Monday, September 12th.
Rejoiced in the morning to see the sun shining upon the hills when I first looked out through the open window-place at my bed's head. We rose early, and after breakfast, our old companion, who was to be our guide for the day, rowed us over the water to the same point where Coleridge and I had sat down and eaten our dinner, while William had gone to survey the unknown coast. We intended to cross Loch Lomond, follow the lake to Glenfalloch, above the head of it, and then come over the mountains to Glengyle, and so down the glen, and passing Mr. Macfarlane's house, back again to the ferry-house, where we should sleep. So, a third time we went through the mountain hollow, now familiar ground. The inhabitants had not yet got in all their hay, and were at work in the fields; our guide often stopped to talk with them, and no doubt was called upon to answer many inquiries respecting us two strangers.
At the ferry-house of Inversneyde we had not the happy sight of the Highland girl and her companion, but the good woman received us cordially, gave me milk, and talked of Coleridge, who, the morning after we parted from him, had been at her house to fetch his watch, which he had forgotten two days before. He has since told me that he questioned her respecting the miserable condition of her hut, which, as you may remember, admitted the rain at the door, and retained it in the hollows of the mud floor: he told her how easy it would be to remove these inconveniences, and to contrive something, at least, to prevent the wind from entering at the window-places, if not a glass window for light and warmth by day. She replied that this was very true, but if they made any improvements the laird would conclude that they were growing rich, and would raise their rent.
The ferryman happened to be just ready at the moment to go over the lake with a poor man, his wife and child. The little girl, about three years old, cried all the way, terrified by the water. When we parted from this family, they going down the lake, and we up it, I could not but think of the difference in our condition to that poor woman, who, with her husband, had been driven from her home by want of work, and was now going a long journey to seek it elsewhere: every step was painful toil, for she had either her child to bear or a heavy burthen. I walked as she did, but pleasure was my object, and if toil came along with it, even that was pleasure, - pleasure, at least, it would be in the remembrance.
We were, I believe, nine miles from Glenfalloch when we left the boat. To us, with minds at ease, the walk was delightful; it could not be otherwise, for we passed by a continual succession of rocks, woods, and mountains; but the houses were few, and the ground cultivated only in small portions near the water, consequently there was not that sort of variety which leaves distinct separate remembrances, but one impression of solitude and greatness. While the Highlander and I were plodding on together side by side, interspersing long silences with now and then a question or a remark, looking down to the lake he espied two small rocky islands, and pointing to them, said to me, 'It will be gay and dangerous sailing there in stormy weather when the water is high.' In giving my assent I could not help smiling, but I afterwards found that a like combination of words is not uncommon in Scotland, for, at Edinburgh, William being afraid of rain, asked the ostler what he thought, who, looking up to the sky, pronounced it to be 'gay and dull,' and therefore rain might be expected.
The most remarkable object we saw was a huge single stone, I believe three or four times the size of Bowder Stone. The top of it, which on one side was sloping like the roof of a house, was covered with heather. William climbed up the rock, which would have been no easy task but to a mountaineer, and we constructed a rope of pocket-handkerchiefs, garters, plaids, coats, etc., and measured its height. It was so many times the length of William's walking-stick, but, unfortunately, having lost the stick, we have lost the measure. The ferryman told us that a preaching was held there once in three months by a certain minister - I think of Arrochar - who engages, as a part of his office, to perform the service. The interesting feelings we had connected with the Highland Sabbath and Highland worship returned here with double force.
The rock, though on one side a high perpendicular wall, in no place overhung so as to form a shelter, in no place could it be more than a screen from the elements. Why then had it been selected for such a purpose? Was it merely from being a central situation and a conspicuous object? Or did there belong to it some inheritance of superstition from old times? It is impossible to look at the stone without asking, How came it hither? Had then that obscurity and unaccountableness, that mystery of power which is about it, any influence over the first persons who resorted hither for worship? Or have they now on those who continue to frequent it? The lake is in front of the perpendicular wall, and behind, at some distance, and totally detached from it, is the continuation of the ridge of mountains which forms the vale of Loch Lomond - a magnificent temple, of which this spot is a noble Sanctum Sanctorum.
