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• No. XXIII.-SATURDAY, 25th AUGUST, 1827.
*THE WATERING-PLACES. No. v.
. Helensburgh. It is singular, but true, that the very discoveries which ingenious men make, or are the first practically to develope, are often the means of individual injury to them in almost the same ratio that they may benefit mankind. Morton was decapitated by the Maiden; Guillotine fell by the instrumentality of the machine that immortalized his name, if it shortened his corporeal existence; Schwartz was blown up by his own gun-powder; Crompton ruined by his own jennies; and Henry Bell impoverished by the general introduction of steam in river navigation.
This remark may, to some, seem somewhat out of place, as introductory to a sketch of the Watering-Place of Helensburgh; to those who are familiar with the history of that village, however, it will appear sufficiently obvious, upon their stepping ashore from a “ Steamer," and walking from the pier-head strait across to Mr. Napier's Tontine Inn, instead of proceeding for half a mile to the eastward, and bespeaking a bed-room from the indefatigable Mrs. Henry Bell, at “ The Baths.”
The name of that lady's husband is as inseparably connected with the history of Helensburghi, as it is with the introduction of steam-boats into the river Clyde. When that place was one, and the most fashionable, of the only three Watering-Places then frequented on the western coast, with a spirit and enterprise which he has always shown, if he has not been always able to regulate, he built, at the eastern entrance, or Glasgow end, what was then reckoned a splendid hotel, and suite of baths, for the use of visitors. It was so placed as to intercept the equestrian or vehicularly transported throngs, which, in these days, came by land from Glasgow to this coast. Many years after this he built a steam-boat-others followed his example-and now nobody comes to the place but by these conveyances; when the temptation is, of course, strong, to resort to the inn nearest to the place of landing, the existence of the other, indeed, being unknown to many passengers; and thus, certainly without making a fortune by steam navigation, he has lost the chance he otherwise would have had of realizing a competency. Those who know Mrs. Bell, however, will cheerfully walk half a mile, even although it be to the homeward point of the compass, to be under the care of so worthy a hostess. At least, this, without a moment's hesitation, we did upon stepping ashore from the Clarence steamer, on a fine Saturday evening, not above a twelvemonth since.
We are ashamed to confess that, lingering over the iced claret, the discussion of which followed that of as fine a dinner as any hotel in Glasgow could producealbeit though the waistcoat of the steward was none of the cleanest-and seated in the cool room of that beautiful boat, we were at Helensburgh not only before we were aware, but before we wanted to be. The proprietors must either make their boats sail slower, or their dinners and wines less inviting, and the companies who partake of them every Saturday afternoon at half-past four, less good-humoured. Two hours and a half is positively too little time to swallow a fair share of the one, or enjoy the companionship of the other. But ashore we are, and Mr. Breingan's well-known visage is smiling a welcome from his own shop-door as we advance up the slippery and sedge-festooned foot-trap which they call a pier, where manorial lords have no peers, to induce a wholesome rivalry in well-doing. Imagine the complacency with which, as we passed the residences of the happy triumvirate of brothers who supply Helensburgh in the district of Lennox with the comforts of life, and the means of preserving the body and keeping up the spirits, we heard that the handsome first floor of the best of these tenements was to be, next year, the residence of a friend of ours, whose hospitality is proverbial. Here was a vision of dinners! and this reminded us of supper. But before we eat it-your arm, reader-we shall take a stroll along the village green, westward, perhaps, as far as “ Lord John's Gate.” Helensburgh, you perceive, is unlike either Gourock or Rothsay, in that it is built on a flat line of coast, indented by no bay, and has in rear of it a considerable extent of plain. On the eastward side, this level is bounded by the nobly swelling breast of Ben-a-Bowie, or the Yellow Hill. This eminence is so named, as some will have it, from the quantity of broom which flourishes on its Plantagenated side, but, as I am more inclined to believe, from the bright and golden hue which, at sun-set, the refraction of the departing rays of the luminary of day, from behind the wild peaks ironically termed “ Argyle's BowlingGreen,” diffuses over the summit, and even spreads far down upon the lawn before the white-washed mansion, whose name is corrupted into “ Camis Eskan,” brightening, with contrasting radiance, its grassgrown walks, brier-tangled paths, decaying bridges, and neglected trees, the only evidence of whose being cared for is the presence here and there of placards posted upon them with the ominous words “ Notice” and “ Law.” in characters of prominency. From certain points of view, the serrated and truncated peaks of which I have spoken, appear, with the majestic Ben-Arthur or the Cobbler in their rear, to form the westward boundary of the vale, so gradually do the heights, which, in contrast to them, can only be termed eminences, rise up from the level, haying Ardenconnel on their side, and the Row Church and Ardencaple Bay on the one hand, and Shandon Lodge on the other, at their base, while the blue and beautiful expanse of the Gare Loch separates the hills on the Helensburgh side from those of the lovely peninsula of Roseneath. The greater part of the houses of the village are built in a line with the shore, but in those unpaved openings, here and there, which lead the eye at once into a field of oats or barley, incipient streets are to be traced which have existed, together with other ones parallel to the shore line, for the last twenty years—upon paper. For aught I know, indeed, the ground-plan may have laid down a Colquhoun Crescent, or a Dixon Row, round the disputed nook of ground that John Grant the mason's wife used to embellish and tend with a taste so much above her station, or even three miles up the vale, where commences the strath of Glen Fruin which bends its silent beauty inwards towards Loch Lomond, rather than lets its limpid waters seek the sea-weed-tangled shore of Helensburgh.
