ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

GORDON CASTLE.DING WALL-STRATHPEFFER.

155

ment of those resources which are never better expended than in giving encouragement to talent, and inculcating habits of industry among the poor. The fine old timber flanking the venerable avenues, and throwing its umbrageous shadows over the scene, produces a magnificent effect. One tree in particular—a huge lime behind the castle-measures eighteen feet in girth, and covers with its drooping branches an area of two hundred feet. The trees which most prevail in these grounds—forming a walled park of thirteen hundred acres—are limes, horsechestnuts, and walnuts. The flower and fruit gardens alone occupy about twelve acres, with a fine piece of water in the centre, where the lordly swan takes his cruise of pleasure. The surrounding forest, of vast extent, and spreading over all the mountain, abounds in red deer and roe. Through this pine-clad wilderness, the great road to the south winds for several miles. It is almost superfluous to add, that every thing in the interior of this sumptuous mansion is arranged with corresponding taste and magnificence. It has now descended to the duke of Richmond, heir to the late duke of Gordon, whose name, while marquess of Huntley, was so familiar among those of the early friends and companions of George IV. His loss has been severely felt and lamented in the country where he resided with such princely munificence, and where the rites of hospitality were exercised with unbounded liberality. It may be affirmed without fear of contradiction, that no visitor ever left Gordon Castle without carrying with him a most elevated sense of what is meant by a true “ Highland welcome."

Ross-shire—the “ Sylvan Ross"—is a wild mountainous country to the westward; but, on the east, where it skirts the German Ocean, it assumes the most pleasing aspect, being naturally fertile, highly cultivated, and embellished with all that indicates a condition progressively prosperous. In the way towards Dingwall, some delightful glimpses are obtained of the grand scenery of western Ross; and the traveller, says Chambers, is impressed with an idea that he is wandering through a stupendous and inaccessible citadel ; while the wayside is adorned by various seats scattered up and down the valley of Conan. At the mouth of a glen opening into Cromarty Frith,* near the western extremity of that beautiful estuary, is the royal burgh of Dingwall, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. The town, which is built in the Dutch

• The grand and imposing feature in the natural scenery of the county, is the gigantic Ben-weavis, the summit of which was never known to be uncovered by snow, till the warm summer of 1826. Sir Hector Monro, of Foulis, proprietor, holds his estate by a tenure from one of the early Scottish kings, binding him to “bring three wain-loads of snow from the top of that hill whenever his majesty should desire."-Chambers, Statist. Crom. Hist.

fashion, is chiefly remarkable for its town-hall—a curious old building, situated near its centre, and surmounted with a spire and clock. On the north side is the new church, a plain edifice; and, in its neighbourhood, an obelisk, to the memory of the first earl of Cromarty, secretary of state for Scotland in the reign of Queen Anne, and whose life and eccentricities are so well known. The powerful earls of Ross had once a castle here, the foundations of which are still visible; and here, also, they held their courts. The waters of the Frith come close up to the town, but, owing to its being too shallow for that purpose, the mouth of an adjoining stream has been deepened and formed into a canal for admission of small vessels.

About two miles up the vale of Strathpeffer, is Knockfarrel, on the summit of which is one of the finest specimens in the kingdom of those equivocal structures called vitrified forts-several of which we have already noticed—and which, in various parts of the kingdom, have been discovered and partly described, to the number of forty-nine. In the same vale, a little higher up, are the chalybeate wells of Strathpeffer, much frequented in the fine season, and with many testimonials in favour of their medicinal virtues.

If the name of Cawdor Castle—as a popular writer* has well observed—be not of itself sufficient to excite curiosity, the beauties of its situation, the freshness in which all its appurtenances of ancient feudal gloom, and grandeur, and means of defence, still remain, will amply recompense the stranger for any trouble he may be put to in visiting it. Perched upon a low rock, overhanging the bed of a Highland torrent, and surrounded on all sides by the largest forest trees, which partly conceal the extent of its park, it stands a relic of the work of several ages—a weather-beaten tower, encircled by later and less elevated dwellings. The whole is inclosed within a moat, and approachable only by a drawbridge, which rattles on its chains just as in the years long gone by. The staircase—the iron-grated doors and wickets—the large baronial kitchen, partly formed out of the native rock—the hall—the antiquated furniture-the carved chimney-pieces and mantle-shelves—the rich and storied tapestry, and even the grotesque family mirrors in use two centuries ago, are religiously preserved by the family who still inhabit their ancestral halls. In this castle, according to local tradition, the good King Duncan was murdered by Macbeth, his sister's son. But, as we have already stated, the infamy of being the scene of that deed is also claimed by the castle at Inverness, and another in the neighbourhood of Elgin: but few would feel an interest in searching out the disagreeable truth on this point, even were it now practicable to do so. Of the “ Thanes

* Mr. Anderson of Inverness. See his “Guide to the Highlands."

« 前へ次へ »