Sunday, August 21st.
The morning was very hot, a morning to tempt us to linger by the water-side. I wished to have had the day before us, expecting so much from what William had seen; but when we went there, I did not desire to stay longer than till the hour which we had prescribed to ourselves; for it was a rule not to be broken in upon, that the person who conducted us to the Falls was to remain by our side till we chose to depart. We left our inn immediately after breakfast. The lanes were full of people going to church; many of the middle-aged women wore long scarlet cardinals, and were without hats: they brought to my mind the women of Goslar as they used to go to church in their silver or gold caps, with their long cloaks, black or coloured.
The banks of the Clyde from Lanerk to the Falls rise immediately from the river; they are lofty and steep, and covered with wood. The road to the Falls is along the top of one of the banks, and to the left you have a prospect of the open country, corn fields and scattered houses. To the right, over the river, the country spreads out, as it were, into a plain covered over with hills, no one hill much higher than another, but hills all over; there were endless pastures overgrown with broom, and scattered trees, without hedges or fences of any kind, and no distinct footpaths. It was delightful to see the lasses in gay dresses running like cattle among the broom, making their way straight forward towards the river, here and there as it might chance. They waded across the stream, and, when they had reached the top of the opposite bank, sat down by the road-side, about half a mile from the town, to put on their shoes and cotton stockings, which they brought tied up in pocket-handkerchiefs. The porter's lodge is about a mile from Lanerk, and the lady's house - for the whole belongs to a lady, whose name I have forgotten - is upon a hill at a little distance.
We walked, after we had entered the private grounds, perhaps two hundred yards along a gravel carriage-road, then came to a little side gate, which opened upon a narrow gravel path under trees, and in a minute and a half, or less, were directly opposite to the great waterfall. I was much affected by the first view of it. The majesty and strength of the water, for I had never before seen so large a cataract, struck me with astonishment, which died away, giving place to more delightful feelings; though there were some buildings that I could have wished had not been there, though at first unnoticed. The chief of them was a neat, white, lady-like house, very near to the waterfall.
William and Coleridge however were in a better and perhaps wiser humour, and did not dislike the house; indeed, it was a very nice-looking place, with a moderate-sized garden, leaving the green fields free and open. This house is on the side of the river opposite to the grand house and the pleasure-grounds. The waterfall Cora Linn is composed of two falls, with a sloping space, which appears to be about twenty yards between, but is much more. The basin which receives the fall is enclosed by noble rocks, with trees, chiefly hazels, birch, and ash growing out of their sides whenever there is any hold for them; and a magnificent resting-place it is for such a river; I think more grand than the Falls themselves.
After having stayed some time, we returned by the same footpath into the main carriage-road, and soon came upon what William calls an ell-wide gravel walk, from which we had different views of the Linn. We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country, and saw a ruined tower, called Wallace's Tower, which stands at a very little distance from the fall, and is an interesting object. A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. 'Yes, sir,' says Coleridge, 'it is a majestic waterfall.' 'Sublime and beautiful,' replied his friend. Poor Coleridge could make no answer, and, not very desirous to continue the conversation, came to us and related the story, laughing heartily.
The distance from one Linn to the other may be half a mile or more, along the same ell-wide walk. We came to a pleasure-house, of which the little girl had the key; she said it was called the Fog-house, because it was lined with 'fog,' namely moss. On the outside it resembled some of the huts in the prints belonging to Captain Cook's Voyages, and within was like a hay-stack scooped out. It was circular, with a dome-like roof, a seat all round fixed to the wall, and a table in the middle, - seat, wall, roof and table all covered with moss in the neatest manner possible. It was as snug as a bird's nest; I wish we had such a one at the top of our orchard, only a great deal smaller. We afterwards found that huts of the same kind were common in the pleasure-grounds of Scotland; but we never saw any that were so beautifully wrought as this.
It had, however, little else to recommend it, the situation being chosen without judgment; there was no prospect from it, nor was it a place of seclusion and retirement, for it stood close to the ell-wide gravel walk. We wished we could have shoved it about a hundred yards further on, when we arrived at a bench which was also close to the walk, for just below the bench, the walk elbowing out into a circle, there was a beautiful spring of clear water, which we could see rise up continually, at the bottom of a round stone basin full to the brim, the water gushing out at a little outlet and passing away under the walk. A reason was wanted for placing the hut where it is; what a good one would this little spring have furnished for bringing it hither! Along the whole of the path were openings at intervals for views of the river, but, as almost always happens in gentlemen's grounds, they were injudiciously managed; you were prepared for a dead stand - by a parapet, a painted seat, or some other device.
