
certain extent, and the materials thrown
to the edge, for the purpose of forming
a rude fence in time of war, for the
protection of the wives, children, and
property of the military. There was in
the middle of it a well to supply water.
A chain of similar hills, with fortifications,
extend from Dingwall to Fort William,
which were used as alarm-posts in time of
Some of the old costumes in dress are
still preserved; a cap, called a toy, is yet
worn, and which in Catholic times must
have been the prevailing dress of the country,
as it more resembles a nun's hood
than any other head-dress to which I can
compare it. The toy is made of coarse
linen, in front something resembling a mob,
with long lappets, and a kind of tippet
appended to it. The plaid thrown over
the head and shoulders I saw worn on Sunday,
by a few old women; also the. large
silver broach, described by Pennant; but
our English habit begins now to be substituted
amongst the gayer, part of the
community, for their own national attire,
which looks remarkably picturesque and
appropriate to the wild scenery of their
country. On Sunday, the inhabitants,
young and old, high and low, appear
dressed, in respect to the day; and it is
a most pleasing object to behold all the
children, and young women, walking without
caps or bonnets, with their hair nicely
braided up; some confined with snods,
which is composed of a piece of ribbon or
coloured worsted, and is put tight round
the head. This marks the distinction between
the maiden and the wife; for until
a woman is married, in this part of Scotland,
she never wears a cap. The elderly
men use the Scotch bonnet universally,
and are always habited in a suit of light
blue cloath, which materials are wove at
home. They enwrap themselves in the
drapery of the plaid; it looks very graceful,
and gives something of the Roman
character to their air, which is always
stately and erect. Disencumbered in childhood
of drapery, the limbs being unfettered,
it is rare to see either a lame or
ricketty child, or a deformed person. To
learn to dance is generally a part of education;
and this healthful exercise gives
an elasticity to the body, which renders
the deportment easy. It is thought that
the ladies who appear in the streets of Edinburgh,
step with more grace, united to
modesty, than any women in Europe.
Acknagairn, July.
A FEW days absence from Inverness
has afforded me the opportunity of viewing
some of that wild and romantic scenery
with which this country abounds.
Entertained in the mansion of Achnagairn,
with the cordial kindness of an old
friend, I have here found all the urbanity
of Highland manners, with an hospitality
which there is no resisting; and been
shewn a variety of those objects of natural
grandeur, to be met with in every part
of the Aird. One of the most striking,
are the Falls of Kilmorach, a scene
little known, and therefore less celebrated
than Foyers, yet partaking of the same
character of wild magnificence, and deserving
the traveller's notice. The name
of every place in this northern region is
derived from the Gaelic, which, indeed, is
the only language in use amongst the peasantry,
very few of whom can speak English,
and Scotch is not known here. It is necessary
to tell you that Kilmorach implies the
burying-ground of Marion, in Gaelic,
Morae, the name of a woman, and the
first person who was interred in the burying-ground
of Kilmorach. Kil, means
cell, the cell of Marion; from which circumstance
the name has been handed
The first Fall, called the Salmon-Leap,
is a sort of circular ravine, where
"The whelming torrents roar,
Rude rushing down the excavated deep."
The waters of the Beauley have formed
numberless natural cascades, by the impetuous
rapidity of pouring in foaming
torrents over the stones. In those parts
where the water is not agitated, the river is
so translucent that it has the appearance of
rock crystal, and before losing its depth,
reflects the impending rocks in its clear
bosom. It is here the salmon sport in
their native beds in myriads, and take such
extraordinary leaps, a stander-by cannot
be ten minutes on the spot without seeing
them wanton far above the river.
A singular story is related of an experiment
of the late Mr. Lovat. He laid a wager,
that if a fire was lighted on one of the
rocks verging on the river, and a pot boiled
on it, a salmon, taking a contrary leap,
would plunge into the boiler, and be drest,
ready for eating, without the aid of a cook.
In a short space of time Mr. Fraser Lovat
gained his wager.
On these precipitous rocks hang beautiful
woods of the elegant weeping birch
their towering heights are often crowned
with dark fir-trees. Two water-mills enliven
the scene, while the manse (or parsonage),
and church, on the brow of the
hill, have a very rural appearance. These
rocks are infested with eagles. One, for
several years, built her nest on the steepest
and daily conveyed thither prey for her
young. A poor cottager, who had a wife
and numerous family, was observed by his
neighbours to have a constant supply of
more substantial fare than falls to the lot
of the half-starved highlander; he was
seen to feed upon young kids, lambs, and
poultry. Convinced that it was impossible to
obtain these dainties by honest means, his
neighbours informed against him, and the
poor man was taken up upon suspicion.
On examination, it was found that he had
actually climbed this apparently inacessible
rock, to daily plunder the eagle's nest for
subsistence to his family. Not merely
birds, but animals of prey infest this part
of the Highlands; innumerable wild cats
prowl amongst the mountains.
The road winds from one fall to others
more distant, along the steep banks of the
Beauley, fringed with the pensile birch,
the yellow broom, red and white roses,
also the digitalis, all flaunting in beautiful
luxuriance, surmounted by dark and barren
hills, broken by huge masses or rocks
rising in such fantastic shapes, as to intercept
the course of the river, which babbles
as it winds along, soft and beautiful,
till all at once it rushes, in angry turbulence,
foaming with rage through precipitous
rocks, whence the whole body of
the water is hurried in a surprising manner,
between overhanging cliffs of about
four yards. From Teinassie, I entered a
wild sequestered spot called the Driem, or
Dreame.* Looking down thence upon
the river, huge masses of stone stand in
pyramidical forms in the water, with
branches of trees shooting from their sides,
wearing the fanciful appearance of ruinous
castles in the bosom of tufted islands.
Emerging from this wild and profound solitude,
I came to the little busy scene of
the Saw Mills,† situated in a deep valley,
* Signifying a ridge of rocks.
† "This mill consists of several parallel saws,
driven by four wheels, when the logs of wood floated
down the Glass are cut for various purposes. Horses
are employed to carry the boards past the falls, from
the foot of which they arc again floated down the
on the lovely little Isle of Aigash, said to
have been the scene of many romantic
transactions in the days of chivalry: a
spot well suited to adventurers of that nature.

Large beams of wood are floated down
the river to the saw mills, which come off
the estate chiefly of the Chisholms of Chisholms.

Here the river, apparently exhausted by its
brawling and furious course, becomes tranquil,
as if happy to repose in the still shade
of the luxuriant trees reflected on its glassy
bosom. I passed a gloomy wood, believed
by the superstitious highlander to be
haunted by ghosts and dæmoniac spirits,
nor would any of them be prevailed on to
pass it after night falls, so greatly do they
dread the evil machinations of these unsightly
beings. Several Cairns and Druidical
circles are to be seen in various part
Beauley, to a place at Kirk Hill, called Lovat, where
they are shipped for any market that occurs."
of the Aird; also a vitrified fort, on a hill
opposite Achnagairn.
A whole clan appears to me to occupy
to themselves one district. In the Aird,
the people are all Frasers; their chief, Simon
Fraser, always designated Lovat. He
is the descendant of Lord Lovat beheaded
in 1746. None of the lairds are addressed
by their name, but generally by the title of
the estate upon which they reside.
In the church-yard at Kirk Hill on every
tomb-stone is inscribed the name of Fraser.
High and low, rich and poor, belong to that
clan; marrying and intermarrying with
each other, they mingle their ashes together.

At the east end of the church is the family-vault
of the Lovats. In the Appendix
you will read the Epitaph on his Lordship,
written by his son, which is inscribed
on his monument, together with his own,
which he formed for himself.
It is related, that on the evening of this.
Mr. Fraser Lovat's funeral, which was by
torch-light (a ceremony never known in
Scotland), the attendants were all intoxicated,
and one unfortunate man was so
overcome with Bacchus, that on entering
the vault, while they were placing the coffin,
he fell asleep, and not being observed, he
was locked into the vault. Next morning
he awoke in a dreadful state of trepidation,
almost mad with fear; he roared aloud;
but such was the superstition of the people,
they actually thought that Lovat was restored
to life, and no person would venture
towards the vault to afford him assistance.
If the plumber had not chanced,
at the end of two days, to enter the vault,
to do something to the leaden coffin, the
poor man would actually have been entombed
Various and amusing are the anecdotes
which I have heard of this extraordinary
personage. When he was consul at the
court of Algiers, he committed one of
those mad actions which characterized his
life. Green is the royal colour worn
amongst the Algerines; but on certain
court days, none are allowed to wear it,
except the Dey. On one of these occasions,
however, notwithstanding the express
intimation to the contrary, Lovat
thought proper to appear in green. In
consequence, he was obliged immediately
to fly, and saved his life from the fury of
the Algerines by the merest accident.
His chief hobby was a political one; a
sort of military mania. He corresponded
with all the ministers of the day, on the
threatened invasion. He was so firmly
persuaded that he should be the principal
object of attack, that he built a lighthouse
near Inverness, in the form of a garrison,
where he kept a vessel loaded with
arms, for a long period lying in the river,
and planted cannon on a part of his property
near Fort George.
When once residing at Fraser's (now
Bennett's elegant hotel), at Inverness, the
following anecdote is a specimen of the vanity
said to be attached to his character.
He took the fancy about two o'clock in the
morning to divert himself by ringing all
the bells in the house; and when he heard
the waiter coming he ran to the bell in another
room, making so great a noise, none
of the inmates of the inn could get any
rest. An English traveller happened to be
amongst the persons disturbed. On understanding
who was the author of the
noise, he got out of bed and pursued Lovat.
"You scoundrel," said he, "do you
not know that my Lord Lovat is in the
house?" Quite flattered, by what he considered
such a high respect paid to him,
he retired, and sent for the traveller in the
morning, whom he complimented as being
a gentleman, from knowing the respect due
to his superiors.
Beaufort Castle, the hereditary estate
of the Lovat family, is situated on the
banks of the Beauley.
The want of decoration in the churches
of Scotland, is very striking to an episcopalian;
and the extreme plainness with
which they are fitted up, the pews not
being painted, often without floors, and
the aisles only the bare earth, in the Highland
places of worship, I must confess
they want that imposing solemnity which
a magnificent structure impresses on the
mere spectator, who, while treading the
long aisles of an ancient cathedral, is inspired
with a sensation of holy awe, that
can never be felt in a building which bears
in the exterior appearance so little dignity
or resemblance to the house of God.
But on witnessing how deeply the simple
form of the presbyterian service sinks into
the hearts of the auditors, it convinces
me how little form and pageantry are requisite
to fix the attention of serious Christians,
or rouse them to devotion on the
solemn occasion for which they are assembled.

On the doors leading to some of the
repositories of families of condition, and
not unlike in appearance the mausoleums
of the ancient Capulets in Romeo and Juliet,
I remarked large spots of white paint
daubed on them, which had so whimsical an
appearance, that I enquired their purport,
when I was informed, they were emblematic
of tears shed for the departed. A tribute
of respect, which though singular, is,
by these simple and guileless people, a testimony
of enthusiastic attachment to their
chieftain, which must be ever grateful to
the survivor, as a genuine proof of national
Alness Manse, Ross-shire, July.
I ADDRESS you, my dear friend, from
a wild highland spot, which now assumes
quite a different feature of country from
Inverness-shire, or the Aird, though at
the distance of little more than thirty miles.
The extent of dark hills rising from Alness,
perfectly rude and uncultured, have, notwithstanding,
a very grand effect. I am now
at the base of the towering Bainciavaish, in
English Wevis, still partially covered with
snow. The windows of Alness Manse
command a fine and extensive view of the
Firth of Cromarty, whose undulating
waters almost bathe the road. Between
the two lofty promontories, called the Sisters,
the bay opens with vast magnificence,
and the town rests in much beauty at the
foot of these hills, which unite on one side
with the parish of Nigg, and on the other
blend with the Black Isle. The tract of
country bearing this title, carries one back to
the Arabian Nights Entertainments, where
there is the king of the Black Isles. But
in truth, this is the country of romance, of
fable, and superstition, though hitherto
within my knowledge it has not extended
to second sight, only the influence of
witchcraft, airy sprights, and not goblin
caves, but goblin hills. Indeed the superstitions
of the people in this district are
carried on some occasions to the most extraordinary
and romantic height; and so totally
unknown in our more civilized and
enlightened country, that were I to relate
to you half the absurd tales which I have
heard, you would wonder at the credulity of
a people professing to he moral and religious.
The fiery and uncivilized Highlander,
is extremely dangerous to meddle
with and offend, notwithstanding their noble
and generous spirit when roused into action,
or awakened to display affection towards their
own clan.
The clan in this district have formed such
an inveterate prejudice against a minister
lately elected, to succeed the one deceased,
and exercised such inveterate malice and oppression
towards him, founded on no existing
or solid cause, every effort is at this
moment employed to banish him from his
kirk, almost totally deserted. The better to
effect their purpose, it is said that a few old
women have had recourse to witchcraft, and
by their spells and incantations, he will soon
be totally annihilated.*
As I quitted Inverness-shire, I visibly observed
the increasing dirt, poverty, and squalid
wretchedness of the poor. At Dingwall
* They have modelled a figure in wax, and cast
into a stream; as the figure diminishes, they believe he
will gradually waste away, and die.
I went into some of their huts, scarcely better
than pig-styes. The byre, or cow-house,
which is barely divided from the apartment
which they inhabit, comprises kitchen, parlour,
sleeping-room, dairy, and live stock. But
as I before mentioned, the rapid improvement
in the more populous counties is so great,
have no doubt improvement in time will be
extended to these remote parts. Thus denying
themselves every requisite comfort, to
which they appear to be totally insensible,
the Scotch peasantry always educate their
children, and those of the middle class never
above their condition.
Superficial accomplishments are less
thought of here, than the cultivation of the
mind, and an acquaintance with our best authors,
which is fixed on the permanent basis
of genuine piety, and every moral virtue, and
not only renders them agreeable members of
society, but affords those solid and rational
pursuits which ensure a constant occupation
to the mind. A stranger to ennui, and the
dreary vacuum excited by ignorance, which
strengthens every bad passion in uncultivated
minds, vice is almost unknown in the bosom of
the generality of the girls in Scotland, from the
causes which I have mentioned. The children
of the lowest tradesmen in England are sent
to boarding-schools, where they are taught,
in a superficial degree, those fashionable accomplishments,
which, by placing them
above their sphere, render them not merely
useless members of that society it is their
lot to move in, but unhappy beings perhaps
for the remainder of their days, by leading
them into those unequal connections to which
the injudicious parent has exposed them,
from a mistaken zeal in rendering them accomplished
young ladies.
In travelling thither I passed through
some interesting places. Beauley was
the first of importance, a village prettily
situated on the banks of the river Beauley,
containing the remains of a priory, a remnant
of antiquity, possessing now little more
than the bare walls, of what had been the
chapel. There is in one of the niches a
stone monument, containing the body of
Mac Mhurich Riveh n'en Corcak, supposed
to have been a follower of the Seaforth family,
and who bore a conspicuous part in
the feuds of his time. The stones on the
moor of Gilchrist are thought to have
been the limits of this priory; but every
tradition concerning it is so involved in obscurity,
that it has been impossible to obtain
any accurate account of its history, except,
being founded by a gentleman of the name
of Bisset, in the year 1230, and, like Pluscardine,
was of the order of St. Bennet.
Beauley is now the property of Fraser of
Proceeding from Beauley, the country
gradually opens with infinite beauty all the
way to Dingwall, in sight of the lofty
Wyvis. The situation of Dingwall a small
town, encircled by green hills, partially
wooded, is very lovely. An Irish bishop, who
had been in the Holy Land, observed, that
there was a striking resemblance between
the scenery on this spot, and that about
Jerusalem. The river Conan, a little
stream which flows through the valley, is
navigable; but a canal is now cutting, to
enable trading vessels to anchor close to
the town, as the distance to the Firth of
Cromarty sometimes rendered it inconvenient
for ships to load. Dingwall, or Dingnavol,
the capital of Ross-shire, took its
origin from the richness and fertility of the
country, which looks gay and smiling in
soft luxuriance, and almost led me to fancy
myself in England. But the town is mean,
and some of the houses wretched; those of
the cottagers quite of the Glenburnie description.
An obelisk, which stands not
far from the church, is so conspicuously
situated on an artificial mount; that it was
the first object which engaged our attention.
The form is pyramidal, and it rises above
fifty feet in height. It was erected by the
Earl of Cromarty, Secretary of State in
Scotland, during the reign of Queen Anne,
for the burial-place of his family. There
is scarcely a vestige of what was formerly
the castle remaining, and which was at one
period the residence of the Earls of Ross.
A sulphurous spring, in Strath Peffer,
not far from Dingwall, considered very
efficacious in rheumatic and scorbutic disorders,
is much resorted to in summer.
The situation of this spring is in the bosom
of mountains, rude and gigantic,
heaped as it were one above another, in the
most unequal forms, possessing an air of
remote solitude and wildness, that is almost
frightful. When seen one hour, blackened
by dark clouds, floating over their tops,
but perhaps the next illumined by a
bright sea, they were magnificent beyond
The hill of Knoch Farrel has a ruin on
the top of considerable extent. The stones
are of a vitrified substance, but naturalists
are divided in opinion, how they have been
produced. Tradition says, that Fingal
made this castle his residence at one period.
The promontories which stand opposite
to each other, called the Suthers, are supposed
to derive their name from two lovers
who were inhabitants of these elevations,
but what was their history I could not
In the parish of Nigg, another promontory,
which hangs over the bay of Cromarty,
is a stone seven feet in height, and
two and a half in breadth, covered with
curious figures, which no person has been
able to decypher.
This rude monument is supposed to
have been sent by a king of Denmark, to
commemorate the death of three sons, who
came to attack this part of Scotland, and
were lost in the ridge of rocks extending
about a mile from the north of Cromarty,
which ridge goes by the name of The
Three King's Sons.
I was induced to go a few miles out of
the regular tract of road, to look at Braan
Castle, the principal seat of the Earls of
Seaforth, and considered a place of some
importance in Ross-shire. I was very ill rewarded
for my trouble, as I expected to
see a castle possessing somewhat of the
magnificence of many of our noble edifices
in England, from the consequence the title
carried with it; instead of which, I beheld
a heavy pile of buildings, neither modern
nor antique, extremely gloomy, without the
imposing air of gloomy grandeur, which
often characterize ancient fabrics. —
The house is much out of repair, and the
park and pleasure-grounds so entirely neglected,
as to give this domain altogether
a most desolate and melancholy aspect.
Nature has decorated the adjacent country
with much beauty and magnificence, and
the views, in various points, are extremely
While the horses rested at a place in
Scotland called the Tillysough, something
like our hedge-alehouses, only neither the
neatness and comfort of these inferior little
inns, I went over the interior of Braan
The apartments are indifferently furnished,
and are wholly divested of grandeur
in their architectural forms, being,
except the great hall, very ordinary rooms.
The most interesting picture here exhibited,
a full - length portrait of Mary
Queen of Scotts, was unfortunately sent
to Edinburgh to be cleaned. I much regretted
not seeing it, as it is considered,
the one at Cheswick-house excepted, the
finest resemblance there is of her, and
amongst the few originals remaining.
In one of the chambers, an ancient bed
of heavy laborious needle-work is shown,
as done by this unfortunate queen.
The large clumsy chimney-piece in the
gallery, with the Seaforth arms carved
upon it, is a specimen of the sculpture of
ancient times.
A faithful copy of King John's Magna
Charta, in the old black letter, taken from
the original, with the various arms of the
twenty-four barons, who decided the dispute
between the king and his subjects, is
the most interesting piece which I saw here.
The few old portraits hung in the apartments
and gallery, I could learn no account
of, from the housekeeper, nor was
there any catalogue containing their names.
The only distinguished one was that of the
late Earl of Seaforth, drest in the highland
costume. This was an excellent portrait.
The traveller will scarcely find his labour
repaid, in going five miles over execrable
roads to visit Braan Castle.
You can imagine nothing half so beautiful
as the summer evenings in Scotland.
The dark curtain of night is scarcely spread
in this northern hemisphere, before
— "Jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain's top."
The firmament retains a glow of light-,
often brilliantly heightened by the aurora
borealis, here called, the merry dancers,
which has a grand effect; and, when the
softer shades of evening prevail, and throw
into partial gloom the sleeping landscape,
it is even at midnight, during the
months of May, June, and July, only like
our evening twilight, when every object is
indistinctly visible. The grandeur of the
mountains, the pellucid tranquillity of the
rivers, and the deep gloom of the dark fir
woods, altogether form a scene no person
who has not beheld it, can picture.*
* The day is said to be 18 hours long in the
Orkneys, the sun remaining so long above the
horizon; and when he is set, he makes so small an
arch of a circle below the horizon, that it is much
above a twilight all the summer.
The ancient mariners, who knew nothing of the
heavenly bodies, when they were driven thus far,
were surprised to find they had lost the steady rotation
of day and night, which they thought had
spread over the whole globe. They imagined the
Elysian Fields must lie this way, when they found
they were come already to the realms of everlasting
Tour through Great Britain, in 1736.
Achnagairn, July.
AFTER a fatiguing excursion into Rossshire,
amid torrents of rain, to find myself
once more at lovely Achnagairn, is refreshing
both to the body and spirits. It is
agreeable to experience repose in a mansion
which partakes of English elegance, and a
degree of urbanity, not merely the effect
of good-breeding, but resulting from that
pure benevolence of heart, which is the
characteristic of every individual of this
charming family.
I have invariably found the warm-hearted
highlanders possessed of a winning hospitality,
peculiar to themselves. Accustomed
to be perpetually broken in upon by strangers
during the summer months, (which in
no part of England would be tolerated,)
they literally keep open house, and no
sooner do the unexpected visitors appear
on the threshold, than they are met by
the kind host and hostess with an extended
hand of welcome, (instead of one of our frigid
ceremonious courtesies,) and hospitably
invited within, to partake of such fare as
their table affords, spread with that genuine
benevolence, which dismisses the painful
idea of being considered an intruder.
The table of the highlander (I speak not
of families of the first condition) is always
covered with the excellent produce of the
country. Salmon, or trout, barley-broth,
mutton fed from their hether mountains,
and poultry from the barn-door.
During this late excursion, I partook of
a truly highland breakfast, and for the first
time saw the whiskey-bottle presented
ere the meal before us was spread. Tea
and coffee, the wheaten loaf, oat-cakes,
marmalade, honey, and other sweetmeats,
cold salmon, a dried fish, called spelding,
cold chicken, ham, and eggs. — It was quite
a repast of luxuries. Our meal of only
tea and toast, would, I am afraid, look
very spare to the hospitable highlander.
On my way hither from Alness, I had
the opportunity of visiting several highland
villas, all romantic in situation, nor devoid
of elegance in the adornment within. The
exterior of every place I have seen, has
been profusely decorated by the beautiful
hand of Nature; but I must be excused in
saying, that, with a few exceptions, the
want of neatness is greatly missed in the
pleasure-grounds and gardens; and even
the approach to some of the grandest mansions
want a degree of nicety, which, perhaps,
the highlander may think inconsistent
with the wild character of the scenery
amidst which he lives. With us, comfort,
in every shape, even in the most trivial
point, is absolutely necessary to our happiness.
We cannot forego it without peevishness
and discontent, for luxuries now
make up by far too large a portion of the
requisites of life, in stations where formerly
scarcely any thing like indulgence was
known. The Scotch, on the contrary,
have fewer wants. The rude and romantic
scenery of their native hills, the refreshing
beauty of their pellucid rivers, render the decoration
of Nature so varied, yet exuberant,
that every thing else may appear an unnecessary
superfluity; and often when trees
are planted, it is rather to prove a shelter
from the mountain-blast, than an embellishment
to their domain.
It is almost unnecessary, my dear Miss
Porter, to inform you, that the inhabitants
of the high and low countries are a distinct
race of people. The highlanders,
who were aborigines of the country, held
out long and bravely, in the first place,
against the Romans, and next, against the
Saxons, who, retiring before the Danish
invaders, after seven struggles, established
themselves in the southern counties of Scotland.
The brave remnants of unconquered
Celtics took shelter in the mountains,
choosing to submit to any extremity rather
than live a vanquished people, under
their invaders. A mortal hatred took
place between the intruders of the plain,
and the ancient inhabitants, which was
perpetuated through many ages of embittered
hostility. The highlanders considered,
what we look upon as the common
conveniences of life, as luxuries, unsuited
to their climate and habits. And these
brave and hardy people, with lofty pretensions
to heroism and genius, were ridiculed
by their southern neighbours, to whom
their language, and the high-toned sentiment
of their poetry and legends, were
alike unintelligible. Time and events have
softened their mutual dislike, and the highlanders
are beginning to acquire the language
and arts of the south, some think,
to the diminution of their peculiar and
energetic national character; but, at the
same time, these changes have better qualified
them for assimilating with their more
cultivated neighbours, and by constant intercourse,
and intermarrying with those of
the low countries, the original striking dissimilarity
in personal appearance is considerably
done away. Still to the observing
enquirer, the national distinction is
strikingly perceptible. No doubt you are
aware, that in the people of Scotland is
blended a mixed resemblance to those of
the continental countries, with whom they
have at various times been intimately connected.
Their sovereigns were many of
them married to French, Italian, and Flemish
princesses. The followers and attendants
of these distinguished person
must, at one time, have formed no inconsiderable
a portion of the better classes of
Scotland. Even in those remote times,
when the general state of the nation was
in a high degree uncivilized, the magnificence
of its courts, from the circumstances
abovementioned, formed a striking contrast
to the poverty and uncultured appearance
of the nation at large. From your knowledge
of physiognomy, and acquaintance
with Scotland, you must have remarked,
that the broad forehead, square visage,
high cheek-bones, and the general prevalence
of gray eyes, with a visage acute and
sagacious, but grave and thoughtful in expression,
is the real highland face. Those of
the low countries wear more of the feature
and expression of the countenances already
alluded to. In the higher walks of life,
and in the families of their chieftains, the
fair and delicate beauty is still pre-eminent,
as well as the soft and melting blue
eye, the golden hair, and pensive expression
which you meet with in Ossian's descriptions.

