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LETTER FROM A SCOTTISH TOURIST.
through so many centuries, have disintegrated the surface to some extent, and formed a thin soil sufficient to sustain a simple vegetation, which overspreads most of the hills with delicate verdure that suggests a spring robe. The abundant summer rains keep the whole landscape looking fresh, fill all the gorges and ravines with brawling torrents, decorate the green slopes with quieter streams that wind hither and thither in their flow, and gleam in the sunlight like threads of silver, set the rivulets leaping again and again down the shelving cliffs that abut upon the sea, and so multiply the gushing, foaming, sbouting waters on every side that the very hills appear as if bursting into laughter. And so, all through this highland section, beauty is for ever wedded to grandeur, the fruitful field lies in the lap of the towering height, the lake bears fertile and flowery islands on its bosom as a bride her jewels, and the majesty of nature is in sympathy with the affection of souls. These are some of the peculiarities which mark the mountain scenery of Scotland, and lend to it such an abiding charm.
The island of Staffa has been long and justly regarded as one of the most marked natural curiosities and striking geological marvels of Europe, It is of an irregularly oval shape, and is about a mile and a half in circumference. It is principally composed of basaltic rock, rising in the highest portion about 150 feet above the sea, forming an uneven table-land, mostly covered with a simple but quite luxuriant vegetation. Most of the coast presents a wall-like aspect, and the columnar structure is something remarkable. At the base is a ledge of conglomerated trap-rock; then the basaltic columns rise frequently to the height of fifty or sixty feet; and then at the top, and resting on the columns, is a mass of amorphous basalt, in which the columnar structure wholly disappears. At some points where the coast line is low, the tops of the columns are seen just below or above the surface of the water; and in a few spots the columnar structure appears on the surface of the elevated table-land, so regular and level as to suggest a tiled Mosaic floor. The columns appear not as monoliths, but as though reared apparently in sections. Most of them are either pentagonic or hexagonic, with more or less regu. larity in the length of the sides; while some have as few as three and some as many as nine faces. In diameter they vary from five inches to more than three feet. Some stand upright, some have an oblique position, some are irregularly bent, while others
LETTER FROM A SCOTTISH TOUR.
are so accurately curved as to constitute segments of an immense circle.
These columnar cliffs are pierced with caves of greater or less regularity and extent, the result apparently of the long-continued action of the waves, and the steady ministry of friction and frost. Of these caves, the most remarkable is that which is called Fingal's, and which may be entered on foot at a low stage of the tide by walking on the ends of the broken columns, or by boat, when the sea is thoroughly calm. We were fortunate enough to get admission on foot, and to be able to inspect the wonder at some length, before the increasing thunder of the breaking swells, the rising of the waters, and the remonstrances of the guide, warned us to retreat while we might without peril. This cave is 230 feet in length, 42 feet wide, but narrowing to 25 near the end, and 66 feet high at the entrance, though not more than 50 feet on the average throughout the entire length. Its sides are composed of an immense number of these basaltic columns crowded together; and for a considerable distance the roof is nearly horizontal, and shows the lower ends of these columns, which have been broken off by violence, variegated in colour, and appearing as though they might become in some way loosened, and drop upon the gazer's head. Farther in from the mouth the roof assumes the form of an irregular Gothic arch, which it preserves quite to the end.
The light is dim in the interior, even at mid-day in summer; and when the heavier swells come rushing in from the sea, wave thundering upon wave, and the foam and spray dash against the sides and deepen the gloom, there is something subduing, thrilling, and well-nigh awful in the scene.
The same geological formations, in the main, appear at some other points in Great Britain, and especially at the Giant's Causeway in Ireland; though the extent to which the basaltic rock assumes the aspect of colonnades is much greater in Staffa than on the Irish coast.
I took one ride of fifty miles on the outside of a Scottish coach, in company with several other passengers, including two ladies who preferred the better view from outside with the risk, to the poorer one from inside with the security against a wetting -a ride that was remarkable both for the splendid scenery amid which it took us, and for the romantic but rough treatment which we received at the hands of the weather.
LETTER FROM A SCOTTISH TOURIST.
We were going from Oban to the head of Loch Lomond, where we were to take the boat for a sail through the lake. We left at eight o'clock. The sky had looked doubtful more than once during the morning: gleams of sunshine were followed by dark masses of cloud, and lazy drippings and spirited dashes of rain had mixed themselves into our experience before noon. We had stopped occasionally to change horses, but only for a few minutes ; no provision was made for giving us dinner till we should reach the steamer at four o'clock. Continuous jolting, occasional moistening, partial chilling, steady gazing, and prolonged fasting, began to tell somewhat on the company. The faces were not quite as resolute as at an earlier hour, the tone of voice was not so full of cheerful defiance, the sky was scanned more anxiously; and when the rain began to come, as it did now and then after two o'clock, in a somewhat uncomfortable way, it was no more welcomed with cheery jokes, but with careful buttoning of coats, and prompt spreading of umbrellas, and grim, ghastly, bitter smiles.
