From John O'Groats to Land's End eBook

From John O'Groats to Land's End

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Page 1


  When Time, who steals our hours away. 
    Shall steal our pleasures too;
  The memory of the past shall stay
    And half our joys renew.

As I grow older my thoughts often revert to the past, and like the old Persian poet, Khosros, when he walked by the churchyard and thought how many of his friends were numbered with the dead, I am often tempted to exclaim:  “The friends of my youth! where are they?” but there is only the mocking echo to answer, as if from a far-distant land, “Where are they?”

“One generation passeth away; and another generation cometh,” and enormous changes have taken place in this country during the past seventy years, which one can only realise by looking back and comparing the past with the present.

The railways then were gradually replacing the stage-coaches, of which the people then living had many stories to tell, and the roads which formerly had mostly been paved with cobble or other stones were being macadamised; the brooks which ran across the surface of the roads were being covered with bridges; toll-gates still barred the highways, and stories of highway robbers were still largely in circulation, those about Dick Turpin, whose wonderful mare “Black Bess” could jump over the turnpike gates, being the most prominent, while Robin Hood and Little John still retained a place in the minds of the people as former heroes of the roads and forests.

Primitive methods were still being employed in agriculture.  Crops were cut with scythe and sickle, while old scythe-blades fastened at one end of a wooden bench did duty to cut turnips in slices to feed the cattle, and farm work generally was largely done by hand.

At harvest time the farmers depended on the services of large numbers of men who came over from Ireland by boat, landing at Liverpool, whence they walked across the country in gangs of twenty or more, their first stage being Warrington, where they stayed a night at Friar’s Green, at that time the Irish quarter of the town.  Some of them walked as far as Lincolnshire, a great corn-growing county, many of them preferring to walk bare-footed, with their shoes slung across their shoulders.  Good and steady walkers they were too, with a military step and a four-mile-per-hour record.

The village churches were mostly of the same form in structure and service as at the conclusion of the Civil War.  The old oak pews were still in use, as were the galleries and the old “three-decker” pulpits, with sounding-boards overhead.  The parish clerk occupied the lower deck and gave out the hymns therefrom, as well as other notices of a character not now announced in church.  The minister read the lessons and prayers, in a white surplice, from the second deck, and then, while a hymn was being sung, he retired to the vestry, from which he again emerged, attired in a black gown, to preach the sermon from the upper deck.

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The church choir was composed of both sexes, but not surpliced, and, if there was no organ, bassoons, violins, and other instruments of music supported the singers.

The churches generally were well filled with worshippers, for it was within a measurable distance from the time when all parishioners were compelled to attend church.  The names of the farms or owners appeared on the pew doors, while inferior seats, called free seats, were reserved for the poor.  Pews could be bought and sold, and often changed hands; but the squire had a large pew railed on from the rest, and raised a little higher than the others, which enabled him to see if all his tenants were in their appointed places.

The village inns were generally under the shadow of the church steeple, and, like the churches, were well attended, reminding one of Daniel Defoe, the clever author of that wonderful book Robinson Crusoe, for he wrote: 

  Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
  The Devil always builds a chapel there;
  And ’twill be found upon examination,
  The Devil has the largest congregation.

The church services were held morning and afternoon, evening service being then almost unknown in country places; and between the services the churchwardens and other officials of the church often adjourned to the inn to hear the news and to smoke tobacco in long clay pipes named after them “churchwarden pipes”; many of the company who came from long distances remained eating and drinking until the time came for afternoon service, generally held at three o’clock.

The landlords of the inns were men of light and leading, and were specially selected by the magistrates for the difficult and responsible positions they had to fill; and as many of them had acted as stewards or butlers—­at the great houses of the neighbourhood, and perhaps had married the cook or the housekeeper, and as each inn was required by law to provide at least one spare bedroom, travellers could rely upon being comfortably housed and well victualled, for each landlord brewed his own beer and tried to vie with his rival as to which should brew the best.

Education was becoming more appreciated by the poorer people, although few of them could even write their own names; but when their children could do so, they thought them wonderfully clever, and educated sufficiently to carry them through life.  Many of them were taken away from school and sent to work when only ten or eleven years of age!

Books were both scarce and dear, the family Bible being, of course, the principal one.  Scarcely a home throughout the land but possessed one of these family heirlooms, on whose fly-leaf were recorded the births and deaths of the family sometimes for several successive generations, as it was no uncommon occurrence for occupiers of houses to be the descendants of people of the same name who had lived in them for hundreds of years, and that fact accounted for traditions being handed down from one generation to another.

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Where there was a village library, the books were chiefly of a religious character; but books of travel and adventure, both by land and sea, were also much in evidence, and Robinson Crusoe, Captain Cook’s Three Voyages round the World, and the Adventures of Mungo Park in Africa were often read by young people.  The story of Dick Whittington was another ideal, and one could well understand the village boys who lived near the great road routes, when they saw the well-appointed coaches passing on their way up to London, being filled with a desire to see that great city, whose streets the immortal Dick had pictured to himself as being paved with gold, and to wish to emulate his wanderings, and especially when there was a possibility of becoming the lord mayor.

The bulk of the travelling in the country was done on foot or horseback, as the light-wheeled vehicles so common in later times had not yet come into vogue.  The roads were still far from safe, and many tragedies were enacted in lonely places, and in cases of murder the culprit, when caught, was often hanged or gibbeted near the spot where the crime was committed, and many gallows trees were still to be seen on the sides of the highways on which murderers had met with their well-deserved fate.  No smart service of police existed; the parish constables were often farmers or men engaged in other occupations, and as telegraphy was practically unknown, the offenders often escaped.

The Duke of Wellington and many of his heroes were still living, and the tales of fathers and grandfathers were chiefly of a warlike nature; many of them related to the Peninsula War and Waterloo, as well as Trafalgar, and boys were thus inspired with a warlike and adventurous spirit and a desire to see the wonders beyond the seas.

It was in conditions such as these that the writer first lived and moved and had his being, and his early aspirations were to walk to London, and to go to sea; but it was many years before his boyish aspirations were realised.  They came at length, however, but not exactly in the form he had anticipated, for in 1862 he sailed from Liverpool to London, and in 1870 he took the opportunity of walking back from London to Lancashire in company with his brother.  We walked by a circuitous route, commencing in an easterly direction, and after being on the road for a fortnight, or twelve walking days, as we did not walk on Sundays, we covered the distance of 306 miles at an average of twenty-five miles per day.

We had many adventures, pleasant and otherwise, on that journey, but on the whole we were so delighted with our walk that, when, in the following year, the question arose.  “Where shall we walk this year?” we unanimously decided to walk from John o’ Groat’s to Land’s End, or, as my brother described it, “from the top of the map to the bottom.”

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It was a big undertaking, especially as we had resolved not to journey by the shortest route, but to walk from one great object of interest to another, and to see and learn as much as possible of the country we passed through on our way.  We were to walk the whole of the distance between the north-eastern extremity of Scotland and the south-western extremity of England, and not to cross a ferry or accept or take a ride in any kind of conveyance whatever.  We were also to abstain from all intoxicating drink, not to smoke cigars or tobacco, and to walk so that at the end of the journey we should have maintained an average of twenty-five miles per day, except Sunday, on which day we were to attend two religious services, as followers of and believers in Sir Matthew Hale’s Golden Maxim: 

  A Sabbath well spent brings a week of content
    And Health for the toils of to-morrow;
  But a Sabbath profaned, whate’er may be gained.
    Is a certain forerunner of Sorrow.

With the experience gained in our walk the previous year, we decided to reduce our equipment to the lowest possible limit, as every ounce had to be carried personally, and it became a question not of how much luggage we should take, but of how little; even maps were voted off as encumbrances, and in place of these we resolved to rely upon our own judgment, and the result of local inquiries, as we travelled from one great object of interest to another, but as these were often widely apart, as might be supposed, our route developed into one of a somewhat haphazard and zigzag character, and very far from the straight line.

We each purchased a strong, black leather handbag, which could either be carried by hand or suspended over the shoulder at the end of a stick, and in these we packed our personal and general luggage; in addition we carried a set of overalls, including leggings, and armed ourselves with stout oaken sticks, or cudgels, specially selected by our local fencing master.  They were heavily ferruled by the village blacksmith, for, although we were men of peace, we thought it advisable to provide against what were known as single-stick encounters, which were then by no means uncommon, and as curved handles would have been unsuitable in the event of our having to use them either for defensive or offensive purposes, ours were selected with naturally formed knobs at the upper end.

Then there were our boots, which of course were a matter of the first importance, as they had to stand the strain and wear and tear of a long journey, and must be easy fitting and comfortable, with thick soles to protect our feet from the loose stones which were so plentiful on the roads, and made so that they could be laced tightly to keep out the water either when raining or when lying in pools on the roads, for there were no steam-rollers on the roads in those days.

Page 5

In buying our boots we did not both adopt the same plan.  I made a special journey to Manchester, and bought the strongest and most expensive I could find there; while my brother gave his order to an old cobbler, a particular friend of his, and a man of great experience, who knew when he had hold of a good piece of leather, and to whom he had explained his requirements.  These boots were not nearly so smart looking as mine and did not cost as much money, but when I went with him for the boots, and heard the old gentleman say that he had fastened a piece of leather on his last so as to provide a corresponding hole inside the boot to receive the ball of the foot, I knew that my brother would have more room for his feet to expand in his boots than I had in mine.  We were often asked afterwards, by people who did not walk much, how many pairs of boots we had worn out during our long journey, and when we replied only one each, they seemed rather incredulous until we explained that it was the soles that wore out first, but I had to confess that my boots were being soled the second time when my brother’s were only being soled the first time, and that I wore three soles out against his two.  Of course both pairs of boots were quite done at the conclusion of our walk.

Changes of clothing we were obliged to have sent on to us to some railway station, to be afterwards arranged, and soiled clothes were to be returned in the same box.  This seemed a very simple arrangement, but it did not work satisfactorily, as railways were few and there was no parcel-post in those days, and then we were always so far from our base that we were obliged to fix ourselves to call at places we did not particularly want to see and to miss others that we would much rather have visited.  Another objection was that we nearly always arrived at these stations at inconvenient times for changing suits of clothes, and as we were obliged to do this quickly, as we had no time to make a long stay, we had to resort to some amusing devices.

We ought to have begun our journey much earlier in the year.  One thing after another, however, prevented us making a start, and it was not until the close of some festivities on the evening of September 6th, 1871, that we were able to bid farewell to “Home, sweet home” and to journey through what was to us an unknown country, and without any definite idea of the distance we were about to travel or the length of time we should be away.


   Sept. 7.  Warrington to Glasgow by train—­Arrived too late to catch
   the boat on the Caledonian Canal for Iverness—­Trained to Aberdeen.

   Sept. 8.  A day in the “Granite City”—­Boarded the s.s. St. Magnus
   intending to land at Wick—­Decided to remain on board.

   Sept. 9.  Landed for a short time at Kirkwall in the Orkney
   Islands—­During the night encountered a storm in the North Sea.

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   Sept. 10. (Sunday).  Arrived at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands at 2

   Sept. 11.  Visited Bressay Island and the Holm of Noss—­Returned to
   St. Magnus at night.

   Sept. 12.  Landed again at Kirkwall—­Explored Cathedral—­Walked across
   the Mainland of the Orkneys to Stromness, visiting the underground
   house at Maeshowe and the Standing Stones at Stenness on our way.

   Sept. 13.  Visited the Quarries where Hugh Miller made his wonderful
   geological researches—­Explored coast scenery, including the Black

Sept. 14.  Crossed the Pentland Firth in a sloop—­Unfavourable wind prevented us sailing past the Old Man of Hoy, so went by way of Lang Hope and Scrabster Roads, passing Dunnet Head on our way to Thurso, where we landed and stopped for the night.

   Sept. 15.  Travelled six miles by the Wick coach and walked the
   remaining fifteen miles to John o’ Groat’s—­Lodged at the “Huna Inn.”

   Sept. 16.  Gathered some wonderful shells on the beach and explored
   coast scenery at Duncansbay.

   Sept. 17. (Sunday).  Visited a distant kirk with the landlord and
   his wife and listened to a wonderful sermon.


¶ Indicates the day’s journey. ¶¶ Indicates where Sunday was spent.

   First week’s journey—­Sept. 18 to 24.

“Huna Inn”—­Canisbay—­Bucholie Castle—­Keiss—­Girnigoe—­Sinclair—­Noss Head—­Wick—­or ¶ Wick Harbour—­Mid Clyth—­Lybster—­Dunbeath ¶ Berriedale—­Braemore—­Maidens Paps Mountain—­Lord Galloway’s Hunting-box—­Ord of Caithness—­Helmsdale ¶ Loth—­Brora—­Dunrobin Castle—­Golspie ¶ The Mound—­Loch Buidhee—­Bonar Bridge—­Dornoch Firth—­Half-way House [Aultnamain Inn] ¶ Novar—­Cromarty Firth—­Dingwall—­Muir of Ord—­Beauly—­Bogroy Inn—­Inverness ¶¶ pp. 41-76

   Second week’s journey—­Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

Tomnahurich—­Loch Ness—­Caledonian Canal—­Drumnadrochit ¶ Urquhart Castle—­Invermoriston—­Glenmoriston—­Fort Augustus—­Invergarry ¶ Glengarry—­Well of the Heads—­Loggan Bridge—­Loch Lochy—­Spean Bridge—­Fort William ¶ Inverlochy Castle—­Ben Nevis—­Fort William ¶ Loch Linnhe—­Loch Leven—­Devil’s Stair—­Pass of Glencoe—­Clachaig Inn ¶ Glencoe Village—­Ballachulish—­Kingshouse—­Inveroran—­Loch Tulla—­Bridge of Orchy—­Glen Orchy ¶ Dalmally ¶¶ pp. 77-111

   Third week’s journey—­Oct. 2 to Oct. 8.

   Loch Awe—­Cruachan Mountain—­Glen Aray—­Inverary
   Castle—­Inverary—­Loch Fyne—­Cairndow Inn ¶ Glen Kinglas—­Loch
   Restil—­Rest and be Thankful—­Glen Croe—­Ben Arthur—­Loch
   Long—­Arrochar—­Tarbet—­Loch Lomond—­Luss—­Helensburgh ¶ The
on—­Alexandria—­Balloch—­Kilmaronock—­Drymen ¶
   Buchlyvie—­Kippen—­Gargunnock—­Windings of the Forth—­Stirling ¶
   Wallace Monument—­Cambuskenneth—­St.
   Ninians—­Bannockburn—­Carron—­Falkirk ¶
   Laurieston—­Polmont—­Linlithgow—­Edinburgh ¶¶ pp. 112-157

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   Fourth week’s journey—­Oct. 9 to Oct. 15.

rse—­Penicuik—­Edleston—­Cringletie—­Peebles ¶ River Tweed—­Horsburgh—­Innerleithen—­Traquair—­Elibank Castle—­Galashiels—­Abbotsford—­Melrose—­Lilliesleaf ¶ Teviot Dale—­Hassendean—­Minto—­Hawick—­Goldielands Tower—­Branxholm Tower—­Teviothead—­Caerlanrig—­Mosspaul Inn—­Langholm—­Gilnockie Tower—­Canonbie Colliery ¶ River Esk—­“Cross Keys Inn”—­Scotch Dyke—­Longtown ¶ Solway Moss—­River Sark—­Springfield—­Gretna Green—­Todhills—­Kingstown—­Carlisle—­Wigton—­Aspatria ¶ Maryport—­Cockermouth—­Bassenthwaite Lake—­Portinscale—­Keswick ¶¶ pp. 158-232

   Fifth week’s journey—­Oct 16 to Oct. 22.

Falls of Lodore—­Derwentwater—­Bowder Stone—­Borrowdale—­Green Nip—­Wythburn—­Grasmere ¶ Rydal—­Ambleside—­Windermere&mdas
h;­Hawkshead—­Coniston—­Ulverston ¶ Dalton-in-Furness—­Furness Abbey—­Barrow Monument—­Haverthwaite ¶ Newby Bridge—­Cartmel Fell—­Kendal ¶ Kirkby Lonsdale—­Devil’s Bridge—­Ingleton—­Giggleswick—­Settle—­Malham ¶ Malham Cove—­Gordale Scar—­Kilnsey—­River Wharfe—­Grassington—­Greenhow—­Pateley Bridge ¶¶ pp. 233-277

   Sixth week’s journey—­Oct. 23 to Oct. 29.

Brimham Rocks—­Fountains Abbey—­Ripon—­Boroughbridge—­Devil’s Arrows—­Aldeborough ¶ Marston Moor—­River Ouse—­York ¶ Tadcaster—­Towton Field—­Sherburn-in-Elmet—­River Aire—­Ferrybridge—­Pontefract ¶ Robin Hood’s Well—­Doncaster ¶ Conisborough—­Rotherham ¶ Attercliffe Common—­Sheffield—­Norton—­Hathersage—­Little John’s Grave—­Castleton ¶¶ pp. 278-339

   Seventh week’s journey—­Oct. 30 to Nov. 5.

   Castleton—­Tideswell—­Miller’s Dale—­Flagg
   Moor—­Newhaven—­Tissington—­Ashbourne ¶ River
   Dove—­Mayfield—­Ellastone—­Alton Towers—­Uttoxeter—­Bagot’s
   Wood—­Needwood Forest—­Abbots Bromley—­Handsacre ¶
   Lichfield—­Tamworth—­Atherstone—­Watling Street—­Nuneaton ¶ Watling
   Street—­High Cross—­Lutterworth—­River Swift—­Fosse
   Way—­Brinklow—­Coventry ¶ Kenilworth—­Leamington—­Stoneleigh
   Abbey—­Warwick—­Stratford-on-Avon—­Charlecote Park—­Kineton—­Edge
   Hill ¶ Banbury—­Woodstock—­Oxford ¶¶ pp. 340-450

   Eighth week’s journey—­Nov. 6 to Nov. 12.

   Oxford—­Sunningwell—­Abingdon—­Vale of White Horse—­Wantage—­Icknield
   Way—­Segsbury Camp—­West Shefford—­Hungerford ¶ Marlborough
   Downs—­Miston—­Salisbury Plain—­Stonehenge—­Amesbury—­Old
   Sarum—­Salisbury ¶ Wilton—­Compton
   Chamberlain—­Shaftesbury—­Blackmoor Vale—­Sturminster ¶ Blackmoor
   Vale—­Cerne Abbas—­Charminster—­Dorchester—­Bridport ¶ The Chesil
   Bank—­Chideoak—­Charmouth—­Lyme Regis—­Axminster—­Honiton—­Exeter ¶
   Exminster—­Star Cross—­Dawlish—­Teignmouth—­Torquay ¶¶ pp. 451-545

   Ninth week’s journey—­Nov. 13 to Nov. 18.

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   Torbay—­Cockington—­Compton Castle—­Marldon—­Berry Pomeroy—­River
   Dart—­Totnes—­Sharpham—­Dittisham—­Dartmouth—­Totnes ¶
   Dartmoor—­River Erme—­Ivybridge—­Plymouth ¶ Devonport—­St.
   Budeaux—­Tamerton Foliot—­Buckland
   Abbey—­Walkhampton—­Merridale—­River Tavy—­Tavistock—­Hingston
   Downs—­Callington—­St. Ive—­Liskeard ¶ St. Neot—­Restormel
   Castle—­Lostwithiel—­River Fowey—­St. Blazey—­St. Austell—­Truro ¶
   Perranarworthal—­Penryn—­Helston—­The Lizard—­St. Breage—­Perran
   Downs—­Marazion—­St. Michael’s Mount—­Penzance ¶ Newlyn—­St.
   Paul—­Mousehole—­St. Buryan—­Treryn—­Logan Rock—­St.
   Levan—­Tol-Peden-Penwith—­Sennen—­Land’s End—­Penzance ¶¶ pp. 546-652

   Homeward bound—­Nov. 20 and 21 pp. 653-658



Thursday, September 7th.

It was one o’clock in the morning when we started on the three-mile walk to Warrington, where we were to join the 2.18 a.m. train for Glasgow, and it was nearly ten o’clock when we reached that town, the train being one hour and twenty minutes late.  This delay caused us to be too late for the steamboat by which we intended to continue our journey further north, and we were greatly disappointed in having thus early in our journey to abandon the pleasant and interesting sail down the River Clyde and on through the Caledonian Canal.  We were, therefore, compelled to alter our route, so we adjourned to the Victoria Temperance Hotel for breakfast, where we were advised to travel to Aberdeen by train, and thence by steamboat to Wick, the nearest available point to John o’ Groat’s.

We had just time to inspect Sir Walter Scott’s monument that adorned the Square at Glasgow, and then we left by the 12.35 train for Aberdeen.  It was a long journey, and it was half-past eight o’clock at night before we reached our destination, but the weariness of travelling had been whiled away by pleasant company and delightful scenery.

We had travelled continuously for about 360 miles, and we were both sleepy and tired as we entered Forsyth’s Hotel to stay the night.

Friday, September 8th.

After a good night’s rest, followed by a good breakfast, we went out to inquire the time our boat would leave, and, finding it was not due away until evening, we returned to the hotel and refreshed ourselves with a bath, and then went for a walk to see the town of Aberdeen, which is mostly built of the famous Aberdeen granite.  The citizens were quite proud of their Union Street, the main thoroughfare, as well they might be, for though at first sight we thought it had rather a sombre appearance, yet when the sky cleared and the sun shone out on the golden letters that adorned the buildings we altered our opinion, for then we saw the “Granite City” at its best.

Page 9

We spent the time rambling along the beach, and, as pleasure seekers generally do, passed the day comfortably, looking at anything and everything that came in our way.  By no means sea-faring men, having mainly been accustomed to village life, we had some misgivings when we boarded the s.s. St. Magnus at eight o’clock in the evening, and our sensations during the night were such as are common to what the sailors call “land-lubbers.”  We were fortunate, however, in forming the acquaintance of a lively young Scot, who was also bound for Wick, and who cheered us during the night by giving us copious selections from Scotland’s favourite bard, of whom he was greatly enamoured.  We heard more of “Rabbie Burns” that night than we had ever heard before, for our friend seemed able to recite his poetry by the yard and to sing some of it also, and he kept us awake by occasionally asking us to join in the choruses.  Some of the sentiments of Burns expressed ideals that seem a long time in being realised, and one of his favourite quotations, repeated several times by our friend, dwells in our memory after many years: 

  For a’ that an’ a’ that
  It’s coming, yet, for a’ that,
  That man to man the war-ld o’er
  Shall brithers be for a’ that.

During the night, as the St. Magnus ploughed her way through the foaming billows, we noticed long, shining streaks on the surface of the water, varying in colour from a fiery red to a silvery white, the effect of which, was quite beautiful.  Our friend informed us these were caused by the stampede of the shoals of herrings through which we were then passing.

The herring fishery season was now on, and, though we could not distinguish either the fishermen or their boats when we passed near one of their fishing-grounds, we could see the lights they carried dotted all over the sea, and we were apprehensive lest we should collide with some of them, but the course of the St. Magnus had evidently been known and provided for by the fishermen.

We had a long talk with our friend about our journey north, and, as he knew the country well, he was able to give us some useful information and advice.  He told us that if we left the boat at Wick and walked to John o’ Groat’s from there, we should have to walk the same way back, as there was only the one road, and if we wished to avoid going over the same ground twice, he would advise us to remain on the St. Magnus until she reached her destination, Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, and the cost by the boat would be very little more than to Wick.  She would only stay a short time at Lerwick, and then we could return in her to Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands.  From that place we could walk across the Mainland to Stromness, where we should find a small steamboat which conveyed mails and passengers across the Pentland Firth to Thurso in the north of Scotland, from which point John o’ Groat’s could easily be reached, and, besides, we might never again have such a favourable opportunity of seeing the fine rock scenery of those northern islands.

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[Illustration:  WICK HARBOUR.  From a photograph taken in 1867.]

We were delighted with his suggestion, and wrote a hurried letter home advising our people there of this addition to our journey, and our friend volunteered to post the letter for us at Wick.  It was about six o’clock in the morning when we neared that important fishery town and anchored in the harbour, where we had to stay an hour or two to load and unload cargo.  Our friend the Scot had to leave us here, but we could not allow him to depart without some kind of ceremony or other, and as the small boat came in sight that was to carry him ashore, we decided to sing a verse or two of “Auld Lang Syne” from his favourite poet Burns; but my brother could not understand some of the words in one of the verses, so he altered and anglicised them slightly: 

  An’ here’s a haund, my trusty friend,
    An’ gie’s a haund o’ thine;
  We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
    For the sake o’ auld lang syne.

Some of the other passengers joined in the singing, but we never realised the full force of this verse until we heard it sung in its original form by a party of Scots, who, when they came to this particular verse, suited the action to the word by suddenly taking hold of each other’s hands, thereby forming a cross, and meanwhile beating time to the music.  Whether the cross so formed had any religious significance or not, we did not know.

Our friend was a finely built and intelligent young man, and it was with feelings of great regret that we bade him farewell and watched his departure over the great waves, with the rather mournful presentiment that we were being parted from him for ever!

Saturday, September 9th.

There were signs of a change in the weather as we left Wick, and the St. Magnus rolled considerably; but occasionally we had a good view of the precipitous rocks that lined the coast, many of them having been christened by the sailors after the objects they represented, as seen from the sea.  The most prominent of these was a double-headed peak in Caithness, which formed a remarkably perfect resemblance to the breasts of a female giant with nipples complete, and this they had named the “Maiden’s Paps.”  Then there was the “Old Man of Hoy,” and other rocks that stood near the entrance to that terrible torrent of the sea, the Pentland Firth; but, owing to the rolling of our ship, we were not in a fit state either of mind or body to take much interest in them, and we were very glad when we reached the shelter of the Orkney Islands and entered the fine harbour of Kirkwall.  Here we had to stay for a short time, so we went ashore and obtained a substantial lunch at the Temperance Hotel near the old cathedral, wrote a few letters, and at 3 p.m. rejoined the St. Magnus.

Page 11

The sea had been quite rough enough previously, but it soon became evident that it had been smooth compared with what followed, and during the coming night we wished many times that our feet were once more on terra firma.  The rain descended, the wind increased in violence, and the waves rolled high and broke over the ship, and we were no longer allowed to occupy our favourite position on the upper deck, but had to descend a stage lower.  We were saturated with water from head to foot in spite of our overalls, and we were also very sick, and, to add to our misery, we could hear, above the noise of the wind and waves, the fearful groaning of some poor woman who, a sailor told us, had been suddenly taken ill, and it was doubtful if she could recover.  He carried a fish in his hand which he had caught as it was washed on deck, and he invited us to come and see the place where he had to sleep.  A dismal place it was too, flooded with water, and not a dry thing for him to put on.  We could not help feeling sorry that these sailors had such hardships to undergo; but he seemed to take it as a matter of course, and appeared to be more interested in the fish he carried than in the storm that was then raging.  We were obliged to keep on the move to prevent our taking cold, and we realised that we were in a dark, dismal, and dangerous position, and thought of the words of a well-known song and how appropriate they were to that occasion: 

  “O Pilot! ’tis a fearful night,
    There’s danger on the deep;
  I’ll come and pace the deck with thee,
    I do not dare to sleep.” 
  “Go down!” the Pilot cried, “go down! 
    This is no place for thee;
  Fear not! but trust in Providence,
    Wherever thou may’st be.”

The storm continued for hours, and, as it gradually abated, our feelings became calmer, our fears subsided, and we again ventured on the upper deck.  The night had been very dark hitherto, but we could now see the occasional glimmering of a light a long distance ahead, which proved to be that of a lighthouse, and presently we could distinguish the bold outlines of the Shetland Islands.

As we entered Bressay Sound, however, a beautiful transformation scene suddenly appeared, for the clouds vanished as if by magic, and the last quarter of the moon, surrounded by a host of stars, shone out brilliantly in the clear sky.  It was a glorious sight, for we had never seen these heavenly bodies in such a clear atmosphere before, and it was hard to realise that they were so far away from us.  We could appreciate the feelings of a little boy of our acquaintance, who, when carried outside the house one fine night by his father to see the moon, exclaimed in an ecstasy of delight:  “Oh, reach it, daddy!—­reach it!” and it certainly looked as if we could have reached it then, so very near did it appear to us.

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It was two o’clock on Sunday morning, September 10th, when we reached Lerwick, the most northerly town in Her Majesty’s British Dominions, and we appealed to a respectable-looking passenger who was being rowed ashore with us in the boat as to where we could obtain good lodgings.  He kindly volunteered to accompany us to a house at which he had himself stayed before taking up his permanent residence as a tradesman in the town and which he could thoroughly recommend.  Lerwick seemed a weird-looking place in the moonlight, and we turned many corners on our way to our lodgings, and were beginning to wonder how we should find our way out again, when our companion stopped suddenly before a private boarding-house, the door of which was at once opened by the mistress.  We thanked the gentleman for his kind introduction, and as we entered the house the lady explained that it was her custom to wait up for the arrival of the St. Magnus.  We found the fire burning and the kettle boiling, and the cup that cheers was soon on the table with the usual accompaniments, which were quickly disposed of.  We were then ushered to our apartments—­a bedroom and sitting or dining-room combined, clean and comfortable, but everything seemed to be moving like the ship we had just left.  Once in bed, however, we were soon claimed by the God of Slumber, sleep, and dreams—­our old friend Morpheus.

Sunday, September 10th.

In the morning we attended the English Episcopalian Church, and, after service, which was rather of a high church character, we walked into the country until we came in sight of the rough square tower of Scalloway Castle, and on our return we inspected the ruins of a Pictish castle, the first of the kind we had seen, although we were destined to see many others in the course of our journey.

[Illustration:  LERWICK.  Commercial Street as it was in 1871.]

The Picts, we were informed, were a race of people who settled in the north of Scotland in pre-Roman times, and who constructed their dwellings either of earth or stone, but always in a circular form.  This old castle was built of stone, and the walls were five or six yards thick; inside these walls rooms had been made for the protection of the owners, while the circular, open space enclosed by the walls had probably been for the safe housing of their cattle.  An additional protection had also been formed by the water with which the castle was surrounded, and which gave it the appearance of a small island in the middle of a lake.  It was connected with the land by means of a narrow road, across which we walked.  The castle did not strike us as having been a very desirable place of residence; the ruins had such a very dismal and deserted appearance that we did not stay there long, but returned to our lodgings for lunch.  After this we rested awhile, and then joined the townspeople, who were patrolling every available space outside.  The great majority of these were women, healthy and good-looking, and mostly dressed in black, as were also those we afterwards saw in the Orkneys and the extreme north of Scotland, and we thought that some of our disconsolate bachelor friends might have been able to find very desirable partners for life in these northern dominions of Her Majesty the Queen.

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The houses in Lerwick had been built in all sorts of positions without any attempt at uniformity, and the rough, flagged passage which did duty for the main street was, to our mind, the greatest curiosity of all, and almost worth going all the way to Shetland to see.  It was curved and angled in such an abrupt and zigzag manner that it gave us the impression that the houses had been built first, and the street, where practicable, filled in afterwards.  A gentleman from London was loud in his praise of this wonderful street; he said he felt so much safer there than in “beastly London,” as he could stand for hours in that street before the shop windows without being run over by any cab, cart, or omnibus, and without feeling a solitary hand exploring his coat pockets.  This was quite true, as we did not see any vehicles in Lerwick, nor could they have passed each other through the crooked streets had they been there, and thieves would have been equally difficult to find.  Formerly, however, Lerwick had an evil reputation in that respect, as it was noted for being the abode of sheep-stealers and pirates, so much so, that, about the year 1700, it had become such a disreputable place that an earnest appeal was made to the “Higher Authorities” to have the place burnt, and for ever made desolate, on account of its great wickedness.  Since that time, however, the softening influences of the Christian religion had permeated the hearts of the people, and, at the time of our visit, the town was well supplied with places of worship, and it would have been difficult to have found any thieves there then.  We attended evening service in the Wesleyan Chapel, where we found a good congregation, a well-conducted service, and an acceptable preacher, and we reflected that Mr. Wesley himself would have rejoiced to know that even in such a remote place as Lerwick his principles were being promulgated.

Monday, September 11th.

We rose early with the object of seeing all we could in the short time at our disposal, which was limited to the space of a single day, or until the St. Magnus was due out in the evening on her return journey.  We were anxious to see a large cavern known as the Orkneyman’s Cave, but as it could only be reached from the sea, we should have had to engage a boat to take us there.  We were told the cave was about fifty feet square at the entrance, but immediately beyond it increased to double the size; it was possible indeed to sail into it with a boat and to lose sight of daylight altogether.

The story goes that many years ago an Orkneyman was pursued by a press-gang, but escaped being captured by sailing into the cave with his boat.  He took refuge on one of the rocky ledges inside, but in his haste he forgot to secure his boat, and the ground swell of the sea washed it out of the cave.  To make matters worse, a storm came on, and there he remained a prisoner in the cave for two days; but as soon as the storm abated he plunged into the water, swam to a small rock outside, and thence climbed to the top of the cliff and so escaped.  Since that event it had been known as the Orkneyman’s Cave.

Page 14

We went to the boat at the appointed time, but unfortunately the wind was too strong for us to get round to the cave, so we were disappointed.  The boatman suggested as the next best thing that we should go to see the Island of Noss.  He accordingly took us across the bay, which was about a mile wide, and landed us on the Island of Bressay.  Here it was necessary for us to get a permit to enable us to proceed farther, so, securing his boat, the boatman accompanied us to the factor’s house, where he procured a pass, authorising us to land on the Island of Noss, of which the following is a facsimile: 

  Allow Mr. Nailer and friends
  to land on Noss. 
  To Walter.  A.M.  Walker

Here he left us, as we had to walk across the Island of Bressay, and, after a tramp of two or three miles, during which we did not see a single human being, we came to another water where there was a boat.  Here we found Walter, and, after we had exhibited our pass, he rowed us across the narrow arm of the sea and landed us on the Island of Noss.  He gave us careful instructions how to proceed so that we could see the Holm of Noss, and warned us against approaching too near the edge of the precipice which we should find there.  After a walk of about a mile, all up hill, we came to the precipitous cliffs which formed the opposite boundary of the island, and from a promontory there we had a magnificent view of the rocks, with the waves of the sea dashing against them, hundreds of feet below.  A small portion of the island was here separated from the remainder by a narrow abyss about fifty feet wide, down which it was terrible to look, and this separated portion was known as the Holm of Noss.  It rose precipitously on all sides from the sea, and its level surface on the top formed a favourite nesting-place for myriads of wild birds of different varieties, which not only covered the top of the Holm, but also the narrow ledges along its jagged sides.  Previous to the seventeenth century, this was one of the places where the foot of man had never trod, and a prize of a cow was offered to any man who would climb the face of the cliff and establish a connection with the mainland by means of a rope, as it was thought that the Holm would provide pasturage for about twenty sheep.  A daring fowler, from Foula Island, successfully performed the feat, and ropes were firmly secured to the rocks on each side, and along two parallel ropes a box or basket was fixed, capable of holding a man and a sheep.  This apparatus was named the Cradle of Noss, and was so arranged that an Islander with or without a sheep placed in the cradle could drag himself across the chasm in either direction.  Instead, however, of returning by the rope or cradle, on which he would have been comparatively safe, the hardy fowler decided to go back by the same way he had come, and, missing his foothold, fell on the rocks in the sea below and was dashed to pieces, so that the prize was never claimed by him.

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[Illustration:  THE HOLM OF NOSS.  “It made us shudder ... as we peered down on the abysmal depths below.”]

We felt almost spellbound as we approached this awful chasm, and as if we were being impelled by some invisible force towards the edge of the precipice.  It fairly made us shudder as on hands and knees we peered down on the abysmal depths below.  It was a horrible sensation, and one that sometimes haunted us in our dreams for years afterwards, and we felt greatly relieved when we found that we could safely crawl away and regain an upright posture.  We could see thousands upon thousands of wild birds, amongst which the ordinary sea-gull was largely represented; but there were many other varieties of different colours, and the combination of their varied cries, mingled with the bleating of the sheep, the whistling of the wind, the roaring of the waves as they dashed against the rocks below, or entered the caverns with a sound like distant thunder, tended to make us feel quite bewildered.  We retired to the highest elevation we could find, and there, 600 miles from home, and perhaps as many feet above sea-level, was solitude in earnest.  We were the only human beings on the island, and the enchanting effect of the wild scenery, the vast expanse of sea, the distant moaning of the waters, the great rocks worn by the wind and the waves into all kinds of fantastic shapes and caverns, the blue sky above with the glorious sun shining upon us, all proclaimed to our minds the omnipotence of the great Creator of the Universe, the Almighty Maker and Giver of all.

We lingered as long as we could in these lonely and romantic solitudes, and, as we sped down the hill towards the boat, we suddenly became conscious that we had not thought either of what we should eat or what we should drink since we had breakfasted early in the morning, and we were very hungry.  Walter was waiting for us on our side of the water, as he had been watching for our return, and had seen us coming when we were nearly a mile away.  There was no vegetation to obstruct the view, for, as he said, we might walk fifty miles in Shetland without meeting with a bush or tree.  We had an agreeable surprise when we reached the other side of the water in finding some light refreshments awaiting our arrival which he had thoughtfully provided in the event of their being required, and for which we were profoundly thankful.  The cradle of Noss had disappeared some time before our visit, but, if it had been there, we should have been too terrified to make use of it.  It had become dangerous, and as the pasturage of sheep on the Holm had proved a failure, the birds had again become masters of the situation, while the cradle had fallen to decay.  Walter gave us an awful description of the danger of the fowler’s occupation, especially in the Foula Island, where the rocks rose towering a thousand feet above the sea.  The top of the cliffs there often projected over their base, so that the fowler

Page 16

had to be suspended on a rope fastened to the top of the cliff, swinging himself backwards and forwards like a pendulum until he could reach the ledge of rock where the birds laid their eggs.  Immediately he landed on it, he had to secure his rope, and then gather the eggs in a hoop net, and put them in his wallet, and then swing off again, perhaps hundreds of feet above the sea, to find another similar ledge, so that his business was practically carried on in the air.  On one of these occasions a fowler had just reached a landing-place on the precipice, when his rope slipped out of his hand, and swung away from the cliff into the empty air.  If he had hesitated one moment, he would have been lost for ever, as in all probability he would either have been starved to death on the ledge of rock on which he was or fallen exhausted into the sea below.  The first returning swing of the rope might bring him a chance of grasping it, but the second would be too far away.  The rope came back, the desperate man measured the distance with his eye, sprang forward in the air, grasped the rope, and was saved.

Sometimes the rope became frayed or cut by fouling some sharp edge of rock above, and, if it broke, the fowler was landed in eternity.  Occasionally two or three men were suspended on the same rope at the same time.  Walter told us of a father and two sons who were on the rope in this way, the father being the lowest and his two sons being above him, when the son who was uppermost saw that the rope was being frayed above him, and was about to break.  He called to his brother who was just below that the rope would no longer hold them all, and asked him to cut it off below him and let their father go.  This he indignantly refused to do, whereupon his brother, without a moment’s hesitation, cut the rope below himself, and both his father and brother perished.

It was terrible to hear such awful stories, as our nerves were unstrung already, so we asked our friend Walter not to pile on the agony further, and, after rewarding him for his services, we hurried over the remaining space of land and sea that separated us from our comfortable quarters at Lerwick, where a substantial tea was awaiting our arrival.

We were often asked what we thought of Shetland and its inhabitants.

Shetland was fine in its mountain and coast scenery, but it was wanting in good roads and forests, and it seemed strange that no effort had been made to plant some trees, as forests had formerly existed there, and, as a gentleman told us, there seemed no peculiarity in either the soil or climate to warrant an opinion unfavourable to the country’s arboricultural capacity.  Indeed, such was the dearth of trees and bushes, that a lady, who had explored the country thoroughly, declared that the tallest and grandest tree she saw during her visit to the Islands was a stalk of rhubarb which had run to seed and was waving its head majestically in a garden below the old fort of Lerwick!

Page 17

Agriculture seemed also to be much neglected, but possibly the fishing industry was more profitable.  The cottages also were very small and of primitive construction, many of them would have been condemned as being unfit for human habitation if they had existed elsewhere, and yet, in spite of this apparent drawback, these hardy islanders enjoyed the best of health and brought up large families of very healthy-looking children.  Shetland will always have a pleasant place in our memories, and, as regards the people who live there, to speak the truth we scarcely ever met with folks we liked better.  We received the greatest kindness and hospitality, and met with far greater courtesy and civility than in the more outwardly polished and professedly cultivated parts of the countries further south, especially when making inquiries from people to whom we had not been “introduced”!  The Shetlanders spoke good English, and seemed a highly intelligent race of people.  Many of the men went to the whale and other fisheries in the northern seas, and “Greenland’s icy mountains” were well known to them.

On the island there were many wives and mothers who mourned the loss of husbands and sons who had perished in that dangerous occupation, and these remarks also applied to the Orkney Islands, to which we were returning, and might also account for so many of these women being dressed in black.  Every one told us we were visiting the islands too late in the year, and that we ought to have made our appearance at an earlier period, when the sun never sets, and when we should have been able to read at midnight without the aid of an artificial light.  Shetland was evidently in the range of the “Land of the Midnight Sun,” but whether we should have been able to keep awake in order to read at midnight was rather doubtful, as we were usually very sleepy.  At one time of the year, however, the sun did not shine at all, and the Islanders had to rely upon the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, which then made their appearance and shone out brilliantly, spreading a beautifully soft light over the islands.  We wondered if it were this or the light of the midnight sun that inspired the poet to write: 

  Night walked in beauty o’er the peaceful sea. 
  Whose gentle waters spoke tranquillity,

or if it had been borrowed from some more peaceful clime, as we had not yet seen the “peaceful sea” amongst these northern islands.  We had now once more to venture on its troubled waters, and we made our appearance at the harbour at the appointed time for the departure of the St. Magnus.  We were, however, informed that the weather was too misty for our boat to leave, so we returned to our lodgings, ordered a fire, and were just making ourselves comfortable and secretly hoping our departure might be delayed until morning, when Mrs. Sinclair, our landlady, came to tell us that the bell, which was the signal for the St. Magnus to leave, had just rung. 

Page 18

We hurried to the quay, only to find that the boat which conveyed passengers and mails to our ship had disappeared.  We were in a state of consternation, but a group of sailors, who were standing by, advised us to hire a special boat, and one was brought up immediately, by which, after a lot of shouting and whistling—­for we could scarcely see anything in the fog—­we were safely landed on the steamboat.  We had only just got beyond the harbour, however, when the fog became so dense that we suddenly came to a standstill, and had to remain in the bay for a considerable time.  When at last we moved slowly outwards, the hoarse whistle of the St. Magnus was sounded at short intervals, to avoid collision with any other craft.  It had a strangely mournful sound, suggestive of a funeral or some great calamity, and we should almost have preferred being in a storm, when we could have seen the danger, rather than creeping along in the fog and darkness, with a constant dread of colliding with some other boat or with one of the dangerous rocks which we knew were in the vicinity.  Sleep was out of the question until later, when the fog began to clear a little, and, in the meantime, we found ourselves in the company of a group of young men who told us they were going to Aberdeen.

One of them related a rather sorrowful story.  He and his mates had come from one of the Shetland Islands from which the inhabitants were being expelled by the factor, so that he could convert the whole of the island into a sheep farm for his own personal advantage.  Their ancestors had lived there from time immemorial, but their parents had all received notice to leave, and other islands were being depopulated in the same way.  The young men were going to Aberdeen to try to find ships on which they could work their passage to some distant part of the world; they did not know or care where, but he said the time would come when this country would want soldiers and sailors, and would not be able to find them after the men had been driven abroad.  He also told us about what he called the “Truck System,” which was a great curse in their islands, as “merchants” encouraged young people to get deeply in their debt, so that when they grew up they could keep them in their clutches and subject them to a state of semi-slavery, as with increasing families and low wages it was then impossible to get out of debt.  We were very sorry to see these fine young men leaving the country, and when we thought of the wild and almost deserted islands we had just visited, it seemed a pity they could not have been employed there.  We had a longer and much smoother passage than on our outward voyage, and the fog had given place to a fine, clear atmosphere as we once more entered the fine harbour of Kirkwall, and we had a good view of the town, which some enthusiastic passenger described as the “Metropolis of the Orcadean Archipelago.”

Tuesday, September 12th.

Page 19

We narrowly escaped a bad accident as we were leaving the St. Magnus.  She carried a large number of sheep and Shetland ponies on deck, and our way off the ship was along a rather narrow passage formed by the cattle on one side and a pile of merchandise on the other.  The passengers were walking in single file, my brother immediately in front of myself, when one of the ponies suddenly struck out viciously with its hind legs just as we were passing.  If we had received the full force of the kick, we should have been incapacitated from walking; but fortunately its strength was exhausted when it reached us, and it only just grazed our legs.  The passengers behind thought at first we were seriously injured, and one of them rushed forward and held the animal’s head to prevent further mischief; but the only damage done was to our overalls, on which the marks of the pony’s hoofs remained as a record of the event.  On reaching the landing-place the passengers all came forward to congratulate us on our lucky escape, and until they separated we were the heroes of the hour, and rather enjoyed the brief notoriety.

There was an old-world appearance about Kirkwall reminiscent of the time

  When Norse and Danish galleys plied
    Their oars within the Firth of Clyde,
  When floated Haco’s banner trim
    Above Norwegian warriors grim,
  Savage of heart and huge of limb.

for it was at the palace there that Haco, King of Norway, died in 1263.  There was only one considerable street in the town, and this was winding and narrow and paved with flags in the centre, something like that in Lerwick, but the houses were much more foreign in appearance, and many of them had dates on their gables, some of them as far back as the beginning of the fifteenth century.  We went to the same hotel as on our outward journey, and ordered a regular good “set out” to be ready by the time we had explored the ancient cathedral, which, like our ship, was dedicated to St. Magnus.  We were directed to call at a cottage for the key, which was handed to us by the solitary occupant, and we had to find our way as best we could.  After entering the ancient building, we took the precaution of locking the door behind us.  The interior looked dark and dismal after the glorious sunshine we had left outside, and was suggestive more of a dungeon than a place of worship, and of the dark deeds done in the days of the past.  The historian relates that St. Magnus met his death at the hands of his cousin Haco while in the church of Eigleshay.  He had retired there with a presentiment of some evil about to happen him, and “while engaged in devotional exercises, prepared and resigned for whatever might occur, he was slain by one stroke of a hatchet.  Being considered eminently pious, he was looked upon as a saint, and his nephew Ronald built the cathedral in accordance with a vow made before leaving Norway to lay claim to the Earldom of Orkney.” 

Page 20

The cathedral was considered to be the best-preserved relic of antiquity in Scotland, and we were much impressed by the dim religious light which pervaded the interior, and quite bewildered amongst the dark passages inside the walls.  We had been recommended to ascend the cathedral tower for the sake of the fine view which was to be obtained from the top, but had some difficulty in finding the way to the steps.  Once we landed at the top of the tower we considered ourselves well repaid for our exertions, as the view over land and sea was very beautiful.  Immediately below were the remains of the bishop’s and earl’s palaces, relics of bygone ages, now gradually crumbling to decay, while in the distance we could see the greater portion of the sixty-seven islands which formed the Orkney Group.  Only about one-half of these were inhabited, the remaining and smaller islands being known as holms, or pasturages for sheep, which, seen in the distance, resembled green specks in the great blue sea, which everywhere surrounded them.


[Illustration:  STROMNESS]

I should have liked to stay a little longer surveying this fairy-like scene, but my brother declared he could smell our breakfast, which by this time must have been waiting for us below.  Our exit was a little delayed, as we took a wrong turn in the rather bewildering labyrinth of arches and passages in the cathedral walls, and it was not without a feeling of relief that we reached the door we had so carefully locked behind us.  We returned the key to the caretaker, and then went to our hotel, where we loaded ourselves with a prodigious breakfast, and afterwards proceeded to walk across the Mainland of the Orkneys, an estimated distance of fifteen miles.

On our rather lonely way to Stromness we noticed that agriculture was more advanced than in the Shetland Islands, and that the cattle were somewhat larger, but we must say that we had been charmed with the appearance of the little Shetland ponies, excepting perhaps the one that had done its best to give us a farewell kick when we were leaving the St. Magnus.  Oats and barley were the crops chiefly grown, for we did not see any wheat, and the farmers, with their wives and children, were all busy harvesting their crops of oats, but there was still room for extension and improvement, as we passed over miles of uncultivated moorland later.  On our inquiring what objects of interest were to be seen on our way, our curiosity was raised to its highest pitch when we were told we should come to an underground house and to a large number of standing stones a few miles farther on.  We fully expected to descend under the surface of the ground, and to find some cave or cavern below; but when we got to the place, we found the house practically above ground, with a small mountain raised above it.  It was covered with grass, and had only been discovered in 1861, about ten years before our visit.  Some

Page 21

boys were playing on the mountain, when one of them found a small hole which he thought was a rabbit hole, but, pushing his arm down it, he could feel no bottom.  He tried again with a small stick, but with the same result.  The boys then went to a farm and brought a longer stick, but again failed to reach the bottom of the hole, so they resumed their play, and when they reached home they told their parents of their adventure, and the result was that this ancient house was discovered and an entrance to it found from the level of the land below.

[Illustration:  SHETLAND PONIES.]

We went in search of the caretaker, and found him busy with the harvest in a field some distance away, but he returned with us to the mound.  He opened a small door, and we crept behind him along a low, narrow, and dark passage for a distance of about seventeen yards, when we entered a chamber about the size of an ordinary cottage dwelling, but of a vault-like appearance.  It was quite dark, but our guide proceeded to light a number of small candles, placed in rustic candlesticks, at intervals, round this strange apartment.  We could then see some small cells in the wall, which might once have been used as burial places for the dead, and on the walls themselves were hundreds of figures or letters cut in the rock, in very thin lines, as if engraved with a needle.  We could not decipher any of them, as they appeared more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than letters of our alphabet, and the only figure we could distinguish was one which had the appearance of a winged dragon.

The history of the place was unknown, but we were afterwards told that it was looked upon as one of the most important antiquarian discoveries ever made in Britain.  The name of the place was Maeshowe.  The mound was about one hundred yards in circumference, and it was supposed that the house, or tumulus, was first cut out of the rock and the earth thrown over it afterwards from the large trench by which it was surrounded.


Our guide then directed us to the “Standing Stones of Stenness,” which were some distance away; but he could not spare time to go with us, so we had to travel alone to one of the wildest and most desolate places imaginable, strongly suggestive of ghosts and the spirits of the departed.  We crossed the Bridge of Brogar, or Bruargardr, and then walked along a narrow strip of land dividing two lochs, both of which at this point presented a very lonely and dismal appearance.  Although they were so near together, Loch Harry contained fresh water only and Loch Stenness salt water, as it had a small tidal inlet from the sea passing under Waith Bridge, which we crossed later.  There were two groups of the standing stones, one to the north and the other to the south, and each consisted of a double circle of considerable extent.  The stones presented a strange appearance, as while many stood upright, some were

Page 22

leaning; others had fallen, and some had disappeared altogether.  The storms of many centuries had swept over them, and “they stood like relics of the past, with lichens waving from their worn surfaces like grizzly beards, or when in flower mantling them with brilliant orange hues,” while the areas enclosed by them were covered with mosses, the beautiful stag-head variety being the most prominent.  One of the poets has described them: 

  The heavy rocks of giant size
  That o’er the land in circles rise. 
  Of which tradition may not tell,
  Fit circles for the Wizard spell;
  Seen far amidst the scowling storm
  Seem each a tall and phantom form,
  As hurrying vapours o’er them flee
  Frowning in grim security,
  While like a dread voice from the past
  Around them moans the autumnal blast!

These lichened “Standing Stones of Stenness,” with the famous Stone of Odin about 150 yards to the north, are second only to Stonehenge, one measuring 18 feet in length, 5 feet 4 inches in breadth, and 18 inches in thickness.  The Stone of Odin had a hole in it to which it was supposed that sacrificial victims were fastened in ancient times, but in later times lovers met and joined hands through the hole in the stone, and the pledge of love then given was almost as sacred as a marriage vow.  An antiquarian description of this reads as follows:  “When the parties agreed to marry, they repaired to the Temple of the Moon, where the woman in the presence of the man fell down on her knees and prayed to the God Wodin that he would enable her to perform, all the promises and obligations she had made, and was to make, to the young man present, after which they both went to the Temple of the Sun, where the man prayed in like manner before the woman.  They then went to the Stone of Odin, and the man being on one side and the woman on the other, they took hold of each other’s right hand through the hole and there swore to be constant and faithful to each other.”  The hole in the stone was about five feet from the ground, but some ignorant farmer had destroyed the stone, with others, some years before our visit.

There were many other stones in addition to the circles, probably the remains of Cromlechs, and there were numerous grass mounds, or barrows, both conoid and bowl-shaped, but these were of a later date than the circles.  It was hard to realise that this deserted and boggarty-looking place was once the Holy Ground of the ancient Orcadeans, and we were glad to get away from it.  We recrossed the Bridge of Brogar and proceeded rapidly towards Stromness, obtaining a fine prospective view of that town, with the huge mountain masses of the Island of Hoy as a background, on our way.  These rise to a great height, and terminate abruptly near where that strange isolated rock called the “Old Man of Hoy” rises straight from the sea as if to guard the islands in the rear.  The shades of evening were falling

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fast as we entered Stromness, but what a strange-looking town it seemed to us!  It was built at the foot of the hill in the usual irregular manner and in one continuous crooked street, with many of the houses with their crow-stepped gables built as it were over the sea itself, and here in one of these, owing to a high recommendation received inland, we stayed the night.  It was perched above the water’s edge, and, had we been so minded, we might have caught the fish named sillocks for our own breakfast without leaving the house:  many of the houses, indeed, had small piers or landing-stages attached to them, projecting towards the bay.

We found Mrs. Spence an ideal hostess and were very comfortable, the only drawback to our happiness being the information that the small steamboat that carried mails and passengers across to Thurso had gone round for repairs “and would not be back for a week, but a sloop would take her place” the day after to-morrow.  But just fancy crossing the stormy waters of the Pentland Firth in a sloop!  We didn’t quite know what a sloop was, except that it was a sailing-boat with only one mast; but the very idea gave us the nightmare, and we looked upon ourselves as lost already.  The mail boat, we had already been told, had been made enormously strong to enable her to withstand the strain of the stormy seas, besides having the additional advantage of being propelled by steam, and it was rather unfortunate that we should have arrived just at the time she was away.  We asked the reason why, and were informed that during the summer months seaweeds had grown on the bottom of her hull four or five feet long, which with the barnacles so impeded her progress that it was necessary to have them scraped off, and that even the great warships had to undergo the same process.

Seaweeds of the largest size and most beautiful colours flourish, in the Orcadean seas, and out of 610 species of the flora in the islands we learned that 133 were seaweeds.  Stevenson the great engineer wrote that the large Algae, and especially that one he named the “Fucus esculentus,” grew on the rocks from self-grown seed, six feet in six months, so we could quite understand how the speed of a ship would be affected when carrying this enormous growth on the lower parts of her hull.

Wednesday, September 13th.

We had the whole of the day at our disposal to explore Stromness and the neighbourhood, and we made the most of it by rambling about the town and then along the coast to the north, but we were seldom out of sight of the great mountains of Hoy.

Sir Walter Scott often visited this part of the Orkneys, and some of the characters he introduced in his novels were found here.  In 1814 he made the acquaintance of a very old woman near Stromness, named Bessie Miller, whom he described as being nearly one hundred years old, withered and dried up like a mummy, with light blue eyes that gleamed with a lustre like that of insanity.  She eked out her existence by selling favourable winds to mariners, for which her fee was sixpence, and hardly a mariner sailed out to sea from Stromness without visiting and paying his offering to Old Bessie Miller.  Sir Walter drew the strange, weird character of “Norna of the Fitful Head” in his novel The Pirate from her.

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The prototype of “Captain Cleveland” in the same novel was John Gow, the son of a Stromness merchant.  This man went to sea, and by some means or other became possessed of a ship named the Revenge, which carried twenty-four guns.  He had all the appearance of a brave young officer, and on the occasions when he came home to see his father he gave dancing-parties to his friends.  Before his true character was known—­for he was afterwards proved to be a pirate—­he engaged the affections of a young lady of fortune, and when he was captured and convicted she hastened to London to see him before he was executed; but, arriving there too late, she begged for permission to see his corpse, and, taking hold of one hand, she vowed to remain true to him, for fear, it was said, of being haunted by his ghost if she bestowed her hand upon another.

It is impossible to visit Stromness without hearing something of that famous geologist Hugh Miller, who was born at Cromarty in the north of Scotland in the year 1802, and began life as a quarry worker, and wrote several learned books on geology.  In one of these, entitled Footprints of the Creator in the Asterolepis of Stromness, he demolished the Darwinian theory that would make a man out to be only a highly developed monkey, and the monkey a highly developed mollusc.  My brother had a very poor opinion of geologists, but his only reason for this seemed to have been formed from the opinion of some workmen in one of our brickfields.  A gentleman who took an interest in geology used to visit them at intervals for about half a year, and persuaded the men when excavating the clay to put the stones they found on one side so that he could inspect them, and after paying many visits he left without either thanking them or giving them the price of a drink!  But my brother was pleased with Hugh Miller’s book, for he had always contended that Darwin was mistaken, and that instead of man having descended from the monkey, it was the monkey that had descended from the man.  I persuaded him to visit the museum, where we saw quite a number of petrified fossils.  As there was no one about to give us any information, we failed to find Hugh Miller’s famous asterolepis, which we heard afterwards had the appearance of a petrified nail, and had formed part of a huge fish whose species were known to have measured from eight to twenty-three feet in length.  It was only about six inches long, and was described as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, vertebrate fossils hitherto discovered.  Stromness ought to be the Mecca, the happy hunting-ground, or the Paradise to geologists, for Hugh Miller has said it could furnish more fossil fish than any other geological system in England, Scotland, and Wales, and could supply ichthyolites by the ton, or a ship load of fossilised fish sufficient to supply the museums of the world.  How came this vast number of fish to be congregated here? and what was the force that overwhelmed them?  It was quite evident from the distorted portions of their skeletons, as seen in the quarried flags, that they had suffered a violent death.  But as we were unable to study geology, and could neither pronounce nor understand the names applied to the fossils, we gave it up in despair, as a deep where all our thoughts were drowned.

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We then walked along the coast, until we came to the highest point of the cliffs opposite some dangerous rocks called the Black Craigs, about which a sorrowful story was told.  It happened on Wednesday, March 5th, 1834, during a terrific storm, when the Star of Dundee, a schooner of about eighty tons, was seen to be drifting helplessly towards these rocks.  The natives knew there was no chance of escape for the boat, and ran with ropes to the top of the precipice near the rocks in the hope of being of some assistance; but such was the fury of the waves that the boat was broken into pieces before their eyes, and they were utterly helpless to save even one of their shipwrecked fellow-creatures.  The storm continued for some time, and during the remainder of the week nothing of any consequence was found, nor was any of the crew heard of again, either dead or alive, till on the Sunday morning a man was suddenly observed on the top of the precipice waving his hands, and the people who saw him first were so astonished that they thought it was a spectre.  It was afterwards discovered that it was one of the crew of the ill-fated ship who had been miraculously saved.  He had been washed into a cave from a large piece of the wreck, which had partially blocked its entrance and so checked the violence of the waves inside, and there were also washed in from the ship some red herrings, a tin can which had been used for oil, and two pillows.  The herrings served him for food and the tin can to collect drops of fresh water as they trickled down the rocks from above, while one of the pillows served for his bed and he used the other for warmth by pulling out the feathers and placing them into his boots.  Occasionally when the waves filled the mouth of the cave he was afraid of being suffocated.  Luckily for him at last the storm subsided sufficiently to admit of his swimming out of the cave; how he managed to scale the cliffs seemed little short of a miracle.  He was kindly treated by the Islanders, and when he recovered they fitted him out with clothing so that he could join another ship.  By what we may call the irony of fate he was again shipwrecked some years afterwards.  This time the fates were less kind, for he was drowned!

[Illustration:  THE WRECK.]

We had a splendid view of the mountains and sea, and stayed as usual on the cliffs until the pangs of hunger compelled us to return to Stromness, where we knew that a good tea was waiting for us.  At one point on our way back the Heads of Hoy strangely resembled the profile of the great Sir Walter Scott, and this he would no doubt have seen when collecting materials for The Pirate.

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We had heard both in Shetland and Orkney that when we reached John o’ Groat’s we should find an enormous number of shells on the beach, and as we had some extensive rockeries at home already adorned with thousands of oyster shells, in fact so many as to cause our home to be nicknamed “Oyster Shell Hall,” we decided to gather some of the shells when we got to John o’Groat’s and send them home to our friends.  The question of packages, however, seemed to be rather a serious one, as we were assured over and over again we should find no packages when we reached that out-of-the-way corner of Scotland, and that in the whole of the Orkney Islands there were not sufficient willows grown to make a single basket, skip, or hamper.  So after tea we decided to explore the town in search of a suitable hamper, and we had some amusing experiences, as the people did not know what a hamper was.  At length we succeeded in finding one rather ancient and capacious basket, but without a cover, whose appearance suggested that it had been washed ashore from some ship that had been wrecked many years ago, and, having purchased it at about three times its value, we carried it in triumph to our lodgings, to the intense amusement of our landlady and the excited curiosity of the Stromnessians.

We spent the remainder of the evening in looking through Mrs. Spence’s small library of books, but failed to find anything very consoling to us, as they related chiefly to storms and shipwrecks, and the dangerous nature of the Pentland Firth, whose turbulent waters we had to cross on the morrow.

The Pentland Firth lies between the north of Scotland and the Orkney Islands, varies from five and a half to eight miles in breadth, and is by repute the most dangerous passage in the British Isles.  We were told in one of the books that if we wanted to witness a regular “passage of arms” between two mighty seas, the Atlantic at Dunnet Head on the west, and the North Sea at Duncansbay Head on the east, we must cross Pentland Firth and be tossed upon its tides before we should be able to imagine what might be termed their ferocity.  “The rush of two mighty oceans, struggling to sweep this world of waters through a narrow sound, and dashing their waves in bootless fury against the rocky barriers which headland and islet present; the endless contest of conflicting tides hurried forward and repelled, meeting, and mingling—­their troubled surface boiling and spouting—­and, even in a summer calm, in an eternal state of agitation”; and then fancy the calm changing to a storm:  “the wind at west; the whole volume of the Atlantic rolling its wild mass of waters on, in one sweeping flood, to dash and burst upon the black and riven promontory of the Dunnet Head, until the mountain wave, shattered into spray, flies over the summit of a precipice, 400 feet above the base it broke upon.”  But this was precisely what we did not want to see, so we turned to the famous Statistical Account,

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which also described the difficulty of navigating the Firth for sailing vessels.  This informed us that “the current in the Pentland Firth is exceedingly strong during the spring tides, so that no vessel can stem it.  The flood-tide runs from west to east at the rate of ten miles an hour, with new and full moon.  It is then high water at Scarfskerry (about three miles away from Dunnet Head) at nine o’clock.  Immediately, as the water begins to fall on the shore, the current turns to the west; but the strength of the flood is so great in the middle of the Firth that it continues to run east till about twelve.  With a gentle breeze of westerly wind, about eight o’clock in the morning the whole Firth, from Dunnet Head to Hoy Head in Orkney, seems as smooth as a sheet of glass.  About nine the sea begins to rage for about one hundred yards off the Head, while all without continues smooth as before.  This appearance gradually advances towards the Firth, and along the shore to the east, though the effects are not much felt along the shore till it reaches Scarfskerry Head, as the land between these points forms a considerable bay.  By two o’clock the whole of the Firth seems to rage.  About three in the afternoon it is low water on the shore, when all the former phenomena are reversed, the smooth water beginning to appear next the land and advancing gradually till it reaches the middle of the Firth.  To strangers the navigation is very dangerous, especially if they approach near to land.  But the natives along the coast are so well acquainted with the direction of the tides, that they can take advantage of every one of these currents to carry them safe from one harbour to another.  Hence very few accidents happen, except from want of skill or knowledge of the tides.”

[Illustration:  A NORTH SEA ROLLER.]

There were some rather amusing stories about the detention of ships in the Firth.  A Newcastle shipowner had despatched two ships from that port by the same tide, one to Bombay by the open sea, and the other, via the Pentland Firth, to Liverpool, and the Bombay vessel arrived at her destination first.  Many vessels trying to force a passage through the Firth have been known to drift idly about hither and thither for months before they could get out again, and some ships that once entered Stromness Bay on New Year’s Day were found there, resting from their labours on the fifteenth day of April following, “after wandering about like the Flying Dutchman.”  Sir Walter Scott said this was formerly a ship laden with precious metals, but a horrible murder was committed on board.  A plague broke out amongst the crew, and no port would allow the vessel to enter for fear of contagion, and so she still wanders about the sea with her phantom crew, never to rest, but doomed to be tossed about for ever.  She is now a spectral ship, and hovers about the Cape of Good Hope as an omen of bad luck to mariners who are so unfortunate as to see her.

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The dangerous places at each end of the Firth were likened to the Scylla and Charybdis between Italy and Sicily, where, in avoiding one mariners were often wrecked by the other; but the dangers in the Firth were from the “Merry Men of Mey,” a dangerous expanse of sea, where the water was always boiling like a witch’s cauldron at one end, and the dreaded “Swalchie Whirlpool” at the other.  This was very dangerous for small boats, as they could sail over it safely in one state of the tide, but when it began to move it carried the boat round so slowly that the occupants did not realise their danger until too late, when they found themselves going round quicker and quicker as they descended into the awful vortex below, where the ancient Vikings firmly believed the submarine mill existed which ground the salt that supplied the ocean.

We ought not to have read these dismal stories just before retiring to rest, as the consequence was that we were dreaming of dangerous rocks, storms, and shipwrecks all through the night, and my brother had toiled up the hill at the back of the town and found Bessie Miller there, just as Sir Walter Scott described her, with “a clay-coloured kerchief folded round her head to match the colour of her corpse-like complexion.”  He was just handing her a sixpence to pay for a favourable wind, when everything was suddenly scattered by a loud knock at the door, followed by the voice of our hostess informing us that it was five o’clock and that the boat was “awa’ oot” at six.

We were delighted to find that in place of the great storm pictured in our excited imagination there was every prospect of a fine day, and that a good “fish breakfast” served in Mrs. Spence’s best style was waiting for us below stairs.

Thursday, September 14th.

After bidding Mrs. Spence farewell, and thanking her for her kind attention to us during our visit to Stromness, we made our way to the sloop, which seemed a frail-looking craft to cross the stormy waters of the Pentland Firth.  We did not, of course, forget our large basket which we had had so much difficulty in finding, and which excited so much attention and attracted so much curiosity towards ourselves all the way to John o’ Groat’s.  It even caused the skipper to take a friendly interest in us, for after our explanation he stored that ancient basket amongst his more valuable cargo.

There was only a small number of passengers, but in spite of the early hour quite a little crowd of people had assembled to witness our departure, and a considerable amount of banter was going on between those on board the sloop and the company ashore, which continued as we moved away, each party trying to get the better of the other.  As a finale, one of our passengers shouted to his friend who had come to see him off:  “Do you want to buy a cow?” “Yes,” yelled his friend, “but I see nothing but a calf.”  A general roar of laughter followed this repartee, as we all thought the Orkneyman on

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shore had scored.  We should have liked to have fired another shot, but by the time the laughter had subsided we were out of range.  We did not expect to be on the way more than three or four hours, as the distance was only about twenty-four miles; but we did not reach Thurso until late in the afternoon, and we should have been later if we had had a less skilful skipper.  In the first place we had an unfavourable wind, which prevented our sailing by the Hoy Sound, the shortest and orthodox route, and this caused us to miss the proper sea view of the “Old Man of Hoy,” which the steamboat from Stromness to Thurso always passed in close proximity, but we could perceive it in the distance as an insular Pillar of Rock, standing 450 feet high with rocks in vicinity rising 1,000 feet, although we could not see the arch beneath, which gives it the appearance of standing on two legs, and hence the name given to the rock by the sailors.  The Orcadean poet writes: 

  See Hoy’s Old Man whose summit bare
  Pierces the dark blue fields of air;
  Based in the sea, his fearful form
  Glooms like the spirit of the storm.

[Illustration:  “OLD MAN OF HOY.”]

When pointing out the Old Man to us, the captain said that he stood in the roughest bit of sea round the British coast, and the words “wind and weather permitting” were very applicable when stoppages wore contemplated at the Old Man or other places in these stormy seas.

We had therefore to sail by way of Lang Hope, which we supposed was a longer route, and we were astonished at the way our captain handled his boat; but when we reached what we thought was Lang Hope, he informed the passengers that he intended to anchor here for some time, and those who wished could be ferried ashore.  We had decided to remain on the boat, but when the captain said there was an inn there where refreshments could be obtained, my brother declared that he felt quite hungry, and insisted upon our having a second breakfast.  We were therefore rowed ashore, and were ushered into the parlour of the inn as if we were the lords of the manor and sole owners, and were very hospitably received and entertained.  The inn was appropriately named the “Ship,” and the treatment we received was such as made us wish we were making a longer stay, but time and tide wait for no man.

  For the next inn he spurs amain,
  In haste alights, and scuds away—­
  But time and tide for no man stay.

[Illustration:  THE SHIP INN, LANG HOPE.  The sign has now been removed to a new hotel, visible in the photograph, on the opposite side of the ferry.]

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Whether it was for time or tide or for one of those mysterious movements in the Pentland Firth that our one-masted boat was waiting we never knew.  We had only just finished our breakfast when a messenger appeared to summon us to rejoin the sloop, which had to tack considerably before we reached what the skipper described as the Scrabster Roads.  A stiff breeze had now sprung up, and there was a strong current in the sea; at each turn or tack our boat appeared to be sailing on her side, and we were apprehensive that she might be blown over into the sea.  We watched the operations carefully and anxiously, and it soon became evident that what our skipper did not know about the navigation of these stormy seas was not worth knowing.  We stood quite near him (and the mast) the whole of the time, and he pointed out every interesting landmark as it came in sight.  He seemed to be taking advantage of the shelter afforded by the islands, as occasionally we came quite near their rocky shores, and at one point he showed us a small hole in the rock which was only a few feet above the sea; he told us it formed the entrance to a cave in which he had often played when, as a boy, he lived on that island.


The time had now arrived to cross the Pentland Firth and to sail round Dunnet Head to reach Thurso.  Fortunately the day was fine, and the strong breeze was nothing in the shape of a storm; but in spite of these favourable conditions we got a tossing, and no mistake!  Our little ship was knocked about like a cork on the waters, which were absolutely boiling and foaming and furiously raging without any perceptible cause, and as if a gale were blowing on them two ways at once.  The appearance of the foaming mass of waters was terrible to behold; we could hear them roaring and see them struggling together just below us; the deck of the sloop was only a few feet above them, and it appeared as if we might be swallowed up at any moment.  The captain told us that this turmoil was caused by the meeting of the waters of two seas, and that at times it was very dangerous to small boats.

Many years ago he was passing through the Firth with his boat on a rather stormy day, when he noticed he was being followed by another boat belonging to a neighbour of his.  He could see it distinctly from time to time, and he was sure that it could not be more than 200 yards away, when he suddenly missed it.  He watched anxiously for some time, but it failed to reappear, nor was the boat or its crew ever seen or heard of again, and it was supposed to have been carried down by a whirlpool!

We were never more thankful than when we got safely across those awful waters and the great waves we encountered off Dunnet Head, and when we were safely landed near Thurso we did not forget the skipper, but bade him a friendly and, to him, lucrative farewell.

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We had some distance to walk before reaching the town where, loaded with our luggage and carrying the large basket between us, each taking hold of one of the well-worn handles, we attracted considerable attention, and almost every one we saw showed a disposition to see what we were carrying in our hamper; but when they discovered it was empty, their curiosity was turned into another channel, and they must see where we were taking it; so by the time we reached the house recommended by our skipper for good lodgings we had a considerable following of “lookers on.”  Fortunately, however, no one attempted to add to our burden by placing anything in the empty basket or we should have been tempted to carry it bottom upwards like an inmate of one of the asylums in Lancashire.  A new addition was being built in the grounds, and some of the lunatics were assisting in the building operations, when the foreman discovered one of them pushing his wheelbarrow with the bottom upwards and called out to him, “Why don’t you wheel it the right way up?”

“I did,” said the lunatic solemnly, “but they put bricks in it!”

We felt that some explanation was due to our landlady, who smiled when she saw the comical nature of that part of our luggage and the motley group who had followed us, and as we unfolded its history and described the dearth of willows in the Orkneys, the price we had paid, the difficulties in finding the hamper, and the care we had taken of it when crossing the stormy seas, we could see her smile gradually expanding into a laugh that she could retain no longer when she told us we could have got a better and a cheaper basket than that in the “toon,” meaning Thurso, of course.  It was some time before we recovered ourselves, laughter being contagious, and we could hear roars of it at the rear of the house as our antiquated basket was being stored there.

After tea we crossed the river which, like the town, is named Thurso, the word, we were informed, meaning Thor’s House.  Thor, the god of thunder, was the second greatest of the Scandinavian deities, while his father, Odin, the god of war, was the first.  We had some difficulty in crossing the river, as we had to pass over it by no less than eighty-five stepping-stones, several of which were slightly submerged.  Here we came in sight of Thurso Castle, the residence of the Sinclair family, one of whom, Sir John Sinclair, was the talented author of the famous Statistical Account of Scotland, and a little farther on stood Harold’s Tower.  This tower was erected by John Sinclair over the tomb of Earl Harold, the possessor at one time of one half of Orkney, Shetland, and Caithness, who fell in battle against his own namesake, Earl Harold the Wicked, in 1190.  In the opposite direction was Scrabster and its castle, the scene of the horrible murder of John, Earl of Caithness, in the twelfth century, “whose tongue was cut from his throat and whose eyes were put out.”  We did not

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go there, but went into the town, and there witnessed the departure of the stage, or mail coach, which was just setting out on its journey of eighty miles, for railways had not yet made their appearance in Caithness, the most northerly county in Scotland.  We then went to buy another hamper, and got a much better one for less money than we paid at Stromness, for we had agreed that we would send home two hampers filled with shells instead of one.  We also inquired the best way of getting to John o’ Groat’s, and were informed that the Wick coach would take us the first six miles, and then we should have to walk the remaining fifteen.  We were now only one day’s journey to the end and also from the beginning of our journey, and, as may easily be imagined, we were anxiously looking forward to the morrow.

Friday, September 15th.

At eight o’clock in the morning we were comfortably seated in the coach which was bound for Wick, with our luggage and the two hampers safely secured on the roof above, and after a ride of about six miles we were left, with our belongings, at the side of the highway where the by-road leading in the direction of John o’ Groat’s branched off to the left across the open country.  The object of our walk had become known to our fellow-passengers, and they all wished us a pleasant journey as the coach moved slowly away.  Two other men who had friends in the coach also alighted at the same place, and we joined them in waving adieux, which were acknowledged from the coach, as long as it remained in sight.  They also very kindly assisted us to carry our luggage as far as they were going on our way, and then they helped us to scheme how best to carry it ourselves.  We had brought some strong cord with us from Thurso, and with the aid of this they contrived to sling the hampers over our shoulders, leaving us free to carry the remainder of our luggage in the usual way, and then, bidding us a friendly farewell, left us to continue on our lonely way towards John o’ Groat’s.  We must have presented an extraordinary appearance with these large baskets extending behind our backs, and we created great curiosity and some amusement amongst the men, women, and children who were hard at work harvesting in the country through which we passed.

My brother said it reminded him of Christian in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who carried the burden on his back and wanted to get rid of it; while I thought of Sinbad the Sailor, who, when wrecked on a desert island, was compelled to carry the Old Man of the Sea on his shoulders, and he also wanted to get rid of his burden; but we agreed that, like both of these worthy characters, we should be obliged to carry our burdens to the end of the journey.

We had a fine view of Dunnet Head, which is said to be the Cape Orcas mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, the geographer who lived in the time of Julius Caesar, and of the lighthouse which had been built on the top of it in 1832, standing quite near the edge of the cliff.

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The light from the lantern, which was 346 feet above the highest spring tide, could be seen at a distance of 23 miles; but even this was sometimes obscured by the heavy storms from the west when the enormous billows from the Atlantic dashed against the rugged face of the cliff and threw up the spray as high as the lights of the building itself, so that the stones they contained have been known to break the glass in the building; such, indeed, was the prodigious combined force of the wind and sea upon the headland, that the very rock seemed to tremble as if it were affected by an earthquake.

While on the coach we had passed the hamlets of Murkle and Castlehill.  Between these two places was a sandy pool on the seashore to which a curious legend was attached.  The story goes that—­

a young lad on one occasion discovered a mermaid bathing and by some means or other got into conversation with her and rendered himself so agreeable that a regular meeting at the same spot took place between them.  This continued for some time.  The young man grew exceedingly wealthy, and no one could tell how he became possessed of such riches.  He began to cut a dash amongst the lasses, making them presents of strings of diamonds of vast value, the gifts of the fair sea nymph.  By and by he began to forget the day of his appointment; and when he did come to see her, money and jewels were his constant request.  The mermaid lectured him pretty sharply on his love of gold, and, exasperated at his perfidy in bestowing her presents on his earthly fair ones, enticed him one evening rather farther than usual, and at length showed him a beautiful boat, in which she said she would convey him to a cave in Darwick Head, where she had all the wealth of all the ships that ever were lost in the Pentland Firth and on the sands of Dunnet.  He hesitated at first, but the love of gold prevailed, and off they set to the cave in question.  And here, says the legend, he is confined with a chain of gold, sufficiently long to admit of his walking at times on a small piece of sand under the western side of the Head; and here, too, the fair siren laves herself in the tiny waves on fine summer evenings, but no consideration will induce her to loose his fetters of gold, or trust him one hour out of her sight.

We walked on at a good pace and in high spirits, but, after having knocked about for nine days and four nights and having travelled seven or eight hundred miles by land and sea, the weight of our extra burden began to tell upon us, and we felt rather tired and longed for a rest both for mind and body in some quiet spot over the week’s end, especially as we had decided to begin our long walk on the Monday morning.

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Visions of a good hotel which we felt sure we should find at John o’ Groat’s began to haunt us, and the more hungry we became the brighter were our anticipations of the good fare that awaited us.  But judge of our surprise and disappointment when a man whom we met on the road told us there was no hotel there at all!  We asked if he thought we could get lodgings at John o’ Groat’s House itself, but the sardonic grin that spread over his features when he told us that that house had vanished long ago was cruel.  The information gave us quite a shock, and our spirits seemed to fall below zero as we turned our backs on the man without even thanking him for answering our questions.  We felt not too full, but too empty for words, as we were awfully hungry, and I heard my brother murmur something that sounded very like “Liar”; but the man’s information turned out to be perfectly correct.  Our luggage also began to feel heavier, and the country gradually became more wild and desolate.  Our spirits revived a little when a fisherman told us of a small inn that we should reach a mile or two before coming to John o’ Groat’s.  We thought we had surely come to the end of everywhere when we reached the “Huna Inn,” for it stood some distance from any other house and at the extreme end of an old lane that terminated at the sea.  It was a small, primitive structure, but it was now our only hope, as far as we knew, for obtaining lodgings, and we could scarcely restrain our delight when we were told we could be accommodated there until Monday morning.  It was an intense relief to us to be separated from our cumbersome luggage, and we must say that Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie did all in their power to make us comfortable and happy and to make us feel at home.  We contented ourselves with some light refreshments which to some non-pedestrians might have appeared decidedly heavy, and then decided to see all that remained of John o’ Groat’s House.

Walking along the beach for about a mile and a half, the distance we were told that separated the ruins from the inn, we failed to find them, and were about to return when we met a shepherd who said we had already passed them.  We therefore returned with him, as he told us he was going to the inn, and he showed us a few mounds of earth covered with grass which marked the site of the foundations of John o’ Groat’s House, but the stones had been removed to build a storehouse, or granary, at a place he pointed out in the distance.  We were rather disappointed, as we expected to find some extensive remains, and, seeing they were so very scanty, we wondered why, in a land where stones were so plentiful, some monument or inscribed stone had not been erected to mark the site where this remarkable house once stood, as, in the absence of some one to direct them, strangers, like ourselves, might pass and repass these remains without noticing them.  We were not long in reaching the inn, for the shepherd was a big man and took very

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long strides, and here we wrote a few short letters to our friends to advise them of our safe arrival at John o’ Groat’s, afterwards walking to the post office about a mile away to post them, and ordering a high tea to be ready for us on our return.  It was half-past eight when we finished our tea, after which we were conducted to a little room close to the sea, with two tiny windows in it, one of them without a blind, and with a peat or turf fire burning brightly on the hearth.  Mrs. Mackenzie then brought us a small candle, which she lighted, and handed us a book which she said was the “Album,” and we amused ourselves with looking over this for the remainder of the evening.  It was quite a large volume, dating from the year 1839, and the following official account of the Groat family, headed with a facsimile of the “Groat Arms,” was pasted inside the cover: 



It is stated in Sinclair’s Statistical Accounts of Scotland, vol. 8, page 167 and following:—­“In the account of Cannisby by the Rev. John Marison, D.D., that in the reign of James the Fourth, King of Scotland, Malcom, Cairn and John de Groat, supposed to have been brothers and originally from Holland, arrived in Caithness from the south of Scotland, bringing with them a letter in Latin by that King recommending him to the countenance and protection of his loving subjects in the County of Caithness.”
It is stated in Chambers’s Pictures of Scotland, vol. 2, page 306, “that the foundations or ruins of John o’ Groat’s House, which is perhaps the most celebrated in the whole world, are still to be seen.”

Then followed the names and addresses of visitors extending over a period of thirty-three years, many of them having also written remarks in prose, poetry, or doggerel rhyme, so we found plenty of food for thought and some amusement before we got even half way through the volume.  Some of these effusions might be described as of more than ordinary merit, and the remainder as good, bad, and indifferent.  Those written in foreign languages—­and there were many of them—­we could neither read nor understand, but they gave us the impression that the fame of John o’ Groat’s had spread throughout the civilised world.  There were many references to Stroma, or the Island of the Current, which we could see in the Pentland Firth about four miles distant, and to the difficulties and danger the visitors had experienced in crossing that “stormy bit of sea” between it and John o’ Groat’s.  But their chief complaint was that, after travelling so far, there was no house for them to see.  They had evidently, like ourselves, expected to find a substantial structure, and the farther they had travelled the greater their disappointment would naturally be.  One visitor had expressed his disappointment in a verse more forcible than elegant, but true as regarded the stone.

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    I went in a boat
    To see John o’ Groat,
  The place where his home doth lie;
    But when I got there,
    The hill was all bare,
  And the devil a stone saw I.

The following entry also appeared in the Album:—­

Elihu Burrit of New Britain, Connecticut, U.S.  America, on a walk from Land’s End to John o’ Groat’s, arrived at Huna Inn, upon Monday Sep. 28th, 1863.  He visited the site of that famous domicile so celebrated in the world-wide legend for its ingenious construction to promote domestic happiness, and fully realised all he had anticipated in standing on a spot so rich with historical associations and surrounded with such grand and beautiful scenery.  He desires also to record his testimony to the hospitality and comfort of the cosy little sea-side Inn, where he was pleasantly housed for the night, and of which he will ever cherish an interesting remembrance.

Saturday, September 16th.

“Now for the shells!” exclaimed my brother, as we awoke early in the morning, for we expected to have a hard day’s work before we gathered shells enough to fill our large baskets.  So we hurried on with our breakfast, and then, shouldering our hampers, walked quickly along the beach to the place where we had been informed we should find them.  When we got there we saw a sight which surely could not have had its parallel in the British Isles, for the beach was white with them for the greater part of two miles.  We were greatly astonished, for in some places the beach was so thickly covered that, had we possessed a shovel, we could have filled both our baskets with shells in a very few minutes.  We decided therefore to select those best suited to our purpose, and we worked away until we had filled both our hampers.  We then carried them one at a time to the “Huna Inn,” and arranged with Mr. Mackenzie to have them carefully packed and delivered to the local carrier to be conveyed by road to the steamboat office at Wick, and thence forwarded by water to our home, where we knew their contents would be appreciated for rockery purposes.  The whole of our operations were completed by noon, instead of occupying the whole of the day as anticipated, for we had a great advantage in having such an enormous number of shells to select from.  Our host told us that farmers occasionally moved them by cart-loads to serve as lime manure on their land.  Their accumulation at that particular spot was a mystery which he could not explain beyond the fact that the shells were washed up from the Pentland Firth during the great storms; so we concluded that there must be a land of shell fish in or near that stormy deep, perhaps corresponding with that of the larger fish whose destruction we had seen represented in the Strata of Pomona in the Orkneys.

[Illustration:  ROCKS AT DUNCANSBAY.]

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We must not forget to record, however, that amongst the vast number of shells we had turned over we found some of those lovely little shells known as “John o’ Groat’s buckies,” so highly prized by visitors.  They were difficult to find, as they were so very small, but we found quite a number, and considered them to be perfect little gems, and so very pretty that we reserved them for special presents to our friends.  We afterwards learned that they were known to science as Cyproe Artoca, or European Cowry.

* * * * *

An interesting account of John o’ Groat’s House and the shells was written in the year 1698 by the Rev. John Brand, Commissioner of the General Assembly:—­

The landing-place was called John o’ Groat’s House, the northernmost house in Scotland; the man who now liveth in it and keepeth an inn there is called John Grot, who saith his house hath been in the possession of his predecessors of that name for some hundreds of years; which name of Grot is frequent in Caithness.
Upon the sand by John Grot’s house are found many small pleasant buckies and shells, beautified by diverse colours, which some use to put upon a string as beads, and account much of their rarity.  It is also observed of these shells that not one of them can be found altogether like another, and upon the review of the parcel I had I discovered some difference among them which variety renders them the more beautiful.


After our midday dinner had partially digested, for we had eaten rather too much, we started for Duncansbay Head, following the coast line on an up-gradient until we reached the top, which formed the north-eastern extremity of Scotland, and from where we had to start on Monday morning.  It was a lonely spot, and we were the only visitors; but we had a lively time there, as the thousands of wild birds whose homes were in the rocks, judging from the loud noises they made as they new about us in endless processions, resented our intrusion into their sacred domain—­hovering around us in every direction.  Perhaps they were only anxious to ascertain whether we were friends or foes, but we were very much interested in their strange movements.  They appeared to be most numerous on and about two or three perpendicular rocks which rose from the sea like pinnacles to a great height.  These rocks were named the “Stacks,” or the “Boars of Duncansbay,” their sides and summits being only accessible to birds, and forming safe resting and nesting-places for them, and on the top of the highest stack the golden-coloured eagles had for ages reared their young.  The “Stacks” might once have formed part of the headland or of some adjacent island which had been wasted away by the winds and waves of ages until only these isolated portions remained, and these were worn into all kinds of crevices and fantastic shapes which impressed us

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with a sense of their great antiquity.  We walked along the top of the cliffs, which here presented the appearance of one vast amphitheatre lined with precipices, with small promontories here and there jutting out into the sea resembling fortresses, some of them having the ruins of ancient castles crowning their highest points.  We could scarcely bring our minds to realise that these were the very rocks we had seen from the deck of the s.s. St. Magnus only a few days since.  We had passed through so many scenes, and had had so many adventures both by night and day since then, that the lapse of time seemed to us to be more like years than days.  We retraced our steps to the head, and stood there for some time watching the ships far out at sea, trying to distinguish the St. Magnus, as it was just about the time she was again due on her outward journey; but the demands of our hungry insides were again claiming urgent attention, and so we hastened our return to the “Huna Inn.”  On our way we again encountered the shepherd who had shown us the site of John o’ Groat’s House, and we invited him to look us up in the evening, as we were anxious to get further information about John and his famous house.  “Huna Inn,” in spite of its disadvantages, was quite a romantic place to stay at, as it was situated almost on the edge of the boiling torrent of the Pentland Firth, which at times was so stormy that the island of Stroma could not be reached for weeks.

The “Swalchie,” or whirlpool of Stroma, has been mentioned by many ancient writers, but the most interesting story is that of its origin as given in the old Norse legend headed, “Fenja and Menja,” and containing a famous ballad known as the “Grotta Songr,” or the “Mill Song,” grotta being the Norse for mill, or quern.

Odin had a son by name Skjold from whom the Skjoldungs.  He had his throne and ruled in the lands that are now called Denmark but were then called Gotland.  Skjold had a son by name Fridleif, who ruled the lands after him.  Fridleif’s son was Frode.  He took the kingdom after his father, at the time when the Emperor Augustus established peace in all the earth, and Christ was born.  But Frode being the mightiest King in the Northlands, this peace was attributed to him by all who spake the Danish tongue and the Norsemen called it the Peace of Frode.  No man injured the other, even though he might meet, loose or in chains, his father’s or brother’s bane (murderer).  There was no thief or robber so that a gold ring would lie a long time on Jalanger’s heath.  King Frode sent messengers to Sirthjod, to the King whose name was Fjolner, and bought there two maidservants, whose names were Fenja and Menja.  They were large and strong.  About this time were found in Denmark two millstones so large that no one had the strength to turn them.  But the nature belonged to these millstones that they ground whatever was demanded of them by the miller.  The name of the mill was Grotte.  But the man to whom King

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Frode gave the mill was called Hengekjapt.  King Frode had the maidservants led to the mill and requested them to grind for him gold and peace and Frode’s happiness.  Then he gave them no longer time to rest or sleep than while the cuckoo was silent or while they sang a song.  It is said they sang the song called the “Grotte Song,” and before they ended it they ground out a host against Frode, so that on the same night there came the Sea-King whose name was Mysing and slew Frode and took a large amount of booty.  Mysing took with him Grotte and also Fenja and Menja and bade them grind salt, and in the middle of the night they asked Mysing whether he did not have salt enough.  He bade them grind more.  They ground only a short time longer before the ship sank.  But in the ocean arose a whirlpool (maelstrom, mill-stream) in the place where the sea runs into the mill-eye:  the Swalchie of Stroma.

