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Days at the Coast
Port Glasgow and Kilmalcolm


On a beautiful July morning we make our way to the terminus of the South-Western Railway. It is Monday morning; and Monday morning, during the saut-water season, usually witnesses an extraordinary degree of bustle and activity at the aforesaid terminus. In rapid succession, the lengthened and crowded trains arrive. One by one they rush to the landing-place, and vomiting forth their thousands, retire without delay, as the last living unit is discharged, to make way for other teeming monsters, which are impatiently snorting for admission to the point of delivery. How rapidly the streams of life disappear from the platform! After a Sunday at the coast each individual seems more eager than another to resume the battle of business, and, jostling, pushing, and scrambling, with earnest speed they hurry away into their various channels of industry. There is a freshness in every face, a buoyancy in every step, that are exceedingly pleasant to contemplate, however, and which indicate, with abundant plainness, the beneficial influences of even an occasional intercourse with nature. Wan feces have become tinged with a brownness borrowed from the sun, and unkempt locks suggest a familiar acquaintance with the misty mountain winds. Perhaps there is not one of all the throng but has added to his memories of the beautiful, and will be happier in the city’s irksome maze for the reflections which such memories are calculated to excite. The angler, from burn and loch, is there with rod and basket; the botanist, with vasculum well stored with bloomy specimens from lonely dells; there also is the student of rocks and stones, with many a splinter from hoary cliffs and rugged mountain shelves ; and there also are the wanderers of artistic tastes, bearing in huge portfolios the fruits of happy pencilings by sea and shore. But the bell, with dinsome clang, proclaims that the hour of our departure is at hand, and we must take our places or run the risk of being “left behind lamenting.” No man can tether time or tide, and the railway train is inexorable as either.

The final signal is at length given, and, punctual to the moment, the locomotive rushes with its living freight along the iron way. Scarce a minute elapses till the town is left in our rear, and we are dashing along in the sunshine through fields of waving green. Passing the pretty suburban village of Pollokshields on the left, with its elegant villas and trim flower-plots, the spire of Govan rises over its girdle of trees to the right, with the spacious crescents and lofty blocks of buildings which mark the city’s western termination towering proudly beyond. Brief space is allowed, however, to mark the features of the landscape as they come and go. A bird’s-eye view is all that the traveller by rail is privileged to obtain. Bellahouston and Dumbreck are passed, and ere we are well seated we are nearly half-way to Paisley. That mansion embosomed in foliage to the left is Craigton House, the seat of Henry Dunlop, Esq.; a short distance farther on, in the same direction, is Berryknowe, the handsome residence of Robert Kerr, Esq. The latter domicile is of recent erection, and lacks the ornament of old ancestral trees. The grounds are tastefully laid off, however, and when time has given dignity and volume to the plantations, it will be indeed a pleasant habitation. The country now opens finely on either hand; to the right the eye roams, uninterruptedly for miles, over a level and fertile tract of country to the Kilpatrick and Campsie hills, which seem as if they were drawing nearer and more near, as the train goes hurrying onward; on the left, over a series of verdant undulations, a glimpse of Crookston Castle next meets the gaze, with Craig of Carnock, Neilston Pad, and the Fere-neze braes in the distance. Ere the spectator has time to heave a sigh, however, over the fate of Scotia’s fair ill-fated Queen (which the sight of the ruins at once recalls) he is suddenly plunged into the darkness of Arkleston tunnel, amidst the roar of revolving wheels and the ear-piercing din of the steam-whistle. Emerging from the noisy gloom, and skirting the finely wooded policies of Greenlaw, the train comes to a pause at the Paisley station.

Leaving Paisley, of which the passenger obtains, en passant, a number of excellent views, including the County Buildings, the High Church, the Nelson Testimonial, and the beautiful Cemetery, the line divides into two branches, one of which, the South-Western, proceeds through the shires of Ayr and Dumfries to Carlisle, while the other pursues a northwesterly direction to Port-Glasgow and Greenock. Our route is by the latter. Over a vast plain—a great portion of which consisted, until recently, of barren heath and moss, but which is now principally reclaimed and bearing splendid crops—the train dashes rapidly along. Crossing the Black Cart, we have Blackston House to the left, and a little farther on that of Walkinshaw to the right, with the Water of Gryffe pursuing a lazy and devious course to the Clyde. Houston station and Bishopton station are successively passed, when we arrive at the tunnel of Bishopton, one of the greatest works of the kind in the kingdom. For a distance of 2,300 yards the line is carried through a stubborn ridge of solid whinstone rock. A long and difficult operation was the cutting of this subterranean passage. Hundreds of individuals were engaged upon it for years, and not less than 320 tons of gunpowder were expended in the process, this Hem alone involving an outlay of £12,000. A brief interval of din and darkness again brings us into the light of day, when the train pauses at the Langbank station, where we alight for the purpose of paying a passing visit to Finlayston House, the ancient seat of the Earls of Glencairn, which is in the immediate vicinity.

