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April the 25th, 1818, arrived, than tired of the confinement of an attendance on classes, I laid aside my books
r awhile, and filled my little portmanteau with a few necessary articles, in readiness to leave Edinburgh on the following morning. · It being my desire to view the country from as various situations as possible, I determined to proceed as far as Glasgow by water, and perform the remainder of my journey on foot. I found upon enquiry, that, according to my wishes, the tides fortunately, at this time, would allow of my reaching Grangemouth by the Tug steam-boat, whích runs daily on the Firth of Forth, between this place and Newhaven, soon enough to meet the Union canal-boat near Falkirk, which conveys passengers and goods thence to Glasgow.
Every thing being thus prepared, I seated myself, about nine o'clock on Thursday morning, outside the Newhaven stage, a one-horse coach; in these parts called, perhaps from its craziness, a noddy. The little village of Newhaven being but a mile and a half from Edinburgh, it was not long ere we reached it, although the vehicle was well filled with passengers, and loaded with their luggage, and the horse almost as ricketty as the machine which be drew. On the pier stood a motley groupe of persons, waiting for a conveyance to the Tug, which was lying at some distance from the land. Among these "guidfolk” were some old Scotch countrywomen, who, beholding with terror the rough waves of the Firth, and receiving unsatisfactory answers to their laughable enquiries concerning the safety of such an aquatic excursion, gave up their intended voyage, and returned to Edinburgh, in order to seek a safer conveyance home by land.
Soon seizing a corner in a small boat, I bade adieu to Mid Lothian, and all its kind inhabitants. We were some time in coming up to the steam vessel, and not before the surge had very thoroughly soaked myself and others, who happened to be exposed to its heedless rage. With considerable risk of losing a hand or foot by the violent agitation of the two boats, we at length gained the deck of the Tug. This was the first steam-vessel I had entered, and the accidents which had happened in them, suddenly recurring to my memory, gave rise, for a short time, to a disagreeable sensation of danger. This, however, gradually subsided as my attention became engaged with the view around me.
The Forth is here an arm of the sea, about seven or eight miles in breadth. The counties of Mid Lothian and Fife, on the opposite shores, have but slight re semblance to any part of England with which I am acquainted. Small hills, almost wholly destitute of trees, run a long the coast of Fifeshire; beyond these, at a considerable distance, the Ochel range of moun: tains terminates the view towards the north. The southern side of the Forth is less diffuse in high grounds, but more bourtiful in wood. Here Leith and Edinburgh supported, if I may be allowed the expression, by the huge buttress of Salisbury Craigs and Arthur's Seat, with the commencement of the Pentland Hills, whose summits had scarcely lost “their wintery cap of snow," gave a striking character to Mid Lothian, and, despite of all its want of richness, presented a landscape possessed of no little novelty in the eyes of a young English traveller. Behind us, towards the east, the Forth quickly widening, mingled its waters with the German Ocean; and, before us, the protrusion of the Ferry Hills from Fifeshire appeared, until we approached very near Queensferry, to unite the two counties. In this direction the Firth is studded with small islands, or, as they are locally called, inches. They are, for the most part, upinhabited, except by wild rabbits and sea-gulls. On one I observed the remains of an old church, now the abode of a few soldiers ; on another, called Inch Garvie, an old castle has been converted into a little battery. Several of them appeared to be formed of basaltic rock. To one my attention was directed by a Scotch gentleman: its top was as white as snow, arising, he informed me, solely from the dung of the sea-gulls!
A raw, cold wind blew across the water, forming, at intervals, an opening in the dense and inky-coloured clouds, through which some rays of the sun burst, and caught the prominent objects in the scene around me, producing an effect well adapted to the rough cast of the country. Nor were the ancient white-washed and
spacious mansions of the Scotch lairds wanting, to enliven the continual sameness of the harren soil upon the shores; among them Lord Roseberry's, on the southern, and Lord Moray's, on the northern, were the most conspicuous.
