« НазадПродовжити »
AMONG THE LOCHS:
BEING A NARRATIVE OF SOME PASSAGES IN THE ARCHDEACON'S HOLIDAY.
WHEN we were asked to join the and such a preacher as one rarely Archdeacon's party on the banks of hears. No one who knows him can the Gare-Loch, after the brief and wonder at his great popularity; and bright (though damp) experience of if the right party were in power, the Highlands, recorded on a for- and the bestowal of bishoprics was mer occasion, * it may be easily sup- in proper hands, we all know who posed that my friend Kate and my- would wear the first vacant apron. self eagerly accepted the invitation. But, of course, with a judge so adAfter the ordinary conventionalities vanced in spiritual discrimination of life, there is something more as Lord Palmerston, nothing but charming than I can describe in Low Church will do, and I should that free, unfettered, half-Highland, not wish the dear Archdeacon to half-seaside life which one lives in accept preferment through such a such a place. I can scarcely say what channel. motive brought the Archdeacon to I am not sure that the regular Knocktarlitie. I believe he had current of Highland tourists know just glimpsed it in a former tour, much about the Gare-Loch. I don't and, charmed by the look of quiet think they do, in fact. It
too upon everything in that lovely lo near the ordinary world to catch cality, thought of the place again the eye of the mere traveller, who when, worn out by the year's labour, thinks nothing of a place unless it is he and Mrs Archdeacon consulted a few hundred miles off, and rather where to go in September. A dig- difficult of approach. On the connitary of the Church does not, of trary, anybody from Glasgow can course, shoot, especially not when reach Knocktarlitie in a couple of he becomes stout and advances in hours—can plunge into the sweetest life; and as our excellent friend is quiet, the deepest wealth of foliage, a literary man, and has always some a paradise of wood and water, at work of that description in hand to the very smallest cost of money and occupy him, he does not care for trouble; and consequently, as a matthe vulgar amusements without ter of course, people think lightly which other gentlemen do not seem of the Elysium that lies so easily at to find existence possible. He is hand. Glasgow persons frequent the very man to make a country the place in tolerable numbers, it is residence delightful. The very true; and as there is no show in it, sound of his laugh is enough to no marine parade, not a single shop, dispel the clouds from a less cheer- I imagine these visitors must be ful temper. The sound of that devoured with ennui; but for people light step, which (having such a escaping from the world — people weight to carry) he naturally prides tired out with London life, or sick himself a little upon, stirs a whole of work and noise in whatever house into alertness and pleasant quarter it may be carried on, nolooks. On the whole, he is what may thing can surpass this tender transafely be called a dear man, full of quillity. The hill - side opposite, jokes and lively allusions, but in though its highest slopes are purple the pulpit as stately and serious as with heather, might be clad with becomes an ecclesiastical dignitary, vines, for anything one can say
* See ante, p. 256.