Finlayston House is situated on a gentle adivity adjacent to the railway, a glance of the structure being obtained by the passing traveller. It is a plain old-fashioned edifice of considerable size, and, judging from the style of its architecture, must have been erected about the end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Barony of Dennistoun, of which Finlayston is the principal mansion, passed into the possession of Sir William Cunningham, ancestor of the Glencairn family, upon his marriage with Margaret Dennistoun, about the dose of the fourteenth century. Finlayston, after being for many generations the favourite residence of the Earls of Glencairn, devolved in 1796 upon Robert Graham, Esq., of Gartmore, in the possession of whose family it still continues. The grounds are very beautiful, abounding in woods and plantations, the timber of which is, in many instances, particularly luxuriant and picturesque. The house also commands an extensive prospect of the Frith of Clyde, with the Dumbartonshire and Argyleshire mountains in the background. During the early days of the Reformation in Scotland, Finlayston House was honoured on at least one occasion by the presence of John Knox, the undaunted champion of the reformed faith. It is well known that the contemporaneous Earl of Glencairn was one of the first of the Scottish nobility who embraced the Protestant doctrines. His house consequently became a place of refuge to the persecuted adherents of the new creed. Knox visited the house at this time, and after preaching to the faithful few congregated within its walls, dispensed the sacrament to them according to the simple but beautiful formula described by the evangelists. On the performance of the ceremony there appears to have been a deficiency of the necessary vessels, as two silver candlesticks were used as cups. The candlesticks were inverted on the occasion, and the pedal parts being hollow and of considerable size, were made to perform the office of holding the wine. In after times these relics were held in great esteem, and so long as the Glencairn family remained in the locality they were regularly used for a similar purpose in the parish church of Kilmalcolm on sacramental occasions. At the departure of the family the cups were taken away, the Countess supplying the parish with four silver-plated cups in their stead. It is supposed the originals may still be in existence, but if so, the Kilmalcolm people have long lost all knowledge of their 44 whereabouts.” It would certainly be a matter of regret if such interesting objects were altogether lost.

Finlayston House is also associated with the memory of another distinguished Scotsman. We refer to Alexander Montgomery—a poet of considerable eminence, and author of the 44 Cherry and the Slae.” This individual flourished in the reign of James the Sixth, with whom he appears to have been at one period a great favourite, and whom he flattered in the most high-flown style. With the particulars of Montgomery’s residence at Finlayston we are not acquainted, but we find the following reference to him in connection with the locality in Wilson’s poem of 44 The Clyde —

“Bat Finlayston demands the choicest lavs,
A generous Muse’s theme in former days,
When so ft Montgomery poured the rural lay;
Whether he sung the vermeil dawn of day,
Or in the mystic wreath, to soothe his woe,
Twined the red cherry with the sable sloe;
Each charming sound resistless love inspired.
Soft love, resistless, every bosom fired:
Of love the waters murmured in their fall;
And echo sounds of love returned to all;
Trembling with love, the beauteous scene impress'd
Its amorous image on the Frith's fair breast;
The scene ennobled by the lofty dome,
Where great Glencairn has fixed his splendid home,
Whose breast the firm integrity inspires,
And scorn of slavery, that adorned his sires."

From Langbank to Port-Glasgow, a distance of about two miles, the line runs parallel to the shore of the Frith, which is here of considerable width. Many and sweet are the snatches of scenery obtained as we dash along. To the left the ground rises in gentle slopes, which are partly in pasture, partly arable, and partly covered with clumps and belts of wood. As we approach the u Port, as Port-Glasgow is called par excellence by the country people around, we find ourselves in the midst of snug-looking cottages and extensive gardens, which present a most luxuriant and healthful appearance. Gradually the scattered houses and villas begin to congregate more densely, and at length we get fairly into the town, and come to a halt at the neatly-kept station. Everything here is arranged in the most orderly and tasteful style. Plants of various kinds adorn every spare nook; while green leaves and flowers are to be seen trailing along the railings and over the walls of the waiting-rooms.