We arrived at Glenfalloch at about one or two o'clock. It is no village; there being only scattered huts in the glen, which may be four miles long, according to my remembrance: the middle of it is very green, and level, and tufted with trees. Higher up, where the glen parts into two very narrow ones, is the house of the laird; I daresay a pretty place. The view from the door of the public-house is exceedingly beautiful; the river flows smoothly into the lake, and the fields were at that time as green as possible. Looking backward, Ben Lomond very majestically shuts in the view. The top of the mountain, as seen here, being of a pyramidal form, it is much grander than with the broken outline, and stage above stage, as seen from the neighbourhood of Luss. We found nobody at home at the inn, but the ferryman shouted, wishing to have a glass of whisky, and a young woman came from the hay-field, dressed in a white bed-gown, without hat or cap. There was no whisky in the house, so he begged a little whey to drink with the fragments of our cold meat brought from Callander. After a short rest in a cool parlour we set forward again, having to cross the river and climb up a steep mountain on the opposite side of the valley. I observed that the people were busy bringing in the hay before it was dry into a sort of 'fauld' or yard, where they intended to leave it, ready to be gathered into the house with the first threatening of rain, and if not completely dry brought out again. Our guide bore me in his arms over the stream, and we soon came to the foot of the mountain. The most easy rising, for a short way at first, was near a naked rivulet which made a fine cascade in one place. Afterwards, the ascent was very laborious, being frequently almost perpendicular.
It is one of those moments which I shall not easily forget, when at that point from which a step or two would have carried us out of sight of the green fields of Glenfalloch, being at a great height on the mountain, we sate down, and heard, as if from the heart of the earth, the sound of torrents ascending out of the long hollow glen. To the eye all was motionless, a perfect stillness. The noise of waters did not appear to come this way or that, from any particular quarter: it was everywhere, almost, one might say, as if 'exhaled' through the whole surface of the green earth. Glenfalloch, Coleridge has since told me, signifies the Hidden Vale; but William says, if we were to name it from our recollections of that time, we should call it the Vale of Awful Sound. We continued to climb higher and higher; but the hill was no longer steep, and afterwards we pursued our way along the top of it with many small ups and downs. The walk was very laborious after the climbing was over, being often exceedingly stony, or through swampy moss, rushes, or rough heather.
As we proceeded, continuing our way at the top of the mountain, encircled by higher mountains at a great distance, we were passing, without notice, a heap of scattered stones round which was a belt of green grass - green, and as it seemed rich, where all else was either poor heather and coarse grass, or unprofitable rushes and spongy moss. The Highlander made a pause, saying, 'This place is much changed since I was here twenty years ago.' He told us that the heap of stones had been a hut where a family was then living, who had their winter habitation in the valley, and brought their goats thither in the summer to feed on the mountains, and that they were used to gather them together at night and morning to be milked close to the door, which was the reason why the grass was yet so green near the stones. It was affecting in that solitude to meet with this memorial of manners passed away; we looked about for some other traces of humanity, but nothing else could we find in that place. We ourselves afterwards espied another of those ruins, much more extensive - the remains, as the man told us, of several dwellings. We were astonished at the sagacity with which our Highlander discovered the track, where often no track was visible to us, and scarcely even when he pointed it out. It reminded us of what we read of the Hottentots and other savages. He went on as confidently as if it had been a turnpike road - the more surprising, as when he was there before it must have been a plain track, for he told us that fishermen from Arrochar carried herrings regularly over the mountains by that way to Loch Ketterine when the glens were much more populous than now.
Descended into Glengyle, above Loch Ketterine, and passed through Mr. Macfarlane's grounds, that is, through the whole of the glen, where there was now no house left but his. We stopped at his door to inquire after the family, though with little hope of finding them at home, having seen a large company at work in a hay field, whom we conjectured to be his whole household - as it proved, except a servant-maid, who answered our inquiries. We had sent the ferryman forward from the head of the glen to bring the boat round from the place where he left it to the other side of the lake. Passed the same farm-house we had such good reason to remember, and went up to the burying-ground that stood so sweetly near the water-side. The ferryman had told us that Rob Roy's grave was there, so we could not pass on without going up to the spot. There were several tomb-stones, but the inscriptions were either worn-out or unintelligible to us, and the place choked up with nettles and brambles. You will remember the description I have given of the spot. I have nothing here to add, except the following poem which it suggested to William: -
A famous Man is Robin Hood,
The English Ballad-singer's joy,
And Scotland boasts of one as good,
She has her own Rob Roy!
Then clear the weeds from off his grave,
And let us chaunt a passing stave
In honour of that Outlaw brave.
Heaven gave Rob Roy a daring heart
And wondrous length and strength of arm,
Nor craved he more to quell his foes,
Or keep his friends from harm.
Yet Robin was as wise as brave,
As wise in thought as bold in deed,
For in the principles of things
He sought his moral creed.