against it, when the sun shines on from amid a world of other slopes, its heights, so soft is that gentle among which, a moment before, it acclivity. Unfortunately the mists was undistinguishable. This is the are only too ready to descend, and Gare-Loch. If it did not rain-if it prove beyond controversy that this were not raining half the time—it is not a region of wine and oil; but would be too much like paradise. wherever a burn rushes down the And often the rain is very bearsteep (and they come in multitudes), able. Whenever it clears off, the the freshest foliage, heavy and rich atmosphere is delicious. But when and full, tracks the stream up to its it settles down—oh me !-let me not sources, and clings about all the recall that persistent, pertinacious, eccentricities of its way. Such soft, continual dropping. We are plane-trees ! patriarchal sycamores not in paradise after all-nobody clustering in deepest umbrage !-- ever passes along the heavy roadsuch laurels ! such crowds of grace- no good Samaritan comes to callful ash! such lofty limes, flinging one cannot go out—one quarrels down tremulous floods of verdure with one's best friend inside one to their veiled feet! My enthu- gradually grows into a slow despersiasm may be smiled at, probably; ation beyond the reach of hope ; but I do not deny that I am en- and the laurels gleam their wet thusiastic. At the entrance of the boughs at you, and the long branches loch, the great artist, Nature, mak- of the ash sway to and fro, and the ing her first sketch and study for clusters of the plane-trees nod tothe world of opening lochs farther gether in a kind of dewy triumph. down the Clyde, distinguished the You think you will be in time for spot by a repetition of sweet bays all the autumnal colours, I suppose, and beatific summer headlands, because it is September—that is green to the water's edge; and, at why the green, green leaves, green the upper end, having made further as though it were June, whisper and progress with that splendid network nod at you with malicious triumph of mountain and lake, throws across through the steady rain. the gentle basin a noble line of hills, This, however, has nothing to do truly belonging to Loch Long, which with the Archdeacon's party. The is hidden yonder under their sha- Archdeacon's house is a large yeldow, but in still more picturesque low-coloured house, with a curious possession abiding here, giving a door, approached by two sweeps of charm to the landscape which is staircase, like a Scotch pulpit. A quite indescribable. The wonder- pretty house, on the whole. The ful thing seems to be that the sun drawing-room has a handsome bow, himself never exhausts those hills. with three windows commanding Every hour of his shining you see everything but the hills, where we him busy about them, curiously in- used to sit in dumb despair, one in vestigating the countless knolls and each window, watching the rain, hollows far up and near the sky, but where we had abundance of talk throwing now and then a surprised and cheer to make up. This house and sudden gleam upon some nook is called “The Lodge;" anybody he has never fairly explored before, who is interested will easily be able and intensifying the light upon it to identify it. Here we lived in so that every spectator shares his primitive withdrawal from the vulsweet wonder, triumph, and joy. gar world. In the morning the Now it is a crag, which shows stern postman came with a whistle, calland splendid under the wonderful ing forth a flight of maid-servants to flash of sudden perception-now a receive the letters; and at noon he flush of heather rising forth into the came back, with a horn, to receive light—now a slope of the most won- the communications which we sent derful colour suddenly appearing out of Arcadia. Vulgar provisions, with Pre-Raphaelite minuteness which one orders from vulgar shops in the prose world, come here glid- “When you grow old, Miss Araing in boats, or borne over the hills. bella," said the Archdeacon, with Up the side of the loch gleams a his finest bow, “I will allow you to line of cottages, here and there consider the question; but, in the bursting into loftier gables or attic mean time, here's the fact ; curious, windows, appearing from behind isn't it? It struck me as quite a high hedges, from within gardens, new branch of statistical inquiry. behind rows of potatoes or clusters Given such a class of population, of trees. Every house has its boat how it keeps itself up?" deposited on the beach : the abo- " It is a class of population that rigines, of every rank, sex, and de- affects such places," said Kate. scription, are skilful in the manage “ I'll tell you how it keeps itself ment of these indispensable convey- up, Archdeacon. How does Chelsea ances. The ladies, the very babies Hospital keep itself up ? I suspect row. I saw a creature of four man- if there were no battles going on age his boat as if it were the natural anywhere, the old Peninsula men shell of that species of amphibi. would soon be extinct, wouldn't The phenomenon amused me great- they? How easily you talk of your ly. It was burned brown with the old ladies! Aren't they the sursunshine of the early summer, and vivors, the wounded, of the outside damped throughout with the suc- fight? Don't be afraid, the race ceeding rain. I doubt if its feet or will never be extinct.” its petticoats were ever dry. There “Mrs S, I stand reproved," it sat in its boat, and prospered. said the Archdeacon. “NotwithProbably it will fall heir to its standing, you know it is remarkgrandfather's rheumatism before it able. Why are there no young grows half as old a man.
