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Days at the Coast
The Vale of Leven and Loch Lomond


Sweet, even in the city, is the blithe blink of the July morning. There is a dewy freshness in the air, and the golden shafts of the sun penetrate even into the wynds and alleys with a joyous brightness. The few sprigs of mint and thyme with which we have garnished our urban window-sill, are nodding in luminous green; and the caged mavis over the way is piping a merry song. A very missionary of nature that little mottled minstrel seems to our fancy, as he is telling to the echoes of the town his glad tidings of woods and meadows. Old people often linger to listen to his pealing notes as they ring in fitful gushes over all the street^ and groups of wan-faced children, with open eyes and ears and mouth, as frequently stay to drink of his musical mirth. Alas! for the aged of the city, to whom he “babbles o' green fields” where their youth was spent; and alas! alas 1 for the young hearts which are all unfamiliar with the u shows and forms ” of the circling year—who know not the luxury of leaf and bloom, nor e’er have tasted the minstrelsy of the grove save in the utterances of the prisoned bird. Many a blessing has that poor little thrush won within his wicker bars. Many an outburst of gratitude have we flung unto him ourselves; for many and many a time has his war-blings awakened a yearning in our spirit (as they have even now) to spend the day afar from the din of the crowded haunt of men. Our heart leaps up responsive to his mellow call, and we at once prepare to leave for a time our city home to enjoy in sweet communion the murmuring of the summer winds, and to bask in the unclouded radiance of a smokeless sky.

Leaving the Broomielaw by an early steamer, we are rapidly conveyed to Bowling, the first stage on our pilgrimage to the queen of Scottish lakes, at which, although somewhat out of our prescribed course, we mean to take a hurried glance. The train is in waiting, and, having taken our place, we are soon in rapid motion towards the Yale through which Lochlomond sends her watery tribute to the Clyde. A line of beauty emphatically is that on which we are now sweeping so smoothly and so swiftly along. Dunglass goes flitting past on the left, with a pleasant glimpse of the Frith and the rich lands beyond. Dumbuck, a frowning giant, next draws near on the right, and before we have time to scan his farrowed forehead, he is left a hopeless laggard, creeping far behind. Athwart a fertile tract of meadow land we now proceed, greeted alternately with the honeyed fragrance of the blooming bean-field, and the rich odour of the new-mown hay. There are merry groups in the fields as we pass, and there is at least one merry group in our carriage, in the shape of a newly-married pair, who are going, in company with “the best man and the best maid,” on their wedding jaunt to the Highlands. Their evident happiness has an exhilarating influence on all around; and, albeit sitting with an assumed gruffness a little apart, we cannot help sympathizing in their joyousness, and silently bidding them "God speed” on the perilous voyage upon which they have embarked. Dumbarton, with its castle rock, is past; and, after a brief halt at Dalreoch, we pursue our journey up the lovely vale of the Leven, To the right, the stream is seen in wandering beauty, winding from bank to brae. Immediately along the course of the Leven, on either side, there are spacious and fertile haughs, adorned with woods, and lawns, and stately mansions ; while bleachfields and printworks are seen at frequent intervals. The ground rises, however, in rapid gradations on both sides of the Yale to a considerable height, while the vast bulk of Benlomond towers in impressive majesty to the north. As we approach, he is indeed “a heaven-kissing hill,” the clouds of morning having not yet left his brow, although his huge brown shoulders are naked and well defined.