The story “Why is the sea salt?” or “How the sea became salt,” has appeared in one form or another among many nations of the world, and naturally appealed strongly to the imagination of the youth of a maritime nation like England.  The story as told formerly amongst schoolboys was as follows: 

Jack had decided to go to sea, but before doing so he went to see his fairy godmother, who had a strange looking old coffee-mill on the mantelshelf in her kitchen.  She set the table for tea without anything on it to eat or drink, and then, taking down the old mill, placed it on the table and asked it to grind each article she required.  After the tea-pot had been filled, Jack was anxious for something to eat, and said he would like some teacakes, so his fairy godmother said to the mill: 

  “Mill!  Mill! grind away. 
  Buttered tea-cakes now I pray!”

   for she knew Jack liked plenty of butter on his cakes, and out they
   came from the mill until the plate was well filled, and then she

  “Mill!  Mill! rest thee now,
  Thou hast ground enough I trow,”

and immediately the mill stopped grinding.  When Jack told her he was going away on a ship to sea, his fairy godmother made him a present of the old mill, which he would find useful, as it would grind anything he asked it to; but he must be careful to use the same words that he had heard her speak both in starting and stopping the mill.  When he got to the ship, he stored the old mill carefully in his box, and had almost forgotten it when as they neared the country they were bound for the ship ran short of potatoes, so Jack told the Captain he would soon find him some, and ran for his mill, which he placed on the deck of the ship, and said to it: 

  “Mill!  Mill! grind away,
  Let us have some potatoes I pray!”

   and immediately the potatoes began to roll out of the mill and over
   the deck, to the great astonishment and delight of the sailors, who
   had fine fun gathering them up.  Then Jack said to the mill: 

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  “Mill!  Mill! rest thee now,
  Thou hast ground enough I trow,”

   and immediately the mill ceased grinding.

The Captain determined to get the mill from Jack, who would not part with it, and tried to steal it, but did not succeed, and when they reached the port, Jack took the mill ashore with him, and rented a shop that happened to be empty, and had a sign-board placed over it with the words painted in large letters, “All sorts of things supplied here on the shortest notice,” and he soon got a pile of money, the last order being one from the King, who wanted clothing for his soldiers in a hurry, as war had broken out unexpectedly.  Jack’s good fortune was soon heard of by the Captain, and when his ship was ready to sail he contrived to get one of his friends to invite Jack to a party that evening, and then with the help of some of his crew he broke into the shop and stole the old mill.
When Jack returned in the morning his mill was gone, and he could just see the sails of the ship far out at sea.  But he did not care much, as he had now money enough to keep himself for many years.  Meantime the Captain in his hurry to get away had forgotten to bring some things that were wanted, and when he found they had no salt on board, he brought the old mill on deck, and said: 

  “Mill!  Mill! grind away
  Let us have some salt I pray,”

and immediately the mill began to grind salt at a great speed and presently covered the deck all round where it was working, but the Captain had forgotten the words spoken by Jack when he stopped the mill, and though he used all the words he could think of, the mill kept on grinding, and was rapidly filling every available space on the deck.  The Captain then ran to his cabin and brought out his sword, and with a terrific blow he cut the mill in halves; but each piece formed itself into a mill, and both mills continued grinding until the ship sank to the bottom of the sea, where the mills are still grinding in the terrible Swalchie of Stroma, and that is why the water in the sea is salt!

There had been a ferry at John o’ Groat’s years before our visit, and mails and passengers had been carried across the Firth to and from the Orkney Islands, the distance across being shorter from this point than from any other in Scotland; but for some unexplained reason the service had been discontinued, and the presence of the ferry would probably account for so many names being written in the album.  The day was already drawing to a close as we sat down to tea and the good things provided by Mrs. Mackenzie, and we were waited upon by a Scotch lassie, who wore neither shoes nor stockings; but this we found was nothing unusual in the north of Scotland in those days.  After tea we adjourned to our room, and sat down in front of our peat fire; but our conversational powers soon exhausted themselves, for we felt uncommonly

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drowsy after having been exposed so long to the open air.  We sat there silently watching the curling smoke as it went up the chimney and dreamily gazing into the caverns which had been formed in the fire below, imagining that we could see all kinds of weird objects therein, and then we thought of the times when we should not have been able to rest so securely and comfortably in the “Huna Inn,” when one Scottish clan was trying to exterminate another not so far away from where we were then sitting, for no more apparent reason than that the Scots were born soldiers, and if they had no foreigners to fight they must fight among themselves.  We must have been nearly asleep when our reveries were interrupted by the entrance of the shepherd, whom for the moment we had entirely forgotten.  He had come in response to our invitation to talk with us about things in general, but particularly about John o’ Groat, and we were glad to see him, and we now give—­


John o’ Groat was a fisherman belonging to Holland who was caught when at sea in a great storm which damaged his sails so that his boat drifted almost helplessly across the sea.  When he came in sight of the Scottish coast he was carried with the current into the Pentland Firth, and as he could not repair the sails in the boat and could not get back to Holland with them in their damaged condition, he decided to land on one of the islands and repair them on shore.  His wife was very much opposed to his landing on Stroma, as she thought it was a desert island, so he got his boat across from there to the Scottish coast; but when he attempted to land at Huna, the natives opposed his landing, for they thought he was a pirate.  Fortunately for him he had a few kegs of gin in his boat, and when the canny Scots saw these they became more friendly, especially as they had a great respect for Holland’s gin, and so they allowed him to land, and even helped him to mend his sails.  They afterwards allowed him to settle amongst them on condition that he did not attempt to go into the interior of the country, and that he built his house on the seashore.  He got on well amongst his new friends, and in time became their chief and had eight sons, and on one festive occasion, when they all came to see him, they quarrelled as to which should have precedence at his table, so John told them that the next time they came he would have matters so arranged as to avoid that kind of thing in the future.  He therefore built an entirely new house with eight sides to it and a door in each, and made a table inside of the same octagonal shape, so that when they came to see him again each of them could enter by his own door and sit at his own head of the table.

In reply to our questions the shepherd said he thought this event happened about 350 years ago, but the house had long since disappeared, and only the site of the foundations which he had shown us previously now remained. 

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He also said that heaps of ladies and gentlemen came there to picnic on the site, and he had seen them take even small stones away; but though he had lived there for fifty years, he had never seen John o’ Groat’s any different from what it was now.  We asked him why John did not return to Holland, and he said it was because he had a letter from the king.  We thanked the shepherd for his story, and, having suitably rewarded him, bade him farewell and hurried off to bed in the fading light of our rapidly diminishing candle.

Sunday, September 17th.

The strict observance of the Sabbath Day in Scotland was to us a most pleasing feature in Scottish life, and one to which we had been accustomed from early childhood, so we had no desire to depart from it now.  We were, therefore, very pleased when Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie invited us to accompany them to the Free Kirk service, and, as half-past ten o’clock was the time fixed for our departure from the inn, we concluded that the kirk could not be far away, as that was the hour that service began in our village church in Cheshire, but we could not remember seeing any kirk in the neighbourhood of the “Huna Inn.”  We continued walking one mile after another for more than an hour, and must have walked quite four miles before we came in sight of the kirk, and we were then informed that the service did not commence until twelve o’clock!  The country through which we passed was very bare, there being a total absence of hedges and trees, so we could see people coming towards the kirk from every direction.  Everybody seemed to know everybody else, and, as they came nearer the sacred enclosure, they formed themselves into small groups and stood conversing with each other, chiefly on religious matters, until the minister arrived to take charge of his flock.  He was a quaintly dressed and rather elderly man, evidently well known, as he had a nod or a smile of recognition and a friendly word for all.  We followed him into the kirk, where we found ourselves in the presence of quite a large congregation, and sat with Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie in their own pew in the rear of the kirk.  The form of the service was quite different from that to which we had been accustomed.  The congregation stood up while they prayed and sat down while they sang the Psalms, with the exception of one man, who remained standing in what we thought was the clerk’s desk immediately below the pulpit.  This man acted as leader of the singing, but he failed to get much assistance from the people, and had great difficulty in keeping the singing going.  Possibly the failure of the congregational singing might be accounted for by the absence of an organ or other instrument of music to assist and encourage the people to sing, the nearest approach to anything of the kind being the tuning-fork which the conductor held in his hand.  There was also the fact that the sitting posture was not the best position for bringing out the powers of the human voice; but we came to the conclusion that music was not looked upon favourably in that remote part of Scotland.

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In front of the pulpit there was an enclosure, fenced in by the communion rail, and inside this were seated the elders, or deacons of the church.  These were very old men with bent heads and white hair, and had the appearance of centenarians; they were indeed the queerest-looking group of old men we had ever seen assembled together.  But it was their noses that chiefly attracted our attention, as they were so very long and crooked, and the strange feature about them was that they were all of the same pattern.  Their only rival, as far as we could see, in length of nose was the minister, but we thought he had enlarged his by artificial means, as we found to our surprise that he was addicted to snuff-taking, a habit very prevalent in Scotland in those days.

Then came the sermon.  On the pulpit was the Bible, and beside it a substantial box of snuff, to which the minister resorted occasionally in the course of his long discourse.  His pinches must have been considerable, for every sniff lasted from two to three seconds, and could be heard distinctly all over the kirk.  This had a tendency to distract our attention from his sermon, which, by the way, was a very good one; but, owing to his rather slow delivery, we experienced a feeling of relief when he reached the end, for it had lasted quite an hour.

There was now a slight movement amongst the congregation, which we interpreted as a sign that the service was at an end, and we rose to leave; but, imagine our consternation when our friends told us that what we had listened to was only the first part of the service, and that we must on no account leave, as the second part was to follow immediately.  We therefore remained not altogether unwillingly, for we were curious to know what the next service was like.  It proved to be almost exactly the same as the first, and we could not distinguish much difference between the two sermons; but we listened attentively, and were convinced that the preacher was a thoroughly conscientious man in spite of his occasional long sniffs of snuff, which were continued as before, but what astonished us was that the old gentleman never once sneezed!  It was the most remarkable service we had ever attended, and it concluded exactly at three o’clock, having lasted three hours.

We had then to retrace our four-mile walk to “Huna Inn,” but the miles seemed rather longer, as Mrs. Mackenzie could only walk in a leisurely manner and we were feeling very hungry.  We whiled away the time by talking about the sermons and the snuff, but chiefly about the deacons and their wonderful noses, and why they were all alike and so strangely crooked.  Mr. Mackenzie suggested that they were crooked because if they had grown straight they would have projected over their mouths and prevented them from eating, the crook in them being a provision of nature to avoid this; or, they might have descended from the Romans or some other ancient race who had formerly inhabited the coast of that part of Scotland. 

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Books had been written and sermons preached about noses, and the longer the nose the greater the intellect of the owner was supposed to be.  We told our host that there was only one-sixteenth part of an inch between the length of Napoleon’s nose and that of Wellington’s.  We had forgotten which was the longer, but as Wellington’s was so conspicuous that he was nicknamed “Nosey” by his troops, and as he had won the great battle of Waterloo, we concluded that it was his, and gave him the benefit of the doubt.  We quoted the following lines: 

  Knows he, that never took a pinch,
  Nosey, the pleasure thence that flows? 
  Knows he the titillating joy
  Which my nose knows? 
  O Nose, I am as proud of thee
  As any mountain of its snows;
  I gaze on thee, and feel that pride
  A Roman knows.

Our host confided to us the reason why he was so anxious that we should not leave in the middle of the service.  The second service was originally intended for those who had to come long distances to reach the kirk, some of whom came from a place seven miles away, but in late years the two services had become continuous.  A few Sundays before our visit some persons had left the kirk at the end of the first part, and in his second sermon the minister had plainly described them as followers of the Devil! so we supposed our host was anxious that we should not be denounced in the same way.

We found our tea-dinner waiting our arrival at the inn.  We sat down to it at half-past four, and, as we rose from what was left of it at five o’clock, having worked hard meanwhile, we may safely be credited with having done our duty.

We had a walk with our host along the shore, and had not proceeded far before we saw a dark-looking object some distance away in the sea.  We thought it looked like a man in a boat, rising and falling with the waves, but Mr. Mackenzie told us that it was two whales following the herrings that were travelling in shoals round the coasts.  We were very much interested in their strange movements, as they were the only whales we ever saw alive, but we could not help feeling sorry for the fish.  Evening was coming on as we re-entered “Huna Inn,” and when we were again seated before our turf fire, joined by our host and hostess, our conversation was chiefly on the adventures we had already had, the great walk we were to begin on the morrow, and the pleasure it had given us to see the manifest and steadfast determination of the people at the kirk to observe the Commandment of the God of the Sabbath, “REMEMBER THAT THOU KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH DAY.”  We wondered how much the prosperity of the Scottish nation and its representatives in every part of the “wide, wide world” was attributable to their strict observance of the Sabbath.  Who knows?


Monday, September 18th.

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We rose early and walked along the beach to Duncansbay Head, or Rongisby as the old maps have it, gathering a few of those charming little shells called John o’Groat Buckies by the way.  After walking round the site of John o’Groat’s house, we returned to our comfortable quarters at the Huna Inn for breakfast.  John o’Groat seems to have acted with more wisdom than many entrusted with the affairs of a nation.  When his sons quarrelled for precedence at his table, he consoled them with the promise that when the next family gathering took place the matter should be settled to the satisfaction of all.  During the interval he built a house having eight sides, each with a door and window, with an octagonal table in the centre so that each of his eight sons could enter at his own door and sit at his own side or “head” of the table.  By this arrangement—­which reminded us of King Arthur’s use of his round table—­he dispelled the animosity which previously prevailed.  After breakfast, and in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie, we made an entry in the famous Album with name and address, object of journey, and exact time of departure, and they promised to reserve a space beneath the entry to record the result, which was to be posted to them immediately we reached our journey’s end.

[Illustration:  JOHN O’GROAT’S HOUSE.]

It was about half-past ten o’clock when we started on our long walk along a circuitous and unknown route from John o’Groat’s to Land’s End.  Our host and hostess stood watching our departure and waving adieux until we disappeared in the distance.  We were in high spirits, and soon reached the junction of roads where we turned to the left towards Wick.  The first part of our walk was through the Parish of Canisbay, in the ancient records of which some reference is made to the more recent representatives of the Groat family, but as these were made two hundred years ago, they were now almost illegible.  Our road lay through a wild moorland district with a few farms and cottages here and there, mainly occupied by fishermen.  There were no fences to the fields or roads, and no bushes or trees, and the cattle were either herded or tied to stakes.

After passing through Canisbay, we arrived at the most northerly house in the Parish of Wick, formerly a public-house, and recognised as the half-way house between Wick and John o’Groat’s.  We found it occupied as a farm by Mr. John Nicolson, and here we saw the skeleton of a whale doing duty as a garden fence.  The dead whale, seventy feet in length, had been found drifting in the sea, and had been hauled ashore by the fishermen.  Mr. Nicolson had an ingenious son, who showed us a working sun-dial in the garden in front of the house which he had constructed out of a portion of the backbone, and in the same bone he had also formed a curious contrivance by which he could tell the day of the month.  He told us he was the only man that studied painting in the North, and invited us into the house,

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wherein several rooms he showed us some of his paintings, which were really excellent considering they were executed in ordinary wall paint.  His mother informed us that he began to study drawing when he was ill with a slow fever, but not bed-fast.  Two of the pictures, that of an old bachelor and a Scotch lassie, a servant, were very good indeed.  We also saw a picture of an old woman, a local celebrity, about a hundred years old, which was considered to be an excellent likeness, and showed the old lady’s eyes so sunk in her head as to be scarcely visible.  We considered that we had here found one of Nature’s artists, who would probably have made a name for himself if given the advantages so many have who lack the ability, for he certainly possessed both the imaginative faculty and no small degree of dexterity in execution.  He pointed out to us the house of a farmer over the way who slept in the Parish of Wick and took his meals in that of Canisbay, the boundary being marked by a chimney in the centre of the roof.  He also informed us that his brother accompanied Elihu Burritt, the American blacksmith, for some distance when he walked from London to John o’Groat’s.

We were now about eleven miles from Wick, and as Mr. Nicolson told us of an old castle we had missed, we turned back across the moors for about a mile and a half to view it.  He warned us that we might see a man belonging to the neighbourhood who was partly insane, and who, roaming amongst the castle ruins, usually ran straight towards any strangers as if to do them injury; but if we met him we must not be afraid, as he was perfectly harmless.  We had no desire to meet a madman, and luckily, although we kept a sharp look-out, we did not see him.  We found the ruined castle resting on a rock overlooking the sea with the rolling waves dashing on its base below; it was connected with the mainland by a very narrow strip broken through in one place, and formerly crossed by a drawbridge.  As this was no longer available, it was somewhat difficult to scale the embankment opposite; still we scrambled up and passed triumphantly through the archway into the ruins, not meeting with that resistance we fancied we should have done in the days of its daring owner.  A portion only of the tower remained, as the other part had fallen about two years before our visit.  The castle, so tradition stated, had been built about the year 1100 by one Buchollie, a famous pirate, who owned also another castle somewhere in the Orkneys.  How men could carry on such an unholy occupation amidst such dangerous surroundings was a mystery to us.


On our return we again saw our friend Mr. Nicolson, who told us there were quite a number of castles in Caithness, as well as Pictish forts and Druidical circles, a large proportion of the castles lying along the coast we were traversing.  He gave us the names of some of them, and told us that they materially enhanced the beauty of this rock-bound coast.  He also described to us a point of the coast near Ackergill, which we should pass, where the rocks formed a remarkably perfect profile of the Great Duke of Wellington, though others spoke of it as a black giant.  It could only be seen from the sea, but was marvellously correct and life-like, and of gigantic proportions.

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Acting on Mr. Nicolson’s instructions, we proceeded along the beach to Keiss Castle, and ascended to its second storey by means of a rustic ladder.  It was apparently of a more recent date than Buchollie, and a greater portion of it remained standing.  A little to the west of it we saw another and more modern castle, one of the seats of the Duke of Portland, who, we were told, had never yet visited it.  Before reaching the village of Keiss, we came to a small quay, where we stayed a short time watching the fishermen getting their smacks ready before sailing out to sea, and then we adjourned to the village inn, where we were provided with a first-class tea, for which we were quite ready.  The people at the inn evidently did not think their business inconsistent with religion, for on the walls of the apartment where we had our tea were hanging two pictures of a religious character, and a motto “Offer unto God thanksgiving,” and between them a framed advertisement of “Edinburgh Ales”!

After tea we continued our journey until we came to the last house in the village of Keiss, a small cottage on the left-hand side of the road, and here we called to inspect a model of John o’Groat’s house, which had been built by a local stonemason, and exhibited at the great Exhibition in London in 1862.  Its skilful builder became insane soon after he had finished it, and shortly afterwards died.  It was quite a palatial model and much more handsome than its supposed original was ever likely to have been.  It had eight doors with eight flights of steps leading up to them, and above were eight towers with watchmen on them, and inside the house was a table with eight sides made from wood said to have been from the original table in the house of Groat, and procured from one of his descendants.  The model was accompanied by a ground plan and a print of the elevation taken from a photo by a local artist.  There was no charge for admission or for looking at the model, but a donation left with the fatherless family was thankfully received.

We now walked for miles along the seashore over huge sand-hills with fine views of the herring-boats putting out to sea.  We counted fifty-six in one fleet, and the number would have been far greater had not Noss Head intervened to obstruct our view, as many more went out that night from Wick, although the herring season was now nearly over.  We passed Ackergill Tower, the residence of Sir George Dunbar, and about two miles farther on we came to two old castles quite near to each other, which were formerly the strongholds of the Earls of Caithness.  They were named Girnigoe and Sinclair.  Girnigoe was the oldest, and under the ruins of the keep was a dismal dungeon.

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It was now getting dark, and not the pleasantest time to view old castles surrounded by black rocks with the moan of the sea as it invaded the chasms of the rocks on which they stood.  Amongst these lonely ruins we spoke of the past, for had our visit been three centuries earlier, the dismal sounds from the sea below would have mingled with those from the unfortunate young man chained up in that loathsome dungeon, whose only light came from a small hole high up in the wall.  Such was John, Master of Caithness, the eldest son of the fifth Sinclair, Earl of Caithness, who is said to have been imprisoned here because he had wooed and won the affections of the daughter of a neighbouring laird, marked out by his father, at that time a widower, for himself.  He was confined in that old dungeon for more than six long years before death released him from his inhuman parent.

During his imprisonment John had three keepers appointed over him—­Murdoch Roy and two brothers named Ingram and David Sinclair.  Roy attended him regularly, and did all the menial work, as the other two keepers were kinsmen of the earl, his father, who had imprisoned him.  Roy was sorry for the unfortunate nobleman, and arranged a plot to set him at liberty, which was unfortunately discovered by John’s brother William, who bore him no good will.  William told his father, the earl, who immediately ordered Roy to be executed.  The poor wretch was accordingly brought out and hanged on the common gibbet of the castle without a moment being allowed him to prepare for his final account.

Soon afterwards, in order to avenge the death of Roy, John, who was a man of great bodily strength and whose bad usage and long imprisonment had affected his mind, managed to seize his brother William on the occasion of his visit to the dungeon and strangle him.  This only deepened the earl’s antipathy towards his unhappy son, and his keepers were encouraged to put him to death.  The plan adopted was such as could only have entered the imagination of fiends, for they withheld food from their prisoner for the space of five days, and then set before him a piece of salt beef of which he ate voraciously.  Soon after, when he called for water, they refused to give him any, and he died of raging thirst.  Another account said they gave him brandy, of which he drank so copiously that he died raving mad.  In any case, there is no doubt whatever that he was barbarously done to death.

[Illustration:  GIRNIGOE CASTLE.]

Every castle along the seacoast had some story of cruelty connected with it, but the story of Girnigoe was perhaps the worst of all, and we were glad to get away from a place with such dismal associations.

About a hundred years after this sad event the Clan of the Campbells of Glenorchy declared war on the Sinclairs of Keiss, and marched into Caithness to meet them; but the Sinclairs instead of going out to meet them at the Ord of Caithness, a naturally fortified position, stayed at home, and the Campbells took up a strong position at Altimarloch, about two miles from Wick.  The Sinclairs spent the night before the battle drinking and carousing, and then attacked the Campbells in the strong position they had taken up, with the result that the Sinclairs were routed and many of them perished.

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  They meet, they close in deadly strife,
    But brief the bloody fray;
  Before the Campbells’ furious charge
    The Caithness ranks give way.

  The shrieking mother wrung her hands,
    The maiden tore her hair,
  And all was lamentation loud,
    And terror, and despair.

It was commonly said that the well-known quicksteps, “The Campbells are coming” and the “Braes of Glenorchy” obtained their names from this raid.

The Sinclairs of Keiss were a powerful and warlike family, and they soon regained their position.  It was a pleasing contrast to note that in 1765 Sir William Sinclair of Keiss had laid aside his sword, embracing the views held by the Baptists, and after being baptized in London became the founder of that denomination in Caithness and a well-known preacher and writer of hymns.

In his younger days he was in the army, where he earned fame as an expert swordsman, his fame in that respect spreading throughout the countryside.  Years after he had retired from the service, while sitting in his study one forenoon intently perusing a religious work, his valet announced the arrival of a stranger who wished to see him.  The servant was ordered to show him into the apartment, and in stalked a strong muscular-looking man with a formidable Andrea Ferrara sword hanging by his side, and, making a low obeisance, he thus addressed the knight: 

“Sir William, I hope you will pardon my intrusion.  I am a native of England and a professional swordsman.  In the course of my travels through Scotland, I have not yet met with a gentleman able to cope with me in the noble science of swordsmanship.  Since I came to Caithness I have heard that you are an adept with my favourite weapon, and I have called to see if you would do me the honour to exchange a few passes with me just in the way of testing our respective abilities.”

Sir William was both amused and astonished at this extraordinary request, and replied that he had long ago thrown aside the sword, and, except in case of necessity, never intended to use it any more.  But the stranger would take no denial, and earnestly insisted that he would favour him with a proof of his skill.

“Very well,” said Sir William, “to please you I shall do so,” and, rising and fetching his sword, he desired the stranger, who was an ugly-looking fellow, to draw and defend himself.  After a pass or two Sir William, with a dexterous stroke, cut off a button from the vest of his opponent.

“Will that satisfy you,” inquired Sir William; “or shall I go a little deeper and draw blood?”

“Oh, I am perfectly satisfied,” said the other.  “I find I have for once met a gentleman who knows how to handle his sword.”

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In about half a mile after leaving the ruins of these old castles we saw the Noss Head Lighthouse, with its powerful light already flashing over the darkening seas, and we decided to visit it.  We had to scale several fences, and when we got there we found we had arrived long after the authorised hours for the admission of visitors.  We had therefore some difficulty in gaining an entrance, as the man whose attention we had attracted did not at first understand why we could not come again the next day.  When we explained the nature of our journey, he kindly admitted us through the gate.  The lighthouse and its surroundings were scrupulously clean, and if we had been Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Lighthouses, if such there be, we could not have done otherwise than report favourably of our visit.  The attendants were very kind to us, one of them accompanying us to the top, and as the lighthouse was 175 feet high, we had a great number of steps to climb.  We had never seen the interior of a lighthouse before, and were greatly interested in the wonderful mechanism by which the flashlight was worked.  We were much impressed by the incalculable value of these national institutions, especially in such dangerous positions as we knew from experience prevailed on those stormy coasts.  We were highly delighted with our novel adventure, and, after regaining the entrance, we walked briskly away; but it was quite dark before we had covered the three miles that separated the lighthouse from the fishery town of Wick.  Here we procured suitable lodgings, and then hurried to the post office for the letters that waited us, which we were delighted to read, for it seemed ages since we left home.

(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

[Illustration:  NOSS HEAD LIGHTHOUSE.]

Tuesday, September 19th.

We had our first experience of a herring breakfast, and were surprised to find how delicious they tasted when absolutely fresh.  There was an old proverb in Wick:  “When the herrings come in, the doctors go out!” which may indicate that these fish had some medicinal value; but more likely the saying referred to the period of plenty following that of want and starvation.  We went down to the quay and had a talk with some of the fishermen whom we met returning from their midnight labours.  They told us they had not caught many herrings that night, but that the season generally had been a good one, and they would have money enough to support themselves through the coming winter.  There were about nine hundred boats in the district, and sometimes over a thousand, all employed in the fishing industry; each boat was worked by four men and one boy, using nets 850 yards long.  The herrings appeared about the second week in August and remained until the end of September, but the whales swallowed barrels of them at one “jow.”

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We called at the steamboat depot and found that our hampers of shells had already arrived, and would be sent forward on the St. Magnus; next we went to get our hair and beards trimmed by the Wick barber.  He was a curious old gentleman and quite an orator, and even at that early hour had one customer in hand while another was waiting to be shaved, so we had of course to wait our turn.  The man who was waiting began to express his impatience in rather strong language, but the barber was quite equal to the occasion, and in the course of a long and eloquent oration, while he was engaged with the customer he had in hand, he told him that when he came into a barber’s shop he should have the calmness of mind to look quietly around and note the sublimity of the place, which ought to be sufficient to enable him to overcome such signs of impatience as he had exhibited.  We were quite sure that the barber’s customer did not understand one-half the big words addressed to him, but they had the desired effect, and he waited patiently until his turn came to be shaved.  He was a dark-complexioned seafaring man, and had evidently just returned from a long sea voyage, as the beard on his chin was more like the bristles on a blacking-brush, and the operation of removing them more like mowing than shaving.  When completed, the barber held out his hand for payment.  The usual charge must have been a penny, for that was the coin he placed in the barber’s hand.  But it was now the barber’s turn.  Drawing himself up to his full height, with a dignified but scornful expression on his face, he pointed with his razor to the penny he held in his other hand, which remained open, and exclaimed fiercely, “This! for a month’s shave!” Another penny was immediately added, and his impatient customer quickly and quietly departed.

It was now our turn for beard and hair trimming, but we had been so much amused at some of the words used by the barber that, had it not been for his awe-inspiring look, the scissors he now held in his hand, and the razors that were so near to us, we should have failed to suppress our laughter.  The fact was that the shop was the smallest barber’s establishment we had ever patronised, and the dingiest-looking little place imaginable, the only light being from a very small window at the back of the shop.  To apply the words sublime and sublimity to a place like this was ludicrous in the extreme.  It was before this window that we sat while our hair was being cut; but as only one side of the head could be operated upon at once, owing to the scanty light, we had to sit before it sideways, and then to reverse our position.

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We have heard it said that every man’s hair has a stronger growth on one side of his head than the other, but whether this barber left more hair on the strong side or not we did not know.  In any case, the difference between the two sides, both of hair and beard, after the barber’s operation was very noticeable.  The only sublime thing about the shop was the barber himself, and possibly he thought of himself when speaking of its sublimity.  He was a well-known character in Wick, and if his lot had been cast in a more expansive neighbourhood he might have filled a much higher position.  He impressed us very much, and had we visited Wick again we should certainly have paid him a complimentary visit.  We then purchased a few prints of the neighbourhood at Mr. Johnston’s shop, and were given some information concerning the herring industry.  It appeared that this industry was formerly in the hands of the Dutch, who exploited the British coasts as well as their own, for the log of the Dutillet, the ship which brought Prince Charles Edward to Scotland in 1745, records that on August 25th it joined two Dutch men-of-war and a fleet of herring craft off Rongisby.

[Illustration:  OLD MAN OF WICK.]

In the early part of the fourteenth century there arose a large demand for this kind of fish by Roman Catholics both in the British Isles and on the Continent.  The fish deserted the Baltic and new herring fields were sought, while it became necessary to find some method of preserving them.  The art of curing herrings was discovered by a Dutchman named Baukel.  Such was the importance attached to this discovery that the Emperor Charles V caused a costly memorial to be erected over his grave at Biervlet.  The trade remained in the hands of the Dutch for a long time, and the cured herrings were chiefly shipped to Stettin, and thence to Spain and other Roman Catholic countries, large profits being made.  In 1749, however, a British Fishery Society was established, and a bounty of L50 offered on every ton of herrings caught.  In 1803 an expert Dutchman was employed to superintend the growing industry, and from 1830 Wick took the lead in the herring industry, which in a few years’ time extended all round the coasts, the piles of herring-barrels along the quay at Wick making a sight worth seeing.

We had not gone far when we turned aside to visit the ruins of Wick Castle, which had been named by the sailors “The Auld Man o’Wick.”  It was built like most of the others we had seen, on a small promontory protected by the sea on three sides, but there were two crevices in the rock up which the sea was rushing with terrific force.  The rock on which its foundations rested we estimated to be about 150 feet high, and there was only a narrow strip of land connecting it with the mainland.  The solitary tower that remained standing was about fifty feet high, and apparently broader at the top than at the bottom, being about ten or twelve yards

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in length and breadth, with the walls six or seven feet thick.  The roar of the water was like the sound of distant thunder, lending a melancholy charm to the scene.  It was from here that we obtained our first land view of those strange-looking hills in Caithness called by the sailors, from their resemblance to the breasts of a maiden, the Maiden’s Paps.  An old man directed us the way to Lybster by what he called the King’s Highway, and looking back from this point we had a fine view of the town of Wick and its surroundings.

Taught by past experience, we had provided ourselves with a specially constructed apparatus for tea-making, with a flask to fit inside to carry milk, and this we used many times during our journey through the Highlands of Scotland.  We also carried a reserve stock of provisions, since we were often likely to be far away from any human habitation.  To-day was the first time we had occasion to make use of it, and we had our lunch not in the room of an inn, but sitting amongst the heather under the broad blue canopy of heaven.  It was a gloriously fine day, but not a forerunner of a fine day on the morrow, as after events showed.  We had purchased six eggs at a farmhouse, for which we were only charged fourpence, and with a half-pound of honey and an enormous oatmeal cake—­real Scotch—­we had a jovial little picnic and did not fare badly.  We had many a laugh at the self-satisfied sublimity of our friend the barber, but the sublimity here was real, surrounded as we were by magnificent views of the distant hills, and through the clear air we could see the mountains on the other side of the Moray Firth probably fifty miles distant.  Our road was very hilly, and devoid of fences or trees or other objects to obstruct our view, so much so that at one point we could see two milestones, the second before we reached the first.

We passed Loch Hempriggs on the right of our road, with Iresgoe and its Needle on the seacoast to the left, also an old ruin which we were informed was a “tulloch,” but we did not know the meaning of the word.  After passing the tenth milestone from Wick, we went to look at an ancient burial-ground which stood by the seaside about a field’s breadth from our road.  The majority of the gravestones were very old, and whatever inscriptions they ever had were now worn away by age and weather; some were overgrown with grass and nettles, while in contrast to these stood some modern stones of polished granite.  The inscriptions on these stones were worded differently from those places farther south.  The familiar words “Sacred to the memory of” did not appear, and the phrasing appeared rather in the nature of a testimonial to the benevolence of the bereft.  We copied two of the inscriptions: 

1845 AGED 30 YEARS.
Lovely in Life.

At Death still lovely.

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In the yard we noticed a large number of loose stones and the remains of a wall which we supposed had been part of the kirk.  The name of the village near here was Mid Clyth, and the ruins those of an old Roman Catholic chapel last used about four hundred years ago.  Several attempts had been made to obtain power to remove the surplus stones, but our informant stated that although they had only about a dozen Romanists in the county, they were strong enough to prevent this being done, and it was the only burial-ground between there and Wick.  He also told us that there were a thousand volunteers in Caithness.

[Illustration:  THE NEEDLE OF IRESGOE.]

The people in the North of Caithness in directing us on our way did not tell us to turn to right or left, but towards the points of the compass—­say to the east or the west as the case might be, and then turn south for a given number of chains.  This kind of information rather puzzled us, as we had no compass, nor did we know the length of a chain.  It seemed to point back to a time when there were no roads at all in that county.  We afterwards read that Pennant, the celebrated tourist, when visiting Caithness in 1769, wrote that at that time there was not a single cart, nor mile of road properly so called in the county.  He described the whole district as little better than an “immense morass, with here and there some fruitful spots of oats and bere (barley), and much coarse grass, almost all wild, there being as yet very little cultivated.”  And he goes on to add: 

Here are neither barns nor granaries; the corn is thrashed out and preserved in the chaff in bykes, which are stacks in the shape of beehives thatched quite round.  The tender sex (I blush for the Caithnessians) are the only animals of burden; they turn their patient backs to the dunghills and receive in their cassties or straw baskets as much as their lords and masters think fit to fling in with their pitchforks, and then trudge to the fields in droves.

A more modern writer, however, thought that Pennant must have been observant but not reflective, and wrote: 

It is not on the sea coast that woman looks on man as lord and master.  The fishing industry more than any other leads to great equality between the sexes.  The man is away and the woman conducts all the family affairs on land.  Home means all the comfort man can enjoy!  His life is one persistent calling for self-reliance and independence and equally of obedience to command.

The relations Pennant quoted were not of servility, but of man assisting woman to do what she regarded as her natural work.

To inland folk like ourselves it was a strange sight to see so many women engaged in agricultural pursuits, but we realised that the men had been out fishing in the sea during the night and were now in bed.  We saw one woman mowing oats with a scythe and another following her, gathering them up and binding them into sheaves, while several others were cutting down the oats with sickles; we saw others driving horses attached to carts.  The children, or “bairns,” as they were called here, wore neither shoes nor stockings, except a few of the very young ones, and all the arable land was devoted to the culture of oats and turnips.

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We passed through Lybster, which in Lancashire would only be regarded as a small village, but here was considered to be a town, as it could boast of a population of about eight hundred people.  We made due note of our reaching what was acknowledged to be the second plantation of trees in the county; there were six only in the entire county of Caithness, and even a sight like this was cheery in these almost treeless regions.

An elderly and portly-looking gentleman who was on the road in front of us awaited our arrival, and as an introduction politely offered us a pinch of snuff out of his well-filled snuff-box, which we accepted.  We tried to take it, but the application of a small portion to our noses caused us to sneeze so violently that the gentleman roared with laughter at our expense, and was evidently both surprised and amused at our distress.  We were soon good friends, however, and he was as pleased with our company as we were with his, but we accepted no more pinches of snuff in Scotland.  He had many inquiries to make about the method of farming in Cheshire and regarding the rotation of crops.  We informed him that potatoes were the first crop following grass grown in our neighbourhood, followed by wheat in the next year, and oats and clover afterwards—­the clover being cut for two years.  “And how many years before wheat again?” he asked; but this question we could not answer, as we were not sufficiently advanced in agricultural knowledge to undergo a very serious examination from one who was evidently inclined to dive deeply into the subject.  As we walked along, we noticed a stone on the slope of a mountain like those we had seen at Stenness in the Orkneys, but no halo of interest could be thrown around it by our friend, who simply said it had been there “since the world began.”  Near Lybster we had a good view of the Ord of Caithness, a black-looking ridge of mountains terminating in the Maiden’s Paps, which were later to be associated with one of the most difficult and dangerous traverses we ever experienced.

The night was now coming on, and we hurried onwards, passing two old castles, one to the left and the other to the right of our road, and we noticed a gate, the posts of which had been formed from the rib-bones of a monster whale, forming an arch ornamented in the centre by a portion of the backbone of the same creature.  In the dark the only objects we could distinguish were the rocks on the right and the lights of two lighthouses, one across Dornoch Firth and the other across Moray Firth.  In another mile and a half after leaving the farmer, who had accompanied us for some miles and who, we afterwards learned, was an old bachelor, we were seated in the comfortable hotel at Dunbeath.  The landlord was civil and communicative, and we sat talking to him about the great difference between Caithness and Cheshire, and the relative values of turf and coal.  He informed us that there was very little coal consumed in the county of Caithness, as the English coal was dear and the Scotch coal bad, while the peat was of good quality, the darkest-looking being the richest and the best.

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Our tea was now ready, and so were we, as we had walked fifteen miles since our lunch in the heather.  We were ushered into the parlour, where we were delighted to find a Cheshire gentleman, who told us he had been out shooting, and intended to leave by the coach at two a.m.  Hearing that two pedestrians had arrived, he had given up his bed, which he had engaged early in the day, and offered to rest on the sofa until the arrival of the mail-coach.  We thanked him for his kind consideration, for we were tired and footsore.  Who the gentleman was we did not discover; he knew Warrington and the neighbourhood, had visited Mr. Lyon of Appleton Hall near that town, and knew Mr. Patten of Bank Hall, who he said was fast getting “smoked out” of that neighbourhood.  We retired early, and left him in full possession of the coffee-room and its sofa.

At two o’clock in the morning we were wakened by the loud blowing of a horn, which heralded the approach of the mail-coach, and in another minute the trampling of horses’ feet beneath our window announced its arrival.  We rose hurriedly and rushed to the window, but in the hurry my brother dashed against a table, and down went something with a smash; on getting a light we found it was nothing more valuable than a water-bottle and glass, the broken pieces of which we carefully collected together, sopping up the water as best we could.  We were in time to see our friend off on the coach, with three horses and an enormous light in front, which travelled from Thurso to Helmsdale, a distance of fifty-eight miles, at the rate of eight miles per hour.

(Distance walked twenty-one and a half miles.)

Wednesday, September 20th.

We rose early, and while waiting for our breakfast talked with an old habitue of the hotel, who, after drawing our attention to the weather, which had now changed for the worse, told us that the building of the new pier, as he called it, at Wick had been in progress for seven or eight years, but the sea there was the stormiest in Britain, and when the wind came one way the waves washed the pier down again, so that it was now no bigger than it was two years ago.  He also told us he could remember the time when there was no mail-coach in that part of the country, the letters for that neighbourhood being sent to a man, a tailor by trade, who being often very busy, sent his wife to deliver them, so that Her Majesty’s mails were carried by a female!

[Illustration:  A STORM IN WICK HARBOUR.]

Almost the last piece of advice given us before leaving home was, “Mind that you always get a good breakfast before starting out in a morning,” and fortunately we did not neglect it on this occasion, for it proved one of the worst day’s walks that we ever experienced.  Helmsdale was our next stage, and a direct road led to it along the coast, a distance of sixteen miles.  But my brother was a man of original ideas, and he had made up his mind that we should walk there by an inland route, and climb over the Maiden’s Paps mountain on our way.

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The wind had increased considerably during the night, and the rain began to fall in torrents as we left the Dunbeath Inn, our mackintoshes and leggings again coming in useful.  The question now arose whether we should adhere to our original proposal, or proceed to Helmsdale by the shortest route.  Our host strongly advised us to keep to the main road, but we decided, in spite of our sore feet and the raging elements, to cross over the Maiden’s Paps.  We therefore left the main road and followed a track which led towards the mountains and the wild moors.  We had not gone very far when we met a disconsolate sportsman, accompanied by his gillies and dogs, who was retreating to the inn which he had left early in the morning.  He explained to us how the rain would spoil his sport amongst the grouse, though he consoled himself by claiming that it had been one of the finest sporting seasons ever known in Caithness.  As an illustration, he said that on the eighteenth day of September he had been out with a party who had shot forty-one and a half brace of grouse to each gun, besides other game.  The average weight of grouse on the Scotch moors was twenty-five ounces, but those on the Caithness moors were heavier, and averaged twenty-five and a half ounces.

He was curious to know where we were going, and when we told him, he said we were attempting an impossible feat in such awful weather, and strongly advised us to return to the hotel, and try the journey on a finer day.  We reflected that the fine weather had now apparently broken, and it would involve a loss of valuable time if we accepted his advice to wait for a finer day, so we pressed forwards for quite two hours across a dreary country, without a tree or a house or a human being to enliven us on our way.  Fortunately the wind and rain were behind us, and we did not feel their pressure like our friend the sportsman, who was going in the opposite direction.  At last we came to what might be called a village, where there were a few scattered houses and a burial-ground, but no kirk that we could see.  Near here we crossed a stream known as Berriedale Water, and reached the last house, a farm, where our track practically ended.  We knocked at the door, which was opened by the farmer himself, and his wife soon provided us with tea and oatmeal cake, which we enjoyed after our seven or eight-mile walk.  The wind howled in the chimney and the rain rattled on the window-panes as we partook of our frugal meal, and we were inclined to exclaim with the poet whose name we knew not: 

  The day is cold and dark and dreary,
  It rains, and the wind is never weary.

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The people at the farm had come there from South Wales and did not know much about the country.  All the information they could give us was that the place we had arrived at was named Braemore, and that on the other side of the hills, which they had never crossed themselves, there was a forest with no roads through it, and if we got there, we should have to make our way as best we could across the moors to Helmsdale.  They showed us the best way to reach the foot of the mountain, but we found the going much worse than we anticipated, since the storm had now developed into one of great magnitude.  Fortunately the wind was behind us, but the higher we ascended the stronger it became, and it fairly took our breath away even when we turned our heads towards it sideways, which made us realise how impossible it was for us to turn back, however much we might wish to do so; consequently we struggled onwards, occasionally taking advantage of the shelter of some projecting rock to recover our breathing—­a very necessary proceeding, for as we approached the summit the rain became more like sleet, the wind was very cold, and the rocks were in a frozen and slippery condition.  We were in great danger of being blown over and losing our lives, and as we could no longer walk upright in safety, we knelt down, not without a prayer to heaven as we continued on our way.  Thus we crawled along upon our hands and knees over the smooth wind-swept summit of the Maiden’s Paps, now one immense surface of ice.  The last bit was the worst of all, for here the raging elements struck us with full and uninterrupted force.  We crossed this inches at a time, lying flat on the smooth rock with our faces downwards.  Our feelings of thankfulness to the Almighty may be imagined when we finally reached the other side in safety.

Given a fine day we should have had a glorious view from this point, and, as it was, in spite of the rain we could see a long distance, but the prospect was far from encouraging.  A great black rock, higher than that we had climbed, stood before us, with its summit hidden in the clouds, and a wide expanse of hills and moors, but not a house or tree so far as the eye could reach.  This rather surprised us, as we expected the forest region to be covered with trees which would afford us some shelter on our farther way.  We learned afterwards that the “forest” was but a name, the trees having disappeared ages ago from most of these forests in the northern regions of Scotland.

We were wet through to the skin and shivering with cold as we began to descend the other side of the Maiden’s Paps—­a descent we found both difficult and dangerous.  It looked an awful place below us—­a wild amphitheatre of dreary hills and moors!

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We had no compass to guide us, and in the absence of light from the sun we could not tell in what direction we were travelling, so with our backs towards the hills we had crossed, we made our way across the bog, now saturated with water.  We could hear it gurgling under our feet at every stride, even when we could not see it, and occasionally we slipped into holes nearly knee-deep in water.  After floundering in the bog for some time, and not knowing which way to turn, as we appeared to be surrounded with hills, we decided to try to walk against the wind which was blowing from the sea, for we knew that if we could reach the coast we should also reach the highway, which ran alongside it.  But we soon had to give in, for we came to great rocks impossible for us to scale, so we had to abandon this direction and try another.  The rain still continued, and our hands had now been bleached quite white with the rain beating on them, just like those of a washerwoman after a heavy day’s washing.  We knew that the night would shortly be coming on, and the terrible thought of a dark night on the moors began to haunt us.  If we could only have found a track we should not have cared, but we were now really LOST.

We were giving way to despair and beginning to think it might be a question of life or death when a bright thought suddenly struck us, and we wondered why we had not thought of it before.  Why not follow the water, which would be sure to be running towards the sea?  This idea inspired us with hope, and seemed to give us new life; but it was astonishing what a time elapsed before we found a running stream, for the water appeared to remain where it fell.  At length we came to a small stream, the sight of which gave us renewed energy, and we followed it joyfully on its downward course.  Presently we saw a few small bushes; then we came to a larger stream, and afterwards to a patch of grassland which clearly at one time had been under cultivation.  At last we came to trees under which we could see some deer sheltering from the storm:  by this time the stream had become a raging torrent.  We stood watching the deer for a moment, when suddenly three fine stags rushed past us and dashed into the surging waters of the stream, which carried them down a considerable distance before they could land on its rocky bank on the other side.  It was an exciting adventure, as the stags were so near us, and with their fine antlers presented an imposing appearance.

We now crossed over some heather in order to reach a small path which we could see alongside the swollen river.  How pleased we were when we knew we were out of danger!  It seemed to us like an escape from a terrible fate.  We remembered how Mungo Park, when alone in the very heart of Africa, and in the midst of a great wilderness, derived consolation from very much smaller sources than the few trees which now cheered us on our way.  The path became broader as we passed through the grounds of Lord Galloway’s

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hunting-box, and we soon reached the highway, where we crossed the boiling torrent rushing along with frightful rapidity on its way to the sea.  The shades of night were coming on as we knocked at the door of the keeper’s cottage, and judge of our surprise when we were informed that, after walking from ten o’clock in the morning to six o’clock at night, we were only about six miles from Dunbeath, whence we had started that morning, and had still about ten miles to walk before we could reach Helmsdale.

We were almost famished with hunger, but we were lucky enough to secure a splendid tea at the keeper’s cottage.  Fortunately for us the good lady of the house had provided a sumptuous repast for some sporting gentlemen she was expecting, but who had been prevented from coming owing to the storm.  We kept no record of our gastronomical performances on this occasion, but we can safely state that of a whole rabbit very little remained, and the same remark would apply to a whole series of other delicacies which the keeper’s wife had so kindly and thoughtfully provided for her more distinguished but absent guests.  We took the opportunity of drying some of our wet clothing, and before we finished our tea the keeper himself came in, to whom we related our adventures.  Though accustomed to the broken regions and wild solitudes we had passed through, he was simply astounded that we had come over them safely, especially on such a day.

It was pitch dark when we left the keeper’s cottage, and he very kindly accompanied us until we reached the highroad in safety.  The noise caused by the rushing waters of the rivers as they passed us on their way in frantic haste to the sea, now quite near us, and the roar of the sea itself as it dashed itself violently against the rocky coast, rendered conversation very difficult, but our companion gave us to understand that the road to Helmsdale was very hilly and lonely, and at one time was considered dangerous for strangers.  Fortunately the surface was very good, and we found it much easier to walk upon than the wet heather we had passed over for so many miles.  The black rocks which lined the road, the darkness of the night, and the noise from the sea as the great waves dashed and thundered on the rocks hundreds of feet below, might have terrified timid travellers, but they seemed nothing to us compared with our experience earlier in the day.  The wind had moderated, but the rain continued to fall, and occasionally we were startled as we rounded one of the many bends in the road by coming suddenly on a burn swollen with the heavy rains, hurling itself like a cataract down the rocky sides of the hill, and rushing under the road beneath our feet in its noisy descent helter-skelter towards the sea.

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We walked on as rapidly as the hilly nature of our road would permit, without seeing a house or human being, until we approached Helmsdale, when we were surprised by the sudden appearance of the stage-coach drawn by three horses and displaying its enormous red lamp in front.  The driver suddenly pulled up his horses, for, as he said, he did not know “what the de’il it was coming in front”:  he scarcely ever met any one on that road, and particularly on such an “awful” stormy night.  We asked him how far we were from the town, and were delighted to hear it was only about two miles away.  It was after ten o’clock when we arrived at Helmsdale, tired and footsore, but just in time to secure lodgings for the night at the Commercial Inn.

(Distance walked thirty miles.)

Thursday, September 21st.

Helmsdale was a pleasant little town inhabited chiefly by fishermen, but a place of some importance, for it had recently become the northern terminus of the railway.  A book in the hotel, which we read while waiting for breakfast, gave us some interesting information about the road we had travelled along the night before, and from it we learned that the distance between Berriedale and Helmsdale was nine and a half miles, and that about half-way between these two places it passed the Ord of Caithness at an elevation of 1,200 feet above the sea-level, an “aclivity of granite past which no railway can be carried,” and the commencement of a long chain of mountains separating Caithness from Sutherland.

Formerly the road was carried along the edge of a tremendous range of precipices which overhung the sea in a fashion enough to frighten both man and beast, and was considered the most dangerous road in Scotland, so much so that when the Earl of Caithness or any other great landed proprietor travelled that way a troop of their tenants from the borders of Sutherland-shire assembled, and drew the carriage themselves across the hill, a distance of two miles, quadrupeds not being considered safe enough, as the least deviation would have resulted in a fall over the rocks into the sea below.  This old road, which was too near the sea for modern traffic, was replaced by the present road in the year 1812.  The old path, looked at from the neighbourhood of Helmsdale, had more the appearance of a sheep track than a road as it wound up the steep brow of the hill 300 or 400 feet above the rolling surge of the sea below, and was quite awe-inspiring even to look at, set among scenery of the most wild and savage character.

We had now cleared the county of Caithness, which, like Orkney and Shetland, was almost entirely devoid of trees.  To our way of thinking a sprinkling of woods and copses would have much enhanced the wild beauty of the surroundings, but there was a difference of opinion or taste on this point as on everything else.  A gentleman who had settled in America, and had had to clear away the trees from his holding,

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when he passed through Caithness on his way to John o’ Groat’s was continually ejaculating, “What a beautiful country!” “What a very beautiful country!” Some one who heard him remarked, “You can hardly call it a very beautiful country when there are no trees.”  “Trees,” cried the Yankee; “that’s all stuff Caithness, I calculate, is the finest clearing I ever saw in my life!”

We had often wondered, by the way, how the Harbour Works at Wick would be affected by the great storms, and we were afterwards greatly interested when we read in a Scotch provincial newspaper the following telegrams: 


   From our Wick Correspondent

Wick, Wednesday, 12:50—­A terrific storm is raging here to-day.  It is a gale from the south-east, with an extraordinary surf which is making a complete break of the new Harbour Works, where a number of large stones have been dislodged and serious damage is threatened.

   1:30 p.m.—­The storm still continues.  A large concrete block,
   weighing 300 tons, has been dislodged, and the whole building seems
   doomed unless the storm abates very soon.

These hours corresponded with the time we were crossing the Maiden’s Paps mountains, and we are not likely ever to forget the great danger we were in on that occasion.

We were rather backward in making a start on our journey to-day, for our feet were very sore; but we were advised to apply common soap to our stocking feet, from which we experienced great relief.  As we left the town we saw some ruins, which we assumed were those of Helmsdale Castle, and we had now the company of the railway, which, like our road, hugged the seacoast for some miles.  About two miles after leaving Helmsdale we sighted the first railway train we had seen since we left Aberdeen a fortnight before.  Under ordinary conditions this might have passed unnoticed, but as we had been travelling through such wild country we looked upon it as a sign that we were approaching a part of the country which had communication with civilisation, other than that afforded by sea or mail-coach.

[Illustration:  PICTISH TOWER (EXTERIOR).]

We now walked through the Parish of Loth, where in Glen Loth we were informed the last wolf in Scotland was killed, and about half a mile before reaching Brora we climbed over a stone fence to inspect the ruins of a Pictish castle standing between our road and the railway.  The ruins were circular, but some of the walls had been built in a zig-zag form, and had originally contained passages and rooms, some of which still existed, but they looked so dark that we did not care to go inside them, though we were informed that about two years before our visit excavations had been made and several human skulls were discovered.  The weather continued wet, and we passed through several showers on our way from Helmsdale to Brora, where, after a walk of twelve miles, we stayed for lunch, and it was again raining as we left there for Golspie.

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[Illustration:  PICTISH TOWER (INTERIOR).]

At Brora we heard stories of wonderful fossils which were to be found in the rocks on the shore—­shells and fish-scales and remains of bigger creatures—­and of a bed of real coal.  Certainly the rocks seemed to change their character hereabouts, which may account for the softening of the scenery and the contrast in agricultural pursuits in this region with those farther north.  Here the appearance of the country gradually improved as we approached the woods and grounds and more cultivated regions surrounding the residence of the Duke of Sutherland.

[Illustration:  DUNROBIN CASTLE.  “It was the finest building we had seen, not at all like the gloomy-looking castles, being more like a palace, with a fine display of oriel windows, battlements, steeples, and turrets.”]

We came in sight of another Pictish castle, which we turned aside to visit; but by this time we had become quite familiar with the formation of these strange old structures, which were nearly all built after the same pattern, although some belonged to an earlier period than others, and the chambers in them were invariably dark and dismal.  If these were used for the same purpose as similar ones we had seen in Shetland, where maidens of property and beauty were placed for protection from the “gallants” who roamed about the land in those days, the fair prisoners must have had a dismal time while incarcerated in these dungeon-like apartments.  In these ruins, however, we saw some ancient utensils, or querns, supposed to have been used for crushing corn.  They had been hollowed out in stone, and one of them had a well-worn stone inside it, but whether or no it was the remains of an ancient pestle used in crushing the corn we could not determine; it looked strangely like one.

The country hereabouts was of the most charming description, hilly and undulating rather than rugged, and we left the highway to walk along the seashore, where we passed the rifle and artillery ranges of the volunteers.  We also saw the duke’s private pier extending towards the open sea, and from this point we had a fine view of Dunrobin Castle, the duke’s residence, which was the finest building we had seen, and not at all like the other gloomy-looking castles, being more like a palace.  It is a happy blending of the German Schloss, the French chateau, and Scottish baronial architecture, with a fine display of oriel windows, battlements, turrets, and steeples, the great tower rising to a height of 135 feet above the garden terrace below.  A vista of mountains and forests lay before any one privileged to ascend the tower.  The view from the seashore was simply splendid, as from this point we could see, showing to great advantage, the lovely gardens, filled with beautiful shrubs and flowers of luxuriant growth, sloping upwards towards the castle, and the hills behind them, with their lower slopes covered with thousands of healthy-looking

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firs, pines, and some deciduous trees, while the bare moorland above formed a fine background.  On the hill “Beinn-a-Bhragidh,” at a point 1,300 feet above sea-level, standing as if looking down on all, was a colossal monument erected to the memory of the duke’s grandfather, which could be seen many miles away.  The duke must have been one of the largest landowners in Britain, as, in addition to other possessions, he owned the entire county of Sutherland, measuring about sixty miles long and fifty-six miles broad, so that when at home he could safely exclaim with Robinson Crusoe, “I am monarch of all I survey.”

The castle had an ancient foundation, for it was in 1097 the dun, or stronghold, of the second Robert of Sutherland, and the gardens have been famous from time immemorial.  An extract from an old book written in 1630 reads, “The Erle of Sutherland made Dunrobin his speciall residence it being a house well-seated upon a mole hard by the sea, with fair orchards wher ther be pleasant gardens, planted with all kinds of froots, hearbs and flours used in this kingdom, and abundance of good saphorn, tobacco and rosemarie, the froot being excellent and cheeflie the pears and cherries.”

A most pleasing feature to our minds was the fact that the gardens were open to all comers, but as we heard that the duke was entertaining a distinguished company, including Lord Delamere of Vale Royal from our own county of Cheshire, we did not apply for permission to enter the grounds, and thus missed seeing the great Scotch thistle, the finest in all Scotland.  This thistle was of the ordinary variety, but of colossal proportions, full seven feet high, or, as we afterwards saw it described, “a beautiful emblem of a war-like nation with his radious crown of rubies full seven feet high.”  We had always looked upon the thistle as an inferior plant, and in Cheshire destroyed it in thousands, regarding it as only fit for food for donkeys, of which very few were kept in that county; but any one seeing this fine plant must have been greatly impressed by its appearance.  The thistle has been the emblem of Scotland from very early times, and is supposed to have been adopted by the Scots after a victorious battle with the Danes, who on a dark night tried to attack them unawares.  The Danes were creeping towards them silently, when one of them placed his bare foot on a thistle, which caused him to yell out with pain.  This served as an alarm to the Scots, who at once fell upon the Danes and defeated them with great slaughter, and ever afterwards the thistle appeared as their national emblem, with the motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, or, “No one hurts me with impunity.”

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Golspie was only a short distance away from the castle, and we were anxious to get there, as we expected letters from home, so we called at the post office first and got what letters had arrived, but another mail was expected.  We asked where we could get a cup of coffee, and were directed to a fine reading-room opposite, where we adjourned to read our letters and reply to them with the accompaniment of coffee and light refreshments.  The building had been erected by the Sutherland family, and was well patronised, and we wished that we might meet with similar places in other towns where we happened to call.  Such as we found farther south did not appear to be appreciated by the class of people for whom they were chiefly intended.  This may be accounted for by the fact that the working-class Scots were decidedly more highly educated than the English.  We were not short of company, and we heard a lot of gossip, chiefly about what was going on at the castle.

On inquiring about our next stage, we were told that it involved a twenty-five-mile walk through an uninhabited country, without a village and with scarcely a house on the road.  The distance we found afterwards had been exaggerated, but as it was still raining and the shades of evening were coming on, with our recent adventures still fresh in our minds and the letter my brother expected not having yet arrived, we agreed to spend the night at Golspie, resolving to make an early start on the following morning.  We therefore went into the town to select suitable lodgings, again calling at the post office and leaving our address in the event of any letters coming by the expected mail, which the officials kindly consented to send to us, and after making a few purchases we retired to rest.  We were just dozing off to sleep, when we were aroused by a knock at our chamber door, and a voice from without informed us that our further letters and a newspaper had arrived.  We jumped out of bed, glad to receive additional news from the “old folks at home,” and our sleep was no less peaceful on that account.

(Distance walked eighteen miles.)

Friday, September 22nd.

We rose at seven o’clock, and left Golspie at eight en route for Bonar Bridge.  As we passed the railway station we saw a huge traction engine, which we were informed belonged to the Duke of Sutherland, and was employed by him to draw wood and stone to the railway.  About a mile after leaving the town we observed the first field of wheat since we had left John o’ Groat’s.  The morning had turned out wet, so there was no one at work among the corn, but several machines there showed that agriculture received much attention.  We met some children carrying milk, who in reply to our inquiry told us that the cows were milked three times each day—­at six o’clock in the morning, one o’clock at noon, and eight o’clock at night—­with the exception of the small Highland cows, which were only milked twice.  As we were looking over the

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fields in the direction of the railway, we observed an engine with only one carriage attached proceeding along the line, which we thought must be the mail van, but we were told that it was the duke’s private train, and that he was driving the engine himself, the engine being named after his castle, “Dunrobin.”  We learned that the whole railway belonged to him for many miles, and that he was quite an expert at engine driving.

About five miles after leaving Golspie we crossed what was known as “The Mound,” a bank thrown across what looked like an arm of the sea.  It was upwards of half a mile long, and under the road were six arches to admit the passage of the tide as it ebbed and flowed.  Here we turned off to the right along the hill road to Bonar Bridge, and visited what had been once a mansion, but was now nearly all fallen to the ground, very little remaining to tell of its former glory.  What attracted us most was the site of the garden behind the house, where stood four great yew trees which must have been growing hundreds of years.  They were growing in pairs, and in a position which suggested that the road had formerly passed between them.

Presently our way passed through a beautiful and romantic glen, with a fine stream swollen by the recent rains running alongside it.  Had the weather been more favourable, we should have had a charming walk.  The hills did not rise to any great elevation, but were nicely wooded down to the very edge of the stream, and the torrent, with its innumerable rapids and little falls, that met us as we travelled on our upward way, showed to the best advantage.  In a few miles we came to a beautiful waterfall facing our road, and we climbed up the rocks to get a near view of it from a rustic bridge placed there for the purpose.  A large projecting rock split the fall into the shape of a two-pronged fork, so that it appeared like a double waterfall, and looked very pretty.  Another stream entered the river near the foot of the waterfall, but the fall of this appeared to have been artificially broken thirty or forty times on its downward course, forming the same number of small lochs, or ponds.  We had a grand sight of these miniature lakes as they overflowed one into another until their waters joined the stream below.

We now left the trees behind us and, emerging into the open country, travelled many miles across the moors alongside Loch Buidhee, our only company being the sheep and the grouse.  As we approached Bonar Bridge we observed a party of sportsmen on the moors.  From the frequency of their fire we supposed they were having good sport; a horse with panniers on its back, which were fast being ladened with the fallen game, was following them at a respectful distance.  Then we came to a few small houses, near which were large stacks of peat or turf, which was being carted away in three carts.  We asked the driver of the first cart we overtook how far it was to Bonar Bridge, and he replied two miles.  We made the same inquiry from the second, who said three miles, and the reply of the third was two and a half miles.  As the distance between the first and the third drivers was only one hundred yards, their replies rather amused us.  Still we found it quite far enough, for we passed through shower after shower.

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Our eighteen-mile walk had given us a good idea of “Caledonia stern and wild,” and at the same time had developed in us an enormous appetite when by two o’clock we entered the hotel facing Bonar Bridge for our dinner.  The bridge was a fine substantial iron structure of about 150 feet span, having a stone arching at either end, and was of great importance, as it connected main roads and did away with the ferry which once existed there.  As we crossed the bridge we noticed two vessels from Sunderland discharging coals, and some fallen fir-trees lying on the side of the water apparently waiting shipment for colliery purposes, apt illustrations of the interchange of productions.  There were many fine plantations of fir-trees near Bonar Bridge, and as we passed the railway station we saw a rather substantial building across the water which we were informed was the “Puirshoose,” or “Poor House.”

Observing a village school to the left of our road, we looked through the open door; but the room was empty, so we called at the residence of the schoolmaster adjoining to get some reliable information about our further way, We found him playing on a piano and very civil and obliging, and he advised us to stay for the night at what was known as the Half-way House, which we should find on the hill road to Dingwall, and so named because it was halfway between Bonar and Alness, and nine miles from Bonar.  Our road for the first two miles was close along Dornoch Firth, and the fine plantations of trees afforded us some protection against the wind and rain; then we left the highway and turned to the right, along the hill road.  After a steep ascent for more than a mile, we passed under a lofty elevation, and found ourselves once more amongst the heather-bells so dear to the heart of every true Scot.

At this point we could not help lingering awhile to view the magnificent scene below.  What a gorgeous panorama!  The wide expanse of water, the bridge we had lately crossed and the adjoining small village, the fine plantations of trees, the duke’s monument rising above the woods at Golspie, were all visible, but obscured in places by the drifting showers.  If the “Clerk of the Weather” had granted us sunshine instead of rain, we should have had a glorious prospect not soon to be forgotten.  But we had still three miles to walk, or, as the people in the north style it, to travel, before we could reach the Half-Way House, when we met a solitary pedestrian, who as soon as he saw us coming sat down on a stone and awaited us until we got within speaking distance, when he began to talk to us.  He was the Inspector of Roads, and had been walking first in one direction and then in the other during the whole of the day.  He said he liked to speak to everybody he saw, as the roads were so very lonely in his district.  He informed us that the Half-Way House was a comfortable place, and we could not do better than stay there for the night.

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We were glad when we reached the end of our nine-mile walk, as the day had been very rough and stormy.  As it was the third in succession of the same character, we did not care how soon the weather took a turn for the better.  The Half-Way House stood in a deserted and lonely position on the moor some little distance from the road, without another house being visible for miles, and quite isolated from the outer world.  We entered the farmyard, where we saw the mistress busy amongst the pigs, two dogs barking at us in a very threatening manner.  We walked into the kitchen, the sole occupant of which was a “bairn,” who was quite naked, and whom we could just see behind a maiden of clothes drying before the fire.  The mistress soon followed us into the house, and in reply to our query as to whether we could be accommodated for the night said, “I will see,” and invited us into the parlour, a room containing two beds and sundry chairs and tables.  The floor in the kitchen was formed of clay, the parlour had a boarded floor, and the mantelpiece and roof were of very old wood, but there was neither firegrate nor fire.

After we had waited there a short time, the mistress again made her appearance, with a shovel full of red-hot peat, so, although she had not given us a decided answer as to whether we could stay the night or not, we considered that silence gave consent, especially when seconded by the arrival of the welcome fire.

“You surely must have missed your train!” she said; but when we told her that we were pedestrian tourists, or, as my brother described it, “on a walking expedition,” she looked surprised.

When she entered the room again we were sorting out our letters and papers, and she said, “You surely must be sappers!” We had some difficulty in making her understand the object of our journey, as she could not see how we could be walking for pleasure in such bad weather.

We found the peat made a very hot fire and did good service in helping to dry our wet clothing.  We wanted some hot milk and bread for supper, which she was very reluctant to supply, as milk was extremely scarce on the moors, but as a special favour she robbed the remainder of the family to comply with our wishes.  The wind howled outside, but we heeded it not, for we were comfortably housed before a blazing peat fire which gave out a considerable amount of heat.  We lit one of our ozokerite candles, of which we carried a supply to be prepared for emergencies, and read our home newspaper, The Warrington Guardian, which was sent to us weekly, until supper-time arrived, and then we were surprised by our hostess bringing in an enormous bowl, apparently an ancient punch bowl, large enough to wash ourselves in, filled with hot milk and bread, along with two large wooden spoons.  Armed with these, we both sat down with the punch-bowl between us, hungry enough and greedy enough to compete with one another as to which should devour the most.  Which won would be difficult to say, but nothing remained except the bowl and the spoons and our extended selves.

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We had walked twenty-seven miles, and it must have been weather such as we had experienced that inspired the poet to exclaim: 

  The west wind blows and brings rough weather,
  The east brings cold and wet together,
  The south wind blows and brings much rain,
  The north wind blows it back again!

The beds were placed end to end, so that our feet came together, with a wooden fixture between the two beds to act as the dividing line.  Needless to say we slept soundly, giving orders to be wakened early in the morning.

(Distance walked twenty-seven miles.)

Saturday, September 23rd.

We were awakened at six o’clock in the morning, and after a good breakfast we left the Half-Way House (later the “Aultnamain Inn"), and well pleased we were with the way the landlady had catered for our hungry requirements.  We could see the sea in the distance, and as we resumed our march across the moors we were often alarmed suddenly by the harsh and disagreeable cries of the startled grouse as they rose hurriedly from the sides of our path, sounding almost exactly like “Go back!—­go back!” We were, however, obliged to “Go forward,” and that fairly quickly, as we were already a few miles behind our contemplated average of twenty-five miles per day.  We determined to make the loss good, and if possible to secure a slight margin to our credit, so we set out intending to reach Inverness that night if possible.  In spite, therefore, of the orders given in such loud and unpleasant tones by the grouse, we advanced quickly onwards and left those birds to rejoice the heart of any sportsman who might follow.

Cromarty Firth was clearly visible as we left the moors, and we could distinguish what we thought was Cromarty itself, with its whitewashed houses, celebrated as the birthplace of the great geologist, Hugh Miller, of whom we had heard so much in the Orkneys.  The original cause of the whitewashing of the houses in Cromarty was said to have been the result of an offer made by a former candidate for Parliamentary honours, who offered to whitewash any of the houses.  As nearly all the free and independent electors accepted his offer, it was said that Cromarty came out of the Election of 1826 cleaner than any other place in Scotland, notwithstanding the fact that it happened in an age when parliamentarian representation generally went to the highest bidder.

We crossed the Strathrory River, and leaving the hills to our right found ourselves in quite a different kind of country, a veritable land of woods, where immense plantations of fir-trees covered the hills as far as the eye could reach, sufficient, apparently, to make up for the deficiency in Caithness and Sutherland in that respect, for we were now in the county of Ross and Cromarty.

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Shortly afterwards we crossed over the River Alness.  The country we now passed through was highly cultivated and very productive, containing some large farms, where every appearance of prosperity prevailed, and the tall chimneys in the rear of each spoke of the common use of coal.  The breeding of cattle seemed to be carried on extensively; we saw one large herd assembled in a field adjoining our road, and were amused at a conversational passage of arms between the farmer and two cattle-dealers who were trying to do business, each side endeavouring to get the better of the other.  It was not quite a war to the knife, but the fight between those Scots was like razor trying to cut razor, and we wished we had time to stay and hear how it ended.

Arriving at Novar, where there was a nice little railway station, we passed on to the village inn, and called for a second breakfast, which we thoroughly enjoyed after our twelve-mile walk.  Here we heard that snow had fallen on one of the adjacent hills during the early hours of the morning, but it was now fine, and fortunately continued to be so during the whole of the day.

Our next stage was Dingwall, the chief town in the county of Ross, and at the extreme end of the Cromarty Firth, which was only six miles distant.  We had a lovely walk to that town, very different from the lonely moors we had traversed earlier in the day, as our road now lay along the very edge of the Cromarty Firth, while the luxuriant foliage of the trees on the other side of our road almost formed an arch over our way.  The water of the Firth was about two miles broad all the way to Dingwall, and the background formed by the wooded hills beyond the Firth made up a very fine picture.  We had been fully prepared to find Dingwall a very pretty place, and in that we were not disappointed.

The great object of interest as we entered this miniature county town was a lofty monument fifty or sixty feet high,[Footnote:  This monument has since been swept away.] which stood in a separate enclosure near a graveyard attached to a church.  It was evidently very old, and leaning several points from the perpendicular, and was bound together almost to the top with bands of iron crossed in all directions to keep it from failing.  A very curious legend was attached to it.  It was erected to some steward named Roderick Mackenzie, who had been connected with the Cromarty estate many years ago, and who appeared to have resided at Kintail, being known as the Tutor of Kintail.  He acted as administrator of the Mackenzie estates during the minority of his nephew, the grandfather of the first Earl of Cromarty, and was said to have been a man of much ability and considerable culture for the times in which he lived.  At the same time he was a man of strong personality though of evil repute in the Gaelic-speaking districts, as the following couplet still current among the common people showed: 

  The three worst things in Scotland—­
  Mists in the dog-days, frost in May, and the Tutor of Kintail.

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The story went that the tutor had a quarrel with a woman who appeared to have been quite as strong-minded as himself.  She was a dairymaid in Strathconon with whom he had an agreement to supply him with a stone of cheese for every horn of milk given by each cow per day.  For some reason the weight of cheese on one occasion happened to be light, and this so enraged the tutor that he drove her from the Strath.  Unfortunately for him the dairymaid was a poetess, and she gave vent to her sorrow in verse, in which it may be assumed the tutor came in for much abuse.  When she obtained another situation at the foot of Ben Wyvis, the far-reaching and powerful hand of the tutor drove her from there also; so at length she settled in the Clan Ranald Country in Barrisdale, on the shores of Loch Hourn on the west coast of Inverness-shire, a place at that time famous for shell-fish, where she might have dwelt in peace had she mastered the weakness of her sex for demanding the last word; but she burst forth once more in song, and the tutor came in for another scathing: 

  Though from Strathconon with its cream you’ve driven me,
  And from Wyvis with its curds and cheese;
  While billow beats on shore you cannot drive me
  From the shell-fish of fair Barrisdale.

These stanzas came to the ear of the tutor, who wrote to Macdonald of Barrisdale demanding that he should plough up the beach, and when this had been done there were no longer any shell-fish to be found there.

The dairymaid vowed to be even with the tutor, and threatened to desecrate his grave.  When he heard of the threat, in order to prevent its execution he built this strange monument, and instead of being buried beneath it he was said to have been buried near the summit; but the woman was not to be out-done, for after the tutor’s funeral she climbed to the top of the pinnacle and kept her vow to micturate there!

As our time was limited, we were obliged to hurry away from this pleasantly situated town, and in about four miles, after crossing the River Conon, we entered Conon village, where we called for refreshments, of which we hastily disposed.  Conon was quite an agricultural village, where the smithy seemed to rival the inn in importance, as the smiths were busy at work.  We saw quite a dozen ploughs waiting to be repaired in order to fit them to stir up the soil during the ploughing season, which would commence as soon as the corn was cleared off the land.  Here we observed the first fingerpost we had seen since leaving John o’ Groat’s, now more than a hundred miles distant, although it was only an apology for one, and very different from those we were accustomed to see farther south in more important but not more beautiful places.  It was simply an upright post with rough pieces of wood nailed across the top, but we looked upon it as a sign that we were approaching more civilised regions.  The gentry had shown their appreciation of this delightful part

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of the country by erecting fine residences in the neighbourhood, some of which we passed in close proximity.  Just before crossing over the railway bridge we came to a frightful figure of a human head carved on a stone and built in the battlement in a position where it could be seen by all.  It was coloured white, and we heard it was the work of some local sculptor.  It was an awful-looking thing, and no doubt did duty for the “boggard” of the neighbourhood.  The view of the hills to the right of our road as we passed along was very fine, lit up as they were by the rays of the evening sun, and the snow on Ben Wyvis in the distance contrasted strangely with the luxuriant foliage of the trees near us, as they scarcely yet showed the first shade of the autumn tints.

About four miles farther on we arrived at a place called the Muir of Ord, a rather strange name of which we did not know the meaning, reaching the railway station there just after the arrival of a train which we were told had come from the “sooth.”  The passengers consisted of a gentleman and his family, who were placing themselves in a large four-wheeled travelling-coach to which were attached four rather impatient horses.  A man-servant in livery was on the top of the coach arranging a large number of parcels and boxes, those intolerable appendages of travel.  We waited, and watched their departure, as we had no desire to try conclusions with the restless feet of the horses, our adventures with the Shetland pony in the north having acted as a warning to us.  Shortly afterwards we crossed a large open space of land studded with wooden buildings and many cattle-pens which a man told us was now the great cattlemarket for the North, where sales for cattle were held each month—­the next would be due in about a week’s time, when from 30,000 to 35,000 sheep would be sold.  It seemed strange to us that a place of such importance should have been erected where there were scarcely any houses, but perhaps there were more in the neighbourhood than we had seen, and in any case it lay conveniently as a meeting-place for the various passes in the mountain country.

We soon arrived at Beauly, which, as its name implied, was rather a pretty place, with its houses almost confined to the one street, the Grammar School giving it an air of distinction.  Our attention was attracted by some venerable ruins at the left of our road, which we determined to visit, but the gate was locked.  Seeing a small girl standing near, we asked her about the key, and she volunteered to go and tell the man who kept it to come at once.  We were pressed for time, and the minutes seemed very long as we stood awaiting the arrival of the key, until at last we decided to move on; but just as we were walking away we saw an old man coming up a side street with the aid of a crutch and a stick.

[Illustration:  ON THE BEAULY RIVER.]

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He pointed with his stick towards the cathedral, so we retraced our steps and awaited his arrival with the key.  A key it certainly was, and a large one too, for it weighed 2 lbs. 4 ozs. and the bore that fitted the lock was three-quarters of an inch in diameter.  It was the biggest key we saw in all our long journey.  We listened to all the old man had to tell us about the cathedral, the building of which begun in the year 1230.  It measured 152 feet in length and about 24 feet in breadth, but was ruined in the time of Cromwell.  He showed us what he described as the Holy Water Pot, which was quite near the door and had some water in it, but why the water happened to be there the old man could not explain.  The front gable of the nave was nearly all standing, but that at the back, which at one time had contained a large window, was nearly all down.  The old font was in the wall about half-way down the cathedral; the vestry and chapter house were roofless.  The grave-stones dated from the year 1602, but that which covered the remains of the founder was of course very much older.  Beauly was formerly a burial-place of the ancient Scottish chieftains, and was still used as the burial-ground of the Mackenzies, the name reminding us of our friends at the “Huna Inn.”  Rewarding our guide and the bairn who had returned with him for their services, we walked quickly away, as we had still twelve miles to walk before reaching Inverness.

[Illustration:  BEAULY PRIORY.]

After crossing the bridge over the River Beauly we had the company for about a mile of a huge servant-girl, a fine-looking Scotch lassie, with whom we ventured to enter into conversation although we felt like dwarfs in her presence.  She told us she had never been in England, but her sister had been there in service, and had formed a bad opinion of the way the English spent their Sundays.  Some of them never went to church at all, while one young man her sister knew there actually whistled as he was going to church!  It was very different in Scotland, where, she said, all went to church and kept holy the Sabbath day.  She evidently thought it a dreadful offence to whistle on Sundays, and we were careful not to offend the susceptibilities of the Scots, and, we may safely say, our own, by whistling on the Lord’s day.  Whistling was, however, an accomplishment of which we were rather proud, as we considered ourselves experts, and beguiled many a weary mile’s march with quicksteps—­English, Scotch, Welsh, and Irish—­which we flattered ourselves sounded better amongst the hills of the Highlands of Scotland even than the sacred bagpipes of the most famous Scotch regiments.

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We thanked our formidable-looking friend for her company and, presenting her with a John o’ Groat’s buckie, bade her farewell.  When she must have been a distance away we accelerated our pace by whistling “Cheer, Boys, Cheer!” one of Charles Russell’s songs.  We could not keep it up for long, as we were not only footsore, but sore in every joint, through friction, and we were both beginning to limp a little when we came to a junction in the roads.  Here it was necessary to inquire about our way, and seeing a farm quite near we went to it and asked a gentleman who was standing in the yard which way we should turn for Inverness and how far it was.  He kindly directed us, and told us that town was nine miles distant, but added, “I am just going there in my ‘machine,’ which will be ready directly, and will be glad to give you a lift.”  This kind offer formed one of the greatest temptations we had during our long journey, as we had already walked thirty miles that day, and were in a pitiable condition, and it was hard to say “No.”  We thanked the gentleman heartily, and explained why we could not accept it, as we had determined to walk all the way to Land’s End, and with an effort both painful and slow we mournfully took our way.  We had only travelled a short distance when he overtook us with a spirited horse and a well-appointed conveyance, bidding us “Good night” as he passed.

We had a painful walk for the next three miles, and it was just at the edge of dark when we called for tea at the “Bogroy Inn.”  We were shown into the parlour by the mistress herself, a pleasant elderly lady, very straight, but very stout, and when my brother complimented her on her personal appearance, she told him that when she first came into that neighbourhood thirty-five years ago she only weighed eleven stone, but six years since she weighed twenty-two stone; now, she rather sorrowfully added, “I only weigh seventeen stone!” She evidently thought she had come down in the world, but she was an ideal landlady of the good old sort, for she sent us some venison in for our tea, the first we had ever tasted, and with eggs and other good things we had a grand feast.  Moreover, she sent her daughter, a prepossessing young lady, to wait upon us, so we felt ourselves highly honoured.

As we were devouring the good things provided we heard some mysterious tappings, which we were unable to locate.  My brother suggested the house might be haunted, but when the young lady entered the room again we discovered that the tappings were outside the house, on the shutters which covered the windows, for every one in the Highlands in those days protected their lower windows with wooden shutters.  The tappings were accompanied by a low whistle, by which we could see the young lady was visibly affected, until finally she left the room rather hurriedly, never to appear again; nor did we hear the tappings any more, and the requiem we sung was: 

  If she be not fair for me,
  What care I how fair she be?

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We were sorry to leave the “Bogroy Inn,” as the mistress said she would have been glad of our further patronage, but we had determined to reach Inverness as a better place to stay over the week end.  With great difficulty we walked the remaining six miles under the trees, through which the moon was shining, and we could see the stars twinkling above our heads as we marched, or rather crawled, along the Great North Road.  On arriving at Inverness we crossed the bridge, to reach a house that had been recommended to us, but as it was not up to our requirements we turned back and found one more suitable across the water.  Our week’s walk totalled 160 miles, of which thirty-nine had been covered that day.

(Distance walked thirty-nine miles.)

Sunday, September 24th.

After a good night’s rest and the application of common soap to the soles of our feet, and fuller’s earth to other parts of our anatomy—­remedies we continued to employ, whenever necessary, on our long journey—­we were served with a good breakfast, and then went out to see what Inverness looked like in the daylight.  We were agreeably surprised to find it much nicer than it appeared as we entered it, tired out, the night before, and we had a pleasant walk before going to the eleven-o’clock service at the kirk.

Inverness, the “Capital of the Highlands,” has a long and eventful history.  St. Columba is said to have visited it as early as the year 565, and on a site fortified certainly in the eighth century stands the castle, which was, in 1039, according to Shakespeare, the scene of the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth.  The town was made a Royal Burgh by David I, King of Scotland.  The Lords of the Isles also appear to have been crowned here, for their coronation stone is still in existence, and has been given a name which in Gaelic signifies the “Stone of the Tubs.”  In former times the water supply of the town had to be obtained from the loch or the river, and the young men and maidens carrying it in tubs passed this stone on their way—­or rather did not pass, for they lingered a while to rest, the stone no doubt being a convenient trysting-place.  We wandered as far as the castle, from which the view of the River Ness and the Moray Firth was particularly fine.

We attended service in one of the Free Churches, and were much interested in the proceedings, which were so different from those we had been accustomed to in England, the people standing while they prayed and sitting down while they sang.  The service began with the one hundredth Psalm to the good old tune known as the “Old Hundredth” and associated in our minds with that Psalm from our earliest days: 

  All people that on earth do dwell,
    Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. 
  Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell,
    Come ye before Him, and rejoice.


During the singing of this, all the people remained seated except the precentor, who stood near the pulpit.  Then followed a prayer, the people all standing; and then the minister read a portion of Scripture from the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophet Ezekiel beginning at the eleventh verse:  “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out.”

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Another hymn was followed by the Lord’s Prayer; after which came the sermon, preached by the Rev. Donald Fraser, M.A., of Marylebone, London, a former minister of the church.  He read the last three verses of the ninth chapter of St. John’s gospel, continued reading down to the sixteenth verse of the tenth chapter, and then selected for his text the fourth, ninth, and tenth verses of that chapter, the first verse of these reading:  “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”

The sermon had evidently been well thought out and was ably delivered, the subject being very appropriate to a district where sheep abound and where their habits are so well known.  Everybody listened with the greatest attention.  At the close there was a public baptism of a child, whose father and mother stood up before the pulpit with their backs to the congregation.  The minister recited the Apostles’ Creed, which was slightly different in phraseology from that used in the Church of England, and then, descending from the pulpit, proceeded to baptize the child in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  The closing hymn followed, and the people stood while the minister pronounced the benediction, after which the congregation slowly separated.

[Illustration:  INVERNESS CASTLE.]

During the afternoon we visited an isolated hill about a mile from the town named Tomnahurich, or the “Hill of the Fairies.”  Nicely wooded, it rose to an elevation of about 200 feet above the sea, and, the summit being comparatively level and clear from trees, we had a good view of Inverness and its surroundings.  This hill was used as the Cemetery, and many people had been buried, both on the top and along the sides of the serpentine walk leading up to it, their remains resting there peacefully until the resurrection, “when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible.”  We considered it an ideal place for the burial of the dead, and quite a number of people were walking up and down the paths leading under the trees, many of them stopping on their way to view the graves where their friends had been buried.

In the evening we attended service in the cathedral, a large modern structure, with two towers, each of which required a spire forty feet high to complete the original design.  Massive columns of Aberdeen granite had been erected in the interior to support the roof of polished oak, adorned with carved devices, some of which had not yet been completed.  The Communion-table, or altar, made in Italy and presented to the cathedral by a wealthy layman, stood beneath a suspended crucifix, and was further adorned with a cross, two candlesticks, and two vases containing flowers.  The service, of a High-Church character, was fully choral, assisted by a robed choir and a good organ.  The sermon was preached by the Rev. Provost Powell, who took for his text Romans xiv.

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7:  “For none liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself.”  He gave us a clever oration, but whether extempore or otherwise we could not tell, as from where we sat we could not see the preacher.  There was not a large congregation, probably owing to the fact that the people in the North are opposed to innovations, and look upon crosses and candlesticks on the Communion-table as imitations of the Roman Catholic ritual, to which the Presbyterians could never be reconciled.  The people generally seemed much prejudiced against this form of service, for in the town early in the morning, before we knew this building was the cathedral, we asked a man what kind of a place of worship it was, and he replied, in a tone that implied it was a place to be avoided, that he did not know, but it was “next to th’ Catholics.”  Our landlady spoke of it in exactly the same way.


Monday, September 25th.


We rose early, but were not in very good trim for walking, for a mild attack of diarrhoea yesterday had become intensified during the night, and still continued.  After breakfast we went to the post office for our “poste restante” letters, and after replying to them resumed our march.  Culloden Muir, the site of the great battle in 1746, in which the Scottish Clans under Prince Charlie suffered so severely at the hands of the Duke of Cumberland, is only six miles away from Inverness, and we had originally planned to visit it, but as that journey would have taken us farther from the Caledonian Canal, the line of which we were now anxious to follow, we gave up the idea of going to Culloden.  We were, moreover, in no humour for digressions since we had not yet recovered from the effects of our long walk on Saturday, and our bodily ailments were still heavy upon us.  As we crossed the suspension-bridge, in close proximity to the castle, we purchased a few prints of the town and the neighbourhood through which we were about to pass.

Inverness is built in a delightful situation, skirting the Ness, which here takes the form of a beautiful, shallow river moving peacefully forward to its great receptacle, Loch Ness, a few miles away; but, although the country near the town is comparatively level, it is surrounded by mountain scenery of the most charming description.  Our route lay along the north-western side of the Caledonian Canal in the direction of Fort Augustus, and we again passed the Tomnahurich Hill.  Near this we saw a large building which we were surprised to learn was a lunatic asylum—­an institution we did not expect to find here, for we had only heard of one madman in the three counties of Scotland through which we had passed.  We concluded it must have been built for persons from farther south.

[Illustration:  CULLODEN MUIR.]

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The diarrhoea still continued to trouble us, so we asked the advice of a gentleman we met on the road, and he recommended us to call at the next farmhouse, which, fortunately, happened to be only a short distance away, and to “take a quart of milk each, as hot as you can drink it.”  So away we walked to the farm, which we found standing a short distance from our road, and, after explaining our troubles and wishes to the farmer, were invited into the house, where the mistress quickly provided us with the hot milk, which luckily proved to be a safe and simple remedy.  The farmer and his wife were as pleased with our company as we were with theirs, and were just the sort of people that tourists like to meet.  We had a long talk with them about the crops, the markets, our long walk, and, last but not least, the weather.  Speaking of diarrhoea, the farmer informed us that the water of Inverness often affected strangers in that way, and that it had even been known to produce dysentery.

After regaining our road, we had a lovely walk that day; the scenery and the weather were both very fine, and, about a mile farther on, we had a glorious view over Loch Ness, beside which our walk led us, through a delightful country studded with mansions amidst some of nature’s most beautiful scenery.  Presently we met a party of men, consisting of two soldiers and three civilians, engaged in cutting branches from the trees that were likely to interfere with the working of the telegraph, which passed along the side of the road.  It consisted of a single wire, and had only just been erected, for we noticed each post bore the Government mark and the date 1871.  We asked the men if they knew of a good remedy for our complaint, and one of the soldiers, who had seen service abroad, recommended “a spoonful of sweet oil and cinnamon mixed with it.”  Our former remedy had proved to be efficacious, so we had no need to try this, but we give the information here for the benefit of all whom it may concern.


We were certainly in for the best day’s march we had yet experienced, if not for distance, certainly for beauty of route; and if we had had the gift of poetry—­which only affected us occasionally—­we should have had here food for poems sufficient to fill the side of a newspaper.  Mountain rills, gushing rivulets, and murmuring waters!  Here they were in abundance, rolling down the rocky mountains from unknown heights, and lending an additional charm to the landscape!  Is it necessary to dilate on such beauties?—­for if words were conjured in the most delicate and exquisite language imaginable, the glories of Loch Ness and its surroundings are, after all, things to be seen before they can be fully appreciated.  The loch is over twenty miles long, and averages about a mile broad; while a strange fact is that its water never freezes.  Scientific men, we were told, attributed this to the action of earthquakes in distant parts of the world, their vibrations affecting the surface of the water here; while others, apparently of the more commonsense type, attribute it to the extreme depth of the water in the loch itself, for in the centre it is said to exceed 260 yards.

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As we loitered along—­for we were very lazy—­we decided to have a picnic amongst the large stones on the shore of the loch, so we selected a suitable position, and broke into the provisions we carried in our bags as a reserve for emergencies.  We were filling our water-boiling apparatus from the loch, when we saw a steamboat approaching from the direction of Glasgow.  It presented quite a picture as it passed us, in the sunshine, with its flags flying and its passengers crowded on the deck, enjoying the fine scenery, and looking for Inverness, where their trip on the boat, like the Caledonian Canal itself, would doubtless end.  There was music on board, of which we got the full benefit, as the sound was wafted towards us across the water, to echo and re-echo amongst the hills and adjoining woods; and we could hear the strains of the music long after the boat was cut off from our vision by the branches of the trees which partially surrounded us.

[Illustration:  THE WELL OF THE DEAD, CULLODEN MUIR.  The stone marks the spot where MacGillivray of Dunmaglass died while stretching out his hand toward the little spring of water.]

We were, in reality, having a holiday compared with our exertions on Saturday, and, as we were practically on the sick-list, considered ourselves fully entitled to it.  We thought we had travelled quite far enough for invalids when, at fourteen miles from Inverness, and in the light of a lovely sunset, we reached Drumnadrochit, a village on the side of the loch.

Is it to be wondered at that we succumbed to the seductions of the famous inn there, as distinguished men had done before us, as the records of the inn both in prose and poetry plainly showed?  One poetical Irishman had written a rhyme of four verses each ending with the word Drumnadrochit, one of which we thought formed a sufficient invitation and excuse for our calling there; it read: 

  Stop, traveller! with well-pack’d bag,
    And hasten to unlock it;
  You’ll ne’er regret it, though you lag
    A day at Drumnadrochit.

