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THREE DAYS IN THE HIGHLANDS.
AN EPILOGUE, IN THREE VOICES.
INTRODUCTORY, BY REGINALD A
, ESQ.—THE FALSE START.
In the middle of July, having of goodness necessary, I was not some leisure and no immediately to be held back even on the 15th of engrossing amusement, I undertook July by a shower. It looked so the charge of two elderly female unpromising, however, that I saunfriends, whose hearts were set on a tered down to the pier, in comfortshort ramble in the Highlands. able anticipation of going back to When I say that three days was the breakfast. What were my astonishproposed amount of time to be spent ment and dismay to see my fair comin this excursion, it will be appa- panions seated already on a damp rent that the call upon my patience bench on the damp deck of the and fortitude was not so overwhelm- steamer, with luggage boldly labeling as might appear by the first led for the farthest point of the statement. And let me tell you projected voyage, may be better imthat such a trip is by no means to agined than described. Of course I be despised in the absence of joined them on board, though withgreater attractions, when one is in out a coat or a toothbrush, in the want of a new sensation. The primitive simplicity of my mornflutter of enjoyment conveyed to ing jacket. The scene was amusing, the mature female bosom, by atten- as may be supposed. Around us tions which are not always duly stretched an indefinite expanse of appreciated by their natural objects, mist, which experience and faith is agreeable alike to one's benevo- alike declared to be Clyde, with all lent feelings and to one's personal its various banks and ports, but vanity. One has the satisfaction which sight pronounced to be noof combining amusement with the thing save a damp horizon of fog, happy sensation of having done a heightened in effect by smoke good action; and one is rewarded and rain, all condensed within by the simple flatteries, the delight, the enclosing firmament of cloud. the excitement, and the friendly Clouds blurred the sky-clouds enjealousy of the good old souls veloped the wooded banks—clouds whom one takes in hand. Al- closed in the busy piers and docktogether, I recommend the experi- yards of the murky town of Green·ment to any man of good feelings, ock. Wherever one looked, nothing who has nothing better to do. It is but clouds met one's eye, amid less captivating, certainly, than the which appeared dolefully, as one service of those dangerous and de- neared the shore, a pale spectrum lusive sirens, who, alas ! have it all of that enchanting coast. Such their own way in the susceptible was the external scene into which heart; but it is infinitely safer—and the little steamer plunged boldly the true benevolence of the action over the dead-calm, mist-enveloped cannot fail to strike every feeling water. On deck sat my female soul.
friends, disputing the question, inAccordingly, I got up with hero- vestigating the sky, appealing to me ism at a preposterous hour on the and to the clouds, to the helmsman profoundly cloudy morning of St and the porters Would it be a fine Swithin's Day. It was a mere day would it clear up should temptation of the watery saint to they go forward or go back ? The start at such a moment: but hav- climax of the business appeared in ing got up my courage to the height the person of a friend not exactly of my own inches, who audibly offers the steamboat in which the further ed me the contents of his port- voyage was to be performed, packed manteau, with a self - abnegation from stern to bows with Glasgow unusual to modern friendship. I excursionists, I cannot tell. That flatter myself I am not vain—but sight, however, settled the question. when a fellow half your size offers Mists, clouds, and even rain, might you the use of his wardrobe, you be overcome; but what resolution naturally decline the offer, however could stand against the society of a benevolent may be its intention. Glasgow mob of pleasure-seekers ? Resolute not to shrink from my My companions yielded to the dire post, but deeply conscious of my compulsion; they turned back, damp defective provision for it, I stood and mournful; and with a pathetic watching with some anxiety the parting we separated till the next decision of my fair companions. day. Of course, an hour after, the The state of puzzled and comical morning cleared up and became uncertainty in which they sat was radiant. amusing enough to withdraw from The next day, however, we set his own circumstances even the out, and the following narrative of thoughts of a man starting upon a the journey, conveyed as it is in the Highland excursion without a shirt, natural and unsophisticated uttera wrapper, or a toothbrush. The ance of my fair charges, will no good creatures consulted the skies, doubt be grateful to many intending and my face, and each other, with a tourists in this early season. My pertinacity possible only to women modesty has impelled me to de—their eagerness, their doubts, their lete many of the flattering remarks anxiety to take everybody's opinion, addressed to myself; but, with their uneasy shifting of responsi- this trifling exception, I have not bility from one pair of shrinking ventured to tamper with the tale shoulders to another, was as good of my fellow-travellers, who have as a scene in a comedy; and whether each contributed to this brief but it would have come to a decision, eventful passage the history of a but for the sudden appearance of day.