There is, as I before remarked, a native
indolence in the highlander, which appears
inconsistent with that activity displayed,
when occasion arises to call it forth. Vigorous
in constitution as in mind, when
once he is roused, like a lion, he awakens,
and by the bold intrepidity of his conduct,
pre-eminently distinguishes himself as
springing from the bravest race of men. The
highlanders have discovered a humanity
and generosity of spirit well known, and
worthy of being recorded in some of our
late memorable battles. Bold when roused,
but gentle and tender-hearted when domesticated,
it has been seen before the glorious
battle of Waterloo, that the highland soldiers
became one and the same family
with the people with whom they lodged at
Brussels, and were followed by their tears,
lamentations, and blessings, to that field,
where such numbers were fated never to
return to their families and home, and
whose dearly purchased laurels were steeped
in that blood so bravely shed.
Out of many of the wretched hovels
into which I looked, have sprung many a
brave soldier, whose couch was composed
only of a straw pallet, and whose hard fare
consisted of nothing beyond oat-bread,
and kale, with a garment little more than a
bare covering. I went into several of the
huts, scarcely fit for a human habitation.
They are often built without windows or
chimnies, a cavity in the wall admitting
the light, out of which issues abundance
of smoke, and a hole in the roof supplies
the want of a chimney. In the middle of
an earthen floor, is a peat fire, around which
often hovers a group of almost naked children.
A sort of press in the wall contains
the bed, which seldom has any other covering
than a blanket, and is usually that of
straw. These wretched dwellings look at
a distance like heaps of mole-hills. Such,
even in these days, is the rude state of
some parts of the Highlands of Scotland,
where attainable comfort is not even
thought of, nor is missed by the weather--
beaten cottager; and his guid wife and
bairns sleep as sweetly in these rude dwellings
as the English labourer in his curtained
bed. It would, indeed, be difficult
to inspire the inhabitants of these cottages
with an idea that they are less happy for
wanting the advantages in point of lodging,
of more luxurious countries. They will tell
you that they miss none of those things
which to us appear so necessary; and that,
far from envying, they rather pity us, while
they perceive our happiness depends on so
many extraneous things, which they either
do not know, or knowing, despise, as the instruments
of unfeeling luxury, calculated
to contract the mind, by confining the
attention to petty wants, and petty cares,
before the face of which, enthusiasm withers,
and independence melts away. The
highland peasantry are satisfied with the
magnificence of nature: the tale, the song,
the warm-hearted and ardent imagination,
and cannot be persuaded, that petty comforts
are not adverse to the heroic virtues,
and the strong ties of affection, before
which, all selfish considerations vanish.
While they continue to think thus, we
shall always find scholars, soldiers, and a
hardy race of adventurers, proceeding from
these huts, prepared to encounter hardships
and privations, in their darkest forms.
In Strathglass, a district above the Aird,
where the lands are pastoral, during the
summer months, the peasantry wander
from place to place with their flocks and
herds, taking their families and goods
along with them, like the ancient patriarchs
of old. The shieldings they dwell
in, are composed merely of wicker-work;
and they repose on beds of hether, feeding
their cattle, for certain periods, on the pastures
adjacent to these rude habitations,
removing with their utensils and small portion
of furniture, carried in panniers, in
which their children either travel, or are
borne on their backs. Thus they wander
from mountain to mountain, during the
summer, in a mode of life somewhat resembling
the tribes of gypsies in England.
Fort Augustus, August.
EXQUISITELY as your imagination can
paint the loveliest scenes of nature, even
your creative fancy cannot picture any
thing half so beautiful, so wild, and yet so
awfully sublime, as the scenery on the
borders of Lochness, in travelling to the
British Niagara, the Fall of Foyers. Woods
never appeared to me so verdant, or waters
so clear, as those which met my view
along this road, as glimpses of the translucent,
or rushing mountain-streams, casually
appeared through shades of tremulous
birch, or mountain-ash, rich in its scarlet
fruit, or the more sober verdure of the
alder, or the hazel, mingling with luxuriant
bowers of blooming roses.
In wandering from one enchanting scene
to another, it is impossible to do justice to
the rich and surprising variety which the
north highlands afford, uniting more of the
wonderful, the magnificent, and the beautiful,
than I ever beheld till now. Nature
is continually putting on a new attire, and,
like a gay coquette, smiles and frowns
The General's Hut, so called from having
given shelter to Marshal Wade, when
about the great work of making this wild
district accessible, by the military road, is
a small inn, which affords rest for the traveller,
and his horses. It stands on a steep
elevation, looking down on the magnificent
lake, and is protected at the back, by apparently
inaccessible mountains, fringed
with a variety of trees.
The abode of the proprietor, Mr. F. of
Foyers, amidst these enchanting scenes,
had much attraction; and I had every
reason to be assured, I should there have
received a cordial welcome, well aware that
the family is such, as it would be a pleasure
to know. My hurried engagements and
anxiety to reach Fort Augustus, before
night-fall, prevented me from availing myself
of the introduction which I had to
that pleasant mansion.
I requested the landlord of the inn to
conduct me to Foyers; but he had previously
introduced himself, sans ceremonie,
to me, and, entering the rude apartment,
where my companion and myself were
taking refreshment, seated himself uninvited
at the table,* and began asking several
questions, such as, whence I came?
whither I was going? how long I had been
in Scotland? &c.: questions, which, in
England, would be deemed great impertinence;
but the naturally inquisitive character
of the Scotch (which indeed is prevalent
in all ranks), led me to promptly
reply to this honest and courteous highlander,
whose familiar acquaintance with all
* "My landlord comes into the room uninvited;
and though he never saw you before, sits himself
down, and enters into conversation with you, and is
so sociable as to drink with yon."
Letters from the North of Scotland in the year 1726.
the surrounding scenery, and extreme care
and attention, while conducting me over
the perilous rocks which enbosom Foyers,
were not merely acceptable, but graciously
A turn of the road conducted me to the
fall. The sublime, yet perfect sensation
excited, when the tremendous thunder of
the water bursts on the ear, is only surpassed,
when it becomes visible; yet it is
more wonderful than magnificent; growing
upon the sight, the longer it is beheld, having
its gloom and ruggedness softened, by
accompaniments of sylvan beauty unequalled
in their way. Such weeping
birches I never beheld for size and pensile
grace; being constantly kept fresh by the
thick mists which rise like a cloud from
the precipitating waters, their odours resemble
those which a transient, soft
shower, or hoary dew, produces from
the same tree in other situations. In sunny
weather, beautiful, and ever-varying rainbows,
cast their glowing tints across the
gloom, through which the eye follows the
deep descending cataract. The quantity
of water is immense; and the height of the
fall, in one continued stream, according to
Dr. Garnett's account, is 207 feet. This
produces a grand effect; but the narrow
outlet of the river, at the place where it
seems to have burst its way through the
rocks, diminishes the grandeur that so
much water, poured from such a vast
height, might be expected to produce.
From below, the fall appears to more advantage,
as the different forms it assumes,
in descending the long steep, are seen at
once; and the shades, that, stretching
from each side, meet over the water, when
escaping from the basin in which it foams
below, give a solemnity to its further progress.
After leaving its rocky barrier, the
Feoghlin (for that is the Gaelic name) it
assumes a new character, and glides a gentle,
full, and smooth stream, through green
and tranquil meadows, till it mingles with
the lake beneath.
I forsook these sylvan scenes, to enter
on a dreary and wild ascent to the top of
a mountain, whence, on the land-side, the
only views were a stretch of dreary moors,
with little variation, except from a narrow
green, but woodless glen, which sinks to
a considerable depth, parallel with the
mountain on the right hand on going up.
This is called Glen Eion, or the Glen of
Birds, which, it would appear, have sheltered
there from the surrounding bleakness.

On the top of this mountain, which is
called Suie Chiuman, or the seat of Cummings,
there are the remains of a cairn,
raised to commemorate the death of a
hero of that name, who was once all-powerful
in the North. He, it seems, inhabited
the Castle of Inverlochy, near Fort William;
and having returned from a battle,
in which the Scots were victorious over the
Danes, which was fought near Forres, on
this account the cairn was erected. He
travelled thus far, mortally wounded; but
on the top of the mountain desired to rest,
and then expired. His followers buried
him at Fort Augustus, called by the country-people
Kill Chiuman, the tomb of
Cumming, to this day.
Many conquerors have disturbed, dazzled,
and oppressed mankind, without leaving
behind them so lasting a memorial;
but in the Highlands every thing speaks
of the mighty deed. Every hero found a
poet, and every mountain glen, or cairn,
which derives interest from some tale of
other times, connected with it. Descending
gradually the west side of Suie Chiuman,
beautiful Glendoe, with all its pure streams,
waving woods, hazle copses, and opening
glades, refreshes the sight, and seems
to invite the weary rambler to repose in
its sweet seclusion; while, towards the
lake, the little hamlet and wood, surrounded
by corn - fields, hang over the
depth, like fanciful terraces.
I should have mentioned a small lake,
very picturesque, with shrubby shores, and
wooded islets, which is met with, where
no lake is expected, on the side of the
mountain, high raised above its majestic
neighbour, Loch Ness. I am told that
this lake abounds in char, and is much
frequented by the military in the neighbouring
fort on that account.
Fort Augustus, August.
EMERGING from the pensile bowers
of Glendoe, Fort Augustus, lying low on
the brink of the lake, cheers the sight
with its attendant village hanging over the
river Oich. After so long a journey, chiefly
over a barren and solitary waste, the
sight of human habitations, and something
like civilized life, is most grateful to
the eye. Fort Augustus, however, needs
not the aid of contrast, to recommend it.
It is a pretty little lively looking garrison,
with its ditches, glacis, &c. giving a miniature
representation of a regular fortress.
I can scarcely express the impression which
the first view excited when descending
a tremendous hill, it was presented,
possessing such an air of picturesque singularity,
in so insular a situation, and characterized
by something like importance,
though scarcely bigger than some of our
villages. It stands on a small triangular
plain, the apex of which projects into the
Loch, and the base is formed by a gentle
height, on which the village stands, The
two sides of this picturesque little spot, are
divided from the neighbouring grounds by
the rivers Tarfe and Oich, each of which
pours into the Lake, in the immediate vicinity
of the Fort. The Tarfe issues from
the bosom of the mighty Corryarich,
which forms an apparently impassable barrier
to the south; and descending through
the narrow wooded, and highly romantic
Glentarfe, wanders by a singularly woody
amphitheatre, through a calm green valley
to lose itself in the Lake.
The Oich, of a different character, descends
from Loch Oich, forming a fine appendage
to Invergary, and after running
through the quiet grove of Coultrie, surrounds,
below the village, a most enchanting
little islet; and making music amongst
the gravel, in that shallow circlet, passes
under a respectable stone bridge; and
when parallel to its neighbour, Tarfe, it
mingles with the Lake.
Days might be pleasantly spent in exploring
the sequestered glens, the grottos,
and hanging grounds, alternately covered
with woods and cultivation, which either
retire in shades, or meet the eye in this
favoured spot. On every side is found
some object to dwell on with pleasure; but
the matchless view of the Lake, whether
it lies in quiet beauty, reflecting its lofty
and varying banks, or whether in the agitation
of a storm, it exhibits a degree of
turbulence, more resembling a troubled
sea, than an inland lake, in every aspect, it
is one of the noblest objects I have ever
beheld. On a little peninsula, near the
discharge of the Oich into Loch Ness,
there is a beautiful view of the Loch, from
the windows of a house, once surrounded
by gardens, and embosomed in a circle of
lofty trees, of which some yet remain.
The situation is peculiarly pleasant and picturesque.
In this place, then occupied by
one of the garrison staff, once dwelt an inhabitant
fully awake to all its sublime and
tranquil charms;* who knew no higher pleasure
than to gaze, in a still bright summer
evening, on the clear bosom of the Lake,
and listen to the melodious blackbird,
whose deep and mellow notes rose in emulative
strife from the opposite groves of Glendoe
and Inchardorch. Perhaps the scenery
was the more soothing to my imagination,
from knowing the delight which it had
afforded her, at that age, when all nature
wears, to its lovers' eyes, a look "of joy;"
and she was indeed a true lover of nature.
Fort Augustus is said to derive its name
from Frederic Augustus, Prince of Wales.
The two sides were built in 1730, and destroyed
by the rebels in 1746, but have
since been rebuilt. One of the centinels
* The inhabitant to whom I allude, was my much
respected friend, Mrs. Grant of Laggan, the accomplished
author of the ingenious and original "Letters
front the Mountains."
on guard informed me, the garrison contained
400 men; but the number stationary
at present does not exceed thirty.
The governor's handsome house, the bastion,
the rampart, the moat (now filled up),
the drawbridge, with the soldiers pacing
to and fro, drest in the full highland uniform,
and whose grand military air is in
character with the savage magnificence
the dark and frowning mountains, which
distance appear to touch the clouds, contrasted
with all the sylvan beauties which
repose in the bosom of these hills, resembled
some of those places described in romance,
and struck me with awe, as I surveyed
the novel objects around me.
Looking down from the glacis of Fort
Augustus, the eye commands the whole
length of the Lake, twenty-four miles.
On the south side, bordered by lofty and
precipitous rocks, as far as the eye reaches,
without any interruption except the hanging
gardens of Glendoe, to which I formerly
adverted. On the north, a softer
and more varied prospect, forms a happy
contrast to the rude grandeur of Suie Chuiman,
and the dark heights of Stratherick.
Verdant bays retire from the view, wooded
heights gently rising, and peopled glens of
the most pastoral description, intervene;
each divided by its blue narrow stream,
pouring in, to augment the abundance of
the Lake. This last, in calm weather,
bolds a most beautiful and clear mirror to
its lofty and varied borders. In wintry
storms its agitations "Resemble Ocean into
tempest wrought." The eddying winds,
which meet with inconceivable fury down
the narrow opening in the hills, make navigation
dangerous, from their violence and
uncertainty. The east wind, which sometimes
prevails in winter, for more than a
month, raises tremendous waves, yet it is
not so dangerous as the impetuous blasts,
which descend from the apertures between
the mountains. This naturally leads me to
speak of that great national work, the
Caledonian Canal, now drawing to a completion,
and is to form a connection between
the Atlantic and the German Ocean,
by Loch Linnhe on the west, and the
Moray Firth on the east coast, for large
ships drawing twenty feet water, and for
avoiding the northern passage, by the Orkneys,
or through the Pentland Firth. It
has a south-west direction of about sixty
miles, in Inverness and Argyle-shire. I
could not but contemplate the success of
this Grand Canal with some interest, on
beholding it at Fort Augustus, from the
objection the country-people make to its
utility, owing to the tempests on Loch
Ness, which may render navigation not
merely difficult, but dangerous in winter;
especially as, from one end to the other,
there is not, nor can be found, a safe anchoring-place.
Even should this circumstance
diminish its beneficial effects, much
will still remain; and there is something
very grand in the idea of a national work,
by which opposite seas may be linked together
by a watry chain, which at the same
time forms a comparatively safe path for
navigation, which cannot be contemplated
without a complacent expression of mind.
The depth of Loch Ness is said to be, in
some places, 500 fathom. Professor Tulloch
of Aberdeen, told me, he could speak
with certainty to the depth of 130 fathom,
being present when it was measured.
It is curious to observe the seals in the
river Ness, and their boldness in often appearing
close to the town, in pursuit of the
salmon. Often during the summer evening,
in our drives along the borders of the river,
we have seen numbers of them swimming
along, with their frightful heads above the
Glenmoriston, August
PROCEEDING through the woods of
Port Clare, near which the bay of Inchnacardoch
retires back from the lake, are
seen the remains of the Cherry Isle, now
nearly swallowed by the surrounding waters,
from which it appears like a small
woody tuft; so diminitive is it become,
that it could not arrest attention in any
place, but it is remarkable, as this is the
only Caledonian lake I know, that is without
its islands. These same islands were
so necessary during the petty wars between
the neighbouring clans, that when
one was not found, it was made. Lovat,
to whom the district of Abertarfe belonged,
was often engaged in wars with
the neighbouring Macdonalds, headed by
Glengary. This isle was formed with no
small labour, of piles of wood, driven into
the ground, and great stones, afterwards
covered with earth, and a castle of no
common strength built upon it, where the
ladies, and whatever. was most valuable
belonging to families, were lodged, during
the absence of the chieftain, when engaged
in his wars. These islands have gained in
picturesque interest what they have lost in
importance, since they have ceased to be
the sites of castles, or the sanctuary of the
fair, in the temporary absence of the
brave. There is no lake but this without
its island, and no island without its castle,
its place of worship, convent, or burial--
place. Those islands, indeed, are the
only places where people of old used to
plant trees, which they probably did to
shelter the buildings erected on them, from
the cold blasts of the lake. The ruins
and trees, connected in fancy with the
legends that belong to them, give an air of
solemnity, and in some instances, of sanctity,
to those retreats.
There is a curious manuscript, either in the
Norse tongue, or a literal translation from
it, in the University of Glasgow, written, it
is supposed, by the chieftain of Haco, King
of Norway. This invader, after an incursion,
during which he ravaged and plundered the
west Highlands, was defeated at the battle of
Larges, in Ayrshire, and died of a broken
heart at Kirkwall, in the Orkneys. His
chaplain's chronicle states; that he destroyed
three hundred churches, convents, and villages
in the island of Loch Lomond. After
making allowance for the exaggerations of
a boasting and irritated foe, there is reason
to believe, that these islands were thickly
inhabited, and not only larger, but were
more numerous than they are at present,
being yearly raised in height, by the quantity
of earth and stones carried down by
the mountain torrents. In clear weather,
some of the buildings and remains of pavements
are seen in the bottom of the lake;
indications of the mighty change which
time and torrents have produced.
In Argyleshire, opposite to Appin, is a
fertile and beautiful island, called, Lismere,
or the Great Garden. It is not a
mile broad, nor above three in length, yet
in it, are nine considerable ruins of castles
and convents.
Along a new road, that leads through
hitherto unexplored woods and glens, on
the north side of the lake, I passed through
a most romantic group of broken rocks,
by Inchnacardoch, where on the side, on
an eminence, and sheltered by a grove of
birch, is a small house, finely situated,
and occasionally inhabited by Lovat, the
chief of the Frasers, when he visits his
estate of Abertarfe. Under this appellation,
is comprehended the stretch or country
round Fort Augustus, till it joins the
Glengary estate, a few miles to the west.
Passing under Inchnacardoch, the view
becomes very singular and interesting.
The bay previously mentioned, forms a basin,
in which the little Cherry Isle seems
to float. On the land side, as you approach,
the house of Inchnacardoch is seen
above, with gently rising hills, plains, and
cultivated to the top, but having broken
and rocky sides: from these three sister-brooks,
or burns, to use the country language,
descend. They are nearly parallel
with each other, and, like other mountain
streams, are very picturesque, with little
cascades and shrubby borders.
In the middle one is concealed a recess,
with which scarce any of the people in the
neighbourhood are acquainted. The stream
in its descent seems to be lost between two
rocky projections, near the steep height
above; and after being for a space invisible,
it appears a considerable way below.
If any curious traveller has the hardiness
to clamber up to the place where the
stream quits its concealment, and then to
dive down through the clefts, from which
it issues, he will be rewarded by the sight
of a grotto, which, if he be at all classical,
or even fanciful, will remind him strongly
of the cave in Ithaca, which Homer describes
as the secret haunt of the nymphs,
and where Ulysses hid his treasure. In
passing even very near it, the wanderer is
not aware of this concealed beauty, until
descending into the recess, you meet with
a prodigious square stone, in the shape of
a table, which seems to have been detached
from above, and almost blocks up the entrance.
Passing the stone, around basin
of exquisite beauty, bordered with apparent
seats, over which spring the most
luxuriant flowers and herbage, receive the
falling waters, after they have, in the secrecy
of the impending rocks, formed themselves
into three small cascades above. In
this recess the wind never blows, nor does
any thing noxious enter. There is space
enough, admitted from above, to give
abundance of light, and to cheer the wild
hyacinths and primroses, which grow in
rich profusion around, where sheltering
warmth, and the perpetual freshness of the
water-falls, cherish unfailing verdure and
undecaying beauty in this romantic recess,
which nature seems to have hid from vulgar
eyes, and kept sacred for her contemplative
votaries, who worship her in secret
haunts. Long streamers of ivy and honeysuckle,
fragrant with the moisture of the
spray, hang pendant from the lofty openings,
over this grotto, which cannot be properly
called a cave, having a partial aperture
above, and abounding in vegetation.
Two young ladies, who were, or thought
themselves discoverers of this beautiful retreat,
about thirty years since, took great
pleasure in frequenting it, giving it the
name of the Penseroso Grotto. Since
then, I believe few intruders have disturbed
the water-nymph in her sheltered retreat.
Proceeding through the wood of Portclare,
I reached the narrow glen of Ducatay,
which, unimportant as it may seem,
possesses, like more places here, its history.
It belongs to the Laird of Glenmoriston,
and gives him, what he does not derive
from his own exclusive estate, a vote in
the county. It is natural to enquire whence
he derives this privilege, and why does he
prefer this narrow glen, in the midst of
Lovat's lands? The answer is, that long
since, in the early feudal times, the young
chief of Lovat and Glenmoriston were
hunting together, and trode this narrow
glen in pursuit of deer. Every reader of
the ancient poetry of this country is aware
of the very great importance which is
attached to the Conial, in which the hunter
led the large deer-greyhound, till he saw
fit to let him loose on his prey. In latter
times, there was an ornament useful in fastening
the belted plaid over the shoulder,
which attained still greater consequence in
a Highland gentleman's equipment. This
was a silver pin, or fibula, which was unusually
large, and adorned with carvings;
and if the names of the fabulous kings, (who
were supposed to have done homage to the
infant Saviour,) viz. Melchior, Gaspar, and
Balthazar, were carved on the fibula, it
was invaluable. Those revered names
were charms, defending the wearer from
every danger, and even from sickness.
Glenmoriston happened to have on one
of these revered ornaments, while accompanying
his friend in the chase. Lovat's
dog bursting forward, broke the leash, in
which he was held by his master. Upon
the interruptions in the eagerness of pursuit,
he implored Glenmoriston to lend
him the silver pin to fasten his dog's leash.
The young laird peevishly answered, 'That
he would do no such thing, nor risk a
valuable inherited relique on such a trifling
occasion, for that it would certainly be
lost." Lovat thought otherwise, and was
so sure, that he would fasten the pin in
such a manner, that it could not be lost.
He offered him, in case it was lost, to give
him the Glen Decatay, in which they
were then hunting, without homage or acknowledgment.
The pin was lost, and
Glenmoriston claimed and obtained the
Glen. which gave him a vote in the shire.
Glenmoriston, August.
AFTER travelling the pleasant road,
which afforded the interesting scenes above
described, on crossing the river Moriston
over a newly-erected stone bridge, of two
arches, I reached the mansion-house of
Glenmoriston,* most beautifully situated
above the place where the full clear stream
of the Moriston mingles with the lake.
Invermoriston, means the confluence or
* "Glenmoriston itself, signifying the great valley
of the deep cascade, opens upon the lake between
fronts of two lofty clefts, running up in gloomy
grandeur. The one is called, Craig Kinnan, the
Giant's Rock. The other, a sable peak, projecting
over the lake, is denominated, Struan Muich, the
Promontory of the Bear."
discharge of the river. Inver, on all occasions,
conveys this meaning, when added
to the name of a river. This opening between
the two sheltering mountains, is
warm, sunny, and flowery, and, in many
places, shady; defended from both east
and west, the only winds met with here, excepting
mountain gusts, which rarely occur.
The Loch lies in fair prospect before. Hills
partially wooded, rise on each side. The
glen opens behind, so as to permit the eye
to follow far into its deep recesses. The
whole air of the place, calm and sequestered,
is yet open and cheerful. Every
surrounding object seems adapted to
heighten the placid beauty of the pure
scenes. On entering the abode of the
proprietor, every thing is consistent with
the expectation created from the sweet
scenery without.
And now, my dear friend, if it were not
inconsistent with the delicacy that modest
worth demands, from lively gratitude, I
would fain indulge myself, by expressing
to you, all the feelings excited by the
hospitality of an amiable young couple,
so suited to this lovely spot, and to each
other, that no good mind can contemplate
such simple elegance, and enjoyment of
life and happiness diffused around, without
a pure delight.
A little above the house is an enclosure,
surrounded with lofty ancient trees, which
Five appropriate solemnity to the spot,
where the remains of a long race of the
Grants of Glenmoriston repose, in social
and unbroken rest, till the last call shall
awaken them.
In the bosom of this fine glen, are the
Falls of the Moriston, lying open to the
view, with abundant sylvan accompaniments.
They have not height to give
them magnificence, but they are so broken,
varied, and picturesque, that they are
contemplated longer, and with more pleasure,
than even grander objects. I have seen
many places which might be as much
admired amongst these romantic wilds,
than Invermoriston, and some that might
excite greater wonder; but none, in my
opinion, a person would more readily chuse*
for a permanent habitation. Invermoriston
has sublimity in all objects within
view, without the gloom often attendant
on those magnificent scenes, and is really a
smiling landscape, and peculiarly congenial
to that home enjoyment, which its inhabitants
seem pre-eminently to possess.
The dwellers in these glens, when possessed
of the means of abundance, have, I
doubt not, a higher relish for the pleasures
within their reach, than those in luxurious
cities, where habit has converted so many
superfluities into necessaries, that the mind
becomes contracted and enslaved, by having
the attention continually called off, to
petty conveniences, and imaginary wants:
then not one, but a thousand cruel somethings,
corrode and destroy all the rest.
Here, the greatness of the objects by which
they are surrounded, make all the prior
littleness of false refinement, and fastidious
art, seem still less. Nature is either so
wild and solemn in the solitude of the dark
mountain, or so soft and varied in the
green sheltered glen, with its blue streams
and dashing water-falls, that art shrinks
and diminishes before her; and those laboured
decorations which give variety to
flat grounds, and are accounted embellishments,
by those who always lived in artificial
life, would here be forced, and out of
place. Nothing, for instance, would so
completely destroy the wild graces of Invermoriston,
than to lay it out in the manner
that grounds are adorned in the vicinity
of great towns, where such are not
only suitable, but necessary, to relieve the
monotony of enclosures and corn-fields,
which I am afraid will appear very tame
and uninteresting, after the wild exuberance
of these glens.
The family property of this glen, I am
told, runs back to the north for four-andtwenty
miles, and is all inhabited; many
parts of it are beautiful. I regret my stay
will not permit me to look at the new
road forming, which is to conduct the traveller
hence, by a direct line, into the Western
Isles; a most important and beneficial
Near the head of this glen is a native
pine-forest, one of the few that still remains,
where very lately the cock-of-the-wood,
a bird now almost extinct in this country,
was seen. Nothing can be more dismal
and wretched than the woods of planted
firs, continually seen through Scotland.
But, on the contrary, in the native woods
of this description, the trees spread an
ample shade, and rise to a considerable
height. The ground below is covered
with the beautiful foliage of the dwarf
arbutus, which constantly springs in the
shelter of the native pine; and the woodpecker,
and squirrel, seldom found in any
woods, here animate the scene by their
chattering and lively motions.
There is a place about eight miles above
Invermoriston, which I am sorry I had
not time to visit. It is a large cave, with
a shaded entrance, and a living stream
trickling through it, very fine in itself, but
rendered more interesting by being the retreat
of those three thieves, who, without
even the motive of personal knowledge or attachment,
generously afforded an asylum to
the Pretender (here called Prince Charles) in
the year 1746. It is not probable they would
have shewn such exalted disregard for that
wealth, which was to be the price of blood,
had they been degraded in mind by the
habits of petty depredations, which in guilty
cities make the term thief expressive of
every thing that is odious and contemptible.
They plundered with some degree
of sentiment and discrimination, never taking
a cow from a widow, or poor person,
or from any popular character, beloved
for charity or hospitality. They plundered
such as they considered intruders
in the country, or belonging to clans to
which their own had long been adverse.
If caught, they were imprisoned for a time,
or banished. Till after the year 1745, highlanders
would have revolted at the idea
that a man's life was to be the forfeit for
the value of an animal. Retributions, or
exile, were the only punishments awarded
for such offences.
Of this description were those hospitable
and magnanimous persons, who, for above
twenty days, cherished and concealed the
princely fugitive, though daily hearing at
Fort Augustus the reward almost beyond
their calculation, offered for the person, or
even the severed head of their unhappy
Not satisfied with procuring him every
thing the woods and hether afforded, they
went by turns every morning to the Fort,
and had the ingenuity, unsuspected, to procure
for him, at their own imminent risk,
wheaten bread, and the newspapers; and
while in the act of performing these generous
deeds of kindness, the proclamation above--
mentioned, daily sounded in their ears.
This delicacy of hospitality and attention
cannot be sufficiently admired, considering
that it was entirely by their native sagacity
that these demi-savages discovered that
such things were desirable to their guests.
He could give them no orders, and they
could ask him no questions, as they were
totally ignorant of each other's language.
It is gratifying to reflect, that even the
addition to such faults as the customs of
their society does not stamp with the
deepest turpitude, has not the power of
entirely eclipsing good feelings. While
these survive, even amidst the aberrations
of the unregulated wind, something great
and amiable appears to compensate for the
degradation of our nature.
Near the garden-door at Invermoriston,
are the slight remains of an ancient tower,
the demolition of which was, in consequence
of the mistaken loyalty of those disastrous
times, but I imagine it an earlier period
than the year 1745, possibly in the year
1716, but it would appear no forfeiture
Drumnadrochat, August.
RELUCTANTLY quitting Glenmoriston,
I proceeded on to the vale of Urquhart.
the Tempé of the Highlands, travelling by
sequestered woods cut through the precipitous
steeps, which impend over the
lake. Often the road is elevated to a tremendous
height, and then suddenly precipitated
to the brink of the Ness, with
rocks towering to the clouds, so broken and
mis-shapen, that they appear ready to fall
and crush one. A vast variety of flowers
are profusely scattered on the banks, which
glow with a pink and purple carpet of
hether; and the elegant digitalis, the honeysuckle,
and eglantine, mingle their rich
fragrance amidst the pensile birch and
hazle-groves, which branch out in wild
and beautiful exuberance. Urquhart is
comparatively a wide and smiling valley,
rich in cultivation, and lovely in scenery.
Merely passing through it, I had not the
attraction of "living worth" to detain my
attention; but as far as the eye could be
agreeably employed on verdant scenes,
and every appearance of a lively population,
Urquhart gave all the pleasure that mere
scenic beauty could afford. The eye
might still further have been gratified,
could I have followed upwards the course
of the fine river, which divides this green
and fertile valley. I am told it assumes,
higher up, a more Alpine aspect, and
becomes wild and romantic, without losing
its character of tranquillity, and rich verdure.

