Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rock or earth, of the appearance of ochre; so that the green of the grassy banks, the dark-gray or black appearance of the columns, with those red seams and other varieties of the interposed strata, have most uncommon and striking effects. The outline of these cliffs is as singular as their colouring. In several places the earth has wasted away from single columns, and left them standing insulated and erect, like the ruined colonnade of an ancient temple, upon the verge of the precipice. In other places, the disposition of the basaltic ranges present singular appearances, to which the guides give names agreeable to the images which they are supposed to represent. Each of the little bays or inlets has also its appropriate name. One is called the Spanish Bay, from one of the Spanish Armada having been wrecked there. Thus our voyage has repeatedly traced the memorable remnants of that celebrated squadron. The general name of the cape adjacent to the Causeway, is Bengore Head. To those who have seen Staffa, the peculiar appearance of the Causeway itself will lose much of its effect; but the grandeur of the neighbouring scenery will still maintain the reputation of Bengore Head. The people ascribe all these wonders to Fin MacCoul, whom they couple with a Scottish giant called Ben-an something or other. The travelleris plied by guides, who make their profit by selling pieces of crystal, agate, or chalcedony, found in the interstices of the rocks. Our party brought off some curious joints of the columns, and, had I been quite as I am wont to be, I would have selected four to be capitals of a rustic porch at Abbotsford. But, alas ! alas ! I am much out of love with vanity at this moment. From what we hear at the Causeway, we have every reason to think that the pretended privateer has been a gentleman's pleasure-vessel.--Continue our voyage southward, and pass between the Main of Ireland and the Isle of Rachrin, a heathy-looking island, once a place of refuge to Robert Bruce. This is said, in ancient times, to have been the abode of banditti, who plundered the neighé bouring coast. At present it is under a long lease to a Mr Gage, who is said to maintain excellentorder among the islanders. Those of bad character he expels to Ireland, and hence it is a phrase among the people of Rachrin, when they wish ill to any one,' May Ireland be his hinder end. On the main we see the village of Ballintry, and a number of people collected, the remains of an Irish fair. Close by is a small islet, called Sheep, Island. We now take leave of the Irish coast, having heard nothing of its popular complaints, excepting that the good lady at Dunluce made a heavy moan against the tithes, which had compelled her husband to throw his whole farm into pasture.

Stand over toward Scotland, and see the Mull of Cantyre light.

"6th September, 1814.-Under the lighthouse at the Mull of Cantyre ; situated on a desolate spot among rocks, like a Chinese pagoda in Indian drawings. Duff and Stevenson go ashore at six, Hamilton follows, but is unable to land, the sea having got up. The boat brings back letters, and I have the great comfort to learn all are well at Abbotsford. About eight the tide begins to run very strong, and the wind rising at the same time, makes us somewhat apprehensive for our boat, which had returned to attend D. and S. We observe them set off along the hills on foot, to walk, as we understand, to a bay called Carskey, five or six miles off, but the nearest spot at which they can hope to re-embark in this state of the weather. It now becomes very squally, and one of our jibsails splits. We are rather awkwardly divided into three parties—the pedestrians on shore, with whom we now observe Captain Wilson, mounted upon a pony-the boat with four sailors, which is stealing along in-shore, unable to row, and scarce venturing to carry any sail—and we in the yacht, tossing about most exceedingly. At length we reach Carskey, a quiet-looking bay, where the boat gets into shore, and fetches off our gentlemen. After this the coast of Cantyre seems cultivated and

arable, but bleak and unenclosed, like many other parts of Scotland. We then learn that we have been repeatedly in the route of two American privateers, who have made many captures in the Irish Channel, particularly at Innistruhul, at the back of Islay, and on the Lewis. They are the Peacock, of twenty-two guns, and 165 men, and a schooner of eighteen guns, called the Prince of Neuchatel. These news, added to the increasing inclemency of the weather, induce us to defer a projected visit to the coast of Galloway; and indeed it is time one of us was home on many accounts. We therefore resolve, after visiting the lighthouse at Pladda, to proceed for Greenock. About four drop anchor off Pladda, a small islet lying on the south side of Arran. Go ashore and visit the establishment. When we return on board, the wind being unfavourable for the mouth of Clyde, we resolve to weigh anchor and go into Lamlash Bay.

