Thursday, September 8th
Before breakfast we walked to the Pass of Killicrankie. A very fine scene; the river Garry forcing its way down a deep chasm between rocks, at the foot of high rugged hills covered with wood, to a great height. The Pass did not, however, impress us with awe, or a sensation of difficulty or danger, according to our expectations; but, the road being at a considerable height on the side of the hill, we at first only looked into the dell or chasm. It is much grander seen from below, near the river's bed. Everybody knows that this Pass is famous in military history. When we were travelling in Scotland an invasion was hourly looked for, and one could not but think with some regret of the times when from the now depopulated Highlands forty or fifty thousand men might have been poured down for the defence of the country, under such leaders as the Marquis of Montrose or the brave man who had so distinguished himself upon the ground where we were standing. I will transcribe a sonnet suggested to William by this place, and written in October 1803: -
Six thousand Veterans practised in War's game,
Tried men, at Killicrankie were array'd
Against an equal host that wore the Plaid,
Shepherds and herdsmen. Like a whirlwind came
The Highlanders; the slaughter spread like flame,
And Garry, thundering down his mountain road,
Was stopp'd, and could not breathe beneath the load
Of the dead bodies. 'Twas a day of shame
For them whom precept and the pedantry
Of cold mechanic battle do enslave.
Oh! for a single hour of that Dundee
Who on that day the word of onset gave:
Like conquest might the men of England see,
And her Foes find a like inglorious grave.
We turned back again, and going down the hill below the Pass, crossed the same bridge we had come over the night before, and walked through Lady Perth's grounds by the side of the Garry till we came to the Tummel, and then walked up to the cascade of the Tummel. The fall is inconsiderable, scarcely more than an ordinary 'wear;' but it makes a loud roaring over large stones, and the whole scene is grand - hills, mountains, woods, and rocks. --- is a very pretty place, all but the house. Stoddart's print gives no notion of it. The house stands upon a small plain at the junction of the two rivers, a close deep spot, surrounded by high hills and woods. After we had breakfasted William fetched the car, and, while we were conveying the luggage to the outside of the gate, where it stood, Mr. ---, mal apropos, came very near to the door, called the woman out, and railed at her in the most abusive manner for 'harbouring' people in that way. She soon slipped from him, and came back to us: I wished that William should go and speak to her master, for I was afraid that he might turn the poor woman away; but she would not suffer it, for she did not care whether they stayed or not.
In the meantime, Mr. --- continued scolding her husband; indeed, he appeared to be not only proud, but very ignorant, insolent, and low-bred. The woman told us that she had sometimes lodged poor travellers who were passing along the road, and permitted others to cook their victuals in her house, for which Mr. --- had reprimanded her before; but, as she said, she did not value her place, and it was no matter. In sounding forth the dispraise of Mr. ---, I ought not to omit mentioning that the poor woman had great delight in talking of the excellent qualities of his mother, with whom she had been a servant, and lived many years. After having interchanged good wishes we parted with our charitable hostess, who, telling us her name, entreated us, if ever we came that way again, to inquire for her.
We travelled down the Tummel till it is lost in the Tay, and then, in the same direction, continued our course along the vale of Tay, which is very wide for a considerable way, but gradually narrows, and the river, always a fine stream, assumes more dignity and importance. Two or three miles before we reached Dunkeld, we observed whole hill-sides, the property of the Duke of Athol, planted with fir-trees till they are lost among the rocks near the tops of the hills. In forty or fifty years these plantations will be very fine, being carried from hill to hill, and not bounded by a visible artificial fence.
Reached Dunkeld at about three o'clock. It is a pretty, small town, with a respectable and rather large ruined abbey, which is greatly injured by being made the nest of a modern Scotch kirk, with sash windows, - very incongruous with the noble antique tower, - a practice which we afterwards found is not uncommon in Scotland. Sent for the Duke's gardener after dinner, and walked with him into the pleasure-grounds, intending to go to the Falls of the Bran, a mountain stream which here joins the Tay. After walking some time on a shaven turf under the shade of old trees, by the side of the Tay, we left the pleasure-grounds, and crossing the river by a ferry, went up a lane on the hill opposite till we came to a locked gate by the road-side, through which we entered into another part of the Duke's pleasure-grounds bordering on the Bran, the glen being for a considerable way - for aught I know, two miles - thridded by gravel walks.
The walks are quaintly enough intersected, here and there by a baby garden of fine flowers among the rocks and stones. The waterfall, which we came to see, warned us by a loud roaring that we must expect it; we were first, however, conducted into a small apartment, where the gardener desired us to look at a painting of the figure of Ossian, which, while he was telling us the story of the young artist who performed the work, disappeared, parting in the middle, flying asunder as if by the touch of magic, and lo! we are at the entrance of a splendid room, which was almost dizzy and alive with waterfalls, that tumbled in all directions - the great cascade, which was opposite to the window that faced us, being reflected in innumerable mirrors upon the ceiling and against the walls. We both laughed heartily, which, no doubt, the gardener considered as high commendation; for he was very eloquent in pointing out the beauties of the place.
We left the Bran, and pursued our walk through the plantations, where we readily forgave the Duke his little devices for their sakes. They are already no insignificant woods, where the trees happen to be oaks, birches, and others natural to the soil; and under their shade the walks are delightful. From one hill, through different openings under the trees, we looked up the vale of Tay to a great distance, a magnificent prospect at that time of the evening; woody and rich - corn, green fields, and cattle, the winding Tay, and distant mountains. Looked down the river to the town of Dunkeld, which lies low, under irregular hills, covered with wood to their rocky summits, and bounded by higher mountains, which are bare. The hill of Birnam, no longer Birnam 'wood,' was pointed out to us. After a very long walk we parted from our guide when it was almost dark, and he promised to call on us in the morning to conduct us to the gardens.
|To Next Part|