Anxious to press forward, having still
a variety of interesting scenes to visit, I
lost the gratification of seeing Mr. Grant,
of Corrimony,* to whom I had an in*
"Corrimony is derived from Morie, the King
of Denmark's son, who was buried there. The
troduction. This gentleman, I am told,
inherits genius, and has added to it very
considerable learning, both classical, and
in what relates to the antiquities of his
native mountains. He has lately published,
what is allowed to be a very
curious and learned treatise on the Origin
of the Gaelic Language, and its Etymologies,
&c., in which appears much research,
and a thorough knowledge of the ancient
languages of Europe.
Urquhart, like Glenmoriston, is entirely
inhabited by Grants, adherents of the
powerful and beneficent chief of that numerous
clan. Urquhart still belongs to
that family, who have here a residence
to which they occasionally resort. They
dwelt here for ages; but the chief acquiring
a considerable property in Morayshire,
by his marriage with an heiress
of one of the Cummins, who then almost
grave is still shewn; and some other places in this
country are named after Morie."
engrossed the lands in that country, built
Castle Grant, now their principal residence.

The Castle of Urquhart is a large ruin,
situated on a rocky point, projecting into
the lake. Even in its present desolate
state, it forms a fine object in the scenery
of Loch Ness. Low-land comforts, and cultivation
are here happily associated with
the mild freedom and imposing grandeur
of the loftiest highland scenery.
I cannot leave the Castle of Urquhart
without recording the honourable distinction
which render even its ruins venerable
in the eyes of a true Scot. It was the
last fortress in Scotland which held out
against the attempted usurpation of the
first Edwards. The garrison, after being
much reduced by famine, are said to have
been massacred at the storming of the
castle, and that none escaped to tell the
tale of devastation, except a boy of the
name of Forbes. This castle was a royal
fort, and King James the Fourth granted
it to the laird of Grant, with the estate
and lordship of Urquhart.
Proceeding towards Drumnadrochat,*
through now pastoral lands and sylvan
scenes, my attention was arrested on my
arrival by a very impressive event, the
funeral of a highland chieftain, Mr. Grant,
of Red Castle, which afforded me both a
novel and interesting view of these manners,
and these affections which are fast
receding before the luxury and selfishness
of modern times. The remains of
primitive customs and primitive attachment,
are only to be found in these remote
corners. Indeed, in this case, the
regret for the deceased was deep and
universal in the surrounding country,
well as amongst his own clan. These,
with his tenants, were numerous (probably
very sincere ones) at the funeral. He
died in the vigour of life, much beloved
for many amiable qualities, and lamented
* Drumnadrochat, or the height of the bridge.
on the score of those useful virtues that
are so influencial in a country where example
is still more powerful than laws.
On drawing near the inn, to which the
procession was approaching, a singular
and picturesque group presented itself.
Great numbers of the common people,
clad in bright and shewy tartan, their
usual dress of ceremony, who were sitting
on the ground, others walking about, and
in some instances extended on the grass,
asleep, fatigued no doubt with coming
from a very great distance to testify their
respect for the departed. The women,
who were nearly as numerous as the men,
seemed to keep apart by themselves, and
were seated at a distance under the trees,
not ungracefully habited in the old Scottish
costume, the most distinguished
part of which was the plaid, so adjusted,
as to have exactly the appearance,
when drawn over the head, of the drapery
of the vistal virgins, such as we see on
medals and ancient statues. Ladies wore
them in silk of a tartan pattern, lined
with pink in front, and sometimes brought
forward, to veil the face from the weather;
sometimes partially folded back; and
among the lower class, who alone retain
the fashion, it is now worn over the shoulders
on common occasions; but brought
forward over the face in church, to denote
a deep and pious attention to the duties of
the place, or, as in the present instance, in
testimony of mourning.
After contemplating this specimen of
rustic manners, the more solemn and signalized
part of the funeral array drew near,
in which Mr. Grant's six sons (a most affecting
and melancholy sight), appeared
the eldest as chief mourner. The hearse
was drawn by four horses, and followed by
a long string of carriages, containing gentlemen,
who had come above fifty miles to
do honour to the memory of their deceased
friend. The procession drew up to the
inn, when the coffin was taken out of the
hearse, and placed in a bier, which was
surrounded by all the relations and friends;
the eldest Mr. Grant supporting the head
of the bier, which is carried by hand. The
multitude which followed, exceeded fourteen
hundred persons.
Round the family tomb* were seated a
number of old women, prepared to say
the coronach,† a lamentation used at highland
All this train were to be entertained
with whiskey, and bread and cheese. The
usual portion, as a dram at setting off, and
three after the interment. As half a hogshead
was allowed, on the present occasion,
it was conjectured that the followers would
be very numerous. The guests of the higher
class returned, as is usual in such cases, to
a sumptuous dinner, prepared at the inn.
All this appears most extraordinary; and
may be thought, to those who are strangers
* The name that the chapel of interment is called
in Gaelic is Dialete, or Charabit.
† "The Coranach, or singing at funerals, is still
in use in some places. The songs are generally in
praise of the deceased, or a recital of the valiant
deeds of him or his ancestors."
to the affectionate and simple manners of
the inhabitants, something ostentatious and
extravagant: yet the expression of respect
to the memory of the departed, which
is the ruling principle in these numerously
attended funerals, is always a good symptom
of the state of moral feeling. The desire
of cherishing and honouring the memory,
conversing about them, and visiting their
sepulchres, is always a proof that the natural
good feeling of the unsophisticated
mind is still native. You probably have
seen the pretty lines of Langhorn on the
Wall-flower. The intention is, to shew
that it is consonant to nature, that we
should haunt those places where the wall--
flower grows; the deserted ruin, that recalls
those who have once inhabited them; and
the dwellings of the dead, where memory
and reflection find so much food for meditation.

"'Tis Nature bids, by pain or fear
Unmov'd to rove through death's domain,
The tender mother loves to hear
Her children's story told again."
I think there is exquisite pathos in the
last two lines.
The coronach, which, like Milton's Phlegethon,
is named of loud lament, is a voluntary
tribute of clamant sorrow poured
forth over the grave of a chief, or a person
preserving sufficient power and benevolence,
to protect and shew kindness to
those, who, to use our phrase, live under
them. A true highlander of the old race,
attaches the same consequence to the coronach,
that the Fingalians do to the song
of the bards, without which their spirits
could not mount the viewless winds, nor
reach the cloudy hills of their fathers.
Those who send forth the dismal sounds,
do it under the impression of real sorrow,
being generally persons who thought none
so good or so great as the object of their
There cannot perhaps be a stronger proof
of the deep impression the natives of this
country have of these funeral honours, than
the importance attached to them by the
godless and heartless Lord Lovat, who
though he merely lived to gratify his avarice
and ambition, and seemed to love no
one on earth, and fear nought beyond it,
had still the most anxious desire to be
brought down to be buried in his own
country, and earnestly solicited that favour
of the king and his ministers. He gave
for a reason, that he was desirous to have
the coronach of the old women, in his own
country, over his grave.
The solemn pomp of funeral obsequies
was once carried to the length of extravagance
in Scotland.
Inverness, 14th August, 1816.
OH! my dear friend, what an awful
night was the last in Inverness! The earth
trembled, the hills shook, and all nature
was convulsed.
At midnight this place was visited by
an awful shock of an earthquake. People
were thrown from their beds, furniture was
overturned, dwellings almost unroofed,
chimnies gave way, and the streets exhibited
a scene of the most mournful devastation,
being strewn with huge masses of
stone, hurled from the buildings. The inhabitants,
awe-struck, fled from their
houses in terror and alarm. The whole
people of the town, in a short time, were
assembled in the streets, which they paced,
men, women, and children, during the most
part of the night, afraid to return to their
dwellings, and looking with a sort of
breathless apprehension for a repetition of
the awful visitation of the Almighty.
There was a fearful stillness in the air,
such as was described to hover over Lisbon
when it was affected in the year 1755.
The spectacle exhibited here of apprehension
in the countenances of the people,
augmented my own terror, when the earth
seemed almost ready to open again (from
the alarming state of the atmosphere), to
swallow us up, so terrible was the deathlike
gloom and stillness which prevailed.
The questions and inquiries asked of one another,
vain as seemed all hope of satisfaction
in the reply, was a melancholy sort of relief,
in hearing a human voice, though breathing
only the accents of dismay. Persons
who had never before spoken to each other,
though inhabiting the same place, became
in a moment acquainted. One general interest,
one general anxiety prevailed; while
groups of people formed themselves into
parties, and fled to the fields during the
night, as the safest place of refuge.
Earthquakes in this country are not frequent
in occurrence, nor in general destructive
in their consequences. Of the
most considerable one which has occurred
in this kingdom for fifty years past, Horace
Walpole said "it was so tame, that
you might have stroked it." This one,
the alarmed horrors of which it was my
fate to share, was by no means of so gentle
a description.
There is a place in Perthshire, called
Comrie, which for many years has been
subject, in a comparative degree, to these
tremours of the earth, which are supposed
to indicate an incipient volcano in the
neighbouring mountains, from which smoke
and flashes of electric fire have been seen
to arise. These petty earthquakes occur
very frequently in that spot, but seldom
extend beyond it. I am told, however,
that about eighteen years ago, a very considerable
and alarming concussion was felt
at Glasgow, in a western direction, and
amongst the Grampians, as far as the parish
of Laggan, in Badenoch, Inverness-shire.
In all, the concussion was not only very
sensibly felt, but distinctly heard, like subterranean
thunder, for nearly two hundred
miles. The shock to which I was a witness
was more powerful in its effects, but
far more limited in extent. I have not
heard of its being experienced at a greater
distance than at Foyers, fifteen miles from
hence, on the banks of the lake.
Any thing of the nature of an earthquake
creates greater alarm at Inverness than in
most other places. The inhabitants of this
country consider Loch Ness as a fathomless
abyss, connected with the inmost caverns
of the earth, from the commotions
which pent up winds or hidden fires produce
in these unknown recesses, they imagine
that these terrible convulsions of nature
originate. That the fountains of the great
deep have some secret communication with
this great body of water, there is some
ground of belief, from the manner in which
it was affected during the shock of the
great earthquake at Lisbon in 1755, at the
very instant of time that the sea had retired
into the Bay of Lisbon, and seemed
for a moment to leave the bottom open to
the general eye, the lake was observed to
rise three feet more than its utmost height
in spring floods; it almost covered the glacis
at Fort Augustus, threw a boat laden with
wood far on the shore, at the very moment
when the sea rose in a vast wave, and rushed
in upon that devoted city. The waters of
the lake of Loch Ness as suddenly retired
into their wonted bed.
Before I finally leave this magnificent
lake, which has been so much the subject
of wild conjecture to the ignorant and
superstitious, and likewise of puzzling speculation
to the learned and judicious observer,
I shall advert to the peculiarity
which distinguishes Loch Ness from all
other lakes, I mean its not freezing.
This is not, as Dr. Johnson supposes, an
assertion founded on its generally remaining
open through the winter, when other
waters freeze, but an incontestible truth.
So far from freezing, the slightest crust of
ice is never seen to form, even on the shallowest
brink of the water; yet, if the agitation
excited by a wintry storm should
throw some of the water beyond its boundary,
so as to separate it from the entire
body of the lake; that portion will freeze
immediately. The experiment has been
tried of exposing to the cold at the same
time two vessels, one filled with water from
the river, the other with the same quantity
from the lake, in which case the lake water
was found to be the first frozen. How it
should so totally resist the power of frost
while in its native bed, and yet so suddenly
yield to it in a state of separation, is difficult
to account for. Its singularities are,
that during the extremest cold of winter,
a thin blue vapour hovers over the lake,
which certainly seems, and is from its effects,
warm; for while the snow lies thick
on the adjacent country, this vapour dissolves
it on the immediate banks of the
lake, which seems as if the genial west had
breathed upon them, when all the rest of
the country is clad in a snowy covering.
The common people think the center of
the lake is unfathomable, and that the remainder
lies in a bed of sulphur, to which
they attribute this unfreezing quality, and
the warm vapour that hovers over it in the
winter. During summer it is cooler than
any other water, and so peculiarly light
and pure, that people send from a distance
to drink of it, and imagine bathing in it to
be salutary to many diseases It may almost
be called the Ganges of the highlanders,
from the many imaginary qualities
which they attribute to it.
Dalwhinnie, August.
NEVER did I quit any place in a
more cheerless state of mind than Inverness.
Recently parted with my English
friends, with whom the time had been
delightfully spent, and who were equally
alive with myself to all the romantic
beauty of the enchanting scenes which
we had visited together, the prospect of
new objects, which has a peculiar charm
to the traveller of research, excited no
feeling of interest. The impression of the
awful visitation of the former evening so
far from having passed away, has left a
sensation of apprehension on my spirits,
there is no describing. The electric shock
sustained at that terrible moment, when
the opening of the earth threatened either
to swallow one up, or to bury the inhabitants
of Inverness in the ruins of the
city, by immediate destruction, devastation
having spread its calamitous hand
in all the neighbourhood, has quite unnerved
me. The day, too, has been in
perfest unison with my feelings; — lowering,
gloomy, and rainy. All the green wooded
hills of Inverness were veiled in a heavy
mist, which no ray of sunshine attempted
to penetrate, gave to the face of a country,
wild, mountainous, and uncultured,
a depressing aspect, which the stern
scenery around this solitary, comfortless
inn, does not tend to dispel.
It is a very wild district of country
between Inverness and Freeburn. I here
crossed the river Findan, which assumes
a turbulence and rapidity in its progress
even greater than the Spey; and to persons
accustomed to gaze only on the dull
quiet of our English streams, the fancy
can form no just idea of the vast magnificence
of the Scotch rivers, at present
much swoln by the heavy rains which
have created those mountain torrents so
beautifully and faithfully described by
Mrs. Grant, as they issue down the dark
sides of the hills, appearing in the sunbeams
like liquid silver. The cottages
throughout the whole of this district are
built of turf, the roof covered with weeds
and grass, which appear at a distance like
so many black mole-hills,* and certainly
gives a most comfortless idea of the lives
of these simple people, who, as I have
before remarked, glide through the world,
if strangers to its luxuries, happily and
virtuously, while their more easy neighbours
are oppressed with many cares, of
which they are totally ignorant.
Here, much of the primitive highlander
remains. — The influence of lucky and unlucky
days is regarded with the most
religious superstition. — If it chances to
rain on a Friday morning, they never
expect fine weather until the Friday following.

