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Title: The Cruise of the Elena - or Yachting in the Hebrides
Author: Ritchie, J. Ewing (James Ewing), 1820-1898
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1877 James Clarke & Co. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



                                   THE
                              CRUISE OF THE
                                  ELENA


                        _YACHTING IN THE HEBRIDES_

                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                             J. EWING-RITCHIE

           _Author of_ “_The Night Side of London_,” _&c. &c._

                                * * * * *

                                  London
                   JAMES CLARKE & CO., 13, FLEET STREET
                                   1877

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON
                W. SPEAIGHT & SONS, PRINTERS, FETTER LANE.

                                * * * * *

                                    TO
                           JOHN ANDERSON, ESQ.,
                       OF GLEN TOWER, ARGYLESHIRE,
                           OWNER OF THE ELENA,
                     This Little Volume is Dedicated
                              BY THE AUTHOR,
            IN MEMORY OF A PLEASANT CRUISE ON BOARD THE ELENA
                          IN THE AUTUMN OF 1876.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                           PAGE
          I.  OFF FOR GREENOCK                       3
         II.  FROM GREENOCK TO ARDROSSAN            17
        III.  A SUNDAY AT OBAN                      29
         IV.  FROM OBAN TO GLENCOE                  39
          V.  OFF MULL                              49
         VI.  FAST DAY AT PORTREE                   59
        VII.  TO STORNOWAY                          73
       VIII.  KINTYRE AND CAMPBELTOWN               83
         IX.  BACK AGAIN                            99



CHAPTER I.
OFF FOR GREENOCK.


The late—I had almost written the last—Imperial ruler of France was wont
to say—indeed, it was his favourite maxim—“Everything comes to him who
waits.”  It was not exactly true in his case.  Just as he was to have
placed himself at the head of his followers, and make his reappearance in
France, and to have effaced the recollections of Sedan, Death, who waits
for no one, who comes at the appointed time to all, put a stop to his
career.  Nevertheless, the saying is more or less true, and especially as
regards my appearance on board the _Elena_.  Whether my great great
grandfather was a Viking or no, I am unable to say; all I know is, from
my youth upwards I have longed for a yacht in which I could cruise at my
own sweet will.  I am no great hand at singing, but when I do sing it is
always of a

    “Life on the ocean wave,
    A home on the rolling deep.”

And thus it happened that, when an invitation was sent to me, just as I
was on the point of giving up the ghost, in consequence of the heat of a
London summer, to leave Fleet Street, and cruise among the Western
Islands of Scotland, I accepted it, as the reader may well suppose, at
once.

It is somewhat of a journey by the Midland night express from London to
Greenock; but the journey is one well worth taking, even if, as in my
case, you do not get a Pullman car, as that had been already filled, and
was booked full, so the ticket manager said, for at any rate twelve days
in advance.  It is really interesting to see that express start.  “It is
an uncommon fine sight,” said a man to me the other night, as he lit his
pipe at the St. Pancras Station.  “I always come here when I’ve done
work; it is cheaper than a public-house.”  And so it is, and far better
in awakening the intellect or stimulating the life.  It is true I did not
see the express start, as I happened to be in it; but I had another and a
greater pleasure—that of being whirled along the country, from one great
city or hive of industry to another, till I found myself early in the
morning looking down from the heights of Greenock on the busy Clyde
below.  It was a grand panorama, not easily to be forgotten.  All at once
it opens on you, and you enjoy the view all the more as it comes in so
unexpected a manner.

Let me pause, and say a good word for the line that bears me swiftly and
safely and pleasantly on.

The story of railway enterprise as connected with the Midland Railway has
been told in a very bulky volume by Mr. J. Williams.  I learn from it
that forty years have elapsed since, originating in the necessity of a
few coal-owners, it has gradually stretched out its iron arms till its
ramifications are to be found in all parts of the land.  Actually, up to
the present time it has involved an expenditure of fifty millions, and
its annual revenue reaches five.  Daily—hourly, it rushes, with its heavy
load of tourists, or holiday-makers, or men of business, past the ancient
manor-houses of Wingfield, Haddon, and Rousbery; the abbeys of St.
Albans, Leicester, Newstead, Kirkstall, Beauchief, and Evesham; the
castles of Someries, Skipton, Sandal, Berkeley, Tamworth, Hay, Clifford,
Codnor, Ashby, Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, and Newark; the
battle-fields of St. Albans, Bosworth, Wakefield, Tewkesbury, and
Evesham.

But it is to that part of the line between Carlisle and Settle that I
would more particularly refer—that boon to the southern tourist who, as
the writer did, takes his seat in a Midland carriage at St. Pancras, and
finds himself, without a change of carriage, the next morning at Greenock
in time for the far-famed breakfasts on board the _Iona_.  The ordinary
traveller has no idea of the difficulties which at one time lay between
him and his journey’s end.  “It is a very rare thing,” once said Mr.
Allport, the great Midland Railway manager, a name honoured everywhere,
“for me to go down to Carlisle without being turned out twice.  Then,
although some of the largest towns in England are upon the Midland
system, there is no through carriage to Edinburgh, unless we occasionally
have a family going down, and then we make an especial arrangement, and
apply for a special carriage to go through.  We have applied in vain for
through carriages to Scotland over and over again.”  And so the Midland
had no alternative but to have a line of their own.  When it was known at
Appleby that their Bill had passed the Commons, the church bells were
rung, and, as was quaintly remarked, the people wrote to the newspapers,
and did all that was proper under the circumstances.  No wonder Appleby
rejoiced and was glad; for, though the county town of Westmoreland, it is
not much of a place after all, and the railway must have been a boon to
the natives—especially to the ladies, who otherwise, it is to be feared,
would have wasted their sweetness on the desert air.

On Monday, the 2nd of August, 1875, after an expenditure of three
millions, the Settle and Carlisle line was opened for goods traffic.  It
must have been an awful undertaking, the making of it.  “I declare,” said
a rhetorical farmer, “there is not a level piece of ground big enough to
build a house upon all the way between Settle and Carlisle.”  An ascent
had to be made to a height of more than a thousand feet above the level
of the sea, by an incline that should be easy enough for the swiftest
passenger expresses and for the heaviest mineral trains to pass securely
and punctually up and down, not only in the light days of summer, but in
the darkest and “greasiest” December nights.  To construct it the men had
to cut the boulder clay—very unpleasant stuff to deal with—to hew through
granite, to build on morasses and dismal swamps.  Near the southernmost
end of the valley, watered by the roaring Ribble, the town of Settle
stands among wooded hills, overhung by a lofty limestone rock called
Castlebar; while far beyond on the left and right rise, above the sea of
mountains, the mighty outlines of Whernside and Pennegent, often hid in
the dark clouds of trailing mists.  Up the valley the new line runs,
pursuing its way among perhaps the loneliest dales, the wildest mountain
wastes, and the scantiest population of any part of England.  Three miles
from Settle we reach Stainforth Force, and just beyond are the remains of
a Roman camp.  At Batty Green the navvies declared that they were in one
of the wildest, windiest, coldest, and dreariest localities in the world.
In the old coaching days the journey across these wilds was most
disagreeable and trying.  It was no unusual thing, we read, for rain to
come down upon the travellers in torrents; for snow to fall in darkened
flakes or driving showers of powdered ice; for winds to blow and howl
with hurricane force, bewildering to man and beast; for frost to bite and
benumb both hands and face till feeling was almost gone; and for hail and
sleet to blind the traveller’s eyes and to make his face smart as if
beaten with a myriad of slender cords.  In Dent Dale, which is almost ten
miles in length, the scenery is remarkably fine.  Nearly five hundred
feet below, now sparkling in the sunlight, now losing itself among some
clusters of trees, winds the river Dee; while first on one side and then
on the other is the road that leads to Sedbergh.  Leaving the tunnel, we
find ourselves in Garsdale, in a milder clime and amidst more attractive
scenery.  Some four hundred feet below us the river may be observed
winding over its rocky bed in the direction of Sedbergh, while we get
extensive views on the west.  Presently we see the Moorside Inn, a
far-famed hostelry abounding in mountain dew, standing at the head of the
valleys—the Wensleydale, winding eastward towards Hawes; the Garsdale
Valley, going westward towards Sedbergh; and the Mallerstang, leading
northwards towards Kirkby Stephen.

At Ais Gill Moor the line attains its highest altitude, 1,167 feet above
the sea, from whence it falls uninterruptedly down to Carlisle.  The
country here is very wild and rugged.  Stone walls mark the division of
the properties, and scarcely any house can be seen.  On the west the
grandly impressive form of Wild Boar Fell rises.  Still higher on the
east is Mallerstang Edge.  In the winter you can well believe that along
this valley sweeps the wind in bitter blasts.  Three miles after we have
left the Moor Loch we are in Cumberland, and are reminded of other days
when all the old manor-houses and other edifices were built for defence
against the invasions of the Picts.  Though the upper part of the Eden
valley is now occupied by a few industrious farmers and peaceful
shepherds, we instinctively think of the time when the slogan of border
chiefs and their clansmen sent a thrill of terror through Mallerstang,
and when sword and fire did terrible work to man and beast.  Here is Wild
Boar Fell, where, says tradition, the last wild boar was killed by one of
the Musgrave family; and there in a narrow dale, overlooked by mountains
and washed by the Eden, are the crumbling ruins of a square tower—all,
alas! that remains of Pendragon Castle.  About a mile before we come to
Kirkby Stephen we pass on our right Wharton Hall, the seat of the now
extinct dukes of that name.  Near the town are two objects of especial
interest—the Ewbank Scar and Stenkrith Falls.  The sight from Ormside
Viaduct is wonderfully fine.  Appleby, as seen from the line, has a very
pleasing appearance.  The railway runs past Eden Hall, the residence of
Sir Richard Musgrave, the chief of the clan of that name.  At the summit
of a hill, near the Eden Lacy Viaduct, we find the remains of a Druid’s
temple, known by the name of “Long Meg and her Daughters.”  Close by is
Lazonby, a village in the midst of interesting historical associations.
As we pass through the ancient forest, we would fain stop and linger, as
the scenery about here is deeply romantic, as much so as that of
Derbyshire.  At Armathwaite the beauty of the district culminates; and we
gaze with rapture at its ancient quaint square castle, its picturesque
viaduct of nine arches eighty feet high, its road bridge of freestone,
its cataract, and its elm—said to be the finest in Cumberland.  At
Carlisle there is a fine railway hotel, which you enter by a side door
from the platform, and where the traveller may attain such refreshment as
he requires.  Indeed, it is open to the public on the same reasonable
terms as the London Tavern when it was the head-quarters of aldermanic
turtle.  The town is delightfully clean, and has many interesting
associations; and as I stood upon the ramparts of the castle there on my
return, smoking a cigar, there came to me memories of William Rufus, who
built the wall, and planted in the town the industrious Flemings; of King
David of Scotland; of Wallace, the Scottish hero, who quartered his
troops there; of Cromwell, “our chief of men,” as Milton calls him; and
of the Pretenders, father and son.  It is with interest I look at the
church of St. Mary, remembering, as I do, that it was there Sir Walter
Scott was married.  I am told the interior of the cathedral is very
beautiful, and crowded with memorials of a truly interesting character.
Externally the place looks in good condition, as it was repaired as
lately as 1853–6.  Altogether the town appears comfortable, as it ought
to do, considering it has extensive founderies and breweries,
manufactories of woollen, linen, cotton, and other fabrics; communication
with six lines of railway; a canal, two rivers, and two local newspapers.
Nor is Carlisle ungrateful.  I find in its market-place a statue to Lord
Lonsdale, who has much property in these parts.  One can tarry there
long.  Afar off you see the hills of the Lake Country—the country of
Southey and Wordsworth—and, if you but keep your seat, in an hour or two
you may be, according to your taste, “touring it” in the land of Burns,
or in the district immortalised by the genius of Sir Walter Scott.

