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“ Among the healthy hills, and ragged woods,
Being determined to travel alone, I purchase ed a small shaggy animal, of a man resident in Inverness, capable of carrying myself and baggage, which latter was contained in a pair of saddle-bags.
The brute I had bought was a female native of Shetland, small, sturdy, and active; but arrayed in such a profusion of blackish hair, that a native of South-Britain would have
been not a little puzzled to discover the species of animals to which it belonged.
However, at an early hour, upon one very fine autumnal morning, I mounted my little beast, and took my final leave of Inverness; a place in which I had met with more lin. affected politeness, and genuine hospitality than I have since found amongst the more southern inhabitants of Britain.
The route which I had determined upon taking, immediately after my departure from Inverness, lies along the southern banks of that western chain of lakes, which run, with a slight inclination to the south, in a parallel line, directly across the kingdom, and their shores and romantic neighbourhood afford the finest views in Scotland. Indeed the beautiful is so admirably blended with the sublime, that no description, however bold, however warm, or however flowery, can give one who has not had the gratification of beholding it, an adequate idea of the exquisite scenery to be found in these regions.
Although this truly interesting country is barren and unproductive, when considered in the light of civilization, and rude and uncul.
tivated, when the great benefits of mankind are contemplated; yet to the enlightened tourist, or the enthusiastic artist, it is a perpetual source of delight, and every where présents them with objects of the highest admiration. These will for ever rejoice that Nature has left so vast, so sublime, so beautiful a void, if a void it may be termed for these, perhaps, would rather call it Nature's chaotic retreat, where she dwells amidst her unformed matter, and frowns with disgust upon the petty exertions of man, who in vain endeayours to make her works more perfect. But to proceed.
Soon after I left Inverness, I was directed to quit the beaten road, and pursue one that branched off considerably to my right. The great encroachments made by the grass and moss, upon the almost trackless path, shewed too plainly, that the wandering Highlander, or curious traveller, seldom disturbed the modest flowers which here and there bespangled the grass-grown road, and fully evinced the wild solitude of my route.
After I had ridden about six miles, my at: tention was suddenly attracted by a collection
of large stones, placed in two regular circles upon a small eminence by the side of the road. They bore the marks of vast antiquity, and I had no doubt of their being the remains of some ancient monument, which had been erected in that solitary place, to the memory of some renowned warrior, who had fallen upon that spot in the glorious defence of his country. As I know this to have been the custom in the early ages of Scottish history, I am more inclined to this opinion than to suppose their being part of a Druidical temple. This rude monument of antiquity, was formed by two large circles of immense stones, placed perpendicularly. The innermost circle was furnished with six, and the outer one with twelve smaller ones, placed in a reclining manner towards the center; but if you are not antiquarians, I have, perhaps, already said enough upon this, at least, unimportant subject, and will therefore proceed.
Aboui a mile further, the scenery began to assume the appearance of grandeur; and upon reaching the summit of a small ascent, a view at once vast, sublime, and beautiful, burst upon my astonished sight. A long chain of huge mountains appeared to the north, whose summits, being envelloped in clouds, seemed to reach the highest regions of air, and deter the eager sight from reaching their top-most height. At my feet, I beheld an expanse of waters, so extensive, that their beautifully reflecting surface appeared to know of no other boundary than the horizon, with whose dis. tant mist they seemed to blend; and to my right and left, luxuriant woods extended their many-coloured robes to screen the barren nakedness of the rocks, whose heavy base was washed by the murmuring waves of the lake below. Perceiving no living creature, save a few scattered goats that were brousing or frisking upon the rocky ledges of the mountains, I felt all the ardour of enthu. siasm a man is supposed to feel when he discovers an hitherto unknown country, and as I stood listening to the hollow dashings of the waters below, where they had broken their unwearied waves for ages interminable, I felt as if I alone was the lord and master of the universe.