We stayed some time at the Boniton Fall, which has one great advantage over the other falls, that it is at the termination of the pleasure-grounds, and we see no traces of the boundary-line; yet, except under some accidental circumstances, such as a sunset like that of the preceding evening, it is greatly inferior to the Cora Linn. We returned to the inn to dinner. The landlord set the first dish upon the table, as is common in England, and we were well waited upon. This first dish was true Scottish - a boiled sheep's head, with the hair singed off; Coleridge and I ate heartily of it; we had barley broth, in which the sheep's head had been boiled.
A party of tourists whom we had met in the pleasure-grounds drove from the door while we were waiting for dinner; I guess they were fresh from England, for they had stuffed the pockets of their carriage with bundles of heather, roots and all, just as if Scotland grew no heather but on the banks of the Clyde. They passed away with their treasure towards Loch Lomond. A party of boys, dressed all alike in blue, very neat, were standing at the chaise-door; we conjectured they were charity scholars; but found on inquiry that they were apprentices to the cotton factory; we were told that they were well instructed in reading and writing. We had seen in the morning a flock of girls dressed in grey coming out of the factory, probably apprentices also.
After dinner set off towards Hamilton, but on foot, for we had to turn aside to the Cartland Rocks, and our car was to meet us on the road. A guide attended us, who might almost in size, and certainly in activity, have been compared with William's companion who hid himself in the niche of the cavern. His method of walking and very quick step soon excited our attention. I could hardly keep up with him; he paddled by our side, just reaching to my shoulder, like a little dog, with his long snout pushed before him - for he had an enormous nose, and walked with his head foremost. I said to him, 'How quick you walk!' he replied, 'That was not quick walking,' and when I asked him what he called so, he said 'Five miles an hour,' and then related in how many hours he had lately walked from Lanerk to Edinburgh, done some errands, and returned to Lanerk - I have forgotten the particulars, but it was a very short time - and added that he had an old father who could walk at the rate of four miles an hour, for twenty-four miles, any day, and had never had an hour's sickness in his life. 'Then,' said I, 'he has not drunk much strong liquor?' 'Yes, enough to drown him.' From his eager manner of uttering this, I inferred that he himself was a drinker; and the man who met us with the car told William that he gained a great deal of money as an errand-goer, but spent it all in tippling. He had been a shoemaker, but could not bear the confinement on account of a weakness in his chest.
The neighbourhood of Lanerk is exceedingly pleasant; we came to a sort of district of glens or little valleys that cleave the hills, leaving a cheerful, open country above them, with no superior hills, but an undulating surface. Our guide pointed to the situation of the Cartland Crags. We were to cross a narrow valley, and walk down on the other side, and then we should be at the spot; but the little fellow made a sharp turn down a footpath to the left, saying, 'We must have some conversation here.' He paddled on with his small pawing feet till we came right opposite to a gentleman's house on the other side of the valley, when he halted, repeating some words, I have forgotten what, which were taken up by the most distinct echo I ever heard - this is saying little: it was the most distinct echo that it is possible to conceive. It shouted the names of our fireside friends in the very tone in which William and Coleridge spoke; but it seemed to make a joke of me, and I could not help laughing at my own voice, it was so shrill and pert, exactly as if some one had been mimicking it very successfully, with an intention of making me ridiculous. I wished Joanna had been there to laugh, for the echo is an excellent laugher, and would have almost made her believe that it was a true story which William has told of her and the mountains.
We turned back, crossed the valley, went through the orchard and plantations belonging to the gentleman's house. By the bye, we observed to our guide that the echo must bring many troublesome visitors to disturb the quiet of the owner of that house. 'Oh no,' said he, 'he glories in much company.' He was a native of that neighbourhood, had made a moderate fortune abroad, purchased an estate, built the house, and raised the plantations; and further, had made a convenient walk through his woods to the Cartland Crags. The house was modest and neat, and though not adorned in the best taste, and though the plantations were of fir, we looked at it with great pleasure, there was such true liberality and kind-heartedness in leaving his orchard path open, and his walks unobstructed by gates. I hope this goodness is not often abused by plunderers of the apple-trees, which were hung with tempting apples close to the path.
At the termination of the little valley, we descended through a wood along a very steep path to a muddy stream running over limestone rocks; turned up to the left along the bed of the stream, and soon we were closed in by rocks on each side. They were very lofty - of limestone, trees starting out of them, high and low, overhanging the stream or shooting up towards the sky. No place of the kind could be more beautiful if the stream had been clear, but it was of a muddy yellow colour; had it been a large river, one might have got the better of the unpleasantness of the muddy water in the grandeur of its roaring, the boiling up of the foam over the rocks, or the obscurity of its pools.