As I went one way, and returned another, I enjoyed this privilege and
pleasure.  At Dumfries I could not but recollect that there the poet
Burns wrote his

    “Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled;”

that there he died prematurely worn-out in 1796; that there, as he lay
dying, the whole town was convulsed with grief; and that there his
funeral was attended by some ten or twelve thousand of the people whose
hearts he had touched, and who loved him, in spite of his errors, to the
end.  “Dumfries,” wrote Allan Cunningham, “was like a besieged place.  It
was known he was dying, and the anxiety, not of the rich and learned, but
of the mechanics and peasants, exceeded all belief.  Wherever two or
three people stood together, their talk was of Burns, and him alone.
They spoke of his history, of his person, of his works, of his family,
and of his untimely and approaching fate, with a warmth and enthusiasm
which will ever endear Dumfries to my remembrance.”  Thinking of Burns,
the time passed pleasantly, as I mused, half awake and half dreaming,
that early summer morning, till I reached Greenock, where sleeps that
Highland Mary, who died during their courtship, and of whom Burns wrote,
in lines that will last as long as love, and woman, and the grave—

    “Ah! pale—pale now those rosy lips
       I aft hae kissed sae fondly;
    And closed for aye the sparkling glance
       That dwelt on me sae kindly.
    And mouldering now in silent dust
       That heart that loved me dearly;
    But still within my bosom’s core
      Shall live my Highland Mary.”



CHAPTER II.
FROM GREENOCK TO ARDROSSAN.


I shall never forget my first view of the Clyde from the heights above
Greenock.  It is true I had seen the Clyde before, but it was at Glasgow
years ago, and it had left on my mind but a poor impression of its
extent, or utility, or grandeur.  What a sight you have of dockyards,
where thousands of men are ship-building! and what a fleet of vessels
laden with the produce of every country under heaven!  As I take up a
Scotch paper, I read:—“The cargoes imported during the month included 64
of grain, &c., 65 of sugar, 22 of timber, 5 of wine, 2 of fruits, 1 of
brandy, 1 of ice, 3 of esparto grass and iron ore, 3 of rosin, 2 of oil,
1 of tar, 1 of guano, 1 of nitrate of soda, and 4 with minerals.”  And
then how grand is the prospect beyond—of distant watering-places, crammed
during the summer season, not alone with Glasgow and Edinburgh citizens,
but with English tourists, who find in these picturesque spots a charm
they can discover nowhere else.  Almost all the way—at any rate, since I
left Leeds—I have had my carriage almost entirely to myself; and now I am
in a crowd greater and busier than of Cheapside at noon, with knapsacks
and carpet-bags and umbrellas, all bent on seeing those beauties of
Nature of which Scotland may well be proud.

To leave the train and hurry down the pier, and rush on board the _Iona_,
is the work of a minute, but of a minute rich in marvels.  The _Iona_ is
a fine saloon steamer, which waits for the train at Greenock, and thence
careers along the Western Coast, leaving her passengers at various ports,
and picking up others till some place or other, with a name which I can
hardly pronounce, and certainly cannot spell, is reached.  It must carry
some fourteen or fifteen hundred people.  I should think we had quite
that number on board—people like myself, who had been travelling all
night—people who had joined us at such places as Leicester, or Leeds, or
Carlisle—people who had come all the way in her from Glasgow—people who
had come on business—people who were bent on pleasure—people who had
never visited the Highlands before—people who are as familiar with them
as I am with Cheapside or the Strand—people with every variety of
costume, of both sexes and of all ages—people who differed on all
subjects, but who agreed in this one faith, that to breakfast on board
the _Iona_ is one of the first duties of man, and one of the noblest of
woman’s rights.  Oh, that breakfast!  To do it justice requires an abler
pen than mine.  Never did I part with a florin—the sum charged for
breakfast—with greater pleasure.  We all know breakfasts are one of those
things they manage well in Scotland, and the breakfast on board the
_Iona_ is the latest and most triumphant vindication of the fact.
Cutlets of salmon fresh from the water, sausages of a tenderness and
delicacy of which the benighted cockney who fills his paunch with the
flabby and plethoric article sold under that title by the provision
dealer can have no idea; coffee hot and aromatic, and suggestive of Araby
the blest; marmalades of all kinds, with bread-and-butter and toast, all
equally good, and served up by the cleanest and most civil of stewards.
Sure never had any mother’s son ever such a breakfast before.  It was
with something of regret that I left it, and that handsome saloon filled
with happy faces and rejoicing hearts.

In about half-an-hour after leaving Greenock, I was at Kirn, a beautiful
watering-place in Argyleshire, in one of the handsomest villas of which I
was to find my host, and the owner of the _Elena_, one of the finest of
the four or five hundred yachts which grace the lake-like waters of the
Clyde, and which carry the ensign of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club.  A
volume might be written of the owner, whose place of business in Glasgow
is one of the real wonders of that ancient town.  Morrison, the founder
of the Fore Street Warehouse, and the father of the late M.P. for
Plymouth, was accustomed to say that he owed all his success in life to
the realisation of the fact that the great art of mercantile traffic was
to find out sellers rather than buyers; that if you bought cheap and
satisfied yourself with a fair profit, buyers—the best sort of buyers,
those who have money to buy with—would come of themselves.  It is on this
principle the owner of the _Elena_ has acted.  It is worth something to
see the Sèvres china, the fine oil paintings, the spoils of such palaces
as the Louvre or St. Cloud, the rarest ornaments of such exhibitions as
those of Vienna, all gathered together in the Glasgow Polytechnic, and to
seek which the proprietor is always on the look-out, and to recollect
that all this display has been got together by one individual, who began
the world in a much smaller way, and who is still in the prime of life.
A further interest attaches to the gentleman of whom I write, inasmuch as
it was under his roof that the first article of the _Christian Cabinet_,
swallowed up in the _Christian World_, was written.  It may be to this it
is due that at once I am at home with him, and that here on board the
_Elena_ we chat of what goes on in London as if we had known each other
all our lives.  By my side is his son-in-law—one of those well-trained,
thoughtful divines who have left Scotland for the South, and who are
doing so much to introduce into England that Presbyterianism the yoke of
which our fathers could not bear, but on which we, their more liberal
sons, have learned to look with a less jealous eye; and no wonder, for to
know such a man as the Doctor is to love him.  And now let me say a word
as to the _Elena_, which is a picture to admire, as she floats calmly on
the water, or speeds her way from one scene of Scottish story and romance
to another.  It is rarely one sees a yacht more tastefully fitted-up, and
we have a ladies’ drawing-room on board not unworthy of Belgravia itself.
She is slightly rakish in build, but not disagreeably so.  Her tonnage is
200 tons, and her crew consists, including the stoker and steward, of
some eight clever-looking, sailor-like men.  As we sleep on board I am
glad of this.  With Gonsalo I exclaim, “The wills above be done; but I
had rather die a dry death.”

And now, after skirting the greater and the lesser Cumbraes, and the cave
where Bruce hid himself, &c., &c., we are coaling off Ardrossan,
apparently a busy town on the Ayrshire coast.  I have been on shore, and
have seen no end of coal and lumber ships in the docks, and in the
streets are many shops with all the latest novelties from town, and with
ladies lounging in and out.  I know I am in Scotland, as I hear the
bagpipes droning in the distance, and stop to judge the beef and mutton
exposed for sale at the shop of the nearest “flesher.”  On a hill behind
me is a monument which, the natives inform me, is in memory of Dr.
Mac-something, of whom I never heard, and respecting whom no one
apparently can tell me anything.  I know further I am in Scotland, as I
see everywhere Presbyterian places of worship, and hear accents not
familiar to an English ear.  I know also I am in Scotland, as I see no
gaudy public-house with superfine young ladies to attract my weak-kneed
brethren to the bar, but instead dull and dark houses, in which only sots
would care to go.  I know I am in Scotland, because it is only there I
read of “self-contained houses” to let or sell; and as to Ardrossan in
particular, let me say that it is much frequented by the Glasgow
merchants in the season; that it, with its neighbour Saltcoats, supports
a _Herald_, published weekly for a penny; that from it, as a local poet
writes—

             “We see bold Arran’s mountains gray,
    In dark sublimity, stand forth in grandeur day by day.”

The poet speaks truly.  As I write I see the heights of the Scottish
Alps, whose feet are fringed with the white villas of the Glasgow
merchants for miles, and washed by the romantic waters of the Clyde.

Anciently Ardrossan was a hamlet of miserable huts, says Mr. Murray—Mr.
Thomas, of Glasgow, not Mr. John, of London—gathered around an old castle
on Castle Hill, the scene of some of Wallace’s daring achievements, and
destroyed by Cromwell.  It was said to have belonged to a warlock, known
as the Deil of Ardrossan.  The present town was originated in 1806 as a
seaport for Glasgow, but, like Port Glasgow, proved a failure in this
respect.  It is, however, generally well filled with shipping.  The
Pavilion, a residence of the Earl of Eglinton, adjoins the town.
Steamers run thence to Belfast and Newry, and to Ayr and Arran and
Glasgow.

Let me here remark, as indicating the cultivated character of the
Scotchman, one is surprised at the number of local papers one sees in all
the Scotch towns.  They are mostly well written, and have a London
Correspondent.  It is beautiful to find how in the Scotch towns there is
still faith left in the London Correspondent.  The people swallow him as
they do the Greater and Lesser Catechism, and even the London papers
quote him as with happy audacity he describes the dissensions in the
Cabinet—the hopes and fears of Earl Beaconsfield, the secret purposes of
the garrulous Lord Derby, or the too amiable and communicative Marquis of
Salisbury.  When yachting I made a point to buy every Scotch paper I
could, for the express purpose of reading what Our London Correspondent
had got to say.  I was both amused and edified.  It is said you must go
from home to hear the news.  I realised that in Scotland as I had never
done before.  On the dull, wet days, when travelling was out of the
question, what a boon was our “Own Special London Correspondent!”



CHAPTER III.
A SUNDAY AT OBAN.


