Page images
PDF
EPUB

Scorched, and desolate, and blasted soul,
A gloomy wilderness of dying thought,-
Repined, and groaned, and withered from the earth.
His groanings filled the land his numbers filled;
And yet he seemed ashamed to groan. Poor man!
Ashamed to ask, and yet he needed help."

Where's the Sun ? We know not in what airt to look for him, for we take it that we have been lying under this rock in a reverie for some hours, and who knows but it may now be afternoon. It is almost dark enough for evening-and if it be not far on in the day, then we shall have thunder. One o'clock. Usually the brightest hour of all the twelve-but any thing but bright at this moment-can there be an eclipse going on an earthquake at his toilette-or merely a brewing of storm? Let us consult our almanac. No eclipse set down for to-day-the old earthquake dwells in the neighbourhood of Comrie, and has never been known to journey thus far north -besides he has for some years been bed-ridden; argal there is about to be a storm. What a fool of a land-tortoise were we to crawl up to the top of a mountain when we might have taken our choice of half-a-dozen glens with cottages in them every other mile, and a village at the end of each with a comfortable Change-house! And up which of its sides was it that we crawled? Not this one-for it is as steep as a church-and we never in our life peeped over the brink of an uglier abyss. Ay, Mister Merlin, 'tis wise of you to be flying home into your crevice put your head below your wing, and do cease that cry.-Croak! croak! croak! Where is the sooty sinner? We hear he is on the wing-but he either sees or smells us, probably both, and the horrid gurgle in his throat is choked by some cloud.-Surely that was the sughing of wings! A Bird! alighting within fifty yards of usand from his mode of folding his wings-an Eagle! This is too much -within fifty yards of an Eagle on his own mountain top. Is he blind? Age darkens even an Eagle's eyes— but he is not old-for his plumage is perfect and we see the glare of his far-keekers as he turns his head over his shoulder and regards his eyrie on the cliff. We would not shoot him for a thousand a year for life. Not old-how do we know that? Because he is a creature who is young at a hundred-so says Audubon-and

Swainson-and our brother Jamesand all shepherds. Little suspects he who is lying so near him with a long pole. Our snuffy suit is of a colour with the storm-stained granite-and if he walks this way he shall get a buffet. And he is walking this wayhis head up, and his tail down-not hopping like a filthy raven-but one foot before the other-like a manlike a King. We do not altogether like it-it is rather alarming—he may not be an Eagle after all-but something worse-" Hurra! ye Sky-scraper! Christopher is upon you! take that, and that, and that"-all one tumbling scream, there he goes over the edge of the cliff. Dashed to death-but impossible for us to get the body. Whew! dashed to death indeed! There he wheels, all on fire, round the thunder-gloom. Is it electric matter in the atmosphere-or fear and wrath that illumine his wings?

We wish we were safe down. There is no wind here yet-none to speak of

but there is wind enough, to all appearance, in the region towards the west. The main body of the clouds is falling back on the reserve-and observing that movement the right wing deploys-as for the left it is broken, and its retreat will soon be a flight. Fear is contagious-the whole army has fallen into irremediable disorder has abandoned its commanding position-and in an hour will be selfdriven into the sea. We call that a Panic.

Glory be to the corps that covers the retreat. We see now the cause of that retrograde movement. In the north-west," far off its coming shone," and in numbers without number numberless," lo! the adverse Host! Thrown out in front the beautiful rifle brigade comes fleetly on, extending in open order along the vast plain between the aerial Pinemountains to yon Fire-cliffs. The enemy marches in masses-the space between the divisions now widening and now narrowing-and as sure as we are alive we hear the sound of trumpets. The routed army has rallied and re-appears-and, hark, on the

extreme left a cannonade. Never be fore had the Unholy Alliance a finer park of artillery-and now its fire opens from the great battery in the centre, and the hurly-burly is general far and wide over the whole field of battle.

All this may be very fine-but these lead drops dancing on our hat tell us to take up our pole and be off, for that by and by the waters will be in flood, and we may have to pass a night on the mountain. Down we go.