Finding myself rather chilly, I endeavoured to become warm hy pacing the deck, and in this experienced one of the inconveniences of a steam-boat. During this short promenade I passed through two extremely different climates : at the head and stern I was benumbed with cold, but, while over the engine, was as hot as if I had been placed in an oven. Added to this, the unpleasant regularity of the engine-crank did not much prepossess me in favour of steam-boats. \ The splashing wheels soon swept us through the short strait of Queensferry. This ferry forms a connecting link in the nortń road of Scotland; and, in consequence of the sudden convergence of the sides of the Forth, is scarcely two miles across. The contractors for this ferry, I have understood, pay annually to government 30001. The waters soon widen again, and then gradually decrease towards their source, at the foot of Ben Lomond. Our former prospect being now entirely excluded from our sight by the Ferry Hills, the view was wholly changed. At a distance of about thirty miles in front, we beheld a number of high mountains covered with snow; the highest of these, my companion informed me, was“ lofty Ben Lomond,”. the main object of my excursion. The shores still continued to be high grounds, and seats still continued to peep forth from among the trees, which here are rather abundant. In general, these seats are huge, ponderous fabrics, much more spacious than commodious or elegant. Little closets, in external appearance resembling Moorish watch-towers, are affixed to several parts of these buildings, chiefly to the corners. Lord Elgin's, however, on account of its chaste exterior, so different in this respect from the neighbouring mansions, suddenly attracted my attention. Its particular architecture, from the slight and distant glance I obtained of it, I could not discover : its tout ensemble, however, struck me as being similar to an elegant Grecian temple.
We now turned aside, from the middle of the Forth, into a very narrow channel formed by immense banks of mud, at low water uncovered. It was high water when we passed; the channel, we observed, was marked out by large poles. By these our helmsman soon directed us to Grangemouth
Here, having paid the reasonable fare of three shil. lings, we all landed. Grangemouth is merely a collection of warehouses, and devoid of all interest. A noddy was standing by our landing-place, to carry passengers and luggage to lock sixteen, where the Glasgow canal-boat stops; but, perceiving a great number of passengers and boxes crammed into such a miserable machine, and being aware that the road lay close to the canal, I made no hesitation of giving the preference to walking. The Union Canal extends to Grangemouth; but, as there are no less than sixteen locks between this place and lock sixteen, the expense of passing through so many locks prevents the boats from coming any nearer to Grangemouth.
Immediately after having seen my luggage safely placed in the noddy, I proceeded onwards with my two companions, whom I had almost omitted to mention, The walk was very acceptable and refreshing. The country had much the appearance of English, and was once the theatre of great bloodshed. Falkirk lay before us the whole way; want of time, however, prevented us from visiting it. We reached lock sixteen a little before the arrival of the boat, and amused ourselves by observing a number of country people, who, waiting like ourselves, had seated themselves upon a bank; their high cheek bones and lowland caps were strikingly different from the healthy, plump cheeks and rounded hats of English rustics.
In a few minutes we heard a horn, and, turning round, beheld the boat scudding swiftly towards us. Five minutes only were allowed for debarkation and émbarkation. Fresh horses being harnessed to the towing-rope, we were presently gliding along at an easy pace.
“ Sleek, well-fed steeds our steady vessel drew: The heavens were fair, and Mirth was of our crew.
Along the smooth canal's unbending line,
Beguiling time with light discourse, we went, Nor wanting savoury food nor generous wine.”
SOUTHEY. The vessel was fitted up very comfortably, and even elegantly. In the cabin I found a small collection of books; among which were the Spectator, Monk Lewis's Tales, and several odd numbers of the Monthly Review.
When we had proceeded some few miles, the Kelvin, and other hills, bounding our view on either side, and a chilly wind arising, we all retired to the cabin. Here a little fat clergyman, of the kirk of Scotland, was desirous of making himself very conspicuous. Apparently considering bimself a superior draught player, he engaged with a taciturn American, sitting near him. Here, however, fortune entirely forsook him, and having lost six games, he resigned the palm of victory. He then changed his key, by introducing very injudiciously, in so mixed a company, a conversation upon agriculture, taxes, and politics; in which he had an opportunity of abusing ministers, and letting us know of his acquaintance with this nobleman and that nobleman, as well as divers lairds innumerable.
As the shades of evening advanced, after a most grand and uncommon sunset, where, through a cavity in a black cloud, gushed an immense and distinct beam of gold, we reached Port Dundas. “ Beside the busy wharf the vessel' rides,
With painted plumes, and tent-like awning gay;
And passengers and porters throng the way,
Having delivered our luggage to the porter, we followed after him towards Glasgow, which is about a mile from Port Dundas. This porter possessed much of Sawuey's* characteristics. To our inquiries concerning the various sects in the place, his answers
* The term Sawney is used in Scotland similarly to John Bull in England.