Taking advantage of a fine day, we left Ardrossan, with its coal and
timber ships, early one Saturday, and were soon tossing up and down that
troubled spot known as the Mull of Kintyre.  It was a glorious sight, and
one rarely enjoyed by tourists, who make a short cut across a canal, and
lose a great deal in the way of beautiful effects of earth, and sea, and
sky.  On our left was the Irish coast, here but fifteen miles across, and
far behind were the dark forms of the mountains of Arran.  Islay, famed
for its whisky in modern and for its romantic history in ancient times,
next rises out of the waters.  Jura, with its three Paps, as its hills
are called, comes next, and then, in the narrow sound between Jura and
Scarba, there is the terrible whirlpool of Corrybrechan, the noise and
commotion of whose whirling waves are often, writes the local Guide-book,
audible from the steamer.  The tradition is, as referred to in Campbell’s
“Gertrude of Wyoming,” that there a Danish prince, who was foolhardy
enough to cast anchor in it, lost his life.  To-day it is silent and at
rest, and it requires some stretch of imagination to believe, as the poet
tells us, that “on the shores of Argyleshire I have often listened with
delight to the sound of the vortex at the distance of many leagues.”  At
length we reach Scarba, Mull is swiftly gained, and there, on the other
side of us, not, however, to be visited now, are Staffa and Iona.
Altogether, we seem in a deserted district.  It is only now and then we
see a house, or gentleman’s residence, and, except where we pass some
slate works on our right, the rocks and hills around seem utterly
unutilised.  Occasionally we see a few sheep or cattle feeding, and once
or twice we are cheered with arable land, and crops growing on it; but
the rule is to leave Nature pretty much to herself.  It is the same on
the water.  We on board the fairy _Elena_, and the gulls following in our
wake, are almost entirely monarchs of all we survey.  On we glide up the
Frith of Lorne, which seems to narrow as we come near to Kerrera, which
has on its lofty sea-cliff the ancient Castle of Glen; and there before
us lies Oban, or the white bay, in all its charms of wood and hill and
water.  Oban is a growing place, and we land where the steamer which
brings on the tourists from Iona has just put down its passengers,
amongst whom I see Dr. Charles Mackay, who, in the evening of his days,
much affects this delightful retreat—a place, I imagine, quiet enough in
winter, but now seemingly the head-quarters of the human race.  There are
yachts all round, but none equalling the _Elena_.  The hotels which line
the bay are handsome, beautifully fitted up, and the proprietors are
looking forward to the 12th of August and the advent of the English.  All
the shops are doing a roaring trade, and as to eggs, not one has been
seen in Oban these four days.  Here come the coaches, something of a
cross between omnibuses and wagonettes, which run to Glencoe and Fort
William, and other spots more or less famed in Scottish story; and here
is the band to remind one of watering-places nearer home.  I find here
the original Christy’s Minstrel (I never thought of finding him so far
North), and the proprietor of an American bazaar, who tells me that he
has been taking his £40 a night, but who finds himself too well known to
the natives, and intimates that he will have to move off shortly; and
last, but not least, a gentleman who modestly enters himself in the
fashionable announcements as Smith, of London!  I should like to see that
Smith.  I dare say I should know him; but at present I have not succeeded
in running him down.  If he is going to stay long at Oban, it strikes me
he should have plenty of money in his pocket.  I don’t blame the Oban
hotel-keepers.  They have a very short summer, and are bound to make hay
while the sun shines; but they do stick it on.  The Doctor tells me of a
Scotchman who came to London, and who, to illustrate the costliness of
his visit, remarked to his friend that he had not been half-an-hour in
the place but bang went sixpence.  That economical Scot would find money
go quite as quickly here.  At any rate, such are my reflections as I turn
into my little cot after, one by one, the lights in Oban have been put
out, and the last of the pleasure-seekers has retired to roost.

On Sunday morning I wake to find that it has rained steadily all night,
and that it is raining still.  Mrs. Gamp intimates that life “is a wale
o’ tears.”  Oban seems to be such emphatically.  This is awkward, as I
hear the refined and accomplished lady who shares with us the perils and
the dangers of the deep intimates that in Scotland people are not
expected to laugh on the Sabbath-day.  It rains all breakfast; it rains
as we descend the _Elena’s_ side, and are rowed ashore; it rains as we
make our way to the Established Church, in which that popular minister,
the Rev. Mr. Barclay, of Greenock, is to preach.  His sermon is on the
death of Moses.  He glides lightly over the subject, telling us that his
text, which is Deut. xxxv. 5, teaches the incompetency of the noblest
life, the penal consequences of sin, the mercy mingled with the Divine
judgment, and the uniformity of God’s method of dealing.  Mr. Barclay is
listened to with attention.  In his black gown, his tall, dark figure
looks well in the pulpit, and there must be some eight or nine hundred
people present.  There is a collection after, but I see no gold coin in
the plate, though the bay is full of yachts, and there must be many
wealthy people there.  Perhaps, however, they patronise the small
Episcopalian church close by.  After the sermon, we are rowed back in the
heavy rain to the yacht, and “it is regular Highland weather” is all the
consolation that I get, as I dry myself in the stoke-hole, while the
Doctor philosophically smokes.

In the evening we are rowed again on shore, and seek out the Free Church,
where Professor Candlish, the son of the far-famed Doctor of that name,
is to preach.  He has the reputation of being a remarkably profound
divine, and certainly reputation has not done him injustice in this
respect.  His sermon is a great contrast to that I heard in the morning.
It is full fifty minutes long, and is an argumentative defence of the
text, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is
in Christ Jesus.”  The preacher proposed to deal with the objection,
which he admitted might be fairly made, that if Jesus paid the debt, our
salvation was not a matter of grace at all; and for this purpose we had
line upon line in thoroughly old Scotch fashion, the hearers all the
while looking out the passages of Scripture referred to in their Bibles.
The sermon was old-fashioned as to thought, but the language was modern.
I was glad I went to hear it.  The congregation was not above half the
size of that which appeared in the Established Church, and a great deal
less fashionable.  There you saw a good deal of the tourist element.
Here we had the real natives, as it were; and I must own that I saw more
men than I should have seen in a congregation of the same size at home.
At the church in the morning we had, in addition to the Scotch Psalms,
such hymns as “I lay my sins on Jesus,” and “Lord of the worlds above.”
In the evening we had no novelties of that kind.  Indeed, the whole
service was dry and severe to a degenerate Southern.  Mr. Barclay quoted
a good deal of Mrs. Alexander’s fine poem on the death of Moses.
Professor Candlish did nothing of the kind.  His sermon was, in fact,
quite in accordance with the day and the _genius loci_.  I felt it was
such a sermon as I had a right to expect.  As I leave the church, I
wonder to myself how the tourists manage.  It is too wet to walk, and if
they do take a walk it is not considered the correct thing in these
northern latitudes, where, to make matters worse, the Sunday is nearly an
hour longer than it is in London.  I am afraid, however, some of the
townsfolk find the time hang heavily on their hands.  It seemed to me
that there was an unusually large number of female faces at the window,
and when the boat comes to fetch us on board the _Elena_ all the windows
are full of, I fear, frivolous spectators.  It is true that I am adorned
with a genuine Highland bonnet, and would make my fortune in London as a
Guy on the fifth of November; but here Highland bonnets are common.  It
is true my companion is a great divine from town, and one well known in
Exeter Hall; but here you would take him for a skipper, and nautical men
are as common as Highland bonnets.  I fear it is for very weariness that
Oban ladies sit staring out of the windows on the empty streets and
silent bay this dull and watery Sabbath night.  I can almost fancy I hear
them sing—

    “I am a-weary, a-weary;
    Oh! would that I were dead!”



CHAPTER IV.
FROM OBAN TO GLENCOE.


A couple of days’ heavy rain quite exhausted the gaieties of Oban, and it
was with no little pleasure that I heard the orders given to weigh the
anchor and get up steam.  I shed no tears as I saw the last of the long
line of monster hotels, which rejoice when the Englishman, who has,
perhaps, never been up St. Paul’s, and who certainly has never visited
Stratford-on-Avon, makes up his mind to turn his face northwards and do
the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  I believe the hotels are
excellent.  I am sure one of them is—that kept by Mr. McArthur, who is an
artist, and whose son, a little lad of ten years, paints in a way to
remind one of similar achievements by Sir Thomas Lawrence; but it is much
to be regretted that so many of the best spots for pleasant views above
the town are marked off as private, and so shut out from the tourist
altogether.  As possibly these brief notes may be read in Oban, I refer
to the fact, in order that the authorities of the place, ere it be too
late, may be reminded of the impolicy of killing the goose for the sake
of the eggs.  There ought to be an abundance of pleasant walks and seats
around Oban to tempt the tourist to linger there.  It is related of
Norman Macleod, as he stood on the esplanade, pointing to the town, the
bay crowded with yachts, the Kerrera reflected on the sea as in a mirror,
with the distant hills of Morven and Mull behind, that he exclaimed,
“Where will you find in the whole world a scene so lovely as this?” and
this was said after he had visited America, and India, and Palestine, and
the whole continent of Europe.  I am not prepared exactly to endorse that
statement, but the language is natural to a Scotchman, who can see
nowhere a land so romantic as his own.  Oban, with its fine hotels on the
front, with its beautiful bay, with its wooded or bare hills behind,
looks well from the water; but nevertheless I had tired of it, after
spending a couple of days contemplating its features from the deckhouse
of the yacht, bathed as they were in what in London we should call
unmitigated rain, but which here poetically is termed Scottish mist.

Well, as I have said, there was a shaking amongst the dry bones when it
became known that the morning was bright and fine, or, in other words,
that it did not rain.  A noble peer, who had been shut up in his yacht
two whole days, came up on deck and looked out.  A great Birmingham man,
anchored on the other side of us, hoisted his sails and cleared off.
With the aid of the glass I could see the tourists turn out of the
hotels, without mackintoshes and with umbrellas furled.  Away flew the
_Elena_ past the ancient Castle of Dunollie, the seat in former ages of
the powerful Lords of Lorn, and still the property of their lineal
descendant, Colonel Macdougall.  Rounding Dunollie Point, and passing the
Maiden Island, the steamer enters on the broad waters of Loch Linnie, and
here a magnificent scene opens on us.  To the left are seen the lofty
mountains of Mull, the Sound of Mull, the green hills of Morven, the
rugged peaks of Kingairloch, and the low island of Lismore, where MacLean
of Duart left his wife, a sister of the Earl of Argyll, to perish on a
rock, whilst he pretended to solemnise her funeral with a coffin filled
with stones.  Fortunately, the lady was rescued, and the rest of the
story may be read in Joanna Baillie’s “Tragedy of Revenge.”  On our right
stretches the picturesque coast of the mainland, revealing fresh beauties
at every turn, with a splendid back-ground of towering mountains, such as
the noble Ben Cruachan, who only a week since had his head covered with
snow, and the rugged hills of Glen Etive and Glencreran.  Lismore itself
is well worthy of a short stay, as one of the earliest spots visited by
the missionary, St. Maluag, from Iona, whose chair and well are yet
shown.  There are also in the island the remains of an ancient
Scandinavian fortress, and many other objects of interest.  We pass
another old castle, that of Stalker, on a small island, a stronghold of
the ancient and powerful Stewarts of Appin, who, though now extinct,
anciently ruled over this region, and, connected with the royal family of
that name, occupied a distinguished place in Scottish story.  In the
sunlight our trip is immensely enjoyable.  The air has healing in its
wings.  You feel younger and lighter every mile.  On the left are the
splendid mountains of Kingairloch and Ardour, and on the right those of
Appin and Glencoe.  The view of the pass is very fine, and to enjoy it
more we land at Ballachulish, and take such a drive as I may never hope
to enjoy again.  Ballachulish itself is an interesting place.  Here a son
of a King of Denmark was drowned, and at the adjacent slate quarry some
six hundred men are employed at wages averaging about three pounds
a-week.  It is their dinner hour as we pass, and I am struck with the
fineness of their _physique_.  Though they speak mostly Gaelic, and are
shut out from English literature, they must, from their appearance, be a
decent set.  In an English mining village of the same size I should see a
Wesleyan and a Primitive Methodist Chapel, and a goodly array of
public-houses and beer-shops.  Here I see neither the one nor the other.
At this end of the village is an Episcopalian place of worship, with its
graveyard filled with slate stones.  At the other end is the Free Church,
and then, separated from it by a rocky stream, are the Established Church
and the Roman Catholic Chapel.  The village street is, I fancy, nearly a
mile long, and the cottages, which are well built and whitewashed, seem
to me crammed with children and poultry—the former, especially, very
fine, with their unclad feet, and with hair streaming like that of Mr.
Gray’s bard.  How they rush after our carriage like London arabs!  I am
sorry I don’t carry coppers.  Late as the season is, a few women are
hay-making.  What sunburnt, weather-beaten, wrinkled faces they have!
Plump and buxom at eighteen, they are old women when they have reached
twice that age.