One of the best advertisements of this hotel and Drumnadrochit generally appeared in a letter written by Shirley Brooks to Punch in 1860, in which he wrote: 

The inn whence these lines are dated faces a scene which, happily, is not too often to be observed in this planet.  I say happily, sir, because we are all properly well aware that this world is a vale of tears, in which it is our duty to mortify ourselves and make everybody else as uncomfortable as possible.  If there were many places like Drumnadrochit, persons would be in fearful danger of forgetting that they ought to be miserable.

But who would have thought that a quiet and sedate-looking Quaker like John Bright, the famous M.P. for Birmingham, could have been moved by the spirit to write a verse of poetry—­such an unusual thing for a member of the Society of Friends!  Here it is: 

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  In the Highland glens ’tis far too oft observed,
  That man is chased away and game preserved;
  Glen Urquhart is to me a lovelier glen—­
  Here deer and grouse have not supplanted men.

But was the position reversed when Mr. Bright visited it? and did the men supplant the deer and grouse then?

[Illustration:  DRUMNADROCHIT.]

Glen Urquhart was one of the places we had to pass on the following day, but as we had no designs on the deer and grouse, since our sporting proclivities did not lie in that direction, we thought that we might be safely trusted to leave the game undisturbed.

(Distance walked fourteen miles.)

Tuesday, September 26th.

We set out from Drumnadrochit early in the morning, and, leaving Glen Urquhart to the right, after walking about two miles turned aside to view Urquhart Castle, a ruin occupying a commanding position on the side of Loch Ness and immediately opposite the entrance to the glen.  The castle was besieged by Edward I when he was trying to subdue Scotland, and a melancholy story was told of that period.  The Scots, who were defending the castle, were “in extremis,” as their provisions were exhausted and they knew that when they surrendered they would all be slain.  The Governor, however, was anxious to save his wife, who was shortly to become a mother, so he bade her clothe herself in rags and drove her from the gate as though she were a beggar who had been shut up in the castle and whom they had driven away because their provisions were running short.  The ruse succeeded, for the English, believing her story, let her go; after the garrison saw that she was safe they sallied forth to meet their fate, and were all killed.

[Illustration:  URQUHART CASTLE.]

The approach to the ruins from the road is by upwards of a hundred rough hardwood steps, and the castle must have been a well-nigh impregnable stronghold in former times, protected as it was on three sides by the water of the loch and by a moat on the fourth, the position of the drawbridge being still clearly denned.

Beneath the solitary tower is a dismal dungeon, and we wondered what horrors had been enacted within its time-worn and gloomy walls!  Once a grim fortress, its ruins had now been mellowed by the hand of time, and looked quite inviting amidst their picturesque surroundings.  To them might fitly be applied the words:  “Time has made beautiful that which at first was only terrible.”

Whilst we were amongst the ruins, a steamboat which had called at Drumnadrochit passed close alongside the castle, and we waved our handkerchiefs to those on board, our silent salutations being returned by some of the passengers.  We afterwards learned we had been recognised by a gentleman who had met us on the previous day.

About ten miles from Drumnadrochit we reached Invermoriston, and visited a church which was almost filled with monuments to the memory of the Grant family, the lairds of Glenmoriston.  Among them was the tombstone of the son of a former innkeeper, with the following inscription, which reminded us of our own mortality: 

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  Remember, Friend, when this you see,
  As I am now so you must be;
  As you are now so once was I.
  Remember, Friend, that you must die.

There was also another tombstone, apparently that of his mother, inscribed: 


and on this appeared the following epitaph: 

  Weep not for me, O friends,
  But weep and mourn
  For your own sins.


We then went to visit the remarkable waterfall of Glenmoriston, where the water after rushing down the rocks for some distance entered a crevice in a projecting rock below, evidently worn in the course of ages by the falls themselves.  Here the water suddenly disappeared, to reappear as suddenly some distance below, where, as if furious at its short imprisonment, it came out splashing, dashing, and boiling in fantastic beauty amongst the rocks over which it pursued its downward course.  We descended a few paces along a footpath leading to a small but ancient building, probably at one time a summer house, in the centre of which a very old millstone had done duty as a table.  Here we were fairly in the whirl of waters, and had a splendid view of the falls and of the spray which rose to a considerable height.  There was no doubt that we saw this lovely waterfall under the best possible conditions, and it was some recompense to us when we thought that the heavy rainfall through which we had passed had contributed to this result.  The thistle may overshadow many more beautiful falls than the falls of Glenmoriston, but we claim a share of praise for this lively little waterfall as viewed by us in full force from this shady retreat.



[Illustration:  FALLS OF FOYERS AND LOCH NESS.  “Here in the whirl of waters ... the spray rose to a considerable height.”]

After refreshing ourselves at the inn, we started on our next stage of ten miles to Fort Augustus, the loneliness of our journey through its beauties of scenery being enlivened by occasionally watching the pranks of the squirrels and gazing at the many burns that flowed down the mountain slopes.  Before reaching Fort Augustus we had a splendid view as we looked backward over Loch Ness, dotted here and there with several ships tacking and retacking, their white sails gleaming in the sunshine.  It had been a calm and lovely day; the sun was sinking in the west as we entered Fort Augustus, but we had only time enough for a superficial survey, for we had to proceed farther, and, however important the Fort might have been in 1729 when General Wade constructed his famous military road, or when the Duke of Cumberland made

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it his headquarters while he dealt severely with the adherents of Prince Charlie, shooting ruthlessly, laying waste on every side, and driving women and children into the moors only to die, it looked very insignificant that night.  The Highland Clans never looked favourably on the construction of these military roads, and would doubtless have preferred the mountain tracks to remain as they were, for by using the Fort as a base these roads became a weapon to be used against them; their only eulogy was said to have been written by an Irish officer: 

  Had you but seen these roads before they were made,
  You would lift up your eyes, and bless General Wade.

My brother said he must have been a real Irishman, with the eye of faith, to see roads before they were made!


Fort Augustus stands at the extremity of Loch Ness, at the point where its surplus waters are lowered by means of locks to swell those of Loch Oich, so as to make both lochs navigable for the purposes of the Caledonian Canal.  We noticed some corn-stacks here that were thatched with broom, and some small houses that were roofed with what looked like clods of earth, so we concluded that the district must be a very poor one.

[Illustration:  IN GLENMORISTON.]

As darkness was now coming on, we were anxious to find lodgings for the night, and, hearing that there was an inn at a place called Invergarry, seven and a half miles from Fort Augustus, we were obliged to go there.  The moon was just beginning to relieve the darkness when we reached Invergarry, and, seeing a servant removing some linen from a clothes-line in a small garden, we asked the way to the inn; she pointed to a building opposite, and said we had “better go in at that door.”  We entered as directed at the side door, and found ourselves in a rather large inn with a passage through it from end to end.  We saw what we supposed to be the master and the mistress snugly ensconced in a room, and asked the master if we could obtain lodgings for the night.  He said “yes,” but we heard the mistress, who had not seen us, mutter something we could not hear distinctly.  My brother said he was sure he heard the words “Shepherd’s room.”  The landlord then conducted us into a room at the end of the long dark passage, in which, we found several shepherds drinking and conversing with each other in Gaelic.  One of them said to us “Good night,” and as we returned his salutation they all retired from the room.  We were now able to look about us, and found the room contained two tables, four forms, and at least two beds ranged lengthways along one side.  Presently a servant came in and began to make one of the beds, and then another servant came who, we thought, eyed us rather closely, as we were holding our faces down to conceal the laughter which we could scarcely restrain.  When she had made the other bed my brother asked if

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both the beds were for us.  The servant said she couldn’t tell, but “Missis says they are both to be made.”  We had evidently been taken for shepherds, and at first we were inclined to feel angry, for no one came to ask us if we required anything to eat or drink.  We could have done with a good supper, but fortunately we had replenished our bags at Fort Augustus, so we were in no danger of being starved.  We scribbled in our diaries by the feeble light of the candle which the servants had left on one of the tables, and as no one turned up to claim the second bed we occupied both.  There was no lock or fastening on the door, but we barricaded it securely with two of the forms—­and it was perhaps as well that we did so, for some one tried to open it after we were in bed—­and we slept that night not on feathers, but on chaff with which the beds or mattresses were stuffed.

(Distance walked twenty-seven miles.)

Wednesday, September 27th.

“The sleep of a labouring man is sweet,” and so was ours on the primitive beds of the shepherds.  But the sounds in the rear of the hotel awoke us very early in the morning, and, as there was every appearance of the weather continuing fine, we decided to walk some distance before breakfast.  We asked one of the servants how much we had to pay, and she returned with an account amounting to the astounding sum of sixpence!  Just fancy, ye Highland tourists! ye who have felt the keen grip of many an hotel-keeper there—­just fancy, if ye can, two of us staying a night at a large hotel in the Highlands of Scotland for sixpence!

We followed the servant to a small room at the front of the hotel, where a lady was seated, to whom the money had to be paid; the surprised and disappointed look on her face as we handed her a sovereign in payment of our account was rich in the extreme, amply repaying us for any annoyance we might have experienced the night before.  What made the matter more aggravating to the lady was that she had not sufficient change, and had to go upstairs and waken some unwilling money-changer there!  Then the change had to be counted as she reluctantly handed it to us and made a forlorn effort to recover some of the coins.  “Won’t you stay for breakfast?” she asked; but we were not to be persuaded, for although we were hungry enough, we were of an unforgiving spirit that morning, and, relying upon getting breakfast elsewhere, we thanked her and went on our way rejoicing!

About a mile farther on we reached the ruins of Glengarry Castle, which stand in the private grounds of the owner, but locks and bolts prevented us from seeing the interior.  This castle remains more complete than many others and still retains its quadrangular appearance, much as it was when Prince Charlie slept there during his flight after Culloden, and, although not built on any great elevation, it looks well in its wooded environs and well-kept grounds.  A story was told of the last Lord Glengarry who, in

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1820, travelled 600 miles to be present at the Coronation of King George IV.  He was dressed on that magnificent and solemn occasion in the full costume of a Highland chief, including, as a matter of course, a brace of pistols.  A lady who was at the reception happened to see one of the pistols in his clothing, and, being greatly alarmed, set up a loud shriek, crying, “Oh Lord!  Oh Lord! there’s a man with a pistol,” and alarming the whole assembly.  As she insisted on Glengarry being arrested, he was immediately surrounded, and the Garter King of Arms came forward and begged him to give up the much-dreaded pistols; but he refused, as they were not loaded, and pleaded that they formed an essential part of his national garb.  At length, however, after much persuasion, he gave them up.

Glengarry wrote a letter to the editor of The Times, in which he said:  “I have worn my dress continually at Court, and was never so insulted before.  Pistols, sir, are as essential to the Highland courtier’s dress as a sword is to English, French, or German; and those used by me on such occasions as unstained with powder as any courtier’s sword, with blood.  It is only grossest ignorance of Highland character and costume which imagined that the assassin lurked under their bold and manly form.”

Glengarry, who, it was said, never properly recovered from the effects of this insult, died in 1828.

After about another mile we came to a monument near the side of the road, on the top of which were sculptured the figures of seven human heads held up by a hand clasping a dagger.  On each of the four sides of the base there was an inscription in one of four different languages—­English, French, Latin, and Gaelic—­as follows: 

As a memorial to the ample and summary vengeance which in the swift course of Feudal justice inflicted by the orders of the Lord MacDonnell and Aross overtook the perpetrators of the foul murder of the Keppoch family, a branch of the powerful and illustrious Clan of which his Lordship was the Chief, this Monument is erected by Colonel MacDonnell of Glengarry XVII Mac-Minc-Alaister his successor and Representative in the year of our Lord 1812.  The heads of the seven murderers were presented at the feet of the noble chief in Glengarry Castle after having been washed in this spring and ever since that event which took place early in the sixteenth century it has been known by the name “Tobar-nan-Ceann” or the Well of the Heads.

The monument was practically built over the well, an arched passage leading down to the water, where we found a drinking-utensil placed for any one who desired a drink.  We were glad to have one ourselves, but perhaps some visitors might be of such refined and delicate taste that they would not care to drink the water after reading the horrible history recorded above.

It appeared that Macdonald of Keppoch, the owner of the estate, had two sons whom he sent to France to be educated, and while they were there he died, leaving the management of his estate to seven kinsmen until the return of his sons from France; when they came back, they were murdered by the seven executors of their father’s will.  The Bard of Keppoch urged Glengarry to take vengeance on the murderers, and this monument was erected to commemorate the ample and summary vengeance inflicted about 1661.

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[Illustration:  INVERGARRY CASTLE.]

Leaving this memorial of “ample and summary vengeance,” we crossed the Loggan Bridge and gained the opposite bank of the Caledonian Canal.  The country we now passed through was very lonely and mountainous, and in one place we came to a large plantation of hazel loaded with nuts.  We reflected that there were scarcely any inhabitants to eat them, as the persons we met did not average more than a dozen in twenty miles, and on one occasion only six all told; so we turned into nut-gatherers ourselves, spurred on by the fact that we had had no breakfast and our appetites were becoming sharpened, with small prospect of being appeased in that lonely neighbourhood.

A little farther on, however, we met a man with two dogs, who told us he was the shepherd, and, in reply to our anxious inquiry, informed us that we could get plenty to eat at his house, which we should find a little farther on the road.  This was good news, for we had walked eight miles since leaving Invergarry.  When we reached the shepherd’s house, which had formerly been an inn, we found the mistress both civil and obliging, and she did her best to provide for our hungry requirements.  The house was evidently a very old one, and we wondered what queer people had sat in that ingle-nook and what strange stories they had told there.  The fireplace was of huge dimensions; hanging above it was a single-and a double-barrelled gun, while some old crockery and ancient glass bottles adorned various parts of the kitchen—­evidently family heirlooms, which no doubt had been handed down from one generation to another—­and a very old bed reposed in the chimney corner.

The mistress provided us with a splendid breakfast, upon which we inflicted “ample and summary vengeance,” for those words were still ringing in our minds and ears and had already become by-words as we travelled along.  The “best tea-pot,” which looked as if it had not been used for ages, was brought from its hiding-place; and, amongst other good things, we were treated by way of dessert to some ripe blackberries, which the mistress called brambleberries and which she told us she had gathered herself.  It was half-past ten o’clock when we left the shepherd’s house, and shortly afterwards we had a view of the snow-covered summit of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain.  We had a lonely walk alongside Loch Lochy, which is ten miles in length; but in about six miles General Wade’s road, which we followed, branched off to the left.  About four miles from the junction we reached Spean Bridge, over which we crossed the river of that name, which brings along the waters of sundry lochs as well as others from the valley of Glen Roy.  This Glen forms an almost hidden paradise beloved of geologists, as along the sides of the valley are the famous “Parallel Roads” belonging to the Glacial Period.  We replenished our stock of provisions, which we had rather neglected, at Spean Bridge, and treated ourselves to another little picnic in the lonely country beyond.  It was dark before we reached Fort William, where we found comfortable lodgings at the house of Mrs. MacPherson opposite the Ben Nevis Hotel, and retired with the intention of ascending Ben Nevis the following day.

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(Distance walked twenty-five and a half miles.)

Thursday, September 28th.

After breakfast we commissioned Mrs. MacPherson to engage the services of the guide to conduct us to the top of Ben Nevis, which is 4,406 feet high, offering to pay him the sum of one sovereign for his services.  We had passed the old castle of Inverlochy in the dark of the previous night, and, as we wished to visit it in the daylight that morning, we arranged that the guide should meet us on a bridge outside the town, which we must cross on our way to and from what we were told was once a royal castle, where King Achius signed a treaty with Charlemagne.  The castle was some distance from the town, and quite near the famous distillery where the whisky known as “Long John” or the “Dew of Ben Nevis” was produced.  We found ready access to the ruins, as the key had been left in the gate of the walled fence which surrounded them.  “Prince Charlie,” we learned, had “knocked” the castle to its present shape from an adjoining hill, and what he had left of it now looked very solitary.  It was a square structure, with four towers one at each corner, that at the north-west angle being the most formidable.  The space enclosed was covered with grass.  What interested us most were four very old guns, or cannons, which stood in front of the castle, mounted on wheels supported on wood planks, and as they were of a very old pattern, these relics of the past added materially to the effect of the ancient and warlike surroundings.

We did not stay long in the ruins, as we were anxious to begin our big climb, so we returned to the bridge to await the arrival of the guide engaged for us by our hostess, and whom we had not yet seen.  We waited there for more than half an hour, and were just on the point of returning to the town when we noticed the approach of a military-looking man carrying a long staff spiked at one end, who turned out to be the gentleman we were waiting for, and under whose guidance we soon began the ascent of the big mountain.  After climbing for some time, we came to a huge stone on which the Government engineers had marked the altitude as 1,000 feet above sea-level, and as we climbed higher still we had a grand view of the hills and waters in the distance.  We went bravely onward and upward until we arrived at a lake, where on a rock we saw the Government mark known as the “broad arrow,” an emblem which we also saw in many other places as we walked through the country, often wondering what the sign could mean.  We surmised that it stood for England, Scotland, and Ireland united in one kingdom, but we afterwards learned that it was introduced at the end of the seventeenth century to mark Government stores, and that at one time it had a religious significance connected with the Holy Trinity.  The altitude was also marked on the rock as 2,200 feet, so that we had now ascended half-way to the top of Ben Nevis.


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On our way up the mountain we had to stop several times, for our guide complained of diarrhoea, but here he came to a dead stop and said he could not proceed any farther.  We were suspicious at first that he was only feigning illness to escape the bad weather which we could see approaching.  We did our best to persuade him to proceed, but without effect, and then we threatened to reduce his fee by one-half if he did not conduct us to the summit of Ben Nevis as agreed.  Finally we asked him to remain where he was until we returned after completing the ascent alone; but he pleaded so earnestly with us not to make the attempt to reach the summit, and described the difficulties and dangers so vividly, that we reluctantly decided to forgo our long-cherished ambition to ascend the highest mountain in Great Britain.  We were very much disappointed, but there was no help for it, for the guide was now really ill, so we took his advice and gave up the attempt.

Ben Nevis, we knew, was already covered with snow at the top, and a further fall was expected, and without a guide we could not possibly find the right path.  We had noticed the clouds collecting upon the upper peaks of the great mountain and the sleet was already beginning to fall, while the wind, apparently blowing from an easterly direction, was icy cold.  My brother, who had had more experience in mountain-climbing than myself, remarked that if it was so bitterly cold at our present altitude of 2,200 feet, what might we expect it to be at 4,400, and reminded me of a mountain adventure he had some years before in North Wales.

On his first visit to the neighbourhood he had been to see a relative who was the manager of the slate quarries at Llanberis and resided near Port Dinorwic.  The manager gave him an order to ride on the slate train to the quarries, a distance of seven miles, and to inspect them when he arrived there.  Afterwards he went to the Padaro Villa Hotel for dinner, and then decided to go on to Portmadoc.  There was no railway in those days, and as the coach had gone he decided to walk.  The most direct way, he calculated, was to cross Snowdon mountain, and without asking any advice or mentioning the matter to any one he began his walk over a mountain which is nearly 3,600 feet high.  It was two o’clock in the afternoon when he left the hotel at Llanberis, and from the time he passed a stone inscribed “3-3/4 miles to the top of Snowdon” he did not see a single human being.  It was the 23rd of November, and the top of the mountain, which was clearly visible, was covered with snow.

All went well with him until he passed a black-looking lake and had reached the top of its rocky and precipitous boundary, when with scarcely any warning he suddenly became enveloped in the clouds and could only see a yard or two before him.  He dared not turn back for fear he should fall down the precipice into the lake below, so he continued his walk and presently reached the snow.  This, fortunately, was frozen,

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and he went on until he came to a small cabin probably used by the guide in summertime, but the door was locked, the padlock resting upon the snow; soon afterwards he arrived at the cairn which marked the summit of Snowdon.  It was very cold, and he was soon covered with the frozen particles from the clouds as they drifted against him in the wind, which gave out a mournful sound like a funeral dirge as it drove against the rocks.

He walked round the tower several times before he could find a way down on the other side, but at length his attention was attracted by a black peak of rock rising above the snow, and to his astonishment, in a sheltered corner behind it, he could distinctly see the footprints of a man and a small animal, probably a dog, that had gone down behind the rock just before the snow had frozen.  The prints were not visible anywhere else, but, fortunately, it happened to be the right way, and he crossed the dreaded “Saddleback” with a precipice on each side of him without knowing they were there.  It was a providential escape, and when he got clear of the clouds and saw miles of desolate rocky country before him bounded by the dark sea in the background and strode down the remainder of the seven miles from the top of Snowdon, his feelings of thankfulness to the Almighty may be better imagined than described.  He himself—­a first-class walker—­always considered they were the longest and quickest he ever accomplished.  He occupied two hours in the ascent, but not much more than an hour in the descent, reaching, just at the edge of dark, the high-road where the words “Pitt’s Head” were painted in large letters on some rocks, which he afterwards learned represented an almost exact profile of the head of William Pitt the famous Prime Minister.  He stayed for tea at Beddgelert and then walked down the Pass of Aberglaslyn on a tree-covered road in almost total darkness, with the company of roaring waters, which terrified him even more than the dangers he had already encountered, as far as Tremadoc, where he stayed the night.

We had a dismal descent from Ben Nevis, and much more troublesome and laborious than the ascent, for our guide’s illness had become more acute and he looked dreadfully ill.  It was a pitiable sight to see him when, with scarcely strength enough to stand, he leaned heavily upon his staff on one side and on ourselves alternately on the other.  We could not help feeling sorry for him for we had so recently suffered from the same complaint ourselves, though in a much milder form.  We were compelled to walk very slowly and to rest at frequent intervals, and to add to our misery the rain was falling heavily.  We were completely saturated long before reaching Fort William, and were profoundly thankful when we landed our afflicted friend at his own door.  We handed him his full fee, and he thanked us and said that although he had ascended Ben Nevis on nearly 1,200 occasions, this was the only time he had failed.

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[Illustration:  BEN NEVIS]

We had not been quite satisfied that the cause assigned to our attack at Inverness was the real one, as we had drunk so little water there.  We thought now that there might be some infectious epidemic passing through that part of Scotland, perhaps a modified form of the cholera that decimated our part of England thirty or forty years before, and that our guide as well as ourselves had contracted the sickness in that way.

We must not forget to record that on our way up the “Ben” we saw a most beautiful rainbow, which appeared to great advantage, as it spread itself between us and the opposite hills, exhibiting to perfection all its seven colours.

We were as hungry as hunters when we returned to our lodgings, and, after changing some of our clothes and drying the others, we sat down to the good things provided for our noon dinner, which we washed down with copious libations of tea.

As the rain continued, we decided to stop another night at Mrs. MacPherson’s, so we went out to make some purchases at the chemist’s shop, which also served as an emporium—­in fact as a general stores.  We had a chat with the proprietor, who explained that Fort William was a very healthy place, where his profession would not pay if carried on alone, so he had to add to it by selling other articles.  The Fort, he told us, was originally built in the time of Cromwell by General Monk to overawe the Highlanders, but was afterwards re-erected on a smaller scale by William III; hence its name of Fort William.


We asked the chemist if he could recommend to us a good shoemaker, who could undertake to sole and heel two pairs of boots before morning, as ours were showing signs of wear-and-tear owing to the long distances we had walked both before and after reaching John o’ Groat’s.  This he promised to do, and he sent one across to Mrs. MacPherson’s immediately.  After we had parted with our boots, we were prisoners for the remainder of the day, though we were partially reconciled to our novel position when we heard the wind driving the rain against the windows instead of against ourselves.  But it seemed strange to us to be sitting down hour after hour reading the books our hostess kindly lent to us instead of walking on the roads.  The books were chiefly historical, and interested us, as they related to the country through which we were passing.  Terrible histories they contained too! describing fierce battles and murders, and giving us the impression that the Scots of the olden times were like savages, fighting each other continually, and that for the mere pleasure of fighting.  Especially interesting to us was the record of the cruel massacre of Glencoe, for we intended visiting there, if possible, on the morrow.  It was not the extent of the carnage on that occasion, but the horrible way in which it was carried out, that excited the indignation of the whole country, and my brother spent some time in copying in his note-book the following history of—­

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After King William had defeated the Highland Clans, he gave the Highland Chiefs a year and a half to make their submission to his officers, and all had done this except MacDonald of Glencoe, whose Chief—­MacIan—­had delayed his submission to the last possible day.  He then went to Fort William to tender his Oath of Allegiance to the King’s Officer there, who unfortunately had no power to receive it, but he gave him a letter to Sir Colin Campbell, who was at Inverary, asking him to administer the Oath to MacIan.  The aged Chief hastened to Inverary, but the roads were bad and almost impassable owing to a heavy fall of snow, so that the first day of January, 1692, had passed before he could get there; Campbell administered the Oath and MacIan returned to Glencoe thinking that all was now right.  But a plot was made against him by the Campbells, whose flocks and herds, it was said, the MacDonalds had often raided, and it was decided to punish MacIan and to exterminate his clan; and a company of the Earl of Argyle’s regiment, commanded by Captain Campbell of Glenlyon, was sent to Glen Coe to await orders.  MacIan’s sons heard that the soldiers were coming, and thought that they were coming to disarm them, so they removed their arms to a place of safety, and, with a body of men, they went to meet the soldiers to ask if they were coming as friends or foes.  They assured them that they were coming as friends and wished to stay with them for a short time, as there was no room for them, for the garrison buildings at Fort William were already full of soldiers.  Alaster MacDonald, one of MacIan’s sons, had married a niece of Glenlyon’s, so that the soldiers were cordially received and treated with every possible hospitality by MacIan and his Clan, with whom they remained for about a fortnight.
Then Glenlyon received a letter from Duncanson, his commanding officer, informing him that all the MacDonalds under seventy years of age must be killed, and that the Government was not to be troubled with prisoners.  Glenlyon lost no time in carrying out his orders.  He took his morning’s draught as usual at the house of MacIan’s son, who had married his niece, and he and two of his officers accepted an invitation to dinner from MacIan, whom, as well as the whole clan, he was about to slaughter.  At four o’clock the next morning, February 13, 1692, the massacre was begun by a party of soldiers, who knocked at MacIan’s door and were at once admitted.  Lindsay, who was one of the officers who had accepted his invitation to dinner, commanded the party, and shot MacIan dead at his own bedside while he was dressing himself and giving orders for refreshments to be provided for his visitors.  His aged wife was stripped by the savage soldiers, who pulled off the gold rings from her fingers with their teeth, and she died next day from grief and the brutal treatment she had received.  The two sons had

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had their suspicions aroused, but these had been allayed by Glenlyon.  However, an old servant woke them and told them to flee for their lives as their father had been murdered, and as they escaped they heard the shouts of the murderers, the firing of muskets, the screams of the wounded, and the groans of the dying rising from the village, and it was only their intimate knowledge of the almost inaccessible cliffs that enabled them to escape.  At the house where Glenlyon lodged, he had nine men bound and shot like felons.  A fine youth of twenty years of age was spared for a time, but one, Captain Drummond, ordered him to be put to death; and a boy of five or six, who had clung to Glenlyon’s knees entreating for mercy and offering to become his servant for life if he would spare him, and who had moved Glenlyon to pity, was stabbed by Drummond with a dirk while he was in the agony of supplication.  Barber, a sergeant, with some soldiers, fired on a group of nine MacDonalds who were round their morning fire, and killed four of them, and one of them, who escaped into a house, expressed a wish to die in the open air rather than inside the house, “For your bread, which I have eaten,” said Barber, “I will grant the request.”  Macdonald was accordingly dragged to the door, but he was an active man and, when the soldiers presented their firelocks to shoot him, he cast his plaid over their eyes and, taking advantage of their confusion and the darkness, he escaped up the glen.  Some old persons were also killed, one of them eighty years of age; and others, with women and children who had escaped from the carnage half clad, were starved and frozen to death on the snow-clad hills whither they had fled.

  The winter wind that whistled shrill,
  The snows that night that cloaked the hill,
  Though wild and pitiless, had still
  Far more than Southern clemency.

It was thrilling to read the account of the fight between the two Clans, Mackenzie and MacDonnell, which the Mackenzies won.  When the MacDonnells were retreating they had to cross a river, and those who missed the ford were either drowned or killed.  A young and powerful chief of the MacDonnells in his flight made towards a spot where the burn rushed through a yawning chasm, very wide and deep, and was closely followed by one of the victorious Mackenzies; but MacDonnell, forgetting the danger of the attempt in the hurry of his flight and the agitation of the moment, and being of an athletic frame and half naked, made a desperate leap, and succeeded in clearing the rushing waters below.

Mackenzie inconsiderately followed him, but, not having the impulse of the powerful feelings that had animated MacDonnell, he did not reach the top of the opposite bank, succeeding only in grasping the branch of a birch tree, where he hung suspended over the abyss.  Macdonnell, finding he was not being followed, returned to the edge of the chasm, and, seeing Mackenzie’s situation, took out his dirk, and as he cut off the branch from the tree he said, “I have left much behind me with you to-day; take that also,” and so Mackenzie perished.

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There was another incident of Highland ferocity that attracted us powerfully, and read as follows:  “Sir Ewen encountered a very powerful English officer, an over-match for him in strength, who, losing his sword, grappled with the chief, and got him under; but Lochiel’s presence of mind did not forsake him, for grasping the Englishman by the collar and darting at his extended throat with his teeth, he tore away the bloody morsel, which he used to say was the sweetest morsel he had ever tasted.”

We felt that the people hereabouts were still of another nation.  The descendants of Prince Charlie’s faithful adherents still clung to their ancient religion, and they preserved many of their old customs and traditions in spite of the changes in outlook which trade and the great canal had brought about.

It was therefore not to be wondered at that, after impressing our memories with these and other fearful stories and eating the heavy supper provided for us by our landlady, our dreams that night rather disturbed our slumbers.

[Illustration:  SCENE OF THE MASSACRE OF GLENCOE.  “Especially interesting to us was the account of the cruel massacre of Glencoe.  Here was enacted one of the blackest crimes in the annals of Scottish history.”]

Personally I was in the middle of a long journey, engaged in disagreeable adventures in which I was placed at a considerable disadvantage, as I was walking without my boots, when I was relieved from an unpleasant position by the announcement that it was six o’clock and that our boots had arrived according to promise.

(Distance walked nine miles.)

Friday, September 29th.

There was a delightful uncertainty about our journey, for everything we saw was new to us, and we were able to enjoy to the fullest extent the magnificent mountain and loch scenery in the Highlands of Scotland, with which we were greatly impressed.  It was seven o’clock in the morning, of what, fortunately for us, proved to be a fine day, as we left Fort William, and after coming to the end of the one street which formed the town we reached a junction of roads, where it was necessary to inquire the way to Glencoe.  We asked a youth who was standing at the door of a house, but he did not know, so went into the house to inquire, and came out with the information that we could get there either way.  We had already walked along the full length of Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy, so we decided to walk alongside Loch Linnhe, especially as that road had the best surface.  So on we went at a quick pace, for the half-day’s holiday yesterday had resulted in renewed energy.  We could see the great mountains in front which we knew we must cross, and after walking three and a half miles we met a pedestrian, who informed us that we were on the right way, and must go on until we reached Ballachulish, where we could cross the ferry to Glencoe.

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This information rather troubled us, as we had determined to walk all the way, so he advised us to go round the “Head of the Loch”—­an expression we often heard used in Scotland—­and to make our way there across the open country; in this case the loch was Loch Leven, so we left the highway and Loch Linnhe and walked to a small farm we could see in the distance.  The mistress was the only person about, but she could only speak Gaelic, and we were all greatly amused at our efforts to make ourselves understood.  Seeing some cows grazing quite near, my brother took hold of a quart jug standing on a bench and, pointing to the cows, made her understand that we wanted a quart of milk, which she handed to us with a smile.  We could not ask her the price, so we handed her fourpence, the highest price we had known to have been paid for a quart of the best milk at home, and with which she seemed greatly pleased.

We were just leaving the premises when the farmer came up, and he fortunately could speak English.  He told us he had seen us from a distance, and had returned home, mistaking us for two men who occasionally called upon him on business.  He said we had gone “three miles wrong,” and took great pains to show us the right way.  Taking us through a fence, he pointed out in the distance a place where we should have to cross the mountains.  He also took us to a track leading off in that direction, which we were to follow, and, leaving him, we went on our way rejoicing.  But this mountain track was a very curious one, as it broke away in two or three directions and shortly disappeared.  It was unfenced on the moorland, and there were not enough people travelling that way to make a well-defined path, each appearing to have travelled as he pleased.  We tried the same method, but only to find we had gone out of the nearest way.  We crossed several small burns filled with delightfully clear water, and presently saw another house in the distance, to which we now went, finding it to be the shepherd’s house.

Here the loud and savage barking of a dog brought out the shepherd’s wife, who called the dog away from us, and the shepherd, who was having his breakfast, also made his appearance.  He directed us to a small river, which he named in Gaelic, and pointed to a place where it could easily be forded, warning us at the same time that the road over the hills was not only dangerous, but difficult to find and extremely lonely, and that the road to Glencoe was only a drovers’ road, used for driving cattle across the hills.  We made the best of our way to the place, but the stream had been swollen by the recent rains, and we experienced considerable difficulty in crossing it.  At length, after sundry walkings backwards and forwards, stepping from one large stone to another in the burn, we reached the opposite bank safely.  The only mishap, beyond getting over shoe-tops in the water, was the dropping of one of our bags in the burn; but this we were fortunate enough to recover before its contents were seriously damaged or the bag carried away by the current.

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[Illustration:  THE PASS.]

We soon reached the road named by the shepherd, which was made of large loose stones.  But was it a road?  Scotland can boast of many good roads, and has material always at hand both for construction and repair; but of all the roads we ever travelled on, this was the worst!  Presently we came to a lonely cottage, the last we were to see that day, and we called to inquire the way, but no English was spoken there.  This was unfortunate, as we were in doubt as to which was our road, so we had to find our way as best we could.  Huge rocks and great mountains reared their heads on all sides of us, including Ben Nevis, which we could recognise owing to the snowy coverlet still covering his head.  The country became very desolate, with nothing to be seen but huge rocks, inaccessible to all except the pedestrian.  Hour after hour we toiled up mountains—­sometimes we thought we reached an elevation of two thousand feet—­and then we descended into a deep ravine near a small loch.  Who could forget a day’s march like this, now soaring to an immense height and presently appearing to descend into the very bowels of the earth!  We must have diverged somewhat from the road known as the “Devil’s Staircase,” by repute the worst road in Britain, for the track we were on was in one section like the bed of a mountain torrent and could not have been used even by cattle.  Late in the afternoon we reached the proper track, and came up with several herds of bullocks, about three hundred in number, all told, that were being driven over the mountains to find a better home in England, which we ourselves hoped to do later.

[Illustration:  IN GLENCOE.]

We were fortunate in meeting the owner, with whom we were delighted to enter into conversation.  When we told him of our adventures, he said we must have missed our way, and congratulated us on having a fine day, as many persons had lost their lives on those hills owing to the sudden appearance of clouds.  He said a heap of stones we passed marked the spot where two young men had been found dead.  They were attempting to descend the “Devil’s Stair,” when the mist came on, and they wandered about in the frost until, overcome by sleep, they lay down never to rise again in this world.

He had never been in England, but had done business with many of the nobility and gentlemen there, of whom several he named belonged to our own county of Chester.  He had heard that the bullocks he sold to them, after feeding on the rich, pastures of England for a short time, grew to a considerable size, which we thought was not to be wondered at, considering the hardships these shaggy-looking creatures had to battle with in the North.  We got some information about our farther way, not the least important being the fact that there was a good inn in the Pass of Glencoe; and he advised us to push on, as the night would soon be coming down.

[Illustration:  THE PASS IN GLENCOE.]

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At the close of day we could just see the outline of a deep, dark valley which we knew was the Pass of Glencoe, with a good road, hundreds of feet below.  Acting on the advice of the drover, we left the road and descended cautiously until we could go no farther in safety; then we collected an enormous number of old roots, the remains of a forest of birch trees which originally covered the mountain-side, and with some dry heather lighted an enormous tire, taking care to keep it within bounds.  A small rill trickling down the mountain-side supplied us with water, and, getting our apparatus to work and some provisions from our bags, we sat down as happy as kings to partake of our frugal meal, to the accompaniment of the “cup that cheers but not inebriates,” waiting for the rising of the full moon to light us on our farther way to the road below.  We were reclining amongst the heather, feeling thankful to the Almighty that we had not shared the fate of the two young men whose cairn we had seen on the hills above—­an end we might easily have met, given the weather of yesterday and similar conditions—­when suddenly we heard voices below us.  Our fire now cast a glare around it, and everything looked quite dark beyond its margin.  Our feelings of surprise increased as from the gloom emerged the gigantic figures of two stalwart Highlanders.  We thought of the massacre of Glencoe, for these men were nearly double our size; and, like the Macdonalds, we wondered whether they came as friends or foes, since we should have fared badly had it been the latter.  But they had been attracted by the light of our fire, and only asked us if we had seen “the droves.”  We gave them all the information we could, and then bidding us “good night” they quietly departed.

[Illustration:  “THE SISTERS,” GLENCOE.  “Here was wild solitude in earnest....  The scene we looked upon was wild and rugged, as if convulsed by some frightful cataclysm.”]

The darkness of the night soon became modified by the reflected light from the rising moon behind the great hills on the opposite side of the glen.  We extinguished the dying embers of our fire and watched the full moon gradually appearing above the rocks, flooding with her glorious light the surrounding scene, which was of the sublimest grandeur and solitude.

[Illustration:  THE RIVER COE, GLENCOE.]

Many descriptions of this famous glen have been written, and no one who could see it under such favourable and extraordinary conditions as we enjoyed that night would be disposed to dispute the general opinion of its picturesque and majestic beauty.  Surely Nature is here portrayed in her mightiest form!  How grand, and yet how solemn!  See the huge masses of rock rising precipitously on both sides of the glen and rearing their rugged heads towards the very heavens!  Here was wild solitude in earnest, and not even the cry of the eagle which once, and even now, had its abode in these vast mountain recesses broke the awful

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silence which that night prevailed in the Pass, disturbed only by the slumberous rippling of water.  The scene we looked upon was wild and rugged, as if convulsed by some frightful cataclysm, and we saw it under conditions in which Nature conspired to enhance its awfulness—­a sight which few painters could imitate, few writers could graphically describe.  The infidel may deny the existence of the Creator of the universe, but there was here sufficient to fill the soul with awe and wonder, and to influence even the sceptic to render acknowledgment to the great God who framed these majestic hills.  The reflection of the moon on the hills was marvellous, lighting up the white road at the upper end of the pass and the hills opposite, and casting great black shadows elsewhere which made the road appear as if to descend and vanish into Hades.  We fancied as we entered the pass that we were descending into an abyss from which it would be impossible to extricate ourselves; but we were brought up sharp in our thoughts, for when we reached the road it suddenly occurred to us that we had forgotten to ask in which direction we had to turn for the “Clachaig Inn” named by the drover.

We sat down by the roadside in the hope that some one would come from whom we might obtain the information, and were just beginning to think it was a forlorn hope when we heard the sound of horse’s feet approaching from the distance.  Presently the rider appeared, who proved to be a cattle-dealer, he told us he had some cattle out at the foot of the glen, and said the inn was seven miles away in the direction in which he was going.  We asked him if he would kindly call there and tell them that two travellers were coming who required lodgings for the night.  This he promised to do, and added that we should find the inn on the left-hand side of the road.  We then started on our seven-mile walk down the Pass of Glencoe in the light of the full moon shining from a clear sky, and in about an hour’s time in the greatest solitude we were almost startled by the sudden appearance of a house set back from the left-hand side of the road with forms and tables spread out on the grass in front.  Could this be the inn?  It was on the left-hand side, but we could not yet have walked the distance named by the cattle-dealer; so we knocked at the door, which was opened by a queer-looking old man, who told us it was not the inn, but the shepherd’s house, and that the forms and tables in front were for the use of passengers by the coach, who called there for milk and light refreshments.  Then the mistress, who was more weird-looking still, came forward, and down the passage we could see other strange-looking people.  The old lady insisted upon our coming in, saying she would make us some porridge; but my brother, whose nerves seemed slightly unstrung, thought that we might never come out of the house again alive!  We found, however, that the company improved on closer acquaintance.

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The meal was served in two deep bowls, and was so thick that when our spoons were placed in it on end they stood upright without any further support, so it was, as the Lancashire people describe it, proper “thick porridge.”  We were unable to make much impression on it, as we had not yet digested the repast we had enjoyed on the hills above, and the good old lady added to our difficulties by bringing a plentiful supply of milk.  It was the first time we had tasted meal porridge in Scotland.  Needless to say, after paying our hostess for her hospitality, we were allowed to depart in peace, nor were we molested during the remainder of our romantic evening walk.  After proceeding about two miles farther amidst some of the most lonely and impressive scenery in the Highlands, we arrived at the “Clachaig Inn.”  It was after closing-time, but as the gentleman on horseback had delivered our message according to promise, the people of the inn were awaiting our arrival.  We received a friendly welcome, and proceeded to satisfy what remained of a formerly voracious appetite by a weak attack on the good things provided for supper, after which, retiring to rest in the two beds reserved for us, we slept so soundly that in the morning when roused by a six-o’clock call we could not recall that our dreams had been disturbed even by the awful massacre enacted at Glencoe, which place was now so near.

(Distance walked thirty miles.)

Saturday, September 30th.

By seven o’clock a.m. we were again on the road bound for Inverary, which place we were anxious to visit, as it had recently been the scene of a royal wedding, that of the Princess Louise with the Marquis of Lorne.  The morning was beautifully fine, but there had been a frost during the night and the grass on the sides of the road was quite white.  The sky was clear, not a cloud being visible as we resumed our walk down the glen, and in about three miles we reached the village of Glencoe.  Here we heard blasting operations being carried on quite near our road, and presently we reached the edge of the loch, where there was a pier and a ferry.  We now found that in directing us to Inverary our friends at the inn had taken it for granted that we wished to go the nearest way, which was across this ferry, and we were told there were others to cross before reaching Inverary.  We therefore replenished our stock of provisions at the village shop and turned back up the glen, so that after seeing it in the light of the full moon the night before we had now the privilege of seeing it in the glorious sunshine.  We walked on until we got to the shepherd’s house where we had been treated to such a heavy repast of meal porridge the previous evening, and there we had a substantial meal to fortify us for our farther journey.  On our way up the glen we had passed a small lake at the side of our road, and as there was not sufficient wind to raise the least ripple on its surface it formed a magnificent

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mirror to the mountains on both sides.  Several carts laden with wool had halted by the side of the lake and these also were reflected on its surface.  We considered the view pictured in this lake to be one of the prettiest sights we had ever seen in the sunshine, and the small streams flowing down the mountain sides looked very beautiful, resembling streaks of silver.  We compared the scene in imagination with the changes two months hence, when the streams would be lines of ice and the mountain roads covered with a surface of frozen snow, making them difficult to find and to walk upon, and rendering travelling far less pleasant than on this beautiful morning.  We often thought that we should not have completed our walk if we had undertaken it at the same period of the year but in the reverse direction, since we were walking far too late in the season for a journey of this description.  We considered ourselves very fortunate in walking from John o’ Groat’s to Land’s End, instead of from Land’s End to John o’ Groat’s, for by the time we finished deep snow might have covered these Northern altitudes.  How those poor women and children must have suffered at the time of the massacre of Glencoe, when, as Sir Walter Scott writes—­

flying from their burning huts, and from their murderous visitors, the half-naked fugitives committed themselves to a winter morning of darkness, snow, and storm, amidst a wilderness the most savage in the Western Highlands, having a bloody death behind them, and before them tempest, famine, and desolation when some of them, bewildered by the snow-wreaths, sank in them to rise no more!

[Illustration:  BRIDGE OF ORCHY.]

They were doubtless ignorant of the danger they were in, even as they escaped up the glen, practically the only way of escape from Glencoe, for Duncanson had arranged for four hundred soldiers to be at the top end of the pass at four o’clock that morning, the hour at which the massacre was to begin at the other end.  Owing to the heavy fall of snow, however, the soldiers did not arrive until eleven o’clock in the forenoon—­long after the fugitives had reached places of safety.

Like many other travellers before us, we could not resist passing a bitter malediction on the perpetrators of this cruel wrong, although they had long since gone to their reward.  And yet we are told that it hastened that amalgamation of the two kingdoms which has been productive of so much good.

We had our breakfast or lunch served on one of the tables ranged outside the front of the shepherd’s house, and in quite a romantic spot, whence we walked on to a place which had figured on mileposts for a long distance named “Kingshouse.”  Here we expected to find a village, but as far as we could see there was only one fairly large house there, and that an inn.  What king it was named after did not appear, but there was no other house in sight.  Soon after passing it we again came

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in contact with the master cattle-drover we had interviewed the day before, who told us that he had brought his bullocks from the Isle of Skye, from which place they had to travel seventy-one miles.  We also passed several other droves, some of which we might have seen previously, and by nightfall came to Inveroran.  Here we saw a comfortable inn which would have just suited us, but as there was no church there and the next day was Sunday, we decided to walk to the next village, about three miles farther on, where we were informed there was a church, and a drover’s house quite near it where we could get lodgings.  By this time it was quite dark, and we passed Loch Tulla without either seeing it or knowing it was there, and arriving at the Bridge of Orchy we found the drover’s house near the church.  To our great disappointment the accommodation had all been taken up, and the only place that the lady of the house knew of in the direction we were going was a farmhouse about four miles away, where she said, with a tone of doubt in her voice, “we might get in!” We crossed the bridge and passed over the River Orchy, which connected Loch Tulla with Loch Awe, some sixteen miles distant.

Fortunately for us the moon now rose, though obscured by great black clouds, which we could see meant mischief, probably to make us pay dearly for the lovely weather during the day.  But luckily there was sufficient light to enable us to see the many burns that crossed the surface of the road, otherwise it would have been impossible for us to have found our way.  The streams were very numerous, and ran into the river which flowed alongside our road, from among some great hills the outlines of which we could see dimly to the left.  We were tired, and the miles seemed very long, but the excitement of crossing the rushing waters of the burns and the noise of the river close by kept us awake.  We began to think we should never reach that farmhouse, and that we had either missed our way or had been misinformed, when at length we reached the desired haven at a point where a gate guarded the entrance to the moor.  All was in darkness, but we went to the house and knocked at the front door.  There was no response, so we tried the shutters that barricaded the lower windows, our knocks disturbing the dogs at the back of the house, which began to bark and assisted us to waken the occupants.  Presently we heard a sleepy voice behind the shutters, and my brother explained the object of our visit in a fine flow of language (for he was quite an orator), including references, as usual, to our “walking expedition,” a favourite phrase of his.  As the vehement words from within sounded more like Gaelic than English, I gathered that his application for lodgings had not been successful.  Tired as I was, I could not help laughing at the storm we had created, in which the “walking expedition” man heartily joined.  But what were we to do?  Here we were on a stormy night, ten miles from the

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inn at Dalmally, which for aught we knew might be the next house, hungry and tired, cold and wet; and having covered thirty miles that day and thirty miles the day before, how could we walk a further ten miles?  Our track was unfenced and bounded by the river on one side and the moors on the other, but presently we came to a place where the surface of the moor rose sharply and for some distance overhung the road, forming a kind of a cove.  Here we gathered, some of the dry heather that extended under that which ornamented the sides of the cove, made quite a respectable fire, and ate our last morsel of food, with which unluckily we were poorly provided.  To add to our misfortune, the wind grew into a hurricane and whirled the smoke in every direction, forcing us at last to beat a hasty retreat.

We now faced the prospect of a night on the moors, and resolved to crawl along at a sufficient speed to keep up our circulation, stopping at the first house we came to.  Here again the subdued light from the moon proved useful, for we had not gone very far before we saw what appeared to be a small house on the moor about a hundred yards away.  We approached it very cautiously, and found it was a small hut.  How glad we were to see that hut!  We struck a light, and at once began an exploration of the interior, which we found contained a form, a rustic table reared against the wall, and, better than all, a fireplace with a chimney above it about a yard high; the door was lying loose outside the hovel.  It may have been a retreat for keepers, though more likely a shelter for men who had once been employed on the land, for attached to it was a small patch of land fenced in which looked as though it had been cultivated.  With a few sticks which we found in one corner and a handful of hay gathered from the floor we lighted a fire, for we were now becoming experts in such matters; but the smoke seemed undecided which way it should go, for at one minute it went up the chimney, at another it came down.  We went outside and altered the chimney a little, for it was only formed of loose stones, and thus effected an improvement for a time.  The door gave us the most trouble, since being loose we had the greatest difficulty in keeping it in its proper position, for the wind was now blowing hard—­so much so that we thought at times that the hut itself would be blown over.  At last a tremendous gust came, and down went the chimney altogether.  The fire and smoke now made towards the doorway, so that we had frequently to step outside in order to get a breath of fresh air.  We tried to build the chimney up again, but this was impossible owing to the velocity of the wind and rain and the exposed situation.  Our slender supply of fuel was nearly exhausted, which was the worst feature, as it was imperative that we should keep ourselves warm; so we decided to go back towards the river, where we had seen a few small trees or bushes lining the bank between our track and the water.  Luckily, however, we discovered a dead tree inside the enclosed land, and as I was somewhat of an expert at climbing, I “swarmed” up it and broke off all the dead branches I could reach with safety, it being as much as I could do to retain my hold on the slippery trunk of the tree.

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With the dead wood and some heather and pieces of turf we returned laden and wet through to our dug-out, where we managed to get our fire burning again and to clear away some of the stones that had fallen upon it.  Still there was no sleep for us that night, which was the most miserable one almost that we ever experienced.

But just fancy the contrast!  In the dead of night, in a desolate Highland glen, scaling a stone fence in a pitiless storm of wind and rain, and climbing up a dead tree to break off a few branches to serve as fuel for a most obstinate fire—­such was the reality; and then picture, instead of this, sitting before a good fire in a comfortable inn, with a good supper, and snug apartments with every accommodation—­these had been our fond anticipations for the week-end!  We certainly had a good supply of wet fuel, and perhaps burned something else we ought not to have done:  but we were really prisoners for the night.  The merciless wind and rain raged throughout, and we had to stick to our novel apartment and breathe until daylight the awful smoke from the fire we were compelled to keep alight.  Yet our spirits were not entirely damped, for we found ourselves in the morning, and often during the night, singing the refrain of an old song: 

  We’ll stand the storm, it won’t be long;
    We’ll anchor by and by.

Just occasionally the gloom thickened when we ventured to think of details, among which came uppermost the great question, “Where and when shall we get our breakfast?”

(Distance walked, including that to Dalmally, forty miles.)

Sunday, October 1st.

Soon after daylight appeared the rain moderated, and so did the wind, which now seemed to have exhausted itself.  Our sleep, as may easily be imagined, had been of a very precarious and fitful character; still the hut had rendered substantial service in sheltering us from the fury of the storm.  Soon after leaving our sorry shelter we saw a white house standing near the foot of a hill beyond the moor, and to this we resolved to go, even though it was a long distance away, as it was now imperative that we should obtain food.  A knock at the door, more than once repeated—­for it was still very early—­at last roused the mistress of the house, who opened the door and with kindly sympathy listened to our tale of woe.  She at once lit the fire, while the other members of the family were still asleep in the room, and found us some soap and water, our hands and faces being as black as smoke and burnt sticks could make them.  After a good wash we felt much better and refreshed, although still very sleepy.  She then provided us with some hot milk and oatcake, and something we had never tasted before, which she called “seath.”  It proved to be a compound of flour and potatoes, and after our long fast it tasted uncommonly good.  Altogether we had an enormous breakfast, the good wife waiting upon us meanwhile in what we supposed was the costume common to the Highlands—­in other words, minus her gown, shoes, and stockings.  We rewarded her handsomely and thanked her profusely as she directed us the nearest way to Dalmally.

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On arrival at the well-appointed inn there, we received every attention, and retired to our bedrooms, giving strict orders to the waiter to see that we were called in time for lunch, and for the English service at the kirk, which he told us would be held that day between one and two o’clock.  In accordance with our instructions we were called, but it was not surprising, after walking quite forty miles since Saturday at daybreak, that we should be found soundly sleeping when the call came.

Lunch was waiting for us, and, after disposing of it as hungry folk should, we went to Glenorchy Church, only to find that, unfortunately, there was no service that day.  The minister, who had charge of two parishes, was holding a service at his other church, seven miles distant up the glen!  We therefore hurried to the Free Kirk, which stood in another part of the village; but as the Gaelic service had been taken at one o’clock and the English service followed it immediately afterwards, the minister had already begun his sermon when we arrived.  The door was shut, so entering quietly and closing it behind us, we were astonished to find a table in the vestibule with a plate exposing to our view a large number of coins evidently the result of the collection from the worshippers within.  We were surprised at the large proportion of silver coins, an evidence that the people had given liberally.  We added our mites to the collection, while we wondered what would have become of the money if left in a similar position in some districts we could think of farther south.  We were well pleased with the sermon, and as the congregation dispersed we held a conversation and exchanged views with one of the elders of the church chiefly on the subject of collections.  He explained that the prevailing practice in the Scottish Churches was for the collection to be taken—­or rather given—­on entering the House of God, and that one or two of the deacons generally stood in the vestibule beside the plate.  We told him it was the best way of taking a collection that we had ever seen, since it did not interrupt or interfere with the service of the church, and explained the system adopted in the churches in England.

In our youthful days collections were only made in church on special occasions, and for such purposes as the support of Sunday schools and Missionary Societies.  The churchwardens collected the money in large and deep wooden boxes, and the rattle of the coins as they were dropped into the boxes was the only sound we could hear, for the congregation remained seated in a deep and solemn silence, which we in our youthful innocence thought was because their money was being taken away from them.

In later years brass plates were substituted for boxes in some churches, and each member of the congregation then seemed to vie with his neighbours for the honour of placing the most valuable coin on the plate.  The rivalry, however, did not last long, and we knew one church where this custom was ended by mutual arrangement.  The hatchet was buried by substituting bags, attached, in this case, to the end of long sticks, to enable the wardens to reach the farthest end of the pews when necessary.

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This system continued for some time, but when collections were instituted at each service and the total result had to be placarded on the outside of the church door, with the numbers and total value of each class of coin recorded separately, the wardens sometimes found a few items in the bags which were of no monetary value, and could not be classified in the list without bringing scandal to the church and punishment to the, perhaps youthful, offenders; so the bags were withdrawn and plates reinstated, resulting in an initial increase of 10 per cent, in the amount collected.

The church was a large one, and a great number of ladies attended it on Sundays, their number being considerably augmented by the lady students from the Collegiate Institutions in the town, who sat in a portion of the church specially reserved for them.

The Rector of the parish was an elderly man and an eloquent preacher, who years before had earned his reputation in London, where in a minor capacity he had been described by Charles Dickens as the model East End curate.

Eight gentlemen were associated with him as wardens and sidesmen, all well-known men in the town, one of whom being specially known for the faultless way in which he was dressed and by his beautiful pink complexion—­the presence of the light hair on his face being scarcely discernible, and giving him the appearance of being endowed with perpetual youth.  His surname also was that of the gentleman for whom all young ladies are supposed to be waiting, so it was not to be wondered at that he was a general favourite with them, and that some slight feeling of jealousy existed among his colleagues.  It was part of their duties to collect the offerings from the congregation, and afterwards assemble at the west end of the church, marching two and two in military step to the east end to hand their collections to the clergyman who stood there waiting to receive them.

One Sunday morning, when the favourite collector reached that end of the church where most of the young ladies were located, he was surprised to notice that all of them received him with a smile as he handed them the plate.  Several of them actually went so far as to incline their heads slightly, as if adding a nod to their smiles.  He thought at first that they were amused at something connected with his new suit of clothes—­of which, by the way, he was quite proud—­but a hasty examination of his person from collar downwards showed everything to be in perfect order.  He felt annoyed and very uncomfortable when the ladies continued to smile as he visited each pew, without his being able to ascertain the reason why, and he was greatly relieved when he got away from them to rejoin his colleagues.  As he was advancing with them up the centre of the church his eye chanced to rest for a moment on the contents of his plate, and there, to his horror, he saw a large white mint-drop about the size of a half-crown, which had been placed face upwards bearing the words printed in clear red letters, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” Then he understood why the young ladies smiled and nodded acceptance so pleasantly that morning, for, unconsciously, he had been “popping the question” all round; although inquired into at the time, the mystery of the mint-drop was never satisfactorily solved.

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A gentleman to whom we told this story said it reminded him of another of what he called a “swell”—­a fine young fellow, with apparently more money than sense—­who dropped into a country church for service and was shown into the squire’s pew.  The squire was old and of fixed habits.  After settling in his seat he drew out his half-crown as usual and placed it on the ledge in front.  His companion pulled out a sovereign and ostentatiously put it on the ledge too.  The squire stared hard at him and soon reckoned him up.  He then placed a second half-crown on the first, and the stranger produced a second sovereign.  Five times was this repeated during the service.  At last the churchwarden brought his brass plate, which the squire gravely took and held out to his neighbour, who swept the five sovereigns on to it in a very grand manner.  The squire picked up one half-crown for the plate and, with a twinkle in his eye, returned the rest to his pocket!

Since the days of King David singing has always been considered a most valuable aid in the offering up of prayers and praises to the Almighty, and nothing sounded better in our ears than the hearty singing of a good old hymn by the entire congregation.  But why this period in the Church Service should have been chosen in later years as a suitable time for the wardens to disturb the harmony and thoughts of the parishioners by handing round their collection plates was beyond our comprehension.  The interruption caused by that abominable practice often raised unchristian-like feelings in our minds, and we wished at times that the author of it, whoever he might be, could be brought to the gallows and publicly hanged for his services; for why should our devotions be disturbed by the thought that at any moment during the singing of a hymn the collector might suddenly appear on the scene, possibly sneaking up from the rear like a thief in the night, to the annoyance of every one within reach?  If the saving of time is the object, why not reduce the length of the sermon, which might often be done to advantage? or, failing that, why not adopt the system which prevailed in the Scottish Churches?


The elder of the Free Kirk at Dalmally was much interested in what we told him about our English Services, where the congregations both prayed and sang in positions differing from those adopted in Scotland, and to continue the conversation he walked with us as far as Dalmally Bridge, where we parted company.  We then continued on our way to visit a monument erected on a hill we could see in the distance “to the memory of Duncan-Bann-Macintyre, the Glenorchy poet, who was born in the year 1724 and departed this life in 1812”; and, judging from the size of the monument, which was in the style of a Grecian temple in grey granite and inscribed to the memory of the “Sweetest and Purest of Gaelic Bards,” he must have been a man of considerable importance.  From that point

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we had a fine view of Loch Awe, perhaps the finest obtainable, for although it is above twenty miles long, the lake here, in spite of being at its greatest breadth, appeared almost dwarfed into a pool within the mighty mass of mountains with lofty Ben Cruachan soaring steeply to the clouds, and forming a majestic framework to a picture of surpassing beauty.  The waters of the lake reflected the beauties of its islands and of its mountainous banks.  These islands all had their own history or clan legend and were full of mysteries.  Inishail, once a nunnery, and for ages the burying-place of the clan chieftains; Innischonell, from the eleventh century the stronghold of the Argyll, whence they often sent forth their famous slogan or defiant war-cry, “It’s a far cry to Lochawe”; Fraoch Eilean, where the hero Fraoch slew and was himself slain by the serpent that guarded the apples for which the fair Mego longed.

We then retraced our steps slowly to the Dalmally inn, where we were served with tea in the sumptuous manner common to all first-class inns in the Highlands of Scotland, after which we retired to rest, bent on making good the sleep we had lost and on proceeding on our journey early the following morning.


Monday, October 2nd.


We left our comfortable quarters at Dalmally at seven o’clock in the morning, and presently reached Loch Awe, with the poet’s monument still in sight and some islands quite near to us in the loch.  We soon left Loch Awe, turning off when we reached Cladich and striking over the hills to the left.  After walking about two miles all uphill, we reached the summit, whence we had a fine backward view of Loch Awe, which from this point appeared in a deep valley with its sides nicely wooded.  Here we were in the neighbourhood of the Cruachan mountains, to which, with Loch Awe, a curious tradition was attached that a supernatural being named “Calliach Bhere,” or “The Old Woman,” a kind of female genie, lived on these high mountains.  It was said that she could step in a moment with ease from one mountain to another, and, when offended, she could cause the floods to descend from the mountains and lay the whole of the low ground perpetually under water.  Her ancestors were said to have lived from time immemorial near the summit of the vast mountain of Cruachan, and to have possessed a great number of herds in the vale below.  She was the last of her line, and, like that of her ancestors, her existence was bound up with a fatal fountain which lay in the side of her native hill and was committed to the charge of her family since it first came into existence.  It was their duty at evening to cover the well with a large flat stone, and in the morning to remove it again.  This ceremony was to be performed before the setting and the rising of the sun, that its last

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beam might not die upon nor its first ray shine upon the water in the well.  If this care were neglected, a fearful and mysterious doom would be the punishment.  When the father of the Calliach Bhere died, he committed the charge to her, warning her of its importance and solemnity and the fatality attending its neglect.  For many years this mysterious woman attended carefully to her duties, but one unlucky evening, tired with her exertions in hunting and ascending the hills, she sat down by the fountain to await the setting of the sun, and falling asleep, did not awake until morning.  When she arose she looked around, but the vale had vanished and a great sheet of water taken its place.  The neglected well had overflowed while she slept, the glen was changed into a lake, the hills into islets, and her people and cattle had perished in the deluge.  The Calliach took but one look over the ruin she had caused, and all that remained of her large possessions in the glen was Loch Awe and its islands!  Then she herself vanished into oblivion.

It is strange how these old stories are told with but little variation in so many places.  This very story appears in Wales and Ireland and other regions where Celts predominate, and except in one instance, that of the destruction of the Lowland Hundreds, now under the water of Cardigan Bay, always in connection with a woman.  We first heard it in Shropshire, but there it was an old woman who lived in a small cottage and possessed the only well in the place, charging the townspeople one farthing per bucket for the water.  In those remote times this formed a great tax on the poor people, and many were the prayers offered up that the imposition might be removed.  These prayers were answered, for one night a great storm arose, the well continued to overflow, and in the morning the old woman and her cottage had disappeared, and in place of the well appeared the beautiful Lake of Ellesmere.

[Illustration:  INVERARY CASTLE.]

We had a fine walk down Glen Aray, with the River Aray on the left for some distance to keep us company, and after about four miles’ walking we came to a ladder inserted in a high stone wall to the left of our road, which was here covered with trees.  My brother climbed up to see what was on the other side, and reported that there was a similar ladder in the wall for descent, that he could see the river rushing down the rocks, and that a pretty little pathway ran under the trees alongside the stream.  We had not met a single person since leaving the neighbourhood of Cladich, and as there was no one about from whom to make inquiries, we took “French leave” and climbed over the fence, to see at once a pretty waterfall and to follow a lovely path for a mile or two until it landed us in one of the main drives from Inverary Castle.  Here we stopped to consider whether we should proceed or retreat, for we were sure we had been trespassing.  My brother reminded me of an experience that occurred to us in the previous

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year in London.  Before we began our walk home from that great city we visited as many of the sights of London as we could, and amongst these was the famous Tower.  We had passed through the Gateway, but were then uncertain how to proceed, when, peeping round a corner, we saw a man dressed in a very strange-looking uniform, whom we afterwards learned was called a “Beef-eater.”  We approached him rather timidly to make inquiries, to which he kindly replied, but told us afterwards that he knew we were Englishmen the minute he saw us coming round the corner.  Foreigners in coming through the gateway always walked firmly and quickly, while the English came creeping along and looking round the corners as if they were afraid.  “My advice to you, young men,” he said, “when visiting strange places, is to go on until you are stopped!” So on this occasion we decided to follow that advice and to go on towards the castle we could see in the distance.  We had not proceeded very far, however, before we met a couple of two-horse open carriages followed by quite a number of persons on horseback.  Feeling rather guilty, we stepped upon the grass by the roadside, and tried to look as if we were not there, but we could see that we had been observed by the occupants of the carriages and by their retinue.  We knew from their appearance that they belonged to the aristocracy, and were not surprised to learn that the second carriage contained the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, while the people on horseback were the younger members of their family.  We had almost reached the castle when we were stopped by a servant in livery, to whom we explained the cause of our presence, asking him the nearest way to Inverary, which he pointed out.  He told us, among other things, that the Duke could drive many miles in his own domain, and that his family consisted of thirteen children, all of whom were living.  We thanked him, and as we retired along the road he had directed us, we considered we had added one more adventure to enliven us on our journey.  We had only walked a little way from the castle when a lady came across the park to speak to us, and told us that the cannon and the large wooden structure we could see in the park had been used for the “spree” at the royal wedding, when the Marquis of Lome, the eldest son of the Duke, had been married to the Princess Louise of England.  She also told us that the Princess and the Marquis had been staying at the castle a short time before, but were not there then.  Who the lady was we did not know, but she was of fine appearance and well educated, and from her conversation had evidently travelled extensively both at home and abroad.  We thanked her for her courage and courtesy in coming to speak to us, at which she smiled and, bowing gracefully, retired towards the castle.  How her conduct compared with that of some people in England may be judged from the following extract which we clipped from a Scottish newspaper shortly afterwards: 

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A War Office clerk was riding outside the Oban coach from Inverary.  A fellow-passenger at his side remarked, “What a glorious view! what a lovely scene!” to which the young gentleman of the War Office, with a strong glance at the speaker, replied, “Sir, I don’t know you; we have not been introduced.”

It was a fine afternoon, and Inverary town looked at its best and quite pleasant in the sunshine, for most of the houses were coloured white.  We halted awhile at the picturesque sculptured cross, where many a weary pilgrim had rested before us, with a glorious view over Loch Fyne and the mountains beyond.  The church stood at the end of the street, and the “Argyll Arms Hotel” would have been a fine place to stay at for the night.  There was also quite a large temperance hotel where carriages could be hired; but we had only walked about sixteen miles, so we had to resist these attractions and walk on to Cairndow, a further distance of ten miles.

[Illustration:  INVERARY CROSS]

Loch Fyne, along the edge of which our road ran all the way to Cairndow, is tidal and about two miles wide at Inverary.  We were now on the opposite side of the castle grounds, and could see another entrance gate, which had been decorated for the royal wedding.  Fine woods bounded our road on the left until we reached the round hill of Duniquaich, where it turned rather abruptly until at Strone Point it was nearly opposite Inverary.  From this place we had a magnificent view of the district we had just passed through; the splendid castle with its grey walls and the lofty tower on the wooded hill adjoining it contrasted finely with the whitened houses of the town of Inverary, as it stood in the light of the setting sun.  We journeyed on alongside the loch, when as the shades of evening were coming on we met a young man and a young woman apparently in great distress.  They told us they had crossed the loch in a small boat to look for ferns, and as the tide was going out had thought they might safely leave their boat on the side of the loch, but when they returned they could not find it anywhere.  They seemed to have been equally unsuccessful with regard to the ferns, as we could not see any in their possession, but we guessed they had other interests, so we went to their assistance and soon found the boat, which doubtless was in the place where they had left it.  The tide must have receded farther than they had anticipated, and they had looked for it too near the water.  We assisted them to launch the boat, and when they were safely seated the young woman, who had looked far more alarmed than her companion, smiled upon us sweetly.  In response to their looks and words of thanks we wished them a pleasant and safe journey; but we never saw any ferns!  Our conversation as we resumed our walk was largely upon this adventure, and we wondered if the ferns could not have been found as easily on the other side of the loch as on this—­but

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then we knew that Love is proverbially blind, and we consigned this fern story to the region of our mythological remembrances, and were still in good humour and not too tired when we reached the Cairndow inn, where we were hospitably, sumptuously, and we could safely add, when we paid the bill next morning, expensively entertained.  But was this partly accounted for by the finely flavoured herrings known as Loch Fyne kippers we had for breakfast, which were said to fetch a higher price than any others in Scotland?

(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

Tuesday, October 3rd.

We left Cairndow early in the morning, and soon afterwards turned away from Loch Fyne to ascend a rough and lonely road leading towards Loch Long, about eight miles distant.  It was a cold, bleak, and showery morning as we travelled along Glen Kinglas against a strong head wind, which greatly impeded our progress.  On reaching the top of the glen, we came to the small Loch Restil, reposing at the foot of a mountain the summit of which was 2,955 feet above sea-level.  The only persons we had seen on our way up the glen were two shepherds on the slope of one of the hills some distance from our road; but now we came to two men mending the road, in which great holes had been caused by the heavy rainfall.  We chatted with them, and they told us that a little farther on we should come to “The Rest.”  Though it may seem a trifling matter to record, we were very glad to see those two men, as our way had been excessively lonely and depressing, for the pass only reached about 900 feet at its crown, while the great hills which immediately adjoined the road on either side rose to an altitude of from 2,500 to 3,300 feet!  When we arrived at “The Rest” we found a rock on which were inscribed the words “Rest and be Thankful,” while another inscription informed us that “This is a Military Road repaired by the 93rd Regiment in 1768.”  We thought that at one time there must have been a stone placed there, to do duty as a travellers’ rest, where weary travellers might “Rest and be Thankful,” but nothing of the kind existed now except the surface of the road on which we were walking.  On reaching a short stiff rise, followed by a sharp double bend in the road, we passed the entrance of a track leading down to “Hell’s Glen”; but if this glen was any worse than Glen Kinglas which we had just ascended, or Glen Croe which we now descended, it must have been a very dreadful place indeed.  Fortunately for us, the weather began to improve, and before we reached Loch Long with its lofty ramparts the sun shone out in all its matchless glory and lighted up not only the loch but the whole of the amphitheatre formed by the lofty hills that surrounded it.  A passenger steamboat plying on the bosom of the loch lent additional interest to the scene, and the combined view quite cheered our drooping spirits.  The change, both as regarded scenery and atmosphere, between

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this side of the pass and the other was really marvellous, reminding us of the contrast between winter and summer.  The sight of the numerous little waterfalls flowing over the rocks above to contribute their quota to the waters of the loch below was quite refreshing.  One of the great hills we had passed without being able to see its summit—­for it was quite near our road—­was the well-known Ben Arthur, 2,891 feet high, commonly spoken of either as “The Cobbler” or “The Cobbler and his Wife.”  It was not until we had got some distance away that our attention was called to it.  We walked round the head of Loch Long and crossed a bridge, some words on the iron fixtures informing us that we were now passing from Argyllshire into Dumbartonshire.  The coping on the bridge was of fresh, neatly clipped grass instead of the usual stonework we expected to find, and looked very remarkable; we saw nothing like it on our further travels.


We asked a gentleman who was standing in the road about the various objects of interest in the neighbourhood.  Pointing to Ben Arthur in the distance, he very kindly tried to explain the curious formation of the rocks at the summit and to show us the Cobbler and his Wife which they were said to represent.  We had a long argument with him, and although he explained that the Cobbler was sitting down, for the life of us we could not distinguish the form either of him or of his Wife.  We could see that he considered we were very stupid for not being able to see objects so plain to himself; and when my brother asked him jocularly for the third time which was the Cobbler and which was his Wife, he became very angry and was inclined to quarrel with us.  We smoothed him down as well as we could by saying that we now thought we could see some faint resemblance to the objects referred to, and he looked as if he had, as the poet says, “cleared from thick films of vice the visual ray.”

[Illustration:  “THE COBBLER,” FROM ARROCHAR.]

We thanked him kindly for all the trouble he had taken, and concluded, at first, that perhaps we were not of a sufficiently imaginative temperament or else not in the most favourable position for viewing the outlines.  But we became conscious of a rather strong smell of whisky which emanated from our loquacious friend, from which fact we persuaded ourselves that he had been trying to show us features visible only under more elevated conditions.  When we last saw him he was still standing in the road gazing at the distant hills, and probably still looking at the Cobbler and his Wife.

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I asked my brother, as we walked along, why he put his question in that particular form:  “Which is the Cobbler and which is his Wife?” He told me he was thinking of a question so expressed many years ago, long before revolving pictures were thought of, and when pictures of any kind were very scarce.  A fair was being held in the country, and a showman was exhibiting pictures which were arranged in a row alongside his booth or van in such a way that his customers could pass from one picture to another and which they could see by looking through slightly magnifying glasses placed in pairs, one to fit each eye after the fashion of a pair of spectacles.  Before the show stood a number of small boys who would have been pleased to have a peep at the pictures if they could have raised the money.  Just at that moment a mother with her two little girls appeared, and when the children came near the show, one of them called out, “Oh, Ma! may we see the peep-shows?  It’s only a penny!” whereupon the mother took out her purse and handed each of the little girls a penny.  When the showman saw them approaching, he shouted angrily to the small boys who were blocking the entrance; “Get away, you little ragged rascals that have no money,” and then he added in a much milder tone, “and let the little dears come up what’s a-going to pay.”  When the children reached the first peep-show, he said:  “Now, my little dears, look straight forwards, blow your noses, and don’t breathe upon the glass!  Here you see the combat between the Scotch Lion, Wallace, and the English Bulldogs, for eight hundred guineas a side, while the spectators are a-looking on in the most facetious manner.  Here you see the lion has got his paws on one of the dogs whilst he is whisking out the eyes of another with his tail!”

The little girls could see a picture but could not quite make out what it was, so one of them called out:  “Please, Mr. Showman, which is the lion and which is the dogs?” and he said:  “Oh! whichever you please, my little dears, and the likes was never seen, and all for the small sum of one penny!”

My brother said that when he asked the gentleman which was the Cobbler and which was his Wife he would not have been surprised if he had said angrily, “Whichever you please,” and had walked away, since he seemed in a very irritable frame of mind.

Since those “good old times” the character of these country fairs has changed entirely, and we no longer sing the old ballad: 

  Oh yes, I own ’tis my delight
  To see the laughter and the fright
  In such a motley, merry sight
    As at a country fair.

  Boys on mamma’s treacle fed,
  On spicy cakes and gingerbread. 
  On everybody’s toes they tread
    All at a country fair.

The village of Arrochar stood in a very pleasant position, at the head of Loch Long amid scenery of the loftiest and most varied description.  Illuminated as it was by the magic rays of the sun, we thought it would compare favourably with any other watering-place in the Highlands, and was just the spot to offer irresistible temptations to those who required a short respite from the more busy scenes of life.

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We were in high spirits and inclined to speak to every one we saw, so, when we met a boy, we asked him if he had seen a cow on the road, to which he replied, rather seriously, that he had not.  We thought afterwards that we had laid ourselves open to a reply like that given by the Orkneyman at Stromness, for the loss of a cow in Scotland was looked upon as a very serious matter, but we escaped for a time.  Shortly afterwards, however, we saw a vehicle approaching in the distance labelled “Royal Mail,” and then another vehicle, similarly marked, passed us from the opposite direction, in which we noticed the boy we had just seen.  When the two conveyances met, they stopped and a number of bags were transferred from the one conveyance to the other, so that it was obvious that they were exchanging their sacks of letters.  When we came up to them, the driver of the one that had overtaken us asked if we had lost a cow, and when we answered “No,” he said, “But didn’t you ask the boy there if he had seen one on the road?” When we answered “Yes,” and it was found to be all a joke, there was a general laugh all round, which was joined in heartily by the boy himself, for he had evidently got a ride on the strength of the story of the lost cow.  We observed that the cart that overtook us had two horses, whilst that we met had only one, so we conjectured that our further way would be comparatively level, and this we afterwards found to be correct.  The boy did not altogether miss his opportunity, for when we had reached, as he thought, a safe distance, we heard him shout:  “Ask your mother when you get home if she has seen a cow!”—­but perhaps “two calves” would have been nearer the mark.

We had a lovely two-mile walk between Arrochar and Tarbet, with a magnificent view of Loch Lomond on our way; while before us, across the loch, stood Ben Lomond, a mountain which rises to the height of 3,192 feet above sea-level.

The scene was one that cannot properly be described—­the blue waters, of the loch, with the trees beyond, and behind them this magnificent mountain, its top covered with pure white snow, and the sun shining on all, formed a picture beautiful beyond description, which seemed to lift our hearts and minds from the earth to the blue heavens above, and our thoughts to the great Almighty Who is in all and over all in that “land of pure delight where saints immortal reign.”

[Illustration:  LOCH LOMOND AND THE BEN.]

Our road now skirted the banks of Loch Lomond, the largest fresh-water lake in Scotland or England, being twenty-four miles long and five miles in width at its broadest point, and containing over twenty islands, some of which we saw.  At the hotel where we called for tea it was thus described: 

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Loch Lomond is the paragon of Scottish lakes.  In island beauty unrivalled, for all that forms romance is here—­scenery varying and increasing in loveliness, matchless combinations of grandeur and softness united, forming a magic land from which poesy and painting have caught their happiest inspirations.  Islands of different forms and magnitude.  Some are covered with the most luxuriant wood of every different tint; but others show a beautiful intermixture of rock and coppices—­some, like plains of emerald, scarcely above the level of the water, are covered with grass; and others, again, are bare rocks, rising into precipices and destitute of vegetation.

Scotland has produced many men mighty in mind as well as in body, and their ideas have doubtless been enlarged not only by their advanced system of education, but by the great things which have surrounded them—­the great rocks and the great waters.  So long as these qualities are turned in a good direction, all goes well, but when in a bad one like the “facilis descensus” described in George Cruikshank’s great picture “The Worship of Bacchus,” then all goes badly.  An illustration of these large ideas turned to a bad account appeared in a story we read of a degenerate son of the North to whom the gods had granted the fulfilment of three wishes:  First, he would have a Loch Lomond of whisky; secondly, a Ben Lomond of snuff; thirdly, (with some hesitation) another Loch Lomond of whisky.

We did not attempt the ascent of Ben Lomond, as our experiences of mountain climbing hitherto had not been very encouraging.  Nor did we require the aid of those doubtful articles so ardently desired by the degenerate Scot as we walked along the good road, sheltered with trees, that lay alongside Loch Lomond, with the slopes of the high hills to the right and to the left, the great loch with its lovely islands backed by the mountains beyond.

Tarbet, which we soon left behind us, was notorious as the port of Magnus the Norseman, whose followers dragged their boats there from the sea to harry the islands whither so many of the natives had fled for safety.

Ninnius, writing in the eighth century, tells of the great King Arthur, who defeated the Scots and drove them for refuge to Loch Lomond, “in which there were sixty islands and sixty rocks, and on each an eagle’s nest.  Every first of May they came together, and from the sound of their voices the men of that country knew what should befall during the coming year.  And sixty rivers fell into this remarkable lake, but only one river ran from the lake to the sea.”  The exactness of every point rather amused us, for of course the invincible Arthur, like all other mythological heroes, must ever succeed, and he soon cleared the Scots from their stronghold.

Sir Walter Scott has made this district famous, and we could have lingered long in the region of the Trossachs, and should have been delighted to see Loch Katrine, close by, which the “Lady of the Lake” had rendered so familiar, but time is a hard taskmaster and we had to be content with what Loch Lomond provided for us.

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We therefore hurried on, and eventually reached the lovely little village of Luss, where, as we entered, we were welcomed by the warbling of a robin singing out right merrily, as if to announce our arrival.  Our first impression soon told us that Luss was well patronised by visitors and by artists ever on the alert for scenery such as here abounded.  It was quite an English-looking village, with a small quarry, not as extensively worked as formerly, we were informed, for only about twenty men were now employed.

Before proceeding farther we called for refreshments, and learned that a steamboat called periodically at Luss.  We left this favourite resort by the Dumbarton road, walking alongside Loch Lomond—­one of the finest walks we ever took and quite baffling description.  It was rather provoking, therefore, when darkness came on just as we reached the widest part of the Loch where quite a number of islands could be seen.  The road still continued beautiful, being arched over with trees in some places, with the stars shining brightly above.

Luss, we learned, had its place in history as the home of the Colquhouns, whose feud with the MacGregors led to such murderous results.  But perhaps its associations with Robert Bruce in his days of adversity form its greater claim to fame, and the yews on Inch Lonaig, just above, are said to have been planted by him to supply his bowmen.

Before we reached the end of the loch we turned on the Dumbarton road, following the road for Helensburgh, as we wanted to see the River Clyde.  This road was fairly level, but about two miles from Helensburgh it rose to an elevation of about 300 feet.  On reaching the top, we saw a sight which fairly startled us, for a great stretch of water suddenly and unexpectedly came in view, and across its surface we could see hundreds of gas lights, twinkling like stars in the darkness.  We found afterwards that they were those of the town of Greenock, on the other side of the Clyde Estuary, which was some five or six miles across this, its widest part.  We considered this was one of the greatest sights of our journey, and one well worth while climbing the hill to see.  It must, however, be noted that these were the first gas lights we had seen for what seemed to us to be ages.  We went straight to the Temperance Hotel, which had been closed for the night, but we gained admission and found comfortable quarters there.

(Distance walked thirty-one miles.)

Wednesday, October 4th.

We had pictured Helensburgh, from its name, as a very old town, and were rather surprised when we discovered that it was only founded at the close of the eighteenth century, by Sir James Colquhoun, who named the place after his wife, the Lady Helen Sutherland.  At the time of our visit it was a favourite resort of visitors from across the Clyde and elsewhere.  We were unable to explore the town and its environs, owing to a dense mist or fog which had accumulated

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during the night; and this probably accounted for our sleeping longer than usual, for it was quite nine o’clock before we left Helensburgh on our way to Dumbarton.  If the atmosphere had been clear, we should have had fine views of Greenock, Port Glasgow, Roseneath Castle, the residence of the Marquis of Lorne, and other places of interest across the Clyde, and of the ships passing up and down the river.  As it was, we had to be content with listening to the busy sounds of labour and the thuds of the steam hammers in the extensive shipbuilding yards across the water, and the ominous sounds of the steam-whistles from the ships, as they ploughed their way along the watery tracks on the Clyde.  We were naturally very much disappointed that we had to pass along this road under such unfavourable conditions, but, as the mist cleared a little, we could just discern the outlines of one or two of the steamboats as we neared Dumbarton.  The fields alongside our road were chiefly devoted to the growth of potatoes, and the fine agricultural land reminded us of England.  We stayed to speak with one of the farmers, standing at his gate, and he told us that he sent potatoes to the Manchester market, which struck us with surprise because of the great distance.  We also stayed awhile, just before entering Dumbarton, as there had been a slight railway accident, probably owing to the fog, and the officials, with a gang of men, were making strenuous efforts to remove the remains of a truck which had come to grief.  We were walking into the town quite unconscious of the presence of the castle, and were startled at its sudden appearance, as it stood on an isolated rock, rising almost perpendicularly to the height of about 300 feet, and we could only just see its dim outline appearing, as it were, in the clouds.  We left it for future inspection and, as it was now twelve o’clock, hurried into the town for a noon dinner, for which we were quite ready.

As a sample of the brief way in which the history of an important town can be summarised, we give the following extract:—­

Dumbarton, immortalised by Osian, possessed in turns by first Edward and John Balliol, the prison of William Wallace, and the scene of that unavailing remorse which agonised the bosom of his betrayer (a rude sculpture within the castle represents Sir John Monteith in an attitude of despair, lamenting his former treachery), captured by Bruce, unsuccessfully besieged by the fourth Edward, reduced by the Earl of Argyll, surprised, while in false security, by the daring of a bold soldier, Captain Crawford, resided in by James V, visited by that fair and erring Queen, the “peerless Mary,” and one of the four castles kept up by the Act of Union.

And we have been told that it was the birthplace of Taliesin, the early poet of the Celts, and Gildas their historian.

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In former times the castle of Dumbarton was looked upon as one of the strongest places in the world, and, rising precipitously from the level plain, it appeared to us to be quite impregnable.  Captain Crawford’s feat in capturing this castle equals anything else of the kind recorded in history.  In the time of Queen Elizabeth of England, when a quarrel was raging in Scotland between the partisans of King James and his mother Queen Mary, and when even the children of the towns and villages formed themselves into bands and fought with sticks, stones, and even knives for King James or Queen Mary, the castle of Dumbarton was held for the Queen; but a distinguished adherent of the King, one Captain Crawford of Jordanhill, resolved to make an attempt to take it.  There was only one access to the castle, approached by 365 steps, but these were strongly guarded and fortified.  The captain took advantage of a misty and moonless night to bring his scaling-ladders to the foot of the rock at the opposite side, where it was the most precipitous, and consequently the least guarded by the soldiers at the top.  The choice of this side of the rock was fortunate, as the first ladder broke with the weight of the men who attempted to climb it, and the noise of the fall must have betrayed them if they had been on the other and more guarded side.  Crawford, who was assisted by a soldier who had deserted from the castle, renewed the attempt in person, and, having scrambled up a projecting ledge of rock, fastened the ladder by tying it to the roots of a tree which grew midway up the rock.  Here they found a footing for the whole party, which was, of course, small in number.  In scaling the second precipice, however, one of the party was seized with an epileptic fit, to which he was subject, brought on, perhaps, by terror in the act of climbing the ladder.  He could neither ascend nor descend; moreover, if they had thrown him down, apart from the cruelty of the thing, the fall of his body might have alarmed the garrison.  Crawford, therefore, ordered him to be tied fast to one side of the ladder, and, turning it round, they mounted with ease.  When the party gained the summit, they slew the sentinel before he had time to give the alarm, and easily surprised the slumbering garrison, who had trusted too much to the security of their position.  Some of the climbing irons used are shown within the castle.

[Illustration:  DUMBARTON CASTLE]

We now set out from Dumbarton, with its old castle, and the old sword worn by the brave Wallace reposing in the armoury, at the same time leaving the River Clyde and its fine scenery, which, owing to the fog, we had almost totally missed.  We proceeded towards Stirling, where we hoped to arrive on the following day; but we now found ourselves passing through a semi-manufacturing district, and gradually it dawned upon us that we had now left the Highlands and were approaching the Lowlands of Scotland.  We thought then and many times afterwards of that verse of Robbie Burns’s:—­

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  My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
  My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
  A-chasing the wild deer and following the roe—­
  My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

We passed through Renton, where there were bleaching and calico printing works.  A public library graced the centre of the village, as well as a fine Tuscan column nearly 60 feet high, erected to Tobias Smollett, the poet, historian and novelist, who was born in 1721 not half a mile from the spot.  The houses were small and not very clean.  The next village we came to was Alexandria, a busy manufacturing place where the chief ornament was a very handsome drinking-fountain erected to a member of the same family, a former M.P., “by his tenants and friends,” forming a striking contrast to its mean and insignificant surroundings of one-storied houses and dismal factories.  We were soon in the country again, and passed some fine residences, including the modern-looking Castle of Tullichewan situated in a fine park, and reached Balloch at the extreme end of Loch Lomond, from which point we had a momentary view of the part of the lake we had missed seeing on the preceding evening.  Here we paid the sum of one halfpenny each for the privilege of passing over the Suspension Bridge, which gave us access to a very pleasant part of the country, and crossed one spur of a hill, from the top of which, under favourable conditions, we might have seen nearly the whole of Loch Lomond, including the islands and the ranges of hills on either side—­


  Mountains that like giants stand
  To sentinel enchanted land.

But though it was only about a mile and a half from our path to the summit, and the total elevation only 576 feet, 297 of which we had already ascended, we did not visit it, as the mist would have prevented an extended view.  It stood in a beautiful position, surrounded by woods and the grounds of Boturich Castle; why such a pretty place should be called “Mount Misery” was not clear, unless it had some connection with one of the Earls of Argyll who came to grief in that neighbourhood in 1685 near Gartocharn, which we passed shortly afterwards.  He had collected his clan to overthrow the Government of James VII (James II of England) and had crossed the Leven at Balloch when he found Gartocharn occupied by the royal troops.  Instead of attacking them, he turned aside, to seek refuge among the hills, and in the darkness and amid the bogs and moors most of his men deserted, only about five hundred answering to their names the following morning.  The Earl, giving up the attempt, was captured an hour or two later as he was attempting to cross the River Clyde, and the words applied to him, “Unhappy Argyll,” indicated his fate.  We passed Kilmaronock church in the dark and, after crossing the bridge over Endrick Water, entered Drymen and put up at the “Buchanan Arms” Inn, where we had been recommended to stay the night.

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(Distance walked twenty miles.)

Thursday, October 5th.

We were up early this morning and went to have a look round the village of Drymen and its surroundings before breakfast.  We were quite near Buchanan Castle, and took the liberty of trespassing for a short time in the walks and woods surrounding it.  The Duke of Montrose here reigned supreme, his family the Grahams having been in possession for twenty generations; among his ancestors were Sir Patrick de Graham, who was killed at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, and Sir John de Graham, the beloved friend of the immortal Wallace, who was slain at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298.  The village had been built in the form of a square which enclosed a large field of grass called the Cross Green, with nothing remarkable about it beyond an enormous ash tree supposed to be over 300 years old which stood in the churchyard.  It measured about 17 feet in circumference at 5 feet from the ground, and was called the Bell Tree, because the church bell which summoned the villagers to worship was suspended from one of its branches.  The tree began to show signs of decay, so eventually the bell had to be taken down and a belfry built to receive it.

[Illustration:  THE SQUARE, DRYMEN]

We finished our breakfast at 8.30, and then, with the roads in a fearfully muddy condition owing to heavy downfalls of rain, started on our walk towards Stirling.  The region here was pleasing agricultural country, and we passed many large and well-stocked farms on our way, some of them having as many as a hundred stacks of corn and beans in their stack-yards.  After walking about seven miles we arrived at the dismal-looking village of Buchlyvie, where we saw many houses in ruins, standing in all their gloominess as evidences of the devastating effects of war.  Some of the inhabitants were trying to eke out their livelihood by hand-loom weaving, but there was a poverty-stricken appearance about the place which had, we found, altered but little since Sir Walter Scott wrote of it in the following rhyme which he had copied from an old ballad: 

  Baron of Buchlivie,
  May the foul fiend drive ye
  And a’ to pieces rive ye
  For building sic a town,
  Where there’s neither horse meat
  Nor man’s meat, nor a chair to sit down.