people among them ?—that is the " It is a curious fact,” said the question. No daughters, nor nieces Archdeacon, coming suddenly in even, and as for sonsamong us, as he did five or six times Archdeacon threw up his hands as in the morning, making a little if that were entirely out of the rapid excursion from his work, and question. back again, after he had discharged “My dear, we have no children his arrow—“it is a curious fact that ourselves," said Mrs Archdeacon, all the native inhabitants of Knock- very mildly. Upon which he looked tarlitie—the aborigines, in fact—are at her, spun round upon his heel, old ladies. I have just been calcu- and with his sharp light step was lating that, in the course of a few gone out of the room before any years, chances of immigration ex- one could say another word. It was cepted, the race must be extinct." the Archdeacon's way: Something
The sudden outcry which this came into his head when he was at speech raised among us three ladies his work that wanted utterance. may be imagined. “ Archdeacon !” He came, fired it among us, and exclaimed his wife. It was all she disappeared again. He did this, as could say. The idea of entire de- I have mentioned, half - a - dozen population falling upon the pleasant times in one day. banks of the Gare Loch, and all this “ It is curious though, as the beauty returning to the wilderness, Archdeacon says, how old ladies was too afflicting to be lightly dis- do settle in one place, and keep it cussed.
up from generation to generation, “The Archdeacon is only ironical,” said Mrs Archdeacon, “ with their said I; "and, besides, he means the tea-parties. They give tea-parties upper classes : gentlemen always are here, do you know. We have been so hard upon us. Perhaps we ought to two or three, but it's fatiguing to take ourselves out of the world work. You sit down round a long altogether when we grow old, and table, and have every kind of cake keep out of other people's way.” offered to you. It's very odd. I
confess I like a mixture of all ages, saying much ; we two women, solifor my part.”
tary, not any longer young. Do “And look here_here's a mix- you imagine we have not thoughts ture of ages," said Kate.
of our own as we follow the young It was a party of people coming people through the airy lights and to call — blessed visitants—in the dropping shadows? I too, though rain! Some charming young friends nobody knows it, have such trees of ours were among them. Mr still growing, and such sunshine Reginald, our kind young com- shining in the silent world of mepanion of former times, led the mory that belongs to me. Figures party, in beatific circumstances, sur- glide through those vistas which rounded by a halo of young ladies. human sight beholds no longer. I need not, however, enter into a Ah, me! what human vision of todescription of this pretty group, as day could identify the Arabella it is foreign to the immediate tenor yonder, moving in a glorified surof my tale.
Possible romances rounding of love and youth and gleaming through a pleasant mist of sweet observance, with the Araflirtation gave a sweet suggestive- bella here? But the two are the ness to the scene. Ah, youth, same to me. I can hear those youth! always the same, though voices whisper which have lost the the actors in the drama change faculty of mortal speech. The preperpetually. But it is hard to think sent is flitting by moment after that these pretty creatures are to moment. It is an evanescent glory fold their wings in the inevitable even to these reigning princesses course of nature, and drop down and princes before us : but the past into sober elderly souls like dear is for ever. Why we should be sad Kate and me.
