Графични страници
PDF файл

ing melancholy, little akin to the feelings most people experience in approaching to one of fashion's favourite haunts. The prospect first obtained farther up, but now obscured, where, upon the ample bosom of a bright green hill, the dark woods of Kelburn are studded in batallialike array, and the singular but picturesque bartizans of Lord Glasgow's mansion peep out, while beyond them stretches the frith, whereon, at evening, the Cumbrae Isles seem, like vast galleys, to ride at anchor, the hills of Bute to float like clouds, and the lofty, truncated, and serrated peaks of Arran's frowning mountains appear guardian genii of the scene, had elevated my spirits into buoyant fervency for a brief space; but as night closed in, and told, in its rapid encroachment, that autumn was at hand and winter would follow, I felt a sedateness which not even the glitter of signal lights from the yachts at anchor in the bay, that shortly became visible, could dispel or illuminate. It was in this mood I went to bed, but with the cheerful morn I rose a cheerful man; and its earliest beams beheld me once more placed upon my favourite seat-the summit of that partly artificial mound which stands close to the Gogar burn, and, from its perpetual verdure, without reference to the astronomical pillars on its top, is endearingly termed “ The Green Hill."

This place has always been agreeable to me. It is seldom visited-it is easily reached-it commands a complete panoramic view, not only of the village and the coast, but of all that stripe of level ground which lies at the mouth of that opening, that has Brisbane House so beautifully situated in its centre, and is called “ Largs Glen."

Seated, then, here, and soothed by the murmur of the rapid Gogar rushing past, there can be few enjoyments more congenial to a Hermit of Society, than while his visual ken takes in so much of what is beautiful in nature, and that is comfortable and elegant for the use of man, to figure out to himself a series of pictures, the living groups of which he places, as suits his fancy, upon the different positions beneath his eye, peopling these with the realities he may have seen in the society of the village beneath him, or in the world at large, and concentrating circumstance to a point which may attain effect without sacrificing probability. I am fond of this sort of creative and animated landscape painting, and often like better to arrange the crowds that throng scenes like this, in such a manner, than to mingle in their bustle.

Turning, then, to the eastward, there rise, steeply, but without abruptness, those lovely pastoral bills which hem in the vale of Largs. No living thing, save the peaceful croppers of the sward, is seen upon their summit. This is

as it should be. Their velvet carpeting, verdant to their - ridge as the floor of Titania's palace hall, should not be

trod by any but the lovely lover of the spirit of silent Beauty, who can climb the steep at earliest dawn to meet that mountain nymph. But this is to be a landscape with figures, so let me seek for level ground to place them on-even, perhaps, on that flat terrace just beneath the hill, where the fantastic architecture of what is to be the “ offices” of an anticipated Mansion, serves all the purposes of that, meantime, while the proprietor rests satisfied with the grandeur he means to lavish upon his horses and poultry, discovering, perhaps, that a very large house would be worse even than a very large stable. There is a pleasure party disporting about that pavilion, so prettily placed upon another terrace, just o'erarching the garden which shelters itself and seeks for sufficient depth of soil in this odd corner of half hidden land, that the burn has, with lover-like inconstancy, forsaken for a far less beautiful meander. It would not make a picture equal to Watteau's, this garden scene; but still the bird's eye view of the groups descending the sloping bank to pillage the tiny hot-house, would make a pretty enough scene. I know not whether the Tea and Toast pavilion be tastefully fitted up, but I trust there are no ship-head figures placed to adorn it, as seems to be the case in the garden, whose centre figure of a Flora or a nymph has something about it like that which was once the pride of a ship-carpenter's building-yard. Even if that bower be beautiful, however, it could never seem to me so much so as the grotto which is hid among the trees, more to the southward, and upon the face of the steep, before the little but sweetly situated house of Hailey. "That was indeed, to my boyish fancy, the very palace of the Nereids, with its rocky walls, and roof of purple shells, and glimpse of the broad sea beyond it. It is desolate now; and the taste of its fair contriver has turned to the embellishment of another Quarter, which she has made more beautiful in the abstract, although it can never seem so lovely to my eye as that which first gave me a faint idea of the stately beauty of the old style of laying out the grounds around the mansion of a gentleman.

Following the line of the Hills to the north, we shall

[ocr errors]

next see, on the slope where the level swells up to meet these as they sink to kiss it, another mansion-beautifully placed—but bare and unornamented. Here is space for twenty villas, and as yet there is but one erected; while nearer to the shore, but with a more circumscribed view of the sea, houses are huddled in the close contact of city companionship. Onward and the vale narrows, for the lofty shoulder of the Knock Hill, with its cairn-topped peak, shoots forward, and guards the opening of the pass. Beneath it, and upon a little eminence above the brawling but beautiful burn, named from that mountain, sits the broad and lofty front of Brisbane House, commanding a fine southward sea view, and of the whole manor of its Lord, and surrounded by woods which climb to the very top of the hills. It is a lovely scene all around it, whether you lean over the parapet of the bridge you must cross to reach its doorway, or wind up the water side to Whytlaw Burn or the singular and insulated mound where, probably, the ancestors of its master had their former home, although the fortalice must have been a small one, from the name it still bears of “ Castle Hill.”