As to Glencoe, what can I say of it that is not already recorded in the
guide-books, and familiar to the reader of English history?  The road is
carried along the edge of Loch Leven, and is really romantic, with the
rocks on one side, the winding glen in front, and the loch beneath.  It
is very narrow, and as we meet two four-horse cars returning with
tourists we have scarce room to pass.  Another inch would send us howling
over into the loch below, but our steeds and our driver are trustworthy,
and no such accident is to be feared.  In the loch beneath we see St.
Mungo’s Isle, marked by the ruins of a chapel, and long used as a
burial-place, the Lochaber people at one end, the Glencoe people at the
other, as their dust may no more intermingle than may that of Churchmen
and Dissenters in some parts of England.  A little further on is the
gable wall, still standing, of the house of M‘Ian, the unfortunate chief,
who was shot down by his own fireside on that memorable morning of
February, 1690.  Is it for this the Glasgow people erected a statue to
William III.?  Further on we see the stones still remaining of what were
once houses in which lived and loved fair women and brave men.  One
sickens now as we read the story of that atrocious massacre.  A little
more on our right is a rocky knoll, from which, it is said, the signal
pistol-shot was fired.  Happily, such atrocities are now out of date, but
the blot remains to sully the fair fame of our great Protestant hero, and
to stain to all eternity the memories of such men as Argyll and Stairs.
Independently of the massacre, the spot is well worthy of a visit.  There
is no more rocky and weird a glen in all Scotland, and when the sun is
hidden the aspect of the place is sombre in the extreme, and the further
you advance the more does it become such.  The larch and fir disappear
from the sides of the hills, the river Coe dashes angrily and noisily at
their feet, and before us is the waterfall which, here they tell us, was
Ossian’s shower-bath.  Close by, Ossian himself is reported to have been
born, and what more natural than that he should thus have utilised the
stream?  On the south is the mountain of Malmor, and to the north is the
celebrated Car Fion, or the hill of Fingal.  I gather a thistle as a
souvenir of the place.  Of course it is a Scotch thistle, therefore to be
honoured, but for the credit of my native land, I must say it is a pigmy
to such as I have seen within a dozen miles of St. Paul’s.  As a Saxon, I
am especially interested in the horned sheep in these parts, which at
first sight naturally you take for goats; with the Highland cattle,
though by no means the fine specimens you see at the Agricultural Hall,
and with the exquisite aroma (when taken in moderation) of the Ben Nevis
“mountain dew.”  Returning, we pass the entrance to the Caledonian
Canal—called by the natives the cana_w_l—along which we were to have made
our way to Nairn; but the _Elena_ scorns the narrow confines of the
canal, and claims to be a free rover of the sea.



CHAPTER V.
OFF MULL.


As I sit musing in the dining-saloon of the _Elena_, it occurs to me that
a Scotchman is bound to be a better educated man than an Englishman; for
these simple reasons—in the first place, he does not drink beer—and beer
is fatal to the intellect, inasmuch as it magnifies and fattens the body;
and secondly, because the climate compels him to lead the life of a
student.  In the south, we Englishmen have fine weather.  In this world
everything is comparative.  We in Middlesex may not have the warm
sunshine and blue skies of France or Italy, but we have weather which
admits of garden parties, and country sports, and pastimes; up in this
region of mountain, rock, and river, it is perpetually blowing big guns
or raining cats and dogs, and the Scotchman, as he can’t go out, must sit
at home and improve his mind.  In dull weather Oban is not a lively spot,
but here at Tobermory dulness fails adequately to express the thorough
stagnation of the place.  Few of my readers have ever heard of Tobermory;
yet Tobermory is the principal town—indeed, the only one that is to be
found in all Mull.  It rose to its present height of greatness as far
back as the year 1788, when it was developed under the auspices of the
Society for the Encouragement of British Fisheries.  But the place was
founded before then, as three or four miles off there are the remains of
a monastery, and in a niche in the wall of one of the hotels there was,
evidently, a crucifix or an image of the Virgin Mary, whose name seems to
be connected with the town.  Tobermory means Well of St. Mary, and up at
the top of the town there is shown to you the well of that name.  The
_Florida_, one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, was sunk off
Tobermory, and some of her timbers and her brass and iron guns have
occasionally been fished up.  The place must be valuable, as the present
proprietor gave £90,000 for the estate, which had been bought by the
former owner for about a third of that sum.  The house and ground are on
the left, and his yacht lies in the bay as we enter.  By our side are a
few trading vessels which have entered the harbour for shelter.  On the
right, at the entrance of the harbour, is a rock, on which some one has
had painted, in large red letters, “God is love.”  In rough seas, on this
rock-bound coast, where the wind howls like a hurricane as it rushes down
the gorges of the hills, and where the Atlantic seems to gather up its
strength, here and there, at fitful intervals, ere it becomes still and
tame—under the soothing influence of Scotch bag-pipes—it is well to
remind the traveller on the deep that He, who holds the waters in the
hollow of His hands, is love.  Tobermory is, I imagine, a very religious
place; on a Sunday night the Sheriff preaches in the Court House, and
there, on our left, is a Baptist chapel—where, once upon a time, the
Doctor preached, and in his warmth upset the candle over the head and
shoulders of his colleague sitting below—and up on the hill is a kirk and
a churchyard; the latter, as is the case with all the churchyards in this
part of the world, in a truly disgraceful state of neglect, with the
graves, which are but a few inches deep, covered with long grass and
weeds.  At one corner is what evidently was a receptacle for holy water,
and all around the place there is an antiquity—in the grass growing in
many of the streets, in the deserted walls of houses crumbling to decay,
in the weather-beaten, ancient look of the people, certainly by no means
suggestive of gaiety or life.  Tobermory reminds me, says the Doctor, of
what the auld woman said of the sermon—that it was neither amusing nor
edifying.  The Doctor’s lady, overcome by her feelings, writes verses,
which I transcribe for the benefit of my readers who may not enjoy the
honour of her acquaintance.

    “Off Mull
    ’Tis rather dull.
    Hope is vain,
    Down pours the rain;
    The wind howls
    Like groans of ghouls.”

But the subject is too much for her, and we land to have a chat with the
natives.  A deal we get out of them, as we wander, something like the
river of the poet—

    “Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow.”

They seem to me suspicious and reserved, as the Irishman when at home.
We meet one of the natives—an ancient mariner, with a long, grey beard,
and glistening eye.  He can tell us all about the legends connected with
the Well of St. Mary, we are told.

“You have lived here all your life?

“Oh, yes,” replies he, thoughtfully, picking the lower set of left
grinders in his mouth.

“And you know the place well?”

“Oh, yes,” says he, commencing picking on the other side of his mouth.

“And you can tell us all about it?”

“Oh, yes, sure,” says he, as he calmly proceeds to pick the remainder of
his teeth individually and collectively.

“What about the well—you know that?”

“Yes, it is up there,” pointing to the spot we had just left.

“What do the people call it?”

“The Well of St. Mary.”

“Can you tell us why?” said we, thinking that at last the secret which
had been hidden from the policeman of the district and the inn-keeper (I
beg his pardon, in these parts every little cabin in which you can buy
whisky or get a crust of bread is an hotel), and every man we met.  “Can
you tell me why the place is so called?”

“Yes,” says he, “the Well of St. Mary—that is the question.”  And then he
shut up—the oracle was dumb.  I need not describe my feelings of
disappointment.  I could have punched that man’s head.

I learn that Mull is a cheap place—as it ought to be—to live in.  In
Tobermory, butter—beautiful in its way—is eighteenpence a-pound; mutton,
tenpence; eggs, eightpence a dozen; and, says my informant, things are
now very dear.  The people are agricultural, and each one cultivates his
little crop.  The women are fearfully and wonderfully made; they seem
born for hard work, and a large number of the young ones leave yearly for
Glasgow, where, as maids-of-all-work, they are much in request.  In the
mud and rain, children, barefooted, come out to stare.  The girls have no
bonnets on, the boys mostly wear kilts, but they have all the advantages
of a school, and the steamers from Oban now and then bring batches of the
Glasgow papers.  One of the things that most strikes a stranger in these
Western isles is the astonishing number of sweetshops.  Every one is
born, it is said, with a sweet tooth in his head, but here every islander
must have a dozen at least.  Tobermory is no exception to the general
rule.  The lower part of the town, at the far end of the bay, is chiefly
devoted to trade, and at every other shop I see sweets exposed for sale.
It is the same at Portree, the capital of Skye, and it is the same at the
still more important town of Stornoway, in the island of Lewis.  At
Tobermory, one sees in the shop windows, besides ship stores, mutton—you
never see beef either in the Inner or Outer Hebrides; articles
symptomatic of feminine love for fashion—actually a skating-rink hat
being one of the attractions at one of the leading shops, though I can’t
hear of a skating-rink on this side of the world at all.  In the interior
of the island are farmers and farmers’ wives, who evidently have cash to
spare.  As we skirt along the coast we see here and there a grey castle
in ruins, telling of a time and manners and customs long since passed
away.  At one castle—that of Moy, for instance—the laird was a real
knight and chief, and behaved as such.  One part of the castle was built
over a precipice, and in the wall was a niche in which a man could just
stand, and barely that; a man or woman charged with a crime was placed in
that niche; after a certain time the door was opened, and if he or she
was still standing the result was a verdict of “Not guilty.”  Had
strength or nerve failed, the unhappy individual was considered guilty
and had received the punishment due to his or her crime.  It was rather
hard, this, for weak brethren, and perhaps it is as well that the system
is in existence no longer.  There was a good deal of the right that is
born of might in Scotland then; it is to be hoped that the land is
happier now with its castles in ruins, and its sons and daughters
wanderers on the face of the earth, farming in Canada, climbing to wealth
and power in the United States, governing in India, growing wool in
Natal, coming to the front with true Scotch tenacity and instinct
everywhere.  At the same time, when we need men for our armies and our
fleets, and remember that the flower of them come from such islands as
Mull, one may regret the forced exile of these hardy sons of the Celt or
the Norseman.



CHAPTER VI.
FAST DAY AT PORTREE.


