Page images

to pourtray the scenery around Edinburgh. All that nature can perform to delight the eyes

of man,

and to elevate his soul with scenes of sublimity and grandeur, she has done (and art has lent her aid also) for this town. From that majestic and venerable edifice, the castle, our prospect is, indeed, magnificent and extended. We survey the New Town below, adorned with the most elegant and regular buildings, and broad, airy, spacious streets; her spires and turrets glittering in the sun; her whole domain swarming with inhabitants, and resounding with the busy hum of men.

We cast our view over the Frith of Forth, and beyond the gleaming of the silver wave, the kingdom of Fyfe stretches its extended length of coast.

Turning our back upon this scene, we behold the Old Town beneath, presenting a most picturesque view from the antiquity and the height of its buildings, and the frequent alternation of eminences and of depressions, on which the houses are erected; some seeming to hang in mid-air, while others are sunk in the vale below. Casting our view beyond the city, we survey a fair and a pleasant country, gay with enamelled, verdant meads, and waving rich with furrowed corn; and, beyond all, terminating the prospect, the long-extended ranges of the Pentland mountains lift their bleak heads to the sky.

“ I am not able to describe a thousandth part of the excessive beauty and grandeur of the scenery, or to give the faintest image of the exquisite delight, which every sensible mind must experience in con'templating such a prospect."

Edward (the writer of the above letter) occasionally made excursions from his head-quarters at Edinburgh, into the country; during the last summer of his residence in Scotland he visited the Highlands." When he came to the pass of Killiakranky he paused with wonder and dismay: the country round was terrifically grand; far as the eye could range, the prospect was bound by an eternal chain of mountains, whose summits were buried in the clouds.

Edward dismounted, and bade his servant hold his horse, while he crawled, at the imminent hazard of breaking his neck, down some very steep rocks, in order to bathe in the river Garry. At length, he reached the lowermost ledge of the precipice, against which the unwearied waves beat in hoarse cadence. The water was clear and limpid, so as to enable him to see and to avoid the sunken masses of stone, that lay a few feet under its surface.

Edward having bathed, and dressed himself, stood on the shelving ledge of a rock, close by the water's side, and suffered his soul to be wrapt in ecstasy by a survey of the most admirable and stupendous scenery with which his eyes had been ever blessed. The vast masses of rocks had been, in many places, rifted by the lightning's blast, and, here and there, disclosed an awful chasm. At their base and far up the steep, the hills were naked and bare, but above, thinly skirted with hardy trees and shrubs, as


[ocr errors]

the mountain ash, the elm, and the hazel. The arch of a bridge, which led to a stately mansion near, reared itself full sixty feet above the bed of the river, although in the winter season, when the floods roll down the impetuous tide of their torrents from the mountain heights, the waters rise above the level of the arch, and find their way through some round apertures at its side, made for the purpose of affording an outlet to the streams, lest the great weight of accumulated waters should press upon and

sweep away the whole fabric into destruction.

From the spot where Edward stood, as he looked through the bridge's arch, he beheld a noble country open on his view. The banks of the river (which tumbled its foaining flood over many a rough and broken fragment of rock, that impeded its course through the channel), were smiling with verdure, the plains beyond exhibited the marks of cultivation, and the whole of the prospect was terminated by a range of mountains, some of which were slightly cloathed with wood, while the rest, in bleak and sullen majesty, exposed their bare heads to the storm, and defied the rayages of all-devouring time.

In the rebellion of 1745, when the Hessian troops came to this spot, they declared that they would go no farther, for that these were the confines of the world. And no wonder, for before General Wade had caused the famous military road, which now runs over all this tract of country, to be made, half a dozen Highlanders, with a few loose

stones, night have defended the pass against a whole army of assailants.

Gray, the poet, says, that he never experienced the sensations of sublimity, from the moment he crossed the Alps, till he arrived at this spot. In the ruder times of ancient days, a poet might surely have been forgiven, if he had placed the infernal regions directly in this spot, which might then have appeared to him to be the bones and skeleton of the world. Here the bard might have imagined, that airy forms and shadowy spectres took up their habitation, whether they hung on the rude fragment of a rock, or came riding upon the viewless wings of the blast.

Edward crawled up the rocks, and wound his way up towards the road, along Sir James Pulteney's coppice paths, still dwelling with rapture on the scenes every where presented to his view. He was shut in on all sides by mountains, of which those immediately near him, were hung with wood, and well dressed with foliage; but beyond, and elevated above all, the hills were naked to their summits, not even scantily covered with heath. The river rolled itself along at his left hand, now opening upon him its white and perturbed stream, labouring to find its way among the rocks, which opposed its passage, then entirely hidden from his sight, by the out-jutting and overhanging hills, it allowed him only to imagine the difficulties with which it struggled, by the hoarse murmur of its waters, coming

with deep and solemn tones upon his ear, amid the awful silence in which all around was hushed.

Edward at length, by a gradual ascent, reached the road, where the scenery still preserved the same features of grandeur and sublimity. Trees were to be seen on the lower ridges or tiers of mountains, with here and there a little hut, or cabin, (apparently, owing to its distance, hanging in the air) suspended at the side of the hill, the topmost range of rocks was very loftily raised, and their heads enveloped in eternal clouds.


Once in the flight of ages past,

There liv'd a man; and WHO WAS HE?
Mortal! howe'er thy lot be cast,

That man resembles thee.

Unknown the regions of his birth,

The land in which he died unknown;
His name hath perish'd from the earth,

This truth survives alone,

That joy, and grief, and hope, and fear,

Alternate triumph'd in his breast;
His bliss and woe,- smile, a tear;

Oblivion hides the rest.

« PreviousContinue »