Said generous Rob, 'What need of books?
Burn all the statutes and their shelves:
They stir us up against our kind,
And worse, against ourselves.
'We have a passion; make a law,
Too false to guide us or control:
And for the law itself we fight
In bitterness of soul.
'And puzzled, blinded thus, we lose
Distinctions that are plain and few:
These find I graven on my heart:
That tells me what to do.
'The Creatures see of flood and field,
And those that travel on the wind!
With them no strife can last; they live
In peace, and peace of mind.
'For why? Because the good old rule
Suffices them, the simple plan
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.
'A lesson which is quickly learn'd,
A signal this which all can see!
Thus nothing here provokes the strong
To tyrannous cruelty.
'And freakishness of mind is check'd;
He tamed who foolishly aspires,
While to the measure of their might
All fashion their desires.
'All kinds and creatures stand and fall
By strength of prowess or of wit,
'Tis God's appointment who must sway,
And who is to submit.
'Since then,' said Robin, 'right is plain,
And longest life is but a day;
To have my ends, maintain my rights,
I'll take the shortest way.'
And thus among these rocks he lived
Through summer's heat and winter's snow;
The Eagle, he was lord above,
And Rob was lord below.
So was it - would at least have been
But through untowardness of fate;
For polity was then too strong:
He came an age too late.
Or shall we say an age too soon?
For were the bold man living now,
How might he flourish in his pride
With buds on every bough?
Then Rents and Land-marks, Rights of chase,
Sheriffs and Factors, Lairds and Thanes,
Would all have seem'd but paltry things
Not worth a moment's pains.
Rob Roy had never linger'd here,
To these few meagre vales confined,
But thought how wide the world, the times
How fairly to his mind.
And to his Sword he would have said,
'Do thou my sovereign will enact
From land to land through half the earth;
Judge thou of law and fact.
''Tis fit that we should do our part;
Becoming that mankind should learn
That we are not to be surpass'd
In fatherly concern.
'Of old things all are over old,
Of good things none are good enough;
I'll shew that I can help to frame
A world of other stuff.
'I, too, will have my Kings that take
From me the sign of life and death,
Kingdoms shall shift about like clouds
Obedient to my breath.'
And if the word had been fulfill'd
As might have been, then, thought of joy!
France would have had her present Boast,
And we our brave Rob Roy.
Oh! say not so, compare them not;
I would not wrong thee, Champion brave!
Would wrong thee nowhere; least of all
Here, standing by thy Grave.
For thou, although with some wild thoughts,
Wild Chieftain of a savage Clan,
Hadst this to boast of - thou didst love
The Liberty of Man.
And had it been thy lot to live
With us who now behold the light,
Thou wouldst have nobly stirr'd thyself,
And battled for the right.
For Robin was the poor man's stay;
The poor man's heart, the poor man's hand,
And all the oppress'd who wanted strength
Had Robin's to command.
Bear witness many a pensive sigh
Of thoughtful Herdsman when he strays
Alone upon Loch Veol's heights,
And by Loch Lomond's Braes.
And far and near, through vale and hill,
Are faces that attest the same;
Kindling with instantaneous joy
At sound of Rob Roy's name.
Soon after we saw our boat coming over the calm water. It was late in the evening, and I was stiff and weary, as well I might, after such a long and toilsome walk, so it was no poor gratification to sit down and be conscious of advancing in our journey without further labour. The stars were beginning to appear, but the brightness of the west was not yet gone; - the lake perfectly still, and when we first went into the boat we rowed almost close to the shore under steep crags hung with birches: it was like a new-discovered country of which we had not dreamed, for in walking down the lake, owing to the road in that part being carried at a considerable height on the hill-side, the rocks and the indentings of the shore had been hidden from us. At this time, those rocks and their images in the calm water composed one mass, the surfaces of both equally distinct, except where the water trembled with the motion of our boat.
Having rowed a while under the bold steeps, we launched out further when the shores were no longer abrupt. We hardly spoke to each other as we moved along receding from the west, which diffused a solemn animation over the lake. The sky was cloudless; and everything seemed at rest except our solitary boat, and the mountain-streams, - seldom heard, and but faintly. I think I have rarely experienced a more elevated pleasure than during our short voyage of this night. The good woman had long been looking out for us, and had prepared everything for our refreshment; and as soon as we had finished supper, or rather tea, we went to bed. William, I doubt not, rested well, and, for my part, I slept as soundly on my chaff bed as ever I have done in childhood after the long day's playing of a summer's holiday.
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