We had been told that the Cartland Crags were better worth going to see than the Falls of the Clyde. I did not think so; but I have seen rocky dells resembling this before, with clear water instead of that muddy stream, and never saw anything like the Falls of the Clyde. It would be a delicious spot to have near one's house; one would linger out many a day in the cool shade of the caverns, and the stream would soothe one by its murmuring; still, being an old friend, one would not love it the less for its homely face. Even we, as we passed along, could not help stopping for a long while to admire the beauty of the lazy foam, for ever in motion, and never moved away, in a still place of the water, covering the whole surface of it with streaks and lines and ever-varying circles.
Wild marjoram grew upon the rocks in great perfection and beauty; our guide gave me a bunch, and said he should come hither to collect a store for tea for the winter, and that it was 'varra hale-some:' he drank none else. We walked perhaps half a mile along the bed of the river; but it might seem to be much further than it was, owing to the difficulty of the path, and the sharp and many turnings of the glen. Passed two of Wallace's Caves. There is scarce a noted glen in Scotland that has not a cave for Wallace or some other hero. Before we left the river the rocks became less lofty, turned into a wood through which was a convenient path upwards, met the owner of the house and the echo-ground, and thanked him for the pleasure which he had provided for us and other travellers by making such pretty pathways.
It was four o'clock when we reached the place where the car was waiting. We were anxious to be off, as we had fifteen miles to go; but just as we were seating ourselves we found that the cushions were missing. William was forced to go back to the town, a mile at least, and Coleridge and I waited with the car. It rained, and we had some fear that the evening would be wet, but the rain soon ceased, though the sky continued gloomy - an unfortunate circumstance, for we had to travel through a beautiful country, and of that sort which is most set off by sunshine and pleasant weather.
Travelled through the Vale or Trough of the Clyde, as it is called, for ten or eleven miles, having the river on our right. We had fine views both up and down the river for the first three or four miles, our road being not close to it, but above its banks, along the open country, which was here occasionally intersected by hedgerows.
Left our car in the road, and turned down a field to the Fall of Stonebyres, another of the falls of the Clyde, which I had not heard spoken of; therefore it gave me the more pleasure. We saw it from the top of the bank of the river at a little distance. It has not the imposing majesty of Cora Linn; but it has the advantage of being left to itself, a grand solitude in the heart of a populous country. We had a prospect above and below it, of cultivated grounds, with hay-stacks, houses, hills; but the river's banks were lonesome, steep, and woody, with rocks near the fall.
A little further on, came more into company with the river; sometimes we were close to it, sometimes above it, but always at no great distance; and now the vale became more interesting and amusing. It is very populous, with villages, hamlets, single cottages, or farm-houses embosomed in orchards, and scattered over with gentlemen's houses, some of them very ugly, tall and obtrusive, others neat and comfortable. We seemed now to have got into a country where poverty and riches were shaking hands together; pears and apples, of which the crop was abundant, hung over the road, often growing in orchards unfenced; or there might be bunches of broom along the road-side in an interrupted line, that looked like a hedge till we came to it and saw the gaps. Bordering on these fruitful orchards perhaps would be a patch, its chief produce being gorse or broom.
There was nothing like a moor or common anywhere; but small plots of uncultivated ground were left high and low, among the potatoes, corn, cabbages, which grew intermingled, now among trees, now bare. The Trough of the Clyde is, indeed, a singular and very interesting region; it is somewhat like the upper part of the vale of Nith, but above the Nith is much less cultivated ground - without hedgerows or orchards, or anything that looks like a rich country. We met crowds of people coming from the kirk; the lasses were gaily dressed, often in white gowns, coloured satin bonnets, and coloured silk handkerchiefs, and generally with their shoes and stockings in a bundle hung on their arm. Before we left the river the vale became much less interesting, resembling a poor English country, the fields being large, and unluxuriant hedges.
It had been dark long before we reached Hamilton, and William had some difficulty in driving the tired horse through the town. At the inn they hesitated about being able to give us beds, the house being brim-full - lights at every window. We were rather alarmed for our accommodations during the rest of the tour, supposing the house to be filled with tourists; but they were in general only regular travellers for out of the main road from town to town we saw scarcely a carriage, and the inns were empty. There was nothing remarkable in the treatment we met with at this inn, except the lazy impertinence of the waiter. It was a townish place, with a great larder set out; the house throughout dirty.
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