During the last hour we reached the climax, which was well maintained. Notes of preparation, warnings, gusts of wind and occasional dashes of rain, gave place to the real and serious work. ! The clouds literally poured down their contents, and the wind drove the water into the faces of those who were looking southward, and upon the shoulders of those looking in the contrary direction. It laughed at overcoats and shawls; it fought umbrellas into comparative uselessness; it found its way through the folds and crannies of the Mackintosh; it collapsed bonnets; it leaped in cascades from hat-crowns and brims; it forced itself into boots; it felt its way to the under-clothing with steady and merciless persistence; it literally choked laughter and drowned out merriment. Nobody was proof against it but one tough, bronzed, jolly old guard, who really seemed to revel in the landstorm like a petrel in the sea-tempest. When the wind drove the torrents upon us with special violence, making us shudder, and crouch, and gasp for breath, he might be heard shouting as well as he could through the cataract that poured down his unprotected face—“Magnificent scenery! Splendid waterfalls ! Isn't it their money's worth that the gentlemen are getting now, who've paid three shillings extra to sit on the front seat with the driver !" But if his sallies woke a responsive laugh, it hardly reached the surface; and the only acknowledgment which I heard from the
gentlemen referred to was a sort of dismal grunt by way of retaliation.
But we reached Loch Lomond, caught the steamer, and, especially among the islands at its southern end, we had the sun flooding the whole glorious scene with an unwonted splendour. Warmth and rest awaited me at Glasgow, and, once in comfortable quarters and mood, the ludicrous side of the experience hid the sombre side wholly from view.
A MIDNIGHT HYMN.
In the mid silence of the voiceless night,
O God! but Thee ?
And if there be a weight upon my breast-
And lay it down.
Or if it be the heaviness that comes
Since 'tis Thy will.
For O'! in spite of past and present care,
My God, with Thee !
More tranquil than the stillness of the night,
Beneath Thy power.
For what is there on earth that I desire
O God! but Thee?
ANECDOTES AND SELECTIONS.
Anecdotes and Selections.
EVILS OF GOSSIP.—I have known a country society which withered away all to nothing under the dry rot of gossip only. Friendships, once as firm as granite, dissolved to jelly, and then run away to water, only because of this; love, that promised a future as enduring as heaven and as stable as truth, evaporated into a morning mist that turned to a day's long tears, only because of this; a father and a son were set foot to foot with the fiery breath of an anger that would never cool again between them, only because of this; and a husband and his young wife, each straining at the hated leash which in the beginning had been the golden bondage of a God-blessed love, sat mournfully by the side of the grave where all their love and all their joy lay buried, and only because of this. I have seen faith transformed to mean doubt, hope give place to grim despair, and charity take on itself the features of black malevolence, all because of the spell words of scandal and the magic mutterings of gossip. Great crimes work great wrong, and the deeper tragedies of human life spring from its larger passions; but woeful and most melancholy are the uncatalogued tragedies that issue from gossip and detraction; most mournful the shipwreck often made of noble natures and lovely lives by the bitter winds and dead salt waters of slander. So easy to say, yet so hard to disprove-throwing on the innocent all the burden and the strain of demonstrating their innocence, and punishing them as guilty if unable to pluck out the stings they never see, and to silence words they never hear-gossip and slander are the deadliest and the cruelest weapons man has forged for bis brother's hurt.
TROUBLES.—Some people are as careful of their troubles as mothers are of their babies; they cuddle them, and rock them, and hug them, and cry over them, and fly into a passion with you if you try to take them away from them. They want you to fret with them, and to help them to believe that they have been worse treated than anybody else. If they could they would have a picture of their grief in a gold frame hung over the mantle shelf for everybody to look at. And their grief makes them ordinarily selfish; they think more of their little grief in the basket and in the cradle than they do of all the world besides; and they say you are hard-hearted if you say, “Don't fret.”—“Abľ you don't understand me - you don't know me — you can't enter into my trials."
THE BLESSED MINISTRY OF DEATH.-When the soul, like a swallow slipped down a chimney, beats up and down in restless want and danger, death is the opened casement that gives her rest and liberty from penury, fears, and snares.-Feltham.