Port-Glasgow is finely situated on a level tract of ground which lies between the shore of the Frith and an adjoining range of hills which rises to a considerable height, and so overshadows the locality as to intercept entirely from it the rays of the sun for several weeks in winter. This deprivation of light does not seem, however, to injure the climate in the slightest degree, as the vegetation in the fields and gardens by which the town is, on one side, luxuriantly girdled, is unusually profuse and productive. We have seldom seen finer strawberries and other small fruit, than are being conveyed into the town as we saunter on the outskirts. Port-Glasgow, strictly so called, is of comparatively modern origin. The earliest notice we find of the locality is under its primitive name of Newark, in 1656, when Thomas Tucker, one of Cromwell’s officers of excise, mentions it in a Report to the Commissioners of Appeals.

This curious document, which is deposited in the Advocates9 Library, gives a brief description of the towns on the Clyde as they existed at that time. “ Glasgow,” says the writer, “ is a very neate burghe towne,” all of whose inhabitants, except the students, are traders, 44 some for Irelande, with small smiddy coales in open boates from four to ten tones;

some for France, with pladding, coales, and herring. Of Newark and Greenock he remarks,—" The number of ports of this district are—-1st, Newark e, a small place where there are (besides the laird’s house of the place) some four or five houses, but before them a prettye good roade, where all the vessels doe ride, unlaide, and send their goodes up the river to Glasgow in small boates. At this place there is a wayter constantly attending. 2dly, Greenock, such another, only the inhabitants are more, but all seamen, or fishermen, trading for Irelande in open boates. Att which place there is a mole or peere, where vessels in stresse of weather may ride and shelter themselves before they passe up to Newarke, and here likewise is another wayter.” Such were Glasgow, Greenock, and Port-Glasgow at this early period. The channel of the Clyde, in its upper reaches, was at this time encumbered with shallows, fords, and islands, which interrupted the navigation and prevented vessels above a few tons burthen from passing to or from the Broomielaw. The merchants of Glasgow, who seem even then to have been distinguished for their spirit and enterprise, accordingly resolved to construct a harbour at the mouth of the river for the accommodation of their shipping. Dumbarton was first pitched upon as the most suitable locality for this purpose, and an application was made to the authorities of that place for leave to proceed with the necessary works. A meeting of the Dumbarton Council was consequently called, to discuss the question; but the required grant was forthwith refused, on the ground that u the influx of mariners would tend to raise the prices of butter and eggs to the inhabitants.” The Glasgow people next turned their attention to Troon, but there also they were repulsed for a similar reason—so erroneous were the views of political economy which were then entertained by the burghal communities of Scotland. From this dilemma the Glasgow authorities were at length relieved by Sir Patrick Maxwell of Newark, who, in 1668, agreed to sell them twenty-two acres of land at the bay of Newark, with the privilege of forming a harbour thereon. A grant from the Crown authorizing the scheme was shortly thereafter obtained, when the construction of the harbour was commenced and rapidly executed, while streets were laid off and gradually erected. In process of time the town extended beyond the limits originally contemplated, and the village of Newark became incorporated within its bounds. The name of New Port-Glasgow was conferred upon the town, and in 1695 it was disjoined from the parish of Kilmalcolm, and, with an adjacent tract of country was erected into a separate ecclesiastical division. In 1710 Port-Glasgow was constituted the principal custom-house port on the Clyde. Since that period, however, it has lost its supremacy; the deepening of the river, while it has immensely increased the commercial importance of Glasgow, has naturally tended to dimmish the importance of the subsidiary harbours along the shores of the estuary. Port-Glasgow, nevertheless, retains a fair share of trade, and continues to maintain a comparatively healthy and prosperous condition. According to the census of 1841, the population within the Parliamentary boundaries was 6,978; while the returns of 1851 give a total of 6,986, of whom 3,120 were males, and 3,866 females.

Port-Glasgow is a neat and regularly built town. It nestles in a kind of curve or ellipse around the quays and docks, which project, as it were, into the bay. Whether seen from the water or from the high lands by which it is sheltered, it has an exceedingly pleasant appearance; nor is the favourable impression which it makes at a distance removed by a more intimate acquaintance. The principal thoroughfares, although somewhat narrow, intersect each other at right angles, while many of the houses have an auld-world and not unpicturesque aspect, with their quaint windows, peaked gables, and crawsteps turned to the streets. It has many snatches of urban scenery indeed, which would please the eye of an artist. Some of the public buildings also are really handsome, among which we may mention the Townhouse, with its massive portico and spire; and the Parish Church, which, although of an unpretending style of architecture, is a spacious and stately edifice. Several new churches have recently been erected in the town, none of which are u of particular mark or likelihood,” if we except a Roman Catholic Chapel, which is a decided ornament to the locality.

