« PoprzedniaDalej »
The fuel they burn'd no ashes gave,
Right through the floor, and from her eyes,
"One lad, howe'er, with courage strong,
On seeing a crevice black and long,
And, on descending saw a weem,
Of length and build that few could dream.
Strewn here and there were guerns and bones
Strange cups, and hammers made of stones,
And tiny flints for bow or spear
Charr'd corn, and wood, and other gear.
""Twas a Peght's House (as some these call),
We have now reached the top of the Hill, and can survey at our leisure, the attractively beautiful scene around. But, first of all, let us inspect the Observatory, built, as previously noticed, by the good and learned Mr Mackenzie, of Belmont Castle, a great lover and successful cultivator of mathematics, algebra, and astronomy. It is a noble-looking tower, although only the four walls remain. On the western turret a light
ning rod, with the four cardinal points at the top, seems in excellent preservation. Inside, it is entirely gutted; nothing being left to indicate for what purpose it was originally built. Lord Wharncliffe should be recommended to renovate the old tower, and put it in proper condition, in memory of Mr Mackenzie, from whom, through the marriage of the first Earl of Bute with Agnes, eldest daughter of Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, he derived his Scotch estates.
How fine the effect of the bleating of lambs, the singing of birds, blent with the melancholy sound of the moaning wind among the waving branches of the dark mountain pines clustering like guardian angels around the old tower! How grand the swell of the southern double range of the Sidlaws, some of the higher and more mountainous, beautifully wooded to their summits, with the Law and the estuary of the Tay in the far distance, and the white crested billows of the German Ocean beyond! In a lone, sequestered hollow to the west, under the shadow of the northern range of the Sidlaws, and beneath the hill of Keilor, reposes Lundie Loch; and as the rays of the evening sun now gild with golden beauty its calm and peaceful waters, it seems like a scene in fairyland, the elfins in their gossamer robes of silver sheen being only awanting to complete the picture.
Far away in the west, "by dim Rannoch's shore," beside his dwarf attendant, Farragon, crowned with his diadem of sparkling snow, and asserting his supremacy as monarch of the northern mountains, the towering, conical, isolated form of the far-famed Schiehallion appears in majestic grandeur athwart the deep blue sky, his sharp, shining summit piercing the driving clouds as with a javelin or spear, and appearing as if it had reached the very gates of heaven! Along the Grampians, and directly in front of us, rises Catlaw, the grim sentinel of the mountains, looming Cairn-a-Month, and darkfrowning Mount Blair, their shaggy summits still capped with the winter snows, which sparkle with a diamond lustre as a beautiful reflex of the glories of the setting sun.
Immediately opposite is Alyth, and farther north, where you see the mist arising among the hills, is Lintrathen Loch, while that narrow glack to the east is the entrance to the Den of Airlie, famous in history and song. Mountains of all shapes and altitudes, rising in great numbers above and around each other, stretch away in solemn grandeur to the mystic confines and classical surroundings of the celebrated Lochnagar.
At our feet nestles, in sylvan beauty, the pretty village of Newtyle, with its handsome new church, one of the most elegant in every respect of all the country churches in the Howe. In the immediate vicinity are the beautiful woods of Belmont Castle, Kinloch, and Meigle; and along the ridge of the western hills you can descry Blairgowrie and New Rattray, snugly reposing beneath the great shadow of the neighbouring Grampians, and looking down with pride on the beautiful valley of Strathmore, now in all the splendour of its summer beauty.
Although from this spot you can only see the western part of the bonnie Howe, sufficient appears to give you some idea of its marvellous and unrivalled beauty-a rolling river like the noble Tay being the only feature in the landscape awanting to finish the picture, and convert it into an earthly paradise.
We must now descend the hill, for these dark, driving, murky clouds o'erhead forbode a coming storm. Even while we speak, the red forked lightning flashes ominously amongst the dark firs, and around the grey battlements of the lonely tower—and hark! the rattling thunder-peal, bursting darkly over the Strath, breaks out in all its terrific grandeur over the hill on which we stand, and the driving rain pours down like a destructive deluge, and in a few seconds we feel as thoroughly drenched as if we had been for an hour exposed to the full fury of the storm.
"Renowned in days of yore
Has stood our father's hospitable door;
As we walk down the beautiful road leading from Newtyle to Meigle, we may profitably beguile the time, by reverting, enquiringly, to what are termed "the good old times," in striking contrast with those "degenerate days" in which we live.
On the accession of the house of Stuart the people of Scotland were only slowly advancing from almost extreme barbarism towards modern civilization. Every man was a soldier, or the menial vassal of his chief, trade and agriculture being made altogether subservient to the science of war. At this period-1371-Scotland continued to be regarded by intelligent foreigners as a country still completely barbarous. The author of the Dittamundi says it is rich in fish, flesh, and milk, but
"Molto e el paese alpestro é perigrino,
Mountainous and strange is the country,
Froissart in his history-1400-states, the French nation "shuddered at the penury and barbarity of Scotland." He further says, that "the meanest articles of manufacture, horseshoes, harness, saddles, bridles were all imported ready-made from Flanders. The houses of the common people were composed of four or five posts to support the turf walls, and a roof of boughs, three days sufficing to erect the humble mansion." A contemporary historian adds, that "the country was rather desert than inhabited, was almost wholly mountainous, and more abundant in savages than in cattle." (Hist. de Charles VI., par Le Laboureur, Tome I., p. 102,-“plus pleine de sauvagine que de bestail.")
Even in the reign of James I. who contributed greatly to the civilization of his kingdom, we find Enea Silvio, afterwards Pope Pius II., thus writing disparagingly of the Scotch. "Concerning Scotland he found these things worthy of repetition. It is an island joined to England, stretching two hundred miles to the north and about fifty broad; a cold country, fertile of few sorts of grain, and generally void of trees, but there is a sulphureous stone dug up which is used for firing. The towns are unwalled, the houses commonly built without lime, and the villages roofed with turf, while a cow's hide supplies the place of a door. The commonality are poor and uneducated, have abundance of flesh and fish, but eat bread as a dainty. The men are small in stature, but bold; the women fair and comely, and prone to the pleasures of love; kisses being there esteemed of less consequence than pressing the hand is in Italy. The wine is all imported; the horses are mostly small ambling nags, only a few being preserved entire for propagation, and neither curry-combs nor reins are used. The oysters are larger than in England. From Scotland are imported into Flanders hides, wool, salt fish, and