We did not find the place quite so bad as that, for there were two or three small inns where travellers could get refreshments and a chair to sit down upon; but we did not halt for these luxuries until we reached Kippen, about five miles farther on.  Before arriving there we overtook two drovers who were well acquainted with Glencoe and the Devil’s Stairs, and when we told them of our adventures there they said we were very lucky to have had a fine day when we crossed those hills.  They told us the story of the two young men who perished there, but thought their death was partially caused through lack of food.  Kippen,

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they informed us, was on the borders of Perthshire and Stirlingshire, and when we told them we intended calling for refreshments they advised us to patronise the “Cross Keys Inn.”  We found Kippen, or, as it was sometimes named, the Kingdom of Kippen, a pleasant place, and we had no difficulty in finding the “Cross Keys.”  Here we learned about the King of Kippen, the Scottish Robin Hood, and were told that it was only two miles away to the Ford of Frew, where Prince Charlie crossed the River Forth on his way from Perth to Stirling, and that about three minutes’ walk from the Cross there was a place from which the most extensive and beautiful views of the country could be obtained.  Rising like towers from the valley of the Forth could be seen three craigs—­Dumyate Craig, Forth Abbey Craig, and the craig on which Stirling Castle had been built; spreading out below was the Carse of Stirling, which merged into and included the Vale of Monteith, about six miles from Kippen; while the distant view comprised the summits of many mountains, including that of Ben Lomond.

[Illustration:  OLD BELFRY, KIPPEN]

As usual in Scotland, the village contained two churches—­the Parish Church and the United Free Church.  In the old churchyard was an ancient ivy-covered belfry, but the church to which it belonged had long since disappeared.  Here was the burial-place of the family of Edinbellie, and here lived in olden times an attractive and wealthy young lady named Jean Kay, whom Rob Roy, the youngest son of Rob Roy Macgregor, desired to marry.  She would not accept him, so leaving Balquidder, the home of the Macgregors, accompanied by his three brothers and five other men, he went to Edinbellie and carried her off to Rowardennan, where a sham form of marriage was gone through.  But the romantic lover paid dearly for his exploit, as it was for robbing this family of their daughter that Rob forfeited his life on the scaffold at Edinburgh on February 16th, 1754, Jean Kay having died at Glasgow on October 4th, 1751.


We were well provided for at the “Cross Keys,” and heard a lot about Mary Queen of Scots, as we were now approaching a district where much of the history of Scotland was made.  Her name seemed to be on everybody’s lips and her portrait in everybody’s house, including the smallest dwellings.  She seemed to be the most romantic character in the minds of the Scots, by whom she was almost idolised—­not perhaps so much for her beauty and character as for her sufferings and the circumstances connected with her death.  The following concise account of the career of this beautiful but unfortunate Queen and her son King James greatly interested us.  She was born at Linlithgow Palace in the year 1542, and her father died when she was only eight days old.  In the next year she was crowned Queen of Scotland at Stirling, and remained at the Castle there for about four years.  She was then removed to Inchmahome,

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an island of about six acres in extent situated in the small Lake of Monteith, about six miles north of Kippen.  In 1547, when six years old, she was sent to France in a Flemish ship from Dumbarton, and in the following year she was married to the Dauphin of France, afterwards King Francis II, who died in the year 1560.  Afterwards she returned to Scotland and went to Stirling Castle, where she met her cousin Lord Darnley and was married to him at Holyrood in 1565, her son being born in 1566.  Troubles, however, soon arose, and for a short time she was made a prisoner and placed in the Castle of Loch Leven, from which she escaped with the intention of going to Dumbarton Castle for safety.  Her army under the Earl of Argyll accompanied her, but on the way they met an opposing army commanded by the Regent Murray, who defeated her army, and Queen Mary fled to England.  Here she again became a prisoner and was placed in various castles for the long period of nineteen years, first in one and then in another, with a view probably to preventing her being rescued by her friends; and finally she was beheaded in 1587 in the forty-eighth year of her age at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire, by command of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.

Her son James VI of Scotland, who subsequently became James I of England, was baptised in the Royal Chapel at Stirling Castle in 1566, and in 1567, when he was only about thirteen months old, was crowned in the parish church at Stirling, his mother Queen Mary having been forced to abdicate in favour of her son.  The great Puritan divine John Knox preached the Coronation sermon on that occasion, and the young king was educated until he was thirteen years of age by George Buchanan, the celebrated scholar and historian, in the castle, where his class-room is still to be seen.  He succeeded to the English throne on the death of Queen Elizabeth, and was crowned as King James I of England in the year 1603.

Leaving Kippen, we passed through Gargunnock, with the extraordinary windings of the River Forth to our left, and arrived at Stirling at 5.15 p.m., where at the post-office we found a host of letters waiting our arrival and at the railway-station a welcome change of clothing from home.

(Distance walked twenty-two miles.)

Friday, October 6th.

Stirling is one of the most attractive towns in Scotland, and we could not resist staying there awhile to explore it.  It is the “key to the Highlands,” and one of the oldest of the Royal burghs.  It was a place of some importance in the time of the Romans, as it stood between the two great Firths of the Clyde and the Forth, where the Island of Britain is at its narrowest.  The first Roman wall was built between the Forth and the Clyde, and the Second Roman Legion was stationed at Stirling.  According to an old inscription on a stone near the Ballengeich road, they kept a watch there day and night, and in A.D. 81 a great battle was fought near by against

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30,000 Caledonians, who were defeated.  Stirling has a commanding geographical position, and all the roads converge there to cross the River Forth.  It was at Stirling Bridge that Wallace defeated the army of 50,000 soldiers sent against him in the year 1297 by Edward I, King of England.  The town had also a lively time in the days of Charles Edward Stuart, “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” whose father, during his exile in France, had been encouraged by the French to return and lay claim to the English Crown.  Landing in Inverness-shire in 1745, Prince Charlie was immediately joined by many of the Highland clans, and passed with his army through Stirling on his way towards London.  Not finding the support they expected from the south, they were compelled to return, followed closely along their line of retreat by the English Army, and they were soon back again at Stirling, where they made a desperate but unsuccessful effort to obtain possession of the castle, which was held for the English.  The Duke of Cumberland’s Army by this time was close upon their heels, and gave them no rest until they caught them and defeated them with great slaughter up at Culloden, near Inverness.


There was much in Stirling and its environs that we wished to see, so we were astir early in the morning, although the weather was inclined to be showery.  First of all, we went to see the cemetery, which occupies a beautiful position on a hill overlooking the wonderful windings of the River Forth, and here we found the tomb of the Protestant martyrs “Margaret and Agnes,” the latter only eighteen years of age, who were tied to stakes at low water in the Bay of Wigtown on May 11th, 1685, and, refusing an opportunity to recant and return to the Roman Catholic faith, were left to be drowned in the rising tide.  Over the spot where they were buried their figures appeared beautifully sculptured in white marble, accompanied by that of an angel standing beside them; the epitaph read: 

M. O A.




Love, many waters cannot quench!  GOD saves
His chaste impearled One! in Covenant true. 
“O Scotia’s Daughters! earnest scan the Page.” 
And prize this Flower of Grace, blood-bought for you.



We stayed there for a few solemn moments, for it was a sight that impressed us deeply, and then we went to inspect an old stone with the following curious inscription cut on its surface: 

Some . only . breakfast . and . away: 
Others . to . dinner . stay . 
And . are . full . fed .
the . oldest . man . but . sups: 
And . goes . to . bed: 
large . is . his . debt: 
that . lingers . out . the . day: 
he . that . goes . soonest: 
has . the . least . to . pay: 

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We saw another remarkable structure called “The Rock of Ages,” a large monument built of stone, on each of the four sides of which was a Bible sculptured in marble with texts from the Scriptures, and near the top a device like that of a crown.  It was a fine-looking and substantial building, but we could not ascertain the reason for its erection.

There were two churches quite near to each other standing at one end of the cemetery, and these, we were informed, were known as the East and West Churches, and had been formed out of the old Church of Stirling, formerly noted for its bells, which were still in existence.  One of them, a Dutch bell, was marked “Rotterdam, 1657,” and inscribed “Soli Deo Gloria”; the only pre-Reformation bell was one that was said to have come from Cambuskenneth Abbey, measuring 8 ft. 6-1/2 in. round the mouth, 4 ft. 6 in. over the neck, and 2 ft. 1-1/2 in. in depth, and bearing a Latin inscription, in Old English characters, which was said to be the angelic salutation from St. Luke i. 28:  “Hail, Mary, full of grace, God is with thee; blessed art thou among women and to be blessed.”  This bell, dating from the fourteenth century, was perfect in sound, and had been the tone bell in the old abbey.  The remainder of the bells of Cambuskenneth had been lost owing to the swamping of the boat that was bringing them across the river.


We now went to view the castle, and as we approached the entrance we were accosted by a sergeant, whom we engaged to act as our guide.

The ramparts of the castle command the noblest prospect imaginable—­Grampian, Ochil and Pentland Hills, the River Forth, through all its windings, and “Auld Reekie” in the distance—­twelve foughten fields are visible—­the bridge where Archbishop Hamilton was hanged, the mound on which the Regent, Earl of Levenax, was beheaded on May 25th, 1425, along with the Duke of Albany, his son-in-law, and his grandson—­the chamber where the Scottish King James II was assassinated—­a noble valley, where tournaments were held, and the hill, whence Beauty viewed “gentle passages of arms” and rewarded knights’ valour with her smiles, lie just below the ramparts.  Here James I lived, and James II was born, and it was a favourite residence of James III.  From these walls the “Good Man of Ballangeich” made many an excursion, and here James V and James VI were indoctrinated at the feet of that stern preceptor, George Buchanan, and the seventh James and the second of England visited here in company with the future Queen Anne and the last of the Stuarts.


[Illustration:  STIRLING BRIDGE.  “At Stirling Bridge Wallace defeated the army of fifty thousand soldiers sent against him by Edward I; ... it was a battle won by strategy.”]

[Illustration:  STIRLING CASTLE.  “The ramparts of the castle command the noblest prospect imaginable—­from the top of the walls the sites of seven battlefields were pointed out to us.”]

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Such was the official description of the place we were now visiting.  As our guide conducted us through the archway into the castle, he showed us the old chains that worked the portcullis.  We noted how cautious the old occupants of these strongholds were, for while one of the massive doors was being drawn up the other went down, so that the inner entrance was always protected.  From the top of the walls the sites of seven battlefields were pointed out to us, including those of Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge.  The Battle of Stirling Bridge was won by Wallace by strategy; he had a much smaller army than the English, but he watched them until they had got one-half their army over the narrow bridge, and then attacked each half in turn, since the one could not assist the other, the river being between them.  In the following year he was defeated himself, but as he retreated he reduced Stirling and its castle to ruins.  The Bridge of Allan, which could be seen in the distance, was described as a miniature Torquay without the sea, and the view from the castle on a clear day extended a distance of nearly fifty miles.  We were shown the aperture through which Mary Queen of Scots watched the games in the royal garden below, and of course we had to be shown the exact spot where “our most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria with the Prince of Wales” sat on a much more recent date.  The castle stood on a rock, rising precipitously on two of its sides, and was now being used as a barracks.  It was a fine sight to see the soldiers as they were being drilled.  The old Chapel Royal was used as the armoury, and our guide told us of many objects of interest which were stored there; but we had no time to see them, so, rewarding him suitably for his services, we hastened back to the town to refresh the “inner man.”

It appeared that in former times none of the members of the Town Council accepted any gift or emolument while in office; and, before writing was as common as it is now, the old treasurer kept his accounts in a pair of boots which he hung one on each side of the chimney.  Into one of them he put all the money he received and into the other the vouchers for the money he paid away, and balanced his accounts at the end of the year by emptying his boots, and counting the money left in one and that paid away by the receipts in the other.  What a delightfully simple system of “double entry,” and just fancy the “borough treasurer” with a balance always in hand!  Whether the non-payment for services rendered by the Council accounted for this did not appear; but there must have been some select convivials even in those days, as the famous Stirling Jug remained as evidence of something of the kind.  It was a fine old vessel made of brass and taken great care of by the Stirling people, who became possessed of it four or five hundred years before our visit.

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We then walked some distance to see Wallace’s Monument, the most conspicuous object for many miles round, and which had only just been erected to perpetuate the memory of that great warrior, having been opened by the Duke of Atholl in 1869.  We paid twopence each for admission, and in addition to climbing the hill to reach the entrance to the monument we had to ascend a further 220 feet by means of a flight of 246 steps before we could reach the top.  There were several rooms in the basement, in one of which we found an enthusiastic party of young Scots who were vociferously singing: 

Scots, wha hae wie Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has often led,
Welcome to your gory bed,

    Or to victorie.

* * * * *

Lay the proud usurpers low! 
Tyrants fall in every foe! 
Liberty’s in every blow! 

    Let us do or die!

These were the first and last verses of the poem written by the immortal Burns to represent Robert Bruce’s address to his army before the Battle of Bannockburn.  We did not reveal our nationality to the uproarious Scots, but, after listening to the song, which we had never heard sung before, and the cheers which followed it, in which we ourselves joined, we went quietly past them, for fear they might treat us as the “usurpers” named in the last verse and “lay us low.”

[Illustration:  WALLACE MONUMENT.]

On reaching the top of the monument we had a magnificent view, which well repaid us for our exertions in climbing up the craig and ascending the tower, and we lingered awhile to view the almost fairy-like scene that lay below us, with the distant mountains in the background.  On descending, we entered our names in the visitors’ book and took our departure.

Just as we were leaving, our attention was attracted by a notice which informed us that Cambuskenneth Abbey was only one mile away, so we walked along the banks of the Forth to that ancient ruin.  The abbey was supposed to have taken its name from one Kenneth, who fought a successful battle with the Picts on the site where it was built.  A Parliament was held within its walls in 1314 by King Robert Bruce, but the abbey was destroyed, with the exception of the tower, in 1559.  The chief object of interest was the tomb of James III, King of Scots, and his Queen, the Princess Margaret of Denmark, who were buried near the High Altar.  The tomb, which appeared quite modern, recorded that King James died June 11th, 1488, and that “This Restoration of the Tomb of her Ancestors was executed by command of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, A.D. 1865.”

We now walked back to Stirling, and were again among the windings of the River Forth, which are a striking feature whether viewed from Wallace’s Monument, the Castle walls, or the cemetery.  To follow them in some places, the traveller, it was said, would have to go four times farther than by the straighter road.

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[Illustration:  ST. NINIANS CHURCH TOWER.]

Recovering possession of our bags from the hotel, we resumed our march along the road to Falkirk, eleven miles distant, and, on the way, came to the village of St. Ninians, with its long, narrow street of dismal-looking houses, many of them empty and in ruins, and some marked “To Let”; and, from their dingy appearance, we imagined they were likely to remain so.  The people who lived in these houses were formerly of evil reputation, as, before railways were constructed so far north, all the cattle from the Western Isles and the North were driven along the roads to Falkirk to be sold, and had to pass through St. Ninians, which was so dreaded by the drovers that they called this long, narrow street “The Pass of St. Ninians.”  For, if a sheep happened to go through a doorway or stray along one of the passages, ever open to receive them, it was never seen again and nobody knew of its whereabouts except the thieves themselves.  We walked along this miry pass and observed what we thought might be an old church, which we went to examine, but found it to be only a tower and a few ruins.  The yard was very full of gravestones.  A large building at the bottom of the yard was, we were told, what now did duty for the original church, which in the time of Prince Charlie was used as a powder magazine, and was blown up in 1745 by a party of his Highlanders to prevent its falling into the hands of the advancing English Army, before which they were retreating.

Shortly afterwards we overtook a gentleman whom we at first thought was a farmer, but found afterwards to be a surgeon who resided at Bannockburn, the next village.  He was a cheerful and intelligent companion, and told us that the large flagstaff we could see in the fields to the left was where Robert Bruce planted his standard at the famous Battle of Bannockburn, which, he said, was fought at midsummer in the year 1314.  Bruce had been preparing the ground for some time so as to make it difficult for the English to advance even though they were much more numerous and better armed than the Scots.  As soon as the armies came in sight of each other on the evening of June 24th, King Robert Bruce, dressed in armour and with a golden crown on his helmet, to distinguish him from the rest of his army, mounted on a small pony, and, with a battle-axe in his hand, went up and down the ranks of his army to put them in order.  Seeing the English horsemen draw near, he advanced a little in front of his own men to have a nearer view of the enemy.  An English knight, Sir Henry de Bohun, seeing the Scottish king so poorly mounted, thought he would rise to fame by killing Bruce and so putting an end to the war at once.  So he challenged him to fight by galloping at him suddenly and furiously, thinking with his long spear and tall, powerful horse to extinguish Bruce immediately.  Waiting until Bohun came up, and then suddenly turning his pony aside to avoid the point of his lance, Bruce rose in his stirrups and struck Sir Henry, as he passed at full speed, such a terrific blow on the head with his battle-axe that it cut through his helmet and his head at the same time, so that he died before reaching the ground.  The only remark that Bruce is said to have made was, “I have broken my good battle-axe.”

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This fearful encounter and the death of their champion was looked upon as a bad omen by the English, and Sir Walter Scott thus describes it: 

The heart had hardly time to think,
The eyelid scarce had time to wink,

* * * * *

High in his stirrups stood the King,
And gave his battle-axe the swing;
Right on De Boune, the whiles he pass’d,
Fell that stern dint—­the first—­the last!—­
Such strength upon the blow was put,
The helmet crash’d like hazel-nut;
The axe shaft, with its brazen clasp,
Was shiver’d to the gauntlet grasp. 
Springs from the blow the startled horse,
Drops to the plain the lifeless corse.

The battle began on the following morning, Midsummer Day, and the mighty host of heavily armed men on large horses moved forward along what they thought was hard road, only to fall into the concealed pits carefully prepared beforehand by Bruce and to sink in the bogs over which they had to pass.  It can easily be imagined that those behind pressing forward would ride over those who had sunk already, only to sink themselves in turn.  Thousands perished in that way, and many a thrown rider, heavily laden with armour, fell an easy prey to the hardy Scots.  The result was disastrous to the English, and it was said that 30,000 of them were killed, while the Scots were able afterwards to raid the borders of England almost to the gates of York.

The surgeon said that in the Royal College of Surgeons in London a rib of Bruce, the great Scottish king, was included in the curios of the college, together with a bit of the cancerous growth which killed Napoleon.  It was said that Bruce’s rib was injured in a jousting match in England many years before he died, and that the fracture was made good by a first-class surgeon of the time.  In 1329 Bruce died of leprosy in his fifty fifth year and the twenty-third of his reign, and was buried in the Abbey Church of Dunfermline.  In clearing the foundation for the third church on the same site, in 1818, the bones of the hero were discovered, Sir Walter Scott being present.  The breastbone of the skeleton had been sawn through some 500 years before, as was customary, in order to allow of the removal of the heart, which was then embalmed, and given to Bruce’s friend, Sir James Douglas, to be carried to Palestine and buried in Jerusalem.

The surgeon also told us—­in order, we supposed, to cheer our drooping spirits—­of another battle fought in the neighbourhood of Bannockburn in 1488, but this time it was the Scottish King James III who came to grief.  He had a fine grey courser given him “that could war all the horse of Scotland if the king could sit up well.”  But he was a coward and could not ride, and when some men came up shouting and throwing arrows, they frightened the king.  Feeling the spurs, the horse went at “flight speed” through Bannockburn, and a woman carrying

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water, when she saw the horse coming, dropped her bucket down on the road and ran for safety.  The horse, frightened by the bucket, jumped over the brook that turned the mill, and threw the king off at the mill door.  The miller and his wife, who saw the accident, not knowing that the rider was the king, put him in a nook in the mill and covered him with a cloth.  When he came round, he asked for a priest and told them he was the king.  But he had fallen into the hands of his enemies.  The miller’s wife clapped her hands, and ran out crying for a priest for the king.  A man called out, “I am a priest; where is the king?” When he saw the king he told him he might recover if he had a good leeching, but the king desired him to give him the Sacrament.  The supposed priest said, “That I shall do quickly,” and suiting the action to the word, he stabbed him several times in the heart.  The corpse he took away on his back, no one knew whither, and the king’s soldiers, now leaderless, fled to Stirling and Linlithgow.

We thanked our friend for his company and bade him farewell, as we reached Bannockburn village.  We observed there, as in most villages near Stirling, many houses in ruins or built with the ruins of others.  We thought what a blessing it was that the two nations were now united, and that the days of these cruel wars were gone for ever!  At a junction of roads a finger-post pointed “To the Bannockburn Collieries,” and we saw several coal-pits in the distance with the ruins of an old building near them, but we did not take the trouble to inspect them.

The shades of night were coming on when, after walking a few miles, we saw an old man standing at the garden gate of a very small cottage by the wayside, who told us he was an old sailor and that Liverpool had been his port, from which he had taken his first voyage in 1814.  He could remember Birkenhead and that side of the River Mersey when there was only one house, and that a farm from which he used to fetch buttermilk, and when there was only one dock in Liverpool—­the Prince’s.  We thought what a contrast the old man would find if he were to visit that neighbourhood now!  He told us of a place near by named Norwood, where were the remains of an old castle of Prince Charlie’s time, with some arches and underground passages, but it was now too dark to see them.  We proceeded towards Camelon, with the great ironworks of Carron illuminating the sky to our left, and finally arrived at Falkirk.  Here, in reply to our question, a sergeant of police recommended us to stay the night at the “Swan Inn,” kept by a widow, a native of Inverness, where we were made very comfortable.  After our supper of bread and milk, we began to take off our boots to prepare for bed, but we were requested to keep them on as our bedroom was outside!  We followed our leader along the yard at the back of the inn and up a flight of stone steps, at the top of which we were ushered into a comfortable bedroom containing three beds, any or all of which, we were informed, were at our service.  Having made our selection and fastened the door, we were soon asleep, notwithstanding the dreadful stories we had heard that day, and the great battlefields we had visited—­haunted, no doubt, by the ghosts of legions of our English ancestors who had fallen therein!

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(Distance walked seventeen miles.)

Saturday, October 7th.

Falkirk, which stands on a gentle slope on the great Carse of Forth, is surrounded by the Grampian Hills, the Ochills, and the Campsie Range.  Here King Edward I entirely routed the Scottish Army in the year 1298.  Wallace’s great friend was slain in the battle and buried in the churchyard, where an inscription recorded that “Sir John de Grahame, equally remarkable for wisdom and courage, and the faithful friend of Wallace, being slain in the battle by the English, lies buried in this place.”

We left the inn at six o’clock in the morning, the only people visible being workmen turning out for their day’s work.  The last great fair of the season was to be held that day, and we had the previous day seen the roads filled with cattle making for Falkirk Fair, perhaps one of the largest fairs in the kingdom.  We had been told by the drovers that the position was well adapted for the purpose, as the ground was very sandy and therefore not so liable to be trampled into mud by the animals’ feet.

We passed through the village of Laurieston, where Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and blasting gelatine, lived, and saw a plough at work turning up potatoes, a crowd of women and boys following it and gathering up the potatoes in aprons and then emptying them into a long row of baskets which extended from one end of the field to the other.  A horse and cart followed, and the man in charge emptied the contents of the baskets into the cart.  We questioned the driver of the plough, who assured us that no potatoes were left in the land, but that all were turned up and gathered, and that it was a much better way than turning them out by hand with a fork, as was usual in England.

[Illustration:  LINLITHGOW PALACE.]


About two miles farther on we passed the romantic village of Polmont, and on through a fine stretch of country until we reached another fair-sized village called Linlithgow Bridge.  We were then about a mile and a half from the old town of Linlithgow; here the River Avon separates the counties of Stirlingshire and Linlithgowshire.  The old bridge from which the place takes its name is said to have been built by Edward I of England.  In 1526 the Battle of Linlithgow Bridge was fought at this spot; it was one of those faction fights between two contending armies for predominance which were so prevalent in Scotland at the time, the real object, however, being to rescue King James V from the domination of the Earl of Angus.  The opposing fronts under Angus and Lennox extended on both sides of the Avon.  The Earl of Lennox was slain by Sir James Hamilton after quarter had been granted to the former.  His sword was afterwards found, and may still be seen in the small museum at Linlithgow.  In this village Stephen Mitchell, tobacco and snuff manufacturer, carried on business and had an old snuff mill here; he was the first founder in Great Britain of a Free Library.  Burns the Scottish poet stayed a night here on August 25th, 1787.

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We arrived at the royal and ancient burgh of Linlithgow at about nine o’clock.  The town, as Burns says, “carries the appearance of rude, decayed, idle grandeur”; it is, however, very pleasantly situated, with rich, fertile surroundings.  There is a fine old royal palace here within which, on December 7th, 1542, the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots was born, whose beauty and magnificence have imbued her history with so deep and melancholy an interest.  Sir Walter Scott in “Marmion” sings the praises of this palace as follows:—­

  Of all the palaces so fair,
    Built for the royal dwelling. 
  In Scotland, far beyond compare
    Linlithgow is excelling.

We fully endorsed the great Sir Walter’s opinion, for it certainly was a magnificent structure and occupied a grand situation, with a large lake in front covering perhaps a hundred acres.  We were now, however, getting ravenously hungry, so we adjourned to the hotel for breakfast, which was quickly served and almost as quickly eaten.  The palace was not open until ten o’clock, so we had to be content with a view of the exterior, nor could we visit the fine old church, for we wanted to reach Edinburgh, where we had decided to stay the week-end in order to see some of the sights of the historic capital.


A halo of deepest interest surrounded the history of Linlithgow, whose every stone spoke volumes of the storied past.  The traditions of the place go far back into the dim shadowy regions where historic fact merges into myth and legend.  Solid ground is only reached about the twelfth century.  The English had possession of the palace in 1313, and the way it was taken from them was probably unique in the history of such places.  The garrison was supplied with hay for the horses by a local farmer named Binnock, who determined to strike a blow for the freedom of his country.  A new supply of hay had been ordered, and he contrived to conceal eight men, well armed, under it.  The team was driven by a sturdy waggoner, who had a sharp axe concealed in his clothing, while Binnock himself walked alongside.  The porter, on seeing their approach, lowered the drawbridge and raised the portcullis to admit of the passage of the hay within the castle walls.  Just as they reached the centre of the gateway the driver drew his axe and cut off the tackle that attached the oxen to the waggon, at the same time striking the warder dead and shouting a preconcerted signal—­“Call all!  Call all!” “The armed men jumped from amongst the hay, and a strong party of Scots, who by arrangement were in ambush outside, rushed in and attacked the astonished garrison, who were unprepared for the onslaught—­the load of hay being so placed that the gate could not be closed nor the bridge raised—­and so the Scots made themselves masters of the palace.”


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The last event of any historical interest or importance connected with this palace was the visit paid to it by Prince Charles Stewart in 1745; it was destroyed in the following year.

The beautiful old Gothic church of St. Michael is situated close to the palace.  Perhaps no tradition connected with this church is more interesting than the vision which is said to have appeared to James IV while praying within St. Catherine’s Aisle immediately before the Battle of Flodden.  According to Lindsay of Pitscottie, on whose authority the tale rests, the King, being “in a very sad and dolorous mood, was making his devotions to God to send him good chance and fortune in his voyage” when a man “clad in ane blue gown” appeared to him, and with little ceremony declared to the King that he had been sent to desire him “nocht to pass whither he purposed,” for if he did, things “would not fare well with him or any who went with him.”  How little this warning was heeded by the King is known to all readers of Scottish history.  The “ghost,” if it may be called so, was in all likelihood an attempt to frighten the King, and it is certain that the tale would never have gained the weird interest it possesses if Flodden Field had not proved so disastrous.  It has been helped to immortality by Sir Walter Scott, who in “Marmion” has invested Pitscottie’s antique prose with the charm of imperishable poetry.

[Illustration:  THE OLD CROSS WELL.]

One characteristic of the towns or villages in Scotland through which we passed was their fine drinking-fountains, and we had admired a very fine one at Falkirk that morning; but Linlithgow’s fountain surpassed it—­it was indeed the finest we had seen, and a common saying occurred to us: 

  Glasgow for bells,
  Linlithgow for wells.

Linlithgow has long been celebrated for its wells, some of them of ancient date and closely associated with the history of the town.  We came to an old pump-well with the date 1720, and the words “Saint Michael is kinde to straingers.”  As we considered ourselves to be included in that category, we had a drink of the water.

[Illustration:  THE TOWN HERALD, LINLITHGOW (A survival of the past)]

At the end of the village or town we passed the union workhouse, where the paupers were busy digging up potatoes in the garden, and a short distance farther on we passed a number of boys with an elderly man in charge of them, who informed us they came from the “institute,” meaning the workhouse we had just seen, and that he took them out for a walk once every week.  Presently we met a shepherd who was employed by an English farmer in the neighbourhood, and he told us that the man we had met in charge of the boys was an old pensioner who had served fifty-two years in the army, but as soon as he got his pension money he spent it, as he couldn’t keep it, the colour of his nose showing the direction in which it went.  It struck us the shepherd seemed inclined

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that way himself, as he said if he had met us nearer a public-house he would have “treated us to a good glass.”  We thought what a pity it was that men had not a better eye to their own future interests than to spend all their money “for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not,” and how many there were who would ultimately become burdens to society who might have secured a comfortable competency for old age by wisely investing their surplus earnings instead of allowing them to flow down that awful channel of waste!

[Illustration:  ST. MICHAEL’S WELL.]

We walked through a fine agricultural district—­for we were now in Midlothian—­adorned with great family mansions surrounded by well-kept grounds, and arrived in sight of Edinburgh at 1.30, and by two o’clock we were opposite a large building which we were told was Donaldson’s Hospital, founded in 1842, and on which about L100,000 had been spent.

Our first business on reaching Edinburgh was to find suitable lodgings until Monday morning, and we decided to stay at Fogg’s Temperance Hotel in the city.  We had then to decide whether we should visit Edinburgh Castle or Holyrood Palace that day—­both being open to visitors at the same hour in the afternoon, but as they were some distance apart we could not explore both; we decided in favour of the palace, where we were conducted through the picture gallery and the many apartments connected with Mary Queen of Scots and her husband Lord Darnley.

The picture-gallery contained the reputed portraits of all the Kings of Scotland from Fergus I, 330 B.C., down to the end of the Stuart dynasty; and my brother, who claimed to have a “painter’s eye,” as he had learned something of that art when at school, discovered a great similarity between the portraits of the early kings and those that followed them centuries later.  Although I explained that it was only an illustration of history repeating itself, and reminded him of the adage, “Like father, like son,” he was not altogether satisfied.  We found afterwards, indeed, that the majority of the portraits had been painted by a Flemish artist, one John de Witt, who in the year 1684 made a contract, which was still in existence, whereby he bound himself to paint no portraits within two years, he supplying the canvas and colours, and the Government paying him L120 per year and supplying him with the “originalls” from which he was to copy.  We wondered what had become of these “originalls,” especially that of Fergus, 330 B.C., but as no information was forthcoming we agreed to consider them as lost in the mists of antiquity.

[Illustration:  HOLYROOD PALACE.]

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There was much old tapestry on the walls of the various rooms we inspected in the palace, and although it was now faded we could see that it must have looked very beautiful in its original state.  The tapestry in one room was almost wholly devoted to scenes in which heavenly-looking little boys figured as playing in lovely gardens amidst beautiful scenery.  One of these scenes showed a lake in the background with a castle standing at one end of it.  In the lake were two small islands covered with trees which were reflected in the still waters, while in the front was a large orange tree, growing in a lovely garden, up which some of the little boys had climbed, one of whom was throwing oranges to a companion on the ground below; while two others were enjoying a game of leapfrog, one jumping over the other’s back.  Three other boys were engaged in the fascinating game of blowing bubbles—­one making the lather, another blowing the bubbles, while a third was trying to catch them.  There were also three more boys—­one of them apparently pretending to be a witch, as he was riding on a broomstick, while another was giving a companion a donkey-ride upon his back.  All had the appearance of little cupids or angels and looked so lifelike and happy that we almost wished we were young again and could join them in their play!

The rooms more closely connected with the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots were of course the most interesting to visitors; and in her audience-room, where she had such distressing interviews with John Knox, the famous Presbyterian divine and reformer, we saw the bed that was used by King Charles I when he resided at Holyrood, and afterwards occupied on one occasion, in September 1745, by his descendant Prince Charlie, and again after the battle of Culloden by the Duke of Cumberland.


We passed on to Queen Mary’s bedroom, in which we were greatly interested, and in spite of its decayed appearance we could see it had been a magnificent apartment.  Its walls were adorned with emblems and initials of former Scottish royalties, and an old tapestry representing the mythological story of the fall of Photon, who, according to the Greeks, lost his life in rashly attempting to drive the chariot of his father the God of the Sun.  Here we saw Queen Mary’s bed, which must have looked superb in its hangings of crimson damask, trimmed with green silk fringes and tassels, when these were new, but now in their decay they seemed to remind us of their former magnificence and of their unfortunate owner, to whom the oft-quoted words

   Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

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so aptly applied.  We wondered how many times her weary head had passed its restless nights there, and in the many castles in which she had been placed during her long imprisonment of nineteen years.  Half hidden by the tapestry there was a small door opening upon a secret stair, and it was by this that Darnley and his infamous associates ascended when they went to murder the Queen’s unfortunate Italian secretary, Rizzio, in the Queen’s supping-room, which we now visited.  There we had to listen to the recital of this horrible crime:  how the Queen had been forcibly restrained by Darnley, her table overthrown and the viands scattered, while the blood-thirsty conspirators crowded into the room; how Rizzio rushed behind the Queen for protection, until one of the assassins snatched Darnley’s dagger from its sheath, and stabbed Rizzio, leaving the dagger sticking in his body, while the others dragged him furiously from the room, stabbing him as he went, shrieking for mercy, until he fell dead at the head of the staircase, pierced by fifty-six wounds; and how one of the assassins threatened to cut the Queen “into collops” if she dared to speak to the populace through the window.  The bloodstain on the floor was of course shown us, which the mockers assert is duly “restored” every winter before the visiting season commences.

Leaving the Palace, we saw Queen Mary’s Bath, a quaintly shaped little building built for her by King James IV, in which she was said to have bathed herself in white wine—­an operation said to have been the secret of her beauty.  During some alterations which were made to it in 1798, a richly inlaid but wasted dagger was found stuck in the sarking of the roof, supposedly by the murderers of Rizzio on their escape from the palace.

[Illustration:  CHAPEL ROYAL, HOLYROOD.]

We then visited the now roofless ruins of the Abbey or Chapel Royal adjoining the Palace.  A fine doorway on which some good carving still remained recalled something of its former beauty and grandeur.  There were quite a number of tombs, and what surprised us most was the large size of the gravestones, which stood 6 to 7 feet high, and were about 3 feet wide.  Those we had been accustomed to in England were much smaller, but everything in Scotland seemed big, including the people themselves, and this was no less true of the buildings in Edinburgh.  There was a monument in one corner of the Chapel Royal on which was an inscription in Latin, of which we read the English translation to be:—­


   ALEXANDER MILNE, 20 Feb.  A.D. 1643

  Stay Passenger, here famous Milne doth rest,
  Worthy to be in AEgypt’s Marble drest;
  What Myron or Apelles could have done
  In brass or paintry, he could do in stone;
  But thretty yeares hee [blameless] lived; old age
  He did betray, and in’s Prime left this stage.

   Restored by Robert Mylne

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   Architect.  MDCCLXXVI.

The builder of the Palace was Robert Milne, the descendant of a family of distinguished masons.  He was the “master mason,” and a record of him in large letters on a pillar ran—­

  FVN .  BE .  RO .  MILNE .  M.M. .  I .  JYL . 1671.

After leaving Holyrood we walked up Calton Hill, where we had a splendid view of the fine old city of Edinburgh seated on rocks that are older than history, and surrounded by hills with the gleaming Firth of Forth in the distance.  The panorama as seen from this point was magnificent, and one of the finest in Great Britain.  On the hill there were good roads and walks and some monuments.  One of these, erected to the memory of Nelson, was very ugly, and another—­beautiful in its incompleteness—­consisted of a number of immense fluted columns in imitation of the Parthenon of Athens, which we were told was a memorial to the Scottish heroes who fell in the Wars of Napoleon, but which was not completed, as sufficient funds had not been forthcoming to finish what had evidently been intended to be an extensive and costly erection.  We supposed that these lofty pillars remained as a warning to those who begin to build without first sitting down and counting the cost.  They were beautifully proportioned, resembling a fragment of some great ruin, and probably had as fine an effect as they stood, as the finished structure would have had.

[Illustration:  “MONS MEG.”]

Edinburgh Castle stood out in the distance on an imposing rock.  As we did not arrive during visiting hours we missed many objects of interest, including the Scottish crown and regalia, which are stored therein.  On the ramparts of the castle we saw an ancient gun named “Mons Meg,” whose history was both long and interesting.  It had been made by hand with long bars of hammered iron held together by coils of iron hoops, and had a bore of 20 in.; the cannon-balls resting alongside it were made of wood.  It was constructed in 1455 by native artisans at the instance of James II, and was used in the siege of Dumbarton in 1489 and in the Civil Wars.  In Cromwell’s list of captured guns in 1650 it was described as “the great iron murderer Meg.”  When fired on the occasion of the Duke of York’s visit to Edinburgh in 1682 the gun burst.  After this bad behaviour “Meg” was sent to the Tower of London, not, however, to be executed, but to remain there until the year 1829, when, owing to the intercession of Sir Walter Scott with King George IV, the great gun was returned to Edinburgh, and was received with great rejoicings and drawn up with great ceremony to the castle, where it still remains as a relic of the past.

On our way we had observed a placard announcing a soiree in connection with the I.O.G.T. (the Independent Order of Good Templars), and this being somewhat of a novelty to us we decided to patronise it.  Accordingly at 7 p.m. we found ourselves paying the sum of ninepence each at the entrance to the Calton Rooms.  As we filed through along with others, a cup and saucer and a paper bag containing a variety of cakes were handed to us, and the positions assigned to us were on either side of an elderly gentleman whom we afterwards found to be a schoolmaster.

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When the tea came round there were no nice young ladies to ask us if we took sugar and milk, and how many pieces of sugar; to our great amusement the tea was poured into our cups from large tin kettles carried by men who from their solemn countenances appeared fitting representatives of “Caledonia stern and wild.”  We thought this method a good one from the labour-saving point of view, and it was certainly one we had never seen adopted before.  The weak point about it was that it left no opportunity for individual taste in the matter of milk and sugar, which had already been added, but as we did not hear any complaints and all appeared satisfied, we concluded that the happy medium had been reached, and that all had enjoyed themselves as we did ourselves.

Our friend the schoolmaster was very communicative, and added to our pleasure considerably by his intelligent conversation, in the course of which he told us that the I.O.G.T. was a temperance organisation introduced from America, and he thought it was engaged in a good work.  The members wore a very smart regalia, much finer than would have suited us under the climatic conditions we had to pass through.  After tea they gave us an entertainment consisting of recitations and songs, the whole of which were very creditably rendered.  But the great event of the evening was the very able address delivered by the Rev. Professor Kirk, who explained the objects of the Good Templar movement and the good work it was doing in Edinburgh and elsewhere.  Every one listened attentively, for the Professor was a good speaker and he was frequently applauded by his audience.

We had spent a very pleasant evening, and the schoolmaster accompanied us nearly all the way to our lodgings, which we reached at 11 p.m.

(Distance walked up to 2 p.m. twenty-four miles.)

Sunday, October 8th.

To judge by what we heard and saw, there were connected with Edinburgh three great characters who stand out above all others in historic importance—­Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox, and Sir Walter Scott; but we thought and read more about John Knox this day than either of the others, possibly because it was Sunday.  We attended service in three different churches, and give the following particulars for the information of our clerical and other friends who “search the Scriptures,” in the hope that they may find in the reading of the texts food for thought.


In the morning we went to the High Church.  Preacher, the Rev. C. Giffin,
M.A.  Text. 2 Corinthians viii. 13 and to the end.

In the afternoon to the Tron Church.  Preacher, the Rev. James McGregor, D.D.  Text:  Isaiah lvii., the last three verses, and Ephesians ii. and the first clause of verse 14.

In the evening to the Wesleyan Chapel, Nicolson Square.  Preacher, the Rev. Dr. James, President of the Wesleyan Conference.  Text:  I Corinthians ii. 1, 2.

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The excellence of the sermons, and the able way in which they had been prepared and were delivered, gave us the impression that rivalry existed between the ministers of the different churches as to which of them could preach the best sermon.  They were all fine orations, carefully thought out and elaborated, especially that by Dr. James.

During the intervals between the services we walked about the city, and again passed the splendid monument to Sir Walter Scott with the following remarkable inscription, written by Lord Jeffery, beneath its foundation stone: 

This Graven Plate, deposited in the base of a votive building on the fifteenth day of August in the year of Christ 1840, and never likely to see the light again till all the surrounding structures are crumbled to dust by the decay of time, or by human or elemental violence, may then testify to a distant posterity that his countrymen began on that day to raise an effigy and architectural monument to the memory of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., whose admirable writings were then allowed to have given more delight and suggested better feelings to a large class of readers in every rank of society than those of any other author, with the exception of Shakespeare alone, and which were, therefore, thought likely to be remembered long after this act of gratitude on the part of the first generation of his admirers should be forgotten.  He was born at Edinburgh 15th August 1771:  and died at Abbotsford, 21st September 1832.

We also passed that ancient and picturesque mansion in the High Street known as the “House of John Knox,” in which the distinguished reformer died in 1572.  Born in the year 1505, it was he who, in the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, stirred Scotland to mighty religious impulses, boldly denouncing Mary as a Papist and a Jezebel.  How he escaped being beheaded or burned or assassinated was, considering the nature of the times in which he lived, a mystery almost amounting to a miracle.

[Illustration:  MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS]

Queen Mary sailed from France and landed at Leith, near Edinburgh, on August 19th, 1561, where she was welcomed by the Scots as Dowager of France, Queen of Scotland, and heiress of England, and was “gorgeouslie and magnificentlie” received, according to Scottish ideas, by the lords and ladies who came to meet and accompany her to Edinburgh; but, according to the diary of one of the Queen’s ladies, “when they saw them mounted on such wretched little hackneys so wretchedly caparisoned they were greatly disappointed, and thought of the gorgeous pomp and superb palfreys they had been accustomed to in France, and the Queen began to weep.”  On their arrival at Edinburgh they retired to rest in the Abbey, “a fine building and not at all partaking of that country, but here came under her window a crew of five or six hundred scoundrels from the city, who gave her a serenade with wretched violins and little rebecks of which there are enough in that country, and began to sing Psalms so miserably mis-tuned and mis-timed that nothing could be worse.  Alas! what music, and what a night’s rest!” What the lady would have written if bagpipes had been included in the serenade we could not imagine, but as these instruments of torture were not named, we concluded they must have been invented at a later period.

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[Illustration:  JOHN KNOX’S HOUSE, EDINBURGH.  “We also passed the ancient and picturesque mansion in the High Street ... in which that distinguished reformer died.”]

Mary had been away in France for about thirteen years, and during that time she had for her companions four young ladies of the same name as her own and of about the same age, Mary Fleming, Mary Bethune, Mary Livingstone, and Mary Seaton, all of whom formed part of her retinue on her return to Scotland, where they were known as the “Queen’s Marys.”


She was a staunch adherent of the Romish Church, a fact which accounted for many of her trials and mortifications.  Mainly owing to the powerful preaching of John Knox, many of the people of Scotland, both of high and low degree, had become fierce opponents of that form of religion, which they considered idolatrous.  The first Sunday after her arrival was St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24th, and preparations had been made to celebrate mass in the Chapel Royal, at which the Queen was to be present.  But no sooner was this known, than a mob rushed towards the edifice, exclaiming:  “Shall the idol be again erected in the land?” and shouting, “The idolatrous priests shall die the death!” On September 2nd the Queen made her public entry into Edinburgh, and on the same day John Knox had an audience with Mary, who, hearing of a furious sermon he had preached against the Mass on the previous Sunday in St. Giles’s Church, thought that a personal interview would mitigate his sternness.  The Queen took him to task for his book entitled The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regimen of Women, and his intolerance towards every one who differed from him in opinion, and further requested him to obey the precepts of the Scriptures, a copy of which she perceived in his possession, and urged him to use more meekness in his sermons.  Knox in reply, it was said, “knocked so hastily upon her heart,” that he made her weep with tears of anguish and indignation, and she said, “My subjects, it would appear, must obey you, and not me; I must be subject to them, and not they to me!” Knox left Holyrood that day convinced that Mary’s soul was lost for ever, and that she despised and mocked all exhortation against the Mass.

When Mary attended her first Parliament, accompanied by her ladies, the Duke of Chatelherault carrying the Crown, the Earl of Argyll the Sceptre, and the Earl of Moray the Sword, she appeared so graceful and beautiful that the people who saw her were quite captivated, and many exclaimed, “God save that sweet face!”

During this short Parliament Knox preached in St. Giles’s Church, and argued that they ought to demand from the Queen “that which by God’s Word they may justly require, and if she would not agree with them in God, they were not bound to agree with her in the devil!” and concluded with some observations respecting the Queen’s rumoured marriage with Don Carlos of Spain, declaring, “Whenever ye consent that an infidel, and all Papists are infidels, shall be our head to our soverane, ye do so far as in ye lieth to banisch Christ Jesus from his realme; ye bring God’s vengeance upon this country, a plague upon yourselves, and perchance ye shall do no small discomfirt to your soverane.”

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[Illustration:  JOHN KNOX.]

Mary heard of this furious attack upon her, which Knox admitted had offended both Papists and Protestants, and he was again summoned to Holyrood.  As soon as Mary saw Knox she was greatly excited, and exclaimed:  “Never was prince handled as I am.”  “I have borne with you,” she said to Knox, “in all your vigorous manner of speaking, both against myself and my uncles; yea, I have sought your favour by all possible means—­I offered unto you presence and audience whenever it pleased you to admonish me, and yet I cannot be quit of you.  I vow to God I shall be once avenged.”

Knox answered, “True it is, Madam, your Grace and I have been at divers controversies into the which I never perceived your Grace to be offended at me; but when it shall please God to deliver you from that bondage of darkness and error in the which ye have been nourished for the lack of true doctrine, your majesty will find the liberty of my tongue nothing offensive.  Without the preaching-place, Madam, I am not master of myself, for I must obey Him who commands me to speak plain, and flatter no flesh upon the face of the earth.”

The Queen asked him again, “What have ye to do with my marriage, or what are ye in this commonwealth?” “A subject born within the same, Madam,” was the stern reply; “and albeit I be neither Earl, Lord, nor Baron within it, yet has God made me, how abject soever I may be in your eyes, a profitable member within the same.”

He was entering into some personal explanations, when the Queen ordered him to leave the Cabinet, and remain in the ante-chamber till her pleasure should be intimated.  Here Knox found himself in the company of the Queen’s Marys and other ladies, to whom he gave a religious admonition.  “Oh, fair ladies,” he said, “how pleasing is this life of yours if it would ever abide, and then in the end that you pass to Heaven with all this gay gear!  But fie upon the knave Death, that will come whether we will or not, and when he has laid on his arrest, the foul worms will be busy with this flesh, be it never so fair and tender; and the silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble, that it can neither carry with it gold, garnishing, targetting, pearl nor precious stones.”

Several noblemen had accompanied Knox when he went to see the Queen, but only Erskine of Dun was admitted to the Cabinet, and Lord Ochiltree attended Knox in the ante-room while Queen Mary held a consultation with Lord John Stuart and Erskine lasting nearly an hour, at the end of which Erskine appeared and accompanied Knox home.  Knox must have been in great danger of losing his life owing to his fearless and determined daring in rebuking those in high places, and indeed his life was afterwards repeatedly aimed at; but Providence foiled all attempts to assassinate him, and in the end he died a peaceful death.  On November 9th, 1572, a fortnight before he died, he preached his farewell sermon, the entire congregation following

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his tottering footsteps to his home.  When the time came for him to die he asked for I Corinthians xv., and after that had been read he remarked:  “Is not that a comfortable chapter?” There was also read to him Isaiah liii.  Asked if he could hear, he replied:  “I hear, I thank God, and understand far better.”  He afterwards said to his wife, “Read, where I cast my first anchor.”  Mrs. Knox knew what he meant, and read to him his favourite seventeenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel.  His friend Bannatyne, seeing that he was just about to depart, and was becoming speechless, drew near to him saying, “Hast thou hope?” and asked him if he heard to give them a sign that he died in peace.  Knox pointed upwards with two of his fingers, and thus he died without a struggle.  Truly one of the most remarkable men that ever lived in Scotland, and whose end was peace.


A vast concourse of people attended his funeral, the nobility walking in front of the procession, headed by Morton, who had been appointed Regent of Scotland on the very day on which Knox died, and whose panegyric at the grave was:  “Here lieth a man who in his life never feared the face of man.”

St. Giles’s was the first parochial church in Edinburgh, and its history dates from the early part of the twelfth century.  John Knox was appointed its minister at the Reformation.  When Edinburgh was created a bishopric, the Church of St. Giles became the Cathedral of the diocese.  A remarkable incident happened at this church on Sunday, July 23rd, 1639, when King Charles I ordered the English service-book to be used.  It was the custom of the people in those days to bring their own seats to church, in the shape of folding-stools, and just as Dean Hanney was about to read the collect for the day, a woman in the congregation named Jenny Geddes, who must have had a strong objection to this innovation, astonished the dean by suddenly throwing her stool at his head.  What Jenny’s punishment was for this violent offence we did not hear, but her stool was still preserved together with John Knox’s pulpit and other relics.


Although three hundred years save one had elapsed since John Knox departed this life, his memory was still greatly revered in Edinburgh, and his spirit still seemed to pervade the whole place and to dwell in the hearts and minds of the people with whom we came in contact.  A good illustration of this was the story related by an American visitor.  He was being driven round the city, when the coachman pointed out the residence of John Knox.  “And who was John Knox?” he asked.  The coachman seemed quite shocked that he did not know John Knox, and, looking down on him with an eye of pity, replied, in a tone of great solemnity, “Deed, mawn, an’ d’ye no read y’r Beeble!”

As we walked about the crowded streets of Edinburgh that Sunday evening we did not see a single drunken person, a fact which we attributed to the closing of public houses in Scotland on Sundays.  We wished that a similar enactment might be passed in England, for there many people might habitually be seen much the worse for liquor on Sunday evenings, to the great annoyance of those returning from their various places of worship.

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Monday, October 9th

There were some streets in Edinburgh called wynds, and it was in one of these, the College Wynd, that Sir Walter Scott was born in the year 1771.  It seemed a strange coincidence that the great Dr. Samuel Johnson should have visited the city in the same year, and have been conducted by Boswell and Principal Robertson to inspect the college along that same wynd when the future Sir Walter Scott was only about two years old.  We had not yet ventured to explore one of these ancient wynds, as they appeared to us like private passages between two rows of tall houses.  As we could not see the other end, we looked upon them as traps for the unwary, but we mustered up our courage and decided to explore one of them before leaving the town.  We therefore rose early and selected one of an antiquated appearance, but we must confess to a feeling of some apprehension in entering it, as the houses on each side were of six to eight storeys high, and so lofty that they appeared almost to touch each other at the top.  To make matters worse for us, there were a number of poles projecting from the windows high above our track, for use on washing days, when clothes were hung upon them to dry.  We had not gone very far, when my brother drew my attention to two women whose heads appeared through opposite windows in the upper storeys, and who were talking to each other across the wynd.  On our approach we heard one of them call to the other in a mischievous tone of voice, “See! there’s twa mair comin’!” We were rather nervous already, so we beat an ignominious retreat, not knowing what might be coming on our devoted heads if we proceeded farther.  In the event of hostilities the two ladies were so high up in the buildings, which were probably let in flats, that we should never have been able to find them, and, like the stray sheep in the Pass of St. Ninians, we might never have been found ourselves.  We were probably taken for a pair of sporting young medical students instead of grave searchers after wisdom and truth.  We therefore returned to our hotel for the early breakfast that was waiting for us, and left Edinburgh at 8.10 a.m. on our way towards Peebles.

[Illustration:  QUEEN MARY’S BATH.]

[Illustration:  CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE.]

We journeyed along an upward gradient with a view of Craigmillar Castle to our left, obtaining on our way a magnificent view of the fine city we had left behind us, with its castle, and the more lofty elevation known as Arthur’s Seat, from which portions of twelve counties might be seen.  It was a curiously shaped hill with ribs and bones crossing in various directions, which geologists tell us are undoubted remains of an old volcano.  It certainly was a very active one, if one can judge by the quantity of debris it threw out.  There was an old saying, especially interesting to ladies, that if you washed

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your face at sunrise on May 1st, with dew collected off the top of Arthur’s Seat, you would be beautiful for ever.  We were either too late or too soon, as it was now October 9th, and as we had a lot to see on that day, with not overmuch time to see it in, we left the dew to the ladies, feeling certain, however, that they would be more likely to find it there in October than on May Day.  When we had walked about five miles, we turned off the main road to visit the pretty village of Rosslyn, or Roslin, with its three great attractions:  the chapel, the castle, and the dell.  We found it surrounded by woods and watered by a very pretty reach of the River Esk, and as full of history as almost any place in Scotland.

The unique chapel was the great object of interest.  The guide informed us that it was founded in 1446 by William St. Clair, who also built the castle, in which he resided in princely splendour.  He must have been a person of very great importance, for he had titles enough even to weary a Spaniard, being Prince of Orkney, Duke of Oldenburg, Earl of Caithness and Stratherne, Lord St. Clair, Lord Liddlesdale, Lord Admiral of the Scottish Seas, Lord Chief Justice of Scotland, Lord Warden of the three Marches, Baron of Roslin, Knight of the Cockle, and High Chancellor, Chamberlain, and Lieutenant of Scotland!

The lords of Rosslyn were buried in their complete armour beneath the chapel floor up to the year 1650, but afterwards in coffins.  Sir Walter Scott refers to them in his “Lay of the Last Minstrel” thus:—­

  There are twenty of Rosslyn’s Barons bold
  Lie buried within that proud Chapelle.


[Illustration:  THE “’PRENTICE PILLAR.”]

There were more carvings in Rosslyn Chapel than in any place of equal size that we saw in all our wanderings, finely executed, and with every small detail beautifully finished and exquisitely carved.  Foliage, flowers, and ferns abounded, and religious allegories, such as the Seven Acts of Mercy, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Dance of Death, and many scenes from the Scriptures; it was thought that the original idea had been to represent a Bible in stone.  The great object of interest was the magnificently carved pillar known as the “’Prentice Pillar,” and in the chapel were two carved heads, each of them showing a deep scar on the right temple.  To these, as well as the pillar, a melancholy memory was attached, from which it appeared that the master mason received orders that this pillar should be of exquisite workmanship and design.  Fearing his inability to carry out his instructions, he went abroad to Rome to see what designs he could find for its execution.  While he was away his apprentice had a dream in which he saw a most beautiful column, and, setting to work at once to carry out the design of his dream, finished the pillar, a perfect marvel of workmanship.  When his master returned and found the pillar completed, he was so envious and enraged at the success of his apprentice that he struck him on the head with his mallet with such force that he killed him on the spot, a crime for which he was afterwards executed.

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We passed on to the castle across a very narrow bridge over a ravine, but we did not find much there except a modern-looking house built with some of the old stones, under which were four dungeons.  Rosslyn was associated with scenes rendered famous by Bruce and Wallace, Queen Mary and Rizzio, Robert III and Queen Annabella Drummond, by Comyn and Fraser, and by the St. Clairs, as well as by legendary stories of the Laird of Gilmorton Grange, who set fire to the house in which were his beautiful daughter and her lover, the guilty abbot, so that both of them were burnt to death, and of the Lady of Woodhouselee, a white-robed, restless spectre, who appeared with her infant in her arms.  Then there was the triple battle between the Scots and the English, in which the Scots were victorious: 

  Three triumphs in a day! 
  Three hosts subdued by one! 
  Three armies scattered like the spray,
  Beneath one vernal sun.

[Illustration:  ROSSLYN CASTLE.]

Here, too, was the inn, now the caretaker’s house, visited by Dr. Johnson and Boswell in 1773, the poet Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy in 1803, while some of the many other celebrities who called from time to time had left their signatures on the window-panes.  Burns and his friend Nasmyth the artist breakfasted there on one occasion, and Burns was so pleased with the catering that he rewarded the landlady by scratching on a pewter plate the two following verses: 

  My blessings on you, sonsie wife,
    I ne’er was here before;
  You’ve gien us walth for horn and knife—­
    Nae heart could wish for more.

  Heaven keep you free from care and strife. 
    Till far ayont four score;
  And while I toddle on through life,
    I’ll ne’er gang bye your door.

Rosslyn at one time was a quiet place and only thought of in Edinburgh when an explosion was heard at the Rosslyn gunpowder works.  But many more visitors appeared after Sir Walter Scott raised it to eminence by his famous “Lay” and his ballad of “Rosabelle”: 

  Seem’d all on fire that chapel proud. 
  Where Rosslyn’s chiefs uncoffin’d lie.

Hawthornden was quite near where stood Ben Jonson’s sycamore, and Drummond’s Halls, and Cyprus Grove, but we had no time to see the caves where Sir Alexander Ramsay had such hairbreadth escapes.  About the end of the year 1618 Ben Jonson, then Poet Laureate of England, walked from London to Edinburgh to visit his friend Taylor, the Thames waterman, commonly known as the Water Poet, who at that time was at Leith.  In the January following he called to see the poet Drummond of Hawthornden, who was more frequently called by the name of the place where he lived than by his own.  He found him sitting in front of his house, and as he approached Drummond welcomed him with the poetical salutation: 

  “Welcome! welcome!  Royal Ben,”

to which Jonson responded,

  “Thank ye, thank ye, Hawthornden.”

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[Illustration:  HAWTHORNDEN.]

The poet Drummond was born in 1585, and died in 1649, his end being hastened by grief at the execution of Charles I. A relative erected a monument to his memory in 1784, to which the poet Young added the following lines: 

  O sacred solitude, divine retreat,
  Choice of the prudent, envy of the great! 
  By the pure stream, or in the waving shade
  I court fair Wisdom, that celestial maid;
  Here from the ways of men, laid safe ashore,
  I smile to hear the distant tempest roar;
  Here, blest with health, with business unperplex’d,
  This life I relish, and secure the next.

Rosslyn Glen was a lovely place, almost like a fairy scene, and we wondered if Burns had it in his mind when he wrote: 

  Their groves of sweet myrtle let foreign lands reckon,
  Where bright-beaming summers exalt the perfume;
  Far dearer to me yon lone glen of green bracken,
  Wi’ the burn stealing under the long yellow broom.


We walked very quietly and quickly past the gunpowder works, lest conversation might cause an explosion that would put an end to our walking expedition and ourselves at the same time, and regained the highway at a point about seven miles from Edinburgh.  Presently we came to the Glencorse Barracks, some portions of which adjoined our road, and, judging from the dress and speech of the solitary sentinel who was pacing to and fro in front of the entrance, we concluded that a regiment of Highlanders must be stationed there.  He informed us that in the time of the French Wars some of the prisoners were employed in making Scotch banknotes at a mill close by, and that portions of the barracks were still used for prisoners, deserters, and the like.  Passing on to Pennicuick, we crossed a stream that flowed from the direction of the Pentland Hills, and were informed that no less than seven paper mills were worked by that stream within a distance of five miles.  Here we saw a monument which commemorated the interment of 309 French prisoners who died during the years 1811 to 1814, a list of their names being still in existence.  This apparently large death-rate could not have been due to the unhealthiness of the Glencorse Barracks, where they were confined, for it was by repute one of the healthiest in the kingdom, the road being 600 feet or more above sea-level, and the district generally, including Pennicuick, considered a desirable health-resort for persons suffering from pulmonary complaints.  We stayed a short time here for refreshments, and outside the town we came in contact with two young men who were travelling a mile or two on our way, with whom we joined company.  We were giving them an outline of our journey and they were relating to us their version of the massacre of Glencoe, when suddenly a pretty little squirrel crossed our path and ran into a wood opposite.  This caused the massacre story to be ended abruptly

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and roused the bloodthirsty instinct of the two Scots, who at once began to throw stones at it with murderous intent.  We watched the battle as the squirrel jumped from branch to branch and passed from one tree to another until it reached one of rather large dimensions.  At this stage our friends’ ammunition, which they had gathered hastily from the road, became exhausted, and we saw the squirrel looking at them from behind the trunk of the tree as they went to gather another supply.  Before they were again ready for action the squirrel disappeared.  We were pleased that it escaped, for our companions were good shots.  They explained to us that squirrels were difficult animals to kill with a stone, unless they were hit under the throat.  Stone-throwing was quite a common practice for country boys in Scotland, and many of them became so expert that they could hit small objects at a considerable distance.  We were fairly good hands at it ourselves.  It was rather a cruel sport, but loose stones were always plentiful on the roads—­for the surfaces were not rolled, as in later years—­and small animals, such as dogs and cats and all kinds of birds, were tempting targets.  Dogs were the greatest sufferers, as they were more aggressive on the roads, and as my brother had once been bitten by one it was woe to the dog that came within his reach.  Such was the accuracy acquired in the art of stone-throwing at these animals, that even stooping down in the road and pretending to lift a stone often caused the most savage dog to retreat quickly.  We parted from the two Scots without asking them to finish their story of Glencoe, as the details were already fixed in our memories.  They told us our road skirted a moor which extended for forty-seven miles or nearly as far as Glasgow, but we did not see much of the moor as we travelled in a different direction.


We passed through Edleston, where the church was dedicated to St. Mungo, reminding us of Mungo Park, the famous African traveller, and, strangely enough, it appeared we were not far away from where he was born.  In the churchyard here was a tombstone to the memory of four ministers named Robertson, who followed each other in a direct line extending to 160 years.  There was also to be seen the ancient “Jougs,” or iron rings in which the necks of criminals were enclosed and fastened to a wall or post or tree.  About three miles before reaching Peebles we came to the Mansion of Cringletie, the residence of the Wolfe-Murray family.  The name of Wolfe had been adopted because one of the Murrays greatly distinguished himself at the Battle of Quebec, and on the lawn in front of the house was a cannon on which the following words had been engraved: 

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His Majesty’s Ship Royal George of 108 guns, sunk at Spithead 29th August 1782.  This gun, a 32 pounder, part of the armament of the Royal George, was fished up from the wreck of that ship by Mr. Deans, the zealous and enterprising Diver, on the 15th November 1836, and was presented by the Master-General and Board of Ordnance to General Durham of Largo, the elder Brother of Sir Philip Charles Henderson Durham, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the Most Ancient Military Order of Merit of France, Admiral of the White Squadron of Her Majesty’s Fleet, and Commander-in-Chief of the Port of Portsmouth, 1836.

Sir Philip was serving as a lieutenant in the Royal George, and was actually on duty as officer of the watch upon deck when the awful catastrophe took place.  He was providentially and miraculously saved, but nearly 900 persons perished, amongst them the brave Admiral Kempenfelt, whose flag went down with the ship.

The wreck of the Royal George was the most awful disaster that had hitherto happened to the Royal Navy.  William Cowper the poet, as soon as the sad news was brought to him, wrote a solemn poem entitled “The Loss of the Royal George,” from which it seems that Admiral Kempenfelt was in his cabin when the great ship suddenly foundered.

His sword was in its sheath,
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfelt went down
With twice four hundred men.

* * * * *

Toll for the brave! 
Brave Kempenfelt is gone: 
His last sea-fight is fought,
His work of glory done.

* * * * *

Toll for the brave! 
The brave that are no more. 
All sunk beneath the wave. 
Fast by their native shore!

It was nearly dark when we entered the town of Peebles, where we called at the post office for letters, and experienced some difficulty at first in obtaining lodgings, seeing that it was the night before the Hiring Fair.  We went first to the Temperance Hotel, but all the beds had been taken down to make room for the great company they expected on the morrow; eventually we found good accommodation at the “Cross Keys Inn,” formerly the residence of a country laird.

We had seen notices posted about the town informing the public that, by order of the Magistrates, who saw the evil of intoxicating drinks, refreshments were to be provided the following day at the Town Hall.  The Good Templars had also issued a notice that they were having a tea-party, for which of course we could not stay.

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We found Peebles a most interesting place, and the neighbourhood immediately surrounding it was full of history.  The site on which our hotel had been built was that of the hostelage belonging to the Abbey of Arbroath in 1317, the monks granting the hostelage to William Maceon, a burgess of Peebles, on condition that he would give to them, and their attorneys, honest lodging whenever business brought them to that town.  He was to let them have the use of the hall, with tables and trestles, also the use of the spence (pantry) and buttery, sleeping chambers, a decent kitchen, and stables, and to provide them with the best candles of Paris, with rushes for the floor and salt for the table.  In later times it was the town house of Williamson of Cardrona, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries became one of the principal inns, especially for those who, like ourselves, were travelling from the north, and was conducted by a family named Ritchie.  Sir Walter Scott, who at that time resided quite near, frequented the house, which in his day was called the “Yett,” and we were shown the room he sat in.  Miss Ritchie, the landlady in Scott’s day, who died in 1841, was the prototype of “Meg Dobs,” the inn being the “Cleikum Inn” of his novel St. Ronan’s Well.


There was a St. Mungo’s Well in Peebles, and Mungo Park was intimately associated with the town.  He was born at Foulshiels, Yarrow, in the same year as Sir Walter Scott, 1771, just one hundred years before our visit, and, after studying for the Church, adopted medicine as his profession.  He served a short time with a doctor at Selkirk, before completing his course at the University of Edinburgh, and sailed in 1792 for the East Indies in the service of the East India Company.  Later he joined an association for the promotion of discovery in Africa, and in 1795 he explored the basin of the Niger.  In 1798 he was in London, and in 1801 began practice as a doctor in Peebles.  He told Sir Walter Scott, after passing through one of the severe winters in Peebleshire, that he would rather return to the wilds of Africa than pass another winter there.  He returned to London in December 1803 to sail with another expedition, but its departure was delayed for a short time, so he again visited Peebles, and astonished the people there by bringing with him a black man named “Sidi Omback Boubi,” who was to be his tutor in Arabic.  Meantime, in 1779, he had published a book entitled Travels in the Interior of Africa, which caused a profound sensation at the time on account of the wonderful stories it contained of adventures in what was then an unknown part of the world.  This book of “Adventures of Mungo Park” was highly popular and extensively read throughout the country, by ourselves amongst the rest.

[Illustration:  THE BLACK DWARF.]

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It was not until January 29th, 1805, that the expedition left Spithead, and before Mungo Park left Peebles he rode over to Clovenfords, where Sir Walter Scott was then residing, to stay a night with him at Ashestiel.  On the following morning Sir Walter accompanied him a short distance on the return journey, and when they were parting where a small ditch divided the moor from the road Park’s horse stumbled a little.  Sir Walter said, “I am afraid, Mungo, that is a bad omen,” to which Park replied, smiling, “Friets (omens) follow those that look for them,” and so they parted for ever.  In company with his friends Anderson and Scott he explored the rivers Gambia and Niger, but his friends died, and Dr. Park himself was murdered by hostile natives who attacked his canoe in the River Niger.

Quite near our lodgings was the house where this famous African traveller lived and practised blood-letting as a surgeon, and where dreams of the tent in which he was once a prisoner and of dark faces came to him at night, while the door at which his horse was tethered as he went to see Sir Walter Scott, and the window out of which he put his head when knocked up in the night, were all shown as objects of interest to visitors.  Mungo had at least one strange patient, and that was the Black Dwarf, David Ritchie, who lies buried close to the gate in the old churchyard.  This was a horrid-looking creature, who paraded the country as a privileged beggar.  He affected to be a judge of female beauty, and there was a hole in the wall of his cottage through which the fair maidens had to look, a rose being passed through if his fantastic fancies were pleased; but if not, the tiny window was closed in their faces.  He was known to Sir Walter Scott, who adopted his name in one of his novels, The Bowed Davie of the Windus.  His cottage, which was practically in the same state as at the period of David Ritchie’s death, bore a tablet showing that it had been restored by the great Edinburgh publishers W. and R. Chambers, who were natives of Peebles, and worded:  “In memory D.R., died 1811.  W. and R. Chambers, 1845.”

Dr. Pennicuick, who flourished A.D. 1652-1722, had written: 

  Peebles, the Metropolis of the shire,
  Six times three praises doth from me require;
  Three streets, three ports, three bridges, it adorn,
  And three old steeples by three churches borne,
  Three mills to serve the town in time of need. 
  On Peebles water, and on River Tweed,
  Their arms are proper, and point forth their meaning,
  Three salmon fishes nimbly counter swimming;

but there were other “Threes” connected with Peebles both before and after the doctor’s time:  “The Three Tales of the Three Priests of Peebles,” supposed to have been told about the year 1460 before a blazing fire at the “Virgin Inn.”

There were also the Three Hopes buried in the churchyard, whose tombstone records: 

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  Here lie three Hopes enclosed within,
  Death’s prisoners by Adam’s sin;
  Yet rest in hope that they shall be
  Set by the Second Adam free.

And there were probably other triplets, but when my brother suggested there were also three letter e’s in the name of Peebles, I reminded him that it was closing-time, and also bed-time, so we rested that night in an old inn such as Charles Dickens would have been delighted to patronise.

(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

Tuesday, October 10th.

This was the day of the Great Peebles Fair, and everybody was awake early, including ourselves.  We left the “Cross Keys” hotel at six o’clock in the morning, and a very cold one it was, for there had been a sharp frost during the night.  The famous old Cross formerly stood near our inn, and the Cross Church close at hand, or rather all that remained of them after the wars.  In spite of the somewhat modern appearance of the town, which was probably the result of the business element introduced by the establishment of the woollen factories, Peebles was in reality one of the ancient royal burghs, and formerly an ecclesiastical centre of considerable importance, for in the reign of Alexander III several very old relics were said to have been found, including what was supposed to be a fragment of the true Cross, and with it the calcined bones of St. Nicholas, who suffered in the Roman persecution, A.D. 294.  On the strength of these discoveries the king ordered a magnificent church to be erected, which caused Peebles to be a Mecca for pilgrims, who came there from all parts to venerate the relics.  The building was known as the Cross Church, where a monastery was founded at the desire of James III in 1473 and attached to the church, in truly Christian spirit, one-third of its revenues being devoted to the redemption of Christian captives who remained in the hands of the Turks after the Crusades.

[Illustration:  ST. ANDREWS CHURCH, PEEBLES, A.D. 1195.]

If we had visited the town in past ages, there would not have been any fair on October 10th, since the Great Fair, called the Beltane Festival, was then held on May Day; but after the finding of the relics it was made the occasion on which to celebrate the “Finding of the Cross,” pilgrims and merchants coming from all parts to join the festivities and attend the special celebrations at the Cross Church.  On the occasion of a Beltane Fair it was the custom to light a fire on the hill, round which the young people danced and feasted on cakes made of milk and eggs.  We thought Beltane was the name of a Sun-god, but it appeared that it was a Gaelic word meaning Bel, or Beal’s-fire, and probably originated from the Baal mentioned in Holy Writ.

As our next great object of interest was Abbotsford, the last house inhabited by Sir Walter Scott, our course lay alongside the River Tweed.  We were fortunate in seeing the stream at Peebles, which stood at the entrance to one of the most beautiful stretches in the whole of its length of 103 miles, 41 of which lay in Peeblesshire.  The twenty miles along which we walked was magnificent river scenery.

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We passed many castles and towers and other ancient fortifications along its banks, the first being at Horsburgh, where the castle looked down upon a grass field called the Chapelyards, on which formerly stood the chapel and hospice of the two saints, Leonard and Lawrence.  At this hospice pilgrims from England were lodged when on their way to Peebles to attend the feasts of the “Finding of the Cross” and the “Exaltation of the Cross,” which were celebrated at Beltane and Roodmass respectively, in the ancient church and monastery of the Holy Cross.  It was said that King James I of England on his visits to Peebles was also lodged here, and it is almost certain the Beltane Sports suggested to him his famous poem, “Peebles to the Play,” one of its lines being: 

  Hope Kailzie, and Cardrona, gathered out thickfold,
  Singing “Hey ho, rumbelow, the young folks were full bold.”

both of which places could be seen from Horsburgh Castle looking across the river.

We saw the Tower of Cardrona, just before entering the considerable village, or town, of Innerleithen at six miles from Peebles, and although the time was so early, we met many people on their way to the fair.  Just before reaching Innerleithen we came to a sharp deep bend in the river, which we were informed was known as the “Dirt Pot” owing to its black appearance.  At the bottom of this dark depth the silver bells of Peebles were supposed to be lying.  We also saw Glennormiston House, the residence of William Chambers, who, with his brother, Robert, founded Chambers’s Journal of wide-world fame, and authors, singly and conjointly, of many other volumes.  The two brothers were both benefactors to their native town of Peebles, and William became Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and the restorer of its ancient Cathedral of St. Giles’s.  His brother Robert died earlier in that very year in which we were walking.  We reached Innerleithen just as the factory operatives were returning from breakfast to their work at the woollen factories, and they seemed quite a respectable class of people.  Here we called at the principal inn for our own breakfast, for which we were quite ready, but we did not know then that Rabbie Burns had been to Innerleithen, where, as he wrote, he had from a jug “a dribble o’ drink,” or we should have done ourselves the honour of calling at the same place.  At Innerleithen we came to another “Bell-tree Field,” where the bell hung on the branch of a tree to summon worshippers to church, and there were also some mineral springs which became famous after the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, St. Ronan’s Well.

[Illustration:  TRAQUAIR HOUSE.]

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Soon after leaving Innerleithen we could see Traquair House towering above the trees by which it was surrounded.  Traquair was said to be the oldest inhabited house in Scotland.  Sir Walter Scott knew it well, it being quite near to Ashiestiel, where he wrote “The Lay of the Last Minstrel,” “Marmion,” and “The Lady of the Lake.”  It was one of the prototypes of “Tully Veolan” in his Waverley.  There was no abode in Scotland more quaint and curious than Traquair House, for it was turreted, walled, buttressed, windowed, and loopholed, all as in the days of old.  Within were preserved many relics of the storied past and also of royalty.  Here was the bed on which Queen Mary slept in 1566; here also the oaken cradle of the infant King James VI.  The library was rich in valuable and rare books and MSS. and service books of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries in beautiful penmanship upon fine vellum.  The magnificent avenue was grass-grown, the gates had not been opened for many years, while the pillars of the gateway were adorned with two huge bears standing erect and bearing the motto:  “Judge Nocht.”  Magnificent woods adorned the grounds, remains of the once-famous forest of Ettrick, said to be the old classical forest of Caledon of the days of King Arthur.

Here was also Flora Hill, with its beautiful woods, where Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, lays the scene of his exquisite poem “Kilmeny” in the Queen’s Wake, where—­

  Bonnie Kilmeny gae’d up the Glen,
  But it wisna to meet Duneira’s men, etc.

Through beautiful scenery we continued alongside the Tweed, and noticed that even the rooks could not do without breakfast, for they were busy in a potato field.  We were amused to see them fly away on our approach, some of them with potatoes in their mouths, and, like other thieves, looking quite guilty.

Presently we came to a solitary fisherman standing knee-deep in the river, with whom we had a short conversation.  He said he was fishing for salmon, which ascended the river from Berwick about that time of the year and returned in May.  We were rather amused at his mentioning the return journey, as from the frantic efforts he was making to catch the fish he was doing his best to prevent them from coming back again.  He told us he had been fishing there since daylight that morning, and had caught nothing.  By way of sympathy my brother told him a story of two young men who walked sixteen miles over the hills to fish in a stream.  They stayed that night at the nearest inn, and started out very early the next morning.  When they got back to the hotel at night they wrote the following verse in the visitors’ book: 

  Hickory dickory dock! 
  We began at six o’clock,
  We fished till night without a bite. 
  Hickory dickory dock!

This was a description, he said, of real fishermen’s luck, but whether the absence of the “bite” referred to the fishermen or to the fish was not quite clear.  It had been known to apply to both.

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Proceeding further we met a gentleman walking along the road, of whom we made inquiries about the country we were passing through.  He told us that the castle we could see across the river was named “Muckle Mouthed Meg.”  A certain man in ancient times, having offended against the laws, was given a choice for a sentence by the King of Scotland—–­either he must marry Muckle Mouthed Meg, a woman with a very large mouth, or suffer death.  He chose the first, and the pair lived together in the old castle for some years.  We told him we were walking from John o’ Groat’s to Land’s End, but when he said he had passed John o’ Groat’s in the train, we had considerable doubts as to the accuracy of his statements, for there was no railway at all in the County of Caithness in which John o’ Groat’s was situated.  We therefore made further inquiries about the old castle, and were informed that the proper name of it was Elibank Castle, and that it once belonged to Sir Gideon Murray, who one night caught young Willie Scott of Oakwood Tower trying to “lift the kye.”  The lowing of the cattle roused him up, and with his retainers he drove off the marauders, while his lady watched the fight from the battlement of the Tower.  Willie, or, to be more correct, Sir William Scott, Junr., was caught and put in the dungeon.  Sir Gideon Murray decided to hang him, but his lady interposed:  “Would ye hang the winsome Laird o’ Harden,” she said, “when ye hae three ill-favoured daughters to marry?” Sir Willie was one of the handsomest men of his time, and when the men brought the rope to hang him he was given the option of marrying Muckle Mou’d Meg or of being hanged with a “hempen halter.”  It was said that when he first saw Meg he said he preferred to be hanged, but he found she improved on closer acquaintance, and so in three days’ time a clergyman said, “Wilt thou take this woman here present to be thy lawful wife?” knowing full well what the answer must be.  Short of other materials, the marriage contract was written with a goose quill on the parchment head of a drum.  Sir William found that Meg made him a very good wife in spite of her wide mouth, and they lived happily together, the moral being, we supposed, that it is not always the prettiest girl that makes the best wife.

Shortly afterwards we left the River Tweed for a time while we walked across the hills to Galashiels, and on our way to that town we came to a railway station near which were some large vineries.  A carriage was standing at the entrance to the gardens, where two gentlemen were buying some fine bunches of grapes which we could easily have disposed of, for we were getting rather hungry, but as they did not give us the chance, we walked on.  Galashiels was formerly only a village, the “shiels” meaning shelters for sheep, but it had risen to importance owing to its woollen factories.  It was now a burgh, boasting a coat-of-arms on which was represented a plum-tree with a fox on either side, and the motto, “Sour

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plums of Galashiels.”  The origin of this was an incident that occurred in 1337, in the time of Edward III, when some Englishmen who were retreating stopped here to eat some wild plums.  While they were so engaged they were attacked by a party of Scots with swords, who killed every one of them, throwing their bodies into a trench afterwards known as the “Englishman’s Syke.”  We passed a road leading off to the left to Stow, where King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were said to have defeated the Heathens.  We left Galashiels by the Melrose Road, and, after walking about a mile and a half, we turned aside to cross the River Tweed, not by a ferry, as that was against our rule, but by a railway bridge.  No doubt this was against the railway company’s by-laws and regulations, but it served our purpose, and we soon reached Abbotsford, that fine mansion, once the residence of the great Sir Walter Scott, the king of novelists, on the building of which he had spent a great amount of money, and the place of his death September 21st, 1832.


Abbotsford, including the gardens, park, walks and woods, was all his own creation, and was so named by him because the River Tweed was crossed at that point by the monks on their way to and from Melrose Abbey in the olden times.

[Illustration:  SIR WALTER SCOTT.]

We found the house in splendid condition and the garden just as Sir Walter had left it.  We were shown through the hall, study, library, and drawing-room, and even his last suit of clothes, with his white beaver hat, was carefully preserved under a glass case.  We saw much armour, the largest suit belonging formerly to Sir John Cheney, the biggest man who fought at the battle of Bosworth Field.  The collection of arms gathered out of all ages and countries was said to be the finest in the world, including Rob Roy Macgregor’s gun, sword, and dirk, the Marquis of Montrose’s sword, and the rifle of Andreas Hofer the Tyrolese patriot.

Amongst these great curios was the small pocket-knife used by Sir Walter when he was a boy.  We were shown the presents given to him from all parts of the kingdom, and from abroad, including an ebony suite of furniture presented to him by King George IV.  There were many portraits and busts of himself, and his wife and children, including a marble bust of himself by Chantrey, the great sculptor, carved in the year 1820.  The other portraits included one of Queen Elizabeth, another of Rob Roy; a painting of Queen Mary’s head, after it had been cut off at Fotheringay, and a print of Stothard’s Canterbury Pilgrims.  We also saw an iron box in which Queen Mary kept her money for the poor, and near this was her crucifix.  In fact, the place reminded us of some great museum, for there were numberless relics of antiquity stored in every nook and corner, and in the most unlikely places.  We were sorry we had not time to stay and take a longer survey, for the mansion and its surroundings form one of the great sights of Scotland, whose people revere the memory of the great man who lived there.

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[Illustration:  SIR WALTER SCOTT’S STUDY.]

The declining days of Sir Walter were not without sickness and sorrow, for he had spent all the money obtained by the sale of his books on this palatial mansion.  After a long illness, and as a last resource, he was taken to Italy; but while there he had another apoplectic attack, and was brought home again, only just in time to die.  He expressed a wish that Lockhart, his son-in-law, should read to him, and when asked from what book, he answered, “Need you ask?  There is but one.”  He chose the fourteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, and when it was ended, he said, “Well, this is a great comfort:  I have followed you distinctly, and I feel as if I were yet to be myself again.”  In an interval of consciousness he said, “Lockhart!  I may have but a minute to speak to you, my dear; be a good man, be virtuous, be religious, be a good man.  Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here.”

A friend who was present at the death of Sir Walter wrote:  “It was a beautiful day—­so warm that every window was wide open, and so perfectly still that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible—­as we kneeled around his bed, and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes.”  We could imagine the wish that would echo in more than one mind as Sir Walter’s soul departed, perhaps through one of the open windows, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”

  So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
  We start, for soul is wanting there;
  It is the loneliness in death
  That parts not quite with parting breath,
  But beauty with that fearful bloom,
  The hue which haunts it to the tomb,
  Expression’s last receding ray;
  A gilded halo hov’ring round decay.

[Illustration:  ABBOTSFORD.]

We passed slowly through the garden and grounds, and when we reached the road along which Sir Walter Scott had so often walked, we hurried on to see the old abbey of Melrose, which was founded by King David I. On our way we passed a large hydropathic establishment and an asylum not quite completed, and on reaching Melrose we called at one of the inns for tea, where we read a description by Sir Walter of his “flitting” from Ashiestiel, his former residence, to his grand house at Abbotsford.  The flitting took place at Whitsuntide in 1812, so, as he died in 1832, he must have lived at Abbotsford about twenty years.  He was a great collector of curios, and wrote a letter describing the comical scene which took place on that occasion.  “The neighbours,” he wrote, “have been very much delighted with the procession of furniture, in which old swords, bows, targets, and lances made a very conspicuous show.  A family of turkeys was accommodated within the helmet of some preux chevalier of ancient Border fame, and the very cows, for aught I know, were bearing banners and muskets.  I assure you that this caravan, attended by a dozen ragged, rosy, peasant children carrying fishing-rods and spears, and leading ponies, greyhounds, and spaniels, would, as it crossed the Tweed, have furnished no bad subject for the pencil.”

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Melrose Abbey was said to afford the finest specimen of Gothic architecture and Gothic sculpture of which Scotland could boast, and the stone of which it had been built, though it had resisted the weather for many ages, retained perfect sharpness, so that even the most minute ornaments seemed as entire as when they had been newly wrought.  In some of the cloisters there were representations of flowers, leaves, and vegetables carved in stone with “accuracy and precision so delicate that it almost made visitors distrust their senses when they considered the difficulty of subjecting so hard a substance to such intricate and exquisite modulation.”  This superb convent was dedicated to St. Mary, and the monks were of the Cistercian Order, of whom the poet wrote: 

  Oh, the monks of Melrose made gude kail (broth)
    On Fridays when they fasted;
  Nor wanted they gude beef and ale,
    So lang’s their neighbours’ lasted.

There were one hundred monks at Melrose in the year 1542, and it was supposed that in earlier times much of the carving had been done by monks under strong religious influences.  The rose predominated amongst the carved flowers, as it was the abbot’s favourite flower, emblematic of the locality from which the abbey took its name.  The curly green, or kale, which grew in nearly every garden in Scotland, was a very difficult plant to sculpture, but was so delicately executed here as to resemble exactly the natural leaf; and there was a curious gargoyle representing a pig playing on the bagpipes, so this instrument must have been of far more ancient origin than we had supposed when we noticed its absence from the instruments recorded as having been played when Mary Queen of Scots was serenaded in Edinburgh on her arrival in Scotland.


Under the high altar were buried the remains of Alexander II, the dust of Douglas the hero of Otterburn, and others of his illustrious and heroic race, as well as the remains of Sir Michael Scott.  Here too was buried the heart of King Robert the Bruce.  It appeared that Bruce told his son that he wished to have his heart buried at Melrose; but when he was ready to die and his friends were assembled round his bedside, he confessed to them that in his passion he had killed Comyn with his own hand, before the altar, and had intended, had he lived, to make war on the Saracens, who held the Holy Land, for the evil deeds he had done.  He requested his dearest friend, Lord James Douglas, to carry his heart to Jerusalem and bury it there.  Douglas wept bitterly, but as soon as the king was dead he had his heart taken from his body, embalmed, and enclosed in a silver case which he had made for it, and wore it suspended from his neck by a string of silk and gold.  With some of the bravest men in Scotland he set out for Jerusalem, but, landing in Spain, they were persuaded

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to take part in a battle there against the Saracens.  Douglas, seeing one of his friends being hard pressed by the enemy, went to his assistance and became surrounded by the Moors himself.  Seeing no chance of escape, he took from his neck the heart of Bruce, and speaking to it as he would have done to Bruce if alive, said, “Pass first in the fight as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow thee or die.”  With these words he threw the king’s heart among the enemy, and rushing forward to the place where it fell, was there slain, and his body was found lying on the silver case.  Most of the Scots were slain in this battle with the Moors, and they that remained alive returned to Scotland, the charge of Bruce’s heart being entrusted to Sir Simon Lockhard of Lee, who afterwards for his device bore on his shield a man’s heart with a padlock upon it, in memory of Bruce’s heart which was padlocked in the silver case.  For this reason, also, Sir Simon’s name was changed from Lockhard to Lockheart, and Bruce’s heart was buried in accordance with his original desire at Melrose.

Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie, who also lies buried in the abbey, flourished in the thirteenth century.  His great learning, chiefly acquired in foreign countries, together with an identity in name, had given rise to a certain confusion, among the earlier historians, between him and Michael Scott the “wondrous wizard and magician” referred to by Dante in Canto xxmo of the “Inferno.”  Michael Scott studied such abstruse subjects as judicial astrology, alchemy, physiognomy, and chiromancy, and his commentary on Aristotle was considered to be of such a high order that it was printed in Venice in 1496.  Sir Walter Scott referred to Michael Scott: 

  The wondrous Michael Scott
  A wizard, of such dreaded fame,
  That when in Salamanca’s Cave
  Him listed his magic wand to wave
  The bells would ring in Notre Dame,

and he explained the origin of this by relating the story that Michael on one occasion when in Spain was sent as an Ambassador to the King of France to obtain some concessions, but instead of going in great state, as usual on those occasions, he evoked the services of a demon in the shape of a huge black horse, forcing it to fly through the air to Paris.  The king was rather offended at his coming in such an unceremonious manner, and was about to give him a contemptuous refusal when Scott asked him to defer his decision until his horse had stamped its foot three times.  The first stamp shook every church in Paris, causing all the bells to ring; the second threw down three of the towers of the palace; and when the infernal steed had lifted up his hoof for the third time, the king stopped him by promising Michael the most ample concessions.

A modern writer, commenting upon this story, says, “There is something uncanny about the Celts which makes them love a Trinity of ideas, and the old stories of the Welsh collected in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries include a story very similar about Kilhwch, cousin to Arthur, who threatens if he cannot have what he wants that he will set up three shouts than which none were ever heard more deadly and which will be heard from Pengwaed in Cornwall to Dinsol in the North and Ergair Oerful in Ireland.  The Triads show the method best and furnish many examples, quoting the following: 

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Three things are best when hung—­salt fish, a wet hat, and an Englishman.

Three things are difficult to get—­gold from the miser, love from the devil, and courtesy from the Englishman.

The three hardest things—­a granite block, a miser’s barley loaf, and an Englishman’s heart.  But perhaps the best known is one translated long ago from the Welsh: 

  A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree,
  The more they are beaten, the better they be.

But to return to Michael Scott.  Another strange story about Michael was his adventure with the witch of Falschope.  To avenge himself upon her for striking him suddenly with his own wand whereby he was transformed for a time and assumed the appearance of a hare, Michael sent his man with two greyhounds to the house where the witch lived, to ask the old lady to give him a bit of bread for the greyhounds; if she refused he was to place a piece of paper, which he handed to him, over the top of the house door.  The witch gave the man a curt refusal, and so he fastened the paper, on which were some words, including, “Michael Scott’s man sought meat and gat nane,” as directed.  This acted as a spell, and the old witch, who was making cakes for the reapers then at work in the corn, now began to dance round the fire (which, as usual in those days, was burning in the middle of the room) and to sing the words: 

  “Maister Michael Scott’s man
  Sought meat and gat nane.”

and she had to continue thus until the spell was broken.  Meantime, her husband and the reapers who were with him were wondering why the cakes had not reached them, so the old man sent one of the reapers to inquire the reason.  As soon as he went through the door he was caught by the spell and so had to perform the same antics as his mistress.  As he did not return, the husband sent man after man until he was alone, and then went himself.  But, knowing all about the quarrel between Michael and his wife, and having seen the wizard on the hill, he was rather more cautious than his men, so, instead of going through the door, he looked through the window.  There he saw the reapers dragging his wife, who had become quite exhausted, sometimes round, and sometimes through the fire, singing the chorus as they did so.  He at once saddled his horse and rode as fast as he could to find Michael, who good-naturedly granted his request, and directed him to enter his house backwards, removing the paper from above the door with his left hand as he went in.  The old man lost no time in returning home, where he found them all still dancing furiously and singing the same rhyme; but immediately he entered, the supernatural performance ended, very much, we imagine, to the relief of all concerned.

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Michael Scott was at one time, it was said, much embarrassed by a spirit for whom he had to find constant employment, and amongst other work he commanded him to build a dam or other weir across the River Tweed at Kelso.  He completed that in a single night.  Michael next ordered him to divide the summit of the Eildon Hill in three parts; but as this stupendous work was also completed in one night, he was at his wits’ end what work to find him to do next.  At last he bethought himself of a job that would find him constant employment.  He sent him to the seashore and employed him at the hopeless and endless task of making ropes of sand there, which as fast as he made them were washed away by the tides.  The three peaks of Eildon Hill, of nearly equal height, are still to be seen.  Magnificent views are to be obtained from their tops, which Sir Walter Scott often frequented and of which he wrote, “I can stand on the Eildon and point out forty-three places famous in war and in verse.”