THE FIRST DAY.-COMMUNICATED BY MISS ARABELLA W
On Tuesday, as good a day as but not too solemn, in a hundred ever is to be had in the Highlands, irregular lines out of the horizon. we set out upon our little tour under A blaze of sunshine would but have the kind guardianship of our excel- transfixed in speechless grandeur lent young friend, whose kindness, those huge shoulders and heights of indeed, can never be sufficiently rock and heather; whereas the conestimated. The earliest beginning stant motion and progress of light of our course lay along the sweet and shadow sets a perpetual drama banks of the Gair Loch, all broken astir among those bold and graceful into tiny bays, and wooded points hills, and keeps one's interest conrich with the fullest foliage, to stantly engaged. I confess—though where the shores of the Clyde slope no one can be more glad than I to downward to Loch Long. The sun see the city-bound escaping for a was shining, and all the outlines holiday — I do confess that the stood out clear against the distinct steamer, with its noise and its clanbut pale sky of the Highland sum- gour, with the flute and the fiddle mer. The scene was not Italian playing in concert, with parties out certainly, but I am not sure that for the day filling all the seats, is not the atmosphere and brightness of a conducive, so far as I am concerned, southern climate would have suited to the enjoyment of fine scenery. those hills, which began to rise grand, The music reduced me to that aggravating condition, in which, though where the one loch darts out of the your mind is mentally disgusted other begins that range of heights with the unseasonable melody, your given by the magnificent popular foot unconsciously keeps time; imagination to the house of Argyll and the pleasant family-attentions with a subtle flattery not to be surbestowed by amiable mothers upon passed. Imagine what a grandeur their children, and the naïve remarks must have surrounded the Macof Glasgow tourists bound for Loch- Callan More to that Celtic fancy goilhead, were sadly distracting to which named Argyll's Bowlingbehold and listen to. I have seen Green! Are these the ancient giants a good deal of fine scenery in my up among the mists echoing their day, and am an enthusiast in throws in sportive thunder, who mountainous landscapes ; but I gave its earliest origin to the race cannot think I ever saw anything of Diarmid ? But there is neither finer than Loch Long-threading thunder nor mist to-day upon its way in stretches, sometimes sil- Argyll's Bowling-Green. The heights very, sometimes purple and golden, rise and cluster inward to the fansometimes leaden-blue under a sud- tastic Cobbler, who sits silent over den shadow, deep into the silent Glen Croe in his never-ending toil. heart of the hills. The sentiment But the moment you turn up Loch belonging to a river is entirely dif- Goil, you naturally revert to another ferent. A volume of joyous water Campbell, not less illustrious than rushing out from its mountainous the chief of the name. Is not Lord cradle, carries the mind with it into Ullin raving on the cliffs in perenthe sea and the world ; but that nial rage and remorse? But it is narrow enterprising current pene- calm on Loch Goil this morning : trating inward — making its way the tide sweeps peacefully upward through passes of momentary gloom, to the perfect curve of its hilly widening wherever it can into bursts basin. A lonely castle in leafy ruin of sunshine, curving out sweet bays -a farm-steading almost too sunny and indentations into the very sub- and comfortable, the Elysian solistance of the hills, and subsiding tude of here and there a cottage, twenty miles inland on a quiet shore alone breaking upon the summer amid an amphitheatre of moun calm. If I am thought too lofty in tains, with tidal sighs, half of satis- my description, let me recommend faction, half of longing, conveys an all unbelievers to follow our track impression more profound and over those dark yet sunny waters. striking than any stream. Every If they travel in the society of two step you advance up that narrow, congenial souls and a good glass, so wonderful channel changes the as much the better. pect of the scene. The very steam- All this time my two friends have boat takes a certain colour of poetry. been heightening my enjoyment of Look how the dark sprite pauses, the scenery by their vivid observaor seems to pause, with a dismayed tions and reflections. My friend stagger of dread, the dark smoke Kate is short, stout, and merry, floating confusedly over her head in though she is a woman who has that dark pass through which there had her losses. We were not acseems no outlet! It is not a Glas- quainted in very early youth, so I gow steamboat, with a flute and a will not venture to say what her fiddle, and a mob of excursionists; attractions may have been in that it is a conscious creature going remote period. But at present I blindly forward, with a certain awful am bound to confess that she looks ignorance, into the gloom of fate. her full age, and having the good