About two miles from Dumbarton we arrive at the village of Renton, a pleasant looking and a thriving little community, situated on the right bank of the Leven. It consists principally of a kind of main street of one and two-storeyed houses, most of which are whitewashed externally, and have a clean and tidy appearance, with their kailyards and bits of green sward in the rear. The village is of modern origin, having been founded in 1782 by Mrs. Smollett of Bonhill, who named it in honour of her daughter-in-law, Miss Renton of Lamertan. In consequence of the extension of manufactures in the neighbourhood, it has increased rapidly in size and population. There are several churches in the village, one of which is a neat little Gothic edifice of recent erection. The principal object of interest to the stranger in Renton, however, is a Tuscan obelisk to the memory of our distinguished countryman, Tobias Smollett, who was born, according to some authorities, at Dalquhum House, a fine old edifice in the immediate vicinity, and according to others, at Bonhill House, a short distance farther up the Yale. The most prevalent opinion, however, is, that it was within the antique walls of Dalquhurn that the future novelist and poet first saw the light. Smollett was born in 1721. His father, who died early, was a younger son of Sir James Smollett of Bonhill. Tobias commenced his education at the Grammar School of Dumbarton, and continued it at the University of Glasgow. He was afterwards apprenticed to a surgeon in that city, but disliking the profession, on the expiry of his engagement, at the age of nineteen, he determined to proceed to London, with his tragedy of the Regicide in his pocket, to commence the world as an author. His after-life was one long struggle with poverty, his works having been generally wrung from him by his necessities. In Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle, there can be little doubt that he has delineated many of the incidents which marked his own most sad eventful history. Smollett died at Leghorn on the 2l8t of October, 1771, in the fifty-first year of his age, and immediately after the publication of Humphrey Clinker, the final and best effort of his genius. A plain monumental tablet was erected by his widow over his last resting-place at Leghorn.

In his beautiful Ode to Leven Water, Smollett has thrown an atmosphere of poetry over the valley of his birth. Every one is familiar with the Arcadian lines in which he gave expression to his love of the Leven, but we cannot refrain from again giving them utterance. They are among those efiiisions of the muse which never lose the power of pleasing, however often they may be heard.

"On Leven banka, while free to rove,
And tune the rural pipe to love,
I envied not the happiest swain
That ever trod the Arcadian plain.
Pure stream, in whose translucent wave
My youthful limbs I wont to lave:
No torrents stain thy limpid source,
No rocks impede thy dimpling course,
That sweetly warbles o’er its bed.
With white, round, polished pebbles spread;
While, lightly poised, the scaly brood
In myriads cleave the crystal flood;
The springing trout, in speck'ed pride;
The salmon, monarch of the tide;
The ruthless pike, intent on war;
The silver eel, and mottled par.
Devolving from thy parent lake,
A charming maze thy waters make,
By bowers of birch and groves of pine,
And edges flowered with eglantine.
Still on thy hanks, so gaily green,
May numerous herds and flocks be seen;
And lassies chanting o'er the pail.
And shepherds piping in the dale;
And ancient faith, that knows no guile;
And industry, embrowned with toil;
And hearts resolved, and hands prepared
The blessings we enjoy to guard!"

Such, in the light of langsyne, appeared the stream of his boyhood to the poor literary drudge of the metropolis. Nor did Smollett forget the Leven when, in search of health, he sought a foreign shore. In Humphrey Clinker, which was written while he was an exile at Leghorn, we find him recurring with equal fondness to the beauties of his natal stream. “The water of Leven,” he says in this production, “though nothing near so considerable as the Clyde, is much more transparent, pastoral, and delightful. This charming stream is the outlet of Lochlomond, and through a tract of four miles pursues its winding course over a bed of pebbles, till it joins the Frith of Clyde at Dumbarton.” Smollet was somewhat in error, however, in regard to the length of the course which he ascribed to the Leven. From Balloch, the place where it "devolves from its parent lake,” to its debouchure into the Clyde at Dumbarton, the distance in a straight line is estimated at about five miles; while the full length of its mazes is said to amount to more than nine miles. The descent from Balloch to the Frith is only about twenty-two feet.