In rough weather it requires no little courage to make one’s way in a
steamer from Tobermory to Portree, the capital of the Isle of Skye.  Our
noble-hearted owner is very careful on this point.  The _Elena_ is a
beautiful yacht, and he treats her tenderly.  It is true, off
Ardanamurchan Point we tumble about on the troubled waves of the
Atlantic, and are glad to shelter in the quiet harbour of Oronsay, where
we pass the night, after the Doctor’s lady has gone on shore in search of
milk, whilst the Doctor smokes his cigar on the top of the highest spot
he can find, and I interview the one policeman of the district, who is
unable to put on his official costume, as he tells me it rained heavily
yesterday, and his clothes are hung by the fire to dry.  At Oronsay there
are some six houses, including what is called an hotel.  Here and there
are some old tubs about us which would cause Mr. Plimsoll’s hair to stand
on an end, and which seek in this stagnant spot shelter from the gale.
Next morning we resume our voyage, leaving Oronsay with a very light
heart—to quote a celebrated phrase—and in a few hours are at Portree,
after passing the residence of the Macdonald who is a descendant of the
Lord of the Isles, and such islands as Rum and Muck, and others with
names equally unpoetical in English ears.  From afar we watch the giant
hills of the Isle of Skye, their summits wreathed in clouds.  Mr. Black
and Mr. Smith have between them much to answer for.  They write of fine
weather when the sun shines, when you may see ocean and heaven and earth
all alike, serene and beautiful, when the novelty and the beauty of the
scene excite wonder and praise and joy.  It is then people are glad to
come to the Isle of Skye, and find a charm in its lonely and rustic life,
in its tranquil lochs and its purple hills; but I fancy in Skye it is as
often wet as not; and when we were there the rain was in the ascendant,
and one would, except for the name of the thing, have been often just as
soon at home.  Mr. Spurgeon once said to a Scotchman, as he was pointing
out the grandeur of a Highland scene, that it seemed as if God, after He
had finished making the world, got together all the spare rubbish, and
shot it down there.  Apparently something similar has been done with
regard to Skye.  You are bewildered with their number and variety—rocks
to the right, rocks to the left, rocks before, rocks behind, rocks rising
steep out of the sea with all sorts of rugged outlines, rocks sloping
away into wide moors where no life is to be seen, or into lochs where the
fish have it almost all to themselves.  It is as well that it should be
so.  The land does not flow with milk and honey.  The hut of a Skye
peasant, with its turf walls, its bare and filthy floor, not the sweeter
for the fact that the cow—if the owner is rich enough to have one—sleeps
behind, its peat fire, with no chimney for the escape of smoke, its
bare-legged boys and girls, its sombre men, its gaunt women, seemed to me
the climax of human wretchedness.

It is with no common pleasure we get in our boat and are rowed ashore.
It is a secular day with us in England.  Here, in Portree, it is fast
day, and all the shops are closed, and if we had not laid in a stock of
mutton at Oronsay, it would have been fast day with us on board the
_Elena_ as well as with the pious people ashore.  It seems to me there
are services in the churches, either in English or in Gaelic, all day
long.  Of course I attend the Gaelic sermon.  It is recorded of an old
Duke of Argyll that on one occasion he was heard to declare that if he
wanted to court a young lady he would talk French, as that was the
language of flattery; that if he wished to curse and swear, he would have
recourse to English; but that if he wanted to worship God, he would
employ the Gaelic tongue.  It may be that I heard a bad specimen, as the
sermon or service did not seem to be particularly impressive; and as the
preacher took a whole hour in which to expound and amplify his text, it
must be admitted that, considering I did not understand a word of it, it
was not a little wearying.  I must, however, own that the people listened
with the utmost attention, and that even such of them as were asleep all
the time, slept in a quiet, subdued, and reverential manner.  Indeed,
they think much of religion in this Isle of Skye, and have a profound
respect for the clergy.  “Sure,” said an island guide one day, as he was
speaking of a distinguished divine, whom he had attended during a summer
tour—“sure he’s a verra godly man, he gave me a drink out o’ his ain
flask.”  And yet Portree is not a drinking place.  There are two or three
good hotels for the tourists, and little more.  I saw no sign of
intoxication on the evening of the fast day, but I did see churches
filled, and all business suspended, and the sight of the Gaelic
congregation was extremely interesting.  The men in good warm home-spun
frieze, the women with clean faces, and plaid shawls, and white caps, the
younger ones with the last new thing in bonnets, looking as unlike the
big, bare-footed damsels of the streets, and the old withered women whom
you see coming in from the wide and dreary moor, as it is possible to
imagine.  In London heresy may prevail—sometimes, it is said, it crosses
the Scottish border; but here, at any rate, since the Reformation has
flourished the sincere milk of the Word.  These men and women have their
Gaelic Bible, and that they cling to as their guide in life, their
comfort in adversity, their stay and support in death, and as the
foundation of their hopes of immortal life and joy.  An old gossiping
writer, who died a year or two since, relates how a Presbyterian
clergyman confessed to him that his congregation, who only used the
Gaelic, were so well versed in theology, that it was impossible for him
to go beyond their reach in the most profound doctrines of Christianity.
Perhaps it is as well for some ministers whom I have heard, but should be
sorry to name, that they have not Gaelic hearers.  They must be terrible
fellows to preach to, these men, fed on the Shorter Catechism, the
Proverbs of Solomon, and the rest of the Old and New Testaments.  It is
little to them what the philosophers think.  Mill, and Spencer, and
Tyndall, and Huxley they ignore.  Dark-eyed, black-haired, with heads
which you might knock against a rock without cracking, and with arms and
legs that one would fancy could stop the Flying Dutchman,—evidently these
are not the men to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine or cunning
craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive.  Little pity would they
have for the imperfect, weak-kneed brother, who, in the pulpit or out of
it, could presume to doubt what they had learnt at their mothers’ knees.
Up here in Skye, the religion known is bright and clear.  The shops are
of the poorest description, merely one room in a common dwelling, with a
stone or earth floor.  There is no paper published in all the Isle of
Skye, but the people believe.  You man of the nineteenth century, the
heir of all the ages underneath the sun, would think little of the
peasant of that wintry region.  I believe he thinks as little of you as
you do of him.  You mock, and he believes; you scorn, and he worships;
you stammer about Protoplasms and Evolutions, he says in his old Gaelic
tongue, “God said, Let there be light, and there was light.”  There are
many in London who would give all that they have if they could believe as
these men and women of the North.

There were sermons again in the afternoon, sermons at night, sermons
again next day, sermons on the coming Sunday, and to them came the fisher
from the sea, the little tradesman from his shop, the ploughman from his
croft, the milkmaid from her dairy, and the child from school; and it
must further be remembered that these fasts are voluntary, and not in
accordance with Acts of Parliament.  Remember, also, that nothing is done
to make the service attractive.  It is simply the usual form of
Presbyterian worship that is followed.  The chapel was as plain as could
be, and the singing was almost funereal.  But, after all, the chapel was
to be preferred to the empty streets, along which the wind raged like a
hurricane, or to the contemplation of bleak rocks and angry seas.  I can
quite believe at Skye it is more comfortable to go to kirk than stay at
home.  Indeed, more than once on the night after, I felt perhaps my
safest place would have been the kirk, as the wind came rushing in
through a gully in the mountains, and kept the water in a constant fury.
Really, from the deck of the _Elena_, Portree looked a very comfortable
place, with the bay lined with buildings, and conspicuous among them all
the Imperial Hotel, where the Empress of the French stayed while
travelling in these parts.  There is a good deal of excitement here as
steamers rush in and out, and yachts lazily drop their anchors.  It seems
to me that the people quite appreciate the charms of their rocky island.
Coming down the cliff, I saw a notice—“Furnished Apartments to Let”—and
the price asked was quite conclusive on that head.  Down by the harbour
an enterprising Scot, who had been a gentleman’s servant in London, had
established a store for the sale of bottled beer and such pleasant
drinks, and seemed quite satisfied with the result of his experiment.  At
any rate, he preferred Portree to residence further inland, where he said
even the very eggs were uneatable, so strongly did they taste of peat.
My lady friend—rather, I should say, “our lady”—is as much affected by
the gale that dolorous night as myself, and writes, plaintively begging
me to excuse the irregularity of the metre on account of the rolling of
the vessel, as follows:—

    “Here off Skye,
    The tide runs high;
    Through hill and glen
    Wind howls again.
    The Coolan hills
    No more we see,
    Save through the mists
    Of memory.
    The sea birds float,
    And seem to gloat,
    With loud, shrill note,
    Above our boat;
    For they, like us,
    Are forced to stay
    For shelter in this friendly bay;
    And now I seek, in balmy sleep,
    Oblivion of the perils of the deep,
    And wishing rocks and hills good night,
    Let’s hope to-morrow’s log will be more bright.”

A cottage in the Hebrides is by no means a cottage _ornée_.  Its walls
are made of stone and clay of a tremendous thickness.  On this wall, on a
framework of old oars or old wood, are laid large turfs and a roof of
thatch.  In this roof the fowls nestle, and lay an infinite number of
eggs; but all things inside and out are tainted with turf in a way to
make them disagreeable.  There is no chimney, and but one door, and the
floor is the bare earth, with a bench for the family formed of earth or
peat or stone.  Beds and bedding are unknown.  If the family keeps a cow,
that has the best corner, for it is what the pig is to the Irishman, the
gentleman that pays the rent.  Small sheep, almost as horned and hardy as
goats, may be met with, but never pigs.  Pork seems an abomination in the
eyes of the natives.  Every cotter has a portion of the adjacent moor in
which to cut peat sufficient to supply his wants.  Out of the homespun
wool the women make good warm garments—and they need them.  Fish and
porridge seem their principal diet, and it agrees with them.  The girls
are wonderfully fat and healthy; and consumption is utterly unknown.
While I was at Stornoway, an old woman had just died in the workhouse
considerably over a century old.  As to agricultural operations, they are
conducted on a most primitive scale.  A few potatoes may here and there
be seen struggling for dear life; and as the hay is cut when the sun
shines, it is often in August or September that the farmer reaps his
scanty harvest.  You miss the flowers which hide the deformity of the
peasant’s cottage in dear old England.  It seems altogether in these
distant regions, where the wild waves of the Atlantic dash and roar;
where the days are dark with cloud; where you see nothing but rock, and
glen, and moorland; where forests are an innovation, that man fights with
the opposing powers of nature for existence under very great
disadvantage.



CHAPTER VII.
TO STORNOWAY.


