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Plant Life in the Scottish Highlands
Epilogue


And so I must say Farewell to the Scottish Highlands.  Since  last visited that lovely land war has cast its cruel shadow upon us; but no matter how long I may have to wait I know that day I shall return.

 Shall walk again in the perfumed air of Rothermurchus and watch the June sun setting over the Monadhliaths and casting its rose-pink hues over the Cairngorms.   I shall tramp again over the high plateaux of Ben Macdhui and Braeriach and flush the ptarmigan among the boulders.  Once more I shall delightful days searching for the rare alpines that inhabit their summits and exploring the magnificent corries of the Garrycore.

I shall follow exciting tracks across the purple waste of Rannoch, until I come down to the sea amid the beautiful mountains and valleys of Lochaber, where I shall again live awhile amongst their hospitable peoples.

I shall wander across moor and bog, by sparkling torrents and mirror-like lakes into the enchanted West, towards the hills of Morar, until  I see again the Coolins black against the setting sun and feel the soft breeze sweeping in from Rum and Eigg and the sparkling Atlantic.

 I shall climb again the shapely cone of Schiehallon or the beetling precipices of Bidean, and look down from Cairn Toul into the depths of the Larig Ghru.

I shall linger again to contemplate the beauty of Loch-an-Eilean and Loch Morlich or stand in silent awe beside the stark shores of Loch Avon or Loch Coruisk.

I shall return again to the land I love and to its flowers amid which I have passed so many happy days, and I shall live again those lovely days I have tried to recall to you in this short book.

To you to know not the Scottish Highlands, I say, ‘Visit the Highlands at your first opportunity, and like me you will return to your homes knowing that you must go back, that you have fallen beneath the spell of their beauty and charm.’

To you that know the Highlands, to say more is superfluous, but my book at least have achieved its object if you return in regard, not only the beauty of mountain and lake, stream and moor, but also the flowers that adorn them and add so much to the charm of the landscape, treating them not as the streaks of colour upon a painting, but as living objects pulsating with life, with beauty and with mystery, faced with the same hopes, the same despairs and the same struggles for existence as ourselves.

This thought is beautifully expressed by John Fiske in ‘Through Nature to God.’

‘I often thin, when working over my plants, of what Linnaeus once said of the unfolding of a blossom; I saw God in His glory passing near me, and bowed my head in worship.’ The scientific aspect of the same thought has been put into words by Tennyson;

Flower in the crannied wall
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand
Little flower--but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

No deeper thought was ever uttered by poet.  For in this world of plants, which, with its magician, chlorophyll, conjuring with sunbeams, is ceaselessly at working bringing life out of death, in this quiet vegetable world we may find the elementary principles of all life in almost visible operation.


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