Having perambulated the streets for some time, and visited the spacious quays and docks, we now direct our steps to what is, after all, the most interesting object to the sentimentalist and the antiquary about Port-Glasgow. We refer, of course, to the ancient Castle of Newark. This structure is situated a little to the east of the town, on a terrace of moderate elevation which projects into the river, and commands a most enchanting prospect of its landscape features. On our approach we are struck with the imposing beauty of this fine old baronial pile. Full many a time and oft we have gazed upon its dreary walls from the deck of the passing steamer, but never before have we stood within the shadow of its turrets, and never before have we been so impressed with the harmony of its proportions, or the picturesque effect of its architectural tout ensemble. Newark Castle consists of three principal rectangular compartments. One of these faces the river, and occupies a central position, being supported on the east and west sides by wings of equal height and similar style. At the top of either comer of the structure in front is a small corbelled turret, while a similar adjunct of larger proportions rises from the centre of the wall, and is flanked on either side by an elevated chimney. The lateral portions of the edifice are also surmounted by diminutive turrets, and one of them is supported by a stalwart square tower, up the hoary sides of which the ivy and the lichen are beginning to creep. Passing through an arched gateway, we find ourselves in the interior of a kind of courtyard, enclosed on three sides by the walls of the building, which are pierced at regular distances by elegantly

carved windows, the workmanship of which is in some instances as well defined as if it had but yesterday left the chisel. Armorial bearings also adorn the walls, and over many of the windows are the letters P. M. (Patrick Maxwell), the initials of the worthy baronet by whom the edifice was reared. In one comer of the court is a quaint-looking doorway with a finely carved pediment. Over this is the following inscription: —“The Blissingis of God be herein,” with a defaced date, of which only —97 is now legible. From other sources we learn that 1597 is the year really indicated, and above one of the windows are the figures 1599. Some parts of the structure, however, are apparently of more ancient date than others, and there is reason to believe that one portion at least must have been erected at a much earlier period than the inscriptions alluded to would lead us to believe. The interior of the castle, into which we now make our way, is, on the whole, in a good state of preservation. Spacious staircases, arched doorways, and curious Radcliffean passages abound, while the large hall with its oaken beams and massy fire-place suggests many a picture of bygone manners, many a scene of baronial hospitality, splendour, and pomp. There are two or three families resident in the ruinous old pile, and while we are poking about in the shadowy nooks and corners, we come in contact with a decent gudewife and several children. In answer to our inquiry if she is not afraid to live in such a gousty edifice, where ghosts and spirits might be supposed to abound, she at once replies, u Atweel no; there’s plenty o’ speerits, nae doot, in the Castle at times, but it’s no the kind you’re thinkin’ o’; an’ it’s no the kind that’ll dae ony harm to onybody, unless we gie them the power oursels.” The good lady complains of “ sair draughts,” however, and “ wonders that Sir Michael doesna tak’ a pride in keeping the auld place in better order.” Her own apartments, into which she insists on showing us, are exceedingly dean and tidy Hearthstone, walls, and floor, are bright as a "new preen,” while the spence can boast of its handsome mahogany chairs, its chest of drawers, and a beautiful case of stuffed birds. We question, indeed, if the old baron who built the venerable structure could ever pride himself upon such a cosie couple of apartments within its walls as can the husband of the young gudewife who receives us with so much unobtrusive kindness and civility. Returning into the open air, which we feel to be a kind of relief, as there is a damp charnel-house kind of odour within, our attention is attracted by a curious little detached tower, situated a few yards to the east of the castle. We are at first puzzled what to make of it; but, on examination, we discover that in former times it must have been a pigeon-house to the lord of the manor, as the interior is fitted up with nestling-places for the colnmbidce by which it was formerly inhabited. It is now tenantless and desolate.

Newark Castle has almost no tale to tell. So far as we have been able to learn, it is associated with no important event in history, nor has tradition invested it with the interest which is ever attached to scenes of extraordinary joy or sorrow in the olden time. At an early period it came into the possession of a scion of the house of Maxwell of Netherpollock, by his marriage with Elizabeth Dennistoun, co-heiress of Sir Robert Dennistoun of that ilk. Old Crawfurd has nothing to say of the successive branches of this family, unless that they married So-and-so, and begat this, that, and the other, who, in their turn, were again married to so many illustrious individuals else, who added such and such lands to the paternal inheritance. At length, about the beginning of the last century, we find a certain George Maxwell, alias Napier, selling his patrimony to Mr. William Cochrane of Kilmaronock. Afterwards the Castle and Barony passed into the possession of Lord Belhaven, who, in turn, sold it to Mr. Farquhar of London, from whom, by inheritance, it devolved upon the present possessor, Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, a baronet who has indeed “gained golden opinions” from all classes of men in the west of Scotland, by his urbanity, public spirit, and gentlemanly liberality. The Castle of Newark ceased to be inhabited by its owners at an early period of the eighteenth century. Since then it has gradually been falling into decay, although its walls are still in such excellent condition that, by a little outlay, the edifice might easily be restored to something like its pristine dignity. There is a spacious orchard adjoining the castle, and altogether the position is such a delightful one that we are surprised it has been so long abandoned to neglect and ruin.