* I find that Pennant made a similar remark.
Close by Aviemoor is a druidical circle
of considerable extent, and the most
entire which I have seen. The solitary inn
kept by an English-woman, is commodious
and clean. It stands by the foot of the
rocky mountain of Craig Elachie, the road
winding on the borders of the Spey, flowing
here with much softness, and fancifully
lovely, with little tufted islands
spreading on its pellucid bosom, by which
the fairy landscape is reflected.
Birch-trees sweep the plain, affording
an appearance of cultivation, that interrupts
the cheerless aspect of those lofty
hills, too deeply veiled in mist to display
their grandeur with effect; and the towering
Cairngorum, whose glittering gems
adorn many a fair bosom, to my infinite
vexation, was but obscurely seen in the
Passing to the left of the hill of Kinrara,
I observed on the pinnacle a monument,
which has lately been erected to commemorate
the gallantry of the invincible 42nd
regiment, at the battle of Waterloo. The
Marquis of Huntley is Colonel of this distinguished
regiment. Not far from thence
is Kinrara Cottage, built by her Grace the
late Duchess of Gordon. In this village her
ashes repose. The following poetic tribute
is paid to her memory, by a lady
of Scotland: —
Fair in Kinrara blooms the rose,
And softly waves the drooping willow;
Where beauty's faded charms repose,
And splendour rests on earth's cold pillow.
Her smile, who sleeps in yonder bed,
Could once awake the soul to pleasure,
When Fashion's airy train she led,
And formed the dance's frolic measure.
When war call'd forth our youth to arms,
Her eye inspir'd each martial spirit;
Her mind had felt the Muse's charms,
And gave the weed to modest merit.
But now, farewell, fair northern star,
Thy beams no more shall courts enlighten,
No more call forth our youths to arms,
No more the rural pastimes brighten.
Long, long thy loss shall Scotia mourn,
These vales which thou wort wont to gladden,
Shall long look cheerless and forlorn,
And grief the minstrel's music sadden;
And oft, amid the festive scene,
Where pleasure cheats the midnight pillow,
A sigh shall heave for noble Jane,
Laid low beneath Kinrara's willow.
There is a happy contrast in the aspect
of the surrounding hills, bare to the foot
of the small lake of Loch Alvie, blending
with the richly wooded Kinrara, and
livened by the church and manse of Alvie,
which stands prettily on a green mound,
bordering the river.
Passing over the bridge of Spey, the
road proceeds along the course of the
river, winding like a watery labyrinth,
sprinkled with shrubs, at the base of Craigdoe,
or the Black Hill, on the top of
which, beacons were formerly lighted by
the chief of the McPhersons. At the
gathering of the clans, previous to battle,
the ceremony used, was, to slay a goat,
which was cut by the spine, when two
sticks being tied together in the form of
a cross, the sword was dipt in the blood
of the animal, and the beacon lighted,
when the shirach, or bard, was dispatched,
bearing in one hand the fiery cross,* and
the sword in the other, to summons the
clans-men to the presence of their chief,
all of whom, with enthusiastic devotion,
in multitudes attend the call of their leader,
I was informed, that the late Lovat
performed this ceremony at the period
of the apprehended invasion, when, in
this enlightened age, such practices were
almost wholly worn away, and that his
clan of the Frasers instantly obeyed his
call. I was an eye-witness of the extraordinary
devotion which the highlanders
pay to their chief. On the arrival of
* "A person is sent out full speed, with a pole
burnt at one end, and bloody at the other, with
a cross at the top, which is called, the Cross of
Shame, or the Fiery Cross. — Croshtarie. The first
for the disgrace they would undergo, if they declined
appearing; the second, for the penalty of
having fire and sword carried throughout their country,
in case of refusal. The first bearer delivers it to
the next person he meets. — He runs full speed
to the third, and so on. In every clan the bearer
has a peculiar war cry."
Fraser Lovat at his estate, Beaufort Castle,
every hill surrounding Invernes was
blazing with bon-fires in testimony of joyful
respect. Nor is it to be wondered at,
considering the veneration in which they are
held; for every chief regards his clan as his
relation;* hence there is more courtesy
* "The ordinary highlanders consider it the most
sublime degree of virtue to love their chief, and pay
him unbounded obedience, although it be in opposition
to the government, the laws of the kingdom,
or even the laws of God. He is their idol, and as
they know no king but him, they do what he commands,
without enquiry. Next to their love of their
chief, is that of the particular branch from which
they sprung; and in a third degree, to those of the
whole clan, or name, whom they will assist, right
or wrong, against those of another tribe, with which
they are at variance, to whom their enmity, like
exasperated brothers, is most outrageous.
"The unlimited love and obedience of the highlanders
to their chief, are not confined to the lower
order of their followers, but are the same with those
who are near them in rank."
Letters from the North of Scotland.
from the high to the lower classes, and
more of respect, untainted with servility,
in the lower orders, to their superiors,
than is met with in other countries.
The resemblance to persons of the
same clan to each other is distinctly visible.

The wild untutored highlanders seemed,
in remote ages, to partake of a savage
ferocity of character, strongly tinctured
with enthusiasm and superstition. Always
accustomed to vassalage, they were inspired
with a sort of religious devotion to
their chief, or petty king, whom they
followed with a mad zeal, whatever might
be the cause, without considering either
the motive or effect, rushing forward with
impetuous bravery in his defence. The
superstitious ceremony of slaying the goat,
sprinkling the blood, and carrying the
fiery cross, carries one back to ancient
sacrifices, and the dark ages of a people
unenlightened by the blessed dispensation
of the Gospel. These barbarous traits of
character, indeed, more resemble the savage
Indian, than that of a reflecting people
living in a civilized land.
Before finally taking leave of Craig
Doe, I looked with more than common
interest up the narrow opening through
which the traveller passes into the green
meadowy vale of Laggan, which expands
above half a mile in width, and for six
miles upwards, towards the lofty Corryarich,
continues in uninterrupted verdure
and fertility. It is watered by the Spey,
which wanders through it in devious turnings.
Though only twelve miles from its
mountain source, this stream receives many
accessions from numberless brooks, which
pouring down from all sides, makes it not
only assume the importance of a considerable
river, but overflows the valley when
its impetuous waters are swelled by "wet
October's torrent flood."
In this valley formerly dwelt a respectable
friend of mine, since known to the
world by those writings of which the public
have given that due testimony of deserved
and high approbation. I shall only
add, that such is her modest worth, I am
sure she values more highly the testimony
of her former neighbours, in the performance
of those duties (so faithfully fulfilled)
belonging to the station of women, than
that applause which has been conferred
on her as the author of "Letters from
the Mountains."
Blair Athol, August.
THE stage from Dalwhinnie to Dalnacardoch
is through a mountainous tract
of country, more desolate than any part I
have yet beheld, and so continued in the
succession of dreary and bleak hills, which
rise, as others recede, one actually is entombed
amongst them. These hills are at
present the resort of sportsmen. They
abound in grouse, which shelter in coveys
amid the hether. The ptarmigan is also
to be met with upon them.
Loch Garry runs at the foot of the
Grampians, which, in frowning grandeur,
spread far as the eye can discern. This
lake unites with the river Garry, winding
like the perturbed mountain torrents the
whole way.
I cannot avoid remarking the imposition
practiced on travellers on this highland road,
in the very enormous charges at the petty
inns, when neither cleanliness nor comfort
afford any satisfactory compensation for
bad fare and bad accommodation. The
hostess of an inn in Scotland considers
herself a lady. This circumstance, united
with a native indolence of character, renders
the household arrangement a scene of
disorder and confusion, for every sort of attendance
and attention to travellers devolves
upon the waiters and chambermaids. The
landlady never, as in England, makes her
appearance, nor seems to take any active
part in looking into the affairs of her
house. At these small remote inns, a
dirty girl, bare-headed and bare-legged,
generally waits upon those who are
unfortunately obliged to shelter beneath
their roof. It is, however, but
justice to add, that the hotels in Edinburgh,
are equal to those of London in
every elegance and comfort. Even Bennett's
at Inverness, and Davidson's at
Perth, are very little inferior.
Within a few miles of Blair of Athol,
the sterile aspect of the country changes
into luxuriant magnificence, and the traveller
is enchanted with all the fine diversity
of scenery which embosoms the
Duke of Athol's princely domain. About
a mile north of his Grace's seat, the Falls
of the Bruar form an attraction to every
eye capable of admiring nature in her
most rugged and fantastic forms. Burns
appears to have been more captivated with
this spot, than any other object that met
his view during his northern tour. The
steep and rugged aspect of the everlasting
barriers which frown over this stream,
whose rough music, like his own, will be
heard whilst time endures, seemed to be
congenial to his daring genius, and the
sublime melancholy which was the native
habit of his mind. Those flashes of humour,
which occasionally threw a vivid
brightness across the gloom, were mere
temporary sallies, of what, to a close observer,
served only to make the darkness
more visible. His imagination appears to
have luxuriated among those deep recesses,
resounding waters, and rocky barriers.
These feelings took the visible form of a
poem, addressed to the Duke, written
with his usual spirit, ease, and elegance;
and is less tinctured with his native dialect,
than any other of equal merit
amongst his productions. The Petition
of Bruar-water to the Duke of Athol is
so well known, I shall only insert a few
lines, to point out more strongly to the
traveller's observation, his Grace's compliance
with the poetical prayer of the
then shadeless Bruar.
Here foaming down the shelvy rocks
In twisting strength I rin;
Then high in boiling torrents smokes,
Wild boiling o'er the lin.*
Enjoying large such spring and well,
As Nature gave them me;
I am, altho' I say's mysel,
Worth go'en a mile to see.
* Cascade.
Would then my noble master please
To grant my highest, wishes,
He'll shade my banks wi' tow'ring trees,
And bonnie spreading bushes.
Delighted doubly then, my Lord,
You'll wander on my banks;
And listen, many a grateful bird
Return you tuneful thanks.
Let lofty firs, and ashes cool
My lovely banks o'erspread,
And view, deep bending in the pool,
Their shadow's wat'ry bed.
Let fragrant birks,* in woodbine drest,
My craggy cliffs adorn;
And for the little songster's rest,
The close embow'ring thorn.
By the assistance of art, veiling itself in
the modest garb of nature, beauty is now
happily blended with that savage greatness,
which was the former attribute of the
place. A succession of falls, interrupted
by windings of the waters, projections of
the rocks, and recesses, where they retire
back, leasing fair openings for the sun,
* Birches.
and spots of productive soil, give such
constant and fanciful variety to the scene,
as neither language nor painting is adequate
to convey to the imagination. The
fair creation of the poet's fancy has, in the
meantime, been realized by the noble proprietor.

The shades which he imagined have actually
sprung up, and the melody of his
ideal birds resound from their branches.
Flowers, which seem scattered by the lavish
hand of native spring, adorn every crevice
in the rock, and the vegetable soil on the
brink of this turbulent stream, afford room
for a variety of trees and shrubs most
judiciously adapted to the scenery, and
seem to partake of its wild and unequal
character. Nothing can be more sudden
and luxuriant than the growth of the plants
scattered along the abrupt banks of the
Bruar, fed by a constant though scarce
visible shower, from the ascending mist of
the successive cascades. Sheltered from
every wind by the rocky walls that surround
them, and enjoying by the reflection of
the sun from their flinty bed, a degree of
heat scarce inferior to that of a hot-house,
the tenderest plants are here safe and flourishing.

The little pastoral huts, in the form of
those highland shealings, which are here
and there erected, as resting-places in this
enchanting wilderness, are quite in character
with the chaste simplicity of the other
decorations. The whole scene so much
resembles, "The negligence of Nature,
wide and wild," that in a more genial climate
it might be supposed to be merely
the result of abundant moisture and sunshine.