But let us not forget that it is Saturday night. Indeed it will not be easy for us to be oblivious on that head, for at every door we pass there are symptoms of preparation for a day when much is consumed, and nothing edible can be replaced. The neatly apparelled and obliging widow, in whose clean though crowded shop
the quartern loaves of Glasgow and the quarto volumes of the Helensburgh library are equally accommodated, is quite in a bustle, handing Miss Lavinia Languishlong's servant the catalogue of a selection which has hardly any trash in it, and therefore nothing for her mistress-and yet, just because all its volumes are of such well-known merit, absolutely unreadable to such as me, even upon a wet day-which Miss Lavy dreads to-morrow will turn out to be; and her assistants are dispensing London bottled porter and rolls of fresh butter to the emissaries of those families whose heads have unexpectedly brought a tail of guests along with them to share to-morrow's roast mutton and cold punch. Every shop, saying that of the ingenious Craig, is in a bustle, and his would be so too if he sold snuff as well as his own beautiful snuff-boxes. Mrs.
- 's little establishment at the corner there, whose tiny window presents an epitome of her dignified stock, in “ Sweeties, Shorter Catechisms, and Dunlop Cheese,” is crowded to the very door, where a randy quean is delighting the giggling girls that wait their turn to be served, with a melancholy ballad, screeched out in the voice of a Stentor, about a “ true love who did die,” and which begins,
“ 'Twas on a winter day, when fast fell down the snow,
And many stormy tempests did very loudly blow." The latest boat not having yet arrived, although tea can be no longer postponed, several groups are parading the green in front of the quay-either to enjoy the evening breeze, exhibit their latest summer-striped gown, or tight-strapped trousers, or show the intensity of their matrimonial, filial, or fraternal affections. In those houses where the expected have arrived, as where these beautiful children are caressing their fond father in the very wildness of glee, the muslin curtains will soon be drawn
-the telescope removed from the window—the urchins, their weekly gift of fruits and sweetmeats from papa demolished, sent to bed, and Mr. and Mrs. will find themselves seated alone, or nearly so, while Miss devours “ The Ant” of the day, and young Master hesitates whether he shall try if Lockhart has fitted him with his drab bombasin trousers, or make up for a week's idleness by reading both the Times and Free Press at the same instant. By-and-bye they will slyly withdraw to ask Peggy, who comes down with the master every Saturday to wait the table, if she has brought no letters with her; and their
thrifty mother will hint to Mr. Worthywight, that a five pound note would not inappropriately fill up both a gap in the discourse and her pocket-book, Two of them are given, and, in the good humour of the hour, the tumbler of toddy being finished at a gulp, man and wife recollect that they must go to Row Church to-morrow early,—and move up stairs to their bed-room; while we, the terrace now deserted, turn to the supper Mrs. Bell has, no doubt, ready for us. The morning will be fine: if we can possibly get depth of water enough at Jura's Steps, without wading half across to Greenock, we must be afloat in ten feet water by seven o'clock, so will not mix up more than one tumbler, and then for No. 22.
If we durst sketch upon a Sabbath, the pictures we could make of the groups moving to a church whose distance, in fine weather, serves only to attract, would animate and relieve our delineation of the Italian beauty of the peninsula and palace opposite it, and of the sunny shore below; but in the little modest church where Reuben Butler preached, and the manse where Jeanie Deans presided_whither we mean to go to-morrowthoughts, and feelings, and aspirations, I trust, will occupy and animate us, of another kind than the merely picturesque and graphic-at least such is the present devout resolution of
THE HERMIT OF THE WEST.
THE LAMP OF LOVE..
In humble straw-roofed shed,
How fills the young fond breast