Another legend connected with these hills was that in the “Eildon caverns vast” a cave existed where the British King Arthur and his famous Knights of the Round Table lie asleep waiting the blast of the bugle which will recall them from Fairyland to lead the British on to a victory that will ensure a united and glorious Empire.  King Arthur has a number of burial-places of the same character, according to local stories both in England and Wales, and even one in Cheshire at Alderley Edge, close By the “Wizard Inn,” which title refers to the story.

[Illustration:  MELROSE ABBEY.]

Melrose and district has been hallowed by the influence and memory of Sir Walter Scott, who was to Melrose what Shakespeare was to Stratford-on-Avon, and he has invested the old abbey with an additional halo of interest by his “Lay of the Last Minstrel,” a copy of which we saw for the first time at the inn where we called for tea.  We were greatly interested, as it related to the neighbourhood we were about to pass through in particular, and we were quite captivated with its opening lines, which appealed so strongly to wayfarers like ourselves: 

  The way was long, the wind was cold. 
  The Minstrel was infirm and old;
  His wither’d cheek, and tresses gray,
  Seem’d to have known a better day;

  The harp, his sole remaining joy,
  Was carried by an orphan boy. 
  The last of all the Bards was he,
  Who sung of Border chivalry.

We were now nearing the Borders of Scotland and England, where this Border warfare formerly raged for centuries.  The desperadoes engaged in it on the Scottish side were known as Moss-troopers, any of whom when caught by the English were taken to Carlisle and hanged near there at a place called Hairibee.  Those who claimed the “benefit of clergy” were allowed to repeat in Latin the “Miserere mei,” at the beginning of the 51st Psalm, before they were executed, this becoming known as the “neck-verse.”

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William of Deloraine was one of the most desperate Moss-troopers ever engaged in Border warfare, but he, according to Sir Walter Scott: 

By wily turns, by desperate bounds,
Had baffled Percy’s best blood-hounds;
In Eske or Liddel, fords were none,
But he would ride them, one by one;

* * * * *

Steady of heart, and stout of hand. 
As ever drove prey from Cumberland;
Five times outlawed had he been,
By England’s King, and Scotland’s Queen.

When Sir Michael Scott was buried in Melrose Abbey his Mystic Book—­which no one was ever to see except the Chief of Branxholm, and then only in the time of need—­was buried with him.  Branxholm Tower was about eighteen miles from Melrose and situated in the vale of Cheviot.  After the death of Lord Walter (who had been killed in the Border warfare), a gathering of the kinsmen of the great Buccleuch was held there, and the “Ladye Margaret” left the company, retiring laden with sorrow and her impending troubles to her bower.  It was a fine moonlight night when—­

  From amid the armed train
  She called to her, William of Deloraine.

and sent him for the mighty book to Melrose Abbey which was to relieve her of all her troubles.

  “Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,
  Mount thee on the wightest steed;
  Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride. 
  Until thou come to fair Tweedside;
  And in Melrose’s holy pile
  Seek thou the Monk of St. Mary’s aisle. 
    Greet the Father well from me;
      Say that the fated hour is come,
    And to-night he shall watch with thee,
      To win the treasure of the tomb: 
  For this will be St. Michael’s night,
  And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;
  And the Cross, of bloody red,
  Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.

* * * * *

“What he gives thee, see thou keep;
Stay not thou for food or sleep: 
Be it scroll, or be it book,
Into it, Knight, thou must not look;
If thou readest, thou art lorn! 
Better had’st thou ne’er been born.”—­

* * * * *

“O swiftly can speed my dapple-grey steed,
Which drinks of the Teviot clear;
Ere break of day,” the Warrior ’gan say,
“Again will I be here: 
And safer by none may thy errand be done,
Than, noble dame, by me;
Letter nor line know I never a one,
Wer’t my neck-verse at Hairibee.”

Deloraine lost no time in carrying out his Ladye’s wishes, and rode furiously on his horse to Melrose Abbey in order to be there by midnight, and as described in Sir Walter Scott’s “Lay of the Last Minstrel”: 

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  Short halt did Deloraine make there;
  Little reck’d he of the scene so fair
  With dagger’s hilt, on the wicket strong,
  He struck full loud, and struck full long. 
  The porter hurried to the gate—­
  “Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?”
  “From Branksome I,” the warrior cried;
  And straight the wicket open’d wide
  For Branksome’s Chiefs had in battle stood,
  To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
  And lands and livings, many a rood,
  Had gifted the Shrine for their souls’ repose.

* * * * *

Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, and feet unshod. 
And noiseless step, the path he trod. 
The arched cloister, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior’s clanking stride,
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He enter’d the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle,
To hail the Monk of St. Mary’s aisle.

* * * * *

“The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me,
Says, that the fated hour is come,
And that to-night I shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb.” 
From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,
With toil his stiffen’d limbs he rear’d;
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.

  And strangely on the Knight look’d he,
    And his blue eyes gleam’d wild and wide;
  “And, darest thou, Warrior! seek to see
    What heaven and hell alike would hide? 
  My breast, in belt of iron pent,
    With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn;
  For threescore years, in penance spent. 
    My knees those flinty stones have worn;
  Yet all too little to atone
  For knowing what should ne’er be known. 
    Would’st thou thy every future year
     In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
  Yet wait thy latter end with fear
  Then, daring Warrior, follow me!”

* * * * *

“Penance, father, will I none;
Prayer know I hardly one;
For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,
Save to patter an Ave Mary,
When I ride on a Border foray. 
Other prayer can I none;
So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.”

* * * * *

Again on the Knight look’d the Churchman old,
And again he sighed heavily;
For he had himself been a warrior bold. 
And fought in Spain and Italy. 
And he thought on the days that were long since by,
When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high—­
Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
Where, cloister’d round, the garden lay;
The pillar’d arches were over their head,
And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead.

* * * * *

The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,

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* * * * *

The silver light, so pale and faint,
Shew’d many a prophet, and many a saint,
Whose image on the glass was dyed;
Full in the midst, his Cross of Red
Triumphal Michael brandished,
And trampled the Apostate’s pride. 
The moon beam kiss’d the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.

* * * * *

They sate them down on a marble stone,—­
(A Scottish monarch slept below;)
Thus spoke the Monk, in solemn tone—­
“I was not always a man of woe;
For Paynim countries I have trod,
And fought beneath the Cross of God: 
Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear. 
And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear.

* * * * *

“In these far climes it was my lot
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott;

* * * * *

Some of his skill he taught to me;
And, Warrior, I could say to thee
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,
And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone: 
But to speak them were a deadly sin;
And for having but thought them my heart within,
A treble penance must be done.

* * * * *

“When Michael lay on his dying bed,
His conscience was awakened
He bethought him of his sinful deed,
And he gave me a sign to come with speed. 
I was in Spain when the morning rose,
But I stood by his bed ere evening close. 
The words may not again be said
That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid;
They would rend this Abbaye’s massy nave,
And pile it in heaps above his grave.

* * * * *

“I swore to bury his Mighty Book,
That never mortal might therein look;
And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his Chief of Branksome’s need: 
And when that need was past and o’er,
Again the volume to restore. 
I buried him on St. Michael’s night,
When the bell toll’d one, and the moon was bright,
And I dug his chamber among the dead,
When the floor of the chancel was stained red,
That his patron’s cross might over him wave,
And scare the fiends from the Wizard’s grave.

* * * * *

“It was a night of woe and dread,
When Michael in the tomb I laid! 
Strange sounds along the chancel pass’d,
The banners waved without a blast”—­
Still spoke the Monk, when the bell toll’d one!—­
I tell you, that a braver man
Than William of Deloraine, good at need,
Against a foe ne’er spurr’d a steed;
Yet somewhat was he chill’d with dread,
And his hair did bristle upon his head.

* * * * *

“Lo, Warrior! now, the Cross of Red
Points to the grave of the mighty dead;
Within it burns a wondrous light,
To chase the spirits that love the night: 
That lamp shall burn unquenchably,
Until the eternal doom shall be.”—­
Slow moved the Monk to the broad flag-stone,
Which the bloody Cross was traced upon: 

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He pointed to a secret nook;
An iron bar the Warrior took;
And the Monk made a sign with his wither’d hand,
The grave’s huge portal to expand.

* * * * *

With beating heart to the task he went;
His sinewy frame o’er the grave-stone bent;
With bar of iron heaved amain,
Till the toil-drops fell from his brows, like rain. 
It was by dint of passing strength,
That he moved the massy stone at length. 
I would you had been there, to see
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Stream’d upward to the chancel roof,
And through the galleries far aloof! 
No earthly flame blazed e’er so bright: 
It shone like heaven’s own blessed light,

    And, issuing from the tomb,

Show’d the Monk’s cowl, and visage pale,
Danced on the dark-brow’d Warrior’s mail,
And kiss’d his waving plume.

* * * * *

Before their eyes the Wizard lay,
As if he had not been dead a day. 
His hoary beard in silver roll’d. 
He seem’d some seventy winters old;
A palmer’s amice wrapp’d him round,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,
Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea: 
His left hand held his Book of Might;
A silver cross was in his right;
The lamp was placed beside his knee: 
High and majestic was his look,
At which the fellest fiends had shook. 
And all unruffled was his face: 
They trusted his soul had gotten grace.

* * * * *

Often had William of Deloraine
Rode through the battle’s bloody plain,
And trampled down the warriors slain,
And neither known remorse nor awe;
Yet now remorse and awe he own’d;
His breath came thick, his head swam round. 
When this strange scene of death he saw. 
Bewilder’d and unnerved he stood. 
And the priest pray’d fervently and loud: 
With eyes averted prayed he;
He might not endure the sight to see. 
Of the man he had loved so brotherly.

* * * * *

And when the priest his death-prayer had pray’d,
Thus unto Deloraine he said:—­
“Now, speed thee what thou hast to do,
Or, Warrior, we may dearly rue;

For those, thou may’st not look upon,
Are gathering fast round the yawning stone!”—­
Then Deloraine, in terror, took
From the cold hand the Mighty Book,
With iron clasp’d, and with iron bound: 
He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown’d;
But the glare of the sepulchral light,
Perchance, had dazzled the Warrior’s sight.

* * * * *

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When the huge stone sunk o’er the tomb. 
The night return’d in double gloom;
For the moon had gone down, and the stars were few;
And, as the Knight and Priest withdrew. 
With wavering steps and dizzy brain,
They hardly might the postern gain. 
’Tis said, as through the aisles they pass’d,
They heard strange noises on the blast;
And through the cloister-galleries small,
Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall,
Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran,
And voices unlike the voices of man;
As if the fiends kept holiday,
Because these spells were brought to day. 
I cannot tell how the truth may be;
I say the tale as ’twas said to me.

* * * * *

“Now, hie thee hence,” the Father said,
“And when we are on death-bed laid,
O may our dear Ladye, and sweet St. John,
Forgive our souls for the deed we have done!”—­
The Monk return’d him to his cell,
And many a prayer and penance sped;
When the convent met at the noontide bell—­
The Monk of St. Mary’s aisle was dead! 
Before the cross was the body laid,
With hands clasp’d fast, as if still he pray’d.

What became of Sir William Deloraine and the wonderful book on his return journey we had no time to read that evening, but we afterwards learned he fell into the hands of the terrible Black Dwarf.  We had decided to walk to Hawick if possible, although we were rather reluctant to leave Melrose.  We had had one good tea on entering the town, and my brother suggested having another before leaving it, so after visiting the graveyard of the abbey, where the following curious epitaph appeared on one of the stones, we returned to the inn, where the people were highly amused at seeing us return so soon and for such a purpose: 

  The earth goeth to the earth
    Glist’ring like gold;
  The earth goeth to the earth
    Sooner than it wold;
  The earth builds on the earth
    Castles and Towers;
  The earth says to the earth,
    All shall be ours.

Still, we were quite ready for our second tea, and wondered whether there was any exercise that gave people a better appetite and a greater joy in appeasing it than walking, especially in the clear and sharp air of Scotland, for we were nearly always extremely hungry after an hour or two’s walk.  When the tea was served, I noticed that my brother lingered over it longer than usual, and when I reminded him that the night would soon be on us, he said he did not want to leave before dark, as he wanted to see how the old abbey appeared at night, quoting Sir Walter Scott as the reason why: 

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  If thou would’st view fair Melrose aright,
  Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
  For the gay beams of lightsome day
  Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey. 
  When the broken arches are black in night,
  And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
  When the cold light’s uncertain shower
  Streams on the ruin’d central tower;
  When buttress and buttress, alternately,
  Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
  When silver edges the imagery. 
  And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
  When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
  And the owlet to hoot o’er the dead man’s grave,
  Then go—­but go alone the while—­
  Then view St. David’s ruin’d pile;
  And, home returning, soothly swear. 
  Was ever scene so sad and fair?

I reminded my brother that there would be no moon visible that night, and that it would therefore be impossible to see the old abbey “by the pale moonlight”; but he said the starlight would do just as well for him, so we had to wait until one or two stars made their appearance, and then departed, calling at a shop to make a few small purchases as we passed on our way.  The path alongside the abbey was entirely deserted.  Though so near the town there was scarcely a sound to be heard, not even “the owlet to hoot o’er the dead man’s grave.”  Although we had no moonlight, the stars were shining brightly through the ruined arches which had once been filled with stained glass, representing the figures “of many a prophet and many a saint.”  It was a beautiful sight that remained in our memories long after other scenes had been forgotten.

According to the Koran there were four archangels:  Azrael, the angel of death; Azrafil, who was to sound the trumpet at the resurrection; Gabriel, the angel of revelations, who wrote down the divine decrees; and Michael, the champion, who fought the battles of faith,—­and it was this Michael whose figure Sir Walter Scott described as appearing full in the midst of the east oriel window “with his Cross of bloody red,” which in the light of the moon shone on the floor of the abbey and “pointed to the grave of the mighty dead” into which the Monk and William of Deloraine had to descend to secure possession of the “Mighty Book.”

After passing the old abbey and the shade of the walls and trees to find our way to the narrow and rough road along which we had to travel towards Hawick, we halted for a few moments at the side of the road to arrange the contents of our bags, in order to make room for the small purchases we had made in the town.  We had almost completed the readjustment when we heard the heavy footsteps of a man approaching, who passed us walking along the road we were about to follow.  My brother asked him if he was going far that way, to which he replied, “A goodish bit,” so we said we should be glad of his company; but he walked on without speaking to us further.  We pushed the remaining things in our bags as quickly

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as possible, and hurried on after him.  As we did not overtake him, we stood still and listened attentively, though fruitlessly, for not a footstep could we hear.  We then accelerated our pace to what was known as the “Irishman’s Trig”—­a peculiar step, quicker than a walk, but slower than a run—­and after going some distance we stopped again to listen; but the only sound we could hear was the barking of a solitary dog a long distance away.  This was very provoking, as we wanted to get some information about our road, which, besides being rough, was both hilly and very lonely, and more in the nature of a track than a road.  Where the man could have disappeared to was a mystery on a road apparently without any offshoots, so we concluded he must have thought we contemplated doing him some bodily harm, and had either “bolted” or “clapp’d,” as my brother described it, behind some rock or bush, in which case he must have felt relieved and perhaps amused when he heard us “trigging” past him on the road.


We continued along the lonely road without his company, with the ghostly Eildon Hills on one side and the moors on the other, until after walking steadily onwards for a few miles, we heard the roar of a mountain stream in the distance.  When we reached it we were horrified to find it running right across our road.  It looked awful in the dark, as it was quite deep, and although we could just see where our road emerged from the stream on the other side, it was quite impossible for us to cross in the dark.  We could see a few lights some distance beyond the stream, but it was useless to attempt to call for help, since our voices could not be heard above the noise of the torrent.  Our position seemed almost hopeless, until my brother said he thought he had seen a shed or a small house behind a gate some distance before coming to the stream.  We resolved to turn back, and luckily we discovered it to be a small lodge guarding the entrance to a private road.  We knocked at the door of the house, which was in darkness, the people having evidently gone to bed.  Presently a woman asked what was wanted, and when we told her we could not get across the stream, she said there was a footbridge near by, which we had not seen in the dark, and told us how to find it a little higher up the stream.  Needless to relate, we were very pleased when we got across the bridge, and we measured the distance across that turbulent stream in fifteen long strides.

We soon reached the lights we had seen, and found a small village, where at the inn we got some strange lodgings, and slept that night in a bed of a most curious construction, as it was in a dark place under the stairs, entered by a door from the parlour.  But it was clean and comfortable, and we were delighted to make use of it after our long walk.

(Distance walked thirty miles.)

Wednesday, October 11th.

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We had been warned when we retired to rest that it was most likely we should be wakened early in the morning by people coming down the stairs, and advised to take no notice of them, as no one would interfere with us or our belongings.  We were not surprised, therefore, when we were aroused early by heavy footsteps immediately over our heads, which we supposed were those of the landlord as he came down the stairs.  We had slept soundly, and, since there was little chance of any further slumber, we decided to get up and look round, the village before breakfast.  We had to use the parlour as a dressing-room, and not knowing who might be coming down the stairs next, we dressed ourselves as quickly as possible.  We found that the village was called Lilliesleaf, which we thought a pretty name, though we were informed it had been spelt in twenty-seven different ways, while the stream we came to in the night was known by the incongruous name of Ale Water.  The lodge we had gone back to for information as to the means of crossing was the East Gate guarding one of the entrances to Riddell, a very ancient place where Sir Walter Scott had recorded the unearthing of two graves of special interest, one containing an earthen pot filled with ashes and arms, and bearing the legible date of 729, and the other dated 936, filled with the bones of a man of gigantic size.

A local historian wrote of the Ale Water that “it is one thing to see it on a summer day when it can be crossed by the stepping-stones, and another when heavy rains have fallen in the autumn—­then it is a strong, deep current and carries branches and even trees on its surface, the ford at Riddell East Gate being impassable, and it is only then that we can appreciate the scene.”  It seemed a strange coincidence that we should be travelling on the same track but in the opposite direction as that pursued by William Deloraine, and that we should have crossed the Ale Water about a fortnight later in the year, as Sir Walter described him in his “Lay” as riding along the wooded path when “green hazels o’er his basnet nod,” which indicated the month of September.

Unchallenged, thence pass’d Deloraine,
To ancient Riddell’s fair domain,
Where Aill, from mountain freed,
Down from the lakes did raving come;
Each wave was crested with tawny foam,
Like the mane of a chestnut steed. 
In vain! no torrent, deep or broad. 
Might bar the bold moss-trooper’s road.

* * * * *

At the first plunge the horse sunk low,
And the water broke o’er the saddlebow;
Above the foaming tide, I ween,
Scarce half the charger’s neck was seen;
For he was barded from counter to tail,
And the rider was armed complete in mail;
Never heavier man and horse
Stemm’d a midnight torrent’s force. 
The warrior’s very plume, I say
Was daggled by the dashing spray;
Yet, through good heart, and Our Ladye’s grace,
At length he gain’d the landing place.

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What would have become of ourselves if we had attempted to cross the treacherous stream in the dark of the previous night we did not know, but we were sure we should have risked our lives had we made the attempt.

We were only able to explore the churchyard at Lilliesleaf, as the church was not open at that early hour in the morning.  We copied a curious inscription from one of the old stones there: 

  Near this stone we lifeless lie
  No more the things of earth to spy,
  But we shall leave this dusty bed
  When Christ appears to judge the dead. 
  For He shall come in glory great
  And in the air shall have His seat
  And call all men before His throne. 
  Rewarding all as they have done.

We were served with a prodigious breakfast at the inn to match, as we supposed, the big appetites prevailing in the North, and then we resumed our walk towards Hawick, meeting on our way the children coming to the school at Lilliesleaf, some indeed quite a long way from their destination.  In about four miles we reached Hassendean and the River Teviot, for we were now in Teviot Dale, along which we were to walk, following the river nearly to its source in the hills above.  The old kirk of Hassendean had been dismantled in 1693, but its burial-ground continued to be used until 1795, when an ice-flood swept away all vestiges both of the old kirk and the churchyard.  It was of this disaster that Leyden, the poet and orientalist, who was born in 1775 at the pretty village of Denholm close by, wrote the following lines: 

  By fancy wrapt, where tombs are crusted grey,
  I seem by moon-illumined graves to stray,
  Where now a mouldering pile is faintly seen—­
  The old deserted church of Hassendean,
  Where slept my fathers in their natal clay
  Till Teviot waters rolled their bones away.

[Illustration:  LEYDEN’S COTTAGE.]

Leyden was a great friend of Sir Walter Scott, whom he helped to gather materials for his “Border Minstrelsie,” and was referred to in his novel of St. Ronan’s Well as “a lamp too early quenched.”  In 1811 he went to India with Lord Minto, who was at that time Governor-General, as his interpreter, for Leyden was a great linguist.  He died of fever caused by looking through some old infected manuscripts at Batavia on the coast of Java.  Sir Walter had written a long letter to him which was returned owing to his death.  He also referred to him in his Lord of the Isles

  His bright and brief career is o’er,
    And mute his tuneful strains;
  Quench’d is his lamp of varied lore,
  That loved the light of song to pour;
  A distant and a deadly shore
    Has Leyden’s cold remains.

The Minto estate adjoined Hassenden, and the country around it was very beautiful, embracing the Minto Hills or Crags, Minto House, and a castle rejoicing, as we thought, in the queer name of “Fatlips.”

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The walk to the top of Minto Crags was very pleasant, but in olden times no stranger dared venture there, as the Outlaw Brownhills was in possession, and had hewn himself out of the rock an almost inaccessible platform on one of the crags still known as “Brownhills’ Bed” from which he could see all the roads below.  Woe betide the unsuspecting traveller who happened to fall into his hands!

But we must not forget Deloraine, for after receiving instructions from the “Ladye of Branksome”—­

[Illustration:  “FATLIPS” CASTLE.]

  Soon in the saddle sate he fast,
  And soon the steep descent he past,
  Soon cross’d the sounding barbican. 
  And soon the Teviot side he won. 
  Eastward the wooded path he rode. 
  Green hazels o’er his basnet nod;
  He passed the Peel of Goldieland,
  And crossed old Borthwick’s roaring strand;
  Dimly he view’d the Moat-hill’s mound. 
  Where Druid shades still flitted round;
  In Hawick twinkled many a light;
  Behind him soon they set in night;
  And soon he spurr’d his courser keen
  Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.

* * * * *

The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark;—­
“Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark.”—­
“For Branksome, ho!” the knight rejoin’d. 
And left the friendly tower behind. 
He turn’d him now from Tiviotside,
And, guided by the tinkling rill,
Northward the dark ascent did ride. 
And gained the moor at Horsliehill;
Broad on the left before him lay,
For many a mile, the Roman Way.

* * * * *

A moment now he slacked his speed,
A moment breathed his panting steed;
Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band,
And loosen’d in the sheath his brand. 
On Minto-crags the moonbeams glint,
Where Barnhills hew’d his bed of flint;
Who flung his outlaw’d limbs to rest,
Where falcons hang their giddy nest
Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye
For many a league his prey could spy;
Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne,
The terrors of the robber’s horn!

We passed through a cultivated country on the verge of the moors, where we saw some good farms, one farmer telling us he had 900 acres of arable land with some moorland in addition.  He was superintending the gathering of a good crop of fine potatoes, which he told us were “Protestant Rocks.”  He was highly amused when one of us suggested to the other that they might just have suited a country parson we knew in England who would not have the best variety of potatoes, called “Radicals,” planted in his garden because he did not like the name.  He was further amused when we innocently asked him the best way to reach Hawick, pronouncing the name in two syllables which sounded like Hay-wick, while the local pronunciation was “Hoike.”  However, we soon reached that town and had a twelve-o’clock lunch at one of the inns, where we heard something

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of the principal annual event of the town, the “Common Riding,” the occasion on which the officials rode round the boundaries.  There was an artificial mound in the town called the “Mote-Hill,” formerly used by the Druids.  It was to the top of this hill the cornet and his followers ascended at sunrise on the day of the festival, after which they adjourned to a platform specially erected in the town, to sing the Common Riding Song.  We could not obtain a copy of this, but we were fortunate in obtaining one for the next town we were to visit—­Langholm—­which proved to be the last on our walk through Scotland.  From what we could learn, the ceremony at Hawick seemed very like the walking of the parish boundaries in England, a custom which was there slowly becoming obsolete.  We could only remember attending one of these ceremonies, and that was in Cheshire.  The people of the adjoining parish walked their boundaries on the same day, so we were bound to meet them at some point en route, and a free fight, fanned by calling at sundry public-houses, was generally the result.  The greatest danger-zone lay where a stream formed the boundary between the two parishes, at a point traversed by a culvert or small tunnel through a lofty embankment supporting a canal which crossed a small valley.  This boundary was, of course, common to both parishes, and representatives of each were expected to pass through it to maintain their rights, so that it became a matter of some anxiety as to which of the boundary walkers would reach it first, or whether that would be the point where both parties would meet.  We remembered coming to a full stop when we reached one entrance to the small tunnel, while the scouts ascended the embankment to see if the enemy were in sight on the other side; but as they reported favourably, we decided that two of our party should walk through the culvert, while the others went round by the roads to the other end.  There was a fair amount of water passing through at that time, so they were very wet on emerging from the opposite end, and it was impossible for the men to walk upright, the contracted position in which they were compelled to walk making the passage very difficult.  What would have happened if the opposition had come up while our boundary walkers were in the tunnel we could only surmise.

Hawick is in Roxburghshire and was joined on to Wilton at a house called the Salt Hall, or the “Saut Ha’,” as it is pronounced in Scotch, where a tragedy took place in the year 1758.  The tenant of the Hall at that time was a man named Rea, whose wife had committed suicide by cutting her throat.  In those days it was the custom to bury suicides at the dead of night where the laird’s lands met, usually a very lonely corner, and a stake was driven through the body of the corpse; but from some cause or other the authorities allowed “Jenny Saut Ha’,” as she was commonly called, to be buried in the churchyard.  This was considered by many people to be an outrage, and the body was

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disinterred at night, and the coffin placed against the Saut Ha’ door, where Rea was confronted with it next morning.  There was a sharp contest between the Church authorities and the public, and the body was once more interred in the churchyard, but only to fall on Rea when he opened his door the next morning.  The authorities were then compelled to yield to the popular clamour, and the corpse found a temporary resting-place in a remote corner of Wilton Common; but the minister ultimately triumphed, and Jenny was again buried in the churchyard, there to rest for all time in peace.

[Illustration:  WILTON OLD CHURCH.]

We had now joined the old coach road from London to Edinburgh, a stone on the bridge informing us that that city was fifty miles distant.  We turned towards London, and as we were leaving the town we asked three men, who had evidently tramped a long distance, what sort of a road it was to Langholm, our next stage.  They informed us that it was twenty-three miles to that town, that the road was a good one, but we should not be able to get a drink the whole way, for “there wasn’t a single public-house on the road.”

Presently, however, we reached a turnpike gate across our road, and as there was some fruit exhibited for sale in the window of the toll-house we went inside, and found the mistress working at her spinning-wheel, making a kind of worsted out of which she made stockings.  We bought as much fruit from her as the limited space in our bags allowed, and had a chat with her about the stocking trade, which was the staple industry of Hawick.  She told us there were about 800 people employed in that business, and that they went out on strike on the Monday previous, but with an advance in their wages had gone in again that morning.

The stockings were now made by machines, but were formerly all made by hand.  The inventor of the first machine was a young man who had fallen deeply in love with a young woman, who, like most others living thereabouts at that time, got her living by making stockings.  When he proposed to her, she would not have him, because she knew another young man she liked better.  He then told her if she would not marry him he would make a machine that would make stockings and throw her out of work and ruin them all.  But the girl decided to remain true to the young man she loved best, and was presently married to him.

[Illustration:  GOLDIELANDS TOWER.]

The disappointed lover then set to work, and, after much thought and labour, succeeded in making a stocking machine; and although it created a great stir in Hawick, where all three were well known, it did not throw any one out of work, but was so improved upon with the result that more stockings were made and sold at Hawick than ever before!

We thanked the old lady for her story, and, bidding her good-bye, went on our way.  Presently we came to the ruins of a castle standing near the road which a clergyman informed us was Goldielands Tower, mentioned with Harden by Sir Walter Scott in the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.”  He told us that a little farther on our way we should also see Branxholm, another place referred to by Scott.  Although we were on the look out for Branxholm, we passed without recognising it, as it resembled a large family mansion more than the old tower we had expected it to be.

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[Illustration:  BRANXHOLM TOWER.]

It was astonishing what a number of miles we walked in Scotland without finding anything of any value on the roads.  A gentleman told us he once found a threepenny bit on the road near a village where he happened to be staying at the inn.  When his find became known in the village, it created quite a sensation amongst the inhabitants, owing to the “siller” having fallen into the hands of a “Saxon,” and he gravely added to the information that one-half of the people went in mourning and that it was even mentioned in the kirk as the “awfu’” waste that had occurred in the parish!


We were not so lucky as to find a silver coin, but had the good fortune to find something of more importance in the shape of a love-letter which some one had lost on the road, and which supplied us with food for thought and words for expression, quite cheering us up as we marched along our lonely road.  As Kate and John now belong to a past generation, we consider ourselves absolved from any breach of confidence and give a facsimile of the letter (see page 198).  The envelope was not addressed, so possibly John might have intended sending it by messenger, or Kate might have received it and lost it on the road, which would perhaps be the more likely thing to happen.  We wondered whether the meeting ever came off.

[Illustration:  COVENANTER’S GRAVE.]

Shortly after passing Branxholm, and near the point where the Allan Water joined the River Teviot, we turned to visit what we had been informed was in the time of King Charles I a hiding place for the people known as Covenanters.  These were Scottish Presbyterians, who in 1638, to resist that king’s encroachments on their religious liberty, formed a “Solemn League,” followed in 1643 by an international Solemn League and Covenant “between England and Scotland to secure both civil and religious liberty.”  These early Covenanters were subjected to great persecution, consequently their meetings were held in the most lonely places—­on the moors, in the glens, and on the wild mountain sides.  We climbed up through a wood and found the meeting-place in the ruins of a tower—­commonly said to have been built by the Romans, though we doubted it—­the remains of which consisted of an archway a few yard longs and a few yards square, surrounded by three trenches.  It occupied a very strong position, and standing upon it we could see a hill a short distance away on the top of which was a heap of stones marking the spot where a bon-fire was lit and a flag reared when Queen Victoria drove along the road below, a few years before our visit.

In former times in this part of Scotland there seemed to have been a bard, poet, or minstrel in every village, and they appeared to have been numerous enough to settle their differences, and sometimes themselves, by fighting for supremacy, for it was at Bradhaugh near here that a deadly combat took place in 1627 between William Henderson, known as “Rattling Roaring Willie,” and Robert Rule, another Border minstrel, in which, according to an old ballad, Willie slew his opponent, for—­

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  Rob Roole, he handled rude. 
  And Willie left Newmill’s banks
  Red-wat wi’ Robin’s blude.

[Illustration:  HENRY SCOTT RIDDELL.]

At Teviothead our road parted company with the River Teviot, which forked away to the right, its source being only about six miles farther up the hills from that point.  In the churchyard at Teviothead, Henry Scott Riddell, the author of Scotland Yet, had only recently been buried.  Near here also was Caerlanrig, where the murder of Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, a very powerful chief who levied blackmail along the Border from Esk to Tyne, or practically the whole length of Hadrian’s Wall, took place in 1530.  Johnnie was a notorious freebooter and Border raider, no one daring to go his way for fear of Johnnie or his followers.  But of him more anon.

The distance from Caerlanrig, where Armstrong was executed, to Gilnockie Tower, where he resided, was about seventeen miles, and we had to follow, though in the opposite direction and a better surfaced road, the same lonely and romantic track that he traversed on that occasion.  It formed a pass between the hills, and for the first seven miles the elevations in feet above sea-level on each side of the road were: 

   To our right:—­1193. 1286. 1687. 1950. 1714. 1317. 1446.  To our
   left:—­1156. 1595. 1620. 1761. 1741. 1242. 1209.

The distance between the summits as the crow flies was only about a mile, while the road maintained an altitude above the sea of from five to eight hundred feet, so that we had a most lonely walk of about thirteen miles before we reached Langholm.  The road was a good one, and we were in no danger of missing our way, hemmed in as it was on either side by the hills, which, although treeless, were covered with grass apparently right away to their tops, a novelty to us after the bare and rocky hills we had passed elsewhere.  We quite enjoyed our walk, and as we watched the daylight gradually fade away before the approaching shadows of the night, we realised that we were passing through the wildest solitudes.  We did not meet one human being until we reached Langholm, and the only habitation we noted before reaching a small village just outside that town was the “Halfway House” between Hawick and Langholm, known in stage-coach days as the “Mosspaul Inn.”  It was a large house near the entrance to a small glen, but apparently now closed, for we could not see a solitary light nor hear the sound of a human voice.

How different it must have appeared when the stage-coaches were passing up and down that valley, now deserted, for even the railway, which supplanted them, had passed it by on the other side!  In imagination we could hear the sound of the horn, echoing in the mountains, heralding the approach of the stage-coach, with its great lamp in front, and could see a light in almost every window in the hotel.  We could picture mine host and his wife standing at the open door ready to receive their visitors, expectant guests assembled behind them in the hall and expectant servants both indoors and out; then staying for the night, refreshing ourselves with the good things provided for supper, and afterwards relating our adventures to a friendly and appreciative audience, finally sinking our weary limbs in the good old-fashioned feather-beds!

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But these visions passed away almost as quickly as they appeared, so we left the dark and dreary mansion whose glory had departed, and marched on our way, expecting to find at Langholm that which we so badly needed—­food and rest.

The old inn at Mosspaul, where the stage-coaches stopped to change horses, was built at the junction of the counties of Dumfries and Roxburgh, and was very extensive with accommodation for many horses, but fell to ruin after the stage-coaches ceased running.  Many notable visitors had patronised it, among others Dorothy Wordsworth, who visited it with her brother the poet in September 1803, and described it in the following graphic terms: 

The scene, with this single dwelling, was melancholy and wild, but not dreary, though there was no tree nor shrub:  the small streamlet glittered, the hills were populous with sheep, but the gentle bending of the valley, and the correspondent softness in the forms of the hills were of themselves enough to delight the eye.

A good story is told of one of the Armstrongs and the inn: 

Once when Lord Kames went for the first time on the Circuit as Advocate-depute, Armstrong of Sorbie inquired of Lord Minto in a whisper “What long black, dour-looking Chiel” that was that they had broc’ht with them?

“That,” said his lordship, “is a man come to hang a’ the Armstrongs.”

“Then,” was the dry retort, “it’s time the Elliots were ridin’."[Footnote:  Elliot was the family name of Lord Minto.]

The effusions of one of the local poets whose district we had passed through had raised our expectations in the following lines: 

  There’s a wee toon on the Borders
    That my heart sair langs to see,
  Where in youthful days I wander’d,
    Knowing every bank and brae;
  O’er the hills and through the valleys,
    Thro’ the woodlands wild and free,
  Thro’ the narrow straits and loanings,
    There my heart sair langs to be.


There was also an old saying, “Out of the world and into Langholm,” which seemed very applicable to ourselves, for after a walk of thirty-two and a half miles through a lonely and hilly country, without a solitary house of call for twenty-three, our hungry and weary condition may be imagined when we entered Langholm just on the stroke of eleven o’clock at night.

We went to the Temperance Hotel, but were informed they were full.  We called at the other four inns with the same result.  Next we appealed to the solitary police officer, who told us curtly that the inns closed at eleven and the lodgings at ten, and marched away without another word.  The disappointment and feeling of agony at having to walk farther cannot be described, but there was no help for it, so we shook the dust, or mud, off our feet and turned dejectedly along the Carlisle road.

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Just at the end of the town we met a gentleman wearing a top-hat and a frock-coat, so we appealed to him.  The hour was too late to find us lodgings, but he said, if we wished to do so, we could shelter in his distillery, which we should come to a little farther on our way.  His men would all be in bed, but there was one door that was unlocked and we should find some of the rooms very warm.  We thanked him for his kindness and found the door, as he had described, opening into a dark room.  We had never been in a distillery before, so we were naturally rather nervous, and as we could not see a yard before us, we lighted one of our candles.  We were about to go in search of one of the warmer rooms when the thought occurred to us that our light might attract the attention of some outsider, and in the absence of any written authority from the owner might cause us temporary trouble, while to explore the distillery without a light was out of the question, for we might fall through some trap-door or into a vat, besides which, we could hear a great rush of water in the rear of the premises, so we decided to stay where we were.

The book we had obtained at Hawick contained the following description of the Langholm “Common Riding,” which was held each year on July 17th when the people gathered together to feast on barley bannock and red herring, of course washed down with plenteous supplies of the indispensable whisky.  The Riding began with the following proclamation in the marketplace, given by a man standing upright on horseback, in the presence of thousands of people: 

   Gentlemen,—­The first thing that I am going to acquaint you with are
   the names of the Portioners’ Grounds of Langholm:—­

  Now, Gentlemen, we’re gan’ frae the Toun,
  An’ first of a’ the Kil Green we gang roun’,
  It is an ancient place where Clay is got,
  And it belangs to us by Right and Lot,
  And then frae here the Lang-Wood we gang throu’
  Where every ane may breckons out an’ pu’,
  An’ last of a’ oor Marches they be clear,
  An’ when unto the Castle Craigs we come,
  I’ll cry the Langholm Fair and then we’ll beat the drum.

Now, Gentlemen.  What you have heard this day concerning going round our Marches, it is expected that every one who has occasion for Peats, Breckons, Flacks, Stanes, or Clay, will go out in defence of their Property, and they shall hear the Proclamation of the Langholm Fair upon the Castle Craigs.

  Now, Gentlemen, we have gane roun our hill,
  So now I think it’s right we had oor fill
  Of guid strang punch—­’twould make us a’ to sing. 
  Because this day we have dune a guid thing;
  For gangin’ roun’ oor hill we think nae shame,
  Because frae it oor peats and flacks come hame;
  So now I will conclude and say nae mair. 
  An’ if ye’re pleased I’ll cry the Langholm Fair. 
  Hoys, yes! that’s ae time!  Hoys, yes! that’s twae times!! 
  Hoys, yes! that’s the third and the last time!!!

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   This is to Give Notice,

That there is a muckle Fair to be hadden in the muckle Toun o’ the Langholm, on the 15th day of July, auld style, upon his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch’s Merk Land, for the space of eight days and upwards; and a’ land-loupers, and dub-scoupers, and gae-by-the-gate-swingers, that come here to breed hurdums or durdums, huliments or buliments, haggle-ments or braggle-ments, or to molest this public Fair, they shall be ta’en by order of the Bailie and Toun Council, and their lugs be nailed to the Tron wi’ a twal-penny nail, and they shall sit doun on their bare knees and pray seven times for the King, and thrice for the Mickle Laird o’ Ralton, and pay a groat to me, Jemmy Ferguson, Bailie o’ the aforesaid Manor, and I’ll awa’ hame and ha’e a bannock and a saut herrin’.



The monument on the top of Whita Hill was erected in memory of one of the famous four Knights of Langholm, the sons of Malcolm of Burn Foot, whose Christian names were James, Pulteney, John, and Charles, all of whom became distinguished men.  Sir James was made a K.C.B, and a Colonel in the Royal Marines.  He served on board the Canopus at the Battle of San Domingo, taking a prominent part in the American War of 1812.  He died at Milnholm, near Langholm, at the age of eighty-two.  Pulteney Malcolm rose to the rank of Admiral and served under Lord Nelson, but as his ship was refitting at Gibraltar he missed taking part in the Battle of Trafalgar, though he arrived just in time to capture the Spanish 120-gun ship El Kago.  He became intimately acquainted with Napoleon Bonaparte, as he had the command of the British worships that guarded him during his captivity at St. Helena.  Sir John Malcolm was a distinguished Indian statesman, and it was to him that the monument on Whita Hill had been erected.  The monument, which was visible for many miles, was 100 feet high, and the hill itself 1,162 feet above sea-level.  Sir Charles Malcolm, the youngest of the four brothers, after seeing much active service, rose to be Vice-Admiral of the Fleet.

[Illustration:  GILNOCKIE TOWER]

If the great fair-day had been on when we reached Langholm we should not have been surprised at being unable to find lodgings, but as it was we could only attribute our failure to arriving at that town so late in the evening, nearly an hour after the authorised closing time of the inns.  We found we could not stay very long in the distillery without a fire, for a sharp frost had now developed, and we began to feel the effect of the lower temperature; we therefore decided, after a short rest, to continue our walk on the Carlisle road.  Turning over the bridge that crossed the rapidly running stream of the River Esk—­the cause of the rush of water we heard in the distillery—­we followed the river on its downward course for some miles.  It was

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a splendid starlight, frosty night, but, as we were very tired and hungry, we could only proceed slowly—­in fact scarcely quickly enough to maintain our circulation.  Being also very sleepy, we had to do something desperate to keep ourselves awake, so we amused ourselves by knocking with our heavy oaken sticks at the doors or window-shutters of the houses we passed on our way.  It was a mild revenge we took for the town’s inhospitality, and we pictured to ourselves how the story of two highwaymen being about the roads during the midnight hours would be circulated along the countryside during the following day, but we could not get any one to come beyond the keyhole of the door or the panes of the shuttered windows.  We were, however, becoming quite desperate, as we were now nearly famished, and, when we came to a small shop, the sounds from our sticks on the door quickly aroused the mistress, who asked us what we wanted.  My brother entered into his usual explanation that we were pedestrian tourists on a walking expedition, and offered her a substantial sum for some bread or something to eat; but it was of no use, as the only answer we got was, “I ha’ not a bit till th’ baker coomes ith’ morn’.”

This reply, and the tone of voice in which it was spoken, for the woman “snaffled,” was too much for us, and, tired as we were, we both roared with laughter; absurd though it may seem, it was astonishing how this little incident cheered us on our way.

It was a lovely country through which we were travelling, and our road, as well as the river alongside, was in many places overhung by the foliage of the fine trees, through which the brilliant lustre of the stars appeared overhead; in fact we heard afterwards that this length of road was said to include the finest landscapes along the whole of the stage-coach road between London and Edinburgh.  The bridge by which we recrossed the river had been partially built with stones from the ruins of Gilnockie Tower, once the stronghold of the famous freebooter Johnnie Armstrong, of whom we had heard higher up the country.

[Illustration:  COCKBURN’S GRAVE.]

Sir Walter Scott tells us that King James V resolved to take very serious measures against the Border Warriors, and under pretence of coming to hunt the deer in those desolate regions he assembled an army, and suddenly appeared at the Castle of Piers Cockburn of Henderland, near where we had been further north.  He ordered that baron to be seized and executed in spite of the fact that he was preparing a great feast of welcome.  Adam Scott of Tushielaw, known as the King of the Border, met with the same fate, but an event of greater importance was the fate of John Armstrong.  This free-booting chief had risen to such consequence, that the whole neighbouring district of England paid him “black-mail,” a sort of regular tribute in consideration of which he forbore to plunder them.  He had a high idea of his own importance, and seems to have been unconscious

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of having merited any severe usage at the king’s hands.  On the contrary, he went to meet his sovereign at Carlingrigg Chapel, richly dressed, and having twenty-four gentlemen, his constant retinue, as well attired as himself.  The king, incensed to see a freebooter so gentlemanly equipped, commanded him instantly to be led to execution, saying, “What wants this knave save a crown to be as magnificent as a king?” John Armstrong made great offers for his life, offering to maintain himself, with forty men, to serve the king at a moment’s notice, at his own expense, engaging never to hurt or injure any Scottish subject, as indeed had never been his practice, and undertaking that there was not a man in England, of whatever degree, duke, earl, lord, or baron, but he would engage, within a short time, to present him to the king, dead or alive.  But when the king would listen to none of his oilers, the robber chief said very proudly, “I am but a fool to ask grace at a graceless face; but had I guessed you would have used me thus, I would have kept the Border-side in spite of the King of England and you, both, for I well know that the King Henry would give the weight of my best horse in gold to know that I am sentenced to die this day.”

John Armstrong was led to execution, with all his men, and hanged without mercy.  The people of the inland countries were glad to get rid of him; but on the Borders he was both missed and mourned, as a brave warrior, and a stout man-of-arms against England.

But to return to Gilnockie Bridge!  After crossing it we struggled on for another mile or two, and when about six miles from Langholm we reached another bridge where our road again crossed the river.  Here we stopped in mute despair, leaning against the battlements, and listening to the water in the river as it rushed under the bridge.  We must have been half asleep, when we were suddenly aroused by the sound of heavy footsteps approaching in the distance.  Whoever could it be?  I suggested one of the Border freebooters; but my brother, who could laugh when everybody else cried, said it sounded more like a free-clogger.  We listened again, and sure enough it was the clattering of a heavy pair of clogs on the partly frozen surface of the road.  We could not be mistaken, for we were too well accustomed to the sound of clogs in Lancashire; but who could be the wearer!  We had not long to wait before a man appeared, as much surprised to see us as we were to see him.  We told him of our long walk the day before, how we had been disappointed in not getting lodgings, and asked him how far we were away from an inn.  He told us we were quite near one, but it was no use going there, as “they wouldn’t get up for the Queen of England.”  He further told us he was going to the two o’clock “shift” at the colliery.  “Colliery!” my brother ejaculated; “but surely there isn’t a coal-pit in a pretty place like this?” He assured us that there was, and, seeing we were both shivering

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with cold, kindly invited us to go with him and he would put us near to a good fire that was burning there.  “How far is it?” we asked anxiously.  “Oh, only about half a mile,” said the collier.  So we went with him, and walked what seemed to be the longest half-mile we ever walked in all our lives, as we followed him along a fearfully rough road, partly on the tramlines of the Canonbie Collieries belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, where two or three hundred men were employed.

We each handed him a silver coin as he landed us in front of a large open fire which was blazing furiously near the mouth of the pit, and, bidding us “good morning,” he placed a lighted lamp in front of his cap and disappeared down the shaft to the regions below.  He was rather late owing to his having slackened his pace to our own, which was naturally slower than his, since walking along colliery sidings at night was difficult for strangers.  We had taken of our boots to warm and ease our feet, when a man emerged from the darkness and asked us to put them on again, saying we should be more comfortable in the engine-house.  If we stayed there we should be sure to catch a cold, as a result of being roasted on one side and frozen on the other.  He kindly volunteered to accompany us there, so we thankfully accepted his invitation.  We had some difficulty in following him owing to the darkness and obstructions in the way, but we reached the engine-room in safety, round the inside of which was a wooden seat, or bench, and acting upon his instructions we lay down on this to sleep, with a promise that he would waken us when he went off duty at six o’clock in the morning.  We found it more comfortable here than on the windy pit bank, for there was an even and sleepy temperature.  We were soon embosomed in the arms of nature’s great refresher, notwithstanding the occasional working of the winding engines, sleeping as soundly on those wooden benches as ever we did on the best feather-bed we patronised on our journey.

(Distance walked thirty-nine miles.)

Thursday, October 12th.

We were roused at six o’clock a.m. by the engine-driver, who had taken good care of us while we slept, and as we had had nothing to eat since our lunch at Hawick the day before, except the fruit purchased from the toll-keeper there, which we had consumed long before reaching Langholm, we were frightfully hungry.  The engine-man told us there was a shop close by the colliery gate kept by a young man, where, if he happened to be in, we should be able to get some refreshments.  He accompanied us to the place, and, after knocking loudly at the shop door, we were delighted to see the head of the shopkeeper appear through the window above.  He was evidently well known to the engineer, who told him what we wanted, and he promised to “be down directly.”

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It seemed a long time to us before the shop door was opened, and every minute appeared more like five than one; but we were soon comfortably seated in the shop, in the midst of all sorts of good things fit to eat.  We should have liked to begin to eat them immediately, but the fire had to be lit and the kettle boiled, so we assisted with these operations while the young man cut into a fresh loaf of bread, broke open a pot of plum jam, opened a tin of biscuits, and, with the addition of a large slice of cheese and four fresh eggs, we had a really good breakfast, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  He said it was a wonder we found him there, for it was very seldom he slept at the shop.  His mother lived at a farm about a mile and a half away, where he nearly always slept; that night, however, he had been sleeping with his dog, which was to run in a race that day, and he spent the night with it lest it should be tampered with.  He called the dog downstairs, and, though we knew very little about dogs, we could see it was a very fine-looking animal.  Our friend said he would not take L50 for it, a price we thought exorbitant for any dog.  When we had finished our enormous breakfast, we assisted the shopkeeper to clear the table, and as it was now his turn, we helped him to get his own breakfast ready, waiting upon him as he had waited upon us, while we conversed chiefly about colliers and dogs and our approaching visit to Gretna Green, which, as neither of us was married, was naturally our next great object of interest.


After our long walk the previous day, with very little sleep at the end of it, and the heavy breakfast we had just eaten, we felt uncommonly lazy and disinclined to walk very far that day.  So, after wishing our friend good luck at the races, we bade him good-bye, and idly retraced our steps along the colliery road until we reached the bridge where we had met the collier so early in the morning.  We had now time to admire the scenery, and regretted having passed through that beautiful part of the country during our weary tramp in the dark, and that we had missed so much of it, including the Border Towers on the River Esk.

Riddel Water, with its fine scenery, was on our left as we came from the colliery, where it formed the boundary between Scotland and England, emptying itself into the River Esk about two miles from Canonbie Bridge, which we now crossed, and soon arrived at the “Cross Keys Inn,” of which we had heard but failed to reach the previous night.  The landlord of the inn, who was standing at the door, was formerly the driver of the Royal Mail Stagecoach “Engineer” which ran daily between Hawick and Carlisle on the Edinburgh to London main road.  A good-looking and healthy man of over fifty years of age, his real name was Elder, but he was popularly known as Mr. Sandy or Sandy Elder.  The coach, the last stage-coach that ever ran on that road, was drawn in ordinary weather by three horses, which were changed every seven or eight miles, the “Cross Keys” at Canonbie being one of the stopping-places.

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[Illustration:  “CROSS KEYS INN.”]

Mr. Elder had many tales to tell of stage-coach days; one adventure, however, seemed more prominent in his thoughts than the others.  It happened many years ago, when on one cold day the passengers had, with the solitary exception of one woman, who was sitting on the back seat of the coach, gone into the “Cross Keys Inn” for refreshments while the horses were being changed.  The fresh set of horses had been put in, and the stablemen had gone to the hotel to say all was ready, when, without a minute’s warning, the fresh horses started off at full gallop along the turnpike road towards Carlisle.  Great was the consternation at the inn, and Sandy immediately saddled a horse and rode after them at full speed.  Meantime the woman, who Mr. Sandy said must have been as brave a woman as ever lived, crawled over the luggage on the top of the coach and on to the footboard in front.  Kneeling down while holding on with one hand, she stretched the other to the horses’ backs and secured the reins, which had slipped down and were urging the horses forward.  By this time the runaway horses had nearly covered the two miles between the inn and the tollgates, which were standing open, as the mail coach was expected, whose progress nothing must delay.  Fortunately the keeper of the first gate was on the look-out, and he was horrified when he saw the horses coming at their usual great speed without Sandy the driver; he immediately closed the gate, and, with the aid of the brave woman, who had recovered the reins, the horses were brought to a dead stop at the gate, Mr. Sandy arriving a few minutes afterwards.  The last run of this coach was in 1862, about nine years before our visit, and there was rather a pathetic scene on that occasion.  We afterwards obtained from one of Mr. Elder’s ten children a cutting from an old newspaper she had carefully preserved, a copy of which is as follows: 

Mr. Elder, the Landlord of the “Cross Keys Hotel,” was the last of the Border Royal Mail Coach Drivers and was familiarly known as “Sandy,” and for ten years was known as the driver of the coach between Hawick and Carlisle.  When the railway started and gave the death-blow to his calling, he left the seat of the stage coach, and invested his savings in the cosy hostelry of the road-side type immortalised by Scott in his “Young Lochinvar.”  He told of the time when he did duty on the stage coach for Dukes, Earls, and Lords, and aided run-a-way couples to reach the “blacksmith” at Gretna Green.  He told of the days when he manipulated the ribbons from the box of the famous coach “Engineer” when he dashed along with foaming horses as if the fate of a nation depended upon his reaching his stage at a given time.  He could remember Mosspaul Inn at the zenith of its fame under the reigning sovereign Mr. Gownlock—­whose tact and management made his Hotel famous.  He had frequently to carry large sums of money from the Border banks

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and although these were the days of footpads and highwaymen, and coaches were “held up” in other parts, Sandy’s Coach was never molested, although he had been blocked with his four-in-hand in the snow.  He gave a graphic description of the running of the last mail coach from Hawick to Merrie Carlisle in 1862.  Willie Crozier the noted driver was mounted on the box, and the horses were all decked out for the occasion.  Jemmie Ferguson the old strapper, whose occupation like that of Othello’s was all gone, saw it start with a heavy heart, and crowds turned out to bid it good-bye.  When the valleys rang with the cheery notes of the well-blown horn, and the rumbling sound of the wheels and the clattering hoofs of the horses echoed along the way, rich and poor everywhere came to view the end of a system which had so long kept them in touch with civilisation.  The “Engineer” guards and drivers with scarlet coats, white hats, and overflowing boots, and all the coaching paraphernalia so minutely described by Dickens, then passed away, and the solitary remnant of these good old times was “Sandy” Elder the old Landlord of the “Cross Keys” on Canonbie Lea.

Soon after leaving the “Cross Keys” we came to a wood where we saw a “Warning to Trespassers” headed “Dangerous,” followed by the words “Beware of fox-traps and spears in these plantations.”  This, we supposed, was intended for the colliers, for in some districts they were noted as expert poachers.  Soon afterwards we reached what was called the Scotch Dyke, the name given to a mound of earth, or “dyke,” as it was called locally, some four miles long and erected in the year 1552 between the rivers Esk and Sark to mark the boundary between England and Scotland.  We expected to find a range of hills or some substantial monument or noble ruin to mark the boundary between the two countries, and were rather disappointed to find only an ordinary dry dyke and a plantation, while a solitary milestone informed us that it was eighty-one and a half miles to Edinburgh.  We were now between the two tollbars, one in Scotland and the other in England, with a space of only about fifty yards between them, and as we crossed the centre we gave three tremendous cheers which brought out the whole population of the two tollhouses to see what was the matter.  We felt very silly, and wondered why we had done so, since we had spent five weeks in Scotland and had nothing but praise both for the inhabitants and the scenery.  It was exactly 9.50 a.m. when we crossed the boundary, and my brother on reflection recovered his self-respect and said he was sure we could have got absolution from Sir Walter Scott for making all that noise, for had he not written: 

  Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
  Who never to himself hath said,
    This is my own, my native land! 
  Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
  As home his footsteps he hath turn’d.

[Illustration:  NETHERBY HALL.]

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As the morning was beautifully fine, we soon forsook the highway and walked along the grassy banks of the Esk, a charming river whose waters appeared at this point as if they were running up hill.  We were very idle, and stayed to wash our feet in its crystal waters, dressing them with common soap, which we had always found very beneficial as a salve.  We sauntered past Kirkandrew’s Tower; across the river was the mansion of Netherby, the home of the Graham family, with its beautiful surroundings, immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his “Young Lochinvar,” who came out of the West, and—­

  One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
  When they reached the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
  So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
  So light to the saddle before her he spran! 
  “She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
  They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

  There was mounting ’mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
  Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran: 
  There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
  But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see. 
  So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
  Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?

We were far more inclined to think and talk than to walk, and as we sat on the peaceful banks of the river we thought what a blessing it was that those Border wars were banished for ever, for they appeared to have been practically continuous from the time of the Romans down to the end of the sixteenth century, when the two countries were united under one king, and we thought of that verse so often quoted: 

  The Nations in the present day
    Preserve the good old plan,
  That all shall take who have the power
    And all shall keep who can.

We were not far from the narrowest point of the kingdom from east to west, or from one sea to the other, where the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, built his boundary wall; but since that time, if we may credit the words of another poet who described the warriors and their origin, other nationalities have waged war on the Borders—­

  From the worst scoundrel race that ever lived
  A horrid crowd of rambling thieves and drones,
  Who ransacked Kingdoms and dispeopled towns,
  The Pict, the painted Briton, treacherous Scot
  By hunger, theft, and rapine, hither brought
  Norwegian Pirates—­buccaneering Danes,
  Whose red-haired offspring everywhere remains;
  Who, joined with Norman French, compound the breed,
  From whence you time-born Bordermen proceed.

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How long we should have loitered on the bank of the river if the pangs of hunger had not again made themselves felt we could not say, but we resolved at last to walk to Longtown for some refreshments, and arrived there by noon, determined to make amends for our shortcomings after lunch, for, incredible though it seemed, we had only walked six miles!  But we landed in a little cosy temperance house, one of those places where comfort prevailed to a much greater extent than in many more brilliant establishments.  It was kept by one Forster, a gentleman of distinction, possessing a remarkable temperament and following numerous avocations.  He informed us he was the parish clerk, and that the Lord Bishop was holding a Confirmation Service in the church at 3 p.m.  We had intended only to stay for lunch and then resume our journey, but the mention of a much less important person than the Lord Bishop would have made us stay until tea-time, and travel on afterwards, so we decided to remain for the service.  Punctually at three o’clock, escorted by the son of our landlord, we entered the Arthuret Church, the Parish Church of Longtown, about half a mile away from the town.  It was built in 1609 and dedicated to St. Michael, but had recently been restored and a handsome stained-glass window placed at the east end in memory of the late Sir James Graham, whose burial-place we observed marked by a plain stone slab as we entered the churchyard.  In consequence of a domestic bereavement the organist was absent, and as he had forgotten to leave the key the harmonium was useless.  Our friend the parish clerk, however, was quite equal to the occasion, for as the Psalm commencing “All people that on earth do dwell” was given out, he stepped out into the aisle and led off with the good old tune the “Old Hundredth,” so admirably adapted for congregational use, and afterwards followed with the hymn beginning “Before Jehovah’s awful throne,” completing the choral part of the service to the tune of “Duke Street”; we often wondered where that street was, and who the duke was that it was named after.  Our admiration of the parish clerk increased when we found he could start the singing of Psalms and on the correct note in the presence of a Lord Bishop, and we contemplated what might have been the result had he started the singing in a higher or a lower key.  We rejoiced that the responsibility rested upon him and not on ourselves.  The Candidates for Confirmation were now requested to stand while the remainder of the congregation remained seated.  The Bishop, Dr. Goodwin, delivered a homely, solemn, and impressive address.  His lordship did not take any text, but spoke extempore, and we were well pleased with his address, so appropriate was it to the occasion; the language was easy and suited to the capacities of those for whom the service was specially held.  As sympathisers with the temperance movement we thoroughly coincided with the Bishop’s observations when he affectionately

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warned his hearers against evil habits, amongst which he catalogued that of indulgence in intoxicating drinks, and warned the young men not to frequent public-houses, however much they might be ridiculed or thought mean for not doing so.  The candidates came from three parishes, the girls dressed very plainly and as usual outnumbering the boys.  The general congregation was numerically small, and we were surprised that there was no collection!  Service over, we returned to our lodgings for tea, intending to resume our walk immediately afterwards.  We were so comfortable, however, and the experiences of the previous day and night so fresh in our minds, and bodies, that we decided to rest our still weary limbs here for the night, even though we had that day only walked six miles, the shortest walk in all our journey.

[Illustration:  KIRKANDREWS CHURCH.]

Our host, Mr. Forster, was moreover a very entertaining and remarkable man.  He had been parish clerk for many years, a Freemason for upwards of thirty years, letter-carrier or postman for fourteen years, and recently he and his wife had joined the Good Templars!  He had many interesting stories of the runaway marriages at Gretna Green, a piece of Borderland neither in Scotland nor England, and he claimed to have suggested the Act of Parliament brought in by Lord Brougham to abolish these so-called “Scotch” marriages by a clause which required twenty-one days’ residence before the marriage could be solemnised, so that although the Act was called Lord Brougham’s Act, he said it was really his.  Its effects were clearly demonstrated in a letter he had written, which appeared in the Registrar-General’s Report, of which he showed us a copy, stating that while in the year 1856, the year of the passing of Lord Brougham’s Act, there were 757 marriages celebrated in the district of Gretna Green, thirty-nine entered as taking place in one day, November 8th, in the following year there were only thirty and in the next forty-one, showing conclusively that the Act had been effectual.  We could have listened longer to our host’s stories, but we had to rise early next morning to make up for our loss of mileage, and retired early to make up for our loss of sleep on the previous night.

(Distance walked six miles.)

Friday, October 13th.

We left Longtown at 7.30 a.m. by the long and wide thoroughfare which gives rise to its name, and followed the Carlisle road until we turned to the right for Gretna Green.  Our road lay between Solway Moss and the River Esk, to both of which some historic events were attached.  Solway Moss is about seven miles in circumference, and is covered with grass and rushes, but it shakes under the least pressure, and will swallow up nearly anything.  In 1776, after heavy rains, it burst, and, as in Ireland, streams of black peaty mud began to creep over the plain and to overwhelm the houses.  It was the scene of a battle fought on November 24th, 1542, when the English

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Army under Sir Thomas Wharton defeated a Scottish Army of 10,000 men, who were either killed, drowned, or taken prisoners.  One of the unfortunates was unearthed in later times by peat-diggers, a man on his horse, who had sunk in the bog.  The skeletons were well preserved, and the different parts of the armour easily recognisable.  The disastrous result of this battle so affected James V, King of Scotland, that he is said to have died of a broken heart.  Personally, we thought he deserved a greater punishment for the murder of Johnnie Armstrong and his followers twelve years before this event, for Armstrong was just the man who could and would have protected the Borders.

The River Esk was associated with Prince Charlie, who, with his soldiers, had to cross it when retreating before the army of the Duke of Cumberland.  It was a difficult operation to carry out, as the usually shallow ford had been converted by the melting snow into a swift-flowing current four feet deep.  The cavalry were drawn up in two lines across the stream, one to break the current and the other to prevent any of the foot-soldiers being washed away as they crossed the river between the two lines of cavalry.  Lower down the river still were Prince Charlie and his officers, who were better mounted than the others.  The foot-soldiers walked arm-in-arm, with their heads barely above the water, making the space between the cavalry lines to look as if it were set with paving-stones.  One poor soldier lost his hold on his comrade and was washed down the river, and would certainly have been drowned had not the Prince seized him by the hair, and, shouting in Gaelic for help, held on until both of them were rescued.  After being hunted in the Highland glens for months with a ransom of L30,000 placed on his head—­not a Celt betraying his whereabouts—­by the help of Flora Macdonald Prince Charlie escaped to Brittany, and finally died at Rome in the arms of the Master of Nairn in 1788.  In 1794 the Beds of Esk, a large sandbank where the tide meets the stream, presented an unusual spectacle, and a striking tribute to the dangerous character of the river especially when in flood.  Collected together on the beach were a varied assortment of animals and human beings, consisting of no less than 9 black cattle, 3 horses, 1,040 sheep, 45 dogs, 180 hares, many smaller animals, and 3 human beings, all of whom had been cut off by the rapidly advancing tide.

Many other events have happened in this neighbourhood, one of the most sensational perhaps being the death of King Edward I, “The Hammer of the Scots,” also nicknamed “Longshanks,” from the length of his lower limbs, who died in 1307 on these marshes, requesting his effeminate son, the Prince of Wales, as he bade him farewell, not to bury his body until the Scots were utterly subdued, but this wish was prevented by the defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn.

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We passed by some large peat-fields, and, crossing the River Sark, were once more in Scotland, notwithstanding the fact that we had so recently given three cheers as we passed out of it.  We traversed the length of Springfield, a stone-built village of whitewashed, one-storied cottages, in which we could see handloom weavers at work, nearly fifty of them being employed in that industry.  Formerly, we were told, the villagers carried on an illicit commerce in whisky and salt, on which there were heavy duties in England, but none on whisky in Scotland.  The position here being so close to the borders, it was a very favourable one for smuggling both these articles into England, and we heard various exciting stories of the means they devised for eluding the vigilance of the excise officers.  As we passed through the neighbourhood at a quick rate, the villagers turned out to have a look at us, evidently thinking something important was going on.

We saw many workers in the fields, who called out to us hinting about the nature of our journey, as we travelled towards Gretna Green.  Some of the women went so far as to ask us if we wanted any company.  The most conspicuous objects in the village were the church and the remarkably high gravestones standing like sentinels in the churchyard.  Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived here on the afternoon of his birthday in 1745, stabling his horse in the church, while the vicar fled from what he described in the church book as “the Rebels.”  A small cottage—­said to be the oldest in Gretna—­is shown in which Prince Charlie slept.  The village green appeared to us as if it had been fenced in and made into a garden, and a lady pointed out an ancient-looking building, which she said was the hall where the original “Blacksmith” who married the runaway couples resided, but which was now occupied by a gentleman from Edinburgh.  She explained the ceremony as being a very simple one, and performed expeditiously:  often in the road, almost in sight of the pursuers of the runaway pair.  All sorts and conditions of men and women were united there, some of them from far-off lands, black people amongst the rest, and she added with a sigh, “There’s been many an unhappy job here,” which we quite believed.  There were other people beside the gentleman at the hall who made great profit by marrying people, both at Springfield and Gretna, and a list of operators, dated from the year 1720, included a soldier, shoemaker, weaver, poacher, innkeeper, toll-keeper, fisherman, pedlar, and other tradesmen.  But the only blacksmith who acted in that capacity was a man named Joe Paisley, who died in 1811 aged seventy-nine years.  His motto was, “Strike while the iron’s hot,” and he boasted that he could weld the parties together as firmly as he could one piece of iron to another.

[Illustration:  JOSEPH PAISLEY, The Celebrated Gretna-Green Parson Dec’d January 9, 1811, aged 79.  The first great “priest” of Gretna Green.]

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Joe was a man of prodigious strength; he could bend a strong iron poker over his arm, and had frequently straightened an ordinary horse-shoe in its cold state with his hands.  He could also squeeze the blood from the finger ends of any one who incurred his anger.  He was an habitual drunkard, his greatest boast being that he had once been “teetotal” for a whole forenoon.  When he died he was an overgrown mass of superfluous fat, weighing at least twenty-five stone.  He was said to have earned quite a thousand pounds per year by his encroachments into the province of the cleric, and when on his deathbed he heard three carriages arrive, he consented to marry the three wealthy couples they contained, and found himself two or three hundred pounds richer than before.  He also boasted that the marriage business had been in his family for quite one hundred years, and that his uncle, the old soldier Gordon, used to marry couples in the full uniform of his regiment, the British Grenadiers.  He gave a form of certificate that the persons had declared themselves to be single, that they were married by the form of the Kirk of Scotland, and agreeably to that of the Church of England.

[Illustration:  GRETNA GREEN.]

One of the most celebrated elopements to Gretna was that of the Earl of Westmorland and Miss Child, the daughter of the great London banker.  The earl had asked for the hand of Sarah, and had been refused, the banker remarking, “Your blood is good enough, but my money is better,” so the two young people made it up to elope and get married at Gretna Green.  The earl made arrangements beforehand at the different stages where they had to change horses, but the banker, finding that his daughter had gone, pursued them in hot haste.  All went well with the runaway couple until they arrived at Shap, in Westmorland, where they became aware they were being pursued.  Here the earl hired all the available horses, so as to delay the irate banker’s progress.  The banker’s “money was good,” however, and the runaways were overtaken between Penrith and Carlisle.  Hero the earl’s “blood was good,” for, taking deliberate aim at the little star of white on the forehead of the banker’s leading horse, he fired successfully, and so delayed the pursuit that the fugitives arrived at Gretna first; and when the bride’s father drove up, purple with rage and almost choking from sheer exasperation, he found them safely locked in what was called the bridal chamber!  The affair created a great sensation in London, where the parties were well known, heavy bets being made as to which party would win the race.  At the close of the market it stood at two to one on the earl and the girl.

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In those days “postboys” were employed to drive the runaways from the hotels at Carlisle to Gretna, one of the most noted of whom was Jock Ainslie, on the staff of the “Bush Inn” at Carlisle.  On one occasion he was commissioned to drive a runaway couple, who had just arrived by the coach from London, to Gretna, but when they got as far as Longtown they insisted they were tired and must stay for dinner before going forward, so they sent Jock back.  He returned to Carlisle rather reluctantly, advising the runaways to lose no time.  But when he got back to the “Bush Inn” he saw the mother of the lady whom he had left at Longtown drive up to the hotel door accompanied by a Bow Street officer.  While they were changing horses, Jock went to the stable, saddled a horse, rode off to Longtown, and told his patrons what he had seen.  They immediately hurried into a chaise, but had not gone far before they heard the carriage wheels of their pursuers.  Jock Ainslie was quite equal to the occasion, and drove the chaise behind a thick bush, whence the pair had the satisfaction of seeing “Mamma” hurry past at full speed in pursuit.  While she was continuing her search on the Annan Road, Jock quietly drove into Springfield and had his patrons “hitched up” without further delay, and doubtless was well rewarded for his services.

[Illustration:  WILLIE LANG The last of the “Lang” line of priests.]

It seemed a strange thing that Lord Brougham, who brought in the famous Act, should himself have taken advantage of a “Scotch” marriage, and that two other Lord Chancellors, both celebrated men, should have acted in the same manner; Lord Eldon, the originator of the proverb—­

  New brooms sweep clean,

was married at Gretna, and Lord Erskine at Springfield.  Marriage in this part of Scotland had not the same religious significance as elsewhere, being looked upon as more in the nature of a civil contract than a religious ceremony.  The form of marriage was almost entirely a secular matter, and if a man and woman made a declaration before two witnesses that they were single persons and had resided twenty-one days in Scotland, they were considered as being man and wife.  At the point where the Black Esk and White Esk Rivers join, a remarkable custom called “Handfasting” prevailed hundreds of years ago.  Here, at a place known as Handfasting Hough, young men and women assembled in great numbers and made matrimonial engagements by joining hands.  The marriage was only binding for one year, but if both parties were then satisfied, the “handfasting” was continued for life.  King Robert II of Scotland, it was said, was one of those who was “hand-fasted” there.

[Illustration:  (Facsimile of Lord Erskine’s signature.)]

[Illustration:  SPRINGFIELD TOLL.]

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We now left Gretna, still single, for Carlisle, nine and a half miles away, the distance to Glasgow in the opposite direction being eighty-five miles.  We recrossed the River Sark, the boundary here between Scotland and England, the famous tollbar through which eloping couples had to hurry before they could reach Gretna Green.  In those days gangs of men were ever on the watch to levy blackmail both on the pursued and their pursuers, and the heaviest purse generally won when the race was a close one.  We saw a new hotel on the English side of the river which had been built by a Mr. Murray specially for the accommodation of the runaways while the “Blacksmith” was sent for to join them together on the other side of the boundary, but it had only just been finished when Lord Brougham’s Act rendered it practically useless, and made it a bad speculation for Mr. Murray.  Passing through the tollgate we overtook a man with half a dozen fine greyhounds, in which, after our conversation with the owner of the racing dog at Canonbie Collieries, we had become quite interested; and we listened to his description of each as if we were the most ardent dog-fanciers on the road.  One of the dogs had taken a first prize at Lytham and another a second at Stranraer.  We passed through a country where there were immense beds of peat, hurrying through Todhilis without even calling at the “Highland Laddie” or the “Jovial Butcher” at Kingstown, and we crossed the River Eden as we entered the Border city of Carlisle, sometimes called “Merrie Carlisle,” or, as the Romans had it, Lugovalum.

An elderly gentleman whom we overtook, and of whom we inquired concerning the objects of interest to be seen, appeared to take more interest in business matters than in those of an antiquarian nature, for he told us that “Carr’s Biscuit Manufactory” with its machinery was a far finer sight than either the cathedral or the castle.  Perhaps he was right, but our thoughts were more in the direction of bygone ages, with the exception of the letters that were waiting for us at the post office, and for which we did not forget to call.  Merrie Carlisle, we were informed, was the chief residence of King Arthur, whose supposed ghostly abode and that of his famous knights, or one of them, we had passed earlier in the week.  We were now told that near Penrith, a town to the south of Carlisle, there was still to be seen a large circle surrounded by a mound of earth called “Arthur’s Round Table,” and that in the churchyard were the giants’ graves.

In the very old ballad on the “Lothely Lady” King Arthur was described as returning after a long journey to his Queen Guenevere, in a very sad mood: 

  And there came to him his cozen, Sir Gawain,
    Y’ was a courteous Knight;
  Why sigh you soe sore, Unkle Arthur, he said,
    Or who hath done thee unright?

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Arthur told him he had been taken prisoner by a fierce, gigantic chief, who had only released him and spared his life on condition that he would return and pay his ransom on New Year’s Day, the ransom being that he must tell the giant “that which all women most desire.”  When the morning of the day arrived, Arthur was in great despair, for nearly all the women he had asked had given him different answers, but he was in honour bound to give himself up; and as he rode over the moors he saw a lady dressed in scarlet, sitting between an oak and a green holly.  Glancing at her, Arthur saw the most hideous woman he had ever seen.

  Then there as shold have stood her mouth,
    Then there was sett her e’e,
  The other was in her forhead fast,
    The way that she might see. 
  Her nose was crooked, and turned outward,
    Her mouth stood foul awry;
  A worse formed lady than she was,
    Never man saw with his eye.

King Arthur rode on and pretended not to see her, but she called him back and said she could help him with his ransom.  The King answered, “If you can release me from my bond, lady, I shall be grateful, and you shall marry my nephew Gawain, with a gold ring.”  Then the lothely lady told Arthur that the thing all women desired was “to have their own way.”  The answer proved to be correct, and Arthur was released; but the “gentle Gawain” was now bound by his uncle’s promise, and the “lothely lady” came to Carlisle and was wedded in the church to Gawain.  When they were alone after the ceremony she told him she could be ugly by day and lovely by night, or vice versa, as he pleased, and for her sake, as she had to appear amongst all the fine ladies at the Court, he begged her to appear lovely by day.  Then she begged him to kiss her, which with a shudder he did, and immediately the spell cast over her by a witch-step mother was broken, and Gawain beheld a young and lovely maiden.  She was presented to Arthur and Guenevere, and was no longer a “lothely” lady.  Then the ballad goes on: 

  King Arthur beheld the lady faire,
    That was soe faire and bright;
  He thanked Christ in Trinity,
    For Sir Gawain, that gentle Knight.

King Arthur’s table was supposed to have been made round for the same reason that John o’ Groat’s was made octagonal—­to avoid jealousy amongst his followers.

[Illustration:  CARLISLE CATHEDRAL.]

We visited the cathedral, which had suffered much in the wars, but in the fine east window some very old stained glass remained, while parts of the building exhibit the massive columns and circular arches typical of the Norman architect.  Here, in the presence of King Edward I and his Parliament, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, was excommunicated by the Papal Legate for the murder of the Red Comyn in the Church of the Minorite Friars in Dumfries.  Here, too, Sir Walter Scott was married to Charlotte Carpenter

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in the presence of Jane Nicholson and John Bird on December 29th, 1797.  Sir Walter was touring in the Lake District in July of that year, and while staying at Gilsland Wells he first saw a fascinating and elegant young lady, the daughter of Jean Charpentier of Lyons, then under the charge of the Rev. John Bird, a Minor Canon of Carlisle Cathedral.  She was described, possibly by Sir Walter himself, as being rich in personal attractions, with a form fashioned as light as a fairy’s, a complexion of the clearest and finest Italian brown, and a profusion of silken tresses as black as the raven’s wing.  A humorous savant wrote the following critique on this description of the beauty of Sir Walter’s fiancee: 

   It is just possible the rascal had been reading some of the old Welsh
   stories collected in the twelfth century and known as the Mabinogion
   stories.  In one Oliven is described so—­

“More yellow was her head than the yellow of the broom, and her skin was whiter than the foam of the wave, and fairer were her hands and her fingers than the blossoms of the wood anemone amidst the sprays of the meadow fountain.  The eye of the trained hawk, the glance of the three-mewed falcon was not brighter than hers.  Her bosom was more snowed than the heart of the white swan; her cheek was redder than the reddest roses.”


Or again, both of the love-stricken swains may have dipped, into the Arabian Nights, where imagination and picture painting runs riot.

There was no doubt that Scott fell deeply in love with her, so much so that a friend whom he visited in 1797 wrote that “Scott was ‘sair’ beside himself about Miss Carpenter and that they toasted her twenty times over and raved about her until one o’clock in the morning.”  Sir Walter seemed to have acted in his courtship on the old north-country adage, “Happy is the wooing that is not long a-doing,” for he was married to her three months afterwards.  The whole details are carefully preserved in local tradition.  The River Irthing runs through Gilsland, and at the foot of the cliffs, which rise go feet above the river, were the Sulphur Wells.  Near these, on the bank of the river, was a large stone named the “Popping Stone,” where it was said that Sir Walter Scott “popped the question,” and all who can get a piece of this stone, which, by the way, is of a very hard nature, and place it under the pillow at night, will dream of their future partners.  The hotel people tell a good story of a gentleman, an entire stranger to the district, who went in company with a lady who knew the neighbourhood to see the famous stone.  After walking for some distance they were passing a stone, when the gentleman asked, “Is this the popping stone?” “No,” answered his fair companion, “but any large stone will do.”

Near the stone there was a bush called the “Kissing Bush,” where Sir Walter was said to have sealed the sweet compact when the temperature was only “two in the shade.”

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  Oh happy love! where Love like this is found! 
    Oh heartfelt raptures!  Bliss beyond compare! 
  I’ve paced much this weary mortal round,
    If Heaven a draught of Heavenly pleasure spare,
  One cordial in this melancholy vale,
    ’Tis when a youthful loving modest pair
  In other’s arms breathe out the tender tale
    Beneath the “Kissing Bush” that scents the evening gale.

[Illustration:  CARLISLE CASTLE]

John Wesley visited Carlisle and preached there on several occasions.  Rabbie Burns, too, after the publication of the first edition of his poems, visited it in 1786, patronising the “Malt Shovel Inn,” where, as he wrote, “he made a night of it.”

We paid a hurried visit to the castle on the summit of a sharp aclivity overlooking the River Eden, in whose dungeons many brave men have been incarcerated, where we saw a dripping-or dropping-stone worn smooth, it was said, by the tongues of thirsty prisoners to whom water was denied.  The dropping was incessant, and we were told a story which seems the refinement of cruelty, in which the water was allowed to drop on a prisoner’s head until it killed him.  From the castle mound we could see the country for a long distance, and there must have been a good view of the Roman wall in ancient times, as the little church of Stanwix we had passed before crossing the River Eden was built on the site of a Roman station on Hadrian’s Wall, which there crossed the river on low arches.  The wall was intended to form the boundary between England and Scotland, and extended for seventy miles, from Bowness-on-the-Solway to Wallsend-on-the-Tyne, thus crossing the kingdom at its narrowest part.

We left Carlisle at a speed of four miles per hour, and within the hour we had our first near view of the Cumberland Hills, Scawfell being the most conspicuous.  We decided to go to Maryport, however, as we heard that a great number of Roman altars had recently been discovered there.  We were now once more in England, with its old-fashioned villages, and at eleven miles from Carlisle we reached Wigton, whose streets and footpaths were paved with boulders and cobble-stones; here we stayed for refreshments.  A further eight-miles’ walk, some portion of it in the dark, brought us to Aspatria, but in the interval we had passed Brayton Hall, the residence of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bart., M.P., the leader of the Legislative Temperance Movement for the abolition of the Liquor Traffic, and who, at a later date, was said to be the wittiest member of the House of Commons.  As Chairman of the United Kingdom Alliance, that held its annual gatherings in the great Free Trade Hall in Manchester, a building capable of seating 5,000 persons, so great was his popularity that the immense building, including the large platform, was packed with people long before the proceedings were timed to begin, there being left only sufficient space for the chairman and the speakers.  The interval before the arrival of these gentlemen was whiled away by the audience in singing well-known hymns and songs, and on one occasion, when Sankey and Moody’s hymns had become popular, just as the people were singing vociferously the second line of the verse—­

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  See the mighty host advancing,
    Satan leading on!

[Illustration:  CARLISLE CASTLE]

Sir Wilfrid appeared on the platform followed by the speakers.  His ready wit seized the humour of the situation, and it is said that he was so deeply affected by this amusing incident that it took him a whole week to recover!  As a speaker he never failed to secure the attention and respect of his audience, and even of those in it who did not altogether agree with his principles.  As an advocate of the total suppression of the Liquor Traffic, on every occasion his peroration was listened to with almost breathless attention, and concluded in an earnest and impressive manner which left a never-to-be-forgotten impression upon those who heard it, the almost magic spell by which he had held the vast audience being suddenly broken, as if by an electric shock, into thunders of applause when he recited his favourite verse.  We can hear his voice still repeating the lines: 

  Slowly moves the march of ages,
    Slowly grows the forest king,
  Slowly to perfection cometh
    Every great and glorious thing!

It was 8 p.m. as we entered Aspatria, where we found lodgings for the night at Isaac Tomlinson’s.  We expected Aspatria, from its name, to have had some connection with the Romans, but it appeared to have been so called after Aspatrick, or Gospatrick, the first Lord of Allerdale, and the church was dedicated to St. Kentigern.  The Beacon Hill near the town was explored in 1799, and a vault discovered containing the skeleton of a gigantic warrior seven feet long, who had been buried with his sword, dagger, gold bracelet, horse’s bit, and other accoutrements dating from the sixth century.

We had passed a small village near our road named Bromfield, which was said to possess strong claims to have been the site of the Battle of Brunanburch, fought in the year 937, when Anlaf, King of Dublin, formed a huge confederacy with the King of the Scots, the King of Strathclyde, and Owen, King of Cumbria, against Athelstan, King of England, by whom, however, they were signally defeated; but we afterwards came to a place a long way further south which also claimed to have been the site of that famous battle.

According to the following record, however, our native county of Chester appeared to have the strongest claim to that distinction: 

It is not actually certain where the Battle of Brunanburch was fought, but it is by all historians said to have taken place in the Wirral Peninsula about the site where Bromborough is now situated.  The Battle took place in 937 A.D., and it was here that Athelstan defeated the united forces of Scotland, Cumberland, and the British and Danish Chiefs, which is recorded in the Saxon Chronicle in a great war song.  The name given in the Chronicle is Brunesburgh, but at the time of the Conquest it was called Brunburgh.
The fleet set sail from Dublin under

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the command of the Danish King Anlaf or Olaf to invade England.  He had as his father-in-law, Constantine, King of the Scots, and many Welsh Chieftains supported him.  They made good their landing but were completely routed by King Athelstan, Grandson of Alfred, as stated above.

It is more than probable that Anlaf sailing from Dublin would come over to England by the usual route to the havens opposite, near the great roadstead of the Dee estuary.

One must not forget that the sea has made great ravages upon this coast, destroying much ground between Wallasey and West Kirby, though compensating for it in some measure by depositing the material in the estuary itself in the shape of banks of mud and sand.  Nor must one overlook the existence of the old forest of Wirral, which stretched, as the old saying ran—­

  From Blacon Point to Hilbre
    Squirrels in search of food
  Might then jump straight from tree to tree. 
    So thick the forest stood!

Chester was held by the king, for the warlike daughter of Alfred, Ethelfleda, had rebuilt it as a fort after it had been lying in waste for generations, and had established another at Runcofan, or Runcorn.  It was natural, therefore, for Anlaf to avoid the waters protected by Athelstan’s fleet and seek a landing perhaps at the old Roman landing-place of Dove Point, near Hoylake, or in the inlet now carved into the Timber Float at Birkenhead.  Norse pirates had made a settlement here beforehand, as the place names, Kirby, Calby, Greasby, and Thorstaston, seem to indicate.

Bromborough would be just the spot for a strategist like Athelstan to meet the invader, trying to force a way between the forest and the marshes about Port Sunlight.  This old port at Dove Point has been washed away, though many wonderful relics of Roman and earlier times have been found there, and are safely housed in the Chester Museum.  Once again it was used for the embarking of the army under William III, when he sailed for Ireland to meet the late king, James II, in battle.

When Chester began to lose its trade through the silting up of its harbour, about the reigns of the Lancastrian kings, it became necessary to sail from lower down the estuary, Parkgate being in the best position and possessing a quay, while Dawpool was also frequently used.  But a good port was necessary, because Ireland was frequently in rebellion, and troops were usually passed over the channel from this region.

Parkgate was most prosperous in the eighteenth century, but the construction of the great Irish road through Llangollen to Holyhead, and of a good coach road from Warrington to Liverpool, and the later development of railways caused its decline, until in our time it was only known for its shrimps and as the headquarters of a small coast fleet of fishing-boats.

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It was to Dawport, or Darport, that Dean Swift usually sailed from Dublin at the beginning of the eighteenth century for his frequent visits to his brother wits, Addison and Steele.  It was strange how many common sayings of to-day were his in origin such as, “There is none so blind as they that won’t see,” and, “A penny for your thoughts.”  Like many witty people, he must needs have his little joke.  He was made Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, in 1713, and was accustomed to preach there each Sunday afternoon, and was said to have preached on the same subject on sixteen consecutive occasions.  On making his seventeenth appearance he asked the congregation if they knew what he was going to preach about.  Most of them answered “Yes,” while others replied “No.”  “Some of you say Yes,” said the Dean, “and some of you say No.  Those who know, tell those who don’t know,” and he immediately pronounced the benediction and left the pulpit!

At Chester he was accustomed to stay at the “Yacht Inn” in Watergate Street, the old street of Roman origin, which led westwards to the river beneath the River Gate.  A dean is a dean, and his dignity must be preserved in a Cathedral city.  Of a Dean of Chester of the early nineteenth century it is recounted that he would never go to service at the Cathedral except in stately dignity, within his stage coach with postillions and outriders, and would never even take his wife with him inside.  Dean Swift probably announced his arrival to his brother of Chester as one king announces his approach to another king.  But the story goes that a great cathedral function was on and no one came to welcome the great man.  Perhaps there was a little excuse, for most likely they had suffered from his tongue.  But, however much they might have suffered, they would have hurried to see him had they foreseen his revenge.  And perhaps a poor dinner had contributed to the acidity of his mind when he scratched on one of the windows the following verse: 

  Rotten without and mouldering within. 
  This place and its clergy are all near akin!

It is a far cry from the battle of Brunanburch to Dean Swift, but the thought of Anlaf took us back to Ireland, and Ireland and Chester were closely connected in trade for many centuries.

So it was with thoughts of our homeland that we retired for the night after adding another long day’s walk to our tour.

(Distance walked thirty-two and a half miles.)

Saturday, October 14th.

The long, straggling street of Aspatria was lit up with gas as we passed along it in the early morning on the road towards Maryport, and we marched through a level and rather uninteresting country, staying for slight boot repairs at a village on our way.  We found Maryport to be quite a modern looking seaport town, with some collieries in the neighbourhood.  We were told that the place had taken its name from Mary Queen of Scots; but we found this was not correct,

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as the name was given to it about the year 1756, after Mary the wife of Humphrey Senhouse, the Lord of the Manor at that period, the first house there apart from the old posting-house, having been built in the year 1748.  For centuries there had been a small fishing-village at the mouth of the river, which in the time of Edward I was named Ellenfoot, while the river itself was named the Alne, now corrupted into Ellen.  Maryport was of some importance in the time of the Romans, and their camp, about five acres in extent, still overlooked the sea.  It was probably founded by Agricola about A.D. 79, and in A.D. 120 was the station of the Roman Fleet under Marcus Menaeius Agrippa, Admiral of the Roman Fleet in British Waters, and a personal friend of Hadrian.  The Roman name of the station was probably Glanoventa, though other names have been suggested.  The North-east Gateway was more distinct than other portions of the camp, the ruts made by the chariot wheels of the Romans being still visible inside the threshold.  The Roman village in those days covered the four fields on the north-east side of the camp, and since the seventeenth century about forty Roman altars had been found, seventeen of them having been discovered in 1870, the year before our visit.  They had been carefully buried about 300 yards east of the camp, and were discovered through a plough striking against one of them.  Among them were altars to Jupiter, Mars, Virtue, Vulcan, Neptune, Belatucadrus, Eternal Rome, Gods and Goddesses, Victory, and to the Genius of the Place Fortune, Rome.  In addition there were twelve small or household altars, querns, Roman millstones, cup and ring stones, a large, so-called, serpent stone, and several sepulchral slabs, sculptures, etc.  There were also large quantities of Samian and other pottery, and articles in glass, bronze, lead, and iron, with about 140 coins, many of these remains being unique.  This wonderful discovery proved that the Romans were resident here right up to the end of their occupation of Britain, as the coins bore the names of thirty-two Roman Emperors.  The altars themselves were buried where they were found probably before A.D. 200.  It is well known that their soldiers were drafted from many other nations, and there is distinct evidence that amongst others the first cohort of Spaniards appeared to have been prominent, while the Legionary Stones were of the Second and Twentieth Legions, the latter being stationed for a long time at Chester and moved to the north of England in the latter half of the fourth century.

[Illustration:  ALTAR STONES.  “Roman remains found at Maryport, and dating probably about or before A.D. 200.”]

[Illustration:  ALTAR STONES.  “Among them were altars to Jupiter, Mars, Vulcan, household altars, and legionary stones.”]

[Illustration:  THE SERPENT STONE.]

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The Roman ships carried stores here from Deva, their station on the Dee, now known as Chester, for the use of the builders of Hadrian’s Wall, so that Maryport ought to be a happy hunting-ground for antiquaries.  After the departure of the Romans, Maryport must have been left to decay for over a thousand years, and it seemed even now to be a place that very few tourists visited.  Netherhall, where most of the antiquities were carefully stored, was originally a Peel Tower, and up to the year 1528 was the home of the Eaglesfields and the reputed birthplace of Robert Eaglesfield, the founder of Queen’s College, Oxford; it was now in possession of the Senhouse family.  There was also the Mote Hill, overlooking the river and surrounded by a deep ditch, under the protection of which the Roman galleys anchored.

