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this altitude is more than one fifth of that assigned to Chimborazo, the highest peak on the surface of the globe, which has yet been ascertained by accurate measurement*..
If the terrestrial undulations which swell in majestic succession throughout the north west of Scotland, are upon à smaller scale than the gigantic forms in which nature exhibits herself in the New World, or even in the European Alps,- in the general boldness of sublimity of outline they have been thought, by good judges, to bear no small resemblance to the latter. Excepting the everlasting snows of the glaciers, which give a character to the scenery of Switzerland, that allmits of no comparison with that of our Ísland, all the other features which nature has so strongly stamped upon the most romantic Alpine districts, will be found in the North of Britain. On ascending the more elevated peaks, mountain will be seen piled upon mountain in awful sublimity and barren grandeur; and ridge sticceeding ridge, with all the turbulent irregularity of a tempestuous ocean. The escarpinents of the strata are often of the boldest character, and the precipices frown in terrible magnificence. The thundering cataract bursts with irresistible fury over its rocky bed, amid the Weeping birches that droop along the glen, or the more majestic pines which clothe the bosom of the corrice.t.
Even they who have no opportunity on beholding scenes so sublime, except as delineated by the skill of the artist, must bave felt some of those ennobling and delightful associations which expand the heart, and improve the intellectual faculties. But how much more exquisite are the feelings of the man, who has delighted to linger among the criginals ! — who has climbed the hoary chilf, brushed the early dew from the purple heather, and quenched his thirst at the mossy alpine spring! Every object with which he is surrounded, becomes a source of moral reflections. All nature seems to speak to his beart. He finds • tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones,
and good in every thing.' While the unruffled surface of the lake suggests the ideas of a placid and tranquil life, the foaming torrent, urging its impetuous course without control, reminds him of the tide of human ambition rolling forward with destructive energy. In the grand effects of that catastrophe which broke up the solid base of the globe, he sees an emblem of the revolutions which have agitated, and which contiuue to agitate,
* The height of Chimborazo, as ascertained by the delicate measurements of Humboldt, is 20,282 feet.
+ There is no single térm in our language synonymous with this expressive word. It means, a hollow or concavity, in the bosom of a mountain.
“the houth; who wersal frame into exithat
the beings inhabiting its surface. Overwhelmed by the perpetual train of busy and impressive images which are vividly associated with all he sees and hears, he is at length lost in contemplating the power and the wisdom of that Almighty Being, who called this universal frame into existence by the breath of his mouth; who “ weighed the mountains in scales, and “ the bills in a balance !”
An alpine ramble cannot fail to excite in every feeling mind, such reflections as these, and ten thousand others which it is not our purpose to pursue. The scenery which gives them birth, may reasonably be supposed, therefore, to have had an important influence in forming the character and manners of a people, who can call such a romantic district their native land. It has however been doubted, whether local scenery has really any such effect upon the character; and we must admit indeed that the associations which it calls forth, will be in-. finitely more powerful, where the taste has been refined by education. But we cannot, surely, for a single moment doubt, that the character of at least the Highlander, has been greatly influenced by the sublime objects with which from childhood he has been familiar. The inhabitants of all alpine districts, are distinguished by a lively sensibility, and an attachment to their native region, much stronger than exists among any other people, and it would seem that they can be resolved only into that lofty, and tender, and warm enthusiasm, wnich was enkindled by the impressive scenes that first presented themselves to the infant mind, and which was rendered progressive by the the sublime objects which kept it in perpetual glow and excitationi. Even the more physical reflections which are nursed in the mind of the mountaineer, must tend to give an important din rection to his ideas. He lives in the laboratory of nature,
and the reservoir from whence she draws the good and the - evil which she spreads over our earth; the rivers which r water, and the torrents which ravage it ; the showers which
fertilize, and the storms which desolate it: all the phenoomena of general physics there present themselves with a
grandeur and a majesty, of which the inhabitants of the
plains have no idea! * Nor are the moral associations which he is led to form, either inconsiderable or unimportant. : It is no objection to this theory of the influence of scenery on the mind, that the Highlander is often known to inquire, with surprise, what are the objects of interest for which the stranger visits his country. This surprise may be partly accounted for, from his observing that objects so fami
* Sassure, Voyages dans les Alpes, Tome I. p. viii. Discours preliminaire. (40 Geneve.)
liar to himself, appear to be novel to others; and partly from the indisputable fact, that those uniform circumstances which inaterially influence the habits, exert an unseen agency, of which, on account of its uninterrupted action, we ourselves are but in perfectly conscious.
Whatever may be the cause, the fact is notorious, that the character of the Highlanders is distinguished from that of their neighbours, by many bold and prominent lipes. In so far as this peculiar shade of mind receives its cast from the impressions of nature, we may expect that for succeeding generations, it will be as indelible as their mountains. But their former habits of life, no doubt, contributed to give a peculiar tinge to the character of their forefathers, which strengthened the influence of scenery : much that was distinctive in their manners, must, therefore, fade away before the rapid changes and innovations of modern times.