We must now resume our upward progress. As the train dashes along, the Vale waxes more and more beautiful. To the right, the stream is seen, by glimpses, turning and winding in serpent-like convolutions among its green lawns and its finely-wooded slopes. How fresh and luxuriant, after the long rains, are the waving fields of grain and the shaw-crowned ridges, where the potato is hastening to maturity! The cottages here and there are wreathed in dense garlands of leaf and flower, while the blue smoke curls amongst the overhanging boughs with an effect which would rejoice the eye of a painter. Tall chimneys, also, are seen at intervals among the trees, detracting somewhat, it may be, from the rurality of the landscape, while they indicate the abounding presence of manufacturing industry. The pellucid waters of the Leven are now stained by the turbid contributions of printfields and bleachworks at every turn. Nor can we regret the loss of that pastoral character which won the song of Smollett, when we know that the change which has taken place since his day contributes largely to the mercantile superiority of our country, and supports, in comparative comfort, an immensely increased and more intelligent population.

Lassies singing over the pail, and piping swains, who earn a scanty subsistence from their docks and herds, are all very well in poetry, but in this real work-a-day world we suspect they would present but a shabby contrast to the members of our Mechanics Institutes, and to the well-dad, well-fed, and, in the main, well-behaved womenfolk who throng the public works by which the modem Leven is beaded. The happy rustics who figure in the verses of the bard, if it were possible to resuscitate them for a single Sunday, and in their Sunday garb too, would cut but a seedy figure in any one of the Leven churches beside their present occupants. Ten times the population, also, we may safely aver, now find a living in the Yale to what did in the days of Tobias the scribe.

A brief pause in our progress takes place at the village of Alexandria, which, with Bonhill on the opposite bank of the Leven, forms the manufacturing metropolis of the Yale. About the beginning of the last century bleaching operations were commenced in this vicinity, on what was called the Dutch method. Workmen were introduced for the purpose from Holland in 1728. The first printfield on the Leven was begun in 1768. In consequence of the excellent quality and abundant supply of water afforded by the stream, these branches of industry have subsequently increased in this locality with great rapidity. Some of the numerous establishments now carry on a most extensive business, and furnish employment to an immense number of hands. Amongst the principal public works here, we may mention those of Dalmonach, Levenfield, Levenbank, Cordale, Dillichip, Ferry-field, Alexandria, and Bonhill—all of which occupy favourable positions on the banks of this most limpid stream. The villages of Bonhill and Alexandria, which are united by a bridge thrown over the Leven, contain a large population, and have a thriving and really tidy aspect. There is nothing particularly remarkable, however, in the architectural appearance of either. Formerly there was a very large ash tree in the church-yard of Bonhill, which was an object of considerable pride to the villagers. In the year 1768 this sylvan giant was measured by Mr. Beevor, who found it to be 16 feet 9 inches in girth at the height of five feet from the ground. Dr. Walker also measured it in 1784, at a height of one foot from the earth, when he found the trunk to be 33 feet in circumference. At the height of six feet the trunk divided into three great branches, and at one period its far-extending arms must have covered a large extent of surface. Latterly the body of the tree was hollow, while its boughs were supported by iron clasps. A few years ago, however, this venerable “monarch of the wood” was laid low during a stormy night, to the infinite regret of the people in the neighbourhood, with many of whose early recollections it was associated. There was another large tree of the same species near the House of Bonhill, which was fitted up internally as a chamber, measuring 8 feet 5 inches in diameter, and capable of accommodating eight individuals. This leafy monster is also among the trees that were. The principal portion of the lands of Bonhill belonged at one period to the powerful family of Lennox. In the fifteenth century one-half of the estate passed, by marriage, into the possession of the Darnley family, while the other moiety was divided between the families of Napier and Gleneagles. The church of Bonhill is noticed in a charter of Donald, Earl of Lennox, dated about the middle of the fourteenth century. On the erection of the collegiate church of Dumbarton in 1450, the patronage of Bonhill was conferred upon the ecclesiastical authorities of that establishment by the pious widow of Earl Duncan of the Lennox. The derivation of the name4 4 Bonhill ” has considerably puzzled the ingenious students of etymology. Chalmers supposes that the name is from the Gaelic words Bogh n'uill, signifying the foot of the rivulet. Others hold that the ancient name was Buneil, and that the meaning of the term in the Celtic tongue is "a bottom or hollow.” Such word-twisting speculations, however, serve no good purpose; and we suspect the wisest thing we can do in the circumstances is honestly to admit that we know nothing of the root, whether Celtic or Saxon, from which the word Bonhill has sprung. We are aware, however, that the spelling of the name has undergone several successive transformations, among which the earliest is “Buchnull,” then “Bulhill,” and subsequently “Bunnull,” which accords pretty nearly with the local pronunciation.