A romantic legend of the period of the Roman occupation still clings to the neighbourhood, called the Legend of the Golden Coffin: 

The daughter of one of the Roman officers was loved by a young warrior from the other side of the Solway.  Their trysting-place was discovered by the girl’s father, who had a number of soldiers with him, and in spite of the entreaties of the girl, her lover was killed.  With his death the maiden had no desire to live; night after night she made her way to the fatal spot, where she was eventually found, having died of a broken heart.  The father prepared a wonderful funeral for her.  Her body was arranged in silken garments, and then placed in a golden coffin and buried in a deep grave just outside the camp, where her spirit was still supposed to haunt the place at midnight.

On the sea coast a sunken forest existed, while the shore was covered with granite boulders of many sizes and shapes, and large numbers of similar stones were ploughed up in the fields, all apparently ice-borne, and having been carried mostly from Criffel on the Scottish coast, and the following legend was told here to explain their presence on the English side of the Solway.

There once lived a giant on Criffel which was on the opposite coast of the Solway Firth, while another giant lived on Skiddaw, one of the highest mountains in Cumberland.  For a time they lived in peace and quietness, but an occasion came when they quarrelled.  Then they took up stones and hurled them at each other; but many of them fell short, and hence they are now widely scattered.


We now returned towards the hills and followed what was once a Roman road through a level country to Cockermouth, passing on our way through the colliery village of Dearham, a name meaning the “home of wild animals”; but we saw nothing wilder than a few colliers.  The church here was built in 1130, while the tower was built in the fourteenth century for defence against the Scotch marauders.  There were many old stones and crosses in the churchyard.  Cockermouth, as

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its name implies, is situated at the mouth of the River Cocker, which here joins its larger neighbour the River Derwent, and has been called the Western Gate of the Lake District.  Here also were Roman, Saxon, and Norman remains.  The castle, standing in a strong position between the two rivers, was rebuilt in the reign of Edward I, and in Edward II’s time his haughty favourite, Piers Gaveston, resided in it for a short period.  It was held for the king during the Civil War, but was left in ruins after an attack by the Parliamentarians in 1648.  The Gateway Tower displayed many coats of arms, and there was the usual dungeon, or subterranean chamber, while the habitable portion of the castle formed the residence of Lord Leconfield.  The poet, William Wordsworth, was born at Cockermouth on April 7th, 1770, about a hundred years before we visited it, and one of his itinerary poems of 1833 was an address from the Spirit of Cockermouth Castle: 

  Thou look’st upon me, and dost fondly think,
  Poet! that, stricken as both are by years,
  We, differing once so much, are now compeers,
  Prepared, when each has stood his time, to sink
  Into the dust.  Erewhile a sterner link
  United us; when thou in boyish play,
  Entered my dungeon, did’st become a prey
  To soul-appalling darkness.  Not a blink
  Of light was there; and thus did I, thy Tutor,
  Make thy young thoughts acquainted with the grave;
  While thou wert chasing the winged butterfly
  Through my green courts; or climbing, a bold suitor,
  Up to the flowers whose golden progeny
  Still round my shattered brow in beauty wave.


Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Cockermouth on the night of May 17th, 1568—­after the defeat of her army at Langside—­at the house of Henry Fletcher, a merchant, who gave her thirteen ells of rich crimson velvet to make a robe she badly needed.

[Illustration:  PORTINSCALE.]

The weather turned out wet in the afternoon, so we stayed for tea at one of the inns in the town, and noted with curiosity that the number of the inhabitants in Cockermouth was 7,700 at one census, and exactly the same number at the next, which followed ten years afterwards.  The new moon was now due, and had brought with it a change in the weather, our long spell of fine weather having given place to rain.  We did not altogether agree with our agricultural friends in Cheshire that it was the moon that changed the weather, but it would be difficult to persuade the farmers there to the contrary, since the changes in the weather almost invariably came with the phases in the moon; so, without venturing to say that the moon changed the weather or that the weather changed the moon, we will hazard the opinion that the same influences might simultaneously affect both, and the knowledge that we were approaching the most rainy district in all England warned us to prepare for the

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worst.  The scenery improved as we journeyed towards Keswick, the “City of the Lakes,” but not the weather, which continued dull and rainy, until by the time we reached the British stronghold known as Peel Wyke it was nearly dark.  Here we reached Bassenthwaite Lake, four miles long and one mile broad, and had it not been for the rain and the darkness we might have had a good view across the lake of Skiddaw Mountain, 3,054 feet above sea-level and towards the right, and of Helvellyn, a still higher mountain, rising above Derwent Water, immediately in front of us.  We had seen both of these peaks in the distance, but as the rain came on their summits became enveloped in the clouds.  We walked about three miles along the edge of Bassenthwaite Lake, passing the villages of Thornthwaite and Braithwaite, where lead and zinc were mined.  On arriving at Portinscale we crossed the bridge over the River Derwent which connects that lake (Derwent Water) with Bassenthwaite Lake through which it flows, and thence, past Cockermouth, to the sea at Workington.  Soon after leaving Portinscale we arrived at Keswick, where we were comfortably housed until Monday morning at the Skiddaw Hotel, formerly a licensed house, but since converted into a first-class temperance house by Miss Lawson, the sister of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bart., M.P.

(Distance walked twenty-eight miles.)

Sunday, October 15th.

Rain had fallen heavily during the night, but the weather cleared up a little as we wended our way to morning service at Crosthwaite Church, dedicated to St. Kentigern, a Bishop of Glasgow, in the sixth century, and doing duty, we supposed, as the parish church of Keswick.  The font there dated from the year 1390, and bore the arms of Edward III, with inscriptions on each of its eight sides which we could not decipher.  In the chancel stood an alabaster tomb and effigy of Sir John Radcliffe and his wife, ancestors of the Earl of Derwentwater.  The church also contained a monument to Southey the poet, erected at a cost of L1,100, and bearing the following epitaph written by the poet Wordsworth: 

  The vales and hills whose beauty hither drew
  The poet’s steps, and fixed him here, on you
  His eyes have closed!  And ye, lov’d books, no more
  Shall Southey feed upon your precious lore,
  To works that ne’er shall forfeit their renown. 
  Adding immortal labours of his own—­
  Whether he traced historic truth, with zeal
  For the State’s guidance, and the Church’s weal
  Or fancy, disciplined by studious art,
  Inform’d his pen, or wisdom of the heart. 
  Or judgements sanctioned in the Patriot’s mind
  By reverence for the rights of all mankind. 
  Wide were his aims, yet in no human breast
  Could private feelings meet for holier rest. 
  His joys, his griefs, have vanished like a cloud
  From Skiddaw’s top; but he to heaven was vowed. 
  Through his industrious life, and Christian faith
  Calmed in his soul the fear of change and death.

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We attended the same church in the afternoon, and both the sermons were preached by the curate, his texts being Deut. vi. 5 in the morning and Hebrews iv. 3 in the afternoon.  We were surprised to see such large congregations on a wet day, but concluded that the people were so accustomed to rain in that part of the country that they looked upon it as a matter of course.  The people of Keswick evidently had other views as regards church-going than is expressed in the following lines by an author whose name we do not remember: 

  No pelting rain can make us stay
  When we have tickets for the play;
  But let one drop the side-walk smirch. 
  And it’s too wet to go to church.

At the morning service we sat in a pew in the rear of the church, and at one point in the service when it was usual in that part of the country for the congregation to sit down, one gentleman only remained standing.  We could scarcely believe our own eyes when we recognised in this solitary figure the commanding form of Colonel Greenall of the Warrington Volunteers, a gentleman whom we know full well, for his brother was the rector of Grappenhall, our native village, where the Colonel himself formerly resided.

He was a great stickler for a due recognition of that pleasing but old-fashioned custom now fallen out of use, of the boys giving the rector, the squire, or any other prominent member of their families a respectful recognition when meeting them in the village or on their walks abroad.  On one occasion the boys had forgotten their usual obeisance when meeting some relatives of the Colonel.  He was highly indignant at this sin of omission, and took the earliest opportunity to bring the matter forcibly before his Sunday-school class, of which my brother was a member.  The Colonel spoke long and feelingly to the boys on the subject of ordering themselves lowly and reverently before all their “betters,” including governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters, and to all those who were put in authority over them, and wound up his peroration with these words, which my brother never forgot, “And now, boys, whenever you meet ME, or any of MY FAMILY, mind you always touch your HATS!”


We did not stop to speak to the Colonel, as he was at the other end of the church and passed out through another door, but we were recognised by one of his men, who told us the Colonel had only just removed to that neighbourhood.  He had liked his summer’s experiences there, but did not know how he would go on in the winter.  The Colonel and his man were the only persons we saw on the whole of our journey that we knew.

To return to our boyish experiences and to the Colonel, the subject of his Sunday-school lesson was taken from the Summary of the Ten Commandments in the Church of England Prayer Book, where they were divided into two parts, the first four relating to our duty to God, and the remaining six to our duty towards our neighbour.  It was surprising how these questions and answers learned in the days of our youth dwelt in our memories, and being Sunday, we each wrote them down from memory with the same result, and we again record them for the benefit of any of our friends who wish to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.”

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Question.—­What is thy duty towards God?

Answer.—­My duty towards God, is to believe in Him, to fear Him, and to love Him with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength; to worship Him, to give Him thanks, to put my whole trust in Him, to call upon Him, to honour His holy Name and His Word, and to serve Him truly all the days of my life.

Question.—­What is thy duty towards thy Neighbour?

Answer.—­My duty towards my Neighbour, is to love him as myself, and to do unto all men, as I would they should do unto me:  To love, honour, and succour my father and mother:  To honour and obey the Queen, and all that are put in authority under her:  To submit myself to all my governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters:  To order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters:  To hurt no body by word nor deed:  To be true and just in all my dealing:  To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart:  To keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my tongue from evil-speaking, lying, and slandering:  To keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity:  Not to covet nor desire other men’s goods; but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall please God to call me.”

The word “duty” in the last paragraph of the explanation of one’s duty to one’s neighbour must have been in the thoughts of both Nelson and his men at the Battle of Trafalgar when he signalled, “England expects that every man this day will do his duty.”  Although objections may be raised to clauses in the summary, we always thought that our country could be none the worse, but all the better, if every one learned and tried to act up to the principles contained in these summaries of the Ten Commandments.

In the evening we attended St. John’s Church, where the Vicar officiated and preached from Isaiah lxvii. 7 to a large congregation, and after the service we returned to our hotel.

Keswick was a great resort of tourists and holiday people, and we were not without company at the hotel, from whom we obtained plenty of advice concerning our route on the morrow.  We were strongly recommended to see the Druidical Circle and to climb Skiddaw, whose summit was over 3,000 feet above sea-level, from which we should have a view scarcely surpassed in the whole of Europe, and a scene that would baffle the attempts of ordinary men to describe, having taxed even the powers of Southey and Wordsworth.  These recommendations and others were all qualified with the words “if fine.”  But, oh that little word “if”—­so small that we scarcely notice it, yet how much does it portend!  At any rate we could not arrive at a satisfactory decision that night, owing to the unfavourable state of the weather.



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Monday, October 16th.

The morning was showery, but we were obliged to continue our walk, so we left Keswick with the intention of visiting the Falls of Lodore, the large Bowder Stone, and the Yew Trees in Borrowdale, and afterwards crossing over the fells to visit the graves of the poets at Grasmere.  We had been recommended to ascend the Castle Rigg, quite near the town, in order to see the fine views from there, which included Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water.  The poet Gray, who died in 1771, was so much impressed by the retrospect, and with what he had seen from the top where once the castle stood, that he declared he had “a good mind to go back again.”  Unfortunately we had to forgo even that ascent, as the rain descended in almost torrential showers.  So we journeyed on in the rain alongside the pretty lake of Derwent Water, which is about three miles long and about a mile and a half broad, the water being so clear, we were informed, that a small stone could be seen even if five or six yards below the surface.  It was certainly a lovely lake, and, with its nicely wooded islands dotting its surface, recalled memories of Loch Lomond.  The first of these islands, about six acres in extent, was named the Vicar’s or Derwent Island, on which a family mansion had been erected.  On Lord’s Island, which was quite near the side, were the ruins of an old summer-house built by the Ratcliffe family with the stones from their ruined castle on Castlerigg.  The third island, which was in the centre of the lake, also had a summer-house that had been built there by the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson, composed of unhewn stone and covered with moss to make it look ancient.  This was known as St. Herbert’s Island, after a holy hermit who lived there in the sixth century, the ruins of whose hermitage could still be traced.  It was said that so great and perfect was the love of this saintly hermit for his friend St. Cuthbert of Holy Island, whose shrine was ultimately settled at Durham, that he used to pray that he might expire the moment the breath of life quitted the body of his friend, so that their souls might wing their flight to heaven in company.

Although not so large as Lake Windermere, Derwent Water was considered the most beautiful of the lakes because of these lovely islands on its surface and the grand hills that encircled it.  This lake of unsurpassed beauty was associated both in name and reality with the unfortunate Earl of Derwentwater, who suffered death for the part he took in the Jacobite rising in 1715, and to whom Lord’s Island belonged.  He was virtually compelled by his countess to join the rising, for when she saw his reluctance to do so, she angrily threw her fan at his feet, and commanded him take that and hand her his sword.  The Earl gravely picked it up, returned it to her, and, drawing his sword, cried, “God save King James!” The Jacobites were supporters of James II, who was supplanted by William III, Prince of Orange, in 1689,

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James then retreating to Ireland, where he was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.  The rising in which the Earl of Derwentwater took part in the year 1715 was in support of the son of James II, James Edward, whose adherents were defeated at Preston in November of the same year, the unfortunate Earl, with many others, being taken prisoner.  The son of this James Edward was the “Bonnie Prince Charlie” so beloved of the Scots, who landed to claim the English Crown in 1745, and was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, where the Jacobite movement found its grave.  Much sympathy was felt at the time for the young Earl of Derwentwater, and there was a tradition in the family that in times of great peril a supernatural figure appeared to warn them of approaching fate.  It is said that when his lordship was wandering over the hills, a figure approached clothed in the robe and hood of grey which the supernatural figure always wore, gave him a crucifix, which was to render him proof against bullet and sword, and then immediately disappeared.  The Earl joined the insurgents, who were defeated by the Royal troops at Preston, and he, with other leaders, was taken to London, placed in the Tower, and condemned to death for treason.  His wife, taking the family jewels with her, implored King George I, on her knees, for mercy; and Sir Robert Walpole declared in the House of Commons that he had been offered L60,000 if he would obtain Lord Derwentwater’s pardon; but all efforts were in vain, for he died by the axe on Tower Hill, February 24th, 1716, and his estates were forfeited to the Government.

[Illustration:  FALLS OF LODORE.]

We enjoyed our walk along Derwentwater in spite of the weather, but as we approached Lodore, and heard the noise of the waters, we realised that we had scored one great advantage from the continued rain, for we could not have seen the falls to better advantage, as they fully carried out the description of Southey, written when he was Poet Laureate of England, in the following jingling rhyme: 

  “How does the water come down at Lodore?”
  My little boy asked me thus, once on a time,
  Moreover, he task’d me to tell him in rhyme;
  Anon at the word there first came one daughter. 
  And then came another to second and third
  The request of their brother, and hear how the water
  Comes down at Lodore, with its rush and its roar,
  As many a time they had seen it before. 
  So I told them in rhyme, for of rhymes I had store. 
  And ’twas my vocation that thus I should sing. 
  Because I was laureate to them and the king.

Visitors to the Lake District, who might chance to find fine weather there, would be disappointed if they expected the falls to be equal to the poet’s description, since heavy rains are essential to produce all the results described in his poem.  But seen as we saw them, a torrential flood of water rushing and roaring, the different streams of which they were composed dashing into each other over the perpendicular cliffs on every side, they presented a sight of grandeur and magnificence never to be forgotten, while the trees around and above seemed to look on the turmoil beneath them as if powerless, except to lend enchantment to the impressive scene.

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  And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing—­
  And so never ending, but always descending,
  Sounds and motions for ever are blending. 
  All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar—­
  And this way the water comes down at Lodore!

The water rolled in great volumes down the crags, the spray rising in clouds, and no doubt we saw the falls at their best despite the absence of the sun.  Near Lodore, and about 150 yards from the shore of Derwentwater, was a floating island which at regular intervals of a few years rises from the bottom exposing sometimes nearly an acre in extent, and at others only a few perches.  This island was composed of a mass of decayed weeds and earthy matter, nearly six feet in thickness, covered with vegetation, and full of air bubbles, which, it was supposed, penetrated the whole mass and caused it to rise to the surface.

[Illustration:  HEAD OF DERWENTWATER.  “So we journeyed on in the rain alongside the pretty lake of Derwentwater; ... with its nicely wooded islands dotting its surface it recalled memories of Loch Lomond.”]

By this time we had become quite accustomed to being out in the rain and getting wet to the skin, but the temperature was gradually falling, and we had to be more careful lest we should catch cold.  It was very provoking that we had to pass through the Lake District without seeing it, but from the occasional glimpses we got between the showers we certainly thought we were passing through the prettiest country in all our travels.  In Scotland the mountains were higher and the lakes, or lochs, much larger, but the profiles of the hills here, at least of those we saw, were prettier.  About two miles from the Falls of Lodore we arrived at the famous Bowder Stone.  We had passed many crags and through bewitching scenery, but we were absolutely astonished at the size of this great stone, which Wordsworth has described as being like a stranded ship: 

  Upon a semicirque of turf-clad ground,
  A mass of rock, resembling, as it lay
  Right at the foot of that moist precipice,
  A stranded ship with keel upturned, that rests
  Careless of winds and waves.

[Illustration:  THE BOWDER STONE.]

The most modest estimate of the weight of the Bowder Stone was 1,771 tons, and we measured it as being 21 yards long and 12 yards high.  This immense mass of rock had evidently fallen from the hills above.  We climbed up the great stone by means of a ladder or flight of wooden steps erected against it to enable visitors to reach the top.  But the strangest thing about it was the narrow base on which the stone rested, consisting merely of a few narrow ledges of rock.  We were told that fifty horses could shelter under it, and that we could shake hands with each other under the bottom of the stone, and although we could not test the accuracy of the statement with regard to the number of horses it could shelter, we

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certainly shook hands underneath it.  To do this we had to lie down, and it was not without a feeling of danger that we did so, with so many hundreds of tons of rock above our heads, and the thought that if the rock had given way a few inches we should have been reduced to a mangled mass of blood and bones.  Our friendly greeting was not of long duration, and we were pleased when the ceremony was over.  There is a legend that in ancient times the natives of Borrowdale endeavoured to wall in the cuckoo so that they might have perpetual spring, but the story relates that in this they were not entirely successful, for the cuckoo just managed to get over the wall.  We now continued our journey to find the famous Yew Trees of Borrowdale, which Wordsworth describes in one of his pastorates as “those fraternal four of Borrowdale”: 

                 But worthier still of note
  Are those fraternal four of Borrowdale,
  Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;
  Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth
  Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
  Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved;
  Nor uniformed with Phantasy, and looks
  That threaten the profane; a pillared shade,
  From whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
  By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
  Perennially—­beneath whose sable roof
  Of boughs, as if for festal purpose decked
  With unrejoicing berries—­ghostly shapes
  May meet at noontide; Fear and trembling Hope,
  Silence and Foresight; Death the Skeleton,
  And Time the Shadow; there to celebrate,
  As in a natural temple scattered o’er
  With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
  United worship; or in mute repose
  To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
  Murmuring from Glaramara’s inmost caves.


It was a lonely place where the four yew trees stood, though not far from the old black lead works which at one time produced the finest plumbago for lead pencils in the world.  As the rain was falling heavily, we lit a fire under the largest of the four trees, which measured about twenty-one feet in circumference at four feet from the ground, and sheltered under its venerable shade for about an hour, watching a much-swollen streamlet as it rolled down the side of a mountain.

Near the yew trees there was a stream which we had to cross, as our next stage was over the fells to Grasmere; but when we came to its swollen waters, which we supposed came from “Glaramara’s inmost Caves,” they were not “murmuring” as Wordsworth described them, but coming with a rush and a roar, and to our dismay we found the bridge broken down and portions of it lying in the bed of the torrent.  We thought of a stanza in a long-forgotten ballad: 

  London Bridge is broken down! 
  Derry derry down, derry derry down!

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Luckily we found a footbridge lower down the stream.  It was now necessary to inquire our way at one of the isolated farms in the neighbourhood of Borrowdale, where the people knew very little of what was going on in the world outside their own immediate environs.  We heard a story relating to the middle of the eighteenth century, when in the absence of roads goods had to be carried on horseback.  A rustic, who had been sent for a bag of lime, the properties of which were unknown in remote places, placed the bag on the back of his horse, and while he was returning up the hills the rain came on, soaking the bag so that the lime began to swell and smoke.  The youth thought that it was on fire, so, jumping off his horse, he filled his hat with water from the stream and threw it on the bag.  This only made matters worse, for the lime began smoking more than ever; so he lifted it from the horse’s back and placed it in the water at the edge of the stream, where, in addition to smoking, it began to boil and to make a hissing sound, which so frightened the young man that he rode home in terror, feeling sure that it was the Devil who had sneaked inside the bag!

We made our way to a farmhouse which we could see in the distance, but the farmer advised us not to attempt to cross the fells, as it was misty and not likely to clear up that day.  So we turned back, and in about two miles met a countryman, who told us we could get to Grasmere over what he called the “Green Nip,” a mountain whose base he pointed out to us.  We returned towards the hills, but we had anything but an easy walk, for we could find no proper road, and walked on for hours in a “go as you please” manner.  Our whereabouts we did not know, since we could only see a few yards before us.  We walked a long way up hill, and finally landed in some very boggy places, and when the shades of evening began to come on we became a little alarmed, and decided to follow the running water, as we had done on a very much worse occasion in the north of Scotland.  Presently we heard the rippling of a small stream, which we followed, though with some difficulty, as it sometimes disappeared into the rocks, until just at nightfall we came to a gate at the foot of the fells, and through the open door of a cottage beheld the blaze of a tire burning brightly inside.  We climbed over the gate, and saw standing in the garden a man who stared so hard at us, and with such a look of astonishment, that we could not have helped speaking to him in any case, even had he not been the first human being we had seen for many hours.  When we told him where we had come from, he said we might think ourselves lucky in coming safely over the bogs on such a misty day, and told us a story of a gentleman from Bradford who had sunk so deeply in one of the bogs that only with the greatest difficulty had he been rescued.

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He told us it was his custom each evening to come out of his cottage for a short time before retiring to rest, and that about a month before our visit he had been out one night as usual after his neighbours had gone to bed, and, standing at his cottage door, he thought he heard a faint cry.  He listened again:  yes, he could distinctly hear a cry for help.  He woke up his neighbours, and they and his son, going in the direction from which the cries came, found a gentleman fast in the rocks.  He had been on a visit to Grasmere, and had gone out for an afternoon’s walk on the fells, when the mist came on and he lost his way.  As night fell he tried to get between some rocks, when he slipped into a crevice and jammed himself fast between them—­fortunately for himself as it afterwards proved, for when the rescuing party arrived, they found him in such a dangerous position that, if he had succeeded in getting through the rocks the way he intended, he would inevitably have fallen down the precipice and been killed.

After hearing these stories, we felt very thankful we were safely off the fells.  Without knowing it, we had passed the scene of the Battle of Dunmail Raise, where Dunmail, the last King of Cumbria, an old British kingdom, was said to have been killed in 945 fighting against Edmund, King of England.

The place we had stumbled upon after reaching the foot of the fells was Wythburn, at the head of Thirlmere Lake, quite near Amboth Hall, with its strange legends and associations.  The mansion was said to be haunted by supernatural visitors, midnight illuminations, and a nocturnal marriage with a murdered bride.  The most remarkable feature of the story, however, was that of the two skulls from Calgarth Hall, near Windermere, which came and joined in these orgies at Amboth Hall.  These skulls formerly occupied a niche in Calgarth Hall, from which it was found impossible to dislodge them.  They were said to have been buried, burned, ground to powder, dispersed by the wind, sunk in a well, and thrown into the lake, but all to no purpose, for they invariably appeared again in their favourite niche until some one thought of walling them up, which proved effectual, and there they still remain.

The rain had now ceased, and the moon, only three days old, was already visible and helped to light us on our four-mile walk to Grasmere.  On our way we overtook a gentleman visitor, to whom we related our adventure, and who kindly offered us a drink from his flask.  We did not drink anything stronger than tea or coffee, so we could not accept the whisky, but we were glad to accept his guidance to the best inn at Grasmere, where we soon relieved the cravings of our pedestrian appetites, which, as might be imagined, had grown strongly upon us.

(Distance walked twenty-two miles.)

Tuesday, October 17th.

GRASMERE.  Our first duty in the morning was to call at the post office for our letters from home, and then to fortify ourselves with a good breakfast; our next was to see the graves of the poets in the picturesque and quiet churchyard.  We expected to find some massive monuments, but found only plain stone flags marking their quiet resting-places, particularly that of Wordsworth, which was inscribed: 

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The grave of Hartley Coleridge, his great friend, who was buried in 1849, was also there.  There are few who do not know his wonderful poem, “The Ancient Mariner,” said to have been based on an old manuscript story of a sailor preserved in the Bristol Library.  Strange to say, not far from his grave was that of Sir John Richardson, a physician and arctic explorer, who brought home the relics of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated and final voyage to the Arctic regions to discover the North-West Passage.  This brought to our minds all the details of that sorrowful story which had been repeatedly told to us in our early childhood, and was, to our youthful minds, quite as weird as that of “The Ancient Mariner.”

[Illustration:  GRASMERE CHURCH.]

Sir John Franklin was born in 1786.  Intended by his parents for the Church, but bent on going to sea, he joined the Royal Navy when he was fourteen years of age, and served as a midshipman on the Bellerophon at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, afterwards taking part in Captain Flinders’ voyage of discovery along the coast of Australia.  His first voyage to the Arctic Regions was in 1818, and after a long and eventful career he was created Governor of Van Diemen’s Land in 1837, whither criminals convicted of grave offences involving transportation for life were sent from England, where he did much for the improvement and well-being of the colony.

On May 19th, 1845, he left England with the two ships Erebus and Terror, having on board 28 officers and 111 men—­in all 134 souls—­on a voyage to the Arctic Regions in the hope of discovering the North-West Passage.  They reached Stromness, in the Orkneys, on July 1st, and were afterwards seen and spoken to in the North Sea by the whaler Prince of Wales, belonging to Hull.  After that all was blank.

Lady Franklin did not expect to receive any early news from her husband, but when two years passed away without her hearing from him, she became anxious, and offered a large reward for any tidings of him.  In 1848 old explorers went out to search for him, but without result.  Still believing he was alive, she sent out other expeditions, and one was even dispatched from America.  All England was roused, and the sympathy of the entire nation was extended to Lady Franklin.

Nine long years passed away, but still no news, until intelligence arrived that an Eskimo had been found wearing on his head a gold cap-band which he said he had picked up where “the dead white men were.”  Lady Franklin then made a final effort, and on July 1st, 1857, Captain McClintock sailed from England in the Fox.  In course of time the matter was cleared up.  It was proved that the whole of the expedition had perished, Sir John Franklin having died on June 11th, 1847.  Many relics were found and brought back to England.

[Illustration:  DOVE COTTAGE.]

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Lady Franklin, who died in 1875, was still alive at the time we passed through Grasmere.  One of her last acts was to erect a marble monument to Sir John Franklin in Westminster Abbey, and it was her great wish to write the epitaph herself, but as she died before this was accomplished, it was written by Alfred Tennyson, a nephew of Sir John by marriage, and read as follows: 

  Not here! the white North hath thy bones, and thou
    Heroic Sailor Soul! 
  Art passing on thy happier voyage now
    Towards no earthly pole.

Dean Stanley added a note to the effect that the monument was “Erected by his widow, who, after long waiting and sending many in search of him, herself departed to seek and to find him in the realms of light, 18th July, 1875, aged eighty-three years.”

But to return to Grasmere.  Wordsworth lived there from 1803 to 1809 at the Dove Cottage, of which, in the first canto of “The Waggoner,” he wrote: 

  For at the bottom of the brow
  Where once the “Dove and Olive-Bough”
  Offered a greeting of good ale
  To all who entered Grasmere Vale;
  And called on him who must depart
  To leave it with a jovial heart;
  There, where the “Dove and Olive-Bough”
  Once hung, a poet harbours now,
  A simple water-drinking Bard.

When Wordsworth moved to Rydal Mount, this cottage, which had formerly been a public-house, was taken by that master of English prose, Thomas de Quincey, author of the Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

[Illustration:  RYDAL MOUNT.]

[Illustration:  THE POET’S SEAT, RYDAL WATER.]

Wordsworth had the habit of reciting his poetry aloud as he went along the road, and on that account the inhabitants thought he was not quite sane.  When Hartley Coleridge, his great friend, asked an old man who was breaking stones on the road if he had any news, he answered, “Why, nowte varry partic’lar; only awd Wordsworth’s brokken lowse ageean!” (had another fit of madness).  On another occasion, a lady visitor asked a woman in the village whether Wordsworth made himself agreeable among them.  “Well,” she said, “he sometimes goes booin’ his pottery about t’rooads an’ t’fields an’ tak’s na nooatish o’ neabody, but at udder times he’ll say ‘Good morning, Dolly,’ as sensible as owder you or me.”

The annual sports held at Grasmere were of more than local interest, and the Rush-bearing was still kept up, but not quite in the manner prevalent in earlier centuries.  When heating apparatus was unknown in churches, the rushes were gathered, loaded in a cart, and taken to the church, where they were placed on the floor and in the pews to keep the feet of the worshippers warm while they were in the church, being removed and replenished each year when the rush-bearing festival came round again.  One of our earliest recollections was sitting amongst the rushes on the floor of a pew in the ancient country church at Lymm in Cheshire.

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[Illustration:  WORDSWORTH’S GRAVE.]

An item in the Church Book at Grasmere, dating from the seventeenth century, recorded the cost of “Ye ale bestowed on ye Rush Bearers,” while in 1830 gingerbread appeared to have been substituted or added as a luxury to “ye ale.”

We passed alongside the pretty lakes of Grasmere and Rydal Water amid beautiful scenery.  Mrs. Hemans, in her sonnet, “A remembrance of Grasmere,” wrote: 

  O vale and lake, within your mountain urn,
  Smiling so tranquilly, and set so deep! 
  Oft doth your dreamy loveliness return. 
  Colouring the tender shadows of my sleep. 
  Your shores in melting lustre, seem to float
  On golden clouds from spirit-lands, remote
  Isles of the blest:—­and in our memory keep
  Their place with holiest harmonies.  Fair scene
  Most loved by Evening and her dewy star! 
  Oh! ne’er may man, with touch unhallow’d, jar
  The perfect music of the charm serene: 
  Still, still unchanged, may one sweet region wear
  Smiles that subdue the soul to love, and tears, and prayer!

On our way to Ambleside we passed Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s residence until his death in 1850 in the eightieth year of his age.  Mrs. Hemans has described it as “a lovely cottage-like building, almost hidden by a profusion of roses and ivy.”  Ambleside was a great centre for tourists and others, being situated at the head of the fine Lake of Windermere, to which its admirers were ambitious enough to apply Sir Walter Scott’s lines on Loch Katrine: 

  In all her length far winding lay
  With promontory, creek, and bay,
  And islands that impurpled bright
  Floated amid the livelier light. 
  And mountains that like Giants stand
  To sentinel enchanted land.

There was a Roman camp which we proposed visiting, and possibly Helvellyn, but we were compelled for a time to seek refuge in one of the hotels from the rain.  There we met a gentleman, a resident in the locality, who was what we might describe as a religious enthusiast, for he had a very exalted opinion of the Vicar of Ambleside, whom he described as a “Christian man”—­a term obviously making distinctions among vicars with which we heartily agreed.  There must have been an atmosphere of poetry in the Lake District affecting both visitors and natives, for in a small valley, half a mile from a lonely chapel, stood the only inn, bearing the strange sign of “The Mortal Man” on which some native poet, but not Wordsworth, had written: 

  O Mortal Man, who liv’st on bread,
  What is’t that makes thy nose so red?—­
  Thou silly ass, that looks so pale. 
  It is with drinking Burkett’s ale.


Immediately behind Ambleside there was a fearfully steep road leading up to the head of Kirkstone Pass, where at an altitude of quite 1,400 feet stood the “Travellers’ Rest Inn.”  In our time walking was the only means of crossing the pass, but now visitors are conveyed up this hill in coaches, but as the gradient is so steep in some parts, they are invariably asked to walk, so as to relieve the horses a little, a fact which found expression in the Visitors’ Book at the “Travellers’ Rest” in the following lines: 

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  He surely is an arrant ass
  Who pays to ride up Kirkstone Pass,
  For he will find, in spite of talking,
  He’ll have to walk and pay for walking.

Three parts of Windermere is in Lancashire, and it is the largest and perhaps the deepest water in the Lake District, being ten and a half miles long by water, and thirteen miles by road along its shores; the water is at no point more than two miles broad.  It is said to maintain the same level at the upper end whether it rains or not, and is so clear that in some places the fish can plainly be seen swimming far beneath its surface.  The islands are clustered together at its narrowest part, by far the largest being Belle Isle, a finely wooded island with a mansion in the centre, and a noted stronghold of the Royalists during the Civil War, at which time it was in the possession of the ancient Westmorland family of Phillipson.  We did not walk alongside Windermere, but passed by the head of the lake to the old-world village of Hawkshead, and called at the quaint old-fashioned inn known by the familiar sign of the “Red Lion.”  While tea was being prepared we surveyed the village, and on a stone in the churchyard we found the following epitaph: 

  This stone can boast as good a wife
  As ever lived a married life,
  And from her marriage to her grave
  She was never known to mis-behave. 
  The tongue which others seldom guide,
  Was never heard to blame or chide;
  From every folly always free
  She was what others ought to be.


We had a long talk with the mistress of the inn, who told us that Wordsworth was educated at the Grammar School in the village, and we were surprised to hear from her that the Rev. Richard Greenall, whom we had often heard officiate when he was curate of our native village of Grappenhall, was now the vicar of Hawkshead.  We had quite as exalted an opinion of him as the gentleman we met at Ambleside had of his vicar.  He was a clergyman who not only read the prayers, but prayed them at the same time: 

  I often say my prayers,
  But do I ever pray?

and it was a pleasure to listen to the modulations of his voice as he recited the Lord’s Prayer, and especially when repeating that fine supplication to the Almighty, beginning with the words “Almighty and most merciful Father.”  At that time it was not the custom to recite, read, or sing the prayers in one continual whine on one note (say G sharp) when offering up supplications to the Almighty—­a note which if adopted by a boy at school would have ensured for him a severe caning, or by a beggar at your door a hasty and forcible departure.  Nor were the Lessons read in a monotone, which destroys all sense of their full meaning being imparted to the listeners—­but this was in the “good old times”!

[Illustration:  CONISTON.]

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We had to listen to another version of the story of the two Calgarth skulls, from which it appeared that the Phillipsons wanted a piece of land that belonged to Dorothy, the wife of Kraster Cook, who refused to sell it, although asked repeatedly to do so.  Myles Phillipson swore he would have that land “be they alive or dead.”  After a quiet interval he invited Kraster and his wife Dorothy to a feast, and afterwards accused them of stealing a silver cup.  This they strongly denied, but the cup was found in their house, where it had been purposely hidden by the squire’s orders.  Stealing was at that time a capital offence, and as Phillipson was the magistrate he sentenced them both to death.  In the court-room Dorothy arose, and, glaring at the magistrate, said loudly, “Guard thyself, Myles Phillipson.  Thou thinkest thou hast managed grandly; but that tiny lump of land is the dearest a Phillipson has ever bought or stolen; for you will never prosper, neither your breed:  whatever scheme you undertake will wither in your hand; the side you take will always lose; the time shall come when no Phillipson will own one inch of land; and while Calgarth walls shall stand, we’ll haunt it night and day—­never will ye be rid of us.”  They were both executed and their property appropriated, but ever afterwards the Phillipsons had two skulls for their guests.  They were found at Christmas at the head of a stairway; they were buried in a distant region, but they turned up in the old house again; they were brazed to dust and cast to the wind; they were several years sunk in the lake; but the Phillipsons never could get rid of them.  Meanwhile old Dorothy’s prophecy came true, and the family of Phillipson came to poverty and eventually disappeared.

We left Hawkshead by a road leading to Ulverston, for we had decided to visit Furness Abbey.  Had the weather been fine and clear, we should have had some splendid views, since we had Windermere on one side and Coniston Water on the other; but the showers continued, and we could not even see the “Coniston Old Man,” although he raised his head to the height of 2,577 feet above sea-level.  We were, in fact, passing through the district of Seathwaite, where the rainfall is very much heavier than in any other district in England.  We consoled ourselves, however, with the thought that we could not expect to see fine lakes in a land where there was no rainfall, and after walking a considerable distance in the darkness, two weary and rain-soddened pedestrians took refuge for the remainder of the night in the well-appointed Temperance Hotel at Ulverston.

(Distance walked twenty-four and a half miles.)

Wednesday, October 18th.

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Ulverston has been described as the “Key to the Lake District,” and Swartmoor, which adjoined the town, took its name from a German—­Colonel Martin Swart—–­to whom the Duchess of Burgundy in 1486 gave the command of about 2,000 Flemish troops sent to support the pretended title of Lambert Simnel to the Crown of England.  He landed in Ireland, where a great number of the Irish joined him, and then, crossing over to England, landed in Furness and marshalled his troops on the moor which still bears his name, and where he was joined by many other conspirators.  They encountered the forces of King Henry VII near Newark-on-Trent in June 1487, and after a stubborn fight were defeated, 4,000 men, with all their commanders, being killed.

Ulverston is also associated with George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends.  He was born in 1624, at Drayton-on-the-Clay, in Leicestershire, and in 1650 was imprisoned at Derby for speaking “publickly” in a church after Divine Service, and bidding the congregation to “tremble at the Word of God.”  This expression was turned into one of ridicule, and caused the Society of Friends all over the kingdom to be known as “Quakers.”  Fox preached throughout the country, and even visited America.  When he came to Ulverston, he preached at Swartmoor Hall, where he converted Judge Fell and his wife, after which meetings at the Hall were held regularly.  The judge died in 1658, and in 1669, eleven years after her husband’s death, Mrs. Fell, who suffered much on account of her religion, married George Fox, who in 1688 built the Meeting-house at Ulverston.  He died two years afterwards, aged sixty-seven years, at White Hart Court, London, and was buried in Banhill Fields.

Leaving our bags at the hotel, we walked to Furness Abbey, which, according to an old record, was founded by King Stephen in 1127 in the “Vale of the Deadly Nightshade.”  It was one of the first to surrender to King Henry VIII at the dissolution of the monasteries, and the Deed of Surrender, dated April 9th, 1537, was still in existence, by which the abbey and all its belongings were assigned to the King by the Abbot, Roger Pile, who in exchange for his high position agreed to accept the living of Dalton, one of his own benefices, valued at that time at L40 per year.  The Common Seal of the abbey was attached to the document, and represented the Virgin Mary standing in the centre of the circle with the Infant in her left arm and a globe in her right hand.  She stood between two shields of arms, which were suspended by bundles of nightshade, and on each of which were represented the three Lions of England, each shield being supported from the bottom by a monk in his full dress and cowl.  In the foreground in front of each monk was a plant of the deadly nightshade, and over his head a sprig of the same, while in the lower part was the figure of a wivern—­i.e. a viper or dragon with a serpent-like tail—­this being the device of Thomas Plantagenet, the second Earl of Lancaster, who was highly esteemed by the monks.  We did not notice any nightshade plant either in or near the ruins of the abbey, but it was referred to in Stell’s description of Becan-Gill as follows: 

Page 213

   Haec vallis unuit olim sibi nomen ab herba Bekan, qua virtuit dulcis
   nune, tune sed acerbe; unde Domus nomen Bekangs-Gille claruit.

[Illustration:  FURNESS ABBEY]

Although my brother could repeat the first two rules in the Latin Grammar with their examples, one of which he said meant “The way to good manners is never too late,” he would not attempt the English translation of these Latin words.

We were the only visitors then at the abbey, no doubt owing to the bad state of the weather, and we were surprised at the extent and magnificence of the ruins and the ponderous walls and archways, with their fine ornamentations, impressive reminders of their past greatness.  In order to get a better view we mounted the adjoining hill, from which we could see a portion of the rising town of Barrow-in-Furness.  We returned by the footpath alongside the railway, and entered into conversation with a man who was standing on the line.  He informed us that he was the ganger, or foreman, over the plate-layers on the railway, and that at one time he had lived in Manchester.  He also said he had joined the Good Templars, who were making headway in Barrow-in-Furness, where he now resided.

Just before reaching the main road we were somewhat startled to see a railway train quite near the abbey ruins, and the thought of home, sweet home, accentuated by the rainy weather, came so strongly upon us that we asked ourselves the question, “Shall we give in and go home!” We were only the length of one county away, and about to make a long detour to avoid going near, yet here was the train waiting that would convey us thither.  What a temptation!  But for the circumstance that we had left our bags at Ulverston our story might have ended here.

Some of the streams over which we passed on our way were quite red in colour, and the puddles on the muddy roads were just like dark red paint, indicating the presence of iron ore.  We saw several miners, who told us that they got the ore (known as haematite, or iron oxide) at a depth of from 90 to 100 yards, working by candle-light, and that they received about 2s. 6d. per ton as the product of their labour.  The ore, it seemed, filled up large cavities in the mountain limestone.  It was about one o’clock by the time we reached Ulverston again, and we were quite ready for the good lunch which had been prepared for us.


Leaving Ulverston, we passed the old parish church and entered a picturesque footpath quite appropriately named the Lover’s Walk and covered with fine trees, through which we had glimpses of Morecambe Bay; but the lovers had been either driven away by the rain or we were too early in the day for them to take their walks abroad.  We mounted the Hoad Hill to inspect a lofty monument which had been erected on the top in the year 1850, in memory of Sir John Barrow.  Sir John, the founder of the great works at Barrow-in-Furness

Page 214

(afterwards Vickers, Sons & Maxim), the noise of which we had heard in the distance, was a native of the district, having been born in a small cottage near Ulverston in 1764.  He travelled in China and South Africa, and in 1804 became Secretary to the Admiralty, a position he held for forty years, during which he took part in fitting out Lord Nelson’s fleet for the Battle of Trafalgar.  He also assisted in promoting the expedition to the Arctic Regions which was commanded by Sir John Franklin.  We were informed that his favourite saying was:  “A man’s riches consist not so much in his possessions as in the fewness of his wants”—­a saying we were glad to adopt for ourselves.

We passed through the entrance to the monument, but could see no one about.  On a desk in the entrance-room lay a Visitors’ Book, in which we wrote our names, and then ascended to the top of the monument by a rather dangerous staircase of over a hundred steps.  As the well of the tower was open from top to bottom the ascent and descent were very risky for nervous people, and we felt thankful when we reached the foot of the staircase safely, though disappointed because the weather had prevented our enjoying the splendid view from the top that we had anticipated.  As we were leaving the monument we met an old man who had charge of it, carrying some large mushrooms, which he told us he had seen from the top of the monument, and very fine ones they were too.


But we are forgetting to mention that we had passed through Dalton—­formerly the capital of Furness—­where George Romney, the celebrated painter, was born in 1734.  West, the inventor of the key bugle, the forerunner of the modern cornet, was also a native of Dalton-in-Furness.  As the days were rapidly becoming shorter and the gloomy weather made them appear shorter still, it was growing quite dark when we called for tea at a village inn, the sign on which informed us that it was “Clarke’s Arms,” and where we were very quickly served in the parlour.  During our tea a tall, haggard-looking man, whose hands were trembling and whose eyes were bloodshot, entered the room, and asked us to have a glass each with him at his expense, saying, “I’m drunken Jim Topping as ‘as had aw that heap o’ money left him.”  He pressed us very hard again and again to have the drink, but we showed him the tea we were drinking, and we felt relieved when the landlord came in and persuaded him to go into the other room, where we soon heard an uproarious company helping “Jim” to spend his “heap o’ money” and to hasten him into eternity.  The landlord afterwards informed us that “Drunken Jim” was a stonemason by trade, and that a relation of his had just died, leaving him L80,000, as well as some property.


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It was dark when we left the inn, and about a mile farther, on the Kendal road, we saw, apparently crossing the road, a large number of glowworms, which, owing to the darkness of the night, showed to the best advantage.  So numerous were they that we had great difficulty in getting over them, for we did not wish to crush any under our feet.  We had never seen more than two or three together before, so it was quite a novel sight for us to find so many in one place.  Presently we arrived at the entrance to a small village, where our attention was arrested by a great noise in a building a little distance from the road.  The sound of juvenile voices predominated, and as my brother was a great lover of children, and especially of girls, as illustrated by a remark he was partial to—­“Girls and flowers are the nicest things that heaven sends us”—­we must needs stop and see what was going on.  Climbing up some steps and passing under some trees, we found, as we had surmised, the village school.  After looking through the windows we entered the schoolroom, whereupon the noise immediately ceased.  We ascertained that it was the village choir awaiting the arrival of the schoolmistress to teach them the hymns to be sung in the church on the following Sunday.  My brother insisted that he had come to teach the choir that night, and went at once to the harmonium, which was unfortunately locked.  He said he would no doubt be able to go on without it, and, having arranged the choir in order, was just about to commence operations when who should come in but the schoolmistress herself, causing us to beat a rather hasty retreat.  We groped our way under the trees again and down the steps, and were quite surprised when suddenly we found ourselves close to a comfortable inn where we could be accommodated for the night.  After supper we retired to rest, wondering whether we were to pass the night in Lancashire or Westmorland, for we had no idea where we were, and, strange to say, we forgot to ask the name of the place when we left in the morning.

(Distance walked nineteen miles.)

Thursday, October 19th.

We left the inn at eight o’clock in the morning, but the weather still continued very rainy, and we had often to seek shelter on our way owing to the heavy showers.  Presently we came to a huge heap of charcoal, and were about to shelter near it when we were told that it was part of the gunpowder works in the rear, so we hurried away as fast as we could walk, for we did not relish the possibility of being blown into millions of atoms.  When we reached what we thought was a fairly safe distance, we took refuge in an outbuilding belonging to a small establishment for smelting iron, and here we were joined by another wayfarer, sheltering like ourselves from the rain, which was coming down in torrents.  He told us about the stonemason who had recently had the fortune left to him, but he said the amount mentioned in the newspaper was L40,000 and not L80,000, as we had been

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informed.  He wished the money had been left to him, as he thought he could have put it to better use, for he had been an abstainer from intoxicating drinks for twelve years, whereas the man with the fortune, who at the moment was drinking in a beerhouse close by, had no appetite for eating and would soon drink himself to death.  What the fate of poor “Jim Topping” was we never knew, but we could not help feeling sorry for him, as he seemed to us one of those good-natured fellows who are nobody’s enemy but their own.  The man told us that Jim was a heavy drinker before he had the fortune left him.  He surmised that the place we had stopped at last night was Haverthwaite in Lancashire.  We saw a book of poems written in the Cumberland dialect, and copied the first and last verses of one that was about a Robin Redbreast: 


Come into mey cabin, reed Robin! 
Threyce welcome, blithe warbler, to me! 
Noo Siddaw hes thrown a wheyte cap on,
Agean I’ll gie shelter to thee! 
Come, freely hop into mey pantry;
Partake o’ mey puir holsome fare;
Tho’ seldom I bwoast of a dainty. 
Yet meyne, man or burd sal aye share.

* * * * *

O whoar is thy sweetheart, reed Robin? 
Gae bring her frae hoosetop or tree: 
I’ll bid her be true to sweet Robin,
For fause was a fav’rite to me. 
You’ll share iv’ry crumb i’ mey cabin,
We’ll sing the weyld winter away—­
I winna deceive ye, puir burdies! 
Let mortals use me as they may.

On leaving our shelter, we passed a large mill, apparently deserted, and soon afterwards reached Newby Bridge, where we crossed the River Leven, which was rapidly conveying the surplus water from Windermere towards the sea.  Near this was a large hotel, built to accommodate stage-coach traffic, but rendered unnecessary since the railway had been cut, and consequently now untenanted.  We had already crossed the bridge at the head of Lake Windermere, and now had reached the bridge at the other end.  An old book, published in 1821, gave us the following interesting information about the lake: 

It was at one time thought to be unfathomable, but on the third and fourth of June, 1772, when the water was six feet below its greatest known height, and three feet above the lowest ebb, a trial was made to ascertain by soundings the depth and form of the lake.  Its greatest depth was found to be near Ecclesrigg Crag—­201 feet.  The bottom of the lake in the middle stream is a smooth rock; in many places the sides are perpendicular, and in some places they continue so for a mile without interruption.  It abounds with fish, and the Rivers Brathay and Rothay feed the lake at the upper end, and in the breeding-season the trout ascend the Rothay, and the char the Brathay only; but in the winter, when these fish are in season, they come into the shallows, where they are fished for in the night, at which time they are the more easily

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driven into the nets.

We now turned along an old coach road which crossed the hills over Cartmel Fell to Kendal, and appeared to be very little used.  Our road climbed steadily for about two miles, when suddenly there came a bright interval between the showers, and we had a magnificent view of a portion of Lake Windermere, with a steamboat leaving the landing-stage near Newby Bridge.  We stood, as it were, riveted to the spot; but another shower coming on, the view vanished like a dream, though it lasted sufficiently long to bring us encouragement and to cheer us upon our wet and lonely way.  The showers seemed as full of water as ever they could hold, and sheltering-places were by no means plentiful.  Sometimes sheltering behind trees and sometimes in farm buildings, we proceeded but slowly, and about eight miles from Kendal we halted for lunch at a small inn, where we found cover for so long a time that, after walking about three miles from that town, we called at another inn for tea.  It was astonishing how well we were received and provided for at these small inns in the country.  Every attention was given to us, a fire lighted to dry our coats, and the best food the place could provide was brought on to the table.  We were shown into the parlour, and the best cups and saucers were brought out from the corner cupboards.

The temperance movement appeared to be permeating the most unlikely places, and we were astonished to find the crockery here painted with temperance signs and mottoes, including a temperance star, and the words “Be them faithful unto death.”  This seemed all the more remarkable when we saw that the sign on the inn was the “Punch Bowl.”  The rain had apparently been gradually clearing off, while we were at tea, but it came on again soon after we left the comfortable shelter of the inn, so we again took refuge—­this time in the house of a tollgate, where we had a long talk with the keeper.  He pointed out a road quite near us which had been made so that vehicles could get past the toll-bar on their way to and from Kendal without going through the gates and paying toll.  This had been constructed by a landowner for the use of himself and his tenants.  As a retort the toll people had erected a stump at each side of the entrance, apparently with the object of placing a chain across the road, and had also erected a wooden hut to shelter a special toll-keeper who only attended on Kendal market days.  Some mischievous persons, however, had overturned the hut, and we did not envy the man who on a day like this had to attend here to collect tolls without any shelter to protect him from the elements.  Tollgates and turnpikes were ancient institutions on the British roads, and in many places were in the hands of Turnpike Trusts, who often rented the tolls to outsiders and applied the rent chiefly to the repair of the roads.  A fixed charge was made on cattle and vehicles passing through the gates, and the vehicles were charged according

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to the number of animals and wheels attached to them, a painted table of tolls being affixed to the tollhouse.  The gates were kept closed, and were only opened when vehicles and cattle arrived, and after payment of the charges.  There was no charge made to pedestrians, for whom a small gate or turnstile was provided at the side nearest the tollhouse.  The contractors who rented the tolls had to depend for their profit or loss upon the total amount of the tolls collected minus the amount of rent paid and toll-keepers’ wages.  Towards the close of the Trusts the railways had made such inroads upon the traffic passing by road that it was estimated that the cost of collection of tolls amounted to 50 per cent. of the total sum collected.

The tollgate-keeper informed us that Dick Turpin, the highwayman, never paid any tolls, for no collector dare ask him for payment, and if the gate was closed, “Black Bess,” his favourite mare, jumped over it.

He had a lot to tell us about Furness Abbey.  He knew that it had been built by King Stephen, and he said that not far from it there was a park called Oxen Park, where the king kept his oxen, and that he had also a Stirk Park.

He asked us if we had seen the small and very old church of Cartmel Fell, and when we told him we had not, he said that travellers who did not know its whereabouts often missed seeing it, for, although not far from the road, it was hidden from view by a bank or small mound, and there was a legend that some traveller, saint, or hermit who slept on the bank dreamed that he must build a church between two rivers running in opposite directions.  He travelled all the world over, but could not find any place where the rivers ran in opposite directions, so he came back disappointed, only to find the rivers were quite near the place he started from.  The church was of remote antiquity, and was dedicated to St. Anthony, the patron saint of wild boars and of wild beasts generally; but who built the church, and where the rivers were to be found, did not transpire.

We had carried our mackintoshes all the way from John o’ Groat’s, and they had done us good service; but the time had now arrived when they had become comparatively useless, so, after thanking the keeper of the tollhouse for allowing us to shelter there, we left them with him as relics of the past.  The great objection to these waterproofs was that though they prevented the moisture coming inwards, they also prevented it going outwards, and the heat and perspiration generated by the exertion of walking soon caused us to be as wet as if we had worn no protection at all.  Of course we always avoided standing in a cold wind or sitting in a cold room, and latterly we had preferred getting wet through to wearing them.

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We arrived in Kendal in good time, and stayed at the temperance hotel.  In the town we purchased two strong but rather rustic-looking umbrellas, without tassels or gold or silver handles—­for umbrellas in the rainy region of the “North Countrie” were wanted for use and not for ornament.  We found them quite an agreeable change from the overalls.  Of course we held them up skilfully, and as we thought almost scientifically, when walking in the rain, and it was astonishing how well they protected us when holding them towards the same side and angle as the falling rain.  Many people we met were holding them straight up, and looking quite happy, reminding us of the ostrich when hunted and hard pressed, hiding its head in the sand and imagining that its body was covered also!  The draper who sold us the umbrellas told us that Professor Kirk, whom we had heard in Edinburgh, was to deliver an address in the evening on the Good Templar Movement, so we decided to attend.  The Professor, a good speaker, informed us that there were between five and six hundred members of the Order in Kendal.  Mr. Edward Dawson of Lancaster also addressed the meeting, and told us there were about three hundred members in Lancaster, while the Professor estimated the number in Scotland at between fifty and sixty thousand.  It was quite a new movement, which had its origin apparently in America, and was becoming the prevailing subject of conversation in the country we travelled through.

[Illustration:  KENDAL CASTLE.]

Kendal was an ancient place, having been made a market town by licence from Richard Coeur de Lion.  Philippa, the Queen of Edward III, wisely invited some Flemings to settle there and establish the manufacture of woollen cloth, which they did.  Robin Hood and his “merrie men” were said to have been clothed in Kendal Green, a kind of leafy green which made the wearers of it scarcely distinguishable from the foliage and vegetation of the forests which in Robin Hood’s time covered the greater part of the country.  Lincoln Green was an older cloth of pure English manufacture.

Robin Hood was the outlawed Earl of Huntingdon, and Shakespeare makes Falstaff say—­

    All the woods
  Are full of outlaws that in Kendal Green
  Followed the outlawed Earl of Huntingdon.

Catherine Parr was born at Kendal, and an old writer, noting that she was the last Queen of Henry VIII, added, “a lady who had the good fortune to descend to the grave with her head on, in all probability merely by outliving her tyrant.”  This beautiful and highly accomplished woman had already been married twice, and after the King’s death took a fourth husband.  She narrowly escaped being burnt, for the King had already signed her death-warrant and delivered it to the Lord Chancellor, who dropped it by accident, and the person who found it carried it to the Queen herself.  She was actually in conversation with the King when the Lord Chancellor came to take her to the Tower, for which the King called him a knave and a fool, bidding him “Avaunt from my presence.”  The Queen interceded for the Chancellor; but the King said, “Ah, poor soul, thou little knowest what he came about; of my word, sweetheart, he has been to thee a very knave.”

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[Illustration:  KENDAL CHURCH.]

Kendal possessed a fine old church, in one of the aisles of which was suspended a helmet said to have belonged to Major Phillipson, whose family was haunted by the two skulls, and who was nicknamed by Cromwell’s men “Robert the Devil” because of his reckless and daring deeds.  The Phillipsons were great Royalists, and Colonel Briggs of Kendal, who was an active commander in the Parliamentary Army, hearing that the major was on a visit to his brother, whose castle was on the Belle Isle in Lake Windermere, resolved to besiege him there; but although the siege continued for eight months, it proved ineffectual.  When the war was over, Major Phillipson resolved to be avenged, and he and some of his men rode over to Kendal one Sunday morning expecting to find Colonel Briggs in the church, and either to kill him or take him prisoner there.  Major Phillipson rode into the church on horseback, but the colonel was not there.  The congregation, much surprised and annoyed at this intrusion, surrounded the major, and, cutting the girths, unhorsed him.  On seeing this, the major’s party made a furious attack on the assailants, and the major killed with his own hand the man who had seized him, and, placing the ungirthed saddle on his horse, vaulted into it and rode through the streets of Kendal calling upon his men to follow him, which they did, and the whole party escaped to their safe resort in the Lake of Windermere.

This incident furnished Sir Walter Scott with materials for a similar adventure in “Rokeby,” canto vi.: 

  All eyes upon the gateway hung. 
  When through the Gothic arch there sprung
  A horseman arm’d, at headlong speed—­
  Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed. 
  Fire from the flinty floor was spurn’d. 
  The vaults unwonted clang return’d!—­
  One instant’s glance around he threw,
  From saddle-bow his pistol drew. 
  Grimly determined was his look! 
  His charger with the spurs he strook—­
  All scatter’d backward as he came,
  For all knew Bertram Risingham! 
  Three bounds that noble courser gave;
  The first has reach’d the central nave,
  The second clear’d the chancel wide. 
  The third—­he was at Wycliffe’s side.

* * * * *

While yet the smoke the deed conceals,
Bertram his ready charger wheels;
But flounder’d on the pavement-floor
The steed, and down the rider bore,
And, bursting in the headlong sway. 
The faithless saddle-girths gave way. 
’Twas while he toil’d him to be freed. 
And with the rein to raise the steed. 
That from amazement’s iron trance
All Wycliffe’s soldiers waked at once.

(Distance walked fifteen miles.)

Friday, October 20th.

We left Kendal before breakfast, as we were becoming anxious about maintaining our average of twenty-five miles per day, for we had only walked nineteen miles on Wednesday and fifteen miles yesterday, and we had written to our friends some days before saying that we hoped to reach York Minster in time for the services there on Sunday.

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In the meantime we had decided to visit Fountains Abbey, so, crossing the River Kent, we walked nine miles along a hilly road over the fells, which were about 800 feet above sea-level.  We stopped at a place called Old Town for breakfast, for which our walk through the sharp clear air on the fells had given us an amazing appetite.  We then walked quickly down the remaining three miles to Kirkby Lonsdale, passing on our way the beautiful grounds and residence of the Earl of Bective.  At the entrance to the town we came to the school, and as the master happened to be standing at the door, we took the opportunity of asking him some particulars about Kirkby Lonsdale and our farther way to Fountains Abbey.  He was a native of Scotland, and gave us some useful and reliable information, being greatly interested in the object of our journey.  We found Kirkby Lonsdale to be quite a nice old-fashioned town with a church dedicated to St. Mary—­a sign, we thought, of its antiquity; the interior had been recently restored by the Earl of Bective at a cost of about L11,000.  An old board hanging up in the church related to one of the porches, on which was painted a crest and shield with the date 1668, and the following words in old English letters: 

  This porch by y’ Banes first builded was,
    (Of Heighholme Hall they weare,)
  And after sould to Christopher Wood
  By William Banes thereof last heyre. 
  And is repayred as you do see
  And sett in order good
  By the true owner nowe thereof
  The foresaid Christopher Wood.

There was also painted in the belfry a rhyming list of the “ringers’ orders”: 

  If to ring ye do come here,
  You must ring well with hand and ear;
  Keep stroke and time and go not out,
  Or else you’ll forfeit without doubt. 
  He that a bell doth overthrow
  Must pay a groat before he go;
  He that rings with his hat on,
  Must pay his groat and so begone.

  He that rings with spur on heel,
  The same penalty he must feel. 
  If an oath you chance to hear,
  You forfeit each two quarts of beer. 
  These lines are old, they are not new. 
  Therefore the ringers must have their due.

   N.B.—­Any ringer entering a peal of six pays his shilling.

The first two lines greatly interested my brother, whose quick ear could distinguish defects when they occurred in the ringing of church bells, and he often remarked that no ringer should be appointed unless he had a good ear for music.

There were one or two old-fashioned inns in the town, which looked very quaint, and Kirkby Old Hall did duty for one of them, being referred to by the rhymester “Honest” or “Drunken Barnaby” in his Latin Itinerary of his “Travels in the North”: 

  I came to Lonsdale, where I staid
  At Hall, into a tavern made. 
  Neat gates, white walls—­nought was sparing,
  Pots brimful—­no thought of caring;
  They eat, drink, laugh; are still mirth-making,
  Nought they see that’s worth care-taking.

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The men of the North were always warlike, and when in the year 1688, in the time of James II, a rumour was circulated that a large French Army had landed on the coast of Yorkshire, a great number of men assembled on the outskirts of the town and were waiting there ready for the call to arms, when news came that it was a false alarm.  Of course this event had to be recorded by the local poet, who wrote: 

  In eighty-eight, was Kirby feight. 
    When nivver a man was slain;
  They ate the’r mey’t, an’ drank the’r drink,
    An’ sae com’ merrily heame again.

We were sorry we could not stay longer in the neighbourhood of Kirkby Lonsdale, as the scenery in both directions along the valley of the River Lune was very beautiful.  As we crossed the bridge over it we noticed an old stone inscribed: 

  Fear God
  Honer the
  King 1633,

and some other words which we could not decipher.  The bridge was rather narrow, and at some unknown period had replaced a ford, which was at all times difficult to cross, and often dangerous, and at flood-times quite impassable, as the river here ran between rocks and across great boulders; it was, however, the only ready access to the country beyond for people living in Kirkby Lonsdale.  One morning the inhabitants awoke to find a bridge had been built across this dangerous ford during the night, and since no one knew who had built it, its erection was attributed to his Satanic Majesty, and it was ever afterwards known as the Devil’s Bridge.

The bridge was very narrow, and, although consisting of three arches, one wide and the others narrow, and being 180 feet long, it was less than twelve feet wide, and had been likened to Burns’ Auld Brig o’ Ayr,

  With your poor narrow footpath of a street. 
  Where twa wheelbarrows tremble when they meet.

The country people had a tradition that it was built in windy weather by the Devil, who, having only one apron full of stones, and the breaking of one of his apron-strings causing him to lose some of them as he flew over Casterton Fell, he had only enough left to build a narrow bridge.


Another legend states that “Once upon a time there lived a queer old woman whose cow and pony pastured across the river and had to cross it on their way to and from home.  The old woman was known as a great cheat.  One dark and wet night she heard her cow bellow, and knew that she was safely across the ford; but as the pony only whined, she thought that he was being carried away by the flood.  She began to cry, when suddenly the Devil appeared, and agreed to put up a bridge that night on conditions named in the legend: 

  “To raise a bridge I will agree. 
  That in the morning you shall see. 
  But mine for aye the first must be
     That passes over. 
  So by these means you’ll soon be able
  To bring the pony to his stable. 
     The cow her clover.”

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  In vain were sighs and wailings vented,
  As she at last appeared contented. 
  It was a bargain—­she consented—­
     For she was Yorkshire. 
  Now home she goes in mighty glee. 
  Old Satan, too, well pleased he
     Went to his work, sir.

He worked hard all night, and early in the morning the bridge was made, as the old woman knew by the terrible noise.  He called to the old woman to come over, but she brought her little mangy dog, and, taking a bun out of her pocket, threw it over the bridge.  The dog ran over after it.

  “Now—­crafty sir, the bargain was
  That you should have what first did pass
  Across the bridge—­so now—­alas! 
      The dog’s your right.” 
  The cheater—­cheated—­struck with shame. 
  Squinted and grinned:  then, in a flame
      He vanished quite.


On reflection we came to the conclusion that whenever and however it was built, the bridge was of a type not uncommon in Cheshire, and often called Roman bridges, but erected in all probability in mediaeval times, when only width enough was required for the passing of one horse—­in other words, when most roads were nothing but bridlepaths.  We were glad of the assistance afforded by the bridge for the rushing waters of the River Lune were swollen by the heavy rains, and our progress in that direction would have been sadly delayed had we arrived there in the time of the ancient ford.  We now passed the boundaries of Lancashire and Westmorland and entered the county of York, the largest in England.  A large sale of cattle was taking place that day at a farm near the bridge, and for some miles we met buyers on their way to the sale, each of whom gave us the friendly greeting customary in the hilly districts of that hospitable county.  Seven miles from Kirkby Lonsdale we stopped at Ingleton for some dinner, and just looked inside the church to see the fine old Norman font standing on small pillars and finely sculptured with scenes relating chiefly to the childhood of our Saviour.  Joseph with his carpenter’s tools and the Virgin Mary seated with the infant Saviour on her knees, the Eastern Magi bringing their offerings, Herod giving orders for the destruction of the young children, Rachel weeping, and others—­all damaged in the course of centuries, though still giving one an idea of the great beauty of the font when originally placed in position.  We heard about the many waterfalls to be seen—­perhaps as many as could be visited in the course of a whole week; but we had seen—­and suffered—­so much water and so many waterfalls, that for the time being they formed no attraction.  Still we resolved to see more of this interesting neighbourhood on a future occasion.

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Passing through Clapham, said to be one of the finest villages in England, and where there was a cave supposed to run about half a mile underground, we came to some fine limestone cliffs to the left of our road, which were nearly white as we approached nearer to the town of Settle, situated at the foot of Giggleswick Scar, alongside which our road passed.  We visited the Ebbing and Flowing Well, where the much-worn stones around it proclaimed the fact that for many ages pilgrims had visited its shrine; but how “Nevison’s Nick,” a famous highwayman, could have ridden his horse up the face of the rock leading up to it—­even with the aid of his magic bridle—­was more than we could understand.  Another legend stated that a nymph pursued by a satyr was so afraid that he would overtake her that she prayed to the gods to change her into a spring.  Her prayer was granted, and the ebbs and flows in the water were supposed to represent the panting of the nymph in her flight.

[Illustration:  THE MARKET-PLACE, SETTLE.]

We turned aside to visit Giggleswick village, with its old cross, which seemed to be nearly complete, and we found the old church very interesting.  It contained some ancient monuments, one of which represented Sir Richard Temple, born 1425, knighted at the Battle of Wakefield, 1460, attainted for treason 1461, pardoned by King Edward IV, and died 1488, the head of his charger being buried with him.  There was also the tomb of Samuel Watson, the “old Quaker,” who interrupted the service in the church in 1659, when the people “brok his head upon ye seates.”  Then there was the famous Grammar School, a very old foundation dating back to early in the sixteenth century.  We were delighted with our visit to Giggleswick, and, crossing the old bridge over the River Ribble, here but a small stream, we entered the town of Settle and called for tea at Thistlethwaite’s Tea and Coffee Rooms.  There were several small factories in the neighbourhood.  We noticed that a concert had recently been held in the town in aid of a fund for presenting a lifeboat to the National Society, one having already been given by this town for use on the stormy coasts of the Island of Anglesey.

[Illustration:  GIGGLESWICK CHURCH.]

Leaving Settle by the Skipton road, we had gone about a mile when we met two men who informed us we were going a long way round either for Ripon or York.  They said an ancient road crossed the hills towards York, and that after we had climbed the hill at the back of the town we should see the road running straight for fourteen miles.  This sounded all right, and as the new moon was now shining brightly, for it was striking six o’clock as we left the town, we did not fear being lost amongst the hills, although they rose to a considerable height.  Changing our course, we climbed up a very steep road and crossed the moors, passing a small waterfall; but whether we were on or off the ancient road we had no means

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of ascertaining, for we neither saw nor met any one on the way, nor did we see any house until we reached the ancient-looking village of Kirby Malham.  Here we got such very voluminous directions as to the way to Malham that neither of us could remember them beyond the first turn, but we reached that village at about ten o’clock.  We asked the solitary inhabitant who had not retired to rest where we could find lodgings for the night.  He pointed out a house at the end of the “brig” with the word “Temperance” on it in large characters, which we could see easily as the moon had not yet disappeared, and told us it belonged to the village smith, who accommodated visitors.  All was in darkness inside the house, but we knocked at the door with our heavy sticks, and this soon brought the smith to one of the upper windows.  In reply to our question, “Can we get a bed for the night?” he replied in the Yorkshire dialect, “Our folks are all in bed, but I’ll see what they say.”  Then he closed the window, and all was quiet except the water, which was running fast under the “brig,” and which we found afterwards was the River Aire, as yet only a small stream.  We waited and waited for what seemed to us a very long time, and were just beginning to think the smith had fallen asleep again, when we heard the door being unbolted, and a young man appeared with a light in his hand, bidding us “Come in,” which we were mighty glad to do, and to find ourselves installed in a small but very comfortable room.  “You will want some supper,” he said; and we assured him it was quite true, for we had not had anything to eat or drink since we left Settle, and, moreover, we had walked thirty-five miles that day, through fairly hilly country.  In a short time he reappeared with a quart of milk and an enormous apple pie, which we soon put out of sight; but was milk ever so sweet or apple pie ever so good!  Forty-five years have passed away since then, but the memory still remains; and the sweet sleep that followed—­the rest of the weary—­what of that?

(Distance walked thirty-five miles.)

Saturday, October 21st.

One great advantage of staying the night in the country was that we were sure of getting an early breakfast, for the inns had often farms attached to them, and the proprietors and their servants were up early to attend to their cattle.  This custom of early rising also affected the business of the blacksmiths, for the farmers’ horses requiring attention to their shoes were always sent down early to the village smithy in order that they could be attended to in time to turn out to their work on the roads or in the fields at their usual hour.  Accordingly we were roused from our sound slumber quite early in the morning, and were glad to take advantage of this to walk as far as possible in daylight, for the autumn was fast coming to a close.  Sometimes we started on our walk before breakfast, when we had a reasonable prospect of obtaining it within the compass of a two-hours’ journey, but Malham was a secluded village, with no main road passing through it, and it was surrounded by moors on every side.

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There were several objects of interest in Malham which we were told were well worth seeing:  Malham Cove, Janet’s Foss or Gennetth’s Cave, and Gordale Scar.  The first of these we resolved to see before breakfast.  We therefore walked along a path which practically followed the course of the stream that passed under the brig, and after a fine walk of about three-quarters of a mile through the grass patches, occasionally relieved by bushes and trees, we reached the famous cove.  Here our farther way was barred by an amphitheatre of precipitous limestone rocks of a light grey colour, rising perpendicularly to the height of about 200 feet, which formed the cove itself.  From the base of these rocks, along a horizontal bedding plane and at one particular spot, issued the stream along which we had walked, forming the source of the River Aire, which flows through Skipton and on to Leeds, the curious feature about it being that there was no visible aperture in the rocks, neither arch nor hole, from which it could come.  The water appeared to gain volume from the loose stones under our feet, and as we had not seen a sight like this in all our travels, we were much surprised to find it forming itself immediately into a fair-sized brook.  We gazed upwards to the top of the rocks, which were apparently unprotected, and wondered what the fate would be of the lost traveller who unconsciously walked over them, as there seemed nothing except a few small bushes, in one place only, to break his fall.  We heard afterwards of a sorrowful accident that had happened there.  It related to a young boy who one day, taking his little brother with him for company, went to look for birds’ nests.  On reaching the cove they rambled to the top of the cliff, where the elder boy saw a bird’s nest, to which he went while his little brother waited for him at a distance, watching him taking the eggs.  All at once he saw him stoop down to gather some flowers to bring to him, and then disappear.  He waited some time expecting his brother to return, but as he did not come back the little fellow decided to go home.  On the way he gathered some flowers, which he gleefully showed to his father, who asked him where he had got them, and where his brother was.  The child said he had gone to sleep, and he had tried to waken him but couldn’t; and when he told the full story, the father became greatly alarmed, and, taking his child with him, went to the foot of the cliffs, where he found his son lying dead where he had fallen, with the flowers still clasped in his hand!

[Illustration:  MALHAM COVE.]

We were afterwards told that above the cliff and a few miles up a valley a great stream could be seen disappearing quietly down into the rock.  It was this stream presumably which lost itself in a subterranean channel, to reappear at the foot of Malham Cove.

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After breakfast we again resumed our journey, and went to inspect Janet’s Cave or Foss—­for our host told us that it was no use coming to see a pretty place like Malham without viewing all the sights we could while we were there.  We walked up a lovely little glen, where it was said a fairy once resided, and which if it had been placed elsewhere would certainly have been described as the Fairy Glen; but whether or not Janet was the name of the fairy we did not ascertain.  In it we came to a pretty little waterfall dropping down from one step to another, the stream running from it being as clear as crystal.  The rocks were lined with mosses, which had become as fleecy-looking as wool, as they were almost petrified by the continual dropping of the spray from the lime-impregnated water that fell down the rocks.  There were quite a variety of mosses and ferns, but the chief of the climbing plants was what Dickens described “as the rare old plant, the ivy green,” which not only clung to the rocks, but had overshadowed them by climbing up the trees above.  To see the small dark cave it was necessary to cross the stream in front of the waterfall, and here stepping-stones had been provided for that purpose, but, owing to the unusual depth of water, these were covered rather deeply, with the result that all the available spaces in our boots were filled with water.  This was, of course, nothing unusual to us, as we had become quite accustomed to wet feet, and we now looked upon it as an ordinary incident of travel.  The cave was said to have been the resort of goblins, and when we wondered where they were now, my brother mildly suggested that we might have seen them if we had possessed a mirror.  We had seen a list of the names of the different mosses to be found in the Malham district, but, as these were all in Latin, instead of committing them to memory, we contented ourselves with counting the names of over forty different varieties besides hepaties, lichens, ferns, and many flowers: 

  Hie away, hie away,
  Over bank and over brae,
  Where the copsewood is the greenest,
  Where the fountains glisten sheenest. 
  Where the lady-fern grows strongest,
  Where the morning dew lies longest,
  Where the blackcock sweetest sips it. 
  Where the fairy latest trips it;

  Hie to haunts right seldom seen,
  Lovely, lonesome, cool and green;
  Over bank and over brae
  Hie away, hie away!

So we now “hied away” to find Gordale Scar, calling at a farmhouse to inquire the way, for we knew we must cross some land belonging to the farm before we could reach the Scar.  We explained to the farmer the object of our journey and that we wished afterwards to cross the moors.  After directing us how to reach the Scar, he said there was no necessity for us to return to Malham if we could climb up the side of the waterfall at the Scar, since we should find the road leading from Malham a short distance

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from the top.  He wished us good luck on our journey, and, following his instructions, we soon reached Gordale Scar.  It was interesting to note the difference in the names applied to the same objects of nature in the different parts of the country we passed through, and here we found a scar meant a rock, a beck a brook, and a tarn, from a Celtic word meaning a tear, a small lake.  Gordale Scar was a much more formidable place than we had expected to find, as the rocks were about five yards higher than those at Malham Cove, and it is almost as difficult to describe them as to climb to the top!

[Illustration:  GORDALE SCAR.]

Gordale Beck has its rise near Malham Tarn, about 1,500 feet above sea-level; and, after running across the moor for about three miles, gathering strength in its progress, it reaches the top of this cliff, and, passing over it, has formed in the course of ages quite a considerable passage, widening as it approaches the valley below, where it emerges through a chasm between two rocks which rise to a great height.  It was from this point we had to begin our climb, and few people could pass underneath these overhanging rocks without a sense of danger.  The track at this end had evidently been well patronised by visitors, but the last of these had departed with the month of September, and as it was now late in October we had the Scar all to ourselves.  It was, therefore, a lonely climb, and a very difficult one as we approached the top, for the volume of water was necessarily much greater after the heavy autumnal rainfall than when the visitors were there in the summer; and as we had to pass quite near the falls, the wind blew the spray in some places over our path.  It seemed very strange to see white foaming water high above our heads.  There was some vegetation in places; here and there a small yew tree, which reminded us of churchyards and the dark plumes on funeral coaches; but there were also many varieties of ferns in the fissures in the rocks.  When we neared the top, encumbered as we were with umbrellas, walking-sticks, and bags, we had to assist each other from one elevation to another, one climbing up first and the other handing the luggage to him, and we were very pleased when we emerged on the moors above.

[Illustration:  KILNSEY CRAGS.]

Here we found the beck running deeply and swiftly along a channel which appeared to have been hewn out expressly for it, but on closer inspection we found it quite a natural formation.  We have been told since by an unsentimental geologist that the structure is not difficult to understand.  As in the case of the Malham Cove stream, this one passed into the rock and gradually ate out a hollow, while ultimately escaping from the cliff as in the cove; but the roof of the cave collapsed, forming the great chasm and revealing the stream as it leaped down from one level to another.  Looking about us on the top we saw lonely moors without a house or a tree in sight, and

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walked across them until we came to a very rough road—­possibly the track which we expected to find leading from Malham.  Malham Tarn was not in sight, but we had learned that the water was about a mile in length and the only things to be seen there were two kinds of fish—­perch and trout—–­which often quarrelled and decimated each other.  The weather was dull, and we had encountered several showers on our way, passing between the Parson’s Pulpit to the left, rising quite 1,700 feet, and the Druid’s Altar to our right; but we afterwards learned that it was a poor specimen, and that there were much finer ones in existence, while the Parson’s Pulpit was described as “a place for the gods, where a man, with a knowledge of nature and a lover of the same, might find it vantage ground to speak or lecture on the wonders of God and nature.”

We were pleased to get off the moors before further showers came on, and before we reached Kilnsey, where this portion of the moors terminated abruptly in the Kilnsey Crags, we passed by a curious place called Dowker Bottom Cave, where some antiquarian discoveries had been made about fifteen years before our visit, excavations several feet below the lime-charged floor of the cave having revealed the fact that it had been used by cave-dwellers both before and after the time of the Romans:  there were also distinct traces of ancient burials.

The monks of Furness Abbey formerly owned about 6,000 acres of land in this neighbourhood, and a small vale here still bore the name of Fountains Dell; but the Scotch raiders often came down and robbed the monks of their fat sheep and cattle.  The valley now named Littondale was formerly known as Amerdale, and was immortalised as such by Wordsworth in his “White Doe of Rylstone”: 

  Unwooed, yet unforbidden. 
    The White Doe followed up the vale,
  Up to another cottage, hidden
    In the deep fork of Amerdale.

The road passes almost under Kilnsey Crag, but though it seemed so near, some visitors who were throwing stones at it did not succeed in hitting it.  We were a little more successful ourselves, but failed to hit the face of the rock itself, reminding us of our efforts to dislodge rooks near their nests on the tops of tall trees:  they simply watched the stones rising upwards, knowing that their force would be spent before either reaching their nests or themselves.  On arriving at Kilnsey, we called at the inn for refreshments, and were told that the ancient building we saw was Kilnsey Old Hall, where, if we had come earlier in the year, before the hay was put in the building, we could have seen some beautiful fresco-work over the inside of the barn doors!

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After lunch we had a very nice walk alongside the River Wharfe to a rather pretty place named Grassington, where an ancient market had been held since 1282, but was now discontinued.  We should have been pleased to stay a while here had time permitted, but we were anxious to reach Pateley Bridge, where we intended making our stay for the week-end.  We now journeyed along a hilly road with moors on each side of us as far as Greenhow Hill mines, worked by the Romans, and there our road reached its highest elevation at 1,320 feet above sea-level—­the village church as regarded situation claiming to be the highest in Yorkshire.  We had heard of a wonderful cave that we should find quite near our road, and we were on the look-out for the entrance, which we expected would be a black arch somewhere at the side of the road, but were surprised to find it was only a hole in the surface of a field.  On inquiry we heard the cave was kept locked up, and that we must apply for admission to the landlord of the inn some distance farther along the road.  We found the landlord busy, as it was Saturday afternoon; but when we told him we were walking from John o’ Groat’s to Land’s End and wanted to see all the sights we could on our way, he consented at once to go with us and conduct us through the cave.  We had to take off our coats, and were provided with white jackets, or slops, and a lighted candle each.  We followed our guide down some steps that had been made, into what were to us unknown regions.

We went along narrow passages and through large rooms for about two hundred yards, part of the distance being under the road we had just walked over.  We had never been in a cave like this before.  The stalactites which hung from the roof of the cavern, and which at first we thought were long icicles, were formed by the rain-water as it slowly filtered through the limestone rock above, all that could not be retained by the stalactite dropping from the end of it to the floor beneath.  Here it gradually formed small pyramids, or stalagmites, which slowly rose to meet their counterparts, the stalactites, above, so that one descended while the other ascended.  How long a period elapsed before these strange things were formed our guide could not tell us, but it must have been very considerable, for the drops came down so slowly.  It was this slow dropping that made it necessary for us to wear the white jackets, and now and then a drop fell upon our headgear and on the “slops.”  Still we felt sure it would have taken hundreds of years before we should have been transformed into either stalactites or stalagmites.  In some of the places we saw they had long since met each other, and in the course of ages had formed themselves into all kinds of queer shapes.  In one room, which our guide told us was the “church,” we saw the “organ” and the “gallery,” and in another the likeness of a “bishop,” and in another place we saw an almost exact representation of the four fingers of a man’s hand suspended from the roof of the cave.  Some of the subterranean passages were so low that we could scarcely creep through them, and we wondered what would become of us if the roof had given way before we could return.  Many other images were pointed out to us, and we imagined we saw fantastic and other ghostly shapes for ourselves.

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[Illustration:  ENTRANCE TO THE CAVE.]

We were careful to keep our candles alight as we followed our guide on the return journey, and kept as close together as we could.  It was nearly dark when we reached the entrance of the cavern again, and our impression was that we had been in another world.  Farther south we explored another and a larger cave, but the vandals had been there and broken off many of the “’tites,” which here were quite perfect.  We had not felt hungry while we were in the cave, but these well-known pangs came on us in force immediately we reached the open air, and we were glad to accept the landlord’s offer to provide for our inward requirements, and followed him home to the inn for tea.  The landlord had told the company at the inn about our long walk, and as walking was more in vogue in those days than at later periods, we became objects of interest at once, and all were anxious to form our acquaintance.

[Illustration:  STUMP CROSS CAVES The Four Fingers.  The “’tites” and “’mites.”]

We learned that what we had noted as the Greenhow Cave was known by the less euphonius name of the “Stump Cross Cavern.”  It appeared that in ancient times a number of crosses were erected to mark the limits of the great Forest of Knaresborough, a royal forest as far back as the twelfth century, strictly preserved for the benefit of the reigning monarch.  It abounded with deer, wild boars, and other beasts of the chase, and was so densely wooded that the Knaresborough people were ordered to clear a passage through it for the wool-carriers from Newcastle to Leeds.  Now we could scarcely see a tree for miles, yet as recently as the year 1775 the forest covered 100,000 acres and embraced twenty-four townships.  Before the Reformation, the boundary cross on the Greenhow side was known as the Craven Cross, for Craven was one of the ancient counties merged in what is called the West Riding.  The Reformers objected to crosses, and knocked it off its pedestal, so that only the stump remained.  Thus it gradually became known as the Stump Cross, and from its proximity the cavern when discovered was christened the Stump Cross Cavern.  We were informed that the lead mines at Greenhow were the oldest in England, and perhaps in the world, and it was locally supposed that the lead used in the building of Solomon’s Temple was brought from here.  Two bars of lead that had been made in the time of the Romans had been found on the moors, and one of these was now to be seen at Ripley Castle in Yorkshire, while the other was in the British Museum.

Eugene Aram, whose story we heard for the first time in the inn, was born at a village a few miles from Greenhow.  The weather had been showery during the afternoon, but we had missed one of the showers, which came on while we were in the cavern.  It was now fine, and the moon shone brightly as we descended the steep hill leading to Pateley Bridge.  We had crossed the River Dibb after leaving Grassington, and now, before crossing the River Nidd at Pateley Bridge, we stayed at the “George Inn,” an old hostelry dating from the year 1664.

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(Distance walked twenty-one and a half miles.)

Sunday, October 22nd.

We spent a fairly quiet day at Pateley Bridge, where there was not a great deal to see.  What there was we must have seen, as we made good use of the intervals between the three religious services we attended in exploring the town and its immediate neighbourhood.  We had evidently not taken refuge in one of the inns described by Daniel Defoe, for we were some little distance from the parish church, which stood on a rather steep hill on the opposite bank of the river.  Near the church were the ruins of an older edifice, an ancient description running, “The old Chappel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Pateley Brigg in Nidderdale.”  We climbed the hill, and on our way came to an old well on which was inscribed the following translation by Dryden from the Latin of Ovid [43 B.C.-A.D. 18]: 

  Ill Habits gather by unseen degrees,
  As Brooks run rivers—­Rivers run to Seas.

and then followed the words: 

  The way to church.

We did not go there “by unseen degrees,” but still we hoped our good habits might gather in like proportion.  We went to the parish church both morning and evening, and explored the graveyards, but though gravestones were numerous enough we did not find any epitaph worthy of record—­though one of the stones recorded the death in July 1755 of the four sons of Robert and Margaret Fryer, who were born at one birth and died aged one week.

In the afternoon we went to the Congregational Chapel, and afterwards were shown through a very old Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1776, and still containing the old seats, with the ancient pulpit from which John Wesley had preached on several occasions.

It was curious to observe how anxious the compilers of the histories of the various places at which we stayed were to find a remote beginning, and how apologetic they were that they could not start even earlier.  Those of Pateley Bridge were no exception to the rule.  The Roman Occupation might perhaps have been considered a reasonable foundation, but they were careful to record that the Brigantes were supposed to have overrun this district long before the Romans, since several stone implements had been found in the neighbourhood.  One of the Roman pigs of lead found hereabouts, impressed with the name of the Emperor “Domitian,” bore also the word “Brig,” which was supposed to be a contraction of Brigantes.  A number of Roman coins had also been discovered, but none of them of a later date than the Emperor Hadrian, A.D. 139, the oldest being one of Nero, A.D. 54-68.


Previous to the fourteenth century the River Nidd was crossed by means of a paved ford, and this might originally have been paved by the Romans, who probably had a ford across the river where Pateley Bridge now stands for the safe conveyance of the bars of lead from the Greenhow mines, to which the town owed its importance, down to the beginning of the nineteenth century.  But though it could boast a Saturday market dating from the time of Edward II, it was now considered a quiet and somewhat sleepy town.

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The valley along which the River Nidd runs from its source in the moors, about ten miles away, was known as Nidderdale.  In the church book at Middlesmoor, about six miles distant, were two entries connected with two hamlets on the banks of the Nidd near Pateley Bridge which fix the dates of the christening and marriage of that clever murderer, Eugene Aram.  We place them on record here: 

   RAMSGILL.—­Eugenious Aram, son of Peter Aram, bap. ye 2nd of October,
   1704.  LOFTUS.—­Eugenius Aram and Anna Spence, married May 4th, after
   banns thrice pub. 1731.

We retired to rest early.  Our last week’s walk was below the average, and we hoped by a good beginning to make up the mileage during the coming week, a hope not to be fulfilled, as after events proved.



Monday, October 23rd.

We left Pateley Bridge at seven o’clock in the morning, and after walking about two miles on the Ripley Road, turned off to the left along a by-lane to find the wonderful Brimham rocks, of which we had been told.  We heard thrashing going on at a farm, which set us wondering whether we were on the same road along which Chantrey the famous sculptor walked when visiting these same rocks.  His visit probably would not have been known had not the friend who accompanied him kept a diary in which he recorded the following incident.

They were walking towards the rocks when they, like ourselves, heard the sound of thrashing in a barn, which started an argument between them on their relative abilities in the handling of the flail.  As they could not settle the matter by words, they resolved to do so by blows; so they made their way to the farm and requested the farmer to allow them to try their hand at thrashing corn, and to judge which of them shaped the better.  The farmer readily consented, and accompanied them to the barn, where, stopping the two men who were at work, he placed Chantrey and his friend in their proper places.  They stripped for the fight, each taking a flail, while the farmer and his men watched the duel with smiling faces.  It soon became evident that Chantrey was the better of the two.  The unequal contest was stopped, much to the chagrin of the keeper of the diary, by the judge giving his verdict in favour of the great sculptor.  This happened about seventy years before our visit, but even now the old-fashioned method of thrashing corn had not yet been ousted by steam machinery, and the sound of the flails as they were swung down upon the barn floors was still one of the commonest and noisiest that, during the late autumn and winter months, met our ears in country villages.

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When the time came for the corn to be thrashed, the sheaves were placed on the barn floor with their heads all in the same direction, the binders which held them together loosened, and the corn spread out.  Two men were generally employed in this occupation, one standing opposite the other, and the corn was separated from the straw and chaff by knocking the heads with sticks.  These sticks, or flails, were divided into two parts, the longer of which was about the size of a broom-handle, but made of a much stronger kind of wood, while the other, which was about half its length, was fastened to the top by a hinge made of strong leather, so that the flail was formed into the shape of a whip, except that the lash would not bend, and was as thick as the handle.  The staff was held with both hands, one to guide and the other to strike, and as the thrashers were both practically aiming at the same place, it was necessary, in order to prevent their flails colliding, that one lash should be up in the air at the same moment that the other was down on the floor, so that it required some practice in order to become a proficient thrasher.  The flails descended on the barn floors with the regularity of the ticking of a clock, or the rhythmic and measured footsteps of a man walking in a pair of clogs at a quickstep speed over the hard surface of a cobbled road.  We knew that this mediaeval method of thrashing corn would be doomed in the future, and that the old-fashioned flail would become a thing of the past, only to be found in some museum as a relic of antiquity, so we recorded this description of Chantrey’s contest with the happy memories of the days when we ourselves went a-thrashing corn a long time ago!


What Chantrey thought of those marvellous rocks at Brimham was not recorded, but, as they covered quite fifty acres of land, his friend, like ourselves, would find it impossible to give any lengthy description of them, and might, like the auctioneers, dismiss them with the well-known phrase, “too numerous to mention.”

To our great advantage we were the only visitors at the rocks, and for that reason enjoyed the uninterrupted services of the official guide, an elderly man whose heart was in his work, and a born poet withal.

[Illustration:  THE DANCING-BEAR ROCK.]