We do not call this the same side of the mountain we crawled up? If we do, we lie. There, all was purple, except what was green-and we were happy to be a heathered legged body, occasionally skipping like a grasshopper on turf. Here, all rocks save stones. Get out of the way, ye ptarmigans. We hate shingle from the bottom of our · oh! dear! oh! dear! but this is painful-sliddering on shingle away down what is any thing but an inclined plane-feet foremost-accompanied with rattling debris-at railroad speed--every twenty yards or so dislodging a stone as big as oneself, who instantly joins the procession, and there they go hopping and jumping along with us, some before, some at each side, and, we shudder to think of it, some behind--well somersetted over our head, thou Grey Wacke-but mercy on us, and forgive us our sins, for if this lasts, in another minute we are all at the bottom of that pond of pitch.

Here we are--sitting! How we were brought to assume this rather uneasy posture we do not pretend to say. We confine ourselves to the fact. Sitting! beside a Tarn. Our escape appears to have been little less than miraculous, and must have been mainly owing, under Providence, to our pole. Who's laughing? 'Tis you, you old Witch, in hood and cloak, crouching on the cliff, as if you were warming your hands at the fire. Hold your tongue -and you may sit there to all eternity if you choose-you cloud-ridden hag! No-there will be a blow-up some day -as there evidently has been here before now-but no more Geologyfrom the tarn, who is a 'tarnation deep 'un, runs a rill, and he offers to be our guide down to the Low Country.

Why, this does not look like the same day. No gloom here-but a green serenity-not so poetical per

haps, but, in a human light, far preferable to a "brown horror." No sulphureous smell the air is balm." No sultriness-how cool the circulating medium! In our youth, when we had wings on our feet-and were a feathered Mercury-Cherub we never were nor Cauliflower-by flying, in our weather-wisdom, from glen to glen, we have made one day a whole week-with, at the end, a Sabbath. For all over the really mountaineous region of the Highlands, every glen has its own indescribable kind of day-all vaguely comprehended under the One Day that may happen to be uppermost -and Lowland meteorologists, meeting in the evening after a long absence— having, perhaps, parted that morning

on comparing notes lose their temper, and have been even known to proceed to extremities in defence of facts well-established of a most contradictory and irreconcilable nature.

Here is an angler fishing with the fly. In the glen beyond that range he would have used the minnow-and in the huge hollow behind our friends to the South-east, he might just as well try the bare hook-though it is not universally true that trouts don't rise when there is thunder. Let us see how he throws. What a cable! Flies! Tufts of heather. Hollo, you there; friend, what sport? What sport we say? No answer; are you deaf? Dumb? He flourishes his flail and is mute. Let us try what a whack on the back may elicit. Down he flings it, and staring on us with a pair of most extraordinary eyes, and a beard like a goat, is off like a shot. Alas! we have frightened the wretch out of his few poor wits, and he may kill himself among the rocks. He is indeed an idiot-deaf and dumb. We remember seeing him near this very spot forty years ago-and he was not young then. they often live to extreme old age. No wonder he was terrified

for we are duly sensible of the outrè tout ensemble we must have suddenly exhibited in the glimmer that visits those weak red eyes-he is an albino. That whack was rash, to say the least of it-our pole was too much for him-but we hear him whining-and moaning-and, good God! there he is on his knees with hands claspt in supplication-" dinna kill me-dinna kill me-am silly-'am silly-and folk say 'am auld-auld-auld."

-

[ocr errors]

The harmless creature is convinced we are not going to kill him-takes from our hand what he calls his fishing rod and tackle-and laughs like an owl. "Ony meat-ony meatony meat ?" "Yes, innocent, there is some meat in this wallet, and you and I shall have our dinner." "Ho! ho! ho! ho! a smelled, a smelled! A can say the Lord's Prayer." "What's your name, my man?" "Daft Dooggy the Haveril." "Sit down, Dugald.'

A sad mystery all this—a few drops

[blocks in formation]

"Wisdom took up her harp, and stood in place
Of frequent concourse, stood in every gate,
By every way, and walked in every street;
And, lifting up her voice, proclaimed: 'Be wise,
Ye fools! be of an understanding heart;
Forsake the wicked, come not near his house,
Pass by, make haste, depart and turn away.
Me follow, me, whose ways are pleasantness,
Whose paths are peace, whose end is perfect joy.'
The seasons came and went, and went and came,
To teach men gratitude; and as they passed,
Gave warning of the lapse of time, that else
Had stolen unheeded by. The gentle flowers
Retired, and stooping o'er the wilderness,
Talked of humility, and peace, and love.
The dews came down unseen at evening-tide,
And silently their bounties shed, to teach
Mankind unostentatious charity.