Ship-building on an extensive scale is carried on at Port-Glasgow : and as we thread the mazes of the town, the clink of many hammers is heard resounding from the various establishments in the neighbourhood. The first steamer which plied on the Clyde, the little “ Comet,” was built at Port-Glasgow for Mr. Henry Bell, by Mr. John Wood, the eminent shipbuilder of this place, who was then a very young man. After the u Comet ” had been in operation for a short time, Mr. Bell wished Mr. Wood to lengthen her, but as he thought the price asked was too high, he had her taken to Helensburgh, where he beached her, and had the work done under his own direction. The timber he used was fir, and when the “ Comet,” shortly afterwards, struck upon a rock on the western coast, she parted at the place where the junction had been effected,—a circumstance which would seem to indicate that the workmanship had not been of a proper description. About forty years ago, we are informed, Mr. Wood and his brother, the late Mr. Charles Wood, invented a machine for propelling vessels, which was nearly identical in principle with the modem screw. The machinery in the model vessel was driven by the hand, and the little craft under its propulsion moved at the rate of two or three miles an hour. Had the happy idea been prosecuted to a successful issue—as it doubtless might have been by perseverance—the greatest improvement in modem navigation might have been anticipated by many years. Sailcloth and rope manufacture is also largely practised at Port-Glasgow, while its timber trade is extensive; and the process of sugar-refining is carried on in two large establishments. The first graving-dock erected in Scotland was formed at this place.

There are many fine walks in the vicinity of Port-Glasgow; and after experiencing a hospitable reception from a friend who has long been resident in the town, we proceed to inspect some of the landscape beauties of the neighbourhood. The range of hills adjoining the town rises to an elevation of about 400 feet. Along the base and creeping up the slopes there is a rich profusion of gardens and orchards, amidst which at frequent intervals are seen the cottages and villas of their proprietors peeping sweetly through the foliage of the fruited boughs. The sides of the ridge also are covered in many places with a dense mantle of wood, while the steeps are scarred with several picturesque water-courses and glens. One of these, Devol’s Glen, is characterized by many features of wild magnificence and beauty. To this spot, which is situated a little to the westward of the town, we now wend our way. Our route is by a pleasant country road, which winds away in an upward direction amidst hedgerows, and gardens, and corn-fields, over which the winds are playing in grateful coolness. The haymakers are busy as we pass, in the odorous meadow, and the scent of the new-mown hay enriches the genial air. Wild flowers of rarest loveliness greet us at every step. The fragrant petals of the rose are falling in showers as we brush the extended boughs. Their hour of bloom is drawing near its dose. Even on the breast of summer the attentive eye may discern the symbols of decay and death. The blossoms that charmed our gaze but yesterday are vanished to-day for ever. We have no time at present to moralize on the scented lesson, however; and living buds are unfolding their sweets in every sunny nook, as if to invite our praise. How graceful and tender are the wild grasses which here fringe the path with their tremulous panicles and soft silken awns! We have no plants so airy, and none so elegant as our own indigenous grasses, and yet few seem to care for their fairy-like loveliness. In sweet little belts and clumps—forests as it were in miniature—they grow by every wayside, yet seldom indeed does the passing traveller stay to scan their fair proportions. There are flowers for every taste, however, on the lap of July,—

“In the breeze,
That wafts the thistle’s plumed seed along,
Bluebells wave tremulous. The mountain thyme
Purples the hassock of the heaving mole,
And the short turf is gay with tormentils,
And bird’s foot, trefoil, and the lesser tribes
Of hawkweeds, spangling it with fringed stars.”