It would be unjust to quit the boundary
of this wide domain, without adverting to
an improvement of the most lasting and extensive
nature, which is here in a state of
daily advancement. Those bleak and
naked mountains, which repelled the eye
of the traveller, and appeared to serve no
other visible purpose but that of a frowning
barrier to the last retreat of unconquered
valour, are now assuming a very different
aspect. Plantations of an almost incredible
extent are quickly overspreading their
dusky and rugged surface. The Duke
plants many millions of trees every year.
The continuity, the extent of these lofty
and thriving plantations, reminds me of the
beautiful fiction in the Spectator, of Hilpe
and Shallam, where the disappointed antideluvian
is represented as consoling his
love-lorn sorrows, by adorning his mountains
with groves of his own creating. To
be sure, the space of five hundred years
which Shallam devoted to this useful amusement,
gave room for improvements far beyond
what our limitted three-score and
ten admits of; yet in this instance, the
parallel does not entirely fail. A succession
of our short-lived Shallams following
in this path of improvement, with a noble
emulation, the steps of their predecessors,
may equal the sole exertions of this imaginary
planter. Disappointment of another
kind, also, might in this case have turned
the thoughts of our modern planters into
this salutary channel: The gates of ambition
were happily closed against them. At
a period of national misfortune, the noble
cultivator found a solace in adorning his
abode, and shading his mountains with
plantations, to supply the place of those
ancient groves, which once covered this
country. His ancestors were too good
and too happy to forsake the home, and the
pursuits which were so congenial to their
pure and tranquil spirit. The present owner
of these improved domains, less retired, is
not less zealous in this beneficial branch of
improvement. Future travellers will not
spy the nakedness of the land, as did that
"majestic teacher of moral wisdom," whose
prejudices proved only as a shade in a picture,
to contrast with his gigantic powers
and stern virtues. If his mighty spirit
revisits the scenes of his northern pilgrimage,
it may now wander amid new-sprung
woods, which the hand of industry is raising,
in every quarter, and which will soon,
by their number and extent, take away our
reproach among the nations. The larch,
in particular seems to be adapted to this
soil; and under the sheltering mountains
of Dunkeld, attains to a size unknown in
any other part of Britain. This seems the
more extraordinary, as the parent plant
from which this sylvan race has all sprung
up, was brought over by the first Duchess
of Athol, from the Alps, in its infant
state. Her Grace had it planted in a
pot, and brought to England on her lap,
least any harm should befal so rare a plant,
which she considered as too delicate for this
climate. To this Duchess's wish to introduce
a new plant, and to Pope's curiosity
in examining the fresh withies, in which a
foreign parcel was tied up, we owe all the
graceful larches and pendant weeping willows
which now adorn the Scotch hills.
The plantations of rhubarb on the mountains
above the Blair, deserve notice; that
being the only place in the kingdom where
this plant is cultivated to any extent.
Some person who had travelled over the
wilds in Tartary, where the rhubarb is indigenous,
and abundant, remarked, that
the places where it grows are very similar
to the high grounds above Blair.
My father being a physician, was also a
botanist (and a remarkably good one) was
the person who first suggested the idea of
these plantations, which have since proved
so very beneficial. Some years ago, I am
told, twelve hundred weight was annually
sent to London, besides supplying the
adjacent country, and this produce has
considerably increased.
Blair Athol, August.
ASCENDING the hill through an
avenue that would have delighted Cowper,
and forms a fine contrast to the surrounding
wildness, Blair bursts upon the view with
all its princely accompaniments. Though
the Duke's present dwelling scarcely justifies
the epithet, yet the attendant scenery,
lofty and grand, with the recollection of
past times, and the actions connected with
royal hunting, sieges, battles, and high
descended chiefs, supply that defect, both
to the memory and imagination. The
Marquis, who was basely betrayed after
the insurrection of 1745, recurs to my
thoughts, with all his long exile, sorrows,
and sufferings. The cruel consequence,
of the occupation of this castle
by the adverse party, was also renewed in
my mind. When the government thought
proper to demolish three stories in height
of this once stately edifice, and during
the long period consumed in this operation,
the family were accommodated in the
odd-looking wings, which they built for
their reception. Unable to witness this
violation of the halls of their fathers, Duke
James absented himself for more than
three years from Scotland. When his
diminished castle first appeared to him
at the turning of the road, he burst into
tears, not such as angels weep, it may
be well supposed, but such indignant drops
as wounded pride drew from the eyes of
honour's angry head.
It is interesting here to see, what is,
I think, the only portrait preserved of the
ancestors of this noble family, through
whom they inherited the sovereignty of
Man. This truly illustrious Countess of
Derby, was so distinguished by nobility
of mind, by learning, wisdom, and courage,
that it would be superfluous to mention
her high descent, were it not illustrated
by virtue like her own. She immediately
descended, on the maternal side,
from the great house of Trimanillé. The
Dukes bearing that title were, after the
Admiral Coligney, heads of the protestants
in France. Her mother was Countess
of ——, (I cannot recollect the name at this
moment) so famed for her works of charity,
and for the castles and baronial halls which
she founded or re-edified on her various
estates. There is still remaining a monument
of the Countess of Derby's filial
piety to this excellent mother, in a pillar
which she erected in Cumberland, to mark
the spot at which she last parted from her.
It is still called, by the common people,
the Countess's Pillar. I cannot remember
the name (though a very distinguished one)
of a bishop, who was intimate with her, who
said, that she understood every thing from
predestination to sley silk. The great
qualities of her mind were called into
action by events the most disastrous, which
she endured with unshaken fortitude. —
After recurring slightly to these, her eulogium
will be best made in her own emphatic
words. Her husband was faithful to
the cause of royalty, when most others
had given it up as desperate. After he
was put to death by the opposite party,
she held out Latham-house against the
army and the parliament, which was the
last place that England capitulated to
the usurping powers. After the Restoration
some of the regicides, who had also
signed the order for her husband's execution,
were connived at, endeavouring to
escape from the Isle of Man. The sovereign
of the island, however, did not
indulge them in the like impunity, but had
them seized and hanged, as traitors and
murderers. It was notified to her, that
she had committed an illegal act, having
no power beyond her own jurisdiction,
they having been subjects of England.
She sent a message to the king,
saying, "That he might, if he chose,
spare her father's murderers, but she
would punish those of her husband, whereever
she could find them."
This lofty and daring spirit was so
little in unison with that of an ungrateful
and luxurious court, that it only tended
as a pretext for treating with cold neglect,
her to whom so much was due. Nothing,
indeed, with a certain class of minds,
forms a stronger motive of dislike than
unreturnable obligation. Aware, however,
of her influence among her dependants, the
Secretary of State was, at the time of the
elections for the next ensuing parliament,
instructed to signify the royal wish, that
she should favour a certain candidate for
one of her boroughs. To his letter on
that subject, she returned the following
memorable answer: —
"I have been bullied by an usurper, I
have been neglected by a court, but I will
not be dictated to by a subject. Your
borough sha'nt stand."
It is from the daughter of this heroine,
that the present Duke of Athol inherits
the island she governed and defended with
so much spirit.
Her picture is a whole-length figure in
black, with a ruff. There does not appear
in it any remains of beauty, which possibly
vanished under the heavy pressure of sorrow.
But there is much strength of character
indicated in this evidently woe--
worn countenance.
Have I tired you, my dear friend, with
this long detail? To me, it does not seem
tedious. The attachment which my father
had for that noble family, gives to my
feelings a strong interest in all that belongs
to them.
There is a small valley in Athol, named
by two lovers, called, Morah, which is
celebrated in song by M'Niel, called,
Donald and Flora. The first stanza runs
thus: —
"When merry hearts were gay,
Careless of ought but play,
Poor Flora slipt away,
Sadd'ning to Morah!"
The church of Blair is a very mean,
though a very ancient building, such an
one as excites surprise to be seen so near a
ducal residence, if unacquainted with the
circumstances connected with it. But in
fact none of the principal heritors of the
parish frequent this place of worship. They
are of the episcopalian persuasion, and have
built a large chapel near the church, where
they all attend service. There is something
in the history of the old church
which marks it as a remnant of antiquity
worth preserving. In the time of one of
the first James's, I do not exactly remember
which, Donald of the Isles, who long
struggled for the independence of this
insular domain, made frequent incursions
into the interior, which merely ended in
terrifying and plundering the inhabitants.
— The last of these terminated at
Blair. Donald, and his followers ravaged
the whole intermediate country, carrying
off every thing moveable, till they were
burthened with the spoils they had collected.
They reached the Kyle, a narrow
strait, which separates Sky from the main
land, in safety and in triumph. This ferry
is so narrow, that the droves of cattle
which are annually sent from this island to
the north of England, invariably swim
across, fastened to each other by withies,
(without any accident being known to happen,)
and never in boats, so that the smallest
risk is not apprehended. It was otherwise,
however, with Donald and his ill-gotten
wealth. There were a great number of
boats necessary to convey it across, and
they had no sooner embarked, than a violent
storm burst upon them, with such
sudden fury, that in an instant every boat
was swallowed up, except that which contained
Donald, and the most portable and
valuable articles of his plunder, consisting
of plate, &c. He not unnaturally considered
himself as spared from this general
wreck, to suffer on earth all the pangs of
grief and remorse, and to make some
exemplary expiation for his offence. With
the aid and protection of the clergy, he
resorted to Blair, where his ravage had
terminated, and there, with the produce of
his plunder, built this church, which no
doubt, was stripped of its ornaments at
the Reformation; yet, it is still used as
a place of worship, and still stands a memorial
of mistaken piety.
Dunkeld, August.
LONG-LOVED Dunkeld now rose to
my sight, pre-eminent in beauty, and smiling
in sunshine. But, alas! alas! my
friend, those beloved objects which gave
all the joy to life, had long since left their
daughter a solitary individual. My second
visit to my dear native spot, sensibly renewed
the sad privation, where peace,
love, and friendship seemed to reign, if I
may be allowed to judge from the remaining
few, which the all-destroying hand of
death has yet left, a wreck in the band of
that happy society which were wont to
meet in my father's mansion.
Why, my dear Miss Porter, did Dunkeld
look so beautiful? — Why not rather
appear lowering, amid those clouds which
only a few hours before had rolled away
to unveil all Nature in its sweetest charms
when circumstances had long since led me
from its Arcadian scenes, and now created
a sort of lingering wish to remain here,
when no tie is left, in a place become one
universal blank?
"————— Home we return,
But found them dead, for whom we oft have wept,
Heedlessly wept, when they were in their joy."
Possibly you are acquainted with Mrs.
Skimmelpennick's works, on the Theory and
Classification of Beauty and Deformity.
She relates in it an interesting anecdote of
Rousseau, which appears so much a case
in point, I cannot resist telling it to you.
The philosopher of Geneva was, during
his earliest and happiest years, walking one
day with a beloved friend. It was summer.
The evening was calm and delightful;
the sun was just setting behind the double
towers of the church; its broad beams
spread their attempered fires in one vast
sheet over the clear expanse of the lake,
and the little painted skiffs that gleamed
on the transparent water, were tipped with
vivid light. They sat on a soft mossy
bank, and enjoyed the gay prospect. At
their feet was a bright tuft of speedwell.
Rousseau's friend pointed out to him, the
pretty little flower, the veronica, bearing
the same expression of cheerfulness and
innocency as the scene before them. No
more was said. Thirty years elapsed, careworn,
persecuted, and disappointed, known
to fame, but not to peace, Rousseau revisited
Geneva. It happened, that he one evening
passed by the same spot. The sun shone
as brightly as before; the birds sung as
cheerfully, and rose as merrily on the soft
summer air, and the glittering boats skim the
still surface of the lake as rapidly. But the
house where he had spent so many happy
days was levelled to the ground: his kind
friend had long slept in the grave. The generation
of villagers who had partaken of
the bounty of the beneficent hand were
passed away, and none remained to point
out the green sod where their benefactor
lay. He walked on pensively. The same
bank, tufted with the same knot of the
bright-eyed speedwell, caught his eye. He
turned away, and wept bitterly.
The scenery all the way from Blair
Athol to Dunkeld is perfectly enchanting,
partaking of the same character before
described. On ascending the hill, where
the road winds amid the deep embowering
woods of Fascally, I previously had pointed
out to me the famous pass of Killicrankie,
where the battle was fought between
King William's forces, after the Revolution,
and Lord Viscount Dundee's men, who
being pursued by them, were beaten, and
retired after Dundee was slain. A large
stone, in an adjacent field, marks the spot
where he is buried. The situation of the
pass of Killicrankie is highly romantic,
formed of a steep elevation, which overlooks
the dark impending woods of Blair
Athol; the Garry river sparkling like
brown crystal, as it wanders at the foot
of these awful and impervious solitudes,
The Garry, the Bruar, and the Tilt,
unite their tributary streams near Blair;
but all-lovely as they are, in gaiety and
chastened beauty, they will not compare
with the magnificent Tay, which is one of
the finest rivers in Scotland.
At Blair of Athol, an entertainment was
given to King James the Fifth, by the
Earl, somewhat equalling in splendour that
of Queen Elizabeth's at Kellingworth. A
temporary building was erected, formed of
birch-trees, ornamented with tapestry and
silks for the occasion. — The repast, furnished
with the delicate game from their
hills. Grouse, ptarmigans, plovers, the black
cock, venison, &c., and a vast variety of
fish, which the Scotch rivers supplied. His
Majesty, who visited Blair for the purpose
of hunting, is said to have lived three days
in this wilderness of luxury and sweets.
All the borders of Dunkeld Nature had
decked in the richest attire; and the contrast
of the grand, to the soft and sylvan,
is most happily preserved. The sweeping
hills, thickly wooded, hanging over the
broad and transparent Tay, in the most
beautiful manner, with pastoral meadows,
tufted with trees, and enlivened by herds
of cattle, grazing on these peaceful plains,
renders this scene a perfect Arcadia, which
breathes a spirit of cheerful tranquillity, in
unison with every thing connected with
Dunkeld. Since my last visit to this highly
favoured spot (such I must call it), Nature
has been so lavish of her charms, considerable
improvements have taken place;
several new streets have started up, and a
noble stone bridge is completed, which late
erections, in several parts of Scotland, where
communication was cut off, without the extreme
inconvenience, and often risk, of
crossing ferrys, is a vast advantage to travellers,
and adds infinitely to the picturesque
beauty of the romantic views. It
is quite delightful to trace the rapid progress
of improvement, which even in the
short space of six years I can evidently
perceive, not in one spot alone, but in
all the various districts I formerly passed
through. The nobility and gentry use every
exertion to improve and beautify the face
of the country, and those who live upon their
estates spare neither pains nor expense to
ameliorate and soften the hard condition of
the poor. It is only in the very remote
and sequestered parts, their cottages are
comfortless and dirty, and a universal spirit
of activity and industry now appears to
follow on the heels of English neatness as
rapidly as possible.
Again I must refer you to my former
sketches of Scotland, if you wish to have
an account of the antiquities of this place,
the ancient cathedral, the Duke of Athol's
magnificent and romantic pleasure-grounds,
which here once more meet the eye; the
Hall of Ossian; the Classic Hill of Dunsinane;
and the woods of Birnham, waving
high above Dunkeld, which, as a toute
ensemble, combine in one little spot, much
to interest and delight.
Stirling, August.
OBLIGED to bend my course to Stirling
for a few days, many objects were
pointed out to me worthy observation in
this neighbourhood, which was formerly
omitted. Stirling itself, from having been
the seat of royalty, the theatre of war, and
the Temple of the Muses, however frequently
revisited, must always, to the curious
observer, afford something new, and
some object before overlooked.
Cambruskeneth, of which a single tower
only remains, was the Glastonbury of Scotland,
and richly endowed by successive
sovereigns, more particularly by King
David, whose profuse piety led his wiser
successor to say, "That he was a sair
saint for the crown." It is the burying--
place of many sovereigns, and particularly
of that devout king who endowed it so
richly. It stands upon an isthmus, or rather
peninsula, surrounded by one of the
links, as they are called, of Forth. The
spot where its remains still rest, is in the
centre of the peninsula; but when entire,
the offices, kitchen, &c. were so extensive,
they occupied the whole breadth of that
ground, and stretched on each side to the
edge of the water. The causeway, as the
paved road which led to the abbey, was
called, still remains. The whole peninsula
is occupied by gardens and orchards, first
planted by the monks, which supply the
neighbouring towns with a quantity of excellent
fruit. An ideal sanctity belonging
to this abbey, seems to have breathed a
kind of sacred horror around the hard
hearts of the presbyterians of that day,
after the dissolution and partial destruction
of the abbey. The citizens of Stirling
attempted to convey, over the deep and
narrow branch of the Forth, which surrounds
it, a singularly large bell that belonged
to it. Its weight sunk the boat, intended
to convey it over, and none of the
many efforts which have been made to recover
it have proved successful. The obvious
cause is the rich bed of deep mud in
which its weight sunk it. But superstition
found other reasons for its being withheld
from protestant profanation. There is a
remarkable ruin, or rather unfinished building,
in Stirling, which terminates the approach
towards the Castle, and strikes the
eye of every traveller, from its fantastic
singularity. It is called by the inhabitants
Marrs-work, and is part of a palace
which the Regent Marr (styled the good
Regent) meant to build; but most unhappily
(and we trust the legend of time),
bought the materials in the ruins of Cambruskeneth.
The consequence of this sacrilegious
appropriation was, according to
vulgar tradition, that he did not live out
the year; and that the building remains
unfinished; a sad memorial of the presumption
of making what was consecrated
to God, subservient to mortal magnificence.
After having said all this, it is but
just to add, that history tells us, that truly
good Regent died of a broken heart, because
he found it impossible to infuse his
own spirit of peace and benevolence into
the leaders of the contending faction in
that most unhappy period. However absurd
or extravagant these superstitions
may appear in the recital, when it is considered
how difficult it is to reason with the
multitude, and of what importance it is,
that some sacred barrier of opinion should
operate on their feelings, to secure from
violation buildings consecrated both by
piety and taste, it were scarcely to be
wished that they should consider such matters
in an abstract or metaphysical point of
Who, my dear friend, can behold the
bridge of Stirling without a vivid recollection
of the glorious deeds of your valorous
hero, in that spot, rendered classical by
his hard-won victory? That exploit which
you have so richly coloured, after the rude
drawing of -Wallace's Blind Laureate,
comes forcibly back on the mind, in the
scene which his actions, and your powerful
descriptions have marked to future times,
as a memorial of genius and valour.
The luxuriant plains here form a part of
Clachmannan, a beautiful but small district,
distinguished, as I formerly remarked,
and dear to Scottish recollections by the
tower so named, the original residence of
the Bruces, to whom, by my father's side,
I am lineally descended, and where some
reliques of that real hero are still preserved.
Nothing can surpass the quiet and rich
beauty of the fertile plains which border
the Forth, gaining much in picturesque effect,
from the fine back-ground of the
Ochil Hills which rise above them in all
the varied hues that blooming heath, lively
verdure, and the shifting shadows of the
passing clouds create.
On a day's excursion, replete with soft
and varied beauty, accompanied by Bishop
G —'s agreeable daughters, I regarded,
with due veneration, the abode of a hero
who lived for his country a life of unequalled
pain, labour, and privation.* My
attention was next called to that of another
personage, of that exalted description, who
died for his country in the moment when
he had planted for her a new laurel, where
her arms and name were before unknown.
His glorious death on the banks of the
Nile, has illustrated his name on the banks
of the Forth; and one looks now at Tullibody
with a sensation like that felt on
viewing Ellerslie, on the Coil. Abercrombie
need scarcely be named, when called
up to the imagination by so many circumstances
peculiar to himself.
The very spirit of romance seems to prevail
in the environs of the small village of Dollar,
or Doluer, leading to Castle Campbell, denominated
the Castle of Gloom, surrounded
by the waters of Care, and buried in the dark
shades of impervious and almost inaccessible
woods, The designation of these places
are perfectly characteristic of their situation.
* Mungo Parke.
The Castle is only to be reached by a winding
sheep path, cut through the high embowering
trees, which hang over the black
melancholy water of Care. Buried in insular
hills, on the pinnacle of one of the
steepest, the Castle stands, in majestic and
frowning ruin; and where the demon of
horror might be thought here to reside.
Not all that Mrs. Radcliffe has described
of the horrors of Udolpho, can exceed
this place.
It is not exactly known at what period
this stately pile was erected, or by whom;
but it is said to be more ancient than the
Castle of Edinburgh. It belonged to the
Duke Earls of Argyle, and during the civil
wars in 1645, the Marquis of Montrose
destroyed it by fire and sword. Having,
however, in part withstood the furious
siege, one or two of the lower apartments
remain, a mournful relict of its former
magnitude. A dark, damp, high-arched
kitchen, with a stone floor, mouldering
with decay, is the dismal habitation of a
man, his wife, and children. I was surprised
to meet with simple and courteous
manners in a spot so rude and desolate,
when I should rather have expected to
start away in dread of banditti, who might
feel themselves secure from intruders, and
enjoy their savage revelry, rocked by wild
lullaby of the howling winds.
The spot is shewn, in front of the Castle,
where beneath a lofty plane-tree, John
Knox is said to have preached to the Earl
of Argyle, and to have administered the
sacrament. After the Reformation, he
also dispensed the first sacrament in the
hall of this Castle. Hence it appears, that
even the wildest solitude was not, to this
bold reformist, inaccessible. Thither he
penetrated, and daringly preached to the
deluded multitude, sapping the foundation
of the episcopalian church in this country,
and sweeping away, with a powerful and
iron hand, all its imposing, but sanctified
forms; leaving many a venerable cathedral
a solitary and melancholy monument of the
grandeur, the solemnity of a service, which
is here divested of every outward ornament
and form.
A daughter of one of the kings of Scotland,
banished hither, was confined in a
solitary cell; hence the place is said to
derive the name of the Castle of Gloom.
I observed to you, in one of my former
Letters, that knowledge, and even a taste
for literature, is wonderfully diffused
throughout the lower stations of life,
down to the obscure and lowly shepherd
on his native mountains. On a hill
opposite Castle Campbell, a man literally
tending his flocks, called John Christie,
possessed a library consisting of 370 volumes,
judiciously chosen.
In order to reach several of the places
we visited to-day, it was necessary to dismiss
the carriage, and scramble over
many wild and intricate steeps. Nearly
missing our way to the Caldron Linn, one
of the young ladies prevailed on a peasant--
girl to become our guide, who, though a
most perfect child of nature, had a considerable
share of quickness and arch prompness
in her composition. She soon discovered
myself and another of the party
were English, and as we wearily lagged
behind, impatient and exhausted, while the
Scotch ladies dexterously skipped along,
she complimented her countrywomen on
being the best walkers. She smilingly
exclaimed, "Its weel to be seen you're
used to loup* ow're the dubs† better than
the English folk."
At length, feeling powerless to proceed
without resting, I sat down on a bank,
while the rest of the party chatted to the
girl, who carried my drawing-book and
materials. She expressed a vast curiosity
to look into it (the Scotch are shrewd,
penetrating, and inquisitive, on every subject);
and on being shewn Castle Campbell,
she said, "She maun be an unco
clever ledy, that can draw places, and
write books; but she canna loup ow're
* Leap. † Dirt.
stanes, and rin up braes like our aine
country ledies."
Very anxious to tempt me to proceed,
when I rose and enquired somewhat impatiently,
how much further I had to walk,
(for every single Scotch mile is invariably
two English,) she said, with an encouraging
smile, "You'll soon be at the place now;"
but turning quick on her heel to my friends,
she continued, with an arch laugh, and a
significant shake of the head, "She has a
guid long bit to gang for a' that."
In truth, there is no reliance to be
placed in the distances in this country; and
the constant reply to the weary pedestrian
is, "One mile and a wee bit," or "twa
miles and a wee bit," which invariably
proves to be at least double the distance.
When, however, we came upon the
scenery of the Caldron Linn, whose loud
thunder, like that of Foyers, proclaimed its
vicinity long before being seen, I was most
amply rewarded for my temporary fatigue.
This most extraordinary natural wonder, is
formed of three distinct excavations, in an
insular rock, wild, magnificent, and sequestered
from the haunts of men. The
singular uniformity of these immense Caldrons,
one would almost suppose the production
of art, rather than that of time.
How naturalists account for this spectacle,
I am ignorant; but I should suppose, the
immense body of water had perforated the
rock, and formed these fantastic basins,
full of water, and covered with a thick
foam, as it perpetually boils up, accompanied
with a din, almost deafening. Surely
it was here that Hécate and her train
exercised their spells and incantations, ere
they rode the air, to the wild heath in
Inverness-shire. Such caldrons, in a scene
so rude, so solemn, so entirely formed for
romantic fable, certainly conjured up a
thousand fanciful images, and peopled this
spot with inhabitants of ideal creation,
who alone seemed to belong to it.
The Devon precipitates itself over these
"Low brow'd rocks,"
"Hang nodding o'er the deep,"
and are fantastically festooned with trees.
It is related, that some years ago a
young advocate of Edinburgh, by rashly
bending over the rocky bank, to look into
the caldron, was precipitated into its fathomless
abyss. But a benevolent Drayad
disappointed the expecting Naiad, by extending
a twig, which hung over her watery
bower, and saved him from destruction.
We proceeded from this wonderful natural
curiosity to the Rumbling Brig, and
Devil's Mill. The brig was formed some
years since, of a rude plank, thrown over a
steep woody chasm; and though a most romantic,
yet dangerous pass. There is now a
handsome stone bridge erecting. Indeed, it
is so nearly finished, that the Lord Chief Baron's
carriage passed over it, about a fortnight
ago. This romantic glen ought to be
visited before the Caldron Linn, for its
appearance strikes the beholder with less
admiration, than it justly merits, from the
impression still vivid on the mind, of the
Linn, which I must consider is beyond
compare the first natural curiosity I have
seen in Scotland, Foyers not excepted.
The Devil's Mill is a wild scene of
wood, rock, and water. The river Devon
precipitating itself in a turbulent cascade
over the rocks, from a height of twenty
feet, into a bed of stone, accompanied by
a noise, which beats time in so singular a
manner, as to resemble the clack of a mill,
without any visible cause for a din so extraordinary.
This yet unaccounted-for
sound of the falling waters is, with severe
and almost judical respect for the sabbath,
which still exists among the common people
of Scotland, set as a mark of reprobation;
and working, as it does on Sunday,
as regularly as through the week, they
have, on that account, named this falling
stream, the Devil's Mill.
We returned to Stirling by the old town
of Alloa, laying in a low situation on the
banks of the Forth. A large coal-trade is
carried on here; and the adjacent neighbourhood
is surrounded by collieries, which,
from the smoke aid fires, render it very
disagreeable. Yet I looked at Alloa with
a considerable degree of interest.
It was here that my uncle, the Rev.
Dr. Fordyce, (the author of Sermons to
Young Women,) first began his career in
life, which was afterwards so distinguished;
and in the pulpit of Alloa gave the early
promise of that eloquence, which was considered
perfectly Ciceronian, and drew on
him a reputation for oratory, which the
sacred function he filled seemed to breathe
the spirit of inspiration into, not merely in
his language, but writings.
The character of Edie Ochiltree, which
forms so conspicuous a figure in the Antiquary,
excited a strong desire to behold,
during my rambles, one of those privileged
beggars, called in this country, the King's
Bedes-man, or the Blue-Gowns. While
on a visit with Bishop Glegg's amiable family,
one of those singular-looking persons,
a venerable gray-headed man, who
had numbered more than seventy years,
feeble in his gait, and full of the garrulity
of old age, appeared at the Bishop's door.
He was drest exactly as Edie is described
in the Antiquary; a long blue gown covered
his figure, with a pewter badge on
the right arm, and wallets hung over his
shoulder, which were filled with benefactions.
It is the custom never to turn these
licenced beggars from the door empty
handed. On every birth-day of His Majesty
they receive as many pennies as the
years of our gracious King. I acknowledge
that my attention was forcibly led to
inquire into this extraordinary class of beggars,
by thus accidentally meeting with
one of them But their origin is of so distant
a date, and involved in so much obscurity,
that after the most diligent enquiry,
all that I could learn of them was
from a very intelligent gentleman, in the
neighbourhood of Edinburg, who could
procure me only the following imperfect
The number of licenced beggars, known
for ages by the name of "Blue-Gowns,"
corresponds with the number of years of
the life of the reigning sovereign. They
are appointed by His Majesty's Almoner
for Scotland, who names them once a year,
on the King's birth-day; and in all cases
of vacancies, he invariably gives the preference
to persons in extreme poverty, who
are maimed or blind, and who present to
him certificates of character for sobriety and
honesty. On their appointment, they are
enrolled in a book kept by the almoner,
who gives to each of them a gown of blue
cloth, with a badge, on which is inscribed
the words, "pass and re-pass," and the
name of the person thus preferred. The
benefit which each Blue-gown receives, is
the gift of a new gown annually, with a
penny for each year of the King's life; and
the distinction has always been highly
prized by these beggars, from an understanding,
that the badge gives them the
privilege of begging, without challenge or
The almoner requires, yearly, a certificate
of good character from each of these
mendicants, signed by the minister of the
parish; and when such certificate is not
produced, the person is invariably struck
off the almoner's roll, and one of good
character substituted in his place. If complaint
is at any time made to the almoner,
of the improper conduct of any of the
Blue-gowns, such person is, on conviction,
instantly deprived of his gown, and struck
off the almoner's roll. It is to the credit
of these poor men that instances of complaint
against them very rarely occur.
A most respectable society lately established
in Edinburgh, for suppressing begging,
considered it their duty to endeavour
to suppress also the institution of the Blue--
gowns. An investigation accordingly took
place, which led to an enquiry into the institution,
but its antiquity was so remote as to
baffle the most diligent research; neither
the records, nor the ancient statutes of
Scotland, which were carefully examined,
threw light upon the origin of the institution;
and though some of the early statutes
recognize the existence of licenced
beggars, they do not define the cause which
had induced the legislature to grant these
licences, nor the description of persons who
were entitled to receive them.
Thus I am assured, that the Court of
Exchequer in Scotland have, on different
occasions, protected these Blue-gowns from
being apprehended and confined as vagrants;
and that the Court feels disposed
to protect this very ancient, and in my
opinion, very respectable institution.
Dunchattan, near Glasgow.
TIME devoted to partial friendship,
can only individually interest, and has at
present led me to a place wholly unconnected
with my Tour. Yet what a flood
of joy does the renewal of intercourse afford
with those whom destiny has long
separated. How does the heart glow with
delight when the same objects re-appear,
where hours of happiness were formerly
spent, and those tender sensations again
arise, which having slept for a period,
spring into new-born existence. Ah! how
sweet, as you so well know, my dear friend,
is it, to associate with those whose taste,
sentiment, and affections combine to strew
with roses the thorny paths of life; and
uniting with all the rich powers of conversation,
the endearing virtues of the heart,
shut out the world and its cares for a period,
creating a sort of terrestrial paradise,
at once imposing and sweet.
In the distance of twenty-eight miles
between Stirling and Glasgow, much classic
ground is travelled over. The town of
Dunblane is now reduced to a mere village,
yet not a poor one; and the rural simplicity
of the cottages, seem to me, in
unison with the placid humility the general
scene inspires. Over it, the guardian spirit
of Leighton appears still to hover; and the
glow of beauty and abundance, which now
adorns the environs, seem to add gratitude
to humility. The sanctity, severe yet
pure, of Bishop Leighton, renders his
memory hallowed, in the library which he
founded, and the cathedral in which he
The ruins of the cathedral of Dunblane
are of the light and purest gothic architecture.
Contrary to the practice of
the destroyers of Scotch religious houses
in general, the quire was spared, and is now
the parish church, in which the stalls of the
dean and chapter, or at least, part of them,
still remain. Some years ago, and perhaps
even still, the solitary figure of a bishop,
in the attitude of blessing the people, similar
to those which abound in the old cathedrals
in England, remained on the roof of
what had been the quire. The nave of the
church had been long unroofed, and the
walls were fast falling to ruin, until some
years ago that a few gentlemen in the neighbourhood,
together with Lord Glenbervie,
and perhaps others, subscribed liberally to
preserve them at least in the state in which
they then were. Whether they got any
aid from government for this pious, or as
others will call it, superstitious purpose, I
know not; but I believe they did not. The
last bishop of Dunblane, who long surived
the Revolution and the overthrow of
the episcopal church, as an establishment in
Scotland, was of the same family with Lord
The pious and ascetic Leighton was
Bishop of Dunblane before Bishop Douglas,
and founded a library in that city for
the use of the diocese. He left to it all
his own books, as I believe Bishop Douglas
left his; and it is now the best theological
library that I know in Scotland; the
library of the Universities, and Advocates
in Edinburgh excepted. It is now under
the management of the Presbytery of
Dunblane, and some gentlemen in the
neighbourhood. Its funds are but small,
and can hardly afford to support a librarian,
and purchase many expensive books; but I
cannot say that I think the curators of late
always employed these funds in the best
manner for promoting the object of the
pious founder.
The present minister of Dunblane, who
is ex officio episcopal curate, has indeed
been more attentive than his predecessor to
that object; for, during his incumbency I
cannot learn that any novel has found its
way into the library.
I have said that Bishop Leighton was
ascetic. There is a sequestered walk near
Dunblane, called at this day the Bishop's
Walk, because he frequented it; and such
was the veneration for his character, that,
as he was known to love solitude, no one
obtruded himself on the prelate's privacy
there. One day, however, the widow of a
poor clergyman, to whose support, and that
of her children, his lordship had liberally
contributed, broke in upon his retirement.
The good woman seems to have thought it
impossible that the bishop could bestow so
much money on her from motives perfectly
disinterested; but she appears to have
thought it likewise very strange that he
should delay so long to say what his motives
and views were. He was naturally
surprised at her intruding into a place where
no one intruded on him, and asked her eagerly
if her children were all well, or what
had befallen her? She replied, that "they
were all well, but that she could not be at
rest till she had told his lordship a revelation
which had been made to her." "A
revelation made to you!" exclaimed the
astonished bishop. "Yes, my lord," said
the woman: "It was revealed to me that
your lordship and I were about to be married."
"Indeed!" replied the prelate,"
"No such revelation, however, has yet
been made to me; and if we are to be married
by revelation, the marriage cannot take
place, you know, until it be revealed to
both parties."
The other place worthy of remark is
St. Ninians Bannochburn, and within five
miles of Glasgow, the spot where your
heroic Wallace was basely betrayed into
the hands of his enemies, and his life ignominiously
sacrificed, after being so gloriously
devoted to his country.
Glasgow is a very flourishing city, and
in point of commerce and opulence, is considered
one of the first in the kingdom. It is
thought in appearance to resemble a continental
town, in its long and spacious streets,
numerous spires, and handsome stone
buildings. The Lunatic Asylum, lately
erected, is a noble edifice. No stranger can
visit this asylum for the most pitiable of all
mankind, without a sentiment of the most
pleasing satisfaction, in beholding their melancholy
condition ameliorated, as far as
the utmost tenderness and humane treatment
will admit. Comfort, cleanliness,
and wholesome food, is afforded to the unhappy
patients; and such judicious indulgence,
except in hopeless and violent cases,
that many salutary cures have been effected.