Leaving Bonhill, we pass the entrance to Tillichewan Castle, the beautiful residence of our enterprising and generous fellow-citizen, William Campbell, Esq. This fine edifice, although of modern origin, is in the old baronial style, and, amidst its spacious lawns and its richly-wooded slopes, has an air of picturesque grandeur which forcibly recalls associations of the chivalrous past. A more commanding site than that of Tillichewan it would be difficult to imagine; and lovelier prospects than its grounds present are not, we are persuaded, to be found within the bounds of Scotland. A few minutes more upon the rail and we are at Balloch, with the loch expanding in our delighted gaze. In the smile of noon the waters are rippled as with living gold, while the isles are sleeping in midsummer quietude; and the mountains, having flung aside their misty caps, stand proudly on the horizon, clearly defined from base to summit against the deep blue sky. To our right is the opening of the Leven, with Balloch Bridge spanning the new-born stream, and Balloch Inn—the veriest home of the beautiful—with Balloch Castle peeping over its green girdle of foliage in fine relief against a gentle range of undulating hills. To the left we have the sylvan braes of Tillichewan, with Cameron House gleaming on its own verdant plain, and the heights of Glenfruin and Glenfinlas swelling beyond. Immediately in front is Inchmurrin, with the soul-filling bulk of Benlomond rising majestic to tlie very floor of heaven. In the foreground the landscape has a soft and somewhat lowland character, while the distance heaves into a stormy Highland scene of peaks, and glens, and wildest precipices. Here, if anywhere on earth, are congregated the choicest elements of pictorial wealth. This is in truth the

“Land of the mountain and the flood."

and while we contemplate, in enthusiastic admiration, its various features of loveliness and grandeur, we feel our inmost heart responding with pride to the poet's exclamation—

“Land of my sires, what mortal hand
Can e'er unknit the filial band
hat binds me to thy ragged strandI”

Before embarking on the placid bosom of the lake, let us take a kind of bird's-eye glance at its leading features. As nearly as may be, then, it is calculated that Lochlomond is about twenty-four miles in length, from the debouchure of the Falloch at its head, to the exit of the Leven at its foot. It lies in its mountain bed in a direction nearly south-west and north-east. There is no stiffness, however, or lack of easy grace in its general outline. On the contrary, it abounds in curves and windings, now swelling out into a breadth of seven or eight miles, and anon compressing itself into the narrow compass of something less than a mile. Its depth also is exceedingly various. Opposite Altgarry it goes down into a profound deep of about 600 feet, while at other places it varies from a depth of about 60 to 80 fathoms. In the northern and deeper parts, the lake never freezes; but in severe winters, the shallower waters at its southern end are occasionally covered with ice. The loch is ever fed by countless streams and rivulets from the circumjacent hills and glens. Its principal tributaries, however, are the waters of Fruin, Luss, Finlas, Dugins, Falloch, Inversnaid, and Endrick. These feeders are said to pour in a larger supply of water than the Leven takes away, and the general surface has risen considerably in the lapse of ages. Thirty islands altogether are scattered over the bosom of the loch. These vary in size from Inchmurrin, which is fully a mile in length, to specks of the most diminutive proportions.

Nearly all are covered with wood. In popular belief Lochlomond was long celebrated for three wonders, viz., waves without wind, fish without fins, and a floating island. We suspect the modern voyager upon its waters will look in vain fbr any of these phenomena. It is also said that, at the time of the great earthquake at Lisbon, on the 1st November, 1755, Lochlomond exhibited a kind of sympathetic commotion, as if it was in some way connected with that destructive subterranean war.