A fine day came at last, and we steered off from Portree, leaving the
grand Cachullin Mountains, rising to a height of 3,220 feet, and the
grave of Flora Macdonald, and the cave where Prince Charles hid himself
far behind.  On the right were the distant mountains of Ross-shire, and
on our left Skye, and the other islands which guard the Western Highlands
against the awful storms of the ever-restless Atlantic.  Here, as
elsewhere, was to be noticed the absence of all human life, whether at
sea or on land.  It was only now and then we saw a sail, but, as if to
compensate for their absence, the birds of the air and the fishes of the
sea seemed to follow in a never-ending crowd.  More than once we saw a
couple of whales spouting and blowing from afar, and the gulls, and
divers, and solan-geese at times made the surface of the water absolutely
white, like snow-islands floating leisurely along.  Just before we got up
to Stornoway, at a great distance on our right, Cape Wrath, more than a
hundred miles off, lifted up its head into the clear blue sky, the
protecting genius, as it were, of the Scottish strand.  It was perfectly
delightful, this; one felt not only that in Scotland people had at rare
intervals fine weather, but that by means of steamers and yachts and
sailing vessels of all kinds, the people of Scotland knew how to improve
the shining hour.  It was beautiful, this floating on a glassy sea, clear
as a looking-glass, in which were reflected the clouds, and the skies,
and the sun, and the birds of the air, and the rocks, with a wonderful
fidelity.  It seemed that you had only to plunge into that cool and
tempting depth, and to be in heaven at once.  At Stornoway we spent a
couple of days.  The town stands in a bay, perhaps not quite so romantic
as some in which we have sheltered, but very picturesque, nevertheless.
The first object to be distinctly seen as we entered was the fine castle
which Sir James Mathieson has erected for himself, at a cost altogether
of half a million, and the grounds of which are in beautiful order; them
we had ample time to inspect that evening, as in Stornoway the daylight
lasted till nearly ten o’clock.  Happily, Sir James was at home, and we
on board the yacht had an acceptable present of vegetables, and cream,
and butter, very welcome to us poor toilers of the sea.  Stornoway is a
very busy place, and has at this time of the year a population of 2,500.
In May and June it is busier still, as at that time there will be as many
as five hundred fishing boats in the harbour, and a large extra
population are employed on shore in curing and packing the fish.  In the
country behind are lakes well stocked with fish, and mountains and moors
where game and wild deer and real eagles yet abound.  But a great
drawback is the climate.  An old sportsman writes:—“The savagery of the
weather in the Lewes, the island of which Stornoway is the capital, is
not to be described.  A gentleman from the county of Clare once shot a
season with me, and had very good sport, which he enjoyed much.  I asked
him to come again.  ‘Not for five thousand pounds a year,’ he replied,
‘would I encounter this climate again.  I am delighted I came, for now I
can go back to my own country with pleasure, since, bad as the climate
is, it is Elysium to this.’”  Let me say, however, the weather was superb
all the time the _Elena_ was at Stornoway.

As a town, Stornoway is an immense improvement on Portree.  It rejoices
in churches, and the shops are numerous, and abound with all sorts of
useful articles.  The chief streets are paved.  It has here and there a
gas lamp, and the proprietor of the chief hotel boasted to me that so
excellent were his culinary arrangements, that actually the ladies from
the yachts come and dine there.  Stornoway has a Freemasons’ Hall, and,
wandering in one of the streets, I came to a public library, which I
found was open once a week.  On Saturday night the shops swarmed with
customers, chiefly peasant women—who put their boots on when they came
into the town, and who took them off again and walked barefoot as soon as
they had left the town behind—and ancient mariners, with a very fish-like
smell.  On Sunday the churches were full, and at the Free Church, where
the service was in Gaelic, the crowd was great.  In a smaller church I
heard a cousin of Norman Macleod—a fine, burly man—preach a powerful
sermon, which seemed to me made up partly of two sermons—one by the late
T. T. Lynch, and the other by the late Alfred Morris.  I strayed also
into a U. P. church, but there, alas! the audience was small.  In
Stornoway, as elsewhere, the couplet is true—

    “The free kirk, the poor kirk, the kirk without the steeple,
    The auld kirk, the rich kirk, the kirk without the people.”

On the Monday morning we turned our faces homeward, and as the weather
was fine, we passed outside Skye, and saw Dunvegan Bay, of which
Alexander Smith writes so much; passing rocky islands, all more or less
known to song, and caves with dark legends of blood, and cruelty, and
crime.  One night was spent in Bunessan Bay, where some noble sportsmen
were very needlessly, but, _con amore_, butchering the few peaceful seals
to be found in those parts; and a short while we lay off Staffa, which
rises straight out of the water like an old cathedral, where the winds
and waves ever play a solemn dirge.  In its way, I know nothing more
sublime than Staffa, with its grey arch and black columns and rushing
waves.  No picture or photograph I have seen ever can give any adequate
idea of it.  “Altogether,” writes Miss Gordon Cumming, “it is a scene of
which no words can convey the smallest idea;” and for once I agree with
the lady.  It is seldom the reality surpasses your expectations.  As
regards myself, in the case of Staffa I must admit it did.

The same morning we land at Columba, or the Holy Isle.  The story of St.
Columba’s visit to Iona is laid somewhere in the year A.D. 563.  He, it
seems, according to some authorities, was an Irishman, and from Iona he
and his companions made the tour of Pagan Scotland; and hence now
Scotland is true blue Presbyterian and always Protestant.  Here, as at
Staffa, we miss the tourists, who scamper and chatter for an hour at each
place, and then are off; and I was glad.  As Byron writes:—

       “I love not man the less, but nature more,
          From these our interviews, in which I steal
       From all I may be or have been before,
          To mingle with the universe, and feel
    What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”

The history of Iona is a history of untold beauty and human interest.
Druids, Pagans, Christian saints, have all inhabited the Holy Isle.
Proud kings, like Haco of Norway, were here consecrated, and here—

             “Beneath the showery west,
    The mighty kings of three fair realms were laid.”

All that I could do was to visit the ruins of the monastery and the
cathedral, and one of the stone crosses, of which there were at one time
360, and to regret that these beautiful monoliths were cast into the sea
by the orders of the Synod as “monuments of idolatrie.”  St. Columba,
like all the saints, was a little ungallant as regards the fair sex.
Perhaps it is as well that his rule is over.  He would not allow even
cattle on the sacred isle.  “Where there is a cow,” argued the saint,
“there must be a woman; and where there is a woman there must be
mischief.”  Clearly, the ladies have very much improved since the
lamented decease of the saint.  From Iona we made our way to the very
prosperous home of commerce and whisky known as Campbeltown.  Actually,
the duty on the latter article paid by the Campbeltown manufacturers
amounts to as much as £60,000 a year.  At one time it was the very centre
of Scottish life.  For three centuries it was the capital of Scotland.
It is still a very busy place, and it amused me much of a night to watch
the big, bare-footed, bare-headed women crowding round the fine cross in
the High Street, which ornaments what I suppose may be called the
Parochial Pump.  Close to the town is the church and cave of St. Kieran,
the Apostle of Cantyre, the tutor of St. Columba.  At present the chief
boast of Campbeltown is that there were born the late Norman Macleod and
Burns’ Highland Mary.  When Macleod was a boy the days of smuggling were
not yet over in that part of the world.  Here is one of his
stories:—“Once an old woman was being tried before the Sheriff, and it
fell to his painful duty to sentence her.  ‘I dare say,’ he said uneasily
to the culprit, ‘it is not often you have fallen into this fault.’  ‘No,
indeed, shura,’ was the reply; ‘I hae na made a drap since yon wee keg I
sent yoursel’.’”  Let me remark, _en passant_, that my friend, the
Doctor, was born here, and that is proof positive that at Campbeltown the
breed of great men is not yet exhausted.  I mention this to our lady, and
she is of the same opinion.



CHAPTER VIII.
KINTYRE AND CAMPBELTOWN.


In my wanderings in the latter town I pick up the last edition of a
useful and unpretending volume called “The History of Kintyre,” by Mr.
Peter M‘Intosh—a useful citizen who carried on the profession of a
catechist, and who is now no more.  The book has merits of its own, as it
shows how much may be done by any ordinary man of average ability who
writes of what he has seen and heard.  Kintyre is a peninsula on the
extreme south of the shire of Argyle, in length about forty geographical
miles.  That the Fingalians occasionally resided at Kintyre is without
doubt, and a description of their bravery and generosity is graphically
given in some of the poems of Ossian.  At one time there was much wood in
its lowlands, and in them were elk, deer, wild boars, &c., and the rivers
abounded with fish.  There were clans who gathered together with the
greatest enthusiasm around their chiefs, who repaired to a high hill, and
set up a large fire on the top of it, in full view of the surrounding
district, each unfolding his banner, ensign, or pennant, his pipers
playing appropriate tunes.  The clan got into motion, repaired to their
chief like mountain streams rushing into the ocean.  He eloquently
addressed them in the heart-stirring language of the Gael, and, somewhat
like a Kaffir chief of the present day, dwelt at length on the heroism of
his ancestors.  The will of the chief instantly became law, and
preparations were soon made; the chief in his uniform of clan tartan
takes the lead, the pipers play well-known airs, and the men follow,
their swords and spears glittering in the air.

Up to very recent times there were those who remembered this state of
things.  An old man who died not a century ago told my informant, writes
Mr. M‘Intosh, that the first thing he ever recollected was a great
struggle between his father and his mother in consequence of the father
preparing to join his clan in a bloody expedition.  The poor wife exerted
all her strength, moral and physical, but in vain.  He left her never to
return alive from the battlefield.  The proprietors of Kintyre were wise
in their generation, and mustered men in their different districts to
oppose Prince Charles, partly on account of his religion, and partly to
retain their lands.  On one occasion they marched to Falkirk, but not in
time to join in the battle, it being over before they reached there.
Prince Charles being victorious, they went into a church, which the
Highlanders surrounded, coming in with their clothes dyed with blood, and
crying out “Massacre them”; but they were set at liberty on the ground
that their hearts were with the Prince, and had been compelled by their
chiefs to take arms on the side of the House of Hanover against their
will.  But even the chiefs were not always masters, and men often did
that which was right in their own eyes alone.  An instance of this kind
is traditionally told about the Black Fisherman of Lochsanish.  The loch,
which is now drained, was a mile in length and half-a-mile in breadth,
and contained a great number of salmon and trout.  The Black Fisherman
would not suffer any person to live in the neighbourhood, but claimed, by
the strength of his arm, sole dominion over the loch.  The Chief Largie,
who lived eighteen miles north of the loch, kept a guard of soldiers,
lest the Fisherman should make an attack on him.  He sent his soldiers
daily to Balergie Cruach to see if the Fisherman was on the loch fishing,
and if they saw him fishing they would come home, not being afraid of an
attack on that day.  A stranger one day coming to Largie’s house asked
him why he kept soldiers.  The answer was, it was on account of the
Fisherman.  When he saw him sitting he went and fought the Fisherman,
bidding the soldiers wait the result on a neighbouring hill.  When the
battle was over, the Fisherman was minus his head.  We read the head,
which was very heavy, was left at Largie’s door.  These old men were
always fighting.  The number of large stones we see erected in different
parts of Kintyre have been set up in memory of battles once fought at
these places.  On one occasion two friendly clans prepared to come and
meet.  They met somewhere north of Tarbert, but did not know each other,
and began to ask their names, which in those days it was considered
cowardice to answer.  They drew swords, fought fiercely, and killed many
on both sides.  At last they found out their mistake, were very, very
sorry, and, after burying their dead, returned to their respective
places.  The feuds and broils among the clans were frequent, and really
for the most trifling causes, as the whole clans always stood by their
chiefs, and were ready at a moment’s notice to fight on account of any
insult, real or imaginary.  It appears that in this distant part of the
Empire, though the whole district is not far from Glasgow, with its
commerce and manufactures, and university and newspapers, and the modern
Athens, with its great literary traditions, there still linger many old
Druid superstitions.