c7th September, 1814.–We had amply room to 'repent last night's resolution, for the wind, with its usual caprice, changed so soon as we had weighed anchor, blew very hard, and almost directly against us, so that we were beating up against it by short tacks, which made a most disagreeable night; as between the noise of the wind and the sea, the clattering of the ropes and sails above, and of the moveables below, and the eternal

ready about,' which was repeated every ten minutes when the vessel was about to tack, with the lurch and clamour which succeeds, sleep was much out of the question. We are not now in the least sick, but want of sleep is uncomfortable, and I have no agreeable reflections to amuse waking hours, excepting the hope of again rejoining my family. About six o'clock went on deck to see Lamlash Bay, which we have at length reached after a hard struggle. The morning is fine and the wind abated, so that the coast of Arran looks extremely well. It is indented with two deep bays. That called Lamlash, being covered by an island with an entrance at either end, makes a secure roadstead. The other bay, which takes its name from BrodickCastle, a seat of the Duke of Hamilton, is open. The situation of the castle is very fine, among extensive plantations, laid out with perhaps too much formality, but pleasant to the eye, as the first tract of plantation we have seen for a long time. One stripe, however, with singular want of taste, runs straight up a finely-rounded hill, and turning by an obtuse angle, cuts down the opposite side with equal lack of remorse. This vile habit of opposing the line of the plantation to the natural line and bearing of the ground, is one of the greatest practical errors of early planters. As to the rest, the fields about Brodick, and the lowland of Arran in general, seem rich, well enclosed, and in good cultivation. Behind and around rise an amphitheatre of mountains, the principal a long ridge with fine swelling serrated tops, called Goat-Fell. Our wind' now altogether dies away, while we want its assistance to get to tlie mouth of the Firth of Clyde, now opening between the extremity of the large and fertile Isle of Bute, and the lesser islands called the Cumbrays. The fertile coast of Ayrshire trends away to the south-westward,

displaying many villages and much appearance of beauty and cultivation. On the north-eastward arises the bold and magnificent screen formed by the mountains of Argyleshire and Dunbartonshire, rising above each other in gigantic succession. About noon, a favourable breath of wind enables us to enter the mouth of the Clyde passing between the larger Cumbray and the extremity of Bute. As we advance beyond the Cumbray

the opposite coast, see Largs, renowned for the final defeat of the Norwegian invaders by Alexander III. (A. D. 1263.) The ground of battle was a sloping, but rather gentle ascent from the sea, above the modern Kirk of Largs. Had Haco gained the victory, it would have opened all the southwest of Scotland to his arms. On Bute, a fine and well-improved island, we open the Marquis of Bute's house of Mount Stewart, neither apparently large nor elegant in architecture, but beautifully situated among well-grown trees,

and open

with an open and straight avenue to the sea-shore. The whole isle is prettily varied by the rotation of crops : and the rocky ridges of Goat-Fell and other mountains in Arran are now seen behind Bute as a background. These ridges resemble much the romantic and savage outline of the mountains of Cuillin, in Skye. On the southward of Largs is Kelburn, the seat of Lord Glasgow, with extensive plantations'; on the northward Skelmorlie, an ancient seat of the Montgomeries. The Firth, closed to appearance by Bute and the Cumbrays, now resembles a long irregular inland lake, bordered on the one side by the low and rich coast of Renfrewshire, studded with villages and seats, and on the other by the Highland mountains. Our breeze dies totally away, and leaves us to admire this prospect till sunset. I learn incidentally, that, in the opinion of honest Captain Wilson, I have been myself the cause of all this contradictory weather. It is all,' says the Captain to Stevenson, owing to the cave at the Isle of Egg,'--from which I had abstracted a skull. Under this odium I

may labour yet longer, for assuredly the weather has been doggedly unfavourable. Night quiet and serene, but dead calm—a fine contrast to the pitching, rolling, and walloping of last night.

" 8th September. -Waked very much in the same situation--a dead calm, but the weather very serene. With much difficulty, and by the assistance of the tide, we advanced up the Firth, and passing the village of Gourock, at length reached Greenock. Took an early dinner, and embarked in the steam-boat for Glasgow. We took leave of our little yacht under the repeated cheers of the sailors, who had been much pleased with their erratic mode of travelling about, so different from the tedium of a regular voyage. After we reached Glasgow-a journey which we performed at the rate of about eight miles an hour, and with a smoothness of motion which probably resembles flying—we supped together and prepared to separate.-Erskine and I go to-morrow to the Advocate's at Killermont, and thence to Edinburgh. So closes my Journal. But I must not omit to say, that among five or six persons, some of whom were doubtless different in tastes and pursuits, ther did not occur, during the close communication of more than six weeks aboard a small vessel, the slightest difference of opinion. Each seemed anxious to submit his own wishes to those of his friends. The consequence was, that by judicious arrangement all were gratified in their turn, and frequently be who made some sacrifices to the views of his companions, was rewarded by some unexpected gratification calculated particularly for his own amusement. Thus ends my little excursion, in which, bating one circumstance, which must have made me miserable for the time wherever I had learned it, I have enjoyed as much pleasure as in any six weeks of my life. We had constant exertion, a succession of wild and uncommon scenery, good humour on. board, and objects of animation and interest when we went ashore-

. Sed sugit interea-fugit irrevocabile tempus."

CHAPTER IX.

Letter in Verse from Zetland and Orkney-Death of the Duchess of Buccleuch

Correspondence with the Duke--Altrive Lake-Negociation concerning the Lord of the Isles completedSuccess of Waverley-Contemporaneous Criticisms on the Novel-Letters to Scott from Mr Morritt-Mr Lewis-and Miss Maclean Clephane Letter from James Ballantyne to Miss Edgeworth-1814.

I QUESTION if any man ever drew his own character more fully or more pleasingly than Scott has done in the preceding diary of a six weeks' pleasure voyage. We have before us, according to the scene and occasion, the poet, the antiquary, the magistrate, the planter, and the agriculturist; but every where the warm yet sagacious philanthropist-every where the courtesy, based on the unselfishness, of the thoroughbred gentleman :-and surely never was the tenderness of a manly heart portrayed more touchingly than in the closing pages. I ought to mention that Erskine received the news of the Duchess of Buccleuch’s death on the day when the party landed at Dunstaffnage; but, knowing how it would affect Scott, took means to prevent ils reaching him until the expedition should be concluded. He heard the event casually mentioned by a stranger during dinner at Port Rush, and was for the moment quite overpowered.

of the letters which Scott wrote to his friends during those happy six weeks, I have recovered only one, and it is, thanks to the leisure of the yacht, in verse. The strong and easy beroics of the first section prove, I think, that Mr Canning did not err when he told him that if he chose he might emulate even Dryden's command of that noble measure; and the dancing anapæsts of the second show that he could with equal facility have rivalled the gay graces of Cotton, Anstey, or Moore. This epistle did not reach the Duke of Buccleuch until his lovely Duchess was no more; and I shall annex to it some communications relating to that affliction which afford a contrast, not less interesting than melancholy, to the light-hearted glee reflected in the rhymes from the region of Magnus Troill.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Where late the sun scarce vanished from the sight,
And his bright pathway graced the short-lived night,
Though darker now as autumn's shades extend,
The north winds wbistle and the mists ascend.
Health from the land where eddying whirlwinds toss
The storm-rocked cradle of the Cape of Noss;
On outstretched cords the giddy engine slides,
His own strong arm the bold adventurer guides,
And he that lists such desperate feat to try,
May, like the sea-mew, skim 'twixt surf and sky,
And feel the mid-air gales around him blow,
And see the billows rage five hundred feet below.

Here by each stormy peak and desert shore,
The hardy islesman tugs the daring oar,
Practised alike his venturous course to keep
Through the white breakers or the pathless deep,
By ceaseless peril and by toil to gain,
A wretched pittance from the niggard main.
And when the worn-out drudge old ocean leaves,
What comfort greets him and what hut receives ?
Lady! the worst your presence ere has cheered
(When want and sorrow fled as you appeared)
Were to a Zetlander as the high dome
of proud Drumlanrig to my humble home.
Here rise no groves, and here no gardens blow,
Here even the hardy heath scarce dares to grow.;
Bụt rocks on rocks, in mist and storm arrayed,
Stretch far to sea their giant colonnade,
With many a cavern seam'd, the dreary haunt
Of the dun seal and swarthy cormorant.
Wild round their risted brows with frequent cry,
As of lament, the gulls and gannets fly,
And from their sab base, with sullen sound,
In sheets of whitening foam the waves rebound.

“Yet even these coasts a touch of envy gain From those whose land has known oppression's chain; For here the industrious Dutchman comes once more To moor his fishing craft by Bressay's shore; Greets every former mate and brother tar, Marvels how Lerwick 'scaped the rage of war Tells many a tale of Gallic outrage done, And ends by blessing God and Wellington. Here too the Greenland tar, a fiercer guest, Claims a brief hour of riot, not of rest; Proves each wild frolic that in wine has birth, | And wakes the land with brawls and boisterous mirth. A sadder sight on yon poor vessel's prow The captive Norse-man sits in silent wo, And eyes the flags of Britain as they flow. Hard fate of war, which bade her terrors sway His destined course, and seize so mean a prey ; A bark with planks so warp'd and seams so riven, She scarce might face the gentlest airs of heaven : Pensive he sils, and questions oft if none Can list bis speech and understand his moan ; In vain-no islesman now can use the tongue of the bold Norse, from whom their lineage sprung, Not thus of old the Norse-men hither came, Won by the love of danger or of fame; On every storm-beat cape a shapeless tower Tells of their wars, their conquests, and their power;

« AnteriorContinuar »