And now the hills open up to sense to wear a bonnet (which I the left hand, and Loch Goil gleams think only becoming for a person into another hollow, amid another come to her time of life), no deluline of mountains. At the point sion is possible on the subject.
Standing by the side of our hand- beard, and is great in imitations and some young friend, one naturally sketches of character. The way in perceives the full force of the con- which he subdues his round, Scotch, trast. I must say that so great is Campbell voice into the sharp pipe my sense of the goodness of our of an English lady tourist, is astondisinterested cavalier, that I could ishing; but I will not venture to be content to re-enter the perils of reproduce these inimitable sketches. earlier life, and become young and How the excellent stout Englishpretty again, for his sake. Dear man on the box beside him reyoung man! the amiable way in frained from any attempt to pitch which he listens to Kate's observa- him over the side, I cannot undertions, and enters into the spirit of stand. I presume it must be the the excursion, is refreshing to a placidity of the Cockney temper mind wearied with the coldness a smoothness unknown on this side and neglect of the world. One of the Tweed ; for sure am I that thinks better of one's kind after had I heard my own dear countrymeeting with such chivalrous at people libelled with equal freedom, tentions. In earlier days, indeed, I should have demanded to be set one might have imagined that there down instantly, had it been in the was a motive for his devotion ; but, most savage wilds of Cumberland alas! time and the hour have put or Derbyshire. Our fat friend, howthat entirely out of the question. ever, bore it with the utmost goodI have a niece who perhaps might humour, even though it was in the in some degree-but it is useless presence of ladies, and displayed an to calculate on girls. The friend- inclination to communicate his senship of a woman who knows her timents to me, and to enter into own mind is, if young people could agreeable conversation, which was only understand it, a much more certainly complimentary. When it trustworthy object to depend upon. rained - as of course it did four
On arriving at Lochgoilhead, ac- times in the two hours occupied by cording to an arrangement con- the journey - this good man bore cluded upon at a former period, the dripping of my umbrella upon we took the coach for Inverary, the shoulder, which he turned perand with the fortitude peculiar to severingly towards me (you will unwomen of this age, mounted the derstand that he sat in front, and top of the coach. Having gone we on the seat behind), with the heroically through this process, we most praiseworthy equanimity. He found ourselves in very amusing had evidently a perception of the company. The driver of the coach charms of good society, though not to Inverary-of course a Campbell what you could call a man of fine
is well worthy of introduction to manners or high breeding in his the public. Not to enter too fully own person. These personal partiinto personal particulars, which in culars, however, keep me from the a coachman a lady cannot be ex- scenery; and indeed I must conpected to observe with any minute fess that dear Kate shocked me not ness, I may say that our young a little by the levity with which she friend pronounced him a handsome permitted her attention to be di. fellow, and that my own observa- verted from the hills to the coachtion confirmed the statement. How man's narratives and recitations. the Campbells got to be called the The conversation, however, was dark sons of Diarmid I cannot ima brought to a sudden conclusion by gine, since my own experience proves an ill-advised question on her part, them to be red, with scarcely an ex- whether it would be possible to ception the most illustrious as well reach Loch Awe that same night? as the most humble. John of the John was indignant- the idea of Inverary coach has the mouth of a passing over Inverary, and making mime hidden in a handsome florid it the mere scene of a lunch or tra
veller's dinner, offended his highest When we reached the top of the sympathies. Thenceforward he de- ascent, Inverary burst upon us serted Kate, and addressed himself lying lovely, with a sweet peacefulto another passenger, who did not ness, reflecting all her boats and abuse his confidence.