about it I cannot tell. While it To look at them now, when the was doing, it was doubtful, transisun shines, philandering, as Kate tory, crossed with clouds and sussays, down that pretty old avenue! picions, and a hundred pangs of The avenue itself is one of the uncertainty. Now it is perfect, glories of Knocktarlitie ; yew-trees sublimest suggestion of grammatinot to be surpassed, in solemn ma cal science. Perhaps it is because jestic lines of sombre foliage and human faculties are so unused to brown branching not crowded perfection that we all think it sad. close as in an Italian alley, with the And I suspect one advantage of blazing sun shut out, a' monastic entering into the vulgar strain of twilight strait between two glowing life—marrying, in short—is, that worlds of day; but standing apart one is let down more gradually and like English trees, having bars of easily out of one's youth, and learns sunshine and a whole universe of air that one is not young, and that a and light breathing visible around different order of things has comthose sombre-splendid arches which menced, without any pang, but only absorb and yet repel the sun. Out- with a natural revolution of thought. side the yews, two glorious lines of This, however, is an unprofitable limes stand meditative over them, subject of inquiry, especially as my watching through those breaks of subject is Knocktarlitie, and not light the pretty figures gleaming the regretful musings of a declining past, the puffs of airy muslin and life. silken reflections of drapery. So “The picturesque is dying out lemn and abstract stand the yew- everywhere,” said the Archdeacon, trees, immemorial spectators, lost stretching himself out on the heain the observant calm of age, but ther (but of course with a plaid the lime branches thrill with a between). “The picturesque of sympathetic tremor
language as well as of costume, and youth go gleaming by. We and all other external graces. Talk, come after, staid and serious, not like dress, flattens into a universal
fashion. When I was at Knocktar- “No, dear uncle," said pretty litie long ago—not so very long Alice, demurely, “Mr A- and I either—just before the present era have just been choosing the spot, of civilisation set in the Glasgow and there's the loveliest view." folks used to come down here to “ The loveliest view !” echoed the saut water. The saut water! young Mr Reginald, who was just Was there ever a more felicitous behind her, and was not looking at expression? Fancy how the briny the loch at all, so far as I could see. wave must have flashed and danced The Archdeacon looked at them and foamed to the civic imagina- both with a twinkle in his eye. tion! Now that spell is broken. " Ah, ah! I perceive,” said the Look at those tufts of villas all over dear good man, and jumped up and the side of the loch. The people held out his hand to me to help me nowadays bring their families down up the hill. “ Young people forto the coast ; whereas it is no more tunately are untouched by the vulthe coast than the Broomielaw is, garising influences of civilisation, and bears no resemblance, nestling Miss Arabella,” said the Archup here among a thousand folds of deacon ; “they are just as great hills, to the wild external edge of fools as they used to be in old days. the island, with an ocean foaming Don't you think so? Let us go on its rocks. But oh for the fresh and look at this view. I rather days of the saut water! when a object to all the chateaux and cotman made himself wretched for tages of the Glasgow people ; but nature's sake with the best grace that big house, with its square tower in the world, and slept in a box- standing out in a sort of vulgar bed, and scrambled for a living. I suzerainship over the whole, is not came down in the train from Glas- so bad either in point of effect. In gow the other day with a collection my day there was but a thatched of men going home to dinner. Not house dropped here and there, and a lofty style of physiognomy, I am all the fresh freedom of the hillbound to say; but to hear how they side unbroken.” chattered over their Glasgow papers “ But look here, Archdeacon," about cottages, and palaces, and cried I, directing him to the other who was living where! The coast, hand. as they called it, was only a repeti- He looked, and, I am bound to tion of their crescents and terraces. add, was silent. There nothing was They give the same dinners, I dare- to be said. We were gazing straight say, and talk the same stuff as into the marvellous inequalities of usual. What is the good of leaving the hills ; and the broken banks behome under such circumstances ? fore us, as they folded over each Convenience has swallowed up other, opened here and there to a life.”
gleam of silent water, just touched “My dear, it must be very good into light at one corner by the for their health," said Mrs Arch- white sail of a tiny yacht. Sound deacon, mildly.
was not in that silent splendid "And who on earth cares for their landscape. Immediately before us, health ?" cried the Archdeacon, kick- the first of that banded brothering away a basket which John had hood of hills stood out calm into just emptied. “A man who comes to the water, silently emphasising the such a scene as this in cold-blooded spot where nature, out of her boundconsideration for his appetite, de- less liberality, had sent forth Loch serves to be kicked out of it again Goil out of Loch Long. In the summarily. Speaking of appetite, distance, up the opening cleft of where's the luncheon ? Here's that the smaller loch, appeared the glimfellow John been left as usual to his mer of a yellow corn-field upon the own devices. Of course, he's fixed water-side, and the dark ruin of on a place where there's no view.” Carrick Castle, lonely and voiceless.