But the steamer is awaiting us, with her steam up, at the wharf. A pretty little craft she is, with her colours waving in the wind, and her flowing mane of steam, which wreathes itself in playful curls upon the morning air, a, moment white, then melting into rapid invisibility. There are numerous groups already on board, and the richly intermingled tints of the female drapery have an exceedingly pleasant effect in the sunshine. The bell rings, however, and we must not dally. Now the steamer is off on its daily round of the beautiful, and steering right towards the heart of that wondrous congregation of fairy isles which sleep, as in love together, upon the bosom of the lake

“As quietly as spots of Ay
Among the evening clouds.'*

Balloch Castle and Boturich on the right, with Cameron and Arden on the left, are soon passed, and Inchmurrin, the foremost Of the isles, approaches. This island is upwards of a mile in length, and is used as a deer forest by the Duke of Montrose. In the thirteenth and subsequent centuries the powerful Earls of Lennox took up their abode, in times of danger, in a castle of some strength which occupied a strong position on Inchmurrin. Some vestiges of this ancient structure are still in existence. The surface of the island is finely diversified by swelling undulations and shallow dells, a great proportion of which are covered with wood. A keeper in the service of his grace the Duke of Montrose generally resides here for the protection of the deer. To the westward on the mainland at this point we have a glance of Glenfruin, a dreary vale, which is associated with a melancholy tale of blood. Within the precincts of Glenfruin, as the student of Scottish history is aware, a fierce conflict occurred between the septs of Mac-gregor and Colquhoun in 1602, when the latter were routed with a loss of 200 men. A number of young gentlemen belonging to Dumbarton, who had come to the spot merely to witness the engagement, were also put to death by the victors. Only two of the Macgregors were slain in the battle, but subsequently they suffered a lengthened and deadly persecution in consequence of this direfhl event. The whole clan were declared rebels and outlaws, the lieges being forbidden under the severest penalties to grant them aid or assistance; while their country was ravaged by fire and sword. A small rivulet which passes the spot where the innocent boys were slaughtered is still called “The stream of young ghosts;” and it was long believed that if a Macgregor crossed it after nightfall he was sure to start a spirit. Our steamer is still moving on, however, and successively the small but leaf-clad isles of Inch Grange and Inch Torr are passed, when a fine view of the Lennox meets our gaze to the right, with the conical hill of Duncruin, the green lands of Buchanan, and the vale of the Endrick stretching far away to the brown hills of Stirlingshire. On the horizon, also, is to be seen the swelling ridges of Auchineden, with the Whangie on their grizzly front. The sight of these old familiar hills brings to our memory the face of kindly friends and a dream of the past, which may thus be rendered in verse:—

WEE ANNIE O’ AUCHINEDEN.

A gowden dream thou art to me,
From shades of earth and evil free;
An angel form of love and glee,
Wee Annie o' Auchineden.

I never saw thy winsome face,
Thy baimiy beauty rowed in grace;
Yet thou art with me every place,
Wee Annie o' Auchineden.

Where flickering beams beneath the trees
Flit playful in the summer breeze,
The eye of fancy ever sees
Wee Annie o' Auchiueden.

Thy mither’s cheek was wet and pale,
And aft in sighs her words would fail,
When in mine ear she breathed thy tale,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

That low sweet voice through many a year
Ifliffe is mine, shall haunt my ear,
Which pictured thee with smile and tear,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

Lone was thy hame upon the moor,
'Mang dark brown heaths and mountains hoar;
Thou wert a sunbeam at the door,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

Blue curling reek, on the breeze afloat,
Quiet hovered abune the snaw-white cot,
And strange wild-birds of eeriest note
Swept ever o’er Auchineden.

Sweet scented nurslings o’ sun and dew,
In the bosky faulds o' the bum that grew,
Were the only mates thy bairnhood knew.
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

But the swallow biggit aneath the eaves,
And the bonnie cock-shilfa ’mang the leaves
Aft lilted to thee in the silent eves.
Wee Annie o' Auchineden.

