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for to climb is not always necessary : but because. that which is not mountain is commonly bog, through which the way must be picked with caution. Where there are hills, there is much rain, and the torrents pouring down into the intermediate
spaces, seldom find so ready an outlet, as not to stagnate,' till they have broken the texture of the ground.
Of the hills, which our journey offered to the view on either side, we did not take the height, nor did we see any that astonished us with their loftiness. Towards the summit of one, there was a white spot, which I should have called a naked rock, but the guides, who had better eyes, and were acquainted with the phenomena of the country, declared it to be snow. It had already lasted to the end of August, and was likely to maintain its contest with the sun, till it should be reinforced by winter.
The height of mountains philosophically consi, dered, is properly computed from the surface of the next sea; but as it affects the eye or imagination of the passenger, as it makes either a spectacle or an obstruction, it must be reckoned from the place where the rise begins to make a consi. derable angle with the plain. In extensive contie nents the land may, by gradual elevation, attain great height, without any other appearance than that of a plane gently inclined, and if a hill placed upon such raised ground be described, as having its altitude equal to the whole space
above the sea, the representation will be fallacious. These mountains
may be properly enough measured from the inland base; for it is not much
above the sea. As we advanced at evening towards the western coast, I did not observe the declivity to be greater than is necessary for the discharge of the inland waters.
We passed many rivers and rivulets, which commonly ran with a clear shallow stream over a hard pebbly bottom. These channels, which seem so much wider than the water that they convey would naturally require, are formed by the violence of wintry floods, produced by the accumulation of innumerable streams that fall in rainy weather from the hills, and bursting away with resistless impetuosity, make themselves a passage proportionate to their mass.
Such capricious and temporary waters cannot be expected to produce many fish. The rapidity of the wintry deluge sweeps them away, and the scantiness of the summer stream would hardly sustain them above the ground.
This is the reason why in fording the northern rivers, no fishes are seen, as in England, wandering in the water.
Of the hills many may be called with Homer's Ida, abundant in springs, but few can deserve the epithet which he bestows upon Pelion, by waving their leaves. They exhibit very little variety ; being almost wholly covered with dark heath, and even that seems to be checked in its growth. What is not heath is nakedness, a little diversified by now and then a stream rushing down the steep. An eye accustomed to flowery pastures and waving harvests is astonished and repelled by this wide extent of hopeless sterility. The appearance is that of matter incapable of form or useful. ness, dismissed by nature from her care, and disin. herited of her favours, left in its original elemental state, or quickened only with one sullen power of useless vegetation.
It will very readily occur, that this uniformity of barrenness can afford very little amusement to the traveller ; that it is easy to sit at home and conceive rocks, and heath, and waterfalls; and that these journies are useless labours, which neither impregnate the imagination, nor enlarge the under. standing. It is true, that of far the greater part of things, we must content ourselves with such knowledge as description may exhibit, or analogy supply; but it is true likewise, that these ideas are always incomplete, and that, at least, till we have compared them with realities, we do not know them to be just.
As we see more, we become possessed of more certainties, and consequently gain more principles of reasoning, and found a wider basis of analogy.
Regions mountainous and wild, thinly inhabited, and little cultivated, make a great part of the earth, and he that has never seen them must live unacquainted with much of the face of nature, and with one of the great scenes of human existence.
As the day advanced towards noon, we entered a narrow valley not very flowery, but sufficiently verdant. Our guides told us, that the horses could not travel all day without rest or meat, and entreated us to stop here, because no grass would be found in any other place. The request was reasonable, and the argument cogent. We therefore willingly dismounted, and diverted ourselves as the place gave us opportunity.
I sat down on a bank, such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign. I had inindeed no trees to whisper over my head, but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet. The day was calm, the air was soft, and all was rudeness, silence, and solitude. Before me, and on either side, were high hills, which, by hindering the eye from ranging, forced the mind to find entertainment for itself. Whether I spent the hour well I know not ; for here I first conceived the thought of this narration.
We were in this place at ease and by choice, and had no evils to suffer or to fear; yet the imaginations excited by the view of an unknown and untravelled wilderness are not such as arise in the artificial solitude of parks and gardens, a flattering notion of self-sufficiency, a placid indulgence of voluntary delusions, a secure expansion of the fancy, or a cool concentration of the mental
powers, The phantoms which haunt a desert are want, and misery, and danger; the evils of dereliction rusb upon the thoughts; man is made unwillingly acquainted with his own weakness, and meditation shews him only how little he can sustain, and how little he can perform. There were no traces of inhabitants, except perhaps a rude pile of clods, called a summer hut, in which a herdsman had rested in the favourable seasons. Whoever had been in the place where I then sat, unprovided with provi. sions, and ignorant of the country, might, at least before the roads were made, have wandered among the rocks till he had perished with hardship, before he could have found either food or shelter. Yet what are these hillocks to the ridges of Taurus, or these spots of wilderness to the deserts of America ?
It was not long before we were invited to mount, and continued our journey along the side of a lough, kept full by many streams, which with more or less rapidity and noise crossed the road from the hills on the other hand. These currents, in their diminished state, after several dry months, afford, to one who has always lived in level countries, an unusual and delightful spectacle; but in the rainy season, such as every winter
may pected to bring, must precipitate an impetuous and tremendous food. I
the we wert is, at this time, impassable.
way by which
The lough at last ended in a river broad and shallow like the rest, but that it may be passed when it is deeper, there is a bridge over it. Beyond it is a valley called Glensheals, inhabited by the clan of Macrae. Here we found a village called Auknasheals, consisting of many huts, perhaps twerty, built all of dry-stone, that is, stones piled up without mortar.
We had, by the direction of the officers at Fort Augustus, taken bread for ourselves, and tobacco for those Highlanders who might shew us any kindness. We we were now at a place where we could cbtain milk, but must have wanted bread if we had not brought it. The people of this valley did not appear to know any English, and our guides now became doubly necessary as interpreters. A woman, whose hut was distinguished by greater