But now we descend into the shadowy depths of Devol’s Glen, the sides of which are overhung with a dense canopy of leaves. Down the rocky bottom of the glen a streamlet trickles with a faint murmuring sound. Its steep course is interrupted by several romantic linns, over which it leaps in foam. One of these, 44 the Lady’s Linn,” forms a very pretty picture. It is about twenty feet in height, and were the volume of water greater, which, in certain seasons it doubtless is, the effect would be indeed romantic. Emerging from the defile, we ascend its western shoulder,—now pausing to admire the rich combinations of colour presented by the sylvan masses with which it is clothed, and anon casting a backward glance at the town below, and the far-extend-ing expanse of the Frith as it glitters in the sun from Bowling to the Cowal shore. After a considerable ascent we again dive into the bosom of the glen to visit the 44 Wallace leap.” This is a rugged precipitous crag which rises sheer out of the bed of the stream (which here forms another pretty linn) to a height of about 100 feet. Even to look upward at this lofty cliff is sufficient to make one giddy, and it is alleged that a greyhound which lately leapt over in pursuit of a fox, was afterwards found reduced to the consistency of a pancake at the bottom. We can well believe this statement.

Yet, according to tradition, it is said that the redoubted hero, Sir William Wallace, on one occasion escaped from his Southern pursuers by taking this very leap, and on horseback too! What the unfortunate greyhound perished in attempting, Wallace did with the most complete impunity, not only to himself but also to his faithful steed. Many wondrous deeds have we heard and read of this popular patriot and hero. That he had “twa hearts” (physiology notwithstanding) was an article of our boyish creed; that he could with his gude braid sword vanquish any possible number of Englishmen we still fervently believe; but really, with every inclination to oblige our Port-Glasgow friends, we cannot swallow this local miracle. The spot, however, is well worthy of a visit for its own sake. The wild rocky dell, with its romantic cascade, its rich amber waters stealing away in the lights and shadows of the rugged channel, and its fine sylvan accessories, forms altogether a delicious snatch of landscape, and one which would delight the eye and the imagination of the poet or the painter. We shall not soon forget the features of this exquisite nook, albeit (out of respect for the apple of Sir Isaac Newton) we must withhold our credence from its marvellous legend.

We now arrive at the summit of the ridge, and are greeted with a prospect which for extent and beauty, we should imagine, is scarcely to be surpassed. To the eastward the Clyde is seen winding away to Dunglass and Bowling, with Dumbarton and Dumbuck looming darkly against the Kilpatrick hills. Looking to the north we have the Frith spread at our feet, with the Cardross shore beyond with all its headlands and bays distinctly delineated, and in the background the lofty peaks of Benlomond and the Cobbler. Westward, as we turn, Helensburgh, Boseneath, and Kil-mun, come successively into view, with the Gareloch and Loch Long, bounded on the horizon by the rugged range of mountains known as Argyle’s Bowling-Green. Farther west, the Frith spreads in all its splendour, with its bosom fretted with ships, and its shores on either side gleaming in the light of snowy cottages. A bleak pastoral moorland to the south completes the circle. But it would take us a long summer day to read aright the wondrous picture, and to enumerate its various and ever-varying features. We can but indicate by a few hasty touches its leading outlines, and commend the glorious original to the inspection of those who rejoice in the appreciation of that overflowing loveliness with which Nature has invested her fairest combinations of sea and shore.

Proceeding by a pleasant but withal devious track to the eastward, along the summit of the hills, and rejoicing as we go in a richly diversified series of prospects, we soon find our way to the road from Port-Glasgow to Kilmalcolm, at a point which is known in the locality by the name of u Rest and be thankfuV* At this place, in the corner of a cornfield, is an immense isolated mass of whin, which from time immemorial has borne the somewhat suggestive title of the “Bogle Stane.” In the days of old, when supernatural beings were more plentiful upon earth than they seem to be in this incredulous age, the big stone was the favourite haunt of a certain mischievous imp, who took a wicked delight in frightening belated travellers who had occasion to pass between the gloamin’ and the mirk. The bogle, who was described to us as "a black touzy tike wi’ cloven hoofs, a lang forkit tail, and een like a lowin’ peat,” seems to have had a decided antipathy to such parties as allowed the maut to get abune the meal. Many a drunken wight has he frightened into his sober senses. Kilmalcolm worthies, when they visited u the Port,” were always fain to leave their cups before the gloamin* set in, for fear of the bogle; and the gude wives of that curious old village used to remark, “that be he man, or be he deil, he was a gudesend to the kintra-side.” His bogleship, indeed, seems to have been a kind of teetotaller, or rather a supernatural Forbes Mackenzie, in his day and generation. Be that as it may, however, his reign has long been terminated. His stone became latterly a famous rendezvous with parties of young people from the neighbouring town, who used to congregate on its summit, for the purpose of celebrating their rural pic-nics. The jollity of which it was thus made the scene seems to have excited the ire of a neighbouring clergyman against the stone, and he resolved in his holy zeal to have it destroyed. Accordingly he had it bored, and putting a charge of gunpowder into it, blew it into fragments. This ungracious act brought a nest of hornets about the ears of his reverence. The people in the neighbourhood loved the bogle stone notwithstanding its dubious associations. They denounced the “ blowing up ” as a deed of shame, and collecting the debris, they proceeded to rebuild the mass, and defied the minister to injure it again. So well, indeed, did they execute the work of renovation, that, unless for a few obvious scars, the Bogle Stane at present looks “ maist as gude as new.” A local poet also wrote the following lines upon the occasion, and had them inscribed upon one of the sides of the stone:—