Being a Sunday in the neighbourhood of
Glasgow, I made one in the vast multitude,
now attracted to the Trone church to hear
the Rev. Dr. Chalmers. Never did I behold
so crowded an assemblage of persons,
on so sacred an occasion. Long before
the service commenced, the church was
thronged to excess, and people of the first
condition were satisfied with standing-room
in the aisles. The silence was so profound,
as to give additional solemnity to the sacred
occasion. The use of an organ would
be considered an innovation, as inconsistent
with the rigid simplicity of the followers of
John Knox; but notwithstanding the absence
of one, when hundreds of voices
unite in the song of praise to the Almighty,
the effect is touching and sublime.
Dr. Chalmers, who is at present the
boast and ornament of the Scotch church,
gratified me exceedingly, by hearing eloquence
of a very superior order, consecrated
to its best and highest purposes, in
the discourse which he delivered.
I expected to be pleased and edified,
and I was so; but after so much preparation,
could not expect to be, as I was, surprised,
very much surprised, at the boundless
power of real genius, which, even in
this fastidious critical age, achieves such
unlimited power over the mind, without
any of the accompaniments which so often
usurp its name, and to vulgar minds supply
its place. Dr. Chalmers is popular, while
avoiding, and seemingly disdaining the
arts which many consider as essential to
popularity. No grace of appearance, or
manner, no melody of voice, nothing
in appearance, that conveys the idea of
dignity or elegance. in short, his power
over the will, and even the affections, is a
victory over prejudice, and every visible
obstacle. He owes nothing to any extraneous
aid whatever. It is the genius
of a logician, a poet (for there is much
poetry without numbers), an astronomer, a
mathematician, a powerful intellect, in short,
which, after grasping all human science,
soars beyond it, inflamed by zeal, and
exalted by pure Christianity. No man
can sink lower in familiar simplicity of
diction, without touching the level of vulgarity;
no man can rise higher, where
"the grandeur of his subject is his muse,"
without once approaching the borders of
bombast, or false sublimity. He is always
clear, because he goes directly to the point
in view, without deviating in search of
studied effect. He is always impressive,
because he evidently speaks from the heart,
as well as from the understanding. His
figures and illustrations, the spontaneous
and sudden powers, or fruits of a bright
and vigorous imagination, illuminate his
subject, and enchain attention. It is
the privilege of true and high genius, to
exercise this engrossing power, over
minds capable of reflecting its light. What
a blessing it is to humanity, when such
talents are exercised to the noblest purposes,
and when commensurate virtues
add force to science so powerful.
It has been for some time lamented,
that the church of Scotland, rich in pastors,
who, with complete learning and
exemplary diligence, instruct their people
in sound doctrine, unforced by good example,
has rather sunk, in regard to genius.
Of these extraordinary persons, who
are born to live beyond the limits of mortality,
even in the present world, none
have appeared since the days of Robertson,
Blair, Erskine, and Henry. But the
few of the remaining cotemporaries, who
have witnessed the rising of this new star,
acknowledge its brightness, and rejoice
in its growing celebrity.
Mr. Henry Mackenzie, always celebrated
for the elegance and purity of his
literary taste, and now venerated, as
before observed, as a veteran in letters, and
the only remaining light of a constellation
of Scottish genius, bore testimony to the
merits I have endeavoured feebly to describe.
In a meeting of the Literary Society
in Edinburgh, he stood forth, and in an
eulogium, full of spirit, and all his wonted
elegance, paid his tribute of admiration to
this extraordinary person.
Arbroath, or Aberbrothwick,
RETURNING to Stirling from Glasgow,
and proceeding thence to Perth, I
passed a day at Kinnoul Manse, where I
met with another rustic bard, whose simple
and pathetic lays pleased me exceedingly.
But Scotland is the land of poetry and
romance, as I before remarked to you,
and awakens the song of the muses with
a tenderness and beauty, its scenes are
continually formed to excite.
In the vicinity of Perth, on the banks
of the Almond, embosomed by a cypress
grove, are the tombs of Bessie Bell and
Mary Grey, famed in story, but not till
now in ballad; the poetic effusion of a
common gardener, at Kinnoul, of the
name of Duff.* This classic ground is
also highly interesting, from being the residence
of the gallant Colonel Graham,
Lord Lyndoch of Balgouan, whose deep
affliction on the death of his lady led him
to quit his country, and enter the army,
where his bravery and important services
in the late war, are well known.
"Alone, forsaken, life's fond bus'ness o'er,
Where shall he turn? To Albion's dreary shore?
Bend his sad pilgrimage to Almond's grove,
And meet in every shade departed love?
No, hence unfeeling softness, better, far,
To court fresh duties, plunge in boist'rous war;
Bid danger hush the sigh of fond regret,
And in his country's cause his own forget.
That bold address, that cool discerning mind,
Till now to scenes of sylvan war confin'd;
Their object chang'd, a nobler sphere assert,
And on a wider scale their pow'r exert.
From scene to scene his native valour hastes,
When dangers threaten, and when famine wastes.†"
* See the ballad in the Appendix.
† Lord Lyndoch, then Mr. Graham, after the
death of his lady, embarked in a ship belonging to
the Mediterranean fleet, and arrived at Toulon
I have scarcely seen any thing more
perfectly beautiful, during the whole of my
excursion, than the stage from Perth to
Dundee, travelling through what is denominated
the Carse of Gowrie, signifying
low clayey grounds. The plains were
covered with boundless corn-fields, and
even the hills were partially covered with
the golden grain. The eye was gladdened
with multitudes of reapers, chiefly women,
(who cut the corn as generally as men)
employed in gathering in the harvest, not
during the time it was in possession of the Allies.
While there, though not then a soldier by profession,
he sent all the aid he could to the arms of his
country, which was acknowledged by Lord Mulgrave
in a letter in the London Gazette. On Col. Graham's
return to Britain, he raised the 90th regiment,
and devoted himself wholly to military duties. After
an uninterrupted succession of services rendered
to this country, and her allies, on the coast of
France, Italy, Minorca, and Sicily, he was entrusted
with the important charge of conducting the siege
of Malta, which he executed with the highest professional
here, as amongst the Campsie hills, wearing
the most sickly and cheerless aspect,
levelled to the ground, drenched in rain,
and much of the corn as green as in the
beginning of summer.
Nothing in nature can be more rich
and fertile than this partial district. The
meandering Tay, broad and pellucid, has
scattered on its borders, at every half mile,
magnificent seats of the nobility and gentry,
whose fine woods add luxuriance to
a scene, gay, populous, and beautiful beyond
description. It is impossible to ennumerate
all the variety of places which I passed.
The situation of Lord Gray's, at the foot
of the rocky hill of Kinnoul, and the old
ruinous castle of Wymes, with its broad
antique towers, peeping above the trees
which embower it, and backed by the bare
elevations of Fifeshire, together with the
baronial-looking mansion of Mayinich, particularly
pleased me, from their noble and
picturesque aspect. At the village of Invergowrie,
the Tay assumes almost the
magnificence of a lake, it becomes so
broad, and then forms itself into a deep
bay. The windings of the river, amid the
rich valley, encircled with the fine sweep
of hills, renders an aquatic excursion truly
pleasant on a fine summer's day, in the
steam-boat, a cheap and safe conveyance.
These boats have become very universal
over all Scotland. There are several now
established at Glasgow, which, sailing
thence to Inverary, takes in all the magnificent
scenery on the borders of the
Clyde, the picturesque views of Loch Lomond,
and one beautiful lake succeeds to
another the whole of the distance to Inverary,
gliding on these transparent waters,
between some of the grandest hills in
North Britain. Every accommodation
and comfort are afforded on board these
boats, as well as amusement for the passengers.
Books, cards, chess-boards, and
an excellent table is provided, at a very moderate
expense. Numberless pleasurable
parties were formed in them, during the
summer, in preference to land conveyance.
On the shore opposite Invergarvie, is
distinctly seen the original tower of Abernethy,
the only Pictish one, except that of
Brechen, now in Scotland. I here took
leave of the fertile Curse of Gowrie, and
entered Forfarshire. The scenery, all the
road to Dundee, continued of the same
lively aspect, the Tay becoming broader
and broader, until it enters the excellent
harbour of the handsome populous town of
Dundee, or Bonnie Dundee, as it is denominated
in an old song. Dundee is a very
considerable place, and the fourth borough
in Scotland. The buildings are irregular,
but though some are of great antiquity, yet
there are many handsome modern ones,
and the new church is a superb structure,
at least, when compared with the few there
are in Scotland of that description, except
the remaining cathedrals; some of which,
after their partial demolition, were converted
into the presbyterian kirk. The
venerable gothic tower of the old church is
a very conspicuous and stately object. It
was founded by David, Earl of Huntingdon,
brother of William the First of Scotland,
and dedicated to the Virgin Mary,
after his return from his third crusade
against the Saracens. Being shipwrecked,
he vowed to build a magnificent church
to the Virgin, at the first place where he
should effect a landing, which was at
Dundee. The Pope is said to have ordered
contributions, to assist in the pious work.
It is recorded, that in this town, your
intrepid Wallace received his education;
and, in after-years, amongst his various
exploits, destroyed the castle, and recovered
the town from the English garrison of
King Edward the First.
Aberbrothic, or Arbroath, possessed two
points of attraction to induce me to pay it
a visit. The venerable monastery, considered
equal in architectural beauty, or, I
should rather say, in mouldering decay, to
the superb ruins of Elgin Cathedral; but
more particularly as being the interesting
scene in the Antiquary, denominated Fair
Port, to which description it is thought to
bear so striking an analogy, it cannot be
The town is situated on the small river
Brothwick, which flows into the German
Ocean. Along the coast extends a series
of rocks, in some parts excavated, presenting
very singular caverns; and certainly
recalled the interesting description in the
Antiquary, which must be so powerfully
impressed on your memory, it is superfluous
to recur to it.
There is an air of bold magnificence in
the scenery here, which corresponds with
the rude antiquity of the venerable abbey,
and a sequestered quiet in the small town,
which may not unfairly characterise Arbroath
as Fair-Port. Indeed, its vicinity
to the Bell Rock, which, at the distance of
three leagues, emerges from the sea, seems
to affix the certainty of Fair-Port and Arbroath
being one and the same place. Arbroath
is also one of the few fishing-towns
in Scotland, where the genuine turbot is
called the bannoch fluke, and the lump
fish, the cock padle.
I was informed (but remember it is only
a gossip's story) that some of the neighbouring
families had ordered their letter
to be directed to an adjacent post-town,
from trifling irregularities in the one at
Arbroath having been detected, a stigma
one would not, however, chuse to affix to
any place, without the circumstance having
happened to oneself.
Arbroath has somewhat the appearance
of an English town, from the houses being
built of a reddish stone, and possessing a
neat and substantial look. The streets
are well paved, clean, and very agreeable
to walk in. The Trades'-hall, Town--
hall, and Guild-hall, are all handsome
buildings; on the ground-floor of the
latter, is a subscription library, and coffee--
The monastery stands proudly pre--
eminent in grandeur, on a rising ground,
and must formerly have been of great
extent. Yet, to my taste, it does not
possess that imposing air of picturesque
beauty, which distinguishes Elgin, beyond
any structure of the sort I have ever beheld.
To prevent this venerable pile from
going further to decay, it is undergoing
repair; but the old and the new are so
injudiciously blending, I am afraid it will
completely spoil the aspect of that fine
and ancient grandeur it once possessed in
so striking a degree. Sad depredations
had formerly, and sacrilegiously been committed,
in carrying away large masses of
stones, of which I am informed a great
part of the town is built, by plundering
the venerable abbey. It is believed,
amongst the superstitious vulgar, that none
of the stones of the abbey, in falling, can
hurt the inhabitants, if passing beneath the
building at the time, from the veneration
in which they held the monastery.
The series of rocks are composed of red
sand-stone, and on this coast are to be
found onyxes, jaspers, agates, and cornelians.

Arbroath Monastery was founded by
William the Lion in 1172, and dedicated
to the memory of Thomas of Becket, by
whom it was amply endowed.
The last abbot was Cardinal Beaton,
who, for his magnificence, may justly be
denominated the Wolsey of Scotland.
This was the richest monastery in the
In the Chapter-house, contained in a
box, are the bones of William the Lion,
which were collected on opening his coffin
a few months since, where they were found
in a scattered mutilated state, the skull
laying at the bottom of the coffin; which
gave evidence that freedom had been used
in opening this sacred repository of the
The Bell Rock Light-house, a few
leagues from Arbroath, stands on a high
point of land, and is a great protection to
mariners, many of whom were formerly
shipwrecked on this dangerous coast.
There is a fine building erected for the
accommodation of the family belonging to
the light-house, with a signal tower, which
communicates to and fro, and was built
by the commissioners for the relief of distressed
mariners, and is always flooded
nine feet at high water.
Langley Park, near Montrose,
THE distance of twelve miles from
Arbroath to Montrose, is through an extensive
corn country, with a continued
view of the sea, which opens into the small,
but beautiful Bay of Lunan, encompassed
by several high points of land. On the
most elevated, stands Red Castle, built by
William the Lion, and occasionally visited
as a hunting seat by His Majesty. These
various promontories are designated, Court
Hill, Hawk Hill, and Kinleth-ment,
King's blythe Hill; the latter being the
spot where His Majesty is supposed to
have feasted his nobles. The others are
of equally appropriate names, from the
King holding his courts on the one, and
the other used for hawking.
Montrose is entirely peninsulated, and
thought somewhat to resemble a Flemish
town, from the gable-end of the houses
being chiefly built facing the street, which
in truth is too much the case in many of
the Scotch towns, and takes from that
lively aspect our villages possess. The
heavy stone buildings are gloomy and
cheerless, as well as mean in their appearance.
The principal street is long and spacious;
and the noble bridge thrown over
the Esk, which flows into the German
Ocean, and at high-tide spreads itself into
the form of a magnificent lake, rather than
a river, renders the situation of Montrose
bold and commanding.
The wild grandeur of the insular caves
scattered along the rocky shores of this
coast, between Arbroath and Lunan Bay,
deserve the investigation of the naturalist.
Two miles from the former place, one is
shewn, containing two apartments, to which
belongs a singular tradition. Some centuries
ago, the surrounding country was
the property of a laird, called Seaton, who
possessed an amiable wife, and a son grown
to manhood. An illicit attachment, however,
to another lady, which it was requisite
to conceal, suggested the idea of
fitting up this cave for her reception, to
which he daily carried provisions and whatever
else he thought would contribute to
her comfort in so desolate and rude a
dwelling. His visits continued for some
time uninterrupted and unsuspected; but
at length his son, struck with the frequency
of his father's nocturnal rambles, watched
him closely, and following him to the cave,
discovered the attraction which led to the
desertion of his mother. His father, unconscious
of having been watched, remained
with the lady the usual time, and
then returned home. The following evening,
on renewing his visit, great was his
astonishment and dismay to find the lady
had disappeared. No traces of whither
she had gone, or what was her fate, was
ever discovered; but the most likely conjecture
is, in my opinion, that the young
man had revenged his mother's injury, by
giving her a watery grave. From the
above tradition, this subterraneous dwelling
retains to this day the name of the Lady's
This story is so authentic as to be upon
record in the Session-books of St. Vigian's,
in the neighbouring parish.
From Langley Park, Montrose is seen to
great advantage. The South Esk flowing
in beautiful tranquillity through the valley,
is bordered with a diversity of seats, which
being constantly occupied by the nobility
and gentry of this populous neighbourhood,
gives an air of social cheerfulness to this
district, which, in a less inhabited neighbourhood,
is greatly missed by the partially
scattered inhabitants. Another important
advantage is derived from gentlemen
of large property living upon their
own estates, which forcibly struck me,
the amended and comfortable condition of
the lower classes of the community. The
cottages of the peasantry in the vicinity of
Montrose are all neat, clean, and comfortable,
not merely in exterior, but internally.
The lattices are covered with woodbines,
and grass-plots border the doors. I expressed
to my friend Mrs. C ——, the
pleasure afforded to the eye by so considerable
an amendment, when she informed
me no tenant was suffered to retain possession
longer than while they kept their
houses and adjoining premises in neat
order, and cultivated their small gardens.
When the least appearance of dirt and disorder
was visible, they forfeited their tenure,
and were immediately turned out.
Did all the nobility and gentry throughout
Scotland excite this laudable ambition, to
preserve neatness (to which comfort they
begin to be alive) how rapid would become
the progress in improvement, even in the
remotest and most uncivilized parts of the
Highlands; and how cheering and rural
would the aspect of the meanest cottage
My visit here has proved a source of
high enjoyment. I have before made the
trite but just remark, that juvenile friendships
awaken, on the renewal, a thousand
tender association of ideas, and are peculiarly
gratifying to the heart. The lady of
Mr. C —— is the daughter of Professor Gerard,
the early cotemporary of my uncle's,
the Rev. Dr. Fordyce, and David, who was
Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Marishal
College of Aberdeen. Professor Gerard
was a gentleman whose genuine piety
dignified the pulpit which he adorned, and
whose elegant erudition was ably displayed
in his Essay on Taste, on which theme the
Rev. Mr. Alison (whose daughter is become
a member of the Gerard family), has also
highly distinguished himself in his finished
illustration of a subject so partially known
and little felt.
Dunfermline, October.
I DATE this Letter from the abode of
genius, of no ordinary class; and if the
power of description could be caught by
contagion, it would convey to you a very
lively and accurate picture of "Dunfermline
grey," as the Border Minstrel calls it;
for I write from the dwelling of the author
of "Clan Albin." If you have read her
book, you must recognize in it that glow
of pure and virtuous feeling which is the
genuine emanation of a warm and good
heart. It possesses other merits, which
can only be duly estimated by the initiated;
I mean those who have lived in the Highlands,
and being acquainted with its language
and manners, are qualified to judge
of the faithful resemblance of the picture
which she has drawn. These romantic
regions, and no less romantic inhabitants,
with all their warm affections, and poetic
habits of thinking, afford a fine subject
for description. And these natives of the
mountains, on whose veracity and judgment
I can equally depend, assure me, her
account is executed with correct fidelity.
This engaging young woman appears to me
as simple and natural in her manners, as elegant
and pure in her mind, and every way
calculated to illustrate her description of
the gentle and modest virtues in the female
This ancient and interesting place, once
the seat of royalty, and which might justly
be denominated the Windsor of Scotland,
is now become a melancholy picture of the
revolution which time effects in the ruinous
desolation spread around. The venerable
remains of the stately palace, resting on
a steep elevation, is
———— "Now obscur'd
By sordid moss, and ivy creeping leaf.*
* The only Scottish ruin I saw covered with ivy.
The princely palace and stupendous fane,
Magnificent in ruin, nod. When Time,
From under tumbling architraves hath mov'd
The column down, and cleft the pond'rous stone."
* * * * * * *
"Dunfermline old, th' abode of Scottish kings,
Who erst a welcome gave to those forlorn,
By lawless force expell'd, from England's throne.
There also royal Edward lodg'd in state,
Attended by his court and barons bold;
He grac'd these royal walls, nor e'er could boast,
More princely mansion in his native land.
'Twas there the royal martyr first beheld,
In infant years, the pleasing beams of light;
And joyful view'd these hills and winding streams,
The Forth, Edina, Stirling seen afar,
And all the beauties of the shining scene,
For him, of life, how bright the morning beam'd!"
No spot appears more entirely calculated
for monastic seclusion than Dunfermline.
Formerly the walls of the abbey and palace
covered a vast extent of that ground,
which is now a great part of the town. The
deep sequestered woods in which the palace
rests, are full of solemn beauty. The
high embowering trees almost overshadow
the mouldering walls, and give a pensive
gloom in unison with the character of the
ruin, while the trees clad in their variegated
autumnal robes, are rich in all the glow of
luxuriant beauty.
The south aspect of the palace is now
merely a ruinous and solitary wall, containing
two rows of mutilated windows.
One of the higher ones belonged to the
apartment which Charles the First inhabited.
A singular tradition is related,
which shews the dark superstition of those
When the royal infant was first taken
from his mother's chamber, and placed in
his cradle, in the adjoining room, the window
suddenly burst open, with a tremendous
noise, and a crimson sheet floating in,
envelopped the cradle, and shrowded the
babe as far as the throat. His Majesty,
on being informed of the cause of the
noise, prophesied that the child would end
his days in blood. On learning that the
sheet or mantle reached to the throat, he
said that he would lose his head.
The rude stone figures above a high window
in the old palace wall, and near the
chamber in which King Charles was born,
is the Salutation of the Virgin, and bears
date A: D. 1100; supposed to be the oldest
date extant, in Arabic characters, in Scotland.
Between the figures of the angel
and the Virgin, are the arms of Queen
Margaret, said to be the most ancient armorial
bearings extant in Britain. This
once magnificent palace is situated in a romantic
dell, through which flows a sparkling
stream, called Tower-burn, from the
Tower of Malcolm Canmore standing on
an elevation deeply sequestered, and surrounded
by the water of Lyne.
The profound solitude of the place, and
the solemn silence which reigned amid the
deep shade of the woods, waving over the
magnificent ruin, gave a sublimity to the
scene, that seemed to shut out the world,
and breathe a sanctity over the place,
which carried the imagination back to those
ages when it was peopled with the illustrious
personages of whom tradition affords
so many interesting records. The history
of Queen Margaret abounds with the most
striking events; and here her memory is
not only held in the highest veneration,
but she actually was worshipped as a saint.
Indeed, at the remote period in which she
lived, when the infusion of knowledge was
scarcely known in the female character, she
must have been looked on as a prodigy in
learning; and her piety was of so high an
order, that miracles were continually ascribed
to her. In a street, called May--
gate (May, in the low-land tongue signifies
a maid), Queen Margaret was accustomed
to assemble all the young women on
the first of May, and walk with them in
procession to a farm called Brankholm,
where she gave them a rural repast of curds
and cream.
Two miles from the town is a huge stone,
bearing her name, and having a large indenture,
said to retain the impression of
her foot, from the tide of the Forth having
the courtesy to flow with her to this spot,
where her landing after shipwreck was effected,
and then receded back to its usual
The street called Palace-place, presents
to great advantage the old gothic arched
gate-way, and small spiral tower, rising
close behind it. What was formerly the monastery,
adjoining the palace, is separated
by this ancient gate-way, and cavities in
the wall mark the cells of the monks.
The monastery was founded by Malcolm
Canmore, of the order of St. Benedict, but
the monks were said to have been originally
It is, perhaps, worthy of notice, that
Dunfermline is remarkable for the origin
of the Seceders. The famous Erskines
first displayed in this place the banners of
the testimony.
In the May-gate, over the door of what
was once the abbot's house, is the following
"Since word is thrall, and thought is free,
Keep well thy tongue, I council thee."
A female, with whom he is said to have
been illicitly connected, occasioned the
above whimsical lines.
The ancient church used for divine service
has much the appearance of a decayed
cathedral, the nave being supported with
rows of massy pillars; the pews are aukwardly
jumbled together, and the place has
a most forlorn look, from negligence in keeping
it in order and repair. I was told, that
in this church a remnant of popish ceremony
is still used; I mean that of penance.
Not long ago, a person had been seen clad
in a sheet, on the stool of repentance. This
exhibition, seems to me, strangely incongruous
in a church which will admit of no
ceremonies whatever.
I was much pleased with the ingenious
mode of weaving the damask, which is
manufactured with much perfection at
It is not without a feeling of regret, I
take, most probably, my final leave of a
place which has given me such an interesting
acquaintance, and been productive of
two days of intellectual enjoyment, such
as I have rarely experienced.
St. Andrew's square, Edinburgh,-
I AM now, my dear friend, arrived at
the last point of my Tour, and just in time
for the Caledonian Races, once the only
diversion which cheered the inhabitants of
this high-minded country with recollections
of departed royalty, since Princesses
Mary and Anne, afterwards successive
queens of England, kept a little court in
Holyrood House. These races might be
considered as an annual festival, where all
the great and gay of the kingdom were
assembled, where the new equipage of the
day, and the new beauty of the season,
were first exhibited, and where the politics
and fashion of the ensuing year were
settled; besides marriages, the first acquaintance
which led to them, often beginning
in this centre of general attraction.