With arm in arm the forest rose on high,
And lesson gave of brotherly regard.

And, on the rugged mountain-brow exposed,
Bearing the blast alone, the ancient oak

Stood, lifting high his mighty arm, and still
To courage in distress exhorted loud.

The flocks, the herds, the birds, the streams, the breeze,

Attuned the heart to melody and love.

Mercy stood in the cloud, with eye that wept
Essential love! and from her glorious bow
Bending to kiss the earth in token of peace,
With her own lips, her gracious lips, which God
Of sweetest accent made, she whispered still,
She whispered to Revenge, Forgive, forgive.
The Sun rejoicing round the earth, announced
Daily the wisdom, power, and love of God.
The Moon awoke, and from her maiden face,
Shedding her cloudy locks, looked meekly forth,
And with her virgin stars walked in the heavens,
Walked nightly there, conversing, as she walked,
Of purity, and holiness, and God.

In dreams and visions, sleep instructed much.
Day uttered speech to day, and night to night
Taught knowledge. Silence had a tongue; the grave,
The darkness, and the lonely waste, had each

A tongue that ever said, Man! think of God!

Think of thyself! think of eternity!

Fear God, the thunders said, Fear God, the waves.
Fear God, the lightning of the storm replied.
Fear God, deep loudly answered back to deep:
And, in the temples of the Holy One,
Messiah's messengers, the faithful few,
Faithful 'mong many false, the Bible opened,

And cried, Repent! repent ye sons of men!
Believe, be saved; and reasoned awfully
Of temperance, righteousness, and judgment soon
To come, of ever-during life and death:
And chosen bards from age to age awoke
The sacred lyre, and full on folly's ear,
Numbers of righteous indignation poured:
And God omnipotent, when mercy failed,
Made bare his holy arm, and with the stroke
Of vengeance smote; the fountains of the deep
Broke up, heaven's windows opened, and sent on men
A flood of wrath, sent plague and famine forth;

With earthquake rocked the world beneath, with storms
Above laid cities waste, and turned fat lands

To barrenness, and with the sword of war

In fury marched, and gave them blood to drink.

Angels remonstrated, Mercy beseeched,

Heaven smiled and frowned, Hell groaned, Time fled, Death shook
His dart, and threatened to make repentance vain."

Yes it is sublime.

We leave the harmless-not unhappy wretch-and refreshed by the fowl, pursue our journey down the glen. There ought to be a kirk not far off, but, perhaps, it has been pulled down -yet we hope not--let kirks that need repairing be repaired--but 'tis a sin to pull one down-at all events let the new be always built on the old foundations. There it is-and the PlaneTrees. Why should we know it again even to the very size of the slates! They are the same slates-their colour is the same-the roof neither more nor less weather-stained than it was forty

years ago.

After a time old buildings undergo no perceptible change-any more than old trees. And when they have begun to feel the touch of decay, it is long before they look melancholy while they still continue to be used, they cannot help looking cheerfuland even dilapidation itself is painful only when felt to be lifeless!

But there we Three sat on the Church-yard wall! The wittiest of the witty-the wildest of the wild-the brightest of the bright-and the boldest of the bold he was, within a month, drowned at sea.-How genius shone o'er thy fine features, yet how pale thou ever wast! thou who satst then by the Sailor's side, and listened to his sallies with a mournful smile-friend! dearest to our soul! loving us far better than we deserved; for though faultless thou, yet tolerant of all our frailties and in those days of hope from thy lips how elevating was praise! Yet seldom do we think of thee! For months-years-not at all-not

once-sometimes not even when by some chance we hear your name-it meets our eyes written on books that once belonged to you and that you gave us--and of you it recalls no image. Yet we sank down to the floor on hearing thou wast dead-—ungrateful to thy memory for many years we were not-but it faded away till we forgot thee utterly, and we have never visited thy grave!