Some are particularly interesting.  Old M‘Intosh thus writes of May-day
and the first of November, called in Gaelic Bealtuinn, or Beil-teine,
signifying Belus fire, and Samhuinn, or serene time.

On the first of May the Druids kindled a large fire on the top of a
mountain, from which a good view of the horizon might be seen, that they
might see the sun rising; the inhabitants of the whole country
assembling, after extinguishing their fire, in order to welcome the
rising sun and to worship God.  The chief Druid, blessing the people and
receiving their offerings, gave a kindling to each householder.  If the
Druid was displeased at any of the people, he would not give him a
kindling; and no other person was allowed to give it, on pain of being
cursed, and being unfortunate all the year round.  This superstition is
observed by some to this day.  On the first of November the Druids went
nearly through the same ceremony.

The superstition of wakes in Kintyre is nearly worn out.  The origin of
this superstition is, that when one died the Druid took charge of his
soul, conveying it to Flath-innis, or heaven; but the friends of the
deceased were to watch, or wake, the body, lest the evil spirits should
take it away, and leave some other substance in its place.  When
interred, it could never be removed.

An old man named John M‘Taggart, who died long ago, was owner of a fine
little smack, with which he trafficked from Kintyre to Ireland and other
places.  Being anxious to get a fair wind to go to Ireland, and hearing
of an old woman who pretended to have the power to give this, he made a
bargain with her.  She gave him two strings with three knots on each;
when he undid the first, he got a fine fair breeze; getting into
mid-channel he opened the second, and got a strong gale; and when near
the Irish shore he wished to see the effect of the third knot, which,
when he loosed, a great hurricane blew, which destroyed some of the
houses on shore.  With the other string he came back to Kintyre, only
opening two of the knots.  The old man believed in this superstition.

On the island of Gigha is a well with some stones in it, and it is said
that if the stones be taken out of it a great storm will arise.  Two or
three old men told M‘Intosh that they opened the well, and that a fearful
storm arose, and they would swear to it if pressed to confirm their
belief; they would affirm also to the existence of the Brunie in Cara.

In Carradale is a hill called Sroin-na-h-eana-chair, in which it is said
an old creature resides from generation to generation, who makes a great
noise before the death of individuals of a certain clan.  An old man with
whom M‘Intosh conversed on the subject declared that he had heard the
cries himself, which made the whole glen tremble.

A little dwarf, called the “Caointeach,” or weeper, is said to weep
before the death of some persons.  Some people thought this supernatural
creature very friendly.  An old wife affirmed that she saw the little
creature, about the size of a new-born infant, weep with the voice of a
young child, and shortly afterwards got notice of the death of a friend.
Others affirmed that they heard the trampling of people outside of the
house at night, and shortly after a funeral left the house.  Many stories
are told about apparitions in the hearing of the young, making an
impression which continues all their days.  Peter the Catechist
deprecates such conduct.  He writes: “I have seen those who would not
turn on their heel to save their life on the battle-field, who would
tremble at the thought of passing alone a place said to be frequented by
a spirit.”

Very provokingly he next observes, “It would be ridiculous to speak of
the charms, omens, gestures, dreams, &c.”  Now, the fact is, it is just
these things which are matters of interest to an inquiring mind.  They
are absurdities to us, but they were not so once; and then comes the
question, Why?  He does, however, add a little to our fund of information
relative to the second sight.

“An old man who lived at Crossibeg, four generations ago, saw visions,
which were explained to him by a supernatural being, descriptive of
future events in Kintyre.  An account of them was printed, and entitled
‘Porter’s Prophecies,’ which I have perused, but cannot tell if any of
them have come to pass as yet, but some people believed them.

“The Laird of Caraskie, more than a century ago, is said to have had a
familiar spirit called Beag-bheul, or little mouth, which talked to him,
and took great care of him and his property.  The spirit told him of a
great battle which would be fought in Kintyre, and that the magpie would
drink human blood from off a standing stone erected near Campbeltown.
The stone was removed, and set as a bridge over the mill water, over
which I have often traversed; but the battle has not been fought as yet,
and perhaps never will be.

“The Rev. Mr. Boes, a minister of Campbeltown, more than a century ago,
was said to have the second sight.  One time being at the Assembly, and
coming home on Saturday to preach to his congregation, he was overtaken
by a storm, which drove the packet into Rothesay.  He went to preach in
the church on the Sabbath.  The rafters of the church above not being
lathed, in the middle of his sermon he looked up, and with a loud voice
cried, ‘Ye’re there, Satan; ye kept me from preaching to my own
congregation, but ye cannot keep me from preaching for all that,’ and
then went on with his sermon.  At another time, his congregation having
assembled on the Sabbath as usual, the minister was walking rapidly on
the grass after the time of meeting, the elders not being willing to
disturb him by telling him the time was expired.  At last he clapped his
hands, exclaiming, ‘Well done, John;’ the Duke of Argyle being at that
moment at the head of the British army in Flanders fighting a battle in
which he was victorious.  The minister, by the power of the second sight,
witnessed the battle, and exclaimed, when he saw it won, ‘Well done,
John.’  He went afterwards and preached to his congregation.

“Another Sabbath, when preaching, a member of the congregation having
fallen asleep, he cried to him ‘Awake.’  In a short time the man fell
asleep again.  The minister bade him awake again and hear the sermon.
The man fell asleep the third time, when the minister cried, with a loud
voice, ‘Awake, and hear this sermon, for it will be the last you will
ever hear in this life.’  Before the next Sabbath the man was dead.  On
the morning of a Communion Sabbath, Mr. Boes got up very early, convinced
that something was wrong about the church.  He examined it, and found
that the beams of the gallery were almost sawn through by the emissaries
of Satan, in order that the congregation, by the falling of the gallery,
might be killed.  He got carpenters and smiths employed till they put the
church in a safe state, and proceeded with the solemn service of the day
with great earnestness.  Mr. Boes was sometimes severely tried with
temptations, having imaginary combats with Satan, and, being very
ill-natured, he would not allow any person to come near him.  On one of
these occasions he shut himself up in his room for three days.  His wife
being afraid he would starve with hunger, sent the servant-man with food
to him, but the minister scattered it on the floor.  The servant-man
exclaimed, ‘The devil’s in the man!’  In a moment the minister, becoming
calm, answered, ‘You are quite right,’ then partook of the food, and
returned to his former habits.”

The following is a good illustration of an olden chief:—We have many
traditional stories about Saddell Castle, in which Mr. M‘Donald or “Righ
Fionghal” resided.  He claimed despotic power over the inhabitants of
Kintyre.  It is said he knew the use of gunpowder, and often made a bad
use of it.  He would for sport shoot people, though they did him no harm,
with his long gun, which was kept in Carradale for a long time after his
death.  His character is represented as being very tyrannical.  Being
once in Ireland, he saw a beautiful married woman, whom he fancied, and
took away from her husband to Saddell.  Her husband followed; but
M‘Donald finding him, intended to have starved him to death without his
wife knowing it.  He was put in a barn, but he kept himself alive by
eating the corn which he found there.  M‘Donald removed him to another
place, but a hen came in every day and kept him alive with her eggs.
M‘Donald was anxious that the poor man should die, and placed him in
another place, where he got nothing to eat, and it is said the miserable
prisoner ate his own hand, then his arm to the elbow, before he died, and
said, in Gaelic, “Dh’ith mi mo choig meoir a’s mo lamh gu’m uilleann.  Is
mor a thig air neach nach eiginu fhulang.”  When they were burying him,
his wife was on the top of the castle, and asked whose funeral it was;
she was told it was Thomson’s.  “Is it my Thomson?” she inquired.  “Yes,”
they replied.  She then said they might stop for a little till she would
be with them.  She immediately threw herself over the castle wall, and
was carried dead with her husband to the same grave.

Perhaps, after all, Saxon rule has not been such an injury to the Western
Isles of Scotland as some people think.  At Kintyre there are plenty of
schools, and parsons and policemen instead of robber chiefs; and if there
are few freebooting expeditions to Ireland and elsewhere, it is quite as
well that people have taken to a more decent mode of life.

Alas! my “to-morrow”—unlike that of the poet, which “never comes”—is at
hand.  Under a smiling sky, and on a summer sea, we thread our way past
Arran, or the Land of Sharp Pinnacles, down the Kyles of Bute, where the
scenery is of exquisite beauty; past Rothesay, the Hastings of the West,
and with an aquarium said to be the finest in the world, and almost as
flourishing as that Hastings of the South which rejoices in a yatchsman
for M.P. of unrivalled fame; past Dunoon, till we drop anchor at Hunters’
Quay.  We seem all at once to have come into the world again.  On every
side of us there are steamers bearing tourists, and holiday-makers, and
health-seekers to the crowded bathing-places and health resorts.  As we
approach our journey’s end, the Clyde seems covered with rowing-boats,
and music and laughter echo along its waters.  I feel a little sad to
think that my brief holiday is over.  The Doctor and the Doctor’s lady
tell me we shall meet in London, and that is a consolation.  Yes, we
shall meet, but no more as equals on deck.  He will be in the pulpit or
on the platform, I beneath.  There is no equality when a man puts on the
black gown, and begins lecturing to the pew.  The mutual standpoint
vanishes like a dream.  But when, oh, when shall I sail in such a model
yacht as the _Elena_ again, or meet with such hospitality as I enjoyed at
its worthy owner’s hands?  His sons, amphibious as are all the Scotchmen,
apparently, in these parts, row out to meet us.  The greeting is as
affectionate as mostly the greetings of the British race are.  “What did
you come back for?  We were getting on very well without you,” were the
first words I heard.



CHAPTER IX.
BACK AGAIN.


As next morning I crossed the Clyde, and took my seat in a crowded and
early train, it seemed to me that rain was not far off, and that at
Edinburgh Royalty might be favoured with a sight of what in England is
known as Scotch mist.  Nor were my forebodings wrong.  The modern Athens
was under a cloud, and many were the heavy-hearted who had come from far
and near to do honour to the day.  The Glasgow men have but a poor
opinion of the citizens of Edinburgh.  They took a very unfavourable view
of the matter.  If Edinburgh desired to have a statue of Albert the Good,
why not?  If the Queen liked to be present at its inauguration, there was
no harm in that; if there were a little fuller ceremonial on the
occasion, it was only what was to be expected; but that Edinburgh should
hasten to wash her statues and decorate her streets; that she should
clean up her shop-fronts, and drape her balconies; that she should devote
a day to holiday-making; that she should go to the expense of Venetian
masts and scarlet cloth—in short, that in this way Edinburgh should
attempt to rival a London Lord Mayor’s Show, was one of those things no
Glasgow fellow could understand.