The pensiveness which forms so interesting a feature in the mental temperament of this remarkable people, had its origin, beyond all controversy, in their local condition. To this solution of the phenomenon it has been objected, that in other parts of the world, a similar effect is not produced by similar causes. But where, we would ask, are the people who have been placed in circumstances so favourable to the impressions of enchanting scenery? The feudal habits so long cherished among these mountaineers, bound the whole fraternity of a clan, to their chief and to each other, by an affectionate devotedness which could not but cherish some of the finer feelings of the heart; and the chivalrous dignity with which such an independent spirit invested the mind, working upon a lively imagination, could not but render them thoughtful and somewhat romantic. If to this we add other powerful causes which operated among them, their early enlightened state, the delicate and interesting nature of their superstitions, and, in later times, their decidedly religious habits, -we shall perceive a combination of circumstances, admirably calculated to strengthen the impressions derived from the gloomy but sablime features of the objects with which their earliest ideas were interwoven. In a mind so trained, the dark glen and awful precipice could scarcely fail to awaken a corre. sponding and solemn imagery; "The loud torrent and the
whirlwind's roar,' with all the other accompaniments of the rough music of nature,' would vibrate upon such an ear in thrilling tones, exquisitely adopted to create a tender melancholy, and to call up a train of pensive thought.
After the numerous specimens of prejudice exhibited in these volumes, we were not astonished to find the proverbial hospitality of Highlanders impeached. The Author declares that he never received but one invitation from them, but
when it was with an apparent view to their own interest;" that he has been unasked to eat when there was nothing to be purchased within many miles of the place;' that upon one dark night, on making up to a house where he was well -known, upon the trampling of his horses before the house, .. the lights went out in the twinkling of an eye, and deafness
at once seized the whole family.'* Let it be remembered that this was in the period between the two rebellions; a time when it was very possible for such jealousy of a British officer to have been manifested, without the least deficiency in hospitality. Perhaps, also, our Author was too well known !! But it is a waste of words to notice statements which experience contradicts. We appeal to the accredited annals of past times, for facts to substantiate a virtue for which the Highlander has ever been renowned. In older time,' the hall of the chief was ever open to the friendly stranger; and the flowing shell went round with the inviolable pledge of hespitality. More unrestrained intercourse with the rest of mankind, has imposed necessary limits on that openness of soul which would be abused by an unprincipled world; for the very improvements of the social order are somewhat destructive of that generous and unsuspecting confidence, which can subsist only in a stage of civilization intermediate between primitive barbarism and modern refinement. Together with the influx of recent manners, there may also have been ins' troduced many of the vicious habits of the world: but, even to this day, a ramble among those secluded regions, where the inhabitants are not yet contaminated by a selfish spirit, will afford many incidents to call forth gratitude and admiration at the simple hospitality of the Highlander. A stoupt of milk still meets the stranger at the door of the hut; and his host, with a native politeness unknown amid the
busy hum of men,' and unsolicited, accompanies bis guest for a considerable distance from his dwelling, both to shew the interest which the visit has excited, and to give him suitable directions for pursuing his journey in these wild mountain solitudes.
In the Highlander of former times, these milder virtues were, however, associated with several qualities of a sterner cast; and the delicate sensibilities of the heart were more distinctly visible, from being, not unfrequently, contrasted with sentiments of ferocity. If their affectionate devotedness to their chiefs, exhibited some of the finest traits of fidelity that are to be found in the annals of mankind, it was not inconsistent with the perpetual breach of all the laws of hospitality and * Vol. II, pp. 1-84, 185.
good faith, when an insult was to be revenged upon some neighbouring clan. If a spirit of noble independence was cherished by a mode of life which brought the lowest of the tribe into personal intiinacy with his superior, it also conduced to create a pride too easily wounded, and io nurse a disposition impatient of the control imposed by legally constituted authority. The martial habits which roused the inhabitants, of a valley from their peaceful occupations, to gather them to the battle for the purpose of repelling unprovoked hostility, often led them to the most savage butchery of their fellow-country. men, merely to avenge the indiscretion of an individual. Every passion, however noble in itself, was too highly tempered, and was of too delicate irritability. . Such a confession may appear somewhat at variance with the sentiments expressed at the begimning of the present Article ; and the plaintive strain in which we took a review of that peculiarity of character of those modes of life, and which are fast vanishing away, may now perhaps be suspected of insincerity. A very few words will be sufficient to show our perfect consistency. It is one thing to feel a lively interest in retracing manners which are now no more ; another, to wish to recall them into actual exsistence. Even those attractive superstitions which gave form to the mist reposing on the breast of the mountain, and voice to the hollow blast murmuring down the glen, are not to be regretted. They threw, it inust be adınitted, a veil of mysterious solemnity over the humblest occupations ; they still contribute powerfully to engage our feelings, and to gratify our taste; but can it be deplored that this visionary creed no longer holds its empire over the mind ? or that FALSE IMPRESSIONS have been supplanted by the triumphs of TRUTH?
Having resigned the most fascinating part of the system, its sterner elements may be dismissed without a sigh. Upon the whole, we rejoice that a system productive of some brilliant virtues, and of many serious evils, has gradually given way to the more social habits. Much may have been lost that was romantic ; but much has been gained in solid comfort. The simple habits of mountaineers may have been partially succeeded by the vicious practices and vulgar propensities of busy life; but a more effectual provision has been made for the happiness and woral improvement of the species, than could have been effected under an order of things in which mankind were tied together in little independent knots, rather than woven into the more uniform and even texture of well regulated society. That was no very comfortable state in which it was not an uncommon event for whole herds of