houses in the tender-tinted water. But while the sound of their con- You do not see the long stretch of versation went on at my ear, I de- Loch Fyne from that height-only voted myself to the lovely landscape a lovely bay folded in with hills, through which we were passing. one of minor size, but wooded to a Leaving the salt-water lochs, those thought, rising just over the sombre wistful investigations of the "home- pepper-boxes of the Castle. One less sea" into the lone recesses of could fancy a great Argyll coming the hills, we plunged into the world here out of the fighting world, as to of opening slopes which make a a haven of absolute rest and tranmountainous country so full of in- quillity. Can troubles come over terest. Here a gleam of lovely val- those hills? Do any whispers of ley, with lonely houses hidden in the angry surf ever steal upward light clouds of tender birch, or pil- through the reaches of the loch upon lared solitudes of fir—there a brown those gentle palpitating tides? I cottage on a height, all brown, thatch suppose it is possible ; but to glide and wall, growing out of the soil over the crisped and tinted waters like a natural production ; and on towards that halcyon shore, with its every side great living walls of bills, boats lying round the little pier, silent, with silver threads of water and its houses slumbering on the descending their steeps, or plaintive beach, it is difficult to imagine with pathetic bleatings, mournful such a retreat as open to the invaincessant voice of the wilderness. sions of the common world. But now our attention was distracted Notwithstanding what I say, we by a discussion on the poor-laws, had a proof of those invasions in which, the gentlemen having been the various groups accompanying requested to descend while we our own steps. Our stout Englishmounted the hill, was addressed al- man, all unromantic as he looked, most exclusively to Kate and my- was bound to some picturesque soliself, and listened to by her with pro- tude in the neighbourhood which voking indifference to the landscape. he had rented for the summerFancy discussing poor-laws with a though what could have brought Campbell coachman while winding such a person to the Highlands it is up the picturesque ascents of Hell's hard to imagine. Perhaps his wife Glen! I cannot deny that I was was a Campbell—though, indeed, I considerably disgusted. For myself, should rather imagine, from the I confess that the absence of human perseverance with which he held habitations does by no means injure his shoulder under the drip of my the landscape in my opinion. I umbrella, that the good man was a like the unbroken splendour of the widower, probably with an interestprimitive mountains. But dear ing family of children. Be that as Kate, who loves to talk, and who it may, he disappeared placidly in had at the moment no better inter- a dog-cart from Inverary, and we locutor, entered into a discussion of saw him no more. Being accusrates and local necessities with the tomed to travelling on the Contiwarmest interest, and lamented over nent, neither Kate nor I had the the charming solitude, as if a dirty smallest objection to dining at the hamlet and crowds of Gaelic chil- table d'hôte, which we were told exdren could have added quite an ad- isted in the Inverary hotel ; but ditional attraction to that solitary you may imagine our consternation glen. Human interest—that is the when we found ourselves in a small expression. Dear Kate, I am sorry family-party, with two strangers, to say, is often carried away by the apparently newly-married people. fashionable talk of the time. Our young friend was placed at the