Ilk fairy blossom ye kent by name,
And birds to thy side all fearless came,
Thy winning tongue could the wildest tame,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

There's a deep, deep lore In hearts o’ love
And kindness has charms a’ charms above;
Twas thine the cauldest breast to move,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

But the auld folks shook their heads to see
Sic wisdom lent to a balm like thee;
“Lang here,” they sighed “ye wadnabe,’
Wee Annie o' Auchineden.

And thoa wert ta’en frae this world o’ tears,
Unstained by the sorrow or sin of years;
Thy voice is now In the angels’ ears.
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

Thy mither’s e’e has been dimmed with wae—
The auld kirkyard has her darling’s clay;
But a better hame is thine for aye,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

There’s an eerie blank at yon fireside,
And sorrow has crush’d the hearts of pri<le;
For salr in thy loss their faith was tried.
Wee Annie o* Auchineden.

The primrose glints on the Spring’s return,
The merle sings blithe to the dancln’ burn;
But there’s ae sweet flower we aye shall mourn,
Wee Annie o' Auchineden.

Life’s waning day wears fast awa’—
The mirk, mirk gloamin' sune shall fa’
To death's dark porch we journey a’,
Wee Annie o' Auchineden.

When the weary wark o’ the world is dune
And the purple stream has ceased to rin,
May we meet wi’ thee in thy hame abune,
Wee Annie o’ Auchineden.

Another conspicuous landmark in this direction is the monument of the celebrated George Buchanan at Killeam. The valley of the Endrick is celebrated under the name of “sweet Ennerdale” in the old song of “The gallant Grahams.” In past as in present times the fair land of the Lennox was the home of the Montrose family, and the song alluded to is supposed to have been written when the gallant Marquis of that name was driven into exile. The words come athwart our memory as we scan the scene:—

“To wear the blue I think it best
Of a’ the colours that I see,
And I'll wear it for the gallant Grahams
That are banished frae their ain countrie.

“ They won the day wl’ Wallace wight;
They were the lords o’ the south countrie;
Cheer up your hearts, brave cavaliers,
Till the gallant Grahams come o’er the sea.

44 Now fere-ye-well, sweet Ennerdale,
Baith kith and kin that I could name;
Oh, 1 would sell my silken snood
To see the gallant Grahams come hame.”

As we proceed, other isles of beauty swim into our ken, some of considerable size, and others of the most diminutive proportions. The largest and perhaps the most lovely of these is Inchcalliach, "the island of old women.” This islet is seven furlongs in length, and about three furlongs in breadth at the south-west end. It is deliciously wooded, and as we sweep along its shadowy side, the purple of the heather-bell is seen brightening its craggy projections, while the wild roses dip down in myriads almost to the watery girdle by which it is encompassed. In ancient times, as its name imports, Inchcalliach was the site of a nunnery, and a more appropriate or secluded spot for such an establishment it would in truth be difficult to discover. More recently the parish church of Buchanan stood on this island, surrounded by a cemetery which is still, we understand, in occasional use. Inchcalliach is the property of the Duke of Montrose. When seen from the direction of the Endrick, the outline of this island resembles strikingly that of a dead human body, and it is consequently sometimes called the corpse of Lochlomond.

Passing Inchcalliach, the steamer comes to a pause at the wharf of Balmaha. The high lands which bound the Lennox to the north, come down here to the margin of the Loch, and form a mountain wall which is only passable by a narrow gorge situated a few hundred yards to the eastward of the landing-place. Through this defile the Celtic freebooters, in the good old times, were in the habit of making their plundering descents on the neighbouring lowlands,