"Ye wearie travellers passing bye,
Best and be thankfu’ here,
And should your lips be parched and dry,
Drink of my waters clear;
I am the far-tamed Bogle Stane,
By worldly priest abhorred,
Bnt now I am myself again
By Auchinleck restored.”

After resting ourselves for a brief space upon the Bogle Stane, which is quadrangular in form, and of sufficiently large size to accommodate at least a dozen of people upon its grassy summit, we prepare, according to the popular saying, to leave the world and make our way into Kilmalcolm. Refreshing our parched lips by a draught from a little crystalline rill which trickles past the spot, we therefore turn our face in a southerly direction, and soon find ourselves on a lonely moorland road proceeding towards the extramundane village alluded to. The Frith gradually disappears beyond the heights, with all its garniture of the beautiful, and a wide expanse of dreary morass and bog, relieved at intervals by lonely pastoral farms, spreads around us to the distant hills. Among those brown heights which gird the horizon to the right and away to the front, the Gryffe and the Duchal are born. These waters united form a fine stream which flows, by an extremely devious channel, through the rich bosom of Renfrewshire to its debouchure into the Clyde at the Watemeb. Strathgryffe was the ancient name of Hie extensive country through which this fine rivulet meanders on its seaward way. But we are neglecting the floral fringe which borders on either hand the pathway along which we are slowly treading. A line of mingled turf and starry blossoms it stretches for miles unbroken. Scotland’s blue bell is there with its drooping pennons flickering to the breath of faintest zephyr. There also are the fairy bed-straws with their tiny flowers of snowy whiteness, and the tormentil with its golden starlets peeping through the grass, and the wild thyme purpling the knolls, and the yellow asphodels brightening the marsh with their presence. Now a stalwart thistle with its jaggy leaves and crimson crests rises sturdily before us, the emblem of our country’s liberty; and anon a group of foxgloves glance modestly at us as we pass from the shelter of an intervening wall. It is now the noon of summer, and the birds are nearly all silent. Occasionally, however, the wail of the yellowhammer or yeldrin is heard in the waste, and at times the wild cadence of the plover strikes fitfully upon the ear. Even in the deepest hush of solitude, the bugle of the bee comes booming over us, and the whirr of the grasshopper rises in faintest music from the tangled herbage. Sweet are all the voices of Nature to the pensive wanderer, and not the least sweet are those which fall unheeded on the worldling’s ear.

But we are now on the margin of a spacious and hill-environed glen, the bottom of which forms a vast plain containing about 6,000 acres. Down the centre of this, but unseen among their woods and banks, flow the waters of

Duchal and Gryffe. In this spacious arena— a little world by itself—there are mansions girdled by woods, and numerous farm-steadings, each sleeping in the shelter of its few guardian trees, through which the blue smoke is ever curling in airy wreaths to the sky. This is the vale of Kilmalcolm, and a scene of sweet seclusion and quietude it seems. In its bosom, as we skirt its edge, the haymakers are busy in the fields, and the ploughmen are seen turning up the soil among the shaw-covered furrows of the potato. No sound more rude is heard than the loud laugh of the swain among the yellow ricks of hay, or the crowings of the household cock about the scattered homesteads. The village of Kilmalcolm nestles in a corner of the vale, and the handsome tower of the church forms a fine feature in the landscape as we approach. It is not until we are in close proximity to the village, however, that we can discern its proportions, or the peculiar features by which it is distinguished. Kilmalcolm is reckoned the queerest village in Renfrewshire; and if all lowland Scotland were added to the field of comparison, we should imagine it would still sustain its uniqueness of character.