The first thing we had to do was to purchase his book of poems, which, as a matter of course, was full of poetical descriptions of the wonderful rocks he had to show us—­and thoroughly and conscientiously he did his duty.  As we came to each rock, whether we had to stand below or above it, he poured out his poetry with a rapidity that quite bewildered and astonished us.  He could not, of course, tell us whether the rocks had been worn into their strange forms by the action of the sea washing against them at some remote period, or whether they had been shaped in the course of ages by the action of the wind and rain;

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but we have appealed to our geological friend, who states, in that emphatic way which scientific people adopt, that these irregular crags are made of millstone grit, and that the fantastic shapes are due to long exposure to weather and the unequal hardness of the rock.  Our guide accompanied us first to the top of a great rock, which he called Mount Pisgah, from which we could see on one side a wilderness of bare moors and mountains, and on the other a fertile valley, interspersed with towns and villages as far as the eye could reach.  Here the guide told my brother that he could imagine himself to be like Moses of old, who from Pisgah’s lofty height viewed the Promised Land of Canaan on one side, and the wilderness on the other!  But we were more interested in the astonishing number of rocks around us than in the distant view, and when our guide described them as the “finest freak of nature of the rock kind in England,” we thoroughly endorsed his remarks.  We had left our luggage at the caretaker’s house, which had been built near the centre of this great mass of stones in the year 1792, by Lord Grantley, to whom the property belonged, from the front door of which, we were told, could be seen, on a clear day, York Minster, a distance of twenty-eight miles as the crow flies.  As may be imagined, it was no small task for the guide to take us over fifty acres of ground and to recite verses about every object of interest he showed us, some of them from his book and some from memory.  But as we were without our burdens we could follow him quickly, while he was able to take us at once to the exact position where the different shapes could be seen to the best advantage.  How long it would have taken that gentleman we met near Loch Lomond in Scotland who tried to show us “the cobbler and his wife,” on the top of Ben Arthur, from a point from which it could not be seen, we could not guess, but it was astonishing how soon we got through the work, and were again on our way to find “fresh fields and pastures new.”

[Illustration:  THE HIGH ROCK.]

We saw the “Bulls of Nineveh,” the “Tortoise,” the “Gorilla,” and the “Druids’ Temple”—­also the “Druids’ Reading-desk,” the “Druids’ Oven,” and the “Druid’s Head.”  Then there was the “Idol,” where a great stone, said to weigh over two hundred tons, was firmly balanced on a base measuring only two feet by ten inches.  There was the usual Lovers’ Leap, and quite a number of rocking stones, some of which, although they were many tons in weight, could easily be rocked with one hand.  The largest stone of all was estimated to weigh over one hundred tons, though it was only discovered to be movable in the year 1786.  The “Cannon Rock” was thirty feet long, and, as it was perforated with holes, was supposed to have been used as an oracle by the Ancients, a question asked down a hole at one end being answered by the gods through the priest or priestess hidden from view at the other.  The different recesses, our guide

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informed us, were used as lovers’ seats and wishing stones.  The “Frog and the Porpoise,” the “Oyster Rock,” the “Porpoise’s Head,” the “Sphinx,” the “Elephant and Yoke of Oxen,” and the “Hippopotamus’s Head” were all clearly defined.  The “Dancing Bear” was a splendidly shaped specimen, and then there was a “Boat Rock,” with bow and stern complete.  But on the “Mount Delectable,” as our guide called it, there was a very romantic courting and kissing chair, which, although there was only room for one person to sit in it at a time, he assured us was, in summer time, the best patronised seat in the lot.

We remunerated him handsomely, for he had worked hard and, as “England expects,” he had done his duty.  He directed us to go along a by-lane through Sawley or Sawley Moor, as being the nearest way to reach Fountains Abbey:  but of course we lost our way as usual.  The Brimham Rocks were about 1,000 feet above sea-level, and from them we could see Harrogate, which was, even then, a fashionable and rising inland watering-place.  Our guide, when he showed us its position in the distance, did not venture to make any poetry about it, so we quote a verse written by another poet about the visitors who went there: 

  Some go for the sake of the waters—­
    Well, they are the old-fashioned elves—­
  And some to dispose of their daughters,
    And some to dispose of themselves.

But there must be many visitors who go there to search in its bracing air for the health they have lost during many years of toil and anxiety, and to whom the words of an unknown poet would more aptly apply: 

  We squander Health in search of Wealth,
    We scheme, and toil, and save;
  Then squander Wealth in search of Health,
    And only find a Grave. 
  We live! and boast of what we own! 
  We die! and only get a STONE!


[Illustration:  FOUNTAINS ABBEY.  “How grand the fine old ruin appeared, calmly reposing in the peaceful valley below.”]

[Illustration:  THE CLOISTERS, FOUNTAINS ABBEY.  “Many great warriors were buried beneath the peaceful shade of Fountains Abbey.”]

[Illustration:  THE NAVE]

Fortunately we happened to meet with a gentleman who was going part of the way towards Fountains Abbey, and him we accompanied for some distance.  He told us that the abbey was the most perfect ruin in England, and when we parted he gave us clear instructions about the way to reach it.  We were walking on, keeping a sharp look out for the abbey through the openings in the trees that partially covered our way, when suddenly we became conscious of looking at a picture without realising what it was, for our thoughts and attention had been fixed upon the horizon on the opposite hill, where for some undefined reason we expected the abbey to appear.  Lo and behold, there was the abbey in the valley below, which we might

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have seen sooner had we been looking down instead of up.  The effect of the view coming so suddenly was quite electrical, and after our first exclamation of surprise we stood there silently gazing upon the beautiful scene before us; and how grand the fine old ruin appeared calmly reposing in the beautiful valley below!  It was impossible to forget the picture!  Why we had expected to find the abbey in the position of a city set upon a hill which could not be hid we could not imagine, for we knew that the abbeys in the olden times had to be hidden from view as far as possible as one means of protecting them from warlike marauders who had no sympathy either with the learned monks or their wonderful books.  Further they required a stream of water near them for fish and other purposes, and a kaleyard or level patch of ground for the growth of vegetables, as well as a forest—­using the word in the Roman sense, to mean stretches of woodland divided by open spaces—­to supply them with logs and with deer for venison, for there was no doubt that, as time went on, the monks, to use a modern phrase, “did themselves well.”  All these conditions existed near the magnificent position on which the great abbey had been built.  The river which ran alongside was named the Skell, a name probably derived from the Norse word Keld, signifying a spring or fountain, and hence the name Fountains, for the place was noted for its springs and wells, as—­

  From the streams and springs which Nature here contrives,
  The name of Fountains this sweet place derives.

[Illustration:  THE GREAT TOWER]

The history of the abbey stated that it was founded by thirteen monks who, wishing to lead a holier and a stricter life than then prevailed in that monastery, seceded from the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary’s at York.  With the Archbishop’s sanction they retired to this desolate spot to imitate the sanctity and discipline of the Cistercians in the Abbey of Rieval.  They had no house to shelter them, but in the depth of the valley there grew a great elm tree, amongst the branches of which they twisted straw, thus forming a roof beneath which they might dwell.  When the winter came on, they left the shelter of the elm and came under that of seven yew-trees of extraordinary size.  With the waters of the River Skell they quenched their thirst, the Archbishop occasionally sent them bread, and when spring came they built a wooden chapel.  Others joined them, but their accession increased their privations, and they often had no food except leaves of trees and wild herbs.  Even now these herbs and wild flowers of the monks grew here and there amongst the old ruins.  Rosemary, lavender, hyssop, rue, silver and bronze lichens, pale rosy feather pink, a rare flower, yellow mullein, bee and fly orchis, and even the deadly nightshade, which was once so common at Furness Abbey.  One day their provisions consisted of only two and a half loaves of bread, and a stranger passing by asked for a morsel.  “Give him a loaf,” said the Abbot; “the Lord will provide,”—­and so they did.  Marvellous to relate, says the chronicle, immediately afterwards a cart appeared bringing a present of food from Sir Eustace Fitz-John, the lord of the neighbouring castle of Knaresborough, until then an unfriendly personage to the monks.

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[Illustration:  “Beneath whose peaceful shades great warriors rest.”]

Before long the monks prospered:  Hugh, the Dean of York, left them his fortune, and in 1203 they began to build the abbey.  Other helpers came forward, and in course of time Fountains became one of the richest monasteries in Yorkshire.  The seven yew trees were long remembered as the “Seven Sisters,” but only one of them now remains.  Many great warriors were buried beneath the peaceful shade of Fountains Abbey, and many members of the Percy family, including Lord Henry de Percy, who, after deeds of daring and valour on many a hard-fought field as he followed the banner of King Edward I all through the wilds of Scotland, prayed that his body might find a resting-place within the walls of Fountains Abbey.  Lands were given to the abbey, until there were 60,000 acres attached to it and enclosed in a ring fence.  One of the monks from Fountains went to live as a hermit in a secluded spot adjoining the River Nidd, a short distance from Knaresborough, where he became known as St. Robert the Hermit.  He lived in a cave hewn out of the rock on one side of the river, where the banks were precipitous and covered with trees.  One day the lord of the forest was hunting, and saw smoke rising above the trees.  On making inquiries, he was told it came from the cave of St. Robert.  His lordship was angry, and, as he did not know who the hermit was, ordered him to be sent away and his dwelling destroyed.  These orders were in process of being carried out, and the front part of the cave, which was only a small one, had in fact been broken down, when his lordship heard what a good man St. Robert the Hermit was.  He ordered him to be reinstated, and his cave reformed, and he gave him some land.  When the saint died, the monks of Fountains Abbey—­anxious, like most of their order, to possess the remains of any saint likely to be popular among the religious-minded—­came for his body, so that they might bury it in their own monastery, and would have taken it away had not a number of armed men arrived from Knaresborough Castle.  So St. Robert was buried in the church at Knaresborough.


St. Robert the Hermit was born in 1160, and died in 1218, so that he lived and died in the days of the Crusades to the Holy Land.  Although his name was still kept in remembrance, his Cave and Chapel had long been deserted and overgrown with bushes and weeds, while the overhanging trees hid it completely from view.  But after a lapse of hundreds of years St. Robert’s Cave was destined to come into greater prominence than ever, because of the sensational discovery of the remains of the victim of Eugene Aram, which was accidentally brought to light after long years, when the crime had been almost forgotten and the murderer had vanished from the scene of his awful deed.

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The tragedy enacted in St. Robert’s Cave has been immortalised in poetry and in story:  by Lord Lytton in his story of “Eugene Aram” and by Tom Hood in “The Dream of Eugene Aram.”  Aram was a man of considerable attainments, for he knew Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and other languages, and was also a good mathematician as well as an antiquarian.  He settled in Knaresborough in the year 1734, and among his acquaintances were one Daniel Clark and another, John Houseman, and these three were often together until suddenly Daniel Clark disappeared.  No one knew what had become of him, and no intelligence could be obtained from his two companions.  Aram shortly afterwards left the town, and it was noticed that Houseman never left his home after dark, so they were suspected of being connected in some way with the disappearance of Clark.  It afterwards transpired that Aram had induced Clark to give a great supper, and to invite all the principal people in the town, borrowing all the silver vessels he could from them, on the pretence that he was short.  The plot was to pretend that robbers had got in the house and stolen the silver.  Clark fell in with this plot, and gave the supper, borrowing all the silver he could.  After all was over, they were to meet at Clark’s house, put the silver in a sack, and proceed to St. Robert’s Cave, which at that time was in ruins, where the treasure was to be hidden until matters had quieted down, after which they would sell it and divide the money; Clark was to take a spade and a pick, while the other two carried the bag in turns.  Clark began to dig the trench within the secluded and bush-covered cave which proved to be his own grave, and when he had nearly finished the trench, Aram came behind and with one of the tools gave him a tremendous blow on the head which killed him instantly, and the two men buried him there.


Clark’s disappearance caused a great sensation, every one thinking he had run away with the borrowed silver.  Years passed away, and the matter was considered as a thing of the past and forgotten, until it was again brought to recollection by some workmen, who had been digging on the opposite side of the river to St. Robert’s Cave, finding a skeleton of some person buried there.  As the intelligence was spread about Knaresborough, the people at once came to the conclusion that the skeleton was that of Daniel Clark, who had disappeared fourteen years before.  Although Aram had left the neighbourhood soon after Clark disappeared, and no one knew where he had gone, Houseman was still in the town, and when the news of the finding of the skeleton reached him, he was drinking in one of the public-houses, and, being partly drunk, his only remark was, “It’s no more Dan Clark’s skeleton than it’s mine.”  Immediately he was accused of being concerned in the disappearance of Clark, and ultimately confessed that Aram had killed Clark, and that together they had buried his dead body in St. Robert’s Cave.  Search was made there, and Clark’s bones were found.  One day a traveller came to the town who said he had seen Aram at Lynn in Norfolk, where he had a school.  Officers were at once sent there to apprehend Aram, and the same night—­

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  Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,
    Through the cold and heavy mist;
  And Eugene Aram walked between
    With gyves upon his wrist.

Aram was brought up for trial, and made a fine speech in defending himself; but it was of no avail, for Houseman turned “King’s Evidence” against him, telling all he knew on condition that he himself was pardoned.  The verdict was “Guilty,” and Aram was hanged at York in the year 1759.

[Illustration:  ST. ROBERTS CHAPEL.]

Fountains Abbey in its prime must have been one of the noblest and stateliest sanctuaries in the kingdom.  The great tower was 167 feet high, and the nave about 400 feet long, while the cloisters—­still almost complete, for we walked under their superb arches several times from one end to the other—­were marvellous to see.  One of the wells at Fountains Abbey was named Robin Hood’s Well, for in the time of that famous outlaw the approach to the Abbey was defended by a very powerful and brave monk who kept quite a number of dogs, on which account he was named the Cur-tail Friar.  Robin Hood and Little John were trying their skill and strength in archery on the deer in the forest when, in the words of the old ballad: 

  Little John killed a Hart of Greece
    Five hundred feet him fro,

and Robin was so proud of his friend that he said he would ride a hundred miles to find such another, a remark—­

  That caused Will Shadlocke to laugh. 
    He laughed full heartily;
  There lives a curtail fryer in Fountains Abbey
    Will beate bothe him and thee.

  The curtell fryer, in Fountains Abbey,
    Well can a strong bow draw;
  He will beate you and your yeomen. 
    Set them all in a row.


So Robin, taking up his weapons and putting on his armour, went to seek the friar, and found him near the River Skell which skirted the abbey.  Robin arranged with the friar that as a trial of strength they should carry each other across the river.  After this had been accomplished successfully Robin asked to be carried over a second time.  But the friar only carried him part way and then threw him into the deepest part of the river, or, in the words of the ballad: 

  And coming to the middle streame
    There he threw Robin in;
  “And chuse thee, chuse thee, fine fellow,
    Whether thou wilt sink or swim.”

Robin evidently did not care to sink, so he swam to a willow bush and, gaining dry land, took one of his best arrows and shot at the friar.  The arrow glanced off the monk’s steel armour, and he invited Robin to shoot on, which he did, but with no greater success.  Then they took their swords and “fought with might and maine”: 

  From ten o’ th’ clock that very day
    Till four i’ th’ afternoon. 
  Then Robin came to his knee
    Of the fryer to beg a boone.

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  “A boone, a boone, thou curtail fryer,
    I beg it on my knee;
  Give me leave to set my horn to my mouth
    And to blow blastes three.”

The friar consented contemptuously, for he had got the better of the fight; so Robin blew his “blastes three,” and presently fifty of his yeomen made their appearance.  It was now the friar’s turn to ask a favour.

  “A boone, a boone,” said the curtail fryer,
    “The like I gave to thee: 
  Give me leave to set my fist to my mouth
    And to whute whues three.”

and as Robin readily agreed to this, he sounded his “whues three,” and immediately—­

  Halfe a hundred good band-dogs
    Came running o’er the lee.

  “Here’s for every man a dog
    And I myself for thee.” 
  “Nay, by my faith,” said Robin Hood,
    “Fryer, that may not be.”

  Two dogs at once to Robin Hood did goe. 
    The one behinde, the other before;
  Robin Hood’s mantle of Lincoln greene
    Offe from his backe they tore.

  And whether his men shot east or west. 
    Or they shot north or south,
  The curtail dogs, so taught they were,
    They kept the arrows in their mouth.

  “Take up the dogs,” said Little John;
    “Fryer, at my bidding be.” 
  “Whose man art thou,” said the curtail fryer,
    “Come here to prate to me!”

  “I’m Little John, Robin Hood’s man. 
    Fryer, I will not lie. 
  If thou tak’st not up thy dogs,
    I’ll take them up for thee.”

  Little John had a bowe in his hands. 
    He shot with mighte and maine;
  Soon half a score of the fryer’s dogs
    Lay dead upon the plaine.

  “Hold thy hand, good fellow,” said the curtail fryer. 
    “Thy master and I will agree,
  And we will have new order ta’en
    With all the haste may be.”

Then Robin Hood said to the friar: 

  “If thou wilt forsake fair Fountains Dale
    And Fountains Abbey free,
  Every Sunday throughout the yeare
    A noble shall be thy fee.

  “And every holiday throughout the yeare
    Changed shall thy garment be
  If thou wilt go to fair Nottinghame
    And there remaine with me.”

  This curtail fryer had kept Fountains Dale
    Seven long years and more;
  There was neither knight, lord or earle
    Could make him yield before.

According to tradition, the friar accepted Robin’s offer and became the famous Friar Tuck of the outlaw’s company of Merrie Men whom in Ivanhoe Scott describes as exchanging blows in a trial of strength with Richard Coeur de Lion.  It was said that when Robin Hood died, his bow and arrows were hung up in Fountains Abbey, where they remained for centuries.

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We procured some refreshments near the abbey, and then walked on to Ripon, through the fine park and grounds of Studley Royal, belonging to the Marquis of Ripon, and we esteemed it a great privilege to be allowed to do so.  The fine trees and gardens and the beautiful waters, with some lovely swans floating on them, their white plumage lit up with the rays of the sun, which that day shone out in all its glory, formed such a contrast to the dull and deserted moors, that we thought the people of Ripon, like ourselves, ought to be thankful that they were allowed to have access to these beautiful grounds.

The town of Ripon, like many others in the north of England, had suffered much in the time of the wars, and had had an eventful history, for after being burnt by the Danes it was restored by Alfred the Great in the year 860, only to be destroyed once more by William the Conqueror in his ruthless march through the northern counties.  A survival of Alfred’s wise government still existed in the “Wake-man,” whose duty it was to blow a horn at nine o’clock each night as a warning against thieves.  If a robbery occurred during the night, the inhabitants were taxed with the amount stolen.  A horn was still blown, three blasts being given at nine o’clock at the Market Cross and three immediately afterwards at the Mayor’s door by the official horn-blower, during which performances the seventh bell in the cathedral was tolled.  The ancient motto of the town was: 


In 1680 the silver badges that adorned the horn were stolen by thieves, but they had long since been replaced, and the horn was now quite a grand affair, the gold chain purchased for it in 1859 costing L250.

The town was again burnt by Robert Bruce in 1319, when the north of England was being devastated after the disastrous Battle of Bannockburn; but it soon revived in importance, and in 1405 Henry IV and his court retired thither to escape the plague which at that time was raging in London.

In the time of the Civil War Charles I was brought to Ripon by his captors, and lodged for two nights in a house where he was sumptuously entertained, and was so well pleased with the way he had been treated that his ghost was said to have visited the house after his death.  The good old lady who lived there in those troubled times was the very essence of loyalty and was a great admirer of the murdered monarch.  In spite of Cromwell she kept a well-furnished wine-cellar, where bottles were continually being found emptied of their contents and turned upside down.  But when she examined her servants about this strange phenomenon, she was always told that whenever the ghost of King Charles appeared, the rats twisted their tails round the corks of the bottles and extracted them as cleverly as the lady’s experienced butler could have done himself, and that they presented their generous contents in brimming goblets to the parched lips of His Majesty, who had been so cruelly murdered.  This reply was always considered satisfactory and no further investigation was made!  “Let me suffer loss,” said the old lady, “rather than be thought a rebel and add to the calamities of a murdered king!  King Charles is quite welcome!”

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[Illustration:  RIPON MINSTER.]

Eugene Aram, we were informed, spent some years of his life in Ripon at a house in Bond-Gate.

St. Wilfrid was the patron saint of Ripon, where he was born.  Legend states that at his birth a strange supernatural light shone over the house, and when he died, those who were in the death chamber claimed that they could hear the rustling of the angels’ wings who had come to bear his spirit away.  As we saw some figures relating to him in the cathedral we presumed that he must have been its patron saint.  We found afterwards it was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Wilfrid.  St. Wilfrid was an enthusiast in support of the Church control of Rome.  One sympathises with the poor king, who had to decide between the claims of Rome and the Celtic Church, whether priests should have their hair cut this way or that, and if the date of Easter should be decided by the moon or by some other way.  He seems to have been a simple-minded fellow, and his decision was very practical.  “I am told that Christ gave Peter the keys of heaven to keep, and none can get in without his permission.  Is that so?” to which Wilfrid quickly answered “Yes.”  “Has your saint any power like that?” he asked Oswin, who could but say “No.”  “Then,” said the king, “I vote for the side with the greater power,” and decided in favour of Wilfrid.  Like other cathedrals, Ripon had suffered much in the wars, but there were many ancient things still to be seen there.  Near the font was a tomb covered with a slab of grey marble, on which were carved the figures of a man and a huge lion, both standing amongst some small trees.  It was supposed to have covered the body of an Irish prince who died at Ripon on his way home from the Holy War, in Palestine, and who brought back with him a lion that followed him about just like a dog.  In the cathedral yard there was an epitaph to a fisherman: 

Here lies poor but honest Bryan Tunstall.  He was a most expert angler
until Death, envious of his merit, threw out his line, and landed him
21st day of April, 1790.


We left Ripon by the Boroughbridge road, and when about a mile from the town we met one of the dignitaries of the cathedral, who from his dress might have been anything from an archdeacon upwards.  We asked him if he could tell us of any objects of interest on our farther way.  He told us of Aldborough, with its Roman remains and the Devil’s Arrows, of which we had never heard before; and he questioned us about our long tramp, the idea of which quite delighted him.  We told him that we had thrown our mackintoshes away, and why we had done so, and had bought umbrellas instead; and he said, “You are now standing before a man who would give fifty pounds if he had never worn a mackintosh, for they have given me the rheumatism!”

The church at Kirkby Hill had just been restored.  We saw an epitaph in the churchyard similar to one which we found in a graveyard later on, farther south: 

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  Whence I came it matters not. 
  To whom related or by whom begot;
  A heap of dust is all that remains of me,
  ’Tis all I am, and all the proud shall be.

[Illustration:  THE DEVIL’S ARROWS.]

We soon reached the famous Boroughbridge, one of the most historical places in all England, the borough meaning Aldborough, the ISUER of the Brigantes and the ISURIUM of the Romans.  Here we crossed the bridge spanning the Yorkshire River Ouse, which almost adjoined Aldborough, and were directed for lodgings to the house of a widowed lady quite near the church.  It was nearly dark then, the moon, though almost at the full that night, not having yet risen.  We decided to wait until after a substantial meal before visiting the Devil’s Arrows a short distance away.  There were only three of them left—­two in a field on one side of the road, and one in a field opposite.  The stones were standing upright, and were, owing to their immense size, easily found.  We had inspected the two, and were just jumping over the gate to cross the narrow lane to see the other in the next field, when we startled a man who was returning, not quite sober, from the fair at Boroughbridge.  As we had our sticks in our hands, he evidently thought we were robbers and meant mischief, for he begged us not to molest him, saying he had only threepence in his pocket, to which we were welcome.  We were highly amused, and the man was very pleased when he found he could keep the coppers, “to pay,” as he said, “for another pint.”  The stones, weighing about 36 tons each, were 20 to 30 feet high, and as no one knew who placed them there, their origin was ascribed to the Devil; hence their name, “the Devil’s Arrows.”  Possibly, as supposed in other similar cases, he had shot them out of his bow from some great hill far away, and they had stuck in the earth here.  There was fairly authentic evidence that twelve was the original number, and the bulk of opinion favoured an origin concerned with the worship of the sun, one of the earliest forms known.  Others, however, ascribe them to the Romans, who erected boundary stones, of which several are known, on the hills farther south.  We returned to our lodgings, but not to sleep, for our sleeping apartment was within a few feet of the church clock, on the side of a very low steeple.  As we were obliged to keep our window open for fresh air, we could hear every vibration of the pendulum, and the sound of the ponderous bell kept us awake until after it struck the hour of twelve.  Then, worn out with fatigue, we heard nothing more until we awoke early in the morning.


(Distance walked twenty miles.)

Tuesday, October 24th.

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The history of Aldborough, the old burh or fortified Saxon settlement, in spite of its Saxon name, could clearly be traced back to the time of the Brigantes, the ancient Britons, who inhabited the territory between the Tweed and the Humber.  A Celtic city existed there long before Romulus and Remus founded the city of Rome, and it was at this city of ISUER, between the small River Tut and its larger neighbour the Yore, that their queen resided.  Her name, in Gaelic, was Cathair-ys-maen-ddu ("Queen of stones black"), rather a long name even for a queen, and meaning in English the Queen of the City of the Black Stones, the remaining three, out of the original twelve, being those, now known as the Devil’s Arrows, which we had seen the preceding night.


The Romans, however, when they invaded Britain, called her Cartismunda, her city ISURIUM, and the Brigantes’ country they named Brigantia.  But as the Brigantes made a determined resistance, their invasion of this part of England, begun in A.D. 47, was not completed until A.D. 70.

Queen Cartismunda was related to the King of Siluria, which then embraced the counties of Hereford and Monmouth, besides part of South Wales.  He was one of the greatest of the British chieftains, named Caradoc by the Britons and Caractacus by the Romans.  He fought for the independence of Britain, and held the armies of the most famous Roman generals at bay for a period of about nine years.  But eventually, in A.D. 50, he was defeated by the Roman general Ostorius Scapula, in the hilly region near Church Stretton, in Shropshire, not far from a hill still known as Caer Caradoc, his wife and daughters being taken prisoners in the cave known as Caradoc’s Cave.  He himself escaped to the Isle of Mona, afterwards named Anglesey, with the object of rallying the British tribes there.

It so happened that some connection existed between Queen Cartismunda and the Romans who had defeated Caradoc, and after that event Ostorius Scapula turned his army towards the north, where he soon reached the border of Brigantia.

As soon as the queen, of whose morals even the Britons held no high opinion, heard of his arrival, she and her daughters hastened to meet the conqueror to make terms.  If beauty had any influence in the settlement, she seems to have had everything in her favour, as, if we are to believe the description of one of the Romans, who began his letter with the words “Brigantes faemina dulce,” the Brigantes ladies must have been very sweet and beautiful.

A most objectional part of the bargain was that Caractacus should be delivered up to the Roman general.  So the queen sent some relatives to Mona to invite him to come and see her at Isuer, and, dreaming nothing of treachery, he came; but as soon as he crossed the border into the queen’s country he was seized, bound and handed over to Ostorius, who sent him to Rome, together with his already captured wife and daughters.

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On arrival at Rome Caractacus was imprisoned with some of his countrymen and in course of time brought before the Emperor Claudius.  The brave and fearless speech he made before the Emperor on that occasion is one of the most famous recorded in history, and has been immortalised both in prose and poetry.

  “Now I have spoken, do thy will;
    Be life or death my lot. 
  Since Britain’s throne no more I fill,
    To me it matters not. 
  My fame is clear; but on my fate
  Thy glory or thy shame must wait.”

  He ceased:  from all around upsprung
    A murmur of applause;
  For well had truth and freedom’s tongue
    Maintained their holy cause. 
  The conqueror was the captive then—­
  He bade the slave be free again.

Tradition states that one of his companions in the prison in Rome was St. Paul, who converted him to the Christian faith, with two of his fellow-countrymen, Linus and Claudia, who are mentioned in St. Paul’s second Epistle to Timothy (iv. 21).

Descendants of Caradoc are still to be traced in England in the family of Craddock, whose shield to this day is emblazoned with the words:  “Betrayed!  Not conquered.”

We awoke quite early in the morning—­a fact which we attributed to the church clock, although we could not remember hearing it strike.  My brother started the theory that we might have been wakened by some supernatural being coming through the open window, from the greensward beneath, where “lay the bones of the dead.”  Aldborough church was dedicated to St. Andrew, and the register dated from the year 1538—­practically from the time when registers came into being.  It contained a curious record of a little girl, a veritable “Nobody’s child,” who, as a foundling, was brought to the church and baptized in 1573 as “Elizabeth Nobody, of Nobody.”


Oliver Cromwell, about whom we were to hear so much in our further travels, was here described in the church book as “an impious Arch-Rebel,” but this we afterwards found was open to doubt.  He fought one of his great battles quite near Aldborough, and afterwards besieged Knaresborough Castle, about eight miles away.  He lodged at an old-fashioned house in that town.  In those days fireplaces in bedrooms were not very common, and even where they existed were seldom used, as the beds were warmed with flat-bottomed circular pans of copper or brass, called “warming-pans,” in which were placed red-hot cinders of peat, wood, or coal.  A long, round wooden handle, like a broomstick, was attached to the pan, by means of which it was passed repeatedly up and down the bed, under the bedclothes, until they became quite warm, both above and below.  As this service was performed just before the people retired to rest, they found a warm bed waiting for them instead of a cold one.  But of course this was in the “good old times.”  Afterwards, when people became more civilised (!), they got into bed between linen sheets that were icy cold, and after warming them with the heat of their bodies, if they chanced to move an inch or two during the night they were either awakened, or dreamed about icebergs or of being lost in the snow!

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The young daughter of the house where Oliver Cromwell lodged at Knaresborough had the task of warming Oliver’s bed for him, and in after years when she had grown up she wrote a letter in which she said:  “When Cromwell came to lodge at our house I was then but a young girl, and having heard so much talk about the man, I looked at him with wonder.  Being ordered to take a pan of coals and ‘aire’ his bed, I could not forbear peeping over my shoulders to see this extraordinary man, who was seated at the far side of the room untying his garters.  Having aired the bed I went out, and shutting the door after me, I peeped through the keyhole, when I saw him rise from his seat, advance to the bed, and fall on his knees, in which attitude I left him for some time.  When returning I found him still at prayer—–­and this was his custom every night as long as he stayed at our house—­I concluded he must be a good man, and this opinion I always maintained, though I heard him blamed and exceedingly abused.”

Aldborough was walled round in the time of the Romans, and portions of the walls were still to be seen.  So many Roman relics had been found here that Aldborough had earned the title of the Yorkshire Pompeii.  So interested were we in its antiquities that we felt very thankful to the clerical dignitary at Ripon for having advised us to be sure to visit this ancient borough.


We now wended our way to one of the village inns, where we had been told to ask permission from the landlord to see the Roman tessellated pavement in his back garden.  We were conducted to a building, which had been roofed over to cover it.  Our attendant unlocked the door, and after the sawdust which covered the floor had been carefully brushed aside, there was revealed to our gaze a beautifully executed floor, in which the colours of the small tiles were as bright as if they had been recently put there.  We could scarcely realise that the work we were looking at was well-nigh two thousand years old:  it looked more like the work of yesterday.  It had been accidentally discovered by a man who was digging in the garden, at about two feet below the surface of the soil; it was supposed to have formed the floor of a dwelling belonging to some highly placed Roman officer.  We were speculating about the depth of soil and the difference in levels between the Roman Period and the present, but we found afterwards that the preservation of this beautiful work, and of others, was due not to any natural accumulations during the intervening centuries, but to the fact that the devastating Danes had burnt the town of Aldborough, along with many others, in the year 870, and the increased depth of the soil was due to the decomposition of the burnt ruins and debris.  When we noted any event or object dating from 1771, we described it as “one hundred years before our visit,” but here we had an event to record that had happened one thousand years

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before.  Neither the attendant nor the landlord would accept any remuneration for their services, and to our cordial thanks replied, “You are quite welcome.”  We now went to see the cottage museum, which was well filled with Roman relics of all kinds, arranged in such fashion as would have done credit to a very much larger collection.  The Roman remains stored here were described as “one of the most comprehensive collections of Roman relics in England,” and included ornaments and articles in glass, iron, and bronze.  There was also much pottery and tiles; also coins, images, and all kinds of useful and ornamental articles of the time of the Roman Occupation in Britain.  Besides self-coloured tiles, there were some that were ornamented, one representing the “Capitoli Wolf,” a strange-looking, long-legged animal, with its face inclined towards the spectator, while between its fore and hind legs could be seen in the distance the figures of Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome, who, tradition states, were suckled in their infancy by a wolf.

But my brother reminded me that none of these things were fit to eat, and that our breakfast would now be ready, so away we sped to our lodgings to get our breakfast and to pay our bill, and bid good-bye to our landlady, who was a worthy, willing old soul.  Just across the river, about a mile away, was the site of the “White Battle,” fought on October 12th, 1319—­one of the strangest and most unequal battles ever fought.  It occurred after the English had been defeated at Bannockburn, and when the Scots were devastating the North of England.  The Scots had burnt and plundered Boroughbridge in 1318 under Sir James Douglas, commonly known, on account perhaps of his cruelty, as the “Black Douglas.”  Even the children were afraid when his name was mentioned, for when they were naughty they were frightened with the threat that if they were not good the Black Douglas would be coming; even the very small children were familiar with his name, for a nursery song or lullaby of that period was—­

  Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,
  Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
  The Black Douglas shall not get ye.

Just before the “White Battle” the English Queen Isabel, wife of Edward II, had taken up her abode with a small retinue in the country near York, when an effort was made by the Scots to capture her; they nearly succeeded, for she only just managed to get inside the walls of York when the Scots appeared and demanded admittance.  This was refused by the aged Archbishop Melton, who had the bulwarks manned and the fortifications repaired and defended.  The Scots were enraged, as York was strongly fortified, and they shouted all manner of epithets to the people behind the walls; one of them actually rode up to the Micklegate Bar and accused the queen of all manner of immoralities, challenging any man to come forth and clear her fame.  The Archbishop in a stirring appeal called upon every man and youth to attack the

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invaders.  His eloquence was irresistible, and although there were not more than fifty trained soldiers in the city, they attacked the Scots, who retreated.  The Archbishop’s army was utterly unskilled in the arts of war, and carried all kinds of weapons, many of them obsolete.  The Bishop of Ely, Lord High Chancellor of England, rode alongside the Archbishop, and behind them rode the Lord Mayor, followed by a multitude of clergy in white surplices, with monks, canons, friars, and other ecclesiastics, all fully dressed in the uniform of their offices.  But only one result was possible, for they were opposed to 16,000 of Robert Bruce’s best-trained soldiers.  Meantime the Scots did not know the character of the foe before whom they were retreating, but, crossing the River Swale near the point where it meets the Yore, they set fire to a number of haystacks, with the result that the smoke blew into the faces of the Archbishop and his followers, as the wind was blowing in their direction.  They, however, pressed bravely forward, but the Scots attacked them both in front and rear, and in less than an hour four thousand men and youths, their white robes stained with blood, were lying dead on the field of battle, while many were drowned in the river.  The sight of so many surpliced clergy struck terror into the heart of the Earl of Murray and his men, who, instead of pursuing farther the retreating army, amongst whom were the aged Archbishop and his prelates—­the Lord Mayor had been killed—­retired northwards.

Through the long hours of that night women, children, and sweethearts gazed anxiously from the walls of York, watching and waiting for those who would never return, and for many a long year seats were vacant in the sacred buildings of York.  Thus ended the “Battle of the White,” so named from the great number of surpliced clergy who took part therein.  The old Archbishop escaped death, and one of the aged monks wrote that—­

The triumphal standard of the Archbishop also was saved by the cross-bearer, who, mounted on a swift horse, plunged across the river, and leaving his horse, hid the standard in a dense thicket, and escaped in the twilight.  The pike was of silver, and on the top was fixed the gilded image of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Near where it was hidden a poor man was also hiding, and he twisted some bands of hay round it, and kept it in his cottage, and then returned it to the Bishop.

About this time England was like a house divided against itself, for the barons had revolted against King Edward II.  A battle was again fought at Boroughbridge on June 22nd, 1322, between the rebel army led by the Earls of Lancaster and Hereford, and the King’s forces who were pursuing them.  They were obliged to retreat over the bridge, which at that time was built of wood; but when they reached it, they found another part of the King’s army of whose presence they were unaware, so they had to fight for the possession

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of the bridge.  During the fight a Welshman, armed with a long spear, and who was hidden somewhere beneath the bridge, contrived to thrust his spear through an opening in the timbers right into the bowels of Humphrey de Bohun, the Earl of Hereford, who fell forward mortally wounded.  Thus died one of the most renowned warriors in England.  The Earl of Lancaster made a final effort to cross the bridge, but his troops gave way and fled, the Earl taking refuge in the old chapel of Boroughbridge, from which he was dragged, stripped of his armour, and taken to York.  Thence he was conveyed to his own castle at Pontefract, and lowered into a deep dungeon, into which, we were told, when we visited that castle later, he had himself lowered others, and soon afterwards he was condemned to death by the revengeful Edward, who had not forgotten the Earl’s share in the death of his favourite, Piers Gaveston.  Mounted on a miserable-looking horse, amidst the gibes and insults of the populace, he was led to the block, and thus died another of England’s famous warriors.


Needless to relate, we had decided to visit York Minster as our next great object of interest after Fountains Abbey, and by accident rather than design we had in our journey to and from York to pass over two battle-fields of first importance as decisive factors in the history of England—­viz., Marston Moor and Towton Field.  Marston Moor lay along our direct road from Aldborough to York, a distance of about sixteen miles.  Here the first decisive battle was fought between the forces of King Charles I and those of the Parliament.  His victory at Marston Moor gave Cromwell great prestige and his party an improved status in all future operations in the Civil War.  Nearly all the other battles whose sites we had visited had been fought for reasons such as the crushing of a rebellion of ambitious and discontented nobles, or perhaps to repel a provoked invasion, and often for a mere change of rulers.  Men had fought and shed their blood for persons from whom they could receive no benefit, and for objects in which they had no interest, and the country had been convulsed and torn to pieces for the gratification of the privileged few.  But in the Battle of Marston Moor a great principle was involved which depended en the issue.  It was here that King and People contended—­the one for unlimited and absolute power, and the other for justice and liberty.  The iron grasp and liberty-crushing rule of the Tudors was succeeded by the disgraceful and degrading reign of the Stuarts.  The Divine Right of Kings was preached everywhere, while in Charles I’s corrupt and servile Court the worst crimes on earth were practised.  Charles had inherited from his father his presumptuous notions of prerogative and Divine Right, and was bent upon being an absolute and uncontrolled sovereign.  He had married Henrietta, the daughter of the King of France, who, though possessed of great wit and beauty, was of a haughty spirit, and influenced Charles to favour the Roman Catholic Church as against the Puritans, then very numerous in Britain, who “through the Bishop’s courts were fined, whipt, pilloried, and imprisoned, so that death was almost better than life.”

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[Illustration:  JOHN HAMPDEN.]

A crisis had to come, and either one man must yield or a whole nation must submit to slavery.  The tax named “Ship Money,” originally levied in the eleventh century to provide ships for the Navy, was reintroduced by Charles in 1634 in a very burdensome form, and the crisis came which resulted in the Civil War, when Hampden, who resided in the neighbourhood of the Chiltern Hills, one of the five members of Parliament impeached by Charles, refused to pay the tax on the ground that it was illegal, not having been sanctioned by Parliament.  He lost his case, but the nation was aroused and determined to vindicate its power.  Hampden was killed in a small preliminary engagement in the early stages of the war.  The King was supported by the bulk of the nobility, proud of their ancient lineage and equipments of martial pomp, and by their tenants and friends; while the strength of the Parliamentary Army lay in the town population and the middle classes and independent yeomanry:  prerogative and despotic power on the one hand, and liberty and privilege on the other.  The Royal Standard was raised at Nottingham and the din of arms rang through the kingdom.  The fortress of Hull had been twice besieged and bravely defended, and the drawn Battle of Edgehill had been fought.  In the early part of 1644 both parties began the war in earnest.  A Scottish army had been raised, but its advance had been hindered by the Marquis of Newcastle, the King’s commander in the north.  In order to direct the attention of Newcastle elsewhere, Lord Fernando Fairfax and Sir Thomas his son, who had been commissioned by Parliament to raise forces, attacked Bellasis, the King’s Yorkshire Commander, and Governor of York, who was at Selby with 2,000 men, and defeated them with great loss, capturing Bellasis himself, many of his men, and all his ordnance.  Newcastle, dismayed by the news, hastened to York and entered the city, leaving the Scots free to join Fairfax at Netherby, their united forces numbering 16,000 foot and 4,000 horse.  These partially blockaded York, but Newcastle had a strong force and was an experienced commander, and with a bridge across the River Ouse, and a strong body of horse, he could operate on both sides of the stream; so Crawford, Lindsey, and Fairfax sent messengers to the Earl of Manchester, who was in Lincolnshire, inviting him to join them.  He brought with him 6,000 foot and 3,000 horse, of the last of which Oliver Cromwell was lieutenant-general.  Even then they could not invest the city completely; but Newcastle was beginning to lose men and horses, and a scarcity of provisions prevailed, so he wrote to the King that he must surrender unless the city could be relieved.  Charles then wrote to Prince Rupert, and said that to lose York would be equivalent to losing his crown, and ordered him to go to the relief of York forthwith.

[Illustration:  PRINCE RUPERT.]

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Rupert, the son of Frederick V, Elector of Bavaria, and a nephew of Charles I, was one of the most dashing cavalry officers in Europe.  He lost no time in carrying out his commission, and in a few days Newcastle received a letter saying that he was stabling his horses that same night at Knaresborough, and that he would be at York the following day, Rupert’s own horse being stabled that same night in the church at Boroughbridge.  The news was received with great rejoicings by the besieged garrison and the people in York, but spread dismay amongst the besiegers, who thought York was about to capitulate.  To stay in their present position was to court disaster, so they raised the siege and encamped on Hessey Moor, about six miles away, in a position which commanded the road along which Rupert was expected to travel.  But by exercise of great military skill he crossed the river at an unexpected point and entered York on the opposite side.  The Prince, as may be imagined, was received with great rejoicings; bells were rung, bonfires lighted, and guns fired, and the citizens went wild with triumphant excitement.  Difficulties arose, however, between Newcastle, who was a thoughtful and experienced commander, and Rupert, who, having relieved the city, wanted to fight the enemy at once.  As he scornfully refused advice, Newcastle retired, and went with the army as a volunteer only, Meantime there were dissensions among the Parliamentary generals, who were divided in their opinions—­the English wishing to fight, and the Scots wishing to retreat.  They were all on their way to Tadcaster, in search of a stronger position, when suddenly the vanguard of Rupert reached the rearguard of the other army at the village of Long Marston.  This division of the retreating army included their best soldiers, and was commanded by Leslie and two other brave men, Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.  Their rearguard halted, and, seeing the plain covered with pursuers, they sent word to the generals who had gone on in front, asking them to return and take possession of the dry land of the Moor, which was higher than that occupied by the Royalist army.  Oliver Cromwell had already risen in the opinion of the army by his conduct in Lincolnshire, and he was dreaded by the Royalists, for he had already shown his ability to command.  Stalwart and clumsy in frame, he had an iron constitution, and was a bold and good rider and a perfect master of the broadsword then in use.  He had also a deep knowledge of human nature, and selected his troopers almost entirely from the sons of respectable farmers and yeomen, filled with physical daring and religious convictions, while his own religious enthusiasm, and his superiority in all military virtues, gave him unbounded power as a leader: 

  What heroes from the woodland sprung
    When through the fresh awakened land
  The thrilling cry of freedom rung. 
  And to the work of warfare strung
    The Yeoman’s iron hand.

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The generals who had gone on in front now returned with their men to the assistance of their rearguard, and the whole army was brought into position on the high ground in the middle of the day, July 2nd, 1644.  The position was a good one, sloping down gradually towards the enemy.  The Royalist army numbered about 23,500 men, and that of the Parliament slightly more.  It must have been a wonderful sight to see these 50,000 of the best and bravest men the kingdom could produce, ready to wound and kill each other.  The war-cry of the Royalists was “God and the King,” and that of the others was “God with us”—­both sides believing they were fighting for the cause of religion.  There were curses on one side and prayers on the other, each captain of the Parliament prayed at the head of his company and each soldier carried a Bible bearing the title “The Souldier’s Pocket Bible, issued for use in the Commonwealth Army in 1643.”  It only consisted of fifteen pages of special passages that referred particularly to the soldier’s life and temptations.  Cromwell stood on the highest point of the field—­the exact position, locally know as “Cromwell’s Gap,” was pointed out to us—­but at the time of the great battle it was covered with a clump of trees, of which now only a few remained.  The battle, once begun, raged with the greatest fury; but Cromwell and his “Ironsides” (a name given to them because of their iron resolution) were irresistible, and swept through the enemy like an avalanche; nothing could withstand them—­and the weight of their onset bore down all before it.  Their spirit could not be subdued or wearied, for verily they believed they were fighting the battles of the Lord, and that death was only a passport to a crown of glory.  Newcastle’s “White Coats,” a regiment of thoroughly trained soldiers from the borders of Cheshire and Wales, who would not retreat, were almost annihilated, and Prince Rupert himself only escaped through the superior speed of his horse, and retired into Lancashire with the remains of his army, while Newcastle and about eighty others fled to Scarborough, and sailed to Antwerp, leaving Sir Thomas Glemham, the Governor of York, to defend that city.  But as most of his artillery had been lost at Marston Moor, and the victors continued the siege, he was soon obliged to surrender.  He made a very favourable agreement with the generals of the Parliamentarian forces, by the terms of which, consisting of thirteen clauses, they undertook to protect the property and persons of all in the city, not plunder or deface any churches or other buildings, and to give a safe conduct to officers and men—­who were to march out with what were practically the honours of war—­as far as Skipton.

The agreement having been signed by both parties on July 16th, 1644, Sir Thomas Glemham, with his officers and men, marched out of the city of York with their arms, and “with drums beating, colours flying, match lighted, bullet in mouth, bag and baggage,” made for Skipton, where they arrived safely.  The Battle of Marston Moor was a shock to the Royalist cause from which it never recovered.

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[Illustration:  YORK MINSTER.]

From Marston Moor we continued along the valley of the River Ouse until we arrived at the city of York, which Cromwell entered a fortnight after the battle; but we did not meet with any resistance as we passed through one of its ancient gateways, or “bars.”  We were very much impressed with the immense size and grandeur of the great Minster, with its three towers rising over two hundred feet in height.  We were too late to see the whole of the interior of this splendid old building, but gazed with a feeling of wonder and awe on one of the largest stained-glass windows in the world, about seventy feet high, and probably also the oldest, as it dated back about five hundred years.  The different scenes depicted in the beautiful colours of the ancient glass panels represented every important Biblical event from the Creation downwards.  We were surprised to find the window so perfect, as the stained-glass windows we had seen elsewhere had been badly damaged.  But the verger explained that when the Minster was surrendered to the army of the Commonwealth in the Civil War, it was on condition that the interior should not be damaged nor any of the stained glass broken.  We could not explore the city further that afternoon, as the weather again became very bad, so we retreated to our inn, and as our sorely-tried shoes required soling and heeling, we arranged with the “boots” of the inn to induce a shoemaker friend of his in the city to work at them during the night and return them thoroughly repaired to the hotel by six o’clock the following morning.  During the interval we wrote our letters and read some history, but our room was soon invaded by customers of the inn, who were brought in one by one to see the strange characters who had walked all the way from John o’ Groat’s and were on their way to the Land’s End, so much so that we began to wonder if it would end in our being exhibited in some show in the ancient market-place, which we had already seen and greatly admired, approached as it was then by so many narrow streets and avenues lined with overhanging houses of great antiquity.  We were, however, very pleased with the interest shown both in ourselves and the object of our walk, and one elderly gentleman seemed inclined to claim some sort of relationship with us, on the strength of his having a daughter who was a schoolmistress at Rainford village, in Lancashire.  He was quite a jovial old man, and typical of “a real old English gentleman, one of the olden time.”  He told us he was a Wesleyan local preacher, but had developed a weakness for “a pipe of tobacco and a good glass of ale.”  He said that when Dick Turpin rode from London to York, his famous horse, “Black Bess,” fell down dead when within sight of the towers of the Minster, but the exact spot he had not been able to ascertain, as the towers could be seen from so long a distance.  York, he said, was an older city than London, the See of York being even older than that of Canterbury, and a Lord Mayor existed at York long before there was one in London.  He described the grand old Minster as one of the “Wonders of the World.”  He was very intelligent, and we enjoyed his company immensely.

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[Illustration:  YORK MINSTER.]

[Illustration:  MICKLEGATE BAR, YORK.]

[Illustration:  STONE GATE, YORK.]

York was the “Caer Ebranc” of the Brigantes, where Septimus Severus, the Roman Emperor, died in A.D. 211, and another Emperor, Constantius, in 306.  The latter’s son, who was born at York, was there proclaimed Emperor on the death of his father, to become better known afterwards as Constantine the Great.  In A.D. 521 King Arthur was said to have spent Christmas at York in company with his courtiers and the famous Knights of the Round Table; but Geoffrey of Monmouth, who recorded this, was said to have a lively imagination in the way of dates and perhaps of persons as well.  It is, however, certain that William the Conqueror built a castle there in 1068, and Robert de Clifford a large tower.

(Distance walked sixteen miles.)

Wednesday, October 25th.

The boots awoke us early in the morning, only to say that he had sent a messenger unsuccessfully into the town for our shoes; all the consolation he got was that as soon as they were finished, his friend the shoemaker would send them down to the hotel.  It was quite an hour after the time specified when they arrived, but still early enough to admit of our walking before breakfast round the city walls, which we found did not encircle the town as completely as those of our county town of Chester.  Where practicable we explored them, and saw many ancient buildings, including Clifford’s Tower and the beautiful ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey.  We also paid a second visit to the ancient market-place, with its quaint and picturesque surroundings, before returning to our inn, where we did ample justice to the good breakfast awaiting our arrival.

[Illustration:  MONK BAR, YORK.]

We left the City of York by the same arched gateway through which we had entered on the previous day, and, after walking for about a mile on the Roman road leading to Tadcaster, the CALCARIA of the Romans and our next stage, we arrived at the racecourse, which now appeared on our left.  Here we entered into conversation with one of the officials, who happened to be standing there, and he pointed out the place where in former years culprits were hanged.  From what he told us we gathered that the people of York had a quick and simple way of disposing of their criminals, for when a man was sentenced to be hanged, he was taken to the prison, and after a short interval was placed in a cart, to which a horse was attached, and taken straightway to the gallows.  Here a rope was suspended, with a noose, or running knot, at the end, which was placed round the culprit’s neck, and after other preliminaries the hangman saw to it that the man’s hands were securely handcuffed and the noose carefully adjusted.  At a given signal from him the cart was drawn from under the man’s feet, leaving him swinging and struggling for breath in the air, where he remained till life was extinct.  The judge

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when passing the death-sentence always forewarned the prisoner what would happen to him, and that he would be taken from there to the prison, and thence to the place of execution, “where you will be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead.”  Why he repeated the last word over and over again we could not explain.  It was spoken very solemnly, and after the first time he used it there was a pause, and after the second, a longer pause, and then came the third in an almost sepulchral tone of voice, while a death-like silence pervaded the court, each word sounding like an echo of the one before it:  dead!—­dead!!—­dead!!!  Perhaps, like the Trinity, it gave a sense of completion.

[Illustration:  ST. MARY’S ABBEY, YORK.]

The executions in those days were public, and many people attended them as they would a fair or the races; and when held outside the towns, as at York, a riotous mob had it in its power either to lynch or rescue the prisoner.  But hangings were afterwards arranged to take place on a scaffold outside the prison wall, to which the prisoner could walk from the inside of the prison.  The only one we ever went to see was outside the county gaol, but the character of the crowd of sightseers convinced us we were in the wrong company, and we went away without seeing the culprit hanged!  There must have been a great crowd of people on the York racecourse when Eugene Aram was hanged, for the groans and yells of execration filled his ears from the time he left the prison until he reached the gallows and the cart was drawn from under him, adding to the agony of the moment and the remorse he had felt ever since the foul crime for which he suffered.  As we stood there we thought what an awful thing it must be to be hanged on the gallows.[Footnote:  In later years we were quite horrified to receive a letter from a gentleman in Yorkshire who lived in the neighbouring of Knaresborough in which he wrote:  “I always feel convinced in my own mind that Eugene Aram was innocent.  Note these beautiful lines he wrote the night before his execution: 

  “Come, pleasing rest! eternal slumber fall,
  Seal mine, that once must seal the eyes of all;
  Calm and composed, my soul her journey takes,
  No guilt that troubles, and no heart that aches
  Adieu, thou sun! all bright like her arise;
  Adieu, fair friends! and all that’s good and wise.

“I could give you,” he added, “the most recent thoughts and opinions about the tragedy, and they prove beyond doubt his innocence!”]

But, like other dismal thoughts, we got rid of it as soon as possible by thinking how thankful we should be that, instead of being hanged, we were walking through the level country towards Tadcaster, a Roman station in the time of Agricola.

From some cause or other we were not in our usual good spirits that day, which we accounted for by the depression arising from the dull autumnal weather and the awful histories of the wars he had been reading the previous night.  But we afterwards attributed it to a presentiment of evil, for we were very unfortunate during the remainder of the week.  Perhaps it is as well so; the human race would suffer much in anticipation, did not the Almighty hide futurity from His creatures.

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Just before reaching Tadcaster we crossed the River Wharfe, which we had seen higher up the country, much nearer its source.  Here we turned to the left to visit Pontefract, for the sole reason, for aught we knew, that we had heard that liquorice was manufactured there, an article that we had often swallowed in our early youth, without concerning ourselves where or how that mysterious product was made.  It was quite a change to find ourselves walking through a level country and on a level road, and presently we crossed the River Cock, a small tributary of the Wharfe, close by the finely wooded park of Grimstone, where Grim the Viking, or Sea Pirate, settled in distant ages, and gave his name to the place; he was also known as “the man with the helmet.”  We then came to the small hamlet of Towton, where on the lonely heath was fought the Battle of Towton Field, one of the most bloody battles recorded in English history.  This great and decisive battle was fought in the Wars of the Roses, between the rival Houses of York and Lancaster, for the possession of the English Crown—­a rivalry which began in the reign of Henry VI and terminated with the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  It has been computed that during the thirty years these wars lasted, 100,000 of the gentry and common people, 200 nobles, and 12 princes of the Royal Blood were killed, all this carnage taking place under the emblems of love and purity, for the emblem or badge of the House of Lancaster was the red rose, and that of York the white.  The rivalry between the two Houses only came to an end when Henry VII, the Lancastrian, married the Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV, the Yorkist.  The Battle of Towton, like many others both before and since, was fought on a Sunday, which happened to be Palm Sunday in the year 1461, and the historian relates that on that day the “heavens were overcast, and a strong March wind brought with it a blinding snowstorm, right against the faces of the Lancastrians as they advanced to meet the Yorkists, who quickly took advantage of the storm to send many furious showers of arrows from their strong bows right into the faces of the Lancastrians, causing fearful havoc amongst them at the very outset of the battle.  These arrows came as it were from an unknown foe, and when the Lancastrians shot their arrows away, they could not see that they were falling short of the enemy, who kept advancing and retreating, and who actually shot at the Lancastrians with their own arrows, which had fallen harmlessly on the ground in front of the Yorkists.  When the Lancastrians had nearly emptied their quivers, their leaders hurried their men forward to fight the enemy, and, discarding their bows, they continued the battle with sword, pike, battle-axe, and bill.  Thus for nearly the whole of that Sabbath day the battle raged, the huge struggling mass of humanity fighting like demons, and many times

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during that fatal day did the fortune of war waver in the balance:  sometimes the White Rose trembling and then the Red, while men fought each other as if they were contending for the Gate of Paradise!  For ten hours, with uncertain result, the conflict raged, which Shakespeare compared to “the tide of a mighty sea contending with a strong opposing wind,” but the arrival of 5,000 fresh men on the side of the Yorkists turned the scale against the Lancastrians, who began to retreat, slowly at first, but afterwards in a disorderly flight.  The Lancastrians had never anticipated a retreat, and had not provided for it, for they felt as sure of victory as the great Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, who, when he was asked by a military expert what provision he had made for retreat in the event of losing the battle, simply answered, “None!” The Lancastrians were obliged to cross the small River Cock in their retreat, and it seemed almost impossible to us that a small stream like that could have been the cause of the loss of thousands upon thousands of the finest and bravest soldiers in England.  But so it happened.  There was only one small bridge over the stream, which was swollen and ran swiftly in flood.  This bridge was soon broken down with the rush of men and horses trying to cross it, and although an active man to-day could easily jump over the stream, it was a death-trap for men weighted with heavy armour and wearied with exertion, the land for a considerable distance on each side the river being very boggy.  As those in front sank in the bog, those from behind walked over them, and as row after row disappeared, their bodies formed the road for others to walk over.  The carnage was terrible, for King Edward had ordered that no quarter must be given and no prisoners taken.  It was estimated that 28,000 of the Lancastrians were slaughtered in this battle and in the pursuit which followed, and that 37,776 men in all were killed on that dreadful day.

In some parts of Yorkshire the wild roses were very beautiful, ranging in colour from pure white to the deepest red, almost every shade being represented; the variation in colour was attributed to the difference in the soil or strata in which they grew.  But over this battle-field and the enormous pits in which the dead were buried there grew after the battle a dwarf variety of wild rose which it was said would not grow elsewhere, and which the country people thought emblematical of the warriors who had fallen there, as the white petals were slightly tinged with red, while the older leaves of the bushes were of a dull bloody hue; but pilgrims carried many of the plants away before our time, and the cultivation of the heath had destroyed most of the remainder.  In the great Battle of Towton Field many noblemen had perished, but they appeared to have been buried with the rank and file in the big pits dug out for the burial of the dead, as only a very few could be traced in the local churchyards.  The Earl of Westmorland, however, had been buried in Saxton church and Lord Dacres in Saxton churchyard, where his remains rested under a great stone slab, 7 feet long, 4-1/2 feet wide, and 7 inches thick, the Latin inscription on which, in old English characters, was rapidly fading away: 

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The local poet, in giving an account of the battle, has written:—­

  The Lord Dacres
  Was slain at Nor acres,

for his lordship had been killed in a field known as the North Acres.  He had removed his gorget, a piece of armour which protected the throat, for the purpose, it was supposed, of getting a drink to quench his thirst, when he was struck in the throat by a bolt, or headless arrow, shot from a cross-bow by a boy who was hiding in a bur-tree or elder bush.  The boy-archer must have been a good shot to hit a warrior clothed from head to foot in armour in the only vulnerable point exposed, but in those days boys were trained to shoot with bows and arrows from the early age of six years, their weapons, being increased in size and strength as they grew older; their education was not considered complete until they could use that terrible weapon known as the English long-bow, and hit the smallest object with their arrows.  Lord Dacres was buried in an upright position, and his horse was buried with him; for many years the horse’s jaw-bone and teeth were preserved at the vicarage, One of his lordship’s ancestors, who died fighting on Flodden Field, had been buried in a fine tomb in Lanercrost Abbey.

Lord Clifford was another brave but cruel warrior who was killed in a similar way.  He had removed his helmet from some unexplained cause—­possibly to relieve the pressure on his head—­when a random arrow pierced his throat; but his death was to many a cause of rejoicing, for owing to his cruel deeds at the Battle of Wakenfield, he had earned the sobriquet of “the Butcher.”  While that battle was raging, the Duke of York’s son, the Earl of Rutland, a youth only seventeen years of age, described as “a fair gentleman and maiden-like person,” was brought by his tutor, a priest, from the battle-field to shelter in the town.  Here he was perceived by Clifford, who asked who he was.  The boy, too much afraid to speak, fell on his knees imploring for mercy, “both by holding up his hands and making dolorous countenance, for his speech was gone from fear.”  “Save him,” said the tutor, “for he is a prince’s son and, peradventure, might do you good hereafter.”  With that word Clifford marked him, and said, “By God’s blood thy father slew mine, and so will I thee, and all thy kin,” and, saying this, he struck the Earl to the heart with his dagger, and bade the tutor bear word to his mother and brothers what he had said and done.  Not content with this, when he came to the body of the Duke, the child’s father, he caused the head to be cut off and a paper crown to be placed on it; then, fixing it on a pole, he presented it to the Queen, saying, “Madame, your war is done—­here is your King’s ransom.”  The head was placed over the gates of York by the side of that of the Earl of Salisbury, whom Queen Margaret had ordered to be beheaded.

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For some little time we had been walking through what was known as the “Kingdom of Elmet,” but whether this was associated with the helmet of Grim we were unable to ascertain, though we shrewdly suspected it was an old Celtic word.  We arrived at the village of Sherburn-in-Elmet, an important place in ancient times, where once stood the palace of Athelstan, the grandson of Alfred the Great, the first ruler of all England, who was crowned King of England in the year 925.  In celebration of his great victory over the combined army of the Danes and Scots at Brunnanburgh, King Athelstan presented his palace here, along with other portions of the Kingdom of Elmet, to the See of York, and it remained the Archbishop of York’s Palace for over three hundred years.  But when the See of York was removed to Cawick, a more convenient centre, the Sherburn Palace was pulled down, and at the time of our visit only the site and a portion of the moat remained.  We were much interested in the church, as the historian related that “within the walls now existing the voices of the last Saxon archbishop and the first Norman archbishop have sounded, and in the old church of Sherburn has been witnessed the consummation of the highest ambition of chivalric enterprise, and all the pomp attending the great victory of Athelstan at Brunnanburgh.”

Here in the time of Edward II, in 1321, “a secret conclave was held, attended by the Archbishop, the Bishops of Durham and Carlisle, and Abbots from far and near, the Earls of Lancaster and Hereford, and many Barons, Baronets, and Knights.  To this assembly Sir John de Bek, a belted Knight, read out the Articles which Lancaster and his adherents intended to insist upon.”  But what interested us most in the church was the “Janus Cross” The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus, who was always pictured with two faces, as January could look back to the past year and forwards towards the present.  The Janus Cross here had a curious history; it had been found in the ruins of an ancient chapel in the churchyard dedicated to the “Honour of St. Mary and the Holy Angels.”  One of the two churchwardens thought it would do to adorn the walls of his residence, but another parishioner thought it would do to adorn his own, and the dispute was settled by some local Solomon, who suggested that they should cut it in two and each take one half.  So it was sawn vertically in two parts, one half being awarded to each.  In course of time the parts were again united and restored to the church.


Arriving at Ferry Bridge, we crossed the River Aire, which we had seen at its source, but which here claimed to have become one of the most useful rivers in Yorkshire, for its waters were valuable for navigation and for the manufacturing towns near which they passed.

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My foot, which had pained me ever since leaving York, so that I had been limping for some time, now became so painful that I could scarcely walk at all.  Still, we were obliged to reach Pontefract in order to procure lodgings for the night, so my brother relieved me of all my luggage excepting the stick, in order that I might hobble along to that town.  It was with great difficulty that I climbed up the hill to the inn, which was in the upper part of the town, and there I was painfully relieved by the removal of my boot, and found that my ankle was seriously swollen and inflamed.  It might, of course, have arisen through over-exertion, but we came to the conclusion that it was caused through the repair of my boots at York.  Before arriving there the heels were badly worn down at one side, and as I had been practically walking on the sides of my feet, the sudden reversion to the flat or natural position had brought on the disaster that very nearly prevented us from continuing our walk.  We applied all the remedies that both our hostess and ourselves could think of, but our slumbers that night were much disturbed, and not nearly so continuous as usual.

(Distance walked twenty-three and a half miles.)

Thursday, October 26th.


The great object of interest at Pontefract was the castle, the ruins of which were very extensive.  Standing on the only hill we encountered in our walk of the previous day, it was formerly one of the largest and strongest castles in England, and had been associated with many stirring historical events.  It was here that King Richard II was murdered in the year 1399, and the remains of the dismal chamber where this tragedy took place still existed.  During the Wars of the Roses, when in 1461 Queen Margaret appeared in the north of Yorkshire with an army of 60,000 men, the newly appointed King, Edward IV, sent the first portion of his army to meet her in charge of his most influential supporter, the Earl of Warwick, the “King Maker.”  The King followed him to Pontefract with the remainder of his army, and the old castle must have witnessed a wonderful sight when that army, to the number of 40,660 men, was marshalled in the plains below.

But it was in the Civil War that this castle attained its greatest recorded notoriety, for it was besieged three times by the forces of the Parliament.  Sir Thomas Fairfax was in charge of the first siege, and took possession of the town in 1644, driving the garrison into the castle.  He had a narrow escape from death on that occasion, as a cannon-ball passed between him and Colonel Forbes so close that the wind caused by its passage knocked both of them down to the ground, Forbes losing the sight of one of his eyes.  The castle was strongly defended, but just as one of the towers collapsed, a shot from the castle struck a match, and the spark, falling into Fairfax’s powder stores, caused a tremendous explosion which

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killed twenty-seven of his men.  In January 1645 Forbes sent a drum to the castle to beat a parley, but the Governor, Colonel Lowther, and his brave garrison said they would go on with the defence to the last extremity.  The besiegers then began to lay mines, but these were met by counter-mines driven by the garrison, who now began to suffer from want of food.  At this critical moment a Royalist force of 2,000 horse arrived under Sir Marmaduke Langdale, who had made a forced march from Oxford to relieve the garrison.  He drove off the besiegers, first to Ferry Bridge, and afterwards to Sherburn and Tadcaster, inflicting severe loss, and so the garrison was revictualled.  The Parliamentary forces, however, soon made their appearance again, and on March 21st, 1645, the second siege began.  They again took possession of the town, and after four months of incessant cannonading the garrison capitulated and the castle was garrisoned by the other side.

The war continued in other parts of the country, and towards the end of it a conspiracy was formed by the Royalists to recover possession of the castle, which through the treachery of a Colonel Maurice was successful.  Many of the garrison at that time lived outside the walls of the castle, and Maurice persuaded the Governor, Cotterel, to order them to move their homes inside, to which he assented, issuing an order in the country for beds to be provided on a certain day.  Taking advantage of this, Maurice and another conspirator dressed themselves as country gentlemen, with swords by their sides, and with nine others, disguised as constables, made their appearance at the castle entrance early in the morning, so as to appear like a convoy guarding the safe passage of the goods.  The Governor, who kept the keys, was still in bed, and the soldier on guard at the inside of the gates, who was in league with Maurice, went to inform him the beds had arrived.  He handed over the keys, and, not suspecting treachery, remained in bed with his sword at his side as usual.  The remainder of the conspirators then drew their swords, and the garrison, on condition that their lives should be spared, surrendered, and were put into one of the prison dungeons.  The conspirators then went to the room of the Governor, who, hearing a noise, jumped out of bed and defended himself, but was soon wounded, disarmed, and placed in the dungeon along with the rest, while the Royalists took possession of the castle.  This happened in June 1648.

The dungeons in the castle, which were still to be seen, were of the most awful description, for, sunk deep down into the solid rock, it was scarcely necessary to write over them—­

  Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here.

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There was one dungeon under the Round Tower, which was reached by passing down some winding steps, into which no ray of light ever entered, as dark and dismal a place as could be imagined.  Here Earl Rivers and his fellow peers were incarcerated, praying for their execution to end their misery.  There was also a cellar for the storage of food and drink, sunk some forty or fifty feet in the solid rock, and capable of holding two or three hundred men, and this too was used as a dungeon by the Royalists.  Here the prisoners taken by the Royalist army were confined, and many of their names appeared cut in the walls of solid rock.  The history of these places, if it could be written, would form a chapter of horrors of the most dreadful character, as in olden times prisoners were often forgotten by their captors, and left in the dungeons to perish.

It was not without a tinge of satisfaction that we heard that the Earl of Lancaster, to whom the castle belonged, was himself placed in one of these dungeons after the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322, and after being imprisoned there a short time, where he had so often imprisoned others, was led out to execution.

The third siege of Pontefract Castle happened in the autumn of 1648, for after the Parliamentarians had gained the upper hand, the castles that still held out against them were besieged and taken, but the turn of Pontefract Castle came last of all.  Oliver Cromwell himself undertook to superintend the operations, and General Lambert, one of the ablest of Cromwell’s generals, born at Kirkby Malham, a Yorkshire village through which we had passed some days before, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the forces.  He arrived before the castle on December 4th, 1648, but such was the strength of the position that though he had a large number of soldiers and a great service of artillery, it was not until March 25th, 1649, when scarcely one hundred men were left to defend the walls, that the garrison capitulated.  Meantime the tremendous effect of the artillery brought to bear against them had shattered the walls, and finally Parliament ordered the castle to be dismantled.  With the surrender of this castle the Civil War came to an end, but not before King Charles I had been beheaded.


Last year, before we began our walk from London to Lancashire, we visited Whitehall and saw the window in the Banqueting-hall through which, on January 30th, 1649, about two months before Pontefract Castle surrendered, he passed on his way to the scaffold outside.

In its prime Pontefract Castle was an immense and magnificent fortification, and from its ruins we had a fine view on all sides of the country it had dominated for about six hundred years.

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We were now journeying towards the more populous parts of the country, and the greater the mileage of our walk, the greater became the interest taken both in us and our adventures.  Several persons interviewed us in our hotel at Pontefract, and much sympathy was extended towards myself, as my foot was still very painful in spite of the remedies which had been applied to it; but we decided not to give in, my brother kindly consenting to carry all the luggage, for we were very anxious not to jeopardise our twenty-five miles’ daily average beyond recovery.  My boot was eased and thoroughly oiled; if liquorice could have done it any good, we could have applied it in addition to the other remedies, as we had bought some both for our own use and for our friends to eat when we reached home.  All we had learned about it was that it was made from the root of a plant containing a sweet juice, and that the Greek name of it was glykyr-rhiza, from glykys, sweet, and rhiza, root.  After making a note of this formidable word, I did not expect my brother to eat any more liquorice; but his special aversion was not Greek, but Latin, as he said both his mind and body had been associated with that language through the medium of the cane of his schoolmaster, who believed in the famous couplet: 

  ’Tis Education forms the common mind. 
  And with the cane we drive it in behind!

He was always suspicious of the Latin words attached to plants, and especially when quoted by gardeners, which I attributed to jealousy of their superior knowledge of that language; but it appeared that it was founded on incidents that occurred many years ago.

He was acquainted with two young gardeners who were learning their business by working under the head gardener at a hall in Cheshire, the owner of which was proud of his greenhouses and hothouses as well as of the grounds outside.  As a matter of course everything appeared up to date, and his establishment became one of the show-places in the neighbourhood.  The gardener, an elderly man, was quite a character.  He was an Irishman and an Orangeman as well, and had naturally what was known in those parts as “the gift of the gab.”  The squire’s wife was also proud of her plants, and amongst the visitors to the gardens were many ladies, who often asked the gardener the name of a plant that was strange to them.  As no doubt he considered it infra dig. to say he did not know, and being an Irishman, he was never at a loss when asked, “What do you call this plant?” he would reply, “Oh, that, mum, is the Hibertia Canadensus, mum!” and a further inquiry would be answered in a similar manner—­“That, mum, is the Catanansus Rulia, mum!” and again the lady would thank him and walk on apparently quite pleased and happy, probably forgetting the name of the plant before she had gone through the gardens.  The young men were often at work in the houses while the visitors were going through, and of course they were too deeply engaged in their work either to see the visitors or to hear all the conversation that was going on, but they told my brother that they could always tell when the gardener did not know the real name of a plant by his invariably using these two names on such occasions, regardless of the family or species of the plant in question.

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Pomfret was the local abbreviation of Pontefract, the name of the town, and “Pomfret Liquorice” claimed not only to be a sweetmeat, but a throat remedy as well, and was considered beneficial to the consumer.  The sample we purchased was the only sweet we had on our journey, for in those days men and women did not eat sweets so much as in later times, they being considered the special delicacies of the children.  The sight of a man or woman eating a sweet would have caused roars of ridicule.  Nor were there any shops devoted solely to the sale of sweets in the country; they were sold by grocers to the children, though in nothing like the variety and quantity that appeared in later years.  The most common sweet in those days was known as “treacle toffy,” which was sold in long sticks wrapped from end to end in white paper, to protect the children’s fingers when eating it, in spite of which it was no unusual sight to see both hands and faces covered with treacle marks, and thus arose the name of “treacle chops,” as applied to boys whose cheeks were smeared with treacle.  There was also toffy that was sold by weight, of which Everton toffee was the chief favourite.  My brother could remember a little visitor, a cousin of ours, who could not speak very plainly, and who always called a cup a “tup,” being sent to the village shop for a pound of coffee, and his delight when he returned laden with a pound of toffy, which was of course well-nigh devoured before the mistake was found out!

By this day we were ready for anything except walking as we crawled out of the town to find our way to Doncaster, and our speed, as might be imagined, was not excessive; for, including stoppages, which were necessarily numerous, we only averaged one mile per hour!  There was a great bazaar being held in Pontefract that day, to be opened by Lord Houghton, and we met several carriages on their way to it.  After we had walked some distance, we were told—­for we stopped to talk to nearly every one we met—­that we were now passing through Barnsdale Forest.  We could not see many trees, even though this was formerly the abode of Robin Hood and Little John, as well as Will Scarlett.

It was in this forest that Robin, hearing of the approach of the Bishop of Hereford, ordered his men to kill a good fat deer, and to make a repast of it by the side of the highway on which the Bishop was travelling.  Robin dressed himself and six of his men in the garb of shepherds, and they took their stand by the fire at which the venison was being roasted.  When the Bishop came up, with his retinue, he asked the men why they had killed the King’s deer, and said he should let the King know about it, and would take them with him to see the King.

  “Oh pardon, oh pardon,” said bold Robin Hood,
    “Oh pardon, I thee pray. 
  For it becomes not your Lordship’s coat
    To take so many lives away.”

  “No pardon, no pardon,” said the Bishop,
    “No pardon I thee owe;
  Therefore make haste and come along with me,
    For before the King ye shall go.”

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Then Robin pulled his bugle horn from beneath his coat and blew a long blast, and threescore and ten of his followers quickly appeared—­

  All making obeysance to Robin Hood,
    ’Twas a comely sight to see;
  “What is the matter, master?” said Little John,
    “That you blow so heartily?”

Robin replied that the Bishop of Hereford refused all pardon for slaying the deer, and had said they must at once accompany him to the King.  Little John then suggested that they should cut off the Bishop’s head and throw him in a grave; but the Bishop craved pardon of the outlaw for his interference, and declared that had he known who was on the road, “he would have gone some other way.”

  “No pardon, no pardon,” said bold Robin Hood,
    “No pardon I thee owe;
  Therefore make haste and come along with me,
    For to merry Barnsdale you shall go.”

So thither they led the Bishop, and made him sup with them right merrily and royally.

  “Call in a reckoning,” said the Bishop,
    “For methinks it grows wondrous high;”
  “Lend me your purse, master,” said Little John,
    “And I’ll tell you by and bye!”

  Little John took the Bishop’s cloak
    And spread it upon the ground. 
  And out of the Bishop’s portmanteau
    He told three hundred pound.

  “Here’s money enough, master,” said Little John,
    “And a comely sight to see;
  It makes me in charity with the Bishop,
    Though he heartily loveth not me.”

  Robin took the Bishop by the hand,
    And he caused the music to play;
  And he made the Bishop to dance in his boots. 
    And glad he could get away!

[Illustration:  DONCASTER RACECOURSE.  “We had walked for five days over the broad acres of Yorkshire and had seen many fine horses, for horse-breeding was a leading feature of that big county, and horses a frequent subject of conversation.”]

We heard all sorts of stories from the roadmen, some of which might not be true; but in any case about seven miles from Doncaster we reached Robin Hood’s Well, at the side of the road.  It was quite a substantial structure, built of soft limestone, and arched over, with a seat inside—­on which doubtless many a weary wayfarer had rested before us.  The interior was nearly covered with inscriptions, one dated 1720 and some farther back than that.  We had a drink of water from the well, but afterwards, when sitting on the seat, saw at the bottom of the well a great black toad, which we had not noticed when drinking the water.  The sight of it gave us a slight attack of the horrors, for we had a particular dread of toads.  We saw at the side of the road a large house which was formerly an inn rejoicing in the sign of “Robin Hood and Little John,” one of the oldest inns between York and London.  We called at a cottage for tea, and here we heard for the first time of the Yorkshireman’s coat-of-arms, which the lady of the house told us every Yorkshireman was entitled to place on his carriage free of tax!  It consisted of a flea, and a fly, a flitch of bacon, and a magpie, which we thought was a curious combination.  The meaning, however, was forthcoming, and we give the following interpretation as given to us: 

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  A flea will bite! and so will a Yorkshireman;
  A fly will drink out of anybody’s cup! and so will a Yorkshireman;
  A magpie will chatter! and so will a Yorkshireman: 
  And a flitch of bacon looks best when it’s hung! and so does a

We fancied a Lancashire man must have written that ditty.

[Illustration:  ROBIN HOOD’S WELL.]

The moon was shining brightly as we left the cottage, and a man we met, when he saw me limping so badly, stopped us to inquire what was the matter.  He was returning from Doncaster, and cheered us up by pointing to the moon, saying we should have the “parish lantern” to light us on our way.  This appeared to remind him of his parish church, where a harvest thanksgiving had just been held, with a collection on behalf of the hospital and infirmary.  He and seven of his fellow servants had given a shilling each, but, although there were “a lot of gentry” at the service, the total amount of the collection was only one pound odd.  The minister had told them he could scarcely for shame carry it in, as it was miserably small for an opulent parish like that!

We arrived at Doncaster at 8.30 p.m., and stayed at the temperance hotel in West Laith Street.  The landlord seemed rather reluctant about letting us in, but he told us afterwards he thought we were “racing characters,” which greatly amused us since we had never attended a race-meeting in our lives!

(Distance walked fourteen miles.)

Friday, October 27th.

Our host at Doncaster took a great interest in us, and, in spite of my sprained ankle, we had a good laugh at breakfast-time at his mistaking us for “racing characters.”  My brother related to him his experiences on the only two occasions he ever rode on the back of a horse unassisted.  The first of these was when, as quite a young boy, he went to visit his uncle who resided near Preston in Lancashire, and who thought it a favourable opportunity to teach him to ride.  He was therefore placed on the back of a quiet horse, a groom riding behind him on another horse, with orders not to go beyond a walking pace; but when they came near the barracks, and were riding on the grass at the side of the road, a detachment of soldiers came marching out through the entrance, headed by their military band, which struck up a quickstep just before meeting the horses.  My brother’s horse suddenly reared up on its hind legs, and threw him off its back on to the grass below, or, as he explained it, while the horse reared up he reared down!  He was more frightened than hurt, but the groom could not persuade him to ride on the horse’s back any farther, so he had to lead the horses home again, a distance of two miles, while my brother walked on the footpath.

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It was years before he attempted to ride on horseback again, but this time he was mounted upon an old horse white with age, and very quiet, which preferred walking to running; this second attempt also ended disastrously.  It was a very hot day, and he had ridden some miles into the country when he came to a large pit, on the opposite side of the road to a farmhouse, when, without any warning, and almost before my brother realised what was happening, the horse walked straight into this pit, and, in bending its head to drink at the water, snatched the bridle out of his hands.  He had narrowly escaped drowning on several occasions, and was terrified at the thought of falling into the water, so, clutching hold of the horse’s mane with both hands, he yelled out with all his might for help—­which only served to make the horse move into a deeper part of the pit, as if to have a bathe as well as a drink.  His cries attracted the attention of some Irish labourers who were at work in a field, and they ran to his assistance.  One of them plunged into the water, which reached half way up his body, and, taking hold of my brother, carried him to the road and then returned for the horse.  He was rewarded handsomely for his services, for my brother verily believed he had saved him from being drowned.  He was much more afraid of the water than of the horse, which was, perhaps, the reason why he had never learned to swim, but he never attempted to ride on horseback again.  On the wall in front of the farmhouse an old-fashioned sundial was extended, on the face of which were the words: 

  Time that is past will never return,

and on the opposite corner were the Latin words Tempus fugit (Time flies).  My brother seemed to have been greatly impressed by these proverbs, and thought of them as he led the white horse on his three-mile walk towards home; they seemed engraven upon his memory, for he often quoted them on our journey.


My ankle seemed to be a shade easier, and, after the usual remedies had again been applied, we started on another miserable walk, or limp, for we only walked twelve miles in twelve hours, following the advice of our host to take it easy, and give the ankle time to recover.  We rested many times on the road, stopped to talk to many people, got to know all about the country we were passing through, read papers and books, called for refreshments oftener than we needed them, wrote letters to our friends, and made copious entries in our diaries—–­in fact did everything except walk.  The country was very populous, and we attracted almost universal sympathy:  myself for my misfortune, and my brother for having to carry all the luggage.

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Doncaster takes its name from the River Don, on which it is situated, and it was the only town in England, after London and York, that possessed a “Mansion House.”  We had walked for five days over the broad acres of Yorkshire and had seen many fine horses, for horse-breeding, we found, was a leading feature in that big county, and horses a frequent subject of conversation.  Doncaster was no exception to the rule, as the Doncaster Races were famous all over England, and perhaps in other countries beyond the seas.  We were too late in the year for the great St. Leger race, which was held in the month of September, and was always patronised by Royalty.  On that occasion almost every mansion in the county was filled with visitors “invited down” for the races, and there was no doubt that agricultural Yorkshire owed much of its prosperity to the breeding of its fine horses.  The racecourse was situated on a moor a little way out of the town, the property of the Corporation, and it was said that the profit made by the races was so great that the Doncaster people paid no rates.  This might of course be an exaggeration, but there could be no doubt that the profit made by the Corporation out of the moor on which the races were held would largely reduce the rates of the town.

Doncaster races owed their origin to a famous Arab horse named Rasel-Fedawi (or the “Headstrong"), which was purchased from the Anazeh tribe of Arabs by a Mr. Darley, an Englishman who at that time resided at Aleppo, a Turkish trading centre in Northern Syria.  This gentleman sent the horse to his brother at Aldby Park in Yorkshire, and what are now known as “thoroughbreds” have descended from him.  His immediate descendants have been credited with some wonderful performances, and the “Flying Childers,” a chestnut horse with a white nose and four white legs, bred from a mare born in 1715, named “Betty Leedes,” and owned by Leonard Childers of Doncaster, was never beaten.  All sorts of tales were told of his wonderful performances:  he was said to have covered 25 feet at each bound, and to have run the round course at Newmarket, 3 miles 6 furlongs, in six minutes and forty seconds.  After him came another famous horse named “Eclipse” which could, it was said, run a mile a minute.  When he died in 1789 his heart was found to weigh 14 pounds, which accounted for his wonderful speed and courage.  Admiral Rous records that in the year 1700 the English racehorse was fifteen hands high, but after the Darley Arabian, the average height rose to over sixteen hands.  It was said that there were races at Doncaster in the seventeenth century, but the great St. Leger was founded by General St. Leger in 1778, and the grand stand was built in the following year.  The Yorkshire gentlemen and farmers were naturally all sportsmen, and were credited with keeping “both good stables and good tables.”  The invitation to “have a bite and a sup” was proverbial, especially in the wold or moorland districts, where hospitality was said to be unbounded.

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A learned man wrote on one occasion that “an honest walk is better than a skilled physician.  It stimulates heart, brain, and muscles alike, sweeping cobwebs from the mind and heaviness from the heart.”  But this was probably not intended to apply to a man with a sore foot, and it was difficult to understand why the ankle failure had come so suddenly.  We could only attribute it to some defect in the mending of the boot at York, but then came the mystery why the other ankle had not been similarly affected.  The day was beautifully fine, but the surroundings became more smoky as we were passing through a mining and manufacturing district, and it was very provoking that we could not walk through it quickly.  However, we had to make the best of it, imagining we were treading where the saints had trod, or at any rate the Romans, for this was one of their roads to the city of York upon which their legions must have marched; but while we crossed the rivers over bridges, the Romans crossed them by paved fords laid in the bed of the streams, traces of which were still to be seen.

We made a long stay at Comsborough, and saw the scanty remains of the castle, to which Oliver Cromwell had paid special attention, as, in the words of the historian, “he blew the top off,” which had never been replaced.  And yet it had a very long history, for at the beginning of the fourth century it was the Burgh of Conan, Earl of Kent, who with Maximian made an expedition to Armorica (now Brittany), where he was eventually made king, which caused him to forsake his old Burgh in England.  Maximian was a nephew of King Coel, or Cole, the hero of the nursery rhyme, of which there are many versions: 

  Old King Cole was a jolly old soul,
    And a jolly old soul was he;
  He called for his ale, and he called for his beer,
    And he called for his fiddle-diddle-dee.


But he seemed to have been a jolly old sinner as well, for he formed the brilliant idea of supplying his soldiers with British wives, and arranged with his father-in-law, the Duke of Cornwall, to send him several shiploads from the “old country,” for British women were famous for their beauty.  His request was complied with, but a great storm came on, and some of the ships foundered, while others were blown out of their course, as far as Germany, where the women landed amongst savages, and many of them committed suicide rather than pass into slavery.  Who has not heard of St. Ursula and her thousand British virgins, whose bones were said to be enshrined at Cologne Cathedral, until a prying medico reported that many of them were only dogs’ bones—­for which heresy he was expelled the city as a dangerous malignant.

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Troublesome times afterwards arose in England, and on the Yorkshire side, Briton and Saxon, and Pict and Scot, were mixed up in endless fights and struggles for existence.  It was about this period that Vortigern, the British King, invited Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon Princes, to lend their assistance against the Picts and the Scots, which they did for a time; and when Hengist asked for a residence in his country, the King gave him Conan’s Burgh, which was then vacant.  Conan was never again seen in England, but in 489 his great-grandson Aurelius Ambrosius became King of the Britons.  In the meantime the Saxons had so increased in numbers that they determined to fight for the possession of the country, and, headed by Hengist, who had turned traitor, fought a great battle, in the course of which Eldol, Duke of Gloucester, encountered Hengist in single combat, and, seizing him by the helmet, dragged him into the British ranks shouting that God had given his side the victory.  The Saxons were dismayed, and fled in all directions, and Hengist was imprisoned in his own fortress of Conisborough, where a council of war was held to decide what should be his fate.  Some were against his being executed, but Eldol’s brother Eldad, Bishop of Gloucester, “a man of great wisdom and piety,” compared him to King Agag, whom the prophet “hewed to pieces,” and so Hengist was led through the postern gate of the castle to a neighbouring hill, and beheaded.  Here Aurelius commanded him to be buried and a heap of earth to be raised over him, because “he was so good a knight.”  A lady generally appeared in these old histories as the cause of the mischief, and it was said that one reason why King Vortigern was so friendly with Hengist was that Hengist had a very pretty daughter named Rowena, whom the King greatly admired:  a road in Conisborough still bears her name.

Aurelius then went to Wales, but found that Vortigern had shut himself up in a castle into which Aurelius was unable to force an entrance, so he burnt the castle and the King together; and in a wild place on the rocky coast of Carnarvonshire, Vortigern’s Valley can still be seen.  Sir Walter Scott, who was an adept in selecting old ruins for the materials of his novels, has immortalised Conisborough in his novel of Ivanhoe as the residence, about the year 1198, of the noble Athelstane or Athelstone, who frightened his servants out of their wits by demanding his supper when he was supposed to be dead.

Yorkshire feasts were famous, and corresponded to the “wakes” in Lancashire and Cheshire.  There was a record of a feast at Conisborough on the “Morrow of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross,” September 15th, 1320, in the “14th year of King Edward, son of King Edward,” which was carried out by Sir Ralph de Beeston, one of our Cheshire knights, and Sir Simon de Baldiston (Stewards of the Earl of Lancaster), to which the following verse applied: 

  They ate as though for many a day
    They had not ate before. 
  And eke as though they all should fear
    That they should eat no more. 
  And when the decks were fairly cleared
    And not a remnant nigh,
  They drank as if their mighty thirst
    Would drain the ocean dry.

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A curious old legend was attached to the town well in Wellgate, which formerly supplied most of the inhabitants of Conisborough with water; for once upon a time, when the town was suffering from a great drought, and the people feared a water famine, they consulted an old man known by the name of St. Francis, who was very wise and very holy.  He told the people to follow him singing psalms and hymns to the Willow Vale, on the Low Road.  There he cut a wand from a willow tree, and stuck it into the ground, and forthwith a copious supply of water appeared which had flowed steadily ever since.  The wand had been so firmly and deeply stuck into the ground by St. Francis that it took root and grew into a large tree.

In 1863 there was a great flood in Sheffield, which did a lot of damage, and amongst the debris that floated down the river was noticed a cradle containing a little baby.  It was rescued with some difficulty, and was still alive when we passed through the town, being then eight years old.

[Illustration:  ROCHE ABBEY.]

After leaving Conisborough we lost sight of the River Don, which runs through Mexborough; but we came in touch with it again where it was joined by the River Rother, at Rotherham.  Here we crossed over it by the bridge, in the centre of which stood the decayed Chapel of our Lady.  On our way we had passed to our right Sprotborough, where in 664 King Wulfhere when out hunting came to a cave at the side of the river where a hermit named St. Ceadde or St. Chad dwelt, the country at that time being “among sheep and distant mountains which looked more like lurking-places for robbers and dens of wild beasts than dwellings of men.”  There were many objects of interest on each side of our road, including, a few miles to the left, Roche Abbey, the seat of the Earl of Scarborough, and to the right Wentworth House, one of the largest private houses in England, and the seat of Earl Fitzwilliam, the owner of the far-famed Wharncliffe Crags, which are skirted by the waters of the River Don.

It was in Wharncliffe Forest that Friar Tuck, the jolly chaplain of Robin Hood, had his abode; and below the crags, in the bed of the River Don, there was a rock that appeared to be worn by the friction of some cylindrical body coiled about it.  This was supposed to be the famous Dragon of Wantley, an old name for Wharncliffe.  It was here that the monster was attacked and slain by Guy, the famous Earl of Warwick.  Near the top of the crag, which was formerly a hunting-seat, stood a lodge where an inscription on a stone in the floor of the back kitchen stated that “Geoffrey de Wortley, Knight of the body to the Kings Richard III, Henry VII, and Henry VIII, built this Lodge for his pleasure, so that he might hear the red deer bray.”  In the lodge too was a most ponderous boot said to have been worn by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Marston Moor.  We stayed at Rotherham for the night.

(Distance walked twelve miles.)

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Saturday, October 28th.