There the possessor of Asiatic wealth
first publicly displayed his importance,
and there, also the "haughty feudal
Thane," as publicly despised it. The
Scotch nobility, whom their duties or
their pleasures kept all the winter in the
metropolis, hurried down to this great
meeting, which annually appeared like the
ghost of the departed court, to remind
the Scotch, that they were once an independent
nation. From this recollection,
the lenient hand of Time has drained
the bitterness; and when those who had
witnessed the last faded splendour of Holyrood
House were "quietly inurned," their
successors tasted joy without alloy, during
the festival, when, in the gay month of
July, all that in Scotland could produce
splendour, elegance, and beauty, were
assembled on the sands of Leith, to the
no small delight, not only of the actors
in that brilliant scene, but also of the
plebeian crowd assembled to be witnesses.
The Isthmian games scarcely excited a
stronger sensation in Greece than these
equestrian contests produced in the frugal
north; for there, public amusements, on
an expensive scale, were formerly of rare
occurrence. Though the superior pleasure
of social intercourse and intelligent conversation
were perhaps more generally
understood and cultivated than in any
other part of the island. The thoughts of
the young and the gay were, for half a
year before, occupied with the appearance
they were to make at the races, and still
more at the pre-eminent ball given by
the noblemen and gentlemen of the Caledonian
Hunt, distinguished by the title
of the Hunters' Ball. To be admitted to
this truly happy meeting was a mark of
gentility, sufficient for life. Never to have
been at the Hunters' Ball was a melancholy
blank, of which none chose to be
reminded. This gala lived as long in
recollection as in anticipation, not being
obliterated by other splendid gaieties. But
these glories were, like all others, destined
to decay, after enjoying their undiminished
pre-eminence for more than a century.
With awakened industry, came wealth,
and with wealth luxury, its varied gratifications
and its wonted and vapid fickleness.
The amusements which the craving
appetite of wealth and idleness required,
divided the attention; pleasures becoming
more common, were no longer poignant;
and the satiated appetite for enjoyment
was rendered fastidious. By the new
lights which frequent intercourse with the
south afforded to the hardy simplicity of
the natives, they discerned that they had,
for a hundred years past, been running
horses over sinking sands, very ill calculated
for the purpose, and dancing in a season
when they should have been courting the
zephyrs in some cool recess in their country
retreats. Shocked at the discovery of
this gothic barbarism, in which they had
blindly persisted for a whole century, they
abandoned the sands to the sea-nymphs,
and a few veteran jockeys, who, either for
their sake, or that of the king's plate,
continued constant to the "yellow sands."
Gay provincial meetings succeeded, where
little was lost or won, but an agreeable
pretext afforded for the respectable families
to meet and spend a happy week together
in their respective county towns. Whether
the distinction which their countrymen
have acquired in the late wondrous fields of
glory, or the no less lasting laurels which
they have recently gained in the fairer
region of intellect, has renovated the proud
national feeling? or whether is it from some
other motive, that the leaders of fashion
resolved, with one consent, to revive the
wonted festival in all its ancient splendour?
With a little alteration of time and
place, calculated to obviate the formidable
objections which proved fatal to the ancient
games, this great meeting took place at this
period, on the Links of Musselburgh. Links
is one of the significant Scotch terms
which cannot be literally translated into
the vulgar tongue. It generally implies
a piece of hard or gravelly ground, adapted
for some manly exercises, such as the
golf, foot-ball, &c., and is usually left
unoccupied in the vicinity of every town
for such purposes, People of old, came
from all quarters to this meeting. The
bustle created in towns, the number of
handsome carriages occupied by persons of
condition, and fashionables, is far beyond
what we could have imagined possible to
be met with, at such a distance from our
great capital. All, too, were in the highest
good humour. The young, from the exuberant
spirits natural to their time of
life; the old, from a secret complacency
at seeing the customs of their early days
revived, with a modification which even
those sages allowed to be an improvement,
regarding both the season and the
To attempt a description of the races
would be to no purpose, except to display
my ignorance of the subject. A
Scotch horse-race seems to resemble an
English one, except in the want of bets,
picking of pockets, and quarrelling. But
the Scotch, of late years, have shewn
such a readiness in adopting our customs,
that it is probable these refinements will
not escape the observation and imitation
of that sagacious people.
It would be unjust to the genius of an
actor, and the taste of the audience, to
omit mentioning, that Mr. Kean's theatrical
talents formed the principal attraction
of the race-week; and even surpassed
that expectation which had been raised
to the highest pitch. The feeling of excellence
is no where higher than in Edinburgh,
but the experience of it is much
stronger in London. One reason of this
may be, that the theatre forms no part of
the common amusement of the lower
classes in Scotland. In short, in what is
pre-eminently styled, the intellectual city,
this actor exhibits his powers to an audience
composed entirely of ladies or gentlemen,
studious of the decorum of their
characters, and unapt to lavish praise incautiously.
They think it extremely inelegant
to interrupt the actor in the current
of his feelings, and destroy the
momentary illusion of the audience with
noisy applause; and when any person
attempts this transgression on good taste,
he is immediately silenced by expressed
disapprobation. They receive and dismiss
a favourite performer with plaudits, more
gratifying for not being rashly bestowed.
Nothing could be more fervent than the
applause conferred on this great tragedian,
by an audience, of which mob formed no
The chief of critics, in this region of
criticism, had not words to express his
admiration, but was obliged to have recourse
to a poetical figure for that purpose.
He said, "That in Sir Giles
Over-reach, the hero so completely realized
the idea of fiendish wickedness, that he
every moment expected horns to sprout
from his forehead, and flames to issue
from his mouth."
His Richard, his Othello, and his Hamlet,
were all admired exceedingly. High
excellence in this, as in other arts, conquers
all obstacles. But, assuredly, the
size of the theatre, and the very miscellaneous
composition of the audience in
London, afford greater room for the
conquest of difficulties, than the fastidiousness
which has been imputed to the small
and select number which composes that
of Edinburgh.
St. Andrew's Square, October.
I SHALL now, my dear Miss Porter,
conclude the account of an excursion
which I shall always look back upon with
pleasure, only inferior to that which the
meeting with old friends, and the acquisition
of new ones inspired, while I was
journeying through the chill, yet cordial
North, where kindly feelings and social
virtues compensate for the ungenial climate,
and those dark heaths and frowining
mountains, which, while they repel or
astonish the southern traveller, add beauty
to the sunny slopes, to the sheltered glens,
and native woods, that relieve with their
romantic aspect and soft attractions, the
general sterility which in some parts prevails.

Besides those incommensurable enjoyments
afforded by friendship, on which
"memory loveth to dwell," and which belong
to that "spirit, with which a stranger
intermeddleth not," there yet remains on
my mind recollections, and a degree of satisfaction,
which the all-wise and good must
share. Those rapid improvements which
have made the "desert blossom as the
rose," and covered heaths, hitherto barren,
with the shade of new plantations,
and opened from sea to sea a safe path
for the sails of commerce, and the exercise
of industry; those various pursuits
which furnish employment at home for the
people who were wont in former times to
waste their valour, their industry, and
their intellects, in the service of foreign
states; and, above all, the national and
moral application of that wealth which the
patient and strenuous exertions of individuals
have brought home from our distant
colonies, must fill every reflecting mind
with the purest satisfaction. Seldom, very
seldom, does a Scotchman, returning with
a fortune acquired in our eastern or western
colonies, plunge into the dissipation of
fashionable life. His first care is generally
to refresh, with a gentle and well-proportioned
shower of beneficence, the "dry
domain" of his less fortunate kindred. —
His next, to purchase a spot, perhaps bleak
and forlorn, which, at some remote period,
belonged to his ancestors, or at least to
his tribe. There the wonder-working power
of wealth, co-operating with judgment and
industry, soon displays itself, in changing
the face of nature, enriching the plains,
shading the hills, and turning blemishes
into beauties, by a judicious application
of that skill in landscape scenery, in which
the British have hitherto been unequalled.
The number of these new and flourishing
establishments, and the agricultural science
displayed in the three Lothians, seem
at least a partial accomplishment of Aaron
Hill's well-known prophecy sixty years
since, when hope itself could scarce have
anticipated what now we see. Speaking
of the prosperity and luxury of England,
he says,
"Scotland comes after like an unripe fair,
Who sighs with anguish at her sister's air;
Unconscious she herself will have her day,
And be the toast when t'other's charms decay."
Averted be the last part of the prophecy;
long may those ripened charms
flourish in perennial bloom. But they
have certainly attained their acmè of perfection.
While those northern hills, on
which the power of cultivation lies, and
joys to see the "wonder of his hand,"
have something of novelty and freshness
added to their native picturesque variety,
which is very gratifying to taste as well
as to benevolence, from the darker shades
of the picture which rise in perspective to
the "mind's eye," one willingly turns
That the stern mountain virtues will
continue to flourish with equal vigour in a
more cultivated soil, is too much to hope.
That the piety, sagacity, frugality, intelligence,
and independent spirit of the lowland
peasantry, will continue unimpaired,
when national distinctions die away, is
more desirable than likely. History, however,
which, in other countries is accounted
the school of princes, is here, in some measure,
the school for peasants; for in no
country are the lower classes so well acquainted
with the opinions, the actions,
and sufferings of their ancestors; or cling
so friendly to those doctrines for which
they made such costly sacrifices.
The only apology I have to offer to
you, my friend, or to readers equally indulgent,
for my prolixity, is, that being a
native of Scotland, though not an inhabitant,
more of the interior of the country
lay open to my view. In short, that I
have said more than others, because I
actually had more to say.
I cannot bid you finally adieu, without
again repeating how proud I feel in publicly
testifying those sentiments of regard,
springing from our early friendship; a
friendship, which first existing between our
parents, has descended to their daughters;
but is now founded rather on a knowledge
of your intrinsic excellence, than on that
high reputation which you have attained
as an Author.
No. I.
"THE head, at some distance, resembles
that of a dog, with his ears cut close; but when
near, you see it has a long thick snout, a wide
mouth, and the eyes sunk within the head.
Altogether it has a most horrid look; insomuch,
that if one were to paint a Gorgon's
head, I think I could not find a more frightful
model. As they swim, the head, which is
high above the water, is continually moving
from side to side, to discover danger. The
body is horizontally flattish, and covered with
a hairy skin, often very finely varied with
spots. Beneath the skin is a deep spongy fat,
something like that of the skinny part of a
leg of mutton: from this they chiefly draw
the oil. The fins, or feet, are very near the
body, webbed like a duck, about twelve inches
wide, but in shape very much like the hand
of a man; when they feed as they swim, they
stoop the head down to the fore foot. When
they dive, they swim under water, I think I
may say a quarter of a mile together; and
they dart after their prey with a surprising
velocity, considering their bulk and the element
they divide."
Letters from Scotland.
No. II.
Epitaph to the Memory of Archibald Fraser.
"THIS Stone is erected to the Memory of
L.L.D. F.R.S. F.A.S. F.S A. &c. &c. &c.
Lord of Beaufort, Abertarf, and Loveth,
Soldier Maeshimi 38th
To John Duke of Argyle,
To Archibald Duke of Argyle.
While upon a Diplomatic Mission to the Mahometan
States of Africa, he, by Order of
His most sacred Majesty George III. effected
a Peace between those States, the Kingdom of
Denmark and Republic of Venice. He procured
Indemnification from the Empire of Russia
for Depredations committed on the British
Flag; and during his Ten Year's Stay in those
Countries, he, by his King's Permission, redeemed
Spanish, Portuguese, and Imperial
Subjects, at the Expence to those Courts of
Two Millions sterling, while not a single
Briton was sold or taken into Slavery,
He co-operated with James Duke of Montrose
in restoring to the Highlanders the dress of
their Ancestors
He, at his own Expence, and in Person, surveyed
the Fisheries on the West Coast of Scotland
and the Hebrides, and petitioned for a
Repeal of the Duties on Salt and Coals. He
laboured to improve the Soil. He amended
the Breed of Highland Oxen, and broke them
into Harness. He encouraged the Manufactories
of coarse Wool, Hemp, and Flax. He meliorated
the Dairies; and by affording Employment
to a hardy Race of Men, returned from
serving their Country in the Wars, he repressed
Emigration, and preserved to his Country
their equally valuable Services in Peace.
After quelling Insurrections on the 18th of
August, he planned the System of legally
putting Arms into the Hands of Men of Property;
and when the Country was threatened
with Invasion, had the Satisfaction of seeing
its Adoption and Efficacy."
No. III.
Epitome of Simon Lord Lovat.
"SIMON, Son of Thomas of Beaufort, being
outlawed, lived in exile till the year 1714;
he then obtained remission; next year got the
life-rent escheat of Preston Hall, and an annual
pension of £300; in 1730 the honours
were adjudged to him by the Court of Session.
He was made captain of an independent
Highland regiment; paid a sum of money
to Preston Hall's son, for his right to the
estate; but his behaviour in 1745 and 1746
brought him to the block in April 1747; and
his estate was forfeited, and honours extinguished."