“Sweeping their flocks and herds,” and retreating in safety with their ill-gotten gear through the convenient gateway of the pass to their mountain fastnesses. There was indeed but little chance of the harried farmer ever recovering his lost stock when the cattle-lifters reached Balmaha, as two or three swordsmen could easily defend it against any numerical odds. Leaving this formidable promontory, the steamer directs its course in a transverse direction across the Loch towards the village of Luss. By the way we pass in succession Inchfad, which is inhabited, and partly cultivated; Inchmoan; Inchcruin, which is used as an asylum for the insane; Inchconachan, the dog’s isle; Inchlonaig, the isle of yew trees, where there is an establishment for the restraint and cure of confirmed tipplers; with Inchtavanach, or the Monk’s Isle, and a number of islets of smaller compass which are strewn about in most picturesque confusion. Each of these is in itself a distinct study of the beautiful, while the general effect of the whole is delightful in the extreme. Two of the most admired prospects of the Loch are obtained from an elevation in Inchtavanach and from Strone Hill, near the village of Luss, which now appears nestling in a lovely spot on the margin of the water. As seen from the deck of the steamer, this little Highland community presents a most inviting aspect. There is the quaint little church with its miniature belfry, the handsome inn, and a scattered congregation of primitive looking houses peeping from their gardens, and half screened by trees, through which the blue reek is ever curling, while the background rises into the boldest magnificence of mountain and glen.

We have now escaped from the pressure of the island crowd in which, for the past half-hour, we have been so pleasantly entangled. A straggler from the band is still met with here and there, it is true, but our course is not again materially interrupted. The lake above Luss begins rapidly to narrow, the lofty mountain walls on either side gradually approximating. Along their entire line the shores are fretted with tiny bays and bold projecting headlands, generally clothed with foliage to the very water lip. The continuous heights increase in boldness as we proceed, and are abundantly scarred and wrinkled with glens and watercourses, down which in silver threads the high-born streams are ever pouring. Benlomond waxes more large and impressive as we draw near unto his base. At length we reach the wharf of Rowardennan. There is a comfortable inn at this picturesque spot, where those who purpose speeling the lofty Ben generally prepare for their arduous undertaking. Long years have passed since last we had our foot upon the monster’s crest, and yet it seems as if it were but yesterday that we accomplished the feat. It is reckoned six long up-hill miles from the inn to the summit, and upwards of two panting hours are generally spent upon the way. The labour of the ascent, however, is amply repaid by the glorious prospect which greets the spectator when the proud apex is reached. We see it still in the faithful mirror of memory, as vividly as if it were yet outspread beneath our gaze. The Loch in all its length, with all its windings and with all its isles, again sleeps peacefully in its diminished cradle far below, while the wild sea of hills heaves its brown gigantic billows far away. Again we see the infant Forth, meandering from its source to the distant Frith; again we recognize the conical peak of Tinto looming on the far horizon; again the rock of Ailsa and the paps of Jura start from the haze of distance; and again that awful precipice makes us shrink shuddering from its verge. Fain would we mount the mighty steep once more to enjoy anew its matchless scenes of beauty and sublimity, but that time forbids, and the paddles of the impatient steamer are already bearing us rapidly on our way. The Loch at this point is scarcely a mile broad, as the promontory of Inveruglas stretches a considerable distance into the water. About a mile farther on, the bed of the lake is narrowed to about half a mile by a precipitous headland, popularly known as Bob Boy’s Bock. It is said the bold outlaw alluded to was in the habit of convincing those whom other arguments failed to make amenable to his will by giving them a dip in the Loch at this spot. Additional reasons, in the shape of a suspension by the neck, were seldom called for in such cases, although there can be very little doubt that, if required, they would have been freely adduced by this unscrupulous Celtic logician. Skirting the immediate base of Benlomond, and crossing the Loch after a pleasant sail of about four or five miles, we touch at Tarbet, where a number of our passengers land, for the purpose of crossing to Lochlong, and returning by that route to the Clyde. There is a spacious inn here, with a number of scattered cottages, generally occupied during the summer months by well-to-do families from the city. The distance from Tarbet to Arrochar, at the head of Lochlong, is about a mile and a-half. The rugged peaks of the Cobbler are to be seen from the wharf, peeping over the intervening neck of land. Inversnaid, our next place of call, and here we leave the steamer to pursue its farther course, while we prepare for a brief ramble among the neighbouring hills.

