A JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND by Samuel Johnson
FALL OF FIERS
Towards evening we crossed, by a bridge, the river
which makes the celebrated fall of Fiers. The country at the bridge strikes the
imagination with all the gloom and grandeur of Siberian solitude.
The way makes a flexure, and the mountains, covered with trees, rise at once
on the left hand and in the front. We desired our guides to shew us the fall, and
dismounting, clambered over very rugged crags, till I began to wish that our curiosity
might have been gratified with less trouble and danger. We came at last to a place where
we could overlook the river, and saw a channel torn, as it seems, through black piles of
stone, by which the stream is obstructed and broken, till it comes to a very steep
descent, of such dreadful depth, that we were naturally inclined to turn aside our eyes.
But we visited the place at an unseasonable time, and found it
divested of its dignity and terror. Nature never gives every thing at once. A long
continuance of dry weather, which made the rest of the way easy and delightful, deprived
us of the pleasure expected from the fall of Fiers. The river having now no water but what
the springs supply, showed us only a swift current, clear and shallow, fretting over the
asperities of the rocky bottom, and we were left to exercise our thoughts, by endeavouring
to conceive the effect of a thousand streams poured from the mountains into one channel,
struggling for expansion in a narrow passage, exasperated by rocks rising in their way,
and at last discharging all their violence of waters by a sudden fall through the horrid
The way now grew less easy, descending by an uneven declivity, but
without either dirt or danger. We did not arrive at Fort Augustus till it was late. Mr.
Boswell, who, between his father's merit and his own, is sure of reception wherever he
comes, sent a servant before to beg admission and entertainment for that night. Mr.
Trapaud, the governor, treated us with that courtesy which is so closely connected with
the military character. He came out to meet us beyond the gates, and apologized that, at
so late an hour, the rules of a garrison suffered him to give us entrance only at the
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