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Runnels may kiss the grass on shelves and shallows clear,-
At such a time the soul's a child, in childhood is the brain,
Scanty the hour, and few the steps, beyond the bourne of care,
No, no—that horror cannot be! for at the cable's length
DUNANCULLEN, July 23d, (1818.] MY DEAR TOM,
Just after my last had gone to the post, in came one of the men with whom we endeavored to agree about going to Staffa : he said what a pity it was we should turn aside, and not
see the curiosities. So we had a little tatile, and finally agreed that he should be our guide across the Isle of Mull. We set out, crossed two ferries, one to the Isle of Kerrera, of little distance; the other from Kerrera to Mull, nine miles across. We did it in forty minutes, with a fine breeze. The road through the island, or rather track, is the most dreary you can think of; between dreary mountains, over bog, and rock, and river, with our breeches tucked up, and our stockings in hand. About eight o'clock we arrived at a shepherd's hut, into which we could scarcely get for the smoke, through a door lower than my shoulders. We found our way into a little compartment, with the rafters and turf-thatch blackened with smoke, the earth-floor full of hills and dales. We had some white bread with us, made a good supper, and slept in our clothes in some blankets; our guide snored in another little bed about an arm's length off. This morning we came about sax miles to breakfast, by rather a better path, and we are now in, by comparison, a mansion. Our guide is, I think, a very obliging fellow. In the way, this morning, he sang us two Gaelic songsone made by a Mrs. Brown, on her husband's being drownedthe other a Jacobin one on Charles Stuart. For some days Brown has been inquiring out his genealogy here; he thinks his grandfather came from Long Island. He got a parcel of people round him at a cottage door last evening, chatted with one who had been a Miss Brown, and who, I think, from a likeness, must have been a relation : he jawed with the old woman, flattered a young one, and kissed a child, who was afraid of his spectacles, and finally drank a pint of milk. They handle his spectacles as we do a sensitive leaf.
July 26th.–Well! we had a most wretched walk of thirtyseven miles, across the Island of Mull, and then we crossed to Iona, or Icolmkill; from Icolmkill we took a boat at a bargain to take us to Staffa, and land us at the head of Loch Nakeal, whence we should only have to walk half the distance to Oban again and by a better road. All this is well passed and done, with this singular piece of luck, that there was an interruption in the bad weather just as we saw Staffa, at which it is impossible to land but in a tolerably calm sea. But I will first mention Icolmkill. I know not whether you have heard much about this island; I
never did before I came nigh it. It is rich in the most interesting antiquities. Who would expect to find the ruins of a fine cathedral church, of cloisters, colleges, monasteries, and nunneries, in so remote an island ? The beginning of these things was in the sixth century, under the superstition of a would-be-bishopsaint, who landed from Ireland, and chose the spot for its beauty ; for, at that time, the now treeless place was covered with magnificent woods. Columba in the Gaelic is Colm, signifying “ dove;'' “ kill ” signifies “church ;” and I is as good as island: so I-colmkill means, the island of St. Columba's Church. Now this St. Columba became the Dominic of the Barbarian Christians of the North, and was famed also far South, but more especially was reverenced by the Scots, the Picts, the Norwegians, and the Irish. In a course of years, perhaps the island was considered the most holy ground of the north ; and the old kings of the aforementioned nations chose it for their burial-place. We were shown a spot in the church-yard where they say sixty-one kings are buried; forty-eight Scotch, from Fergus II. to Macbeth; eight Irish ; four Norwegians; and one French. They lay in rows compact. Then we were shown other matters of later date, but still very ancient; many tombs of Highland chieftains—their effigies in complete armor, face upward, black, and moss-covered ; abbots and bishops of the island, always of the chief clans. There were plenty Macleans and Macdonalds; among these latter the famous Macdonald, Lord of the Isles. There have been three hundred crosses in the island, but the Presbyterian, destroyed all but two, one of which is a very fine one, and completely covered with a shaggy, coarse moss. The old school-master, an ignorant little man, but reckoned very clever, showed us these things. He is a Maclean, and as much above four feet as he is under four feet three inches. He stops at one glass of whisky, unless you press another, and at the second, unless you press a third.
I am puzzled how to give you an idea of Staffa. It can only be represented by a first rate drawing. One may compare the surface of the island to a roof; this roof is supported by grand pillars of basalt, standing together as thick as honeycomb. The finest thing is Fingal's Cave. It is entirely a hollowing out of ba
salt pillars. Suppose, now, the giants who rebelled against Jove, had taken a whole mass of black columns and bound them to. gether like bunches of matches, and then, with immense axes, had made a cavern in the body of these columns. Of course the roof and floor must be composed of the ends of these columns. Such is Fingal's Cave, except that the sea has done the work of excavation, and is continually dashing there. So that we walk along the sides of the cave, on the pillars which are left, as if for convenient stairs. The roof is arched somewhat Gothic-wise, and the length of some of the entire side-pillars is fifty feet. About the island you might seat an army of men, each on a pillar. The length of the cave is 120 feet, and from its extremity, the view into the sea, through the large arch at the entrance, is sublime. The color of the columns is black, with a lurking gloom of purple therein. For solemnity and grandeur, it far surpasses the finest cathedrals. At the extremity of the cave there is a small perforation into another cave, at which, the waters meeting and buffeting each other, there is sometimes produced a report as if of a cannon, heard as far as Iona, which must be twelve miles. As we approached in the boat, there was such a fine swell of the sea that the pillars appeared immediately arising from the crystal. But it is impossible to describe it.
Not Aladdin magian
« What is this? and what art thou ?"
Fam'd in fun’ral minstrelsy!
I am sorry
I am so indolent as to write such stuff as this. It can't be helped.
The western coast of Scotland is a most strange place; it is composed of rocks, mountains, mountainous and rocky islands, intersected by lochs ; you can go but a short distance any where from salt-water in the Highlands.
I assure you I often long for a seat and a cup o' tea at Well Walk, especially now that the mountains, castles, and lakes are becoming common to me. Yet I would rather summer it out, for