And I own at first sight there seemed to be a good deal in the Glasgow
criticism.  Few cities have so fair a site as the noble metropolis of our
northern brethren; few cities less require ornamentation.  Hers
emphatically is that beauty which unadorned is adorned the most.  To
stand in Princes Street, with the castle frowning on you on one side, and
with the Calton Hill in front; to loiter under the fair memorial to Sir
Walter Scott (by the side of which I am pleased to see a statue of
Livingstone has just been placed); to look from the bridge which connects
the New Town with the Old—on the distant hills and the blue sea beyond—is
a pleasure in itself.  With its far-reaching associations, with its
memories of Wilson and Brougham, and Jeffery and Walter Scott, with its
dark churches, in which John Knox thundered away at the fair and frail
Mary, with its ancient palaces grim and venerable with stirring romance
or startling crime, it seemed almost profane to send for the upholsterer,
and to bid him deck out the streets and squares with gaudy colours and
gay flowers.  When on Thursday the morning opened cloudily on the scene,
it seemed as if all this preparation had been thrown away; and bright
eyes were for awhile dark and sad, and refusing to be comforted.
However, the thing went on, nevertheless.  The crowd turned out into the
streets, the railways brought their tens of thousands from far and near;
balconies were full, and all the windows; and the sight was one such as
has not feasted the eyes of the oldest inhabitant for many a year.  There
were the soldiers to line the streets, there were the archers to guard
the daïs, there were the Town Council and Lord Provost in their scarlet
robes, there were the men whom Edinburgh delights to honour all before
them, and, above all, the Duke of Connaught, the Princess Beatrice,
Prince Leopold, Brown—the far-famed Highlander—and the Queen.  The
ceremony itself was not long.  When Charlotte Square was reached, Her
Majesty took the place assigned to her, and the work was speedily
performed.  As Her Majesty went back by Princes Street, an additional
interest was created, and Princes Street looked very well; its hotels and
fashionable shops rejoiced in crimson and yellow banners, and the Walter
Scott memorial even broke out in honour of the day.  It was decorated
with flags, which waved gaily in the sun—for the sun did come out, after
all.  But Princes Street was not the chief route.  It was down George
Street that Royalty drove, and it was there that the efforts of the
decorative artist had been most effective.  Some of them were very
beautiful, and full of taste; but the lettering was rather small.  Nor
did the inscriptions display much ingenuity.  They were mostly
“Welcomes,” or invitations to “Come again.”  It was the advertising
tradesmen who were most ingenious in that way, and it was in the papers
that their efforts appeared.  As, for instance, an enterprising shoemaker
writes:—

    “Welcome, Victoria!  Queen of Scottish hearts!
    In many a breast the loyal impulse starts”—

and then finishes with a recommendation of his boots and shoes.  As a
crowd, also, it must be noted that the mob was far graver than a London
one, and that little attempt was made either to relieve the tedium of
waiting the arrival of the procession, or to turn a penny by the sale of
the various articles which seem invariably to be required by a London
mob.  The boys who sell the evening papers, one would have thought, would
have had correct programmes of the procession, and portraits of the Queen
and Prince Albert to dispose of.  As it was, all that was hawked about
was an engraving of the statue itself.

As to the statue, it will be one of the many for which Edinburgh is
famous, and at present, as the latest, is considered one of the best.  It
is in a good position in Charlotte Square—the finest of the Edinburgh
squares—and stands by itself.  Afar off is William Pitt; and, further off
still, unfortunately for the morals of Albert the Good, who is placed
just by, is George the Magnificent, swaggering in his cloak, in tipsy
gravity, as it were; and at St. Andrew’s Square, at the other end,
proudly towers above all the Melville Monument.  That was utilised on the
day in question in an admirable manner—Venetian masts were erected at the
end of the grass-plat which surrounds it.  Ropes rich with bunting were
suspended between them and the statue, which was gaily decked with flags.
It was in this neighbourhood, and as you went on to Holyrood, that the
ornaments were of the richest character.  Of the sixty designs submitted
to the committee, the preference was given to that of Mr. John Steell,
R.S.A., who was subsequently knighted by Her Majesty.  It was on the
occasion of the great Volunteer review in the Queen’s Park, in 1861, that
Prince Albert was seen by the largest number of Scotch people; and it has
evidently been the aim of the artist to represent him as he was then—in
his uniform of field-marshal, with his cocked hat in his right hand,
while he holds the reins in his left.  The princely rank of the wearer is
indicated by an order on the left breast.  In order that the
representation might be as perfect as possible, Her Majesty lent the
artist the very uniform worn on the occasion referred to.  The modelling
of the busts was also done at Windsor Castle, under Royal supervision.
The horse was modelled from one lent by the Duke of Buccleugh.  On the
pedestal are bas-reliefs indicative of the character and pursuits of His
Royal Highness.  On one side his marriage is represented; on another his
visit to the International Exhibition.  Again we see him peacefully happy
at home in the bosom of his family; then again as a rewarder of the merit
he was ever anxious to discover and befriend.  In one part of the design
are quotations from the Prince’s speeches, and classical emblems; rank
and wealth and talent, in all phases of society, down to the very lowest,
are represented as uniting to do honour to the dead.  In this varied work
Mr. Steell was assisted, at his own request, by Mr. William Brodie, Mr.
Clark Stanton, and the late Mr. MacCallum, whose unfinished work was
completed by Mr. Stevenson.  The equestrian figure is upwards of fourteen
feet high, and weighs about eight tons.  The pedestal is of five blocks
of Peterhead granite.  According to a contemporary, the Queen’s emotion
was manifest when the statue was unveiled.  The Scotch are a cautious
people, and are very slow in expressing an opinion on the memorial.  All
I can say is, that I prefer it very much to that statue at the
commencement of the Holborn Viaduct, on which Mr. Meeking’s young men
look down every day.

It was on the next day that you saw the statue and the preparations to
the most advantage, and such seemed to be the opinion of all Edinburgh
and the surrounding country.  A cloudless sky and an Indian sun tinted
everything with gold, and a smart breeze set all the flags of the
Venetian masts waving all along the line in a way at once effective and
bewildering.  Fashionable people filled up the streets, dashing equipages
drove rapidly past, shops were crammed, waiters at the hotels were tired
to death.  I never saw so many hungry Scots as I did at a celebrated
restaurant, and a hungry Scot is not a pleasant sight; and at the railway
station I question whether half the people got into their right carriages
after all.  Porters and guards seemed alike confused; and the people
walked up and down the platform of the Waverley Station as sheep without
a shepherd.  However, wearied and hungry and bewildered as they were,
they had had a day’s pleasure, and that was enough.

As for myself I took the Waverley route, and gliding past the ruins of
Craig Millar Castle—the prison-house of James the Fifth, and the
favourite residence of Queen Mary—and vainly trying to catch a view of
Abbotsford, of which one can see but the waving woods, was gratified with
a glimpse of Melrose, where rests the heart of Bruce, which the Douglas
had vainly striven to carry to Palestine.  All round me are names and
places connected with border tradition and song.  Dryburgh Abbey is not
far off, nor Hazeldean, nor Minto House.  Passing along the banks of the
Teviot, by the frowning heights of Rubertslaw on the left, I reach
Hawick, whose history abounds in heroic tale and legendary lore, although
the present town is now only known as an important and flourishing
emporium of the woollen manufactures.  Passing up the vale of the
Slitrig, famous in legendary story, we come to Stobs Castle and
Branxholme House, celebrated in the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.”  Close by
is Hermitage Castle, founded by Comyn, Earl of Monteith, where Lord de
Soulis was boiled as a reputed sorcerer at a Druidical spot, named the
Nine Stane Rig, at the head of the glen.  At Kershope Foot the railway,
having passed through the land of the Armstrongs, renowned in border
warfare, enters England.  Once more I am at home, thankful to have seen
so much of beauty and blessedness, of wonders in heaven above, and on the
earth beneath, and in the waters underneath the earth; thankful also for
improved health and power of work acquired by yachting among the islands
of the Western Coast.



MIDLAND RAILWAY.


                                * * * * *

                   Improved and Accelerated Service of
                            NEW EXPRESS TRAINS
                                 BETWEEN
                            ENGLAND & SCOTLAND
                                  BY THE
                        SETTLE AND CARLISLE ROUTE.

The SUMMER SERVICE of EXPRESS TRAINS between LONDON (St. Pancras) and
SCOTLAND is now in operation, and Express Trains leave St. Pancras for
Scotland at 5.15 and 10.30 a.m., and at 8.0 and 9.15 p.m. on Week-Days,
and at 9.15 p.m. only on Sundays.

A new NIGHT EXPRESS TRAIN now leaves St. Pancras for Edinburgh and Perth
at 8 p.m. on Week-Days, arriving at Perth at 8.40 a.m., in connection
with Trains leaving Perth for Montrose and Aberdeen at 9.20 a.m., and for
Inverness and Stations on the Highland Railway at 9.30 a.m.

A new Night Express in connection with the Train leaving Inverness at
12.40 p.m., Aberdeen at 4.5 p.m., and Dundee at 6.30 p.m., leaves Perth
at 7.25 p.m., and Edinburgh at 10.30 p.m. on Week-Days, arriving at St.
Pancras at 8.30 a.m.

A PULLMAN SLEEPING CAR is run between ST. PANCRAS and PERTH in each
direction by these Trains.

Pullman Sleeping Cars are also run from St. Pancras to Edinburgh and
Glasgow by the Night Express leaving London at 9.15 p.m.; and from
Edinburgh and Glasgow to St. Pancras by the Express leaving Edinburgh at
9.20 p.m., and Glasgow at 9.15 p.m. on Week-Days and Sundays.  Pullman
Drawing-Room Cars are run between the same places by the Day Express
Trains leaving St. Pancras for Edinburgh and Glasgow at 10.30 a.m., and
Glasgow at 10.15 a.m., and Edinburgh at 10.30 a.m. for St. Pancras.

These Cars are well ventilated, fitted with Lavatory, &c., accompanied by
a special attendant, and are _unequalled for comfort and convenience_ in
travelling.

The 9.15 p.m. Express from St. Pancras reaches Greenock in ample time for
passengers to join the “Iona” steamer.

Tourist Tickets, available for two months, are issued from St. Pancras
and all principal stations on the Midland Railway to Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Greenock, Oban (by “Iona” steamer from Greenock), and other places of
tourist resort in all parts of Scotland.

The Passenger Fares and the Rates for Horses and Carriages between
stations in England and stations in Scotland have been revised and
considerably reduced by the opening of the Midland Company’s Settle and
Carlisle Route.

Guards in charge of the Through Luggage and of Passengers travelling
between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow by the Day and Night Express
Trains in each direction.

_Derby_, _August_, 1877.

                                         JAMES ALLPORT, _General Manager_.

                                * * * * *

                        GLASGOW and the HIGHLANDS.

                                * * * * *

                         THE ROYAL MAIL STEAMERS,
             (_Royal Route viâ Crinan and Caledonian Canals_)

Iona,              Linnet,                Islay,
Chevalier,         Cygnet,                Clydesdale,
Gondolier,         Plover,                Clansman,
Mountaineer,       Staffa,                Lochawe,
Pioneer,           Glencoe,               Lochiel,
Glengarry,         Inverary Castle,       Lochness,
                  and Queen of the Lake,

Sail during the season for Islay, Oban, Fort-William, Inverness, Staffa,
Iona, Lochawe, Glencoe, Tobermory, Portree, Gairloch, Ullapool,
Lochinver, and Stornoway; affording Tourists an opportunity of visiting
the magnificent scenery of Glencoe, the Coolin Hills, Loch Coruisk, Loch
Maree, and the famed Islands of Staffa and Iona.

Time Bill with Maps free by post on application to DAVID HUTCHESON & CO.,
119, Hope-street, Glasgow.





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