A lovely morning, as might have been expected from
last evenings sunset.
I can hardly tell why, but to me Sunday in the
country is, perhaps, the pleasantest day of the week. In towns on
that day, I confess to having too often a feeling of ennui and
restraint; but in the country I have nothing of this: ones brighter
and better thoughts seem to expand, and all nature to wear a fresh
and new-born aspect, at once more cheerful and more tranquil than on
other days; so fair and quiet that oftentimes one can hardly believe
that all in so bounteous and beautiful a world is doomed to decay.
As we sat at breakfast, Archie came in to say that
there was an eagle on the hill not far off, and he thought that Mr.
Ward would like to see it. We were up at once, and followed the
keeper to a shoulder of the hill near the stone seat, and peeped
cautiously over the brae. He was still there, perched on a rock
about 400 yards oflP, and with Archies glass we could see him
distinctly. A magnificent golden eagle, and sitting as still as a
stone figure, except by an occasional turn of his head to look
Is it not fine? whispered Ward. I would not have
lost this sight for anything; let us get as near as we can, and
start him. But the great bird was watchful, and the instant we
showed above the brae, he launched into the air, rising higher and
higher in wide circles, and we gazed till he was lost to view by
passing over the nearest hills.
Oh! what a pity it is Sunday, exclaimed Fred;
Archie might have shot the eagle.
Shoot him! you young miscreant, said Ward; shoot
you rather. Why one who would kill that noble bird would not scruple
to drain the loch, and turn the Lodge into a soap-work.
You would not find the sheep-farmers so
enthusiastic, I said. Half a lamb daily, and perhaps a brace of
grouse after, is expensive keep.
Is he so bad, Archie? asked Hope.
Not maybe to grouse, Mr. Ward. But a pair of eagles
in lambing-time do a heap o mischief; and if no that ill to grouse,
as they see him far off, yet when he does rush a covey he maks wild
wark among them.
Still, I would suffer some loss to see these grand
birds about the mountains.
We now went back, finished breakfast, and set off for
a long walk to church, having ordered Dick to have the carriage at
the Frasers Arms at four oclock.
There was a good sermon from the parish minister,
although not equal to that of last Sunday, and, the day being so
fine, the church was well filled with a nice comfortable-looking
congregation, here and there showing what art critics call
effective bits of colour in the shape of tartan shawls and
grannies scarlet cloaks. Hor was fashion quite neglected by the
farmers comely daughters.
We had lunch at the inn, and John Fraser agreed to
come over to us early on the great 12th, and see the sport; Fred
promised Mrs. Fraser the best brace of grouse of his own shooting,
and the good matron was much pleased, as she seems fond of the boy,
and makes of him overmuch.
In driving home, every nook and cranny on the hills
was scanned and commented on with interest, as the shooting was so
close at hand.
When home, books were taken to read on the hill-side,
and I gave Fred a copy of the u Pilgrims Progress which I had
picked up in the library', and he was at once fixed with its strange
attractiveness, especially to the young, and every now and then had
some question or comment on the story.
To-day there was roast kid at dinnera dish of
venerable antiquity, which none but the Major had before seen. This
being a regular Eastern plat, Burmah knew well what he had; and
roast kid was at once recognised by the government of Ardenmohr.
On going out after dinner, we found the old
housekeeper sitting on a bench in the open air, and her daughter
reading to her.
Janet Cameron, our housekeeper, is a nice, honest,
cheery body, very jealous, and not a little despotic. She keeps her
daughter and Dick in excellent order, and even scolds us. The only
person who escapes Janets reprehension is Burmah, as his silent
ways and great black eyes seem to have awed her. She thinks him
uncanny. Poor Burmah! Dick has more mischief in him than a hundred
of they glowerin black craters, as Janet calls them. But,
luckily, Janet does not think so, and Burmah is permitted to pursue
the quiet mysteries of his cuisine unmolested.
In the gloamin we had coffee outside, as it was warm;
and Ward haying remarked how nice he found the Highland people, and
how ready they always were to oblige without the least appearance of
cringing or doing a favour
Yes, said Major Duncan, I always find the
Highlanders the same. The truth is, all the Celtic races are quick
and self-possessed; one seldom comes across a loutish' Frenchman or
Highlander. The Queen takes much to the Highland people.
Indeed she does; and it is pleasant to read in her
journal of her kindly and humorous dealings with the very humblest.
Yes, Hope; and her Majesty (God bless her!) has
sense and heart to prefer the real pleasure apparent in their
services to that mere deference which high station always commands;
besides, the natural tact and loyalty of the Celt make familiarity
pleasant and safe.
Quite true; but there is no taint of tyrant or bigot
in the Queen of England, who worships so modestly in the village
Bravo, Hope! you are not such a Badical after all.
I a Badical! bless the man. I! game-preserver, Church of England
pillar, and most loyal subject! a bit of a grumbler, it may be, but
that is an English habit. Yet, Major, I do not go in with the
eternal tinkering spirit of some in Parliament, their calling for
statistics of pen-wipers and sneezes from Irish snuff.
Hyperboleyet virtuous thy instincts, my boy. Still,
you must take a definite side by-and-by: individual crotchets dont
But would it not be nice if individual feelings were
A Christian world, you would say?
Yes, if distinguished from a theological. Nothing
seems plainer than ones duties; but men vary infinitely as to what
Do you hold no merit in faith, you hetero-doxical
Not quite as some do: for in mere belief conditions
are hardly equal; some are soft and credulous, and others as hard
Then whence the virtue of faith?
May I think much from its cause, Major, when it
comes from belief in a Gods goodness and a sense of our weakness;
and, finding in the pure and simple doctrines of Christianity
everything to meet our wants, we gratefully hold them as of God
Holy Writ as his gift; and when so believed, it then alters our
natures for the better.
A theology of induction, Hope; yet not a vicious one
: but it is plain you wont be a bishop.
I suspect not. Suppose we have a turn in the glen,
before going to bed.
I enjoyed particularly this quiet stroll; and in the
calm conversation there came out now and then glimpses of those
finer traits so pleasing to find in ones friends, and which, even
amongst friends, are not always worn on the sleeve. Afterwards, when
in bed, I thought of a sentence of Bacon, in his essay on the Unity
of Religion, where he says, That a man of judgment shall sometimes
hear ignorant men differ, yet know well enough they mean one thing;
and shall not God, who knows the heart, discern that frail men in
some of their contradictions intend the same thing, and accept of
both? and I mused on this, and of still higher authority to the
same purpose, till I fell asleep.