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Leaves from the Journal
A Fall of Snow 18 Sept. 1858


September 18, 1858.

Alas! the last day! When we got up the weather seemed very hopeless. Everything was white with snow, which lay, at least, an inch on the ground, and it continued snowing heavily, as it had done since five this morning. I wished we might be snowed up, and unable to move. How happy I should have been could it have been so ! It continued snowing till half-past ten or eleven, and then it began to clear up. The hills appeared quite white; the sun came out, and it became splendidly bright. Albert was going to have the woods driven—which are not properly called Carrop Woods, but Garmaddie Woods—but had first to ride round Craig Gowan with Dr. Robertson to see Robrech, the place where Duncan’s new house is to be built, which is above the village, opposite Craig Luraghain, with a most splendid view; and at Grant’s house I was to meet him.

At one o’clock I left with Alice and Lenchen [Princess Helena] for Grant’s, where we met Albert, who joined us in the carriage : the day was truly splendid. We got out at the river, and were going down to Nelly's Bush, when a stag was heard roaring very near; so we had to stop, and, with our plaids and cloaks to sit upon, really avoided getting very wet. We waited till Albert was near to the stag, saw it move, heard Albert fire twice, and the stag turn, stop, and then disappear. Albert fired again, but the stag had crossed the Dee; so we turned up on to the road, and went into the dear old Corrie Buie; Albert turning off to see if there were any deer near, while we waited for him. We then came to a place which is always wet, but which was particularly bad after the late rain and snow. There was no pony for me to get on; and as I wished not to get my feet wet by walking through the long grass, Albert proposed I should be carried over in a plaid; and Lenchen was first carried over; but it was held too low, and her feet dangled; so Albert suggested the plaid should be put round the men’s shoulders, and that I should sit upon it; Brown and Duncan, the two strongest and handiest, were the two who undertook it, and I sat safely enough with an arm on each man’s shoulder, and was carried successfully over. All the Highlanders are so amusing, and really pleasant and instructive to talk to—women as well as men—and the latter so gentlemanlike.

[A similar view to that given in the text is admirably expressed by the Reverend Frederick W. Robertson in his Lectures on Literary and Social Topics, and his description of a Tyrolese is even more applicable to a Highlander.

“My companion was a Tyrolese chamuis-hunter, a man who, in point of social position, might rank with an English labourer. I fear there would be a difficulty in England in making such a companionship pleasurable and easy to both parties ; there would be a painful obsequiousness, or else an insolent familiarity on the one side, constraint on the other. In this case there was nothing of that sort. We walked together, and ate together. He had all the independence of a man, but he knew the courtesy which was due to a stranger; and when we parted for the night, he took his leave with a politeness and dignity which would have done no discredit to the most finished gentleman. The reason, as it seemed to me, was that his character had been moulded by the sublimities of the forms of the outward nature amidst which he lived. It was impossible to see the clouds wreathing themselves in that strange wild way of theirs round the mountain crests, till the hills seemed to become awful things, instinct with life, it was impossible to walk, as we did sometimes, an hour or two before sunrise, and see the morning's beams gilding with their pure light the grand old peaks on the opposite side of the valley, while we ourselves were still in deepest shade, and look on that man, his very exterior in harmony with all around him, and his calm eye resting on all that wondrous spectacle, without a feeling that these things had had their part in making him what he was, and that you were in a country in which men were bound to be polished, bound to be more refined, almost bound to be better men than elsewhere.”]

Albert’s shots were heard close by whilst we were at luncheon; and there was a general rush of all the people. Albert joined us soon after; he had had a great deal of trouble in stalking his stag, which he had been after several days, but had killed him at one shot. He was brought for us to see: a very light-coloured one, with fine straight horns, of extraordinary thickness. After this we walked on for a beat quite round Carrop; and the view was glorious! A little shower of snow had fallen, but was succeeded by brilliant sunshine. The hills covered with snow, the golden birch-trees on the lower brown hills, and the bright afternoon sky, were indescribably beautiful. The following lines admirably pourtray what I then saw:—

“The gorgeous bright October,
Then when brackens are changed, and heather blooms are faded,
And amid russet of heather and fern, green trees are bonnie;
Alders are green, and oaks; the rowan scarlet and yellow;

One great glory of broad gold pieces appears the aspen,
And the jewels of gold that were hung in the hair of the birch-tree,
Pendulous, here and there, her coronet, necklace, and earrings,
Cover her now, o’er and o’er; she is weary and scatters them from her.”

Oh! how I gazed and gazed on God’s glorious works with a sad heart, from its being for the last time, and tried to carry the scene away, well implanted and fixed in my mind, for this effect with the snow we shall not often see again. We saw it like this in 1852; but we have not seen it so since, though we have often had snow-storms and showers with a little snow lying on the highest hills.


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