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In his nurseries are thousands of oaks, beech, larches, horse-chesnuts, spruce-firs, &c. thick as they can stand, and whose only fault is, that they are grown tall and vigorous before he has determined where to plant them out; the most advantageous spot we have for beauty lies west of the house, where (when the stone walls of the meadows are taken away) the grounds naturally unequal, will have a very park-like appearance: they are already full of trees, which need only thinning here and there to break the regularity of their trout-stream, which joins the river Deane hard by. Pursuing the course of this brook upwards, you come to a narrow sequestered valley sheltered from all winds, through which it runs murmuring among great stones; on one hand the ground gently rises into a hill, on the other are the rocky banks of the rivulet almost perpendicular, yet covered with sycamore, ash, and fir, that (though it seems to have no place or soil to grow in) yet has risen to a good height, and forms a thick shade: you may continue along this hill, and passing by one end of the village and its church for half a mile, it leads to an opening between the two hills covered with fir-woods, that I mentioned above, through which the stream makes its way, and forms a cascade of ten or twelve feet over broken rocks. . A very little art is necessary to make all this a beautiful scene. The weather, till the last week, has been in general very fine and warm; we have had no fires till now, and often have sat with the windows open an hour after sun-set : now and then a shower has come, and sometimes sudden gusts of wind descend from the mountains, that finish as suddenly as they arose ; but to-day it blows a hurricane. Upon the whole, I have been exceeding lucky in my weather, and particularly in my Highland expedition of five days.
We set out then the eleventh of September, and continuing along the Strath to the west, passed through
Megill (where is the tomb of Queen Wanders, that was riven to dethe by staned horses for nae gude that she did ; so the women there told me, I assure you), through Cowper of Angus: over the river Ila ; then over a wide and dismal heath, fit for an assembly of witches, till we came to a string of four small lakes in a valley, whose deep blue waters and green margin, with a gentleman's house or two seated on them in little groves, contrasted with the black desert in which they were inchased. The ground now grew unequal; the hills, more rocky, seemed to close in upon us, till the road came to the brow of a steep descent, and (the sun then setting) between two woods of oak we saw far below us the river Tay come sweeping along at the bottom of a precipice, at least one hundred and fifty feet deep, clear as glass, full to the brim, and very rapid in its course : it seemed to issue out of woods thick and tall, that rose on either hand, and were over-hung by broken rocky crags of vast height; above them, to the west, the tops of higher mountains appeared, on which the evening clouds reposed. Down by the side of the river, under the thickest shades, is seated the town of Dunkeld; in the midst of it stands a ruined cathedral, the towers and shell of the building still entire : a little beyond it, a large house of the Duke of Athol, with its offices and gardens, extends a mile beyond the town : and as his grounds were interrupted by the streets and roads, he has flung arches of communication across them, that add to the scenery of the place, which of itself is built of good white stone, and handsomely slated ; so that no one would take it for a Scotch town till they come into it. Here we passed the night; if I told you how, you would bless yourself.
Next day we set forward to Taymouth, twenty-seven miles farther west; the road winding through beautiful woods, with the Tay almost always in full view to the
right, being here from three to four hundred feet over. The Strath-Tay, from a mile to three miles or more wide, covered with corn, and spotted with groups of people, then in the midst of their harvest; on either hand a vast chain of rocky mountains, that changed their face and opening something new every hundred yards, as the way turned, or the clouds passed : in short, altogether it was one of the most pleasing days I have passed these many years, and at every step I wished for you. At the close of day we came to Balloch,* so the place was called; but now Taymouth, improperly enough; for here it is that the river issues out of LochTay, a glorious lake fifteen miles long and one mile and a half broad, surrounded with prodigious mountains there on its north-eastern brink, inpending over it, is the vast hill of Lawers ; to the east is that enormous creature, She-khallian (i. e. the maiden's pap) spiring above the clouds : directly west, beyond the end of the lake, Beni-More, the great mountain, rises to a most awful 'height, and looks down on the tomb of Fingal. Lord Bredalbane's policy (so they call here all such ground as is laid out for pleasure) takes in about two thousand acres, of which his house, offices, and a deerpark, about three miles round, occupy the plain or bottom, which is a little above a mile in breadth ; through it winds the Tay, which, by means of a bridge, I found here to be one hundred and fifty-six feet over : his plantations and woods rise with the ground, on either side the vale, to the very summit of the enormous crags that over-hang it: along them, on the mountain's side, runs a terrace a mile and a half long, that overlooks the course of the river. From several seats and temples perched on particular rocky eminences, you command the lake for many miles in length, which turns like some
* Mr. Pennant, in his tour in Scotland, explains this word “the
Mouth of the Loch."
huge river, and loses itself among the mountains that surround it; at its eastern extremity, where the river issues out of it, on a peninsula my lord has built a neat little town and church, with a high square tower; and just before it lies a small round island in the lake, covered with trees, amongst which are the ruins of some little religious house.
Trees, by the way, grow here to great size and beauty. I saw four old chesnuts in the road, as you enter the park, of vast bulk and height; one beech tree I measured that was sixteen feet seven inches in the girth, and, I guess, near eighty feet in height. The gardener presented us with peaches, nectarines, and plums from the stone walls of the kitchen-garden (for there are no brick nor hot walls); the peaches were good, the rest well tasted, but scarce ripe ; we had also golden pippins from an espalier, not ripe, and a melon very well flavoured and fit to cut: of the house I have little to say; it is a very good nobleman's house, handsomely fur: nished and well kept, very comfortable to inhabit, but not worth going far to see. Of the earl's taste I have not much more to say; it is one of those noble situations that man cannot spoil : it is however certain, that he has built an inn and a town just where his principal walks should have been, and in the most wonderful spot of ground that perhaps belongs to him. In this inn however we lay; and next day returning down the river four miles, we passed it over a fine bridge, built at the
expense of the government, and continued our way to Logie-Rait, just below which, in a most charming scene, the Tummel, which is here the larger river of the two, falls into the Tay. We ferried over the Tummel in order to get into Marshal Wade's road, which leads from Dunkeld to Inverness, and continued our way along it toward the north : the road is excellent, but dangerous enough in conscience; the river often run
ning directly under us at the bottom of a precipice two hundred feet deep, sometimes masked indeed by wood that finds means to grow where I could not stand, but very often quite naked and without any defence ; in such places we walked for miles together, partly for fear, and partly to admire the beauty of the country, which the beauty of the weather set off to the greatest advantage: as evening came on, we approached the pass of Gillikrankie, where, in the year 1745, the Hessians, with their prince at their head, stopped short, and refused to march a foot farther.
Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus orci stands the solitary mansion of Mr. Robertson, of Fascley; close by it rises a hill covered with oak, with grotesque masses of rock staring from among their trunks, like the sullen countenances of Fingal and all his family, frowning on the little mortals of modern days : from between this hill and the adjacent mountains, pent in a narrow channel, comes roaring out the river Tummel, and falls headlong down involved in white foam, which rises into a mist all round it: but my paper is deficient, and I must say nothing of the pass itself, the black river Garry, the Blair of Athol, Mount Beni-Gloe, my return by another road to Dunkeld, the Hermitage, the Stra-Bram, and the Rumbling Brig : in short, since I saw the Alps, I have seen nothing sublime till now. In about a week I shall set forward, by the Stirling road, on my return all alone. Pray for me till I see you, for I dread Edinburgh and the itch, and expect to find very little in my way worth the perils I am to endure,
MR. GRAY TO MR. BEATTIE.
Glames-castle, Oct. 2, 1765.
I must beg you would present my most grateful acknowledgments to your society for the public mark of