It wears indeed the very aspect which it may be supposed to have worn about a couple of centuries ago. The spirit of change seems to be a stranger in Kilmalcolm. The houses, of which there may be about two score in all, are almost, without exception of a homely old-world description, being weather-beaten and covered with a compound of thatch, moss, and weeds, while the straw-wreathed chimneys look like so many bee-hives stuck upon the roofs. There are several ale-houses in the village, and curious little hostelries, for the most part, they are. One of them bears the sign of the “Wallace Head,” and verily it has awobegone washed-out appearance, which vividly suggests the idea that it is only the ghost of a sign-board. A bit shoppie or two serves to supply the inhabitants with necessaries, and the bairns with sweeties and toys. The population of the parish, which amounted to 1,616 individuals at the census of 1841, has decreased during the subsequent decennial period to 1,399 individuals. Of these not more than 400 are resident in the village. Amidst the villagers there are a variety of handicrafts practised, and as we thread its tiny thoroughfares, the dink of the shuttle and the ringing of the smiddy hammer indicate with sufficient plainness the occupation of a certain number. The greater portion, however, are generally engaged at agricultural pursuits. Longevity is common in this out-of-the-way community, and we are informed that many of the inhabitants have passed the allotted threescore and ten by a goodly number of years. On congratulating one elderly lady on her residence in such a long-lived locality, a buxom kimmer, who overhears us, exclaims, "Ay, ay! we may get a gude bit o’ the tether here, but we a9 dee at last, as weel as the folk in the warld!” referring, of course, to the popular saying of “ out of the world and into Kilmalcolm.”

Small as is the community of Kilmalcolm, there appears to be a considerable diversity of opinion on religious matters among its members. There are no less than four places of worship in the village. First among these is the Parish Church, which we understand is the most largely attended. There is also a Free Church, a Cameronian or Macmillan . meeting-house, and some other Dissenting place of worship, the particular denomination of which we do not at present remember. The Parish Church is a handsome structure, erected in 1833 in the auld kirkyard, on the site of a small edifice which existed from time immemorial, and which was, perhaps, more in keeping with the character of the village than its more spadous successor. On one side of the church is the burial vault of the Porterfield family (an aisle of the old building), the prindpal proprietors in the locality, and for ages past the lords of the Duchal estate. There is a curious anagrammatical inscription on one of the walls, a copy of which we recdve from Mr. Robertson, a decent and intelligent old shoemaker in the village, who seems to have an honest pride in all that is connected with the community of which he is a useful member. The lines are as follows, and we must leave such of our readers as are skilled in this species of composition to read the riddle for themselves—premising, however, for the satisfaction of those who neither know nor care about such enigmas, that their loss is of trifling consequence:—

At the east end of the church there is another relic of the old ecclesiastical structure in a good state of preservation. This was the final resting-place of the proud Earls of Glencairn and their families. Among the last tenants who were laid in this dreary tomb was the u Glencairn ” of Burns. Every one will remember the beautiful lament written by the Ayrshire bard on the death of this nobleman. There are few finer things in modern poetry than the concluding lines, which we give from memory:—

“The bridegroom may forget the bride
That was his wedded wife yestreen;
The monarch may forget the crown
That on his head an honr has been;
The mother may forget the babe
That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
But I’ll remember thee, Glencairn,
And a’ that thou hast done for me."

Well, well! all that Glencairn did for thee, Robert Bums, was, in very truth, a very small matter. We have searched the chronicle, and all that we can discover is little more than a simple act or two of gentlemanly courtesy. But the slightest favour from the great is to the poor an affair of life and death. King’s chaff is better than other people’s corn. The smile of Glencairn was to the ploughman a boon of priceless value. More substantial favours it was doubtless in his power to bestow, but such were never rendered. Few and far between were the services which Bums ever received from his lordly patrons. Better had it been for him if he had never known the rank and title of the land unless by name. By his intercourse with them his simple Pastes were vitiated, and their curiosity once satisfied, they flung him away to neglect and poverty, as a spoiled child does the toy which has yielded it an hour of pleasure. Yet the civilities of such people have been rewarded with immortality. From their contaot with Bums, titled nothingnesses have been rescued from the oblivion which was their due. In the churchyard of Kilmalcolm, the only circumstance which distinguishes the noble Earl of Glencaim from the kindred dust around him, is the memory of his urbanity to the inspired peasant of Coila!

By the time we have traversed the curious village, and chatted with a few of its sagacious inhabitants, the gloamin’ hour draws near. We are, therefore, per force, induced to shorten our stay. A. rich harvest of character might doubtless be gleaned in this queer old community, but time and the last train forbids that it should be gathered into our gamer. Re-crossing the hill at a double quick rate of march, we soon reach Port-Glasgow. The locomotive comes to hand immediately on our arrival, and taking our place, we are speedjly re-conveyed to the terminus, from which some dozen of hours previously we took our downward start.


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