The scenery of Inversnaid is in the highest degree romantic. The surrounding heights are densely covered with wood, while immediately adjacent to the inn there is a fine cascade, formed by the waters of Loch Ardet, which, after pursuing a tortuous course for a few miles, are here precipitated from a considerable height into a rock-encumbered channel leading directly into Lochlomond. The various prospects of the Loch in this vicinity are extremely picturesque. On the opposite shore the huge forms of fienvoirlich, Benduchray, and those of numerous kindred giants, rise to an immense elevation, and impress the soul of the spectator with a sense of unutterable grandeur. Inversnaid, indeed, has long been a favourite spot with the admirers of the stem and wild in Highland landscape. Here the poet and the painter have ever loved to linger in silent homage to the majesties of nature. It will be remembered that it was at Inversnaid that Wordsworth met the Highland girl whose charms he has rendered immortal in one of his sweetest little poems. The following lines are truthM as a daguerreotype picture of the scene before us, with something added from the light which never shone on land or sea:—

“Sweet Highland girl, a very shower
Of beauty Is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head;
And those 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 unfolding thus you seem
Like something fashioned in a dream,
Such forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares arc laid asleep!
Yet, dream, or vision as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart;
God shield thee to thy latest years;
I neither know thee nor thy peel's,
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.”

And now we wander leisurely away into the greenwood— our only companion a little girl, upon whose head not once seven consenting years have shed their bounty, and whose opening mind is vividly alive to the beauty of leaf and flower. These wild moorland blossoms are each a new study to her, and numberless are the questions which she has to ask regarding them. How sweet to see the tiny creature standing in admiration by the tall foxglove, which overtops her head by several inches, or to mark the shower of blushing petals which the wild rose flings down upon her as she strives to reach its bloomy boughs! How insatiate is her appetite for posies! No sooner is one formed than she is off in pursuit of other and newer flowers, and every addition is hailed with a new rapture. There is no lack of varieties. The purple heather and the broom are there, with violets and speedwells, and bedstraws, and tormentils, and many a choice bud besides. On the damp moss we find the curious sundew with its glittering beads, and the canach with its tufts of snowy silk, and the bog myrtle, which scents with its spicy odour the passing breeze. Still onward and onward we move, now charmed by the lilt of some brown moorland bird, and anon startled by the dreary cry of the curlew or the plover, as we alarm them by our presence in their solitary haunts. At length, in a hollow among the gray hills, the ruins of Inversnaid Fort arrest our gaze with their shattered walls, and a dream of Rob Roy flashes upon us. This structure was erected, it appears, in 1713, to check the inroads of the bold outlaw, who was laird of the land in this vicinity. The fort was set on fire upon one occasion by the daring freebooter; and at a subsequent period it was taken possession of by his nephew. All is quiet now, however, in the land of the Macgregor. The Sassenach passes to and fro in peace, and the farmers of the Lennox may sleep without fear of the cattle-lifter. Among the ruins of the fort a miserable little hut has recently been built, and the peat smoke is curling from door and window as we pass, while a lonely redbreast chants a song of peace from a neighbouring tree.

By the time we return to Inversnaid, the shadows are waxing deep upon the hills. Benvoirlich is wrapt in gloom from base to summit, and a pallid ripple breaks at intervals the sullen smoothness of the Loch. We are just in the nick of time, without visiting the outlaw’s cave, which is quite at hand, to catch the returning steamer; and going on board, are soon dashing along on our way to Balloch, where we are in due season safely deposited. The train is in waiting, and, punctual to a minute, we start on our overland route to Bowling. On our arrival there, the steamer is roaring with eager impatience, and not a moment is lost in resuming our homeward progress. In something less than four hours from the time we left Inversnaid we are sitting at our own fireside. So brief is the interval which now-a-days suffices to transport the fellow-dtizens of Bailie Nicol Jarvie from the classic Sautmarket to the very heart of the Highlands, and, vice versa, from the land of the heather to the precincts of Sanct Mungo.


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