Culloden Papers.
No. IV.
Epitaph on Lord Loves Monument at
To the memory of Thomas Lord Fraser of
Lovat, who chose rather to undergo the
greatest hardship of fortune, than to part
with the antient honours of his house; and
bore those hardships with an undaunted fortitude
of mind. This monument was erected
by Simon Lord Fraser of Lovat, his son, who
likewise having undergone many and great
vicissitudes of good and bad fortune, through
the malice of his enemies; He, in the end,
at the head of his clan, forced his way to his
paternal inheritance with his sword in his
hand, and relieved his kindred and followers
from oppression and slavery; and both at
home and in foreign countries, by his eminent
actions in the war and state, he acquired great
honour and reputation.
Hic tegit ossa lapis Simonis fortis in armis.
Restituit pressum nam genus ille suum.
Hoc marmor posuit cari Genitoris honori,
In genus afflictum par erat ejus amor."
Latin Inscription on his Coffin.
"IN plumbeo hoc sarcophago, conduntur
exuviæ Simonis Domini Frazerii de Lovato,
qui post viginti annorum in patria et apud
exteros summa cum laude et gloria vitæ pericula,
ab Atholi tyrannide et Mackenzeorum
de Tarbato dolis et insidiis genus suum Tribum
et Familiam restituit et servavit. Antiquam
servare Familiam non ultima laus est;
non honor est hosti, qui spoliavit eam. Hic
licet, insidiis et duro marte valebat; Hunc
pepulit bello Simon et arte sagax."
This leaden sarcophagus contains the remains
of Simon Lord Fraser of Lovat, who,
after being exposed to twenty years of dangers,
both at home and abroad, with the greatest
credit and glory to himself, recovered and
preserved his own kindred, clan, and family
from the tyranny of Athol, and the insidious
designs of the Mackenzies of Tarbat. To
preserve an ancient house was not his highest
merit; whilst dishonour attended the enemy
who spoiled it, and who prevailed by craft
and cruelty; Simon expelled him by skilful
policy and open war.
No. V.
Account of the Vitrified Forts at Knockfarril,
near Inverness. By ALEXANDER FRASER
"THE hill itself is a small conical eminence,
forming the eastern extremity of that
ridge of mountains which bounds Loch Ness
on the north-west side. It is situated about
a mile to the north of Inverness, and is accessible
on two different quarters, viz. the west,
and south-east; the former affording entrance
by a narrow level ridge, joining the hills on
Loch Ness, and the latter from an easy ascent
from the high ground above Inverness. On
approaching the bill from the west, we first
met with a road cut through the rock, from
the bottom to the top, in most places 10 feet
broad, and nearly as deep, winding for about
70 feet in an easy serpentine direction, by
which we gain an ascent over a steep rock,
otherwise quite inaccessible from that quarter.
This road, in our author's opinion, is undoubtedly
the work of art, and the vitrified matter
on the lap is the only thing which indicates
the effect of fire; there being neither an appearance
of pumice-stone, lava, nor basaltes
about the hill otherwise. There is indeed
plenty of pudding-stone, which some have
supposed to be of the nature of volcanic
tofa, but this opinion is rejected by our author
as erroneous. 'But the circumstance,' says
he, 'which, in my apprehension, evinces in
the most satisfactory manner, that these appearances
of the effect of fire on the summit
of the hill, are not the operation of Nature,
but of art, is the regular order, and disposition
of those materials, the form of the
ground, and the various traces of skill and
contrivance, which are yet discernible, though
considerably defaced, either by external violence
or the obliterating hand of Time.' To
investigate this matter regularly, he begins
by the winding road already mentioned, and
which is evidently cut through the rock for
the purpose of gaining an easy ascent from
the level ridge to the summit, which would
otherwise have been impracticable. On ascending
by this road there appears, towards
the middle, on the right hand, a small platform
overhanging the passage, and inclining
by a very gentle declivity towards the ridge
of the rock. A few enormous stones are
placed upon the platform, and on the edge,
and extremity of it, which have evidently
been guided by art into that position; it being
impossible that they could have rested there
had they been rolled down from the higher
parts. The obvious reason for placing them
in such a position has been, that on an alarm
of danger they might be projected into the
path below, which could have been done by
the efforts of a very few men; and when this
was done the passage would be entirely obstructed,
or at least rendered so difficult that
it could be defended by a few, against a number
of assailants. Some other large stones
are placed on an eminence to the left, probably
with a view to block up a hollow channel
by which an enemy might have attempted to
ascend. When we come to the top of the
hill, a few feet below the rampart which
crowns the whole, there appears an outward
wall, approaching on the sides of the hill, so
near the upper rampart, as to have only a
trench of ten or twelve feet wide between
them. This outward wall is in some places
so low, as to be almost level with the rock,
though in other places it rises to the height
of two or three feet; but even where lowest
it may be traced by a line of vitrified matter
sticking fast to the rock all along, and nearly
of the same breadth, which is almost nine
feet. The remains of this wall are strongly
vitrified, except in one place on the north
side, where, for about 70 yards the rampart
is formed only of dry stones and earth. At
the east side, where the hill is more accessible,
there is a prodigious mound of vitrified
matter, extending itself to the thickness of
above 40 feet. At the south-east corner, and
adjoining to this immense mound, is an outwork,
consisting of two semicircular vitrified
walls, with a narrow pass cut through
them in the middle, which appears to have
been another, and perhaps the principal entrance
to the fort. The inner wall surrounding
the summit of the hill, encloses an oblong
area of about 75 yards long, and 30 broad,
rounded at each of the ends like the outward
wall; it shews some imperfect traces of
having been defended by four turrets or bastions:
a number of small tumuli of earth,
with a stone in the center, are more discernible.
On the east side, a portion of the internal
space appears separated from the rest by
two ranges of stones fixed in the earth, forming
a right angled parallelogram. This separation
is immediately discernible to the eye
from the circumstance of the whole of the
enclosed summit being carefully cleared from
stones; those that form this division, and the
single one in the middle of the circle of tumuli,
being the only ones to be seen. It is difficult
to conjecture the design of this separated
space. Perhaps it has marked the residence
of those of a higher rank, or served as a temple
of devotion. On the east end of the area,
on the summit, there is a well, six feet in diameter,
now nearly filled up."
The above is the account of those singular
productions given to the scientific world,
since Mr. Williams ventured to publish his
description of them.
During my excursion among those forts, I
discovered at Strathpeffar some detached
pieces, which I brought with me to London;
on breaking one of them, to give a specimen
to a friend, he observed that it contained a
piece of a plant. This fact naturally excited
his curiosity, as it is generally admitted that
the whole mass had been fused by fire, and
that such an intense heat must have either
entirely destroyed or carbonized the vegetable
fibres. Neither of those circumstances took
place: the vegetable was completely enveloped
in the mass, without any other change
in its constitution except that of being very
dry. On examining the parts of the stone
which contained the plant, it was observed
that a distinct bed had been formed for it, and
that the internal surface of this singular cave
in miniature presented an appearance of
smoothness almost approaching to that of a
natural polish. This fact offers some interesting
views to theorists, and may perhaps
contribute to explain certain phenomena
which have occasioned much controversy and
speculation. It appears, from an inspection
of the mineral and plant, and the actual state
of both, that the moisture of the vegetable
had been disengaged and decomposed by the
heat, and that on assuming the gaseous state
it had formed an atmosphere around the vegetable
matter, which preserved it entire. In
this manner it is easy to account for the existence
of a plant in this fused lapidous matter;
and the same or similar circumstances may
also explain many other appearances not hitherto
sufficiently defined.
No. VI.
A Ballad. By a Gardener at Kinnoul, Duff.
"WHEN plague and death, a dreary space,
Pervaded Britain's isle;
When sorrow sat on many a face,
And few were seen to smile.
On Almond's side, as poets tell,
There dwelt two ladies gay;
The one was nam'd fair Bessy Bell,
The other, Mary Gray.
Fast knit in close relation's bands,
Their friendship still increas'd;
And each was heiress of the lands
Her sires had long possess'd.
Thus Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
In years and beauty grew;
While death around them ev'ry day,
Confirm'd his mission true.
By fear impress'd, it struck their mind,
To live recluse from man;
And long they sought a spot to find
Convenient for their plan.
To build a bow'r on Almond's side,
Within a lonely wood,
Where herbs and roots and fruit supplied
Those maidens for their food.
Here many a month, in humble guise,
They fix'd their lone abode;
Unknown or seen by human eyes,
They spent their time with God.
Religion in their early youth,
Had oft their minds employ'd,
And trusting now its sacred truth,
Much comfort they enjoy'd.
No costly table here was spread,
With dishes rich and fine;
Nor humble page, in liv'ry clad,
Pour'd out the homely wine.
The bramble grape, the hazle nut,
The crystal spring that flow'd,
Were all, it seem'd, those maidens sought,
And all that Heav'n bestow'd.
No gaudy weeds those ladies wore,
Nor diamonds had to boast;
Nor silk, nor furs, from foreign shores,
Brought home with toil and cost.
The flax that wav'd on yonder field,
Supplied them linen white;
The wool which Scotia's mountains yield,
Here clad them day and night.
Here Nature spread her beauties wide,
In ev'ry flow'r that springs;
And music swell'd on either side,
From ev'ry bird that sings.
The lark awak'd them in the morn,
With her delightful note,
The linnets warbled from the thorn,
Around their humble cot.
Thus far remov'd from human kind,
They thought themselves secure;
Nor foul infection could them find,
Nor death descry their door.
But ah! the fire of ardent love
Conceal'd in Bessy's breast,
Which naught but fate could disapprove,
Bereav'd her mind of rest.
A neighbouring youth of manners mild,
And much respected birth,
Her near acquaintance from a child,
And conscious of her worth.
Who long had sigh'd for Bessy Bell,
And long conceal'd his pain,
At length had told his tender tale,
Nor was his suit in vain.
For she, it seems, had likewise lov'd,
Though close she kept the same;
No wonder then her heart approv'd,
When he declar'd his flame.
Oft by sweet Almond's flow'ry side,
The youthful pair had rov'd;
When oft he styl'd fair Bess his bride,
And told how much he lov'd.
But now that he had lost his fair,
No peace on earth had he;
His mind was fill'd with anxious care,
And sad perplexity.
Both town and country, far and near,
He sought for Bessy Bell;
But, ah! no tidings could he hear,
For none her home could tell.
Then did this youth, day after day,
His search for her renew;
Nor pass'd the stranger on his way,
But ask'd if he her knew.
Oh, have you seen fair Bessy Bell,
The flower of woman-kind?
Oh, gentle stranger, can you tell,
Where I this nymph might find?
Her hair is like the threads of gold,
Ty'd with a ribbon blue;
Her frame was cast in beauty's mould,
With Nature's likeness true.
Then would he to the winds complain
Of his hard destiny;
Or breath'd his plaint in mournful strain,
Or sad soliloquy.
Oh love! my everlasting foe,
And cause of all my pain;
Must I the sweets of life forego,
And waste my youth in vain?
Oh! hear my plaint, ye pow'rs above,
And mitigate my woe;
Oh! had she known how much I love,
She had not left me so.
The dove may take a morning flight,
And leave her mate to mourn;
But long before the fall of night
Will to her nest return.
For surely some unhallow'd hand
Has borne my fair aside;
Perhaps this night in wedlock's band,
My Bess becomes a bride.
Oh, would some angel lead the way,
Or point what road to take;
Though thousand dangers round her lay,
I'd brave them for her sake.
But why complain of Bessy Bell,
Or think of fortune ill?
Oh, could I hope! but who can tell,
Perhaps she loves me still.
But see the sun has left the sky,
The shades of night draw near;
The fleecy clouds of crimson dye
Begin to disappear.
No hamlet round me I can spy,
But bleak and dreary waste;
Where shall a wand'rer safely
His weary limbs to rest?
To Lyndoch Hall I'll bend my way,
Where friendship I shall find;
There dwells her uncle, worthy Gray,
Of feeling heart and kind.
My mournful tale of slighted love,
To him I will declare;
A heart like his no doubt 'twill move,
To sympathetic care.
But see, from yonder bow'ring shade
What glimmering taper shines;
Perhaps some hermit there has fled,
And now in hunger pines.
I'll haste me hence, perhaps in time,
Ere death has clos'd his eye,
To succour life was ne'er a crime,
Though even doom'd to die.
Then straight he hied him to the spot,
From whence this taper shone;
At length he reach'd the humble cot,
Built of green sod alone.
The roof of pyramidal form,
Cut from the neighb'ring bushes;
And as a shelter from the storm,
'Twas thatched o'er with rushes.
He round it gaz'd, with wond'ring eyes,
To think upon the choice;
But who can paint the sweet surprise,
To hear a female voice.
He paus'd to think what hapless fair
Might in this bower dwell;
But oh! think what his feelings were,
To hear his Bessy Bell.
An eager transport fir'd his breast,
Regardless of all harms;
The door he gently backward press'd,
And lock'd her in his arms.
But who can paint in colours fair,
This sweet, this tender scene?
Ye fervent lovers now declare,
Nor dare for once to feign.
HER faithful cousin, Mary Gray,
Upon a couch reclin'd;
The sacred volume by her lay,
Her guide and counsel kind.
Alarm'd to find a youth so rude,
Had found this sweet retreat;
And see a stranger thus intrude,
She sunk beside her seat.
Her balmy lips, of rosy hue,
Appear'd like lifeless clay;
Her eyes, like pearly drops of dew,
Their lustre died away.
At length she heav'd a melting sigh,
O'ercome with fear and grief;
The stranger heard, and turn'd his eye,
Then sprung to her relief.
E'en love with all its boasted charms,
He for a moment spurn'd;
And held her fondly in his arms,
Till life and sense return'd.
Her eyes resum'd their lustre bright,
Her lips their scarlet hue;
Her raven locks and bosom white,
His admiration drew.
A sudden stupor seiz'd his thoughts,
But how he could not tell;
He for a moment quite forgot
His peerless Bessy Bell.
'Twas but a moment, and no more,
This conflict he endur'd;
The fair he long had lov'd before
But spoke, and he was curd.
Oh! Mary dear, my cousin kind,
And partner of my woe;
Was ruthless fate itself design'd
To break my comfort so?
This is my much lamented friend,
Young William is his name;
His love for me, which knows no end,
Has been in this to blame.
But now that fortune's fickle wheel,
Has brought my friend to me;
Come share with me the joy I feel,
And I'll do so with thee.
Thus said, she spread a towel white
Upon her cousin's knee;
Then brought the best, as well she might,
And serv'd them cheerfully.
No question ask'd, no fault was found,
Nor studied forms were here;
'Twas sweet content the supper crown'd,
And welcome for good cheer.
With hand and heart they jointly strove,
His comfort to procure;
Sure love alone can answer love,
And render bliss secure.
I need not here in words describe
The minutes wing'd their way,
Unheeded, till the feather'd tribe,
Proclaim'd approaching day.
The lark, the linnet, and the thrush,
With warbling notes and wild,
Began to chaunt on ev'ry bush,
While bright Aurora smil'd.
When hand in hand the loving pair,
They left the humble cell;
The heart-felt joys of love to share,
And all its griefs to tell.
'Twas by sweet Almond's limpid stream,
Where sporting fishes play,
Young William and his lovely dame,
That morning took their way.
Here all that love could say, was said,
Or virtuous truth invent;
And here the day was fix'd to wed,
With blushing free consent.
This done, young William took his leave,
And homeward bent his way;
While Bess no more was left to grieve,
To wait the wish'd-for day.
With joy he hied him home to tell,
So well his journey sped;
And how he found his Bessy Bell,
Embow'r'd in yonder shade,
He told his friends they must provide
'Gainst the appointed hour,
To welcome home his lovely bride,
And grace the nuptial bow'r.
But now it pains my heart to speak,
And all must grieve to hear,
Our young bridegroom fell soon so sick,
That death itself seem'd near.
The best of human skill was tried,
The first advice was given;
But all in vain, young William died —
He died in hopes of Heaven.
Thus to disease a victim fell,
A youth of spotless fame;
Whose latest words were Bessy Bell —
Life ended with her name.
Now let us turn to yonder bow'r,
Where these two maidens gay,
Prepar'd to meet the nuptial hour,
Th' appointed wedding-day.
But ah! the pestilential breath,
As many still suppose,
Of their late stranger, prov'd their death,
Though sweet as summer rose.
And there unseen their bodies lay,
Till by some wand'rer found;
And here their graves are seen this day,
Denied the sacred ground.
This simple stone and ivy'd wall,
Directs the stranger's way;
To let the tear of pity fall,
A tribute due to pay.
This worthy Berry fenc'd around,
With many a shrub and tree;
This spot he styl'd sequester'd ground,
And still deserves to be.
Here Almond o'er its pebbl'd bed,
Meanders soft and sweet;
There many a winding walk and shade,
Where lovers daily meet.
Here gallant Graham, of well won fame,
Has fix'd his mansion seat;
And greatly beautify'd the same,
With wood and gardens sweet.
His matchless skill and boundless taste,
At Lyndoch now to view,
Have brought him many a noble guest,
Which never Scotland knew.
But here my muse must quit her theme,
Nor more the numbers tell;
May fortune wait on worthy Graham,
And peace to Bessy Bell."
Bessy Bell and Mary Gray.
THE former was daughter to the laird of
Kinnaird; the latter was daughter to the laird
of Lyndoch, in Perthshire. It is said that,
during the plague in 1645 they, to avoid it,
retired from their friends, to a romantic spot,
now called Beechey Brae, on the banks of the
Almond, where they built a bower, and lived
for some time on the productions of Nature,
but being discovered by a young gentleman,
who was deeply in love with Bessy Bell, they
all died of the plague soon after.
No. VII.
Names of the Caves, &c. about Two Miles East
of Arbroath.
Lady's Cave.
Mason's Cave, about 200 feet long, 20 or
30 feet high.
Forbidden Cave, seldom explored; supposed
to be of great length.
Dark, and the Light Cave.
Brandy Cave, and the Gyric Pot, entered
from the sea; of considerable length and
width; formerly used as a hiding-place by
Tradition reports, that the abbey of Arbroath
was destroyed by the Ochterlonies of
Kelly, before the Reformation, with a view
to ged rid of the tythes paid by them to the
The first abbot was Reginaldus, of Tyron.
The second abbot, Dominus Henricus, a professed
monk of Kelso, about the year 1325.
The last commendatory abbot of Arbroath,
was John Hamilton, second son to the Duke
of Chastleherault, who was afterwards created
Marquis of Hamilton. The abbey of Arbroath
was erected into a temporal lordship,
in favour of James, Marquis of Hamilton, son
to the former, upon the 5th of May, 1608.
It afterwards belonged to the Earl of Dysart,
from whom Patrick Maule, of Panmure, gentleman
of the bedchamber to King James the
Sixth, purchased it, with the right of patronage
of 34 parishes belonging thereto.
The abbey ground, from north to south,
190 paces; from east to west, 113; enclosed
with a stone wall, 18 feet high.
Abbey Church, the length, 275 feet; the
breadth of nave and side aisles, 70.
The length from the entry to Cross Church,
or the transept, 150 feet. — Length of Cross
Church, 170 feet.
Majoris Hist. Dalrymple's (Lord Haile's)
Ann. vol. i. p.41.
"Sainct Margaret died in the Castle of
Edinburgh, the 10th of June. Her body was
carried with royal pomp to Dunfermling.
Alexander the Third caused her bones to be
put into a chest of silver, enriched with precious
stones, after many prayers and solemn
processions, and placed it in the noblest part
of the church. During the troubles of the
Reformation, the coffin wherein her head and
hair were inclosed, was carried to the Castle
of Edinburgh, and from thence transported to
the manor-house of the Laird of Dury, who
was a reverend father, priest and monk of
Dunfermling, and dwelt there after his monastery
was pillaged, and the religious forced
to fly away. After he had kept this religious
pledge some years, it was, in 1597, delivered
into the hands of the Jesuits' missionaries in
Scotland, who, seeing it was in danger to be
lost, or prophaned, transported it to Antwerp,
where John Malderus, bishop of that city,
after diligent examination upon oath, gave an
authentic attestation, under the seal of his
office, the 5th of September, 1620, and permitted
it to be exposed to the veneration of
the people. The same relict was acknowledged
by Paul Boudat, Bishop of Arras, the
4th of Sept. 1627. In testimony whereof
he offered 40 day's indulgence to all who
would pray before it. Lastly, on the 4th of
March, 1645, Innocent X, anno primo pontificatus
sui, gave plenary indulgence to all
the faithful, who would pray before it, having
confessed and communicate in the chapel of
the Scot's college of Doway, for the ordinary
ends preserved by the church, on the 10th of
June, festival of this princess. Her relicts
are kept in the Scot's college of Doway, in a
bust of silver. Her skull is enclosed in the
head of the bust, whereupon there is a crown
of silver gilt, enriched with several pearls and
precious stones. In the pedestal, which is of
ebony, indented with silver, her hair is kept,
and exposed to the view of every one through
a glass of chrystal; the bust is reputed the
third statue of Doway, for its value. There
are likewise several stones, red and green, on
her breast, shoulders, and elsewhere. I cannot
tell if they be upright; their bigness
makes me fancy that they be counterfeited."
Hay's Scotia Sacra. — M.S.
"In the year 1250, the young king and
his mother met at Dunfermling, where they
raised the bones of the good Queen Margaret,
wife to Malcolm the Third, and placed them
in a golden shrine, magnificently enriched with
precious stones." Guthrie's Hist.
In delineating the character of Margaret,
the wife of Malcolm the Third, I follow the
traces of Turgot, her confessor: "Far be it
"from my hoary head," says Turgot, "to
"feign or flatter. As God is my witness and
"my judge, I relate nothing of Margaret but
"what I know to be true: many things which
"I know to be true, I have omitted, because
"they would have appeared incredible."
Some allowance, however, must be made
for the secret bias of a panegyrist, to magnify
the virtues, and extenuate the imperfections
of the person whom he celebrates.
From her earliest youth, Margaret studied
the Scriptures, as they were then studied, in
the verbal sense of the Vulgate. Her apprehension
was acute, her memory tenacious, and
her diligence unwearied; hence she attained
to an uncommon proficiency in what was then
esteemed to be knowledge. Endowed with
all the graces of utterance, she was, perhaps,
inclined to display her learning and her eloquence
more than her royal estate required,
or than became her sex. "Often," says
Turgot, "have I, with admiration, heard her
discourse on subtle questions of theology, in
presence of the most learned men of the
Of this, he gives one example, too characteristical
to be omitted in a work which I wish
to be a history of manners, as well as of events.
For the reformation of certain erroneous
practices, which prevailed in the Scottish
church, Margaret held frequent conferences
with the clergy. The king understood the
Gaelic language as well as the Saxon. He
willingly performed the office of interpreter,
between his consort and the Scottish ecclesiastics.

"Three days did she employ the sword
of the spirit, in combating their errors. She
seemed another St. Helena, out of the scriptures,
convincing the Jews."
The right season for celebrating Lent was
the subject of this solemn conference. The
queen's arguments prevailed.
Margaret appears to have affected an unusual
splendour about her court. She encouraged
the importation and use of vestments
of various colours. She was magnificent
in her own attire, she increased the
number of attendants on the person of the
king, augmented the parade of his public
appearances, and caused him to be served
at table in gold and silver plate. "At least,"
says the honest historian, "the dishes and
"vessels were gilt or silvered over."
There was what appears to us an air of
ostentatious trifling in her charities. Every
morning she prepared food for nine little
children, all indigent orphans: on her bended
knees she fed them. With her own hands
she ministered at table to crouds of poor
persons, and washed the feet of six every
While the king was occupied in affairs of
state, she repaired to the altar, and there, with
long prayers, sighs, and tears, offered herself
a willing sacrifice to the Lord. In the season
of Lent, besides reciting particular offices,
she went through the whole psalter, twice or
thrice, within the space of twenty-four hours.
Before the time of public mass, she heard five
or six private masses; after the service, she
fed twenty-four persons; and then, and not
till then, she retired to a scanty ascetic meal.
She fell a victim to her long vigils, fastings,
and mortification.
Thus have I faithfully described the shades,
and marked all the blemishes in the character
of this good woman; her zeal for matters indifferent
or dubious; her little vanities of
shew and equipage; her minute obedience of
some evangelical precepts; her literal performance
of others; and her unrequired and
fatal austerities.
I now undertake the more pleasing office
of recording her exemplary virtues, and distinguished
She did not abuse that influence, which the
opinion of her worth had merited, in the
councils of Malcolm. To her he seems to
have entrusted the care of matters respecting
religion, and the internal polity of the kingdom.
In both these there was much to reform.
At that period, the clergy of Scotland had
ceased to celebrate the Communion of the
Lord's Supper. "We are sinners," said they,
"and therefore we dread to communicate
unworthily." The queen displayed to them
the vanity of this superstitious or indolent excuse.

She restored the religious observance of
Sunday; an institution no less admirable in
a political, than in a religious light.
It was not uncommon for a man to marry
his stepmother, or the widow of his brother.
I presume that this was not owing to vague
lust, but to avarice; for it relieved the heir
of a jointure.
We may easily perceive how necessary,
and how difficult, a reformation was in that
kingdom, where the clergy omitted the celebration
of the communion; where the distinction
between Sunday and work-days was
disregarded, and where incestuous alliances
In the administration of her household,
she so blended severity of manners with complacency,
that she was equally revered and
loved by all who approached her. She entertained
many ladies about her person, employed
their leisure hours in the amusement of the
needle, and gave a strict attention to the decency
of their conduct. "In her presence,"
says Turgot, "nothing unseemly was ever
"done or uttered." A strange picture of
that age!
On the education of her children, she bestowed
the most conscientious care. She enjoined
their preceptors to chastise them as
often as they merited chastisement. On them
she bestowed her tenderest thoughts in her
dying moments.
Turgot pathetically describes his last interview
with the affectionate mother. After long
discourse on her spiritual state, she thus addressed
him: "Farewell; my life draws to a
"close, but you may survive me long. To
"you I commit the charge of my children;
"teach them above all things, to love and
"fear God; and whenever you see any of
"them attain to the height of earthly gran"deur,
oh! then, in an especial manner, be
"to them as a father and a guide. Admo"nish,
and if need be, reprove them, lest
"they should be swelled with the pride of
"momentary glory, through avarice offend
"God, or by reason of the prosperity of this
"world, they become careless of eternal
"life. This, in the presence of Him, who is
"now our only witness, I beseech you to
"promise and to perform."
Her beneficence was unbounded. I speak
not of her public almsgiving, however liberal
and unremitting. Her private solicitude to
do good exceeds every encomium.
We have seen, in the course of this history,
that multitudes of unhappy English were led
captive into Scotland, and dispersed over the
country. The queen employed her emissaries
to examine their condition. Whenever their
bondage appeared grievous, she secretly paid
their ransom, and restored them to liberty,
herself an exile from England.
She was humble and self-abased; she
judged with more severity of herself than of
others. She affectionately reproached her
confessor for his want of vigilance in discovering
her faults.
And now that we leave seen the fruits of this
excellent woman in meekness, active virtue,
and mercy, we are authorised to pronounce
that her piety was sincere.
By a tedious and painful indisposition, endured
with exemplary patience, she was
brought very low. During a short interval of
ease, she devoutly received the communion;
soon after, her anguish of body returned with
redoubled violence; she stretched herself on
her couch, and calmly waited for the moment
of her dissolution. Cold, and in the agonies
of death, she ceased not to put up her supplications
to heaven. These were some of her
words: "Have mercy upon me, O God;
"according to the multitude of thy tender
"mercies, blot out my iniquities; make me
"to hear joy and gladness, that the bones
"which Thou hast broken, may rejoice. Cast
"me not away from thy presence, and take
"not thy holy spirit from me; restore unto
"me the joy of thy salvation. The sacrifices
"of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a
"contrite spirit, O God, thou wilt not despise.
"Do good, in thy good pleasure, unto Zion,
"build the walls of Jerusalem." At that moment
her son Edgar, returning from the army,
approached her couch. "How fares it with
"the king and my Edward?" The youth
stood silent. "I know all," cried she, "I
"know all. By this holy cross, by your filial
"affection, I adjure you, tell me the truth."
He answered, "Your husband and your son
"are both slain." Lifting her eyes and
hands towards heaven, she said, "Praise and
"blessing be to Thee, Almighty God, that
"Thou hast been pleased to make me endure
"so bitter anguish in the hour of my depar"ture,
thereby, as I trust, to purify me in
"some measure from the corruption of my
"sins; and Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, who,
"through the will of the Father, hast en"livened
the world by thy death, oh! de"liver
me." While pronouncing, deliver me,
she expired.
In Fordun, L. v. c. 23, 24, and in Vit. S.
Margaretæ. Act. sanct. 10 Jun. many circumstances
of the private life of Malcolm
and his queen are recorded on the authority
of Turgot. Turgot was not merely a
cotemporary writer, living in the shade of a
monastery, he knew the king and queen of
Scotland, and was admitted into their confidence;
he hesitates not to apply to the royal
pair that maxim of St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 14.
"The unbelieving husband is sanctified by
"the wife."
No. IX.
Scotch Proverbs.
YE canna mak a silk purse o' a sow's lug.
Ye dinna ken wha'l cool your kail.
Tulzying tykes come haltan hame.
They lyket mutton weel, that licket where
the yeow lay.
It il be when the Deel's blin, and his een is
nae sair yet.
Hawks shou'd na pick out hawk's een.
Let that flea stick on the wa'.
A little spark maks mickle work.
Scarting and scratching is Scotch folks
Ae man's born wi' a siller spoon in his
mouth, and anither wi' a horn ladle.
They maun hae a lang spun that sups kail
wi' the Deel.
The sea il nier wrang the widdie.
It's merry in the ha'
When beards wag a'.
Sen' a fool to France and he'll come back a
He that maks his bed easie it lye the safter.
E. Blackader Typ.
Took's Court, Chancery Lane, London.


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Letters from the North Highlands, During the Summer of 1816

Document Information

Document ID 75
Title Letters from the North Highlands, During the Summer of 1816
Year group 1800-1850
Genre Personal writing
Year of publication 1817
Wordcount 59398

Author information: Spence, Elizabeth Isabella

Author ID 250
Forenames Elizabeth Isabella
Surname Spence
Gender Female
Year of birth 1768