Returning, by the Gogar's course, to the mouth of the glen, the shore, and the large and lofty bridge, which strides the burn just before it ceases to have existence, is close to us. When I first crossed its waters, it had to be by fording; but now, stepping-stones are out of the fashion. The road that crosses it to the north-west, winds beneath an apparently perpendicular face of rock and soil, clothed with trees of recent growth, yet, even from this point, a keen eye may discover the little rustic temple placed by the before-named lady in a prominent point of those delightful walks she has scooped out along that brow of the eminence upon which is placed, in a commanding site, her father's mansion, oddly termed “ The Quarter.” To wander there, and look down upon the surging sea, would be a delight that makes me wish it were my quarters now and then. That fog-covered hut is a true hermit's cell: I believe it contains an album. When last I travelled the walks, it was, however, closed; but, the fit being on me, I scribbled some lines suggested by the spot, and left them there. It was a balm to my vanity to be afterwards told that they had been transcribed into the book within.

Following the circle, which must bring me to the point from which I set out, I next notice a low neck of land stretching far out, and having a rude hut at its extremity. It is a fisher's hovel-once a fisher's cottage. I remember, when a boy, that its mistress had the most extraordinary propensity for one in her situation that could be imagined. She was the most insatiate devourer of novels, or “novells," as she termed them, that ever I met with, and heaven only knows where she then procured them, for Largs, in these days, had no library! Be that as it may, “ The Mysterious Mother,” and “ The Monk," " The Mask," and “ The Murderer," et hoc genus omne, would there be found in close contact with a basket of salmon, or a string of whitings. Her cottage is deserted now; and I know not whether she be alive, still in idea to breathe the air of palaces amid the smoke of a Scottish cot-honse. But the distant Towart faintly seen, Mount Stewart half-hid in the rich glow of sunshine, I come now to the beach of Largs-once the field where Haco was defeated-now the arena of fashion and display-the place of exhibition for summer costume and pretty ancles the field of flirtation-the centre of gossip

the point of landing and, alas! too--the scene of de parture, often in the drizzle of clouds and eyes that weep in sympathy.

The manse passed, we come to a range which looks more like an infantry barracks than a crescent at a water, ing-place, and reach a lodging where waves a silken pennon on a flag-staff. This is the sign that its occupier is a member of the Yacht Club, several of whose fantastically rigged vessels are at anchor in the bay, with their masts at all angles, and their stock of signals strung up, resembling a painted alphabet. They are, like their owners, in a state of repose to-day; but the movements of the one, and blue jackets and nautical airs of the other, as well as the ad mirable use to which the national and delightful amusement that they addict themselves to, may tend, are well worthy of a separate notice, forming as they do, in the meantime, no part of Largs, but a very great ornament to its beauty, and addition to its gaiety. The parish church is a pretty enough object at this point. Perhaps the gentlemen of the Regalia, as the Regatta has been more than once called in my hearing, are listening to their burly chaplain, not its stated pastor, within its walls, expatiating on the wonders of the deep, and wishing, with Tom Bowling, that their “ souls may go aloft.”

There is enough of attraction to sermon in the church of Largs for even the most listless, I should think, were it only for the many lovely faces there to be weekly

seen—that one that marred my devotion last week, for example, whose owner was arrayed in silk attire, as varied in its hues as the play of her own sweet Saxon features, without making it necessary to call in extraordinary talent or novelty to attract an auditory. I shall not have time, I fear, to sketch one of the groups of Gentlemen who are wearing checked shirts and channel pumps, nor even single out any one of the throng who may be so vain of blistered hands, as to cut a travelling companion whom he may meet there, after having traversed the solitudes of the north in apparent cordiality with him, because he was not down at the racing-match. These can be fancied lounging at Underwood's coach-house, or lolling at Strahan's door, in blue jackets, straw hats, and wide trowsers, by any one who knows the localities, more easily than I can describe them. I would much rather cross that wooden bridge, and ascend that terrace which so much resembles the parades of English wateringplaces, and, as I walked along the front of its scattered, but, excepting the pye-crust-battlemented castle, pretty lodgings—though they are not yet in the true crescent bend-delineate that beautiful group of six or seven fine little fellows disporting in their sailor costume. They are all in blue—from the boy of three to him of thirteen, and with a father whose delight and pride seems only to be to make them happy. But, omitting even the assemblage on “ The Green,” overlooking the group at“ Captain Morris's door," and the party who are stationed beside the few frail sticks and spars they call a " wharf,” though its timber would not make a comfortable fire, I must hasten down to a call which all obey, at one time of the day or other, namely, to breakfast, which is indispensable even to



I dreamed me a dream : O methought the pale rose,

That vies with the lily fair,
And in leafy June luxuriant blows,

And perfumes the summer air,
In my dream Í bebeld, and the goddess of flowers

Told me that 'twas, pale in hue,
Because she had washed off its bright bloom with showers,

To give it all to you!

« ПредишнаНапред »