It would seem that many men desire to doubt the Immortality of the Soul. Why-why? Argue the question as low as you choose-yet you cannot be brought to a conviction of its mortality. Let the natural persuasion of a man's mind be that in this world he perishes, then this world is all to him, his Reason gives him over to sense and passion. Let the persuasion, the hope, the mere desire of his mind be to the belief in worlds of future life, and all his higher mind becomes moral together. We are not to conceive of it merely as a belief to be de liberately, and with calculation, acted upon; but as a belief infusing itself into all our thoughts and feelings. How different are my affections if they are towards flowers, which the blast of death will wither, or towards spirits which are but beginning to live in my sight, but are gathering good and evil here, for a life I cannot measure. We urge the morality of the question not as if we spoke to men who held vice to be their interest, and who are to be dragged back from it by violence; butto men as beings holding virtue to be their highest interest, but feeling how weak their nobler moods are against the force of their passions, and wishing

for every assistance to the pursuit of their higher destination. To those who wish to feel their nature rise, not to feel it sink, this belief, in any degree in which they can find reason to embrace it, is an immense blessing. In all morality the disposition to believe is half the belief, and the strong inducements of opinion, to all good men, arise out of their own life. It is much to be able to say to the sceptic, "The great reason of your disbelief is not the force of the arguments on which you seem to yourself to rest your convictions, but the inaptitude of your mind for a better belief; and that inaptitude arises from habits and states of mind, which, when they are distinctly exposed to you, you your self acknowledge to be condemnable." Take first out of the mind every thing that is an actual obstruction to the belief-obtain perfect suspense-and let then the arguments weigh. Surely, if morality means any thing, it is much to say in favour of any belief, that the state of morality necessarily produces it.

Singular that we have not heard a shot the whole day. The Duke must have given them a jubilee. But we have traversed the dominions of more Dukes than one-since seven in the morning-it is now, we should say, seven in the evening-yet not a single sportsman have we seen. Birds enough--along our Pole we occasionally took a vizy at an old cock-and our Wallet would have been crammed had it all the pouts we covered-but we have had the day and the desert all to ourselves--and only once imagined --but did not mention it-that we saw a Deer. Not a human being, indeed, of any sort, but poor Dugald, has crossed our way-so not a soul had we to talk to but our own shadow. On some occasions it was not easy to look at him without laughingleaping side by side with us on his Pole -in a style beyond the grotesquesometimes suddenly shrinking into a droich of a broad-backed bandy-and then as suddenly dwindling himself out into a Daddy-Long-Legs, striding as if he had discovered the longitude. You may not believe it, but we saw

him on the top of a mountain, when we were walking in the glen. How he got there it is not for us to saybut there he was-and he took his stance with such an air of independence, that it was some time before we could believe our eyes that it was him—but our suspicions having been awakened by a Lord Burleigh shake of the headan unconscious practice of ours-as we believe on the authority of friends who have seen us in earnest conversation with ourselves-we detected him by waving our hat round our headwhen, taken off his guard and relapsing into his servitude, the magnanimous hero performed the same evolution with a dexterity equal to any inhabitant of the Brocken.

There is a disturbance! Bang they go, barrel after barrel, to the tune of ten or twenty-and then what a burst of bagpipes! A Shooting Lodge so near the Old Kirk! And pray why not? We hope it is a Shooting-Lodge-or, at any rate, a Tent.

A Tent-and of the most magnificent description-fit to hold a troop. We like to see things done in styleand this is bang up to the mark. Ay -there he is in his native dress-his

name

[ocr errors]

"Well do we know, but may not tell;" but 'tis that of a warlike clan-and he is their Chieftain. Those noble looking men around him are Southronsthey have too much fine sense to mount the tartan-and we think we see One on whom Victoria is thought to have looked sweet at her Coronation.

"Our honoured Mr North, have you dropt from heaven in among us?" "We have." "How did you travel, our dear Christopher:" "In a balloon." "Where's your ballast--our beloved Kit?" "On our back." "God bless you are you well?" "Tollloll." "You must stay with us aweek?" "Two." "Give us your

hand on that?" "Both." "You have not dined?" "No." "Stir your stumps, ye villains-and let the tables be spread for

OUR GUIDE, PHILOSOPHER, AND

FRIEND.""

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »