Page images

sunshine ; the lake was lost under the low and distant hills, and the islands lost in the lake, which was all in motion with travelling fields of light, or dark shadows under rainy clouds. There are many hills, but no commanding eminence at a distance to confine the prospect, so that the land seemed endless as the water.”

In her description of their adventures at Loch Katrine and the Trossachs, Miss Wordsworth is very happy. Writing of the view from one point she says :—“We saw Benvenue opposite to us - a high mountain, but clouds concealed its top; its side, rising directly from the lake, is covered with birch trees to a great height, and seamed with innumerable channels of torrents; but now there was no water in them, nothing to break in upon the stillness and repose of the scene; nor do I recollect hearing the sound of water from any side, the wind being fallen and the lake perfectly still ; the place was all eye, and completely satisfied the sense and heart. Above and below us, to the right and to the left, were rocks, knolls, and hills, which, wherever any thing could grow — and that was everywhere between the rocks — were covered with trees and heather; the trees did not in any place grow so thick as an ordinary wood; yet I think there was never a bare space of twenty yards, it was more like a natural forest, where the trees grow in groups or singly, not hiding the surface of the ground, which, instead of being green and mossy, was of the richest purple. The heather was indeed the most luxuriant I ever saw ; it was so tall that a child of ten years old struggling through it would

often have been buried head and shoulders, and the exquisite beauty of the color, near or at a distance, seen under the trees, is not to be conceived. But if I were to go on describing forevermore, I should give but a faint, and very often a false idea of the different objects and the various combinations of them in this most intricate and delicious place; besides, I tired myself out with describing at Loch Lomond, so I will hasten to the end of my tale. This reminds me of a sentence in a little pamphlet written by the minister of Callander, descriptive of the environs of that place. After having taken up at least six closely-printed pages with the Trossachs, he concludes thus : — 'In a word, the Trossachs beggar all description,' a conclusion in which everybody who has been there will agree with him. I believe the word 'Trossachs' signifies many hills'; it is a name given to all the eminences at the foot of Loch Ketterine, and about half a mile beyond.”

As an illustration of the expedients to which they were obliged to resort, and the scanty accommodation afforded to them, may be quoted the following: “Our companion from the Trossachs, who, it appeared, was an Edinburgh drawing-master, going, during a vacation, on a pedestrian tour to John o' Groat's house, was to sleep in the barn with William and Coleridge, where the man said he had plenty of dry hay. I do not believe that the hay of the Highlands is often very dry; but this year it had a better chance than usual. Wet or dry, however, the next morning they said they had slept comfortably. When I went to bed the mistress, desiring me to go ben,' attended me with a candle, and assured me that the bed was dry, though not ‘sic as I had been used to. It was of chaff; there were two others in the room, a cupboard and two chests, on one of which stood the milk in wooden vessels, covered over. I should have thought that milk so kept could not have been sweet; but the cheese and butter were good. The walls of the whole house were of stone unplastered. It consisted of three apartments — the cow-house at one end; the kitchen, or house, in the middle; and the spence at the other end. The rooms were divided, not up to the rigging, but only to the beginning of the roof, so that there was a free passage for light and smoke from one end of the house to the other.

“I went to bed sometime before the family. The door was shut between us, and they had a bright fire, which I could not see; but the light it sent up among the varnished rafters and beams, which crossed each other in almost as intricate and fantastic a manner, as I have seen the under-boughs of a large beech-tree, withered by the depth of the shade above, produced the most beautiful effect that can be conceived. It was like what I should suppose an underground cave or temple to be, with a dripping or moist roof, and the moonlight entering in upon it by some means or other and yet the colors were more like melted gems. I lay looking up till the light of the fire faded away, and the man and his wife and child had crept into their bed at the other end of the room. I did not sleep much, but passed a comfortable night — for my bed, though hard, was warm and clean ; the unusual

ness of my situation prevented me from sleeping. I could hear the waves beat against the shore of the lake ; a little 'syke' close to the door made a much louder noise; and when I sat up in my bed I could see the lake through an open window-place at the bed'shead. Add to this, it rained all night. I was less occupied by remembrance of the Trossachs, beautiful as they were, than the vision of the Highland hut which I could not get out of my head. I thought of the Fairyland of Spenser, and what I had read in romance at other times, and then what a feast would it be for a London pantomime-maker, could he but transplant it to Drury Lane, with all its beautiful colors !”

Extracts from this admirable and fascinating book might be multiplied; but I must resist the temptation. It is a book which must be read to be enjoyed. The tourists received impressions not only from the natural scenery, but also from the simple-minded and hospitable Highlanders, with whom they from time to time met. They were so delighted with two Highland girls, in their fresh, youthful beauty, whom they met at the ferry at Inversneyde, that Wordsworth made them the subject of a pleasant poem. Miss Wordsworth, after describing her pleasurable meeting with these girls, says : —“At this day the innocent merriment of the girls, with their kindness to us, and the beautiful figure and face of the elder, come to my mind whenever I think of the ferry-house and waterfall of Loch Lomond ; and I never think of the two girls but the whole image of that romantic spot is before me - a living image, as it will be, to my dying day."

The poem of her brother, which cannot be much more poetic than the graceful prose of the sister, is as follows:

“Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost beauty on thy head:
And these gray rocks; that household lawn;
Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
This fall of water that doth make
A murmur near the silent Lake;
This little Bay, a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy abode ;
In truth, together do ye seem
Like something fashioned in a dream;
Such Forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares are laid asleep!
But, О fair Creature! in the light
Of common day, so heavenly bright,
I bless thee, Vision as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart :
God shield thee to thy latest years!
Thee neither know I, nor thy peers;
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

“ With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away:
For never saw I mien or face,
In which more plainly I could trace
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here, scattered like a random seed,
Remote from men, Thou dost not need
Th' embarrass'd look of shy distress,
And maidenly shamefacedness;

« PreviousContinue »