The inn where we stayed the night had not been very satisfactory, as, although the cooking was good, the upper apartments were below the average.  We took to the road again as early as possible, especially as a decided improvement showed itself in the condition of my swollen foot, and we were able to make a little better progress.  For some days we had been walking through a comparatively level country, but from the appearance of the hills to our right as well as before us, we anticipated a stiff climb.  It was not until we approached Sheffield that the tug of war began, and, strange to say, I found it easier to walk uphill than on a level surface.  Meantime we continued through a level and busy country, and were in no danger of losing our way, for there were many people to inquire of in case of necessity.  At one time it had been a wild and lonely place, known as Attercliffe Common, and we were told that Dick Turpin had been gibbeted there.  We had often heard of Turpin, and knew that he was hanged, but did not remember where, so we were anxious to see the exact spot where that famous “knight of the road” ended his existence.  We made inquiries from quite a number of people, but could get no satisfactory information, until we met with an elderly gentleman, who informed us that it was not Dick Turpin who was gibbeted there, but a “gentleman” in the same profession, whose name was Spence Broughton, the only trace of him now being a lane that bore his name.  As far as he knew, Dick Turpin had never been nearer Sheffield than Maltby, a village five miles away, and that was on his ride from London to York.  He was hanged at Tyburn.

The hills we could see were those of the Pennine range, with which we must have formed acquaintance unconsciously when farther north, as although the high hills in the Lake District, through which we had passed, were not included in the range, some of the others must have been, since the Pennines were bounded on one side by Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, and on the other by Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, attaining an elevation of 3,000 feet in the north and 2,000 feet in the south.  The Pennines here were described to us as the “backbone of England,” for they were looked upon as being in the centre, equidistant from the east and west coasts, and hereabouts thirty miles in breadth.  The district verging upon Sheffield was well known to the Romans as producing the best iron in the world, the ore or iron-stones being obtained in their time by digging up the earth, which was left in great heaps after the iron-stones had been thrown out; many of these excavations were still to be seen.  In manufacturing the iron they took advantage of the great forests around them to provide the fuel for smelting the ore, for it was a great convenience to have the two elements so near at hand, as it saved carriage from one to the other.  Forests still existed thereabouts in the time of Robin

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Hood, and were well known to him and his band of “merrie men,” while his jovial chaplain, Friar Tuck, had his hermitage amongst their deep recesses.  Many woods round Sheffield still remained in the time of Mary Queen of Scots, who passed some portion of her imprisonment at the old Manor House, which was then a castellated mansion.  Visitors were now conducted up a narrow flight of stairs to a flat roof covered with lead, from which that unfortunate Queen had looked out over the hills and forests, and breathed the pure air as it passed over them.  But now all appeared to be fire and smoke, and the great works which belched them forth seemed a strange and marvellous sight to us after walking so long through such lonely districts.

[Illustration:  THE SMOKE OF SHEFFIELD.  “The district verging upon Sheffield was well known to the Romans as producing the best iron in the world.”]

Sheffield has a world-wide reputation for its cutlery and for its other productions in brass, iron, and steel, for the manufacture of which pure water of a particular variety was essential.  The town was well provided in that respect, for no less than five rivers flowed towards Sheffield from the Pennine range above.  From the finest steel all sorts of things were made, ranging from the smallest needle or steel pen up to the largest-sized gun or armour-plate.  It would no doubt have interested us greatly to look through one of the works, but such as we passed were labelled “No admittance except on business,” which we interpreted to mean that no strangers were allowed to enter, lest they might carry away with them the secrets of the business, so we walked slowly onward in the hope of reaching, before nightfall, our next great object of interest, “The Great Cavern and Castle of Peveril of the Peak.”  Passing along the Ecclesall Road, we saw, in nicely wooded enclosures, many of the houses of manufacturers and merchants, who, like ourselves in after life, left their men to sleep in the smoke while they themselves went to breathe the purer air above, for Ecclesall was at a fair elevation above the town.  But one gentleman whom we saw assured us that, in spite of the heavy clouds of smoke we had seen, the town was very healthy, and there was more sunshine at Sheffield than in any other town in England.

Shortly afterwards we came to a finger-post where a road turned off towards Norton and Beauchief Abbey.  Norton was the village where the sculptor Chantrey, of whom, and his works, we had heard so much, was born, and the monument to his memory in the old church there was an attraction to visitors.  Chantrey was a man of whom it might safely be said “his works do follow,” for my brother, who always explored the wild corners of the country when he had the opportunity, was once travelling in Wales, and told a gentleman he met that he intended to stay the night at the inn at the Devil’s Bridge.  This was not the Devil’s Bridge we had crossed so recently at Kirkby Lonsdale, but a much more picturesque one, which to visit at that time involved a walk of about thirteen miles in the mountainous region behind Aberystwyth.

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“Have you ever seen that fine monument by Chantrey there?” asked the gentleman.

“No,” said my brother in astonishment, knowing the wild nature of the country thereabouts.

“Well,” he said, “mind you go and see it!  Here is my card, and when you have seen it, write me whether you have seen a finer monument in all your life.”

My brother found the monument in a small church about three miles from the hotel in the hills above.  He was very much astonished and deeply impressed by the sculpture, acknowledging in his promised letter that it was by far the finest he had seen.  The origin of it was as follows: 

The owner of the estate had an only child, a daughter, lovely, clever, and accomplished, but slightly deformed in her back.  When she was twenty-one years old she was taken by her parents to London to have her back straightened, but never recovered from the operation.  The statuary represented the daughter lying on a couch, her father standing at the head looking down into the eyes of his dying daughter, while her mother is kneeling at the foot in an attitude of prayer.  The daughter’s instruments of music and painting, with her books, appear under the couch, while every small detail, from the embroidery on the couch to the creases in the pillow, are beautifully sculptured.

This great work of art cost L6,000, and was exhibited in London for some time before it was placed in the small church of Hafod.  It was said to have made Chantrey’s fortune.


Beauchief Abbey, we were informed, was built by the murderers of Thomas a Becket in expiation of their sin, but only a few fragments of the buildings now remained.  We halted for rest and refreshments at the “Fox House Inn,” which stood at a junction of roads and was formerly the hunting-box of the Duke of Rutland.

We had by this time left the county of York and penetrated about four miles into Derbyshire, a county we may safely describe as being peculiar to itself, for limestone abounded in the greater part of its area.  Even the roads were made with it, and the glare of their white surfaces under a brilliant sun, together with the accumulation of a white dust which rose with the wind, or the dangerous slippery mud which formed on them after rain or snow or frost, were all alike disagreeable to wayfarers.  But in later times, if the worthy writer who ventured into that county on one occasion, had placed his fashionable length on the limy road when in a more favourable condition than that of wet limy mud, he might have written Derbyshire up instead of writing it down, and describing it as the county beginning with a “Big D.”


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The colour of the green fields which lined the roads contrasted finely in the distance with the white surface of the roads, both fields and roads alike were neatly fenced in with stone walls.  We wondered many times where all these stones could have come from, and at the immense amount of labour involved in getting them there and placing them in position.  Their purpose in breaking the force of the wind was clear, for the greater part of the county consisted of moors, some portions of which were being cultivated, and although they were almost entirely devoid of trees, there were plenty of trees to be seen in the valleys, the Dales of Derbyshire being noted for their beauty.  The River Derwent ran along the valley opposite the inn, and on the other side was the village of Eyam, which became famous in the time of the Great Plague of London in 1665.  It seemed almost impossible that a remote village like that could be affected by a plague in London, but it so happened that a parcel arrived by coach from London addressed to a tailor in Eyam, who opened it with the result that he contracted the disease and died; in the same month five others died also, making a total of six for September, which was followed by 23 deaths in October, 7 in November, and 9 in December.  Then came a hard frost, and it was thought that the germs would all be killed, but it broke out again in the following June with 19 deaths, July 56, August 77, September 24, and October 14, and then the plague died out—­possibly because there were very few people left.  During all this time Eyam had been isolated from the rest of the world, for if a villager tried to get away he was at once driven back, and for any one to go there was almost certain death.  The Earl of Devonshire, who nobly remained at Chatsworth all the time, sent provisions periodically to a certain point where no one was allowed to pass either inwards or outwards.  At this time even the coins of the realm were considered to be infectious, and large stones hollowed out like basins, which probably contained some disinfectant, were placed between Eyam and the villages which traded with them.  Meantime the rector of Eyam, whose name was Mompesson, stood his ground like a true hero, ministering to his parishioners; and, although his wife contracted the disease and died, and though he referred to himself as “a dying man,” yet was he mercifully preserved; so too was the Rev. Thomas Stanley, who had been ejected from the rectory after eighteen years’ service because he would not subscribe to the Corporation Act of 1661.  He stood by Mompesson and did his duty quite as nobly; and some years afterwards, when some small-minded people appealed to the Duke of Devonshire as Lord Lieutenant of the county to have Stanley removed, he indignantly refused and rebuked the petitioners very strongly.

William and Mary Howitt wrote a long poem entitled “The Desolation of Hyam,” and described the village as—­

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  Among the verdant mountains of the Peak
  There lies a quiet hamlet, where the slope
  Of pleasant uplands wards the north winds bleak: 
  Below, wild dells romantic pathways ope: 
  Around, above it, spreads a shadowy cope
  Of forest trees:  flower, foliage and clear rill
  Wave from the cliffs, or down ravines elope: 
  It seems a place charmed from the power of ill
  By sainted words of old:—­so lovely, lone and still.

William Wood wrote the Plague Chronicle, and on his gravestone was inscribed: 

  Men like visions are;
  Time all doth claim;
  He lives who dies and leaves
  A lasting name.

We had often read the wonderful epitaphs on the tombs of the nobility, but we had been warned that in former times these were often written by professional men who were well paid for their services, and the greater the number of heavenly virtues attributed to the deceased, the greater of course the fee; but those written by the poetical curate of Eyam were beyond suspicion if we may judge from the couplet he wrote to be placed on the gravestone of a parishioner: 

  Since life is short and death is always nigh,
  On many years to come do not rely.

We were now passing through Little John’s country, and we heard more about him in this neighbourhood than of his master, Robin Hood, for Little John’s Well was not far away, and Hathersage, our next stage, was where he was buried.  We were very much interested in Robin Hood and Little John, as my name was Robert, and my brother’s name was John.  He always said that Little John was his greatest ancestor, for in the old story-books his name appeared as John Nailer.  But whether we could claim much credit or no from the relationship was doubtful, as the stanza in the old ballad ran: 

  Robin Hood did little good
  And Little John did less.

In later times the name had been altered to Naylor, in order, we supposed, to hide its humble though honourable origin; for there was no doubt that it was a Nailer who fastened the boards on Noah’s Ark, and legend stated that when he came to nail the door on, he nailed it from the inside!

The stanza, he explained, might have been written by the Bishop of Hereford or one of Robin Hood’s other clients, whom he and Little John had relieved of his belongings; but the name Naylor was a common one in South Yorkshire, and, although our branch of the family were natives of South Lancashire, their characteristics showed they were of the same stock, since, like Little John, they were credited with having good appetites and with being able to eat and retain any kind of food and in almost any quantity.  On one occasion we happened to meet with a gentleman named Taylor, and, after remarking there was only one letter different between his name and ours, my brother said, “But we are much the older family,” and then named the Noah’s Ark incident; when the gentleman quietly remarked, “I can beat you.”  “Surely not,” said my brother.  “Yes, I can,” replied Mr. Taylor, “for my ancestor made the tails for Adam’s coat!  He was a Tailer.”  My brother collapsed!

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But the greatest blow he received in that direction was when he found a much more modern story of “Robin Hood and Little John,” which gave Little John’s real name as John Little, saying that his name was changed to Little John because he was such a big man.  My brother was greatly annoyed at this until he discovered that this version was a comparatively modern innovation, dating from the time of Sir Walter Scott’s Talisman, published in 1825, and inserted there because the proper name would not have suited Sir Walter’s rhyme: 

  “This infant was called ‘John Little,’ quoth he;
    “Which name shall be changed anon. 
  The words we’ll transpose, so wherever he goes
    His name shall be called Little John.”

On our way from the “Fox House Inn” to Hathersage we passed some strange-looking rocks which were said to resemble the mouth of a huge toad; but as we had not studied the anatomy of that strange creature, and had no desire to do so, a casual glance as we walked along a down gradient into Hathersage was sufficient.  As we entered the village we saw a party of men descending a road on our right, from whom we inquired the way to Little John’s grave, which they told us they had just been to visit themselves.  They directed us to go up the road that they had just come down, and one of them advised us to call at the small inn which we should find at the top of the hill, while another man shouted after us, “Aye! and ther’s a mon theere ’ats getten ’is gun!” We found the inn, but did not ask to see the gun, being more interested at the time in bows and arrows, so we called at the inn and ordered tea.  It was only a cottage inn, but the back of it served as a portion of the churchyard wall, and the mistress told us that when Little John lay on his deathbed in the room above our heads, he asked for his bow and arrow, and, shooting through the window which we would see from the churchyard at the back of the inn, desired his men to bury him on the spot where they found his arrow.

[Illustration:  THE TOAD’S MOUTH.]

We went to see the grave while our tea was being prepared, and found it only a few yards from the inn, so presumably Little John was very weak when he shot the arrow.  The grave stood between two yew trees, with a stone at the head and another at the foot, the distance between them being ten feet.

The church was a very old one, dating from the early part of the fourteenth century.  It was said that a search for Little John’s skeleton had been made in 1784, when only a thigh-bone had been found; but as this measured twenty-nine and a half inches, a very big man must have been buried there.

On our right across the moor rose sharply what seemed to be a high, continuous cliff, which we were told was the “edge” of one of the thick, hard beds of millstone grit, and as we proceeded the edge seemed to be gradually closing in upon us.

After tea we walked slowly on to Castleton, where we selected a clean and respectable-looking private house to stay and rest over the week-end, until Monday morning.

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(Distance walked twenty-two miles.)

Sunday, October 29th.

We were very comfortable in our apartments at Castleton, our host and hostess and their worthy son paying us every possible attention.  They were members of the Wesleyan Church, and we arranged with the young man that if he would go with us to the Parish Church in the morning, we would go to the Wesleyan Chapel in the evening with him.  So in the morning we all went to church, where we had a good old-fashioned service, and saw a monument to the memory of a former vicar, a Mr. Bagshawe, who was Vicar of Castleton from 1723 to 1769; the epitaph on it described him as—­

A man whose chief delight was in the service of his Master—­a sound scholar—­a tender and affectionate husband—­a kind and indulgent parent—­and a lover of peace and quietness, who is gone to that place where he now enjoys the due reward of his labours.

This Vicar had kept a diary, or journal, from which it appeared that he began life in a good position, but lost his money in the “South Sea Bubble,” an idea floated in the year 1710 as a financial speculation to clear off the National Debt, the Company contracting to redeem the whole debt in twenty-six years on condition that they were granted a monopoly of the South Sea Trade.  This sounded all right, and a rush was made for the shares, which soon ran up in value from L100 to L1,000, fabulous profits being made.  Sir Robert Walpole, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and afterwards Prime Minister for the long period of twenty-two years, was strongly opposed to the South Sea Scheme, and when, ten years later, he exposed it, the bubble burst and the whole thing collapsed, thousands of people, including the worthy Vicar of Castleton, being ruined.

[Illustration:  CASTLETON CHURCH.]

It also appeared from the diary that, like the vicar Goldsmith describes, he was “passing rich on forty pounds a year,” for he never received more than L40 per year for his services.  The prices he paid for goods for himself and his household in the year 1748 formed very interesting reading, as it enabled us to compare the past with the present.

Bohea Tea was 8s. per pound; chickens, threepence each; tobacco, one penny per ounce; a shoulder of mutton cost him fifteen-pence, while the forequarter of a lamb was eighteen-pence, which was also the price of a “Cod’s Head from Sheffield.”

He also recorded matters concerning his family.  He had a son named Harry whom he apprenticed to a tradesman in Leeds.  On one occasion it appeared that the Vicar’s wife made up a parcel “of four tongues and four pots of potted beef” as a present for Hal’s master.  One of the most pleasing entries in the diary was that which showed that Harry had not forgotten his mother, for one day a parcel arrived at the Vicarage from Leeds which was found to contain “a blue China cotton gown,” a present from Hal to his mother.

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Who fed me from her gentle breast. 
And hush’d me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheeks sweet kisses prest? 

                      My Mother.

Who sat and watched my infant head
When sleeping on my cradle bed. 
And tears of sweet affection shed? 

                      My Mother.

Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well? 

                      My Mother.

Who taught my infant lips to pray. 
And love God’s holy Book and day. 
And walk in Wisdom’s pleasant way? 

                      My Mother.

And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who wast so very kind to me? 

                      My Mother.

Ah! no, the thought I cannot bear,
And if God please my life to spare,
I hope I shall reward thy care. 

                      My Mother.

When thou art feeble, old, and grey. 
My healthy arm shall be thy stay,
And I will soothe thy pains away,

                      My Mother.

After dinner we decided to visit the Castle of Peveril of the Peak, and as the afternoon was very fine we were able to do so, under the guidance of our friend.  We were obliged to proceed slowly owing to my partially disabled foot, and it took us a long time to reach the castle, the road being very narrow and steep towards the top—­in fact, it was so difficult of approach that a handful of men could have defeated hundreds of the enemy.  We managed to reach the ruins, and there we reposed on the grass to view the wild scenery around us and the curious split in the limestone rocks through which led the path known as the “Winnats,” a shortened form of Wind Gates, owing to the force of the wind at this spot.  The castle was not a large one, and there were higher elevations quite near; but deep chasms intervened, and somewhere beneath us was the largest cave in England.  While we were resting our friend related the history of the castle, which had been built by William Peverell in 1068, and rebuilt by Henry II in 1176-7 after he had received here the submission of Malcolm, King of Scotland.  Peverell was a natural son of William the Conqueror, who had distinguished himself at the Battle of Hastings, for which William had bestowed upon him many manors in Derbyshire.  What was known as the Peak of Derbyshire we found was not one single rock, as we supposed, but a huge tableland with rising heights here and there.  Our friend, whose name was William, told us a legend connected with the Peverell family.  Pain Peverell, the Lord of Whittington, in Shropshire, had two daughters, the elder of whom was very beautiful, and had so many admirers that she could not decide which of them to

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accept.  So she consulted her father on the matter, who advised her to accept only the “Bravest of the Brave,” or the one who could prove himself to excel all others in martial skill.  Her father therefore proclaimed a tournament, which was to take place, in the words of an ancient writer, at “Peverell’s Place in the Peke,” inviting all young men of noble birth to compete for the hand of the beautiful “Mellet,” whose dowry was to be Whittington Castle.  The contest, as might be supposed, was a severe one, and was won by a knight bearing a maiden shield of silver with a peacock for his crest, who vanquished, amongst others, a Knight of Burgundy and a Prince of Scotland.  He proved to be Fitzwarren, and the Castle of Whittington passed to him together with his young bride.

[Illustration:  CASTLETON ROCKS.]

Our friend was surprised when we told him we knew that castle and the neighbourhood very well, and also a cottage there where Dick Whittington was born, who afterwards became Sir Richard de Whittington, Lord Mayor of London.  We again discussed the question of the desirability of returning home, as we were now much nearer than when at Furness Abbey, where we had nearly succumbed to home-sickness before; but my brother said he should continue the journey alone if I gave in, and as he kindly consented again to carry all the luggage, I agreed to complete the journey with him.

[Illustration:  THE WINNATS, CASTLETON.]

I walked down the hill supported by my brother on one side and our friend on the other, and returned to the latter’s home for tea, after which our host showed us some remarkable spar stones—­dog-tooth spar we were told was their name—­found in the lead mines, whose white crystals glistened in the light, and I could see by the covetous look in my brother’s eyes that he was thinking of the rockeries at home.  His look was also seen by our worthy host, for he subsequently presented him with the stones, which my brother afterwards declared were given to him as a punishment for coveting his neighbour’s goods.  It was now time to fulfil our engagement to accompany our friend to the Wesleyan Chapel and to go through what proved one of the most extraordinary services we ever attended.  Our host and hostess went with us, but they sat in a pew, while we three sat on a form.  We remained for the “Prayer Meeting,” which the minister announced would be held after the usual service.  We had read that the “Amens” of the early Christians could be heard at long distances, but we never attended a meeting where the ejaculations were so loud and fervent as they were here.  Each man seemed to vie with his neighbour as to which could shout the louder, and every one appeared to be in great earnest.  The exclamations were not always “Amens,” for we heard one man shout “Aye!” at exactly the same moment as another man shouted “Now!” and if the Leader had not been possessed of a stentorian voice he would not at times have been

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able to make himself heard.  The primitive custom of conducting prayer meetings was evidently kept up at Castleton, as might perhaps have been expected in a place which before the appearance of the railway was so remote and inaccessible, but it was difficult to realise that “yes” and “no,” or “aye” and “now,” could have the same meaning when ejaculated at the same moment.  Still, it might have been so in this case.  Who knows!

In travelling through the country we had noticed that in the neighbourhood of great mountains the religious element was more pronounced than elsewhere, and the people’s voices seemed stronger.  At the close of this second service, for which nearly the whole of the congregation stayed, the conductor gave out one of Isaac Watts’s well-known hymns, and the congregation sang it with heart and voice that almost made the rafters in the roof of the chapel vibrate as if even they were joining in the praises of the Lord!  These were the first two verses: 

  Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
  Doth his successive journeys run;
  His Kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
  Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

  People and realms of every tongue
  Dwell on His love with sweetest song,
  And infant voices shall proclaim
  Their early blessing on His Name.

We must say we joined as heartily as any of the others, for it was sung to one of the good old Methodist tunes common to all the Churches in the days of Wesley.  As we walked back through the village we felt all the better for having attended the full service, and later, when we watched the nearly full moon rise in the clear night air above the hills, our thoughts turned instinctively towards the Great Almighty, the Father and Maker and Giver of All!


Monday, October 30th.

[Illustration:  PEVERIL CASTLE.]

The Scots as a nation are proverbial for their travelling propensities; they are to be found not only in every part of the British Isles, but in almost every known and unknown part of the wide world.  It was a jocular saying then in vogue that if ever the North Pole were discovered, a Scotsman would be found there sitting on the top!  Sir Walter Scott was by no means behind his fellow countrymen in his love of travel, and like his famous Moss-troopers, whose raids carried them far beyond the Borders, even into foreign countries, he had not confined himself “to his own—­his Native Land.”  We were not surprised, therefore, wrhen we heard of him in the lonely neighbourhood of the Peak of Derbyshire, or that, although he had never been known to have visited the castle or its immediate surroundings, he had written a novel entitled Peveril of the Peak.  This fact was looked upon as a good joke by his personal friends, who gave him the title of the book as a nickname, and Sir Walter, when writing to some of his most intimate friends, had been known to subscribe himself in humorous vein as “Peveril of the Peak.”

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There were several objects of interest well worth seeing at Castleton besides the great cavern; there was the famous Blue John Mine, that took its name from the peculiar blue stone found therein, a kind of fibrous fluor-spar usually blue to purple, though with occasional black and yellow veins, of which ornaments were made and sold to visitors, and from which the large blue stone was obtained that formed the magnificent vase in Chatsworth House, the residence of the Duke of Devonshire, and in other noble mansions which possess examples of the craft.  In the mine there were two caverns, one of them 100 feet and the other 150 feet high, “which glittered with sparkling stalactites.”  Then there was the Speedwell Mine, one of the curiosities of the Peak, discovered by miners searching for ore, which they failed to find, although they laboured for years at an enormous cost.  In boring through the rock, however, they came to a large natural cavern, now reached by descending about a hundred steps to a canal below, on which was a boat for conveying passengers to the other end of the canal, with only a small light or torch at the bow to relieve the stygian darkness.  Visitors were landed on a platform to listen to a tremendous sound of rushing water being precipitated somewhere in the fearful and impenetrable darkness, whose obscurity and overpowering gloom could almost be felt.  On the slope of the Eldon Hill there was also a fearful chasm called the Eldon Hole, where a falling stone was never heard to strike the bottom.  This had been visited in the time of Queen Elizabeth by the Earl of Leicester, who caused an unfortunate native to be lowered into it to the full length of a long rope; when the poor fellow was drawn up again he was “stark mad,” and died eight days afterwards.

We had to leave all these attractions to a later visit, since we had come to Castleton to see the largest cavern of all, locally named the “Devil’s Hole,” but by polite visitors the “Peak Cavern.”  The approach to the cavern was very imposing and impressive, perpendicular rocks rising on both sides to a great height, while Peveril Castle stood on the top of the precipice before us like a sentinel guarding entrance to the cavern, which was in the form of an immense Gothic arch 120 feet high, 42 feet wide, and said to be large enough to contain the Parish Church and all its belongings.  This entrance, however, was being used as a rope-walk, where, early as it was, the workers were already making hempen ropes alongside the stream which flowed from the cavern, and the strong smell of hemp which prevailed as we stood for a few minutes watching the rope-makers was not at all unpleasant.


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If it had been the entrance to Hades, to which it had been likened by a learned visitor, we might have been confronted by Cerberus instead of our guide, whom our friends had warned overnight that his attendance would be required early this morning by distinguished visitors, who would expect the cave to be lit up with coloured lights in honour of their visit.  The guide as he handed a light to each of us explained apologetically that his stock of red lights had been exhausted during the season, but he had brought a sufficient number of blue lights to suit the occasion.  We followed him into the largest division of the cavern, which was 270 feet long and 150 feet high, the total length being about half a mile.  It contained many other rooms or caves, into which he conducted us, the first being known as the Bell House, and here the path we had been following suddenly came to an end at an arch about five yards wide, where there was a stream called the River Styx, over which he ferried us in a boat, landing us in a cave called the Hall of Pluto, the Being who ruled over the Greek Hades, or Home of Departed Spirits, guarded by a savage three-headed dog named Cerberus.  The only way of reaching the “Home,” our guide told us, was by means of the ferry on the River Styx, of which Charon had charge, and to ensure the spirit having a safe passage to the Elysian Fields it was necessary that his toll should be paid with a coin placed beforehand in the mouth or hand of the departed.  We did not, however, take the hint about the payment of the toll until after our return journey, when we found ourselves again at the mouth of the Great Cavern, a privilege perhaps not extended to Pluto’s ghostly visitors, nor did we see any of those mysterious or mythological beings; perhaps the nearest approach to them was the figure of our guide himself, as he held aloft the blue torch he had in his hand when in the Hall of Pluto, for he presented the appearance of a man afflicted with delirium tremens or one of those “blue devils” often seen by victims of that dreadful disease.  We also saw Roger Rain’s House, where it always rained, summer and winter, all the year round, and the Robbers’ Cave, with its five natural arches.  But the strangest cave we visited was that called the “Devil’s Wine Cellar,” an awful abyss where the water rushed down a great hole and there disappeared.  Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, visited the cavern in 1832, and one of the caves was named Victoria in memory of that event; we had the honour of standing on the exact spot where she stood on that occasion.

Our visit to the cavern was quite a success, enhanced as it was by the blue lights, so, having paid the guide for his services, we returned to our lodgings to “pack up” preparatory to resuming our walk.  The white stones so kindly presented to my brother—­of which he was very proud, for they certainly were very fine specimens—­seemed likely to prove a white elephant to him.  The

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difficulty now was how to carry them in addition to all the other luggage.  Hurrying into the town, he returned in a few minutes with an enormous and strongly made red handkerchief like those worn by the miners, and in this he tied the stones, which were quite heavy and a burden in themselves.  With these and all the other luggage as well he presented a very strange appearance as he toiled up the steep track through Cave Dale leading from the rear of the town to the moors above.  It was no small feat of endurance and strength, for he carried his burdens until we arrived at Tamworth railway station in Staffordshire, to which our next box of clothes had been ordered, a distance of sixty-eight and a half miles by the way we walked.  It was with a feeling of real thankfulness for not having been killed with kindness in the bestowal of these gifts that he deposited the stones in that box.  When they reached home they were looked upon as too valuable to be placed on the rockeries and retained the sole possession of a mantelshelf for many years.  My ankle was still very weak, and it was as much as I could do to carry the solitary walking-stick to assist me forwards; but we were obliged to move on, as we were now quite fifty miles behind our projected routine, and we knew there was some hard work before us.  When we reached the moors, which were about a thousand feet above sea-level, the going was comparatively easy on the soft rich grass which makes the cow’s milk so rich, and we had some good views of the hills.  That named Mam Tor was one of the “Seven wonders of the Peak,” and its neighbour, known as the Shivering Mountain, was quite a curiosity, as the shale, of which it was composed, was constantly breaking away and sliding down the mountain slope with a sound like that of falling water.  Bagshawe Cavern was near at hand, but we did not visit it.  It was so named because it had been found on land belonging to Sir William Bagshawe, whose lady christened its chambers and grottos with some very queer names.  Across the moors we could see the town of Tideswell, our next objective, standing like an oasis in the desert, for there were no trees on the moors.  We had planned that after leaving there we would continue our way across the moors to Newhaven, and then walk through Dove Dale to Ashbourne in the reverse direction to that taken the year before on our walk from London to Lancashire.  Before reaching Tideswell we came to a point known as Lane Head, where six lane-ends met, and which we supposed must have been an important meeting-place when the moors, which surrounded it for miles, formed a portion of the ancient Peak Forest.  We passed other objects of interest, including some ancient remains of lead mining in the form of curious long tunnels like sewers on the ground level which radiated to a point where on the furnaces heaps of timber were piled up and the lead ore was smelted by the heat which was intensified by these draught-producing tunnels.

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[Illustration:  TIDESWELL CHURCH.]

When Peak Forest was in its primeval glory, and the Kings of England with their lords, earls, and nobles came to hunt there, many of the leading families had dwellings in the forest, and we passed a relic of these, a curious old mansion called Hazelbadge Hall, the ancient home of the Vernons, who still claim by right as Forester to name the coroner for West Derbyshire when the position falls vacant.

Tideswell was supposed to have taken its name from an ebbing and flowing well whose water rose and fell like the tides in the sea, but which had been choked up towards the end of the eighteenth century, and reopened in the grounds of a mansion, so that the cup-shaped hollow could be seen filling and emptying.

A market had existed at Tideswell since the year 1250, and one was being held as we entered the town, and the “George Inn,” where we called for refreshments, was fairly well filled with visitors of one kind or another.

We left our luggage to the care of the ostler, and went to visit the fine old church adjacent, where many ancient families lie buried; the principal object of interest was the magnificent chancel, which has been described as “one Gallery of Light and Beauty,” the whole structure being known as the Cathedral of the Peak.  There was a fine monumental brass, with features engraved on it which throw light on the Church ritual of the day, to the memory of Bishop Pursglove, who was a native of Tideswell and founder of the local Grammar School, who surrendered his Priory of Gisburn to Henry VIII in 1540, but refused, in 1559, to take the Oath of Supremacy.  Sampson Meverill, Knight Constable of England, also lies buried in the chancel, and by his epitaph on a marble tomb, brought curiously enough from Sussex, he asks the reader “devoutly of your charity” to say “a Pater Noster with an Ave for all Xtian soules, and especially for the soule of him whose bones resten under this stone.”  Meverill, with John Montagu, Earl of Shrewsbury, fought as “a Captain of diverse worshipful places in France,” serving under John, Duke of Bedford, in the “Hundred Years’ War,” and after fighting in eleven battles within the space of two years he won knighthood at the duke’s hands at St. Luce.  In the churchyard was buried William Newton, the Minstrel of the Peak, and Samuel Slack, who in the last quarter of the eighteenth century was the most popular bass singer in England.  When quite young Slack competed with others for a position in a college choir at Cambridge, and sang Purcell’s famous air, “They that go down to the sea in ships.”  When he had finished, the Precentor rose immediately and said to the other candidates, “Gentlemen, I now leave it to you whether any one will sing after what you have just heard!” No one rose, and so Slack gained the position.

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Soon afterwards Georgiana, Duchess of Sutherland, interested herself in him, and had him placed under Spofforth, the chief singing master of the day, under whose tuition he greatly improved, taking London by storm.  He was for many years the principal bass at all the great musical festivals.  So powerful was his voice, it is said, that on one occasion when he was pursued by a bull he uttered a bellow which so terrified the animal that it ran away, so young ladies who were afraid of these animals always felt safe when accompanied by Mr. Slack.  When singing before King George III at Windsor Castle, he was told that His Majesty had been pleased with his singing.  Slack remarked in his Derbyshire dialect, which he always remembered, “Oh, he was pleased, were he?  I thow’t I could do’t.”  Slack it was said made no effort to improve himself either in speech or in manners, and therefore it was thought that he preferred low society.

When he retired and returned to his native village he was delighted to join the local “Catch and Glee Club,” of which he soon became the ruling spirit.  It held its meetings at the “George Inn” where we had called for refreshments, and we were shown an old print of the club representing six singers in Hogarthian attitudes with glasses, jugs, and pipes, with Slack and his friend Chadwick of Hayfield apparently singing heartily from the same book Slack’s favourite song, “Life’s a Bumper fill’d by Fate.”  Tideswell had always been a musical town; as far back as the year 1826 there was a “Tideswell Music Band,” which consisted of six clarionets, two flutes, three bassoons, one serpent, two trumpets, two trombones, two French horns, one bugle, and one double drum—­twenty performers in all.

They had three practices weekly, and there were the usual fines for those who came late, or missed a practice, for inattention to the leader, or for a dirty instrument, the heaviest fine of all being for intoxication.  But long after this there was a Tideswell Brass Band which became famous throughout the country, for the leader not only wrote the score copies for his own band, but lithographed and sold them to other bands all over the country.

[Illustration:  “LIFE’S A BUMPER.”]

We were particularly interested in all this, for my brother had for the past eight years indulged in the luxury of a brass band himself.  The band consisted of about twenty members when in full strength, and as instruments were dear in those days it was a most expensive luxury, and what it had cost him in instruments, music, and uniforms no one ever knew.  He had often purchased “scores” from Metcalf, the leader of the Tideswell Band, a fact that was rather a source of anxiety to me, as I knew if he called to see Metcalf our expedition for that day would be at an end, as they might have conversed with each other for hours.  I could not prevent him from relating at the “George” one of his early reminiscences, which fairly “brought down the house,” as there were some musicians in the company.

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His band had been formed in 1863, and consisted of about a dozen performers.  Christmas time was coming on, when the bandsmen resolved to show off a little and at the same time collect some money from their friends to spend in the New Year.  They therefore decided that the band should go out “busking” each evening during Christmas week.  They had only learned to play five tunes—­two of them belonging to well-known hymns, a third “God Save the Queen,” while the remaining two were quicksteps, one of which was not quite perfectly learned.

They were well received in the village, and almost every house had been visited with the exception of the Hall, which was some distance away, and had been left till the last probably owing to the fact that the squire was not particularly noted for his liberality.  If, however, he had been at home that week, and had any sense of music, he would have learned all their tunes off by heart, as the band must have been heard clearly enough when playing at the farms surrounding the mansion.

To avoid a possibility of giving offence, however, it was decided to pay him a visit; so the band assembled one evening in front of the mansion, and the conductor led off with a Psalm tune, during which the Hall door was opened by a servant.  At this unexpected compliment expectations rose high amongst the members of the band, and a second Psalm tune was played, the full number of verses in the hymn being repeated.  Then followed a pause to give the squire a chance of distinguishing himself, but as he failed to rise to the occasion it was decided to play a quickstep.  This was followed by a rather awkward pause, as there were some high notes in the remaining quickstep which the soprano player said he was sure he could not reach as he was getting “ramp’d” already.  At this moment, however, the situation was relieved by the appearance of a female servant at the door.

The member of the band who had been deputed to collect all donations at once went to the door, and all eyes were turned upon him when he came back towards the lawn, every member on tip-toe of expectation.  But he had only returned to say that the squire’s lady wished the band to play a polka.  This spread consternation throughout the band, and one of the younger members went to the conductor saying, “A polka!  A polka!  I say, Jim, what’s that?” “Oh,” replied the conductor, “number three played quick!” Now number three was a quickstep named after Havelock the famous English General in India, so “Havelock’s March played quick” had to do duty for a polka; but the only man who could play it quickly was the conductor himself, who after the words, “Ready, chaps!” and the usual signal “One-two-three,” dashed off at an unusual speed, the performers following as rapidly as they could, the Bombardon and the Double B, the biggest instruments, finishing last with a most awful groan, after which the conductor, who couldn’t stop laughing when once he started, was found rolling

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on the lawn in a kind of convulsion.  It took them some time to recover their equilibrium, during which the Hall door remained open, and a portion of the band had already begun to move away in despair, when they were called back by the old butler appearing at the Hall door with a silver tray in his hand.  The collector’s services were again requisitioned, and he returned with the magnificent sum of one shilling!  As most of the farmers had given five shillings and the remainder half a crown, the squire’s reputation for generosity had been fully maintained.  One verse of “God save the Queen,” instead of the usual three, was played by the way of acknowledgment, and so ended the band’s busking season in the year 1863.

We quite enjoyed our visit to Tideswell, and were rather loath to leave the friendly company at the “George Inn,” who were greatly interested in our walk, several musical members watching our departure as the ostler loaded my brother with the luggage.

Tideswell possessed a poet named Beebe Eyre, who in 1854 was awarded L50 out of the Queen’s Royal Bounty, which probably inspired him to write: 

  Tideswell! thou art my natal spot,
    And hence I love thee well;
  May prosperous days now be the lot
    Of all that in thee dwell!

The sentiments expressed by the poet coincided with our own.  As we departed from the town we observed a curiosity in the shape of a very old and extremely dilapidated building, which we were informed could neither be repaired, pulled down, nor sold because it belonged to some charity.

On the moors outside the town there were some more curious remains of the Romans and others skilled in mining, which we thought would greatly interest antiquarians, as they displayed more methods of mining than at other places we had visited.  A stream had evidently disappointed them by filtering through its bed of limestone, but this they had prevented by forming a course of pebbles and cement, which ran right through Tideswell, and served the double purpose of a water supply and a sewer.

We crossed the old “Rakes,” or lines, where the Romans simply dug out the ore and threw up the rubbish, which still remained in long lines.  Clever though they were, they only knew lead when it occurred in the form known as galena, which looked like lead itself, and so they threw out a more valuable ore, cerusite, or lead carbonate, and the heaps of this valuable material were mined over a second time in comparatively recent times.  The miner of the Middle Ages made many soughs to drain away the water from the mines, and we saw more of the tunnels that had been made to draw air to the furnaces when wood was used for smelting the lead.

The forest, like many others, had disappeared, and Anna Seward had exactly described the country we were passing through when she wrote: 

  The long lone tracks of Tideswell’s native moor,
  Stretched on vast hills that far and near prevail. 
  Bleak, stony, bare, monotonous, and pale.

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The poet Newton had provided the town with a water supply by having pipes laid at his own expense from the Well Head at the source of the stream which flowed out of an old lead-mine.  Lead in drinking-water has an evil name for causing poisoning, but the Tideswell folk flourish on it, since no one seems to think of dying before seventy, and a goodly number live to over ninety.

They have some small industries, cotton manufacture having spread from Lancashire into these remote districts.  It is an old-fashioned place, with houses mostly stuccoed with broken crystals and limestone from the “Rakes” and containing curiously carved cupboard doors and posts torn from churches ornamented in Jacobean style by the sacrilegious Cromwellians, many of them having been erected just after the Great Rebellion.



We now journeyed along the mountain track until it descended sharply into Miller’s Dale; but before reaching this place we were interested in the village of Formhill, where Brindley, the famous canal engineer, was born in 1716.  Brindley was employed by the great Duke of Bridgewater, the pioneer of canal-making in England, to construct a canal from his collieries at Worsley, in Lancashire, to Manchester, in order to cheapen the cost of coal at that important manufacturing centre.  It was an extraordinary achievement, considering that Brindley was quite uneducated and knew no mathematics, and up to the last remained illiterate.  Most of his problems were solved without writings or drawings, and when anything difficult had to be considered, he would go to bed and think it out there.  At the Worsley end it involved tunnelling to the seams of coal where the colliers were at work so that they could load the coal directly into the boats.  He constructed from ten to thirteen miles of underground canals on two different levels, with an ingeniously constructed connection between the two.  After this he made the great Bridgewater Canal, forty miles in length, from Manchester to Runcorn, which obtained a fall of one foot per mile by following a circuitous route without a lock or a tunnel in the whole of its course until it reached its terminus at the River Mersey.  In places where a brook or a small valley had to be crossed the canal was carried on artificially raised banks, and to provide against a burst in any of these, which would have caused the water to run out of the canal, it was narrowed at each end of the embankment so that only one boat could pass through at a time, this narrow passage being known as a “stop place.”  At the entrance to this a door was so placed at the bottom of the canal that if any undue current should appear, such as would occur if the embankment gave way, one end of it would rise into a socket prepared for it in the stop-place, and so prevent any water leaving the canal except that in the broken section, a remedy simple but ingenious.  On arriving at Runcorn the boats were lowered by a series of locks into the River Mersey, a double service of locks being provided so that boats could pass up and down at the same time and so avoid delay.

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[Illustration:  JAMES BRINDLEY.]

When the water was first turned into the canal, Brindley mysteriously disappeared, and was nowhere to be found; but as the canal when full did not burst its embankments, as he had feared, he soon reappeared and was afterwards employed to construct even more difficult canals.  He died in 1772, and was buried in Harriseahead Churchyard on the Cheshire border of Staffordshire.  It is computed that he engineered as many miles of canals as there are days in the year.


It must have been a regular custom for the parsons in Derbyshire to keep diaries in the eighteenth century, for the Vicar of Wormhill kept one, like the Vicar of Castleton, both chancing to be members of the Bagshawe family, a common name in that neighbourhood.  He was a hard-working and conscientious man, and made the following entry in it on February 3rd, 1798

Sunday.—­Preached at Wormhill on the vanity of human pursuits and human pleasures, to a polite audience, an affecting sermon.  Rode in the evening to Castleton, where I read three discourses by Secker.  In the forest I was sorry to observe a party of boys playing at Football.  I spoke to them but was laughed at, and on my departure one of the boys gave the football a wonderful kick—­a proof this of the degeneracy of human nature!

On reaching Miller’s Dale, a romantic deep hollow in the limestone, at the bottom of which winds the fast-flowing Wye, my brother declared that he felt more at home, as it happened to be the only place he had seen since leaving John o’ Groat’s that he had previously visited, and it reminded him of a rather amusing incident.


Our uncle, a civil engineer in London, had been over on a visit, and was wearing a white top-hat, then becoming fashionable, and as my brother thought that a similar hat would just suit the dark blue velveteen coat he wore on Sundays, he soon appeared in the prevailing fashion.  He was walking from Ambergate to Buxton, and had reached Miller’s Dale about noon, just as the millers were leaving the flour mills for dinner.  One would have thought that the sight of a white hat would have delighted the millers, but as these hats were rather dear, and beyond the financial reach of the man in the street, they had become an object of derision to those who could not afford to wear them, the music-hall answer to the question “Who stole the donkey?” being at that time “The man with the white hat!”

He had met one group of the millers coming up the hill and another lot was following, when a man in the first group suddenly turned round and shouted to a man in the second group, “I say, Jack, who stole the donkey?” But Jack had not yet passed my brother, and, as he had still to face him, he dared not give the customary answer, so, instead of replying “The man with the white hat,” he called out in the Derbyshire dialect, with a broad grin on his face, “Th’ feyther.”  A roar of laughter both behind and in front, in which my brother heartily joined, followed this repartee.

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Probably some of the opprobrium attached to the white hat was because of its having been an emblem of the Radicals.  We had seen that worn by Sir Walter Scott in his declining days, but we could not think of including him in that extreme political party, though its origin dated back to the time when he was still alive.  Probably the emblem was only local, for it originated at Preston in Lancashire, a place we knew well, commonly called Proud Preston, no doubt by reason of its connection with the noble family of Stanley, who had a mansion in the town.  Preston was often represented in Parliament by a Stanley, and was looked upon as a Pocket Borough.  In the turbulent times preceding the Abolition of the Corn Laws a powerful opponent, in the person of Mr. Henry Hunt, a demagogue politician, who had suffered imprisonment for advocating Chartism, appeared at the Preston election of 1830 to oppose the Honourable E.G.  Stanley, afterwards Earl of Derby.  He always appeared wearing a white hat, and was an eloquent speaker, and for these reasons earned the sobriquet of “Orator” Hunt and “Man with the White Hat.”  The election contest was one of the most exciting events that ever occurred in Preston, and as usual the children took their share in the proceedings, those on Mr. Stanley’s side parading the streets singing in a popular air: 

  Hey!  Ho!  Stanley for Ever!  Stanley for Ever! 
  Hey!  Ho!  Stanley for Ever Ho! 
  Stanley, Stanley, Stanley, Ho! 
  Stanley is my honey Ho! 
  When he weds he will be rich,
  He will have a coach and six.

Then followed the chorus to the accompaniment of drums and triangles: 

  Hey!  Ho!  Stanley for Ever, Ho!

In spite of this, however, and similar ditties, “Orator Hunt,” by a total vote of 3,730, became M.P. for Preston, and it was said that it was through this incident that the Radicals adopted the White Hat as their emblem.

Lord Derby was so annoyed at the result of the election that he closed his house, which stood across the end of a quiet street, and placed a line of posts across it, between which strong chains were hung, and on which my brother could remember swinging when a boy.

One of our uncles was known as the “Preston Poet” at that time, and he wrote a poem entitled “The Poor, God Bless ’Em!” the first verse reading: 

  Let sycophants bend their base knees in the court
    And servilely cringe round the gate,
  And barter their honour to earn the support
    Of the wealthy, the titled, the great;
  Their guilt piled possessions I loathe, while I scorn
    The knaves, the vile knaves who possess ’em;
  I love not to pamper oppression, but mourn
    For the poor, the robb’d poor—­God bless ’em!

A striking contrast to the volubility of Mr. Hunt was Mr. Samuel Horrocks, also M.P. for Preston, whose connection with the “Big Factory” in Preston probably gained him the seat.  He was said to have been the “quiet Member,” never known to make a speech in the House of Commons, unless it was to ask some official to close a window.  The main thoroughfare in Preston was Fishergate, a wide street, where on one Saturday night two men appeared walking up the middle of the street, carrying large papers suspended over their arms and shouting at the top of their voices.

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“The Speech of Samuel Horrocks, Esquire, M.P., in the British House of Commons! one penny,” which they continued to repeat.

“Eh! owd Sammy’s bin makkin’ a speech,” and a rush was made for the papers.  The streets were poorly lighted in those days, and the men did a roaring business in the dark.  One man, however, was so anxious to read the speech that he could not wait until he got home, but went to a shop window, where there was a light, but the paper was blank.  Thinking they had given him the wrong paper, he ran after the men and shouted, pointing to the paper, “Hey, there’s nowt on it.”  “Well,” growled one of the men, “he said nowt.”

[Illustration:  CHATSWORTH HOUSE.]

We now climbed up the opposite side of the dale, and continued on the moorland road for a few miles, calling at the “Flagg Moor Inn” for tea.  By the time we had finished it was quite dark, and the landlady of the inn did her best to persuade us to stay there for the night, telling us that the road from there to Ashbourne was so lonely that it was possible on a dark night to walk the whole distance of fourteen miles without seeing a single person, and as it had been the Great Fair at Newhaven that day, there might be some dangerous characters on the roads.  When she saw we were determined to proceed farther, she warned us that the road did not pass through any village, and that there was only a solitary house here and there, some of them being a little way from the road.  The road was quite straight, and had a stone wall on each side all the way, so all we had got to do was to keep straight on, and to mind we did not turn to the right or the left along any of the by-roads lest we should get lost on the moors.  It was not without some feeling of regret that we bade the landlady “Good night” and started out from the comfortable inn on a pitch-dark night.  Fortunately the road was dry, and, as there were no trees, the limestone of which it was composed showed a white track easily discernible in the inky darkness which surrounded it.  As we got farther on our way we could see right in front a great illumination in the mist or clouds above marking the glare from the country fair at Newhaven, which was only four miles from the inn we had just left.  We met quite a number of people returning from the fair, both on foot and in vehicles, and as they all appeared to be in good spirits we received a friendly greeting from all who spoke to us.  Presently arriving at Newhaven itself, which consisted solely of one large inn, we found the surrounding open space packed with a noisy and jovial crowd of people, the number of whom absolutely astonished us, as the country around appeared so desolate, and we wondered where they all could have come from.  Newhaven, which had been a very important place in the coaching-days, was a big three-storeyed house with twenty-five bedrooms and stabling for a hundred horses.  It stood at a junction of roads about 1,100 feet above

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sea-level in a most lonely place, and in the zenith of its popularity there was seldom a bedroom empty, the house being quite as gay as if it had been in London itself.  It had been specially built for the coach traffic by the then Duke of Devonshire, whose mansion, Chatsworth House, was only a few miles distant.  King George IV stayed at Newhaven on one occasion, and was so pleased with his entertainment that he granted to the inn a free and perpetual licence of his own sovereign pleasure, so that no application for renewal of licence at Brewster Sessions was ever afterwards required; a fact which accounted in some measure for the noisy company congregated therein, in defiance of the superintendent of police, who, with five or six of his officers, was standing in front of the fair.  Booths had been erected by other publicans, but the police had ordered these to be removed earlier in the day to prevent further disturbances.

We noticed they had quite a number of persons in custody, and when I saw a policeman looking very critically at the miscellaneous assortment of luggage my brother was carrying, I thought he was about to be added to the number; but he was soon satisfied as to the honesty of his intentions.  The “New Haven” must have meant a new haven for passengers, horses, and coaches when the old haven had been removed, as the word seemed only to apply to the hotel, which, as it was ten miles both from Buxton and Ashbourne, and also on the Roman road known as Via Gellia, must have been built exactly to accommodate the ten-mile run of the coaches either way.  It quite enlivened us to see the old-fashioned shows, the shooting-boxes, the exhibitions of monstrosities, with stalls displaying all sorts of nuts, sweets, gingerbreads, and all the paraphernalia that in those days comprised a country fair, and we should have liked to stay at the inn and visit some of the shows which were ranged in front of it and along the green patches of grass which lined the Ashbourne road; but in the first place the inn was not available, and in the second our twenty-five-mile average daily walk was too much in arrears to admit of any further delay.

[Illustration:  THE DOVE HOLES, DOVEDALE.]

All the shows and stalls were doing a roaring trade, and the naphtha lamps with which they were lighted flared weirdly into the inky darkness above.  Had we been so minded, we might have turned aside and found quarters at an inn bearing the odd sign of “The Silent Woman” (a woman with her head cut off and tucked under her arm, similar to one nearer home called the “Headless Woman”—­in the latter case, however, the tall figure of the woman was shown standing upright, without any visible support, while her head was calmly resting on the ground—­the idea seeming to be that a woman could not be silent so long as her head was on her body), but we felt that Ashbourne must be reached that night, which now seemed blacker than ever after leaving the glaring

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lights in the Fair.  Nor did we feel inclined to turn along any by-road on a dark night like that, seeing that we had been partly lost on our way from London the previous year, nearly at the same place, and on quite as dark a night.  On that memorable occasion we had entered Dovedale near Thorpe, and visited the Lovers’ Leap, Reynard’s Cave, Tissington Spires, and Dove Holes, but darkness came on, compelling us to leave the dale to resume our walk the following morning.  Eventually we saw a light in the distance, where we found a cottage, the inmates of which kindly conducted us with a lantern across a lonely place to the village of Parwich, which in the Derbyshire dialect they pronounced “Porritch,” reminding us of our supper.

[Illustration:  TISSINGTON SPIRES.]

[Illustration:  REYNARD’S CAVE, DOVEDALE.]

It was nearly closing-time when we were ushered into the taproom of the village inn among some strange companions, and when the hour of closing arrived we saw the head of the village policeman appear at the shutter through which outside customers were served with beer.  The landlord asked him, “Will you have a pint?” Looking significantly at ourselves, he replied, “No, thank you,” but we noticed the “pint” was placed in the aperture, and soon afterwards disappeared!

At Newhaven we ascertained that we were now quite near Hartington and Dovedale.  Hartington was a famous resort of fishermen and well known to Isaak Walton, the “Father of Fishermen,” and author of that famous book The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation, so full of such cheerful piety and contentment, such sweet freshness and simplicity, as to give the book a perennial charm.  He was a great friend of Charles Cotton of Beresford Hall, who built a fine fishing-house near the famous Pike Pool on the River Dove, over the arched doorway of which he placed a cipher stone formed with the combined initials of Walton and himself, and inscribed with the words “Piscatoribus Sacrum.”  It was said that when they came to fish in the fish pool early in the morning, Cotton smoked tobacco for his breakfast!

  What spot more honoured than this beautiful place? 
    Twice honoured truly.  Here Charles Cotton sang,
    Hilarious, his whole-hearted songs, that rang
  With a true note, through town and country ways,
  While the Dove trout—­in chorus—­splashed their praise. 
    Here Walton sate with Cotton in the shade
    And watched him dubb his flies, and doubtless made
  The time seem short, with gossip of old days. 
  Their cyphers are enlaced above the door,
  And in each angler’s heart, firm-set and sure.

  While rivers run, shall those two names endure,
  Walton and Cotton linked for evermore—–­
    And Piscatoribus Sacrum where more fit
    A motto for their wisdom worth and wit?

  Say, where shall the toiler find rest from his labours,
    And seek sweet repose from the overstrung will? 
  Away from the worry and jar of his neighbours
    Where moor-tinted streamlets flow down from the hill.

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  Then hurrah! jolly anglers, for burn and for river. 
    The songs of the birds and the lowing of kine: 
  The voice of the river shall soothe us for ever,
    Then here’s to the toast, boys—­“The rod and the line!”


We walked in the darkness for about six miles thinking all the time of Dovedale, which we knew was running parallel with our road at about two miles’ distance.  When we reached Tissington, about three miles from Ashbourne, the night had become lighter, and there ought to have been a considerable section of the moon visible if the sky had been clear.  Here we came to quite a considerable number of trees, but the village must have been somewhere in the rear of them.  Well-dressing was a custom common in Derbyshire, and also on a much smaller scale in some of the neighbouring counties; but this village of Tissington was specially noted in this respect, for it contained five wells, all of which had to be dressed.  As the dressers of the different wells vied with each other which should have the best show, the children and young people had a busy time in collecting the flowers, plants, buds, and ferns necessary to form the display.  The festival was held on Holy Thursday, and was preceded with a service in the church followed by one at each of the wells, and if the weather was fine, hundreds of visitors assembled to criticise the work at the different wells.  The origin of well-dressing is unknown, but it is certainly of remote antiquity, probably dating back to pagan times.  That at Tissington was supposed to have developed at the time of the Black Plague in the fourteenth century, when, although it decimated many villages in the neighbourhood, it missed Tissington altogether—­because, it was supposed, of the purity of the waters.  But the origin of well-dressing must have been of much greater antiquity:  the custom no doubt had its beginnings as an expression of praise to God from whom all blessings flow.  The old proverb, “We never know the value of water till the well runs dry,” is singularly appropriate in the hilly districts of Derbyshire, where not only the wells, but the rivers also have been known to dry up, and when the spring comes and brings the flowers, what could be more natural than to thank the Almighty who sends the rain and the water, without which they could not grow.

[Illustration:  TISSINGTON CHURCH.]

We were sorry to have missed our walk down Dove Dale, but it was all for the best, as we should again have been caught in the dark there, and perhaps I should have injured my foot again, as the path along the Dale was difficult to negotiate even in the daylight.  In any case we were pleased when we reached Ashbourne, where we had no difficulty in finding our hotel, for the signboard of the “Green Man” reached over our heads from one side of the main street to the other.

(Distance walked twenty-six and a half miles.)

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Tuesday, October 31st.

The inn we stayed at was a famous one in the days of the stagecoaches, and bore the double name “The Green Man and the Black’s Head Royal Hotel” on a sign which was probably unique, for it reached across the full width of the street.  A former landlord having bought another coaching-house in the town known as the “Black’s Head,” transferred the business to the “Green Man,” when he incorporated the two signs.  We were now on the verge of Dr. Johnson’s country, the learned compiler of the great dictionary, who visited the “Green Man” in company with his companion, James Boswell, whose Life of Dr. Johnson is said to be the finest biography ever written in the English language.  They had a friend at Ashbourne, a Dr. Taylor, whom they often visited, and on one occasion when they were all sitting in his garden their conversation turned on the subject of the future state of man.  Johnson gave expression to his views in the following words, “Sir, I do not imagine that all things will be made clear to us immediately after death, but that the ways of Providence will be explained to us very gradually.”

[Illustration:  “THE GREEN MAN AND BLACK’S HEAD.”]

Boswell stayed at the “Green Man” just before journeying with Dr. Johnson to Scotland, and was greatly pleased by the manners of the landlady, for he described her as a “mighty civil gentlewoman” who curtseyed very low as she gave him an engraving of the sign of the house, under which she had written a polite note asking for a recommendation of the inn to his “extensive acquaintance, and her most grateful thanks for his patronage and her sincerest prayers for his happiness in time and in blessed eternity.”  The present landlady of the hotel appeared to be a worthy successor to the lady who presided there in the time of Boswell, for we found her equally civil and obliging, and, needless to say, we did justice to a very good breakfast served up in her best style.


The Old Hall of Ashbourne, situated at the higher end of the town, was a fine old mansion, with a long history, dating from the Cockayne family, who were in possession of lands here as early as the year 1372, and who were followed by the Boothby family.

The young Pretender, “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” who had many friends in England, stayed a night at the Hall in 1745, and the oak door of the room in which he slept was still preserved.  He and his Highlanders never got farther than Derby, when he had to beat a hurried retreat, pursued by the Duke of Cumberland.  Prince Charlie, to avoid the opposing army at Stafford and Lichfield, turned aside along the Churnet valley, through Leek, and so to Ashbourne.  At Derby he called a Council of War, and learned how the Royal forces were closing in upon him, so that reluctantly a retreat was ordered.  Then began a period of plundering and rapine.  The Highlanders

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spread over the country, but on their return never crossed into Staffordshire, for, as the story goes, the old women of the Woodlands of Needwood Forest undertook to find how things were going, and crept down to the bridges of Sudbury and Scropton.  As it began to rain, they used their red flannel petticoats as cloaks, which the Highlanders, spying, took to be the red uniforms of soldiers, and a panic seized them—­so much so, that some who had seized some pig-puddings and were fastening them hot on a pole, according to a local ditty, ran out through a back door, and, jumping from a heap of manure, fell up to the neck in a cesspool.  The pillage near Ashbourne was very great, but they could not stay, for the Duke was already at Uttoxoter with a small force.

[Illustration:  ASHBOURNE CHURCH.]

George Canning, the great orator who was born in 1770 and died when he was Prime Minister of England in 1827, often visited Ashbourne Old Hall.  In his time the town of Ashbourne was a flourishing one; it was said to be the only town in England that benefited by the French prisoners of war, as there were 200 officers, including three generals, quartered there in 1804, and it was estimated that they spent nearly L30,000 in Ashbourne.  An omnibus was then running between Ashbourne and Derby, which out of courtesy to the French was named a “diligence,” the French equivalent for stage-coach; but the Derby diligence was soon abbreviated to the Derby “Dilly.”  The roads at that time were very rough, macadamised surfaces being unknown, and a very steep hill leading into the Ashbourne and Derby Road was called bete noire by the French, about which Canning, who was an occasional passenger, wrote the following lines: 

  So down the hill, romantic Ashbourne, glides
  The Derby Dilly, carrying three insides;
  One in each corner sits and lolls at ease,
  With folded arms, propt back and outstretched knees;
  While the pressed bodkin, pinched and squeezed to death,
  Sweats in the midmost place and scolds and pants for breath.

We were now at the end of the last spur of the Pennine Range of hills and in the last town in Derbyshire.  As if to own allegiance to its own county, the spire of the parish church, which was 212 feet high, claimed to be the “Pride of the Peak.”  In the thirteenth-century church beneath it, dedicated to St. Oswald, there were many fine tombs of the former owners of the Old Hall at Ashbourne, those belonging to the Cockayne family being splendid examples of the sculptor’s art.  We noted that one member of the family was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1404, while another had been knighted by King Henry VII at the siege of Tournay.  The finest object in the church was the marble figure of a little child as she appeared—­

  Before Decay’s effacing fingers
  Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,

which for simplicity, elegance, and childlike innocence of face was said to be the most interesting and pathetic monument in England.  It is reputed to be the masterpiece of the English sculptor Thomas Banks, whose work was almost entirely executed abroad, where he was better known than in England.  The inscriptions on it were in four different languages, English, Italian, French, and Latin, that in English being: 

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  I was not in safety, neither had I rest, and the trouble came.

The dedication was inscribed: 



   Born April 11th 1785, died March 13th 1791.  She was in form and
   intellect most exquisite The unfortunate parents ventured their all
   in this Frail bark, And the wreck was Total.

The melancholy reference to their having ventured their all bore upon the separation between the father and mother, which immediately followed the child’s death.

The description of the monument reads as follows: 

The figure of the child reclines on a pillowed mattress, her hands resting one upon the other near her head.  She is simply attired in a frock, below which her naked feet are carelessly placed one over the other, the whole position suggesting that in the restlessness of pain she had just turned to find a cooler and easier place of rest.

[Illustration:  PENELOPE.]

Her portrait was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, her name appearing in his “Book of Sitters” in July 1788, when she was just over three years of age, and is one of the most famous child-pictures by that great master.  The picture shows Little Penelope in a white dress and a dark belt, sitting on a stone sill, with trees in the background.  Her mittened hands are folded in her lap, and her eyes are demurely cast down.  She is wearing a high mob-cap, said to have belonged to Sir Joshua’s grandmother.

This picture was sold in 1859 to the Earl of Dudley for 1,100 guineas, and afterwards exhibited at Burlington House, when it was bought by Mr. David Thwaites for L20,060.

The model for the famous picture “Cherry Ripe,” painted by Sir John Everett-Millais, was Miss Talmage, who had appeared as Little Penelope at a fancy-dress ball, and it was said in later years that if there had been no Penelope Boothby by Sir Joshua Reynolds, there would have been no “Cherry Ripe” by Sir John Everett-Millais.

Sir Francis Chantrey, the great sculptor, also visited Ashbourne Church.  His patron, Mrs. Robinson, when she gave him the order to execute that exquisite work, the Sleeping Children, in Lichfield Cathedral, expressly stipulated that he must see the figure of Penelope Boothby in Ashbourne Church before he began her work.  Accordingly Chantrey came down to the church and completed his sketch afterwards at the “Green Man Inn,” working at it until one o’clock the next morning, when he departed by the London coach.

Ashbourne is one of the few places which kept up the football match on Shrove Tuesday, a relic probably of the past, when the ball was a creature or a human being, and life or death the object of the game.  But now the game was to play a stuffed case or the biggest part of it up and down the stream, the Ecclesbourne, until the mill at either limit of the town was reached.

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The River Dove, of which it has been written the “Dove’s flood is worth a king’s good,” formed the boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire, which we crossed by a bridge about two miles after leaving Ashbourne.  This bridge, we were told, was known as the Hanging Bridge, because at one time people were hanged on the tree which stood on the border between the two counties, and we might have fared badly if our journey had been made in the good old times, when “tramps” were severely treated.  Across the river lay the village of Mayneld, where the landlord of the inn was killed in a quarrel with Prince Charlie’s men in their retreat from Derby for resisting their demands, and higher up the country a farmer had been killed because he declined to give up his horse.  They were not nearly so orderly as they retreated towards the north, for they cleared both provisions and valuables from the country on both sides of the roads.  A cottage at Mayneld was pointed out to us as having once upon a time been inhabited by Thomas, or Tom Moore, Ireland’s great poet, whose popularity was as great in England as in his native country, and who died in 1852 at the age of seventy-three years.  The cottage was at that time surrounded by woods and fields, and no doubt the sound of Ashbourne Church bells, as it floated in the air, suggested to him one of his sweetest and saddest songs: 

  Those evening bells! those evening bells,
  How many a tale their music tells
  Of youth and home and that sweet time
  When last I heard their soothing chime.

  Those joyous hours are passed away,
  And many a heart that then was gay
  Within the tomb now darkly dwells,
  And hears no more those evening bells.

  And so ’twill be when I am gone: 
  The tuneful peal will still ring on: 
  While other bards shall walk these dells
  And sing your praise, sweet evening bells.

We passed Calwick Abbey, once a religious house, but centuries ago converted into a private mansion, which in the time of Handel (1685-1759) was inhabited by the Granville family.  Handel, although a German, spent most of his time in England, and was often the guest of the nobility.  It was said that it was at Calwick Abbey that his greatest oratorios were conceived, and that the organ on which he played was still preserved.  We ourselves had seen an organ in an Old Hall in Cheshire on which he had played when a visitor there, and where was also shown a score copy in his own handwriting.  All that was mortal of Handel was buried in Westminster Abbey, but his magnificent oratorios will endure to the end of time.

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On arrival at Ellastone we left our luggage at the substantially built inn there while we went to visit Norbury Church, which was well worth seeing, and as my foot had now greatly improved we were able to get over the ground rather more quickly.  Norbury was granted to the Fitzherberts in 1125, and, strange as it may appear, the original deed was still in the possession of that ancient family, whose chief residence was now at Swynnerton at the opposite side of Staffordshire, where they succeeded the Swynnerton family as owners of the estate.  The black image of that grim crusader Swynnerton of Swynnerton still remained in the old chapel there, and as usual in ancient times, where the churches were built of sandstone, they sharpened their arrows on the walls or porches of the church, the holes made in sharpening them being plainly visible.  Church restorations have caused these holes to be filled with cement in many places, like the bullet holes of the more recent period of the Civil War, but holes in the exact shape of arrow heads were still to be seen in the walls at Swynnerton, the different heights showing some of the archers to have been very tall men.  In spite of severe persecution at the time of the Reformation this branch of the family of the Fitzherberts adhered to the Roman Catholic Faith, Sir Thomas Fitzherbert being one of the most prominent victims of the Elizabethan persecutions, having passed no less than thirty years of his life in various prisons in England.

Norbury church was not a large one, but the chancel was nearly as large as the nave.  It dated back to the middle of the fourteenth century, when Henry of Kniveton was rector, who made the church famous by placing a number of fine stained-glass windows in the chancel.  The glass in these windows was very chaste and beautiful, owing to the finely tinted soft browns and greens, now probably mellowed by age, and said to rank amongst the finest of their kind in England.  The grand monuments to the Fitzherberts were magnificently fine examples of the art and clothing of the past ages, the two most gorgeous tombs being those of the tenth and eleventh lords, in all the grandeur of plate armour, collars, decorations, spurs, and swords; one had an angel and the other a monk to hold his foot as he crossed into the unknown.  The figures of their families as sculptured below them were also very fine.  Considering that one of the lords had seventeen children and the other fifteen it was scarcely to be wondered at that descendants of the great family still existed.

Sir Nicholas, who died in 1473, occupied the first tomb, his son the second, and his children were represented dressed in the different costumes of their chosen professions, the first being in armour with a cross, and the next as a lawyer with a scroll, while another was represented as a monk with a book, but as the next had his head knocked off it was impossible to decipher him; others seemed to have gone into businesses of one kind or another.

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The oldest monument in the church was a stone cross-legged effigy of a warrior in armour, dating from about the year 1300; while the plainest was the image of a female corpse in a shroud, on a gravestone, who was named ...  Elysebeth ...

  The which decessed the yeare that is goone,
  A thousand four hundred neynty and oone.

The church was dedicated to St. Barloke, probably one of the ancient British Divines.

On returning to Ellastone we learned that the inn was associated with “George Eliot,” whose works we had heard of but had not read.  We were under the impression that the author was a man, and were therefore surprised to find that “George Eliot” was only the nom de plume of a lady whose name was Marian Evans.  Her grandfather was the village wheelwright and blacksmith at Ellastone, and the prototype of “Adam Bede” in her famous novel of that name.


It has been said that no one has ever drawn a landscape more graphically than Marian Evans, and the names of places are so thinly veiled that if we had read the book we could easily have traced the country covered by “Adam Bede.”  Thus Staffordshire is described as Loamshire, Derbyshire as Stoneyshire, and the Mountains of the Peak as the barren hills, while Oakbourne stands for Ashbourne, Norbourne for Norbury, and Hayslope, described so clearly in the second chapter of Adam Bede, is Ellastone, the “Donnithorpe Arms” being the “Bromley Arms Hotel,” where we stayed for refreshments.  It was there that a traveller is described in the novel as riding up to the hotel, and the landlord telling him that there was to be a “Methodis’ Preaching” that evening on the village green, and the traveller stayed to listen to the address of “Dinah Morris,” who was Elizabeth Evans, the mother of the authoress.

[Illustration:  ALTON TOWERS.]

Wootton Hall, which stands immediately behind the village of Ellastone, was at one time inhabited by Jean Jacques Rousseau, the great French writer, who, when he was expelled from France, took the Hall for twelve months in 1776, beginning to write there his Confessions, as well as his Letters on Botany, at a spot known as the “Twenty oaks.”  It was very bad weather for a part of the time, and snowed incessantly, with a bitterly cold wind, but he wrote, “In spite of all, I would rather live in the hole of one of the rabbits of this warren, than in the finest rooms in London.”

We now hurried across the country, along old country lanes and over fields, to visit Alton Towers; but, as it was unfortunately closed on that day, it was only by trespassing that we were able to see a part of the grounds.  We could see the fine conservatories, with their richly gilded domes, and some portion of the ground and gardens, which were in a deep dell.  These were begun by Richard, Earl of Shrewsbury, in the year 1814, who, after years of labour, and at enormous expense, converted them from a wilderness into one of the most extraordinary gardens in Europe, almost baffling description.  There was a monument either to himself or the gardener, on which were the words: 

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  He made the desert smile.

From the Uttoxeter Road we could see a Gothic bridge, with an embankment leading up to it, and a huge imitation of Stonehenge, in which we were much interested, that being one of the great objects of interest we intended visiting when we reached Salisbury Plain.  We were able to obtain a small guide-book, but it only gave us the information that the gardens consisted of a “labyrinth of terraces, walls, trellis-work, arbours, vases, stairs, pavements, temples, pagodas, gates, parterres, gravel and grass walks, ornamental buildings, bridges, porticos, seats, caves, flower-baskets, waterfalls, rocks, cottages, trees, shrubs and beds of flowers, ivied walls, moss houses, rock, shell, and root work, old trunks of trees, etc., etc.,” so, as it would occupy half a day to see the gardens thoroughly, we decided to come again on some future occasion.  A Gothic temple stood on the summit of a natural rock, and among other curiosities were a corkscrew fountain of very peculiar character, and vases and statues almost without end.

We now followed the main road to the Staffordshire town of Uttoxeter, passing the ruins of Croxden Abbey in the distance, where the heart of King John had been buried, and where plenty of traces of the extreme skill in agriculture possessed by the monks can be seen.  One side of the chapel still served as a cowshed, but perhaps the most interesting features were the stone coffins in the orchard as originally placed, with openings so small, that a boy of ten can hardly lie in one.

But we missed a sight which as good churchmen we were afterwards told we ought to have remembered.  October 31st was All-Hallows Eve, “when ghosts do walk,” and here we were in a place they revelled in—­so much so that they gave their name to it, Duninius’ Dale.  Here the curious sights known as “Will-o’-the-Wisp” could be seen magnificently by those who would venture a midnight visit.  But we had forgotten the day.

[Illustration:  CROXDEN ABBEY.]

We stopped for tea at Uttoxeter, and formed the opinion that it was a clean but rather sleepy town.  There was little to be seen in the church, as it was used in the seventeenth century as a prison for Scottish troops, “who did great damage.”  It must, however, have been a very healthy town, if we might judge from the longevity of the notables who were born there:  Sir Thomas Degge, judge of Western Wales and a famous antiquary, was born here in 1612, and died aged ninety-two; Thomas Allen, a distinguished mathematician and philosopher, the founder of the college at Dulwich and the local Grammar School as well, born 1542, died aged ninety; Samuel Bentley, poet, born 1720, died aged eighty-three; Admiral Alan Gardner, born at the Manor House in 1742, and who, for distinguished services against the French, was raised to the Irish Peerage as Baron Gardner of Uttoxeter, and was M.P. for Plymouth, died aged sixty-seven;

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Mary Howitt, the well-known authoress, born 1799, also lived to the age of eighty-nine.  A fair record for a small country town!  John Wesley preached in the marketplace, in the centre of which was a fountain erected to the memory of Dr. Samuel Johnson, the distinguished lexicographer.  His father, whose home was at Lichfield, was a bookseller and had a bookstall in Uttoxeter Market, which he attended on market days.  The story is told that on one occasion, not feeling very well, he asked his son, Samuel, to take his place, who from motives of pride flatly refused to do so.  From this illness the old man never recovered, and many years afterwards, on the anniversary of that sorrowful day, Dr. Samuel Johnson, then in the height of his fame, came to the very spot in the market-place where this unpleasant incident occurred and did penance, standing bareheaded for a full hour in a pitiless storm of wind and rain, much to the surprise of the people who saw him.


We now bade good-bye to the River Dove, leaving it to carry its share of the Pennine Range waters to the Trent, and walked up the hill leading out of the town towards Abbots Bromley.  We soon reached a lonely and densely wooded country with Bagot’s Wood to the left, containing trees of enormous age and size, remnants of the original forest of Needwood, while to the right was Chartley Park, embracing about a thousand acres of land enclosed from the same forest by the Earl of Derby, about the year 1248.  In this park was still to be seen the famous herd of wild cattle, whose ancestors were known to have been driven into the park when it was enclosed.  These animals resisted being handled by men, and arranged themselves in a semi-circle on the approach of an intruder.  The cattle were perfectly white, excepting their extremities, their ears, muzzles, and hoofs being black, and their long spreading horns were also tipped with black.  Chartley was granted by William Rufus to Hugh Lupus, first Earl of Chester, whose descendant, Ranulph, a Crusader, on his return from the Holy War, built Beeston Castle in Cheshire, with protecting walls and towers, after the model of those at Constantinople.  He also built the Castle at Chartley about the same period, A.D. 1220, remarkable as having been the last place of imprisonment for the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, as she was taken from there in 1586 to be executed at Fotheringhay.

[Illustration:  THE “BANK INN,” CHARTLEY.]

[Illustration:  BEGGARS’ OAK, BAGOTS WOOD.  “We soon reached a lonely and densely wooded country with Bagots Wood to the left, containing trees of enormous size—­remnants of the original forest of Needham.”]

We were interested in these stories of Chartley Castle, for in our own county cattle with almost the same characteristics were preserved in the Parks of Lyme and Somerford, and probably possessed a similar history.  That Ranulph was well known can be assumed from the fact that Langland in his Piers Plowman in the fourteenth century says: 

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  I cannot perfitly my paternoster as the Priest it singeth. 
  But I can rhymes of Robin Hood and Randall Erie of Chester.

Queer company, and yet it was an old story that Robin did find an asylum at Chartley Castle.


We overtook an elderly man on the road returning home from his day’s toil on the Bagot estate, and he told us of an old oak tree of tremendous size called the “Beggar’s Oak”; but it was now too dark for us to see it.  The steward of the estate had marked it, together with others, to be felled and sold; but though his lordship was very poor, he would not have the big oak cut down.  He said that both Dick Turpin and Robin Hood had haunted these woods, and when he was a lad a good many horses were stolen and hidden in lonely places amongst the thick bushes to be sold afterwards in other parts of the country.

The “Beggar’s Oak” was mentioned in the History of Staffordshire in 1830, when its branches were measured by Dr. Darwen as spreading 48 feet in every direction.  There was also a larger oak mentioned with a trunk 21 feet 4-1/2 inches in circumference, but in a decayed condition.  This was named the Swilcar Lawn Oak, and stood on the Crown lands at Marchington Woodlands, and in Bagot’s wood were also the Squitch, King, and Lord Bagot’s Walking stick, all fine trees.  There were also two famous oaks at Mavesyn Ridware called “Gog and Magog,” but only their huge decayed trunks remained.  Abbots Bromley had some curious privileges, and some of the great games were kept up.  Thus the heads of the horses and reindeers for the “hobby horse” games were to be seen at the church.


The owner of this region, Lord Bagot, could trace his ancestry back to before the Conquest, for the Normans found one Bagod in possession.  In course of time, when the estate had become comparatively poor, we heard that the noble owner had married the daughter of Mr. Bass, the rich brewer of Burton, the first of the Peerage marriages with the families of the new but rich.

We passed the Butter Cross and the old inn, reminiscent of stage-coach days, as the church bell was tolling, probably the curfew, and long after darkness had set in, for we were trying to reach Lichfield, we came to the village of Handsacre, where at the “Crown Inn” we stayed the night.

(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

Wednesday, November 1st.

Although the “Crown” at Handsacre was only a small inn, we were very comfortable, and the company assembled on the premises the previous evening took a great interest in our travels.  We had no difficulty in getting an early breakfast, and a good one too, before leaving the inn this morning, but we found we had missed seeing one or two interesting places which we passed the previous night in the dark, and we had also crossed the River Trent as it flowed towards the great brewery town of Burton, only a few miles distant.

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Daylight found us at the foot of the famous Cannock Chase.  The Chase covered about 30,000 acres of land, which had been purposely kept out of cultivation in olden times in order to form a happy hunting-ground for the Mercian Kings, who for 300 years ruled over that part of the country.  The best known of these kings was Offa, who in the year 757 had either made or repaired the dyke that separated England from Wales, beginning at Chepstow in Monmouthshire, and continuing across the country into Flintshire.  It was not a dyke filled with water, as for the most part it passed over a very hilly country where water was not available, but a deep trench sunk on the Welsh side, the soil being thrown up on the English side, forming a bank about four yards high, of which considerable portions were still visible, and known as “Offa’s Dyke.”  Cannock Chase, which covered the elevations to our right, was still an ideal hunting-country, as its surface was hilly and diversified, and a combination of moorland and forest, while the mansions of the noblemen who patronised the “Hunt” surrounded it on all sides, that named “Beau-Desert,” the hall or hunting-box of the Marquis of Anglesey, being quite near to our road.

We soon arrived at Lichfield, and on entering the town the three lofty and ornamental spires of the cathedral, which from their smart appearance were known as “The Three Ladies,” immediately attracted our attention.  But for these, travellers entering Lichfield by this road might easily have passed the cathedral without noticing it, as it stands on low and rather swampy ground, where its fine proportions do not show to advantage.

The Close of the cathedral, which partially surrounded it, was heavily fortified in the time of the Civil War, causing the cathedral to be very badly damaged, for it suffered no less than three different sieges by the armies of the Parliament.

[Illustration:  ST. CHAD’S WELL, LICHFIELD.]

The cathedral was dedicated to St. Chad, but whether he was the same St. Chad whose cave was in the rocky bank of the River Don, and about whom we had heard farther north, or not, we could not ascertain.  He must have been a water-loving saint, as a well in the town formed by a spring of pure water was known as St. Chad’s Well, in which the saint stood naked while he prayed, upon a stone which had been preserved by building it into the wall of the well.  There was also in the cathedral at one time the “Chapel of St. Chad’s Head,” but this had been almost destroyed during the first siege of 1643.  The ancient writings of the patron saint in the early Welsh language had fortunately been preserved.  Written on parchment and ornamented with rude drawings of the Apostles and others, they were known as St. Chad’s Gospels, forming one of the most treasured relics belonging to the cathedral, but, sad to relate, had been removed by stealth, it was said, from the Cathedral of Llandaff.

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The first siege began on March 2nd, 1643, which happened to be St. Chad’s Day, and it was recorded that during that siege “Lord Brooke who was standing in the street was killed, being shot through the eye by Dumb Dyott from the cathedral steeple.”  The cathedral was afterwards used by Cromwell’s men as a stable, and every ornament inside and outside that they could reach was greatly damaged; but they appeared to have tried to finish the cathedral off altogether, when in 1651 they stripped the lead from the roof and then set the woodwork on fire.  It was afterwards repaired and rebuilt, but nearly all the ornaments on the west front, which had been profusely decorated with the figures of martyrs, apostles, priests, and kings, had been damaged or destroyed.  At the Restoration an effort was made to replace these in cement, but this proved a failure, and the only perfect figure that remained then on the west front was a rather clumsy one of Charles II, who had given a hundred timber trees out of Needwood Forest to repair the buildings.  Many of the damaged figures were taken down in 1744, and some others were removed later by the Dean, who was afraid they might fall on his head as he went in and out of the cathedral.

[Illustration:  “THE THREE LADIES”]

In those days chimney sweepers employed a boy to climb up the inside of the chimneys and sweep the parts that could not be reached with their brush from below, the method of screwing one stale to the end of another and reaching the top in that way being then unknown.  These boys were often cruelly treated, and had even been known to be suffocated in the chimney.  The nature of their occupation rendered them very daring, and for this reason the Dean employed one of them to remove the rest of the damaged figures, a service which he satisfactorily performed at no small risk both to himself and others.

There is a very fine view in the interior of the cathedral looking from west to east, which extends to a distance of 370 feet, and of which Sir Gilbert Scott, the great ecclesiastical architect, who was born in 1811, has written, “I always hold this work to be almost absolute perfection in design and detail”; another great authority said that when he saw it his impressions were like those described by John Milton in his “Il Penseroso”: 

  Let my due feet never fail
  To walk the studious cloisters pale,
  And love the high embossed roof,
  With antique pillars massy proof,
  And storied windows richly dight,
  Casting a dim, religious light: 
  There let the pealing organ blow,
  To the full-voiced quire below. 
  In service high, and anthems clear,
  As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
  Dissolve me into ecstacies. 
  And bring all heaven before mine eyes.

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We had not much time to explore the interior, but were obliged to visit the white marble effigy by the famous Chantrey of the “Sleeping Children” of Prebendary Robinson.  It was beautifully executed, but for some reason we preferred that of little Penelope we had seen the day before, possibly because these children appeared so much older and more like young ladies compared with Penelope, who was really a child.  Another monument by Chantrey which impressed us more strongly than that of the children was that of Bishop Ryder in a kneeling posture, which we thought a very fine production.  There was also a slab to the memory of Admiral Parker, the last survivor of Nelson’s captains, and some fine stained-glass windows of the sixteenth century formerly belonging to the Abbey of Herckrode, near Liege, which Sir Brooke Boothby, the father of little Penelope, had bought in Belgium in 1803 and presented to the cathedral.

[Illustration:  THE WEST DOOR, LICHFIELD.]

The present bishop, Bishop Selwyn, seemed to be very much loved, as everybody had a good word for him.  One gentleman told us he was the first bishop to reside at the palace, all former bishops having resided at Eccleshall, a town twenty-six miles away.  Before coming to Lichfield he had been twenty-two years in New Zealand, being the first bishop of that colony.  He died seven years after our visit, and had a great funeral, at which Mr. W.E.  Gladstone, who described Selwyn as “a noble man,” was one of the pall-bearers.  The poet Browning’s words were often applied to Bishop Selwyn: 

  We that have loved him so, followed and honour’d him,
  Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
  Caught his clear accents, learnt his great language,
  Made him our pattern to live and to die.

There were several old houses in Lichfield of more than local interest, one of which, called the Priest’s House, was the birthplace in 1617 of Elias Ashmole, Windsor Herald to King Charles II, and founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.  When we got into the town, or city, we found that, although St. Chad was the patron saint of the cathedral, there was also a patron saint of Lichfield itself, for it was Johnson here, Johnson there, and Johnson everywhere, so we must needs go and see the house where the great Doctor was born in 1709.  We found it adjoining the market-place, and in front of a monument on which were depicted three scenes connected with his childhood:  the first showing him mounted on his father’s back listening to Dr. Sacheverell, who was shown in the act of preaching; the second showed him being carried to school between the shoulders of two boys, another boy following closely behind, as if to catch him in the event of a fall; while the third panel represents him standing in the market-place at Uttoxeter, doing penance to propitiate Heaven for the act of disobedience to his father that had happened fifty years ago.  When very young he was afflicted with scrofula, or king’s evil;

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so his mother took him in 1712, when he was only two and a half years old, to London, where he was touched by Queen Anne, being the last person so touched in England.  The belief had prevailed from the time of Edward the Confessor that scrofula could be cured by the royal touch, and although the office remained in our Prayer Book till 1719, the Jacobites considered that the power did not descend to King William and Queen Anne because “Divine” hereditary right was not fully possessed by them; which doubtless would be taken to account for the fact that Johnson was not healed, for he was troubled with the disease as long as he lived.  When he was three years old he was carried by his father to the cathedral to hear Dr. Sacheverell preach.  This gentleman, who was a Church of England minister and a great political preacher, was born in 1672.  He was so extremely bitter against the dissenters and their Whig supporters that he was impeached before the House of Lords, and suspended for three years, while his sermon on “Perils of False Brethren,” which had had an enormous sale, was burnt by the common hangman!  It was said that young Johnson’s conduct while listening to the doctor’s preaching on that occasion was quite exemplary.


Johnson was educated at the Lichfield Grammar School under Dr. Hunter, who was a very severe schoolmaster, and must have been one of those who “drove it in behind,” for Johnson afterwards wrote:  “My Master whipt me very well.  Without that I should have done nothing.”  Dr. Hunter boasted that he never taught a boy anything; he whipped and they learned.  It was said, too, that when he flogged them he always said:  “Boys, I do this to save you from the gallows!” Johnson went to Oxford, and afterwards, in 1736, opened a school near Lichfield, advertising in the Gentleman’s Magazine for young gentleman “to be boarded and taught the Latin and Greek languages, by Samuel Johnson.”  He only got eight pupils, amongst whom was David Garrick, who afterwards became the leading tragic actor of his time.  Johnson had for some time been at work on a tragedy called The Tragedy of Irene, though whether this decided Garrick to become a tragedy actor is not known; the play, however, did not succeed with the play-going public in London, and had to be withdrawn.  Neither did the school succeed, and it had to be given up, Johnson, accompanied by David Garrick, setting off to London, where it was said that he lived in a garret on fourpence-halfpenny per day.  Many years afterwards, when Johnson was dining with a fashionable company, a remark was made referring to an incident that occurred in a certain year, and Johnson exclaimed:  “That was the year when I came to London with twopence-halfpenny in my pocket.”

Garrick overheard the remark, and exclaimed:  “Eh, what do you say? with twopence-halfpenny in your pocket?”

“Why, yes; when I came with twopence-halfpenny in my pocket, and thou, Davy, with three-halfpence in thine.”

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Poverty haunted Johnson all through life until 1762, when he was granted a pension of L300 a year by King George III, on the recommendation of Lord Bute, the Prime Minister, who, in making the offer, said:  “It is not given you for anything you are to do, but for what you have done.”  In the meantime Johnson had brought out his great Dictionary, at which he had worked for years in extreme poverty, and in the progress of which he had asked Lord Chesterfield to become his patron, in the hope that he would render him some financial assistance.  When he went to see him, however, he was kept waiting for over an hour, while his lordship amused himself by conversing with some second-rate mortal named “Colley Cibber,” and when this man came out, and Johnson saw who it was for whom he had been kept waiting, he hurriedly and indignantly took his departure.  When his Dictionary was nearly ready for publication and likely to become a great success, his lordship wrote to Johnson offering to become his patron; but it was now too late, and Johnson’s reply was characteristic of the man, as the following passages from his letter show: 

Seven years, my Lord, have now passed since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on with my work through Difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one-smile of favour.  Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a Patron before.  The notice you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it.  I hope it is no cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron which Providence has enabled me to do for myself!


Johnson’s name is often associated with London taverns, but it would be wrong to assume on that account that he had bibulous tendencies, for although he described Boswell, who wrote his splendid biography, as a “clubable” man, and the tavern chair as the throne of human felicity, it should be remembered that there were no gentlemen’s clubs in London in those days, hence groups of famous men met at the taverns.  Johnson had quite a host of friends, including Garrick, Burke, Goldsmith, Savage (whose biography he wrote), Sheridan, and Sir Joshua Reynolds.  When Sir Joshua Reynolds and Johnson were dining at Mrs. Garrick’s house in London they were regaled with Uttoxeter ale, which had a “peculiar appropriate value,” but Johnson’s beverage at the London taverns was lemonade, or the juice of oranges, or tea, and it was his boast that “with tea he amused the evenings, with tea solaced the midnight hour, and with tea welcomed the morning.”  He was credited with drinking enormous quantities of that beverage, the highest number of cups recorded being twenty-five at one time, but the size of the cups were very much smaller in those days.

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Johnson, who died in 1784 at the age of seventy-five, was buried in Westminster Abbey, and, mainly through the exertions of his friend Sir Joshua Reynolds, a statue of him was erected in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Other eminent men besides Dr. Johnson received their education at Lichfield Grammar School:  Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, Joseph Addison the great essayist, whose father was Dean of Lichfield, and David Garrick the actor, were all educated at the Grammar School.  There were five boys who had at one period attended the school who afterwards became judges of the High Court:  Lord Chief Justice Willes, Lord Chief Justice Wilmot, Lord Chief Baron Parker, Mr. Justice Noel, and Sir Richard Lloyd, Baron of the Exchequer.

Leaving Lichfield, we passed along the racecourse and walked as quickly as we could to Tamworth, where at the railway station we found our box awaiting us with a fresh change of clothing.  In a few minutes we were comfortably rigged out for our farther journey; the box, in which my brother packed up the stones, was then reconsigned to our home address.  I was now strong enough to carry my own luggage, which seemed to fit very awkwardly in its former position, but I soon got over that.  There was at Tamworth a fine old church dedicated to St. Editha which we did not visit.  We saw the bronze statue erected in 1852 to the memory of the great Sir Robert Peel, Bart., who represented Tamworth in Parliament, and was twice Prime Minister, and who brought in the famous Bill for the Abolition of the Corn Laws.  These Laws had been in operation from the year 1436.  But times had changed:  the population had rapidly grown with the development of industries, so that being limited to home production, corn reached such a high price that people came to see that the laws pressed hardly upon the poorer classes, hence they were ultimately abolished altogether.  The Bill was passed in 1846, Cobden, Bright, and Villiers leading the agitation against them, and after the Corn Laws were abolished a period of great prosperity prevailed in England.

[Illustration:  SIR ROBERT PEEL. From the portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.]

Sir Robert Peel died from the effect of an accident sustained when riding on horseback in Hyde Park, on June 25th, 1850; he fell from his horse, dying three days afterwards, and was buried in his mausoleum, in the Parish Church of Drayton Bassett, a village about two miles from Tamworth.

It was the day of the Municipal Elections as we passed through Tamworth, but, as only one ward was being contested, there was a