Imatges de pÓgina

vale; Ben Loyal, heaved up an enormous "hulking" mass from a wilderness of darksome bogs and inky lochs. It is not height merely that makes magnificence in mountains, but shape, clothing, and accessories. The grandest and most impressive mountainscenery in Great Britain is not that of Ben Nevis or Ben Macdhui, but that of the Cuchullins in Skye, the highest of them being only about 2600 feet in altitude, but rising stern and sharp from the sea to the seldomabsent clouds-shaped on the extremest alpine model, but with wild and wondrous variety scowling, dark, and naked, from base to peak, and afflicting the beholder with a feeling of what is meant by the blackness of desolation.

"The aggregated soil,

the sea-tangle, you cannot tell to be or firth or lake.

But wherein consists, and in what way is produced, the attractions of Sutherlandshire to the angler? By a union of the two great powers which lord it over those regions, with a sway of course unequally divided— Nature and the Duke. The one provides the feast, and the other says Come. That physical conformation of which we have just spoken produces aquatically a state of things most favourable to the seeker after fish. All those cups or basins are more or less full of water, and in almost every case the water is thickly and often variously populated. The number of lakes in Sutherland amazes the traveller, and not only delights but bewilders the angler. They count not by units, but by

Death, with his mace petrific, cold and dry, hundreds; and as to their names, the

As with a trident smote."

Though in Sutherland scenery you have no far-stretching mountainranges, and few long-withdrawing glens, you have things as fine and more rare. There are one, two, or perhaps three routes penetrating through the country, by which, following chains of lakes, you have long vistas and easy sinuosities between walls of mountains; but by the roads round the coast, which are the most attractive, especially for the angler, you proceed over a series of violent and comparatively short undulations, which in most countries would be regarded as a succession not of mere heights and hollows, but of peaks and pits. Taken in this way, which is the way in which you see most of what is peculiar or characteristic of Sutherland, you find the country a series of cups or basins, of which you are alternately toppling over the rim, or sweltering at the bottom. As you journey, you have on one hand, or rather on all sides but one, the great mountain-peaks of the country, seen every few minutes at a different angle, and changing endlessly in shape and aspect; on the other hand, ever and again the Northern Ocean, blue and curling, bursts upon you with cool freshness on its wings, and in every hollow you find yourself on the margin of what, till you see the water-lilies or

Southron may at once call them Legion in slump and have done with them, because their pronunciation is even a greater tax on the labial, or rather guttural, than their recollection would be on the mnemonic powers. Mr Andrew Young speaks of two hundred in one parish, and more than a thousand in the county; and our experience leads us to suspect this to be an under-estimate. All these are not equally excellent, but many of them are excellent; most of them may be pronounced very good, few of them bad, and only a very few barren. The differences, however, are immense, with no visible or conceivable cause therefor; and their qualities are very imperfectly known even to those living nearest them, who, truth to tell, are neither many nor nigh at hand. The majority of the lochs of Sutherland are, in an angling point of view, unexplored; and we should think that Sutherland is the only county in the three kingdoms of which any such thing can now be said. Not many years ago, some such remark was partially true of the remoter districts of Kerry and Galway; but the names of many of the stations there have now become as familiar to angling ears as Teddington or Tibbie Shields'. One division, indeed, of the lochs of the county is not only explored, but appropriated: a few of the best of

those which contain what numerous Acts of Parliament, with a convenient vagueness, call "fish of the salmon-kind," are let to sportsmen. Even in those cases, however, with one or two exceptions, the proprietor has reserved right not only for his friends, but for strangers from afar, who are made welcome to a day or two in passing, on application to the factor of the district, from whom no gentleman need fear other than a gentlemanly and courteous reception. Most of the rivers containing any store of salmon are in the same position-which, it will be seen, is one far from unfavourable to the passing angler. It may, however, be naturally feared that this state of things cannot last long: the demand increasing, and the supply remaining stationary, it will some day become impracticable to make room for all, and there will be almost nothing for it but to permit none. There is, however, one remedy or preventive which might be made, with advantage to all parties, to operate against the result of the whole salmon-fishing of these remote and beautiful districts becoining the monopoly of a few. It cannot be expected that the proprietor should give for nothing to all and sundry what many are praying to be allowed to pay for; such an arrangement, even if reasonable, would be impracticable. But why not let the many pay each a little, instead of half-a-dozen paying a great deal? Instead of letting a whole river for an entire season to one angler, why not let it in parts, and by the day, to any comer, through means of a trading lessee, taken bound to give a fair day's angling for a fair day's pay? This plan is adopted already with great success and acceptance on one Sutherland river, the Shin, and might be extended to the others at rates proportioned to their value and accessibility. In this way, hundreds might be gratified by what very often fails to give gratification even to one. And let us add, that such an arrangement would be in accordance with the liberal views obvious in the entire policy of the noble proprietor in matters affecting tourists-a policy which aims at the attraction of many visitors rather

than of a few quasi-residents, as instanced by the innkeepers being taken bound not to let portions of their houses be occupied by the tenants of shootings, to the exclusion of travellers either on business or pleasure.

In the mean time, however, and apparently for all time, there is attraction enough for the angler in Sutherland over and above all the appropriated salmon-fishings. To the merely tourist - angler, wandering perhaps always, and necessarily often, on foot, from inn to inn, salmon-fishing-with its rigid and nice requirements as to sky and water, its inexplicable failures and numerous"blank days," its cumbering apparatus and unportable spoils ought not to be the main resource. The joys of salmon-fishing who shall deny except those that never tried them, and therefore have no right to speak? But nowhere are they the sole or even chief joy of the true angler, and nowhere should they be less so than in Sutherland. Trout-fishing is, we boldly maintain, not only a more delightful amusement, but a higher art. A really good trout-fisher- that is, not a trout fisher who can take trouts under circumstances when anybody can take them, but who can conquer the most perplexing difficulties, and circumvent the most sharpened instincts-is a person of higher accomplishment and greater merit than an equally good salmon-fisher, somewhat in the same proportion that a trout which knows every pebble in its haunt, and is familiar with every kind of worm of the earth and insect of the air, to say nothing of a ripened repugnance to steel and feathers, is a better informed and more sceptical fish than a salmon which has only left the ocean a few days or hours, and is a stranger to everything that comes before its eyes or is offered to its mouth. Some skill in handling implements is required in salmonfishing, but even in that department the requirements of trout-fishing are more rigid. The knowledge required for salmon-angling is chiefly localthe knowledge of the very spot, never to be inferred certainly from mere appearances, where the fish is

lying, if he is lying anywhere; whilst the knowledge required for trout is chiefly a knowledge of the whole habits and instincts of the race. Again, salmon being few but ignorant, and trout numerous but knowing, the capture of that is largely a matter of chance-of this almost purely a matter of skill. These are not laid down here as unquestionable articles of faith, but only as materials for consolation to the Sutherland tourist - angler who may not be able to get all the salmon-fishing he would like, and as reasons why, if he cannot get his will of this, that, or the other river or loch, he ought to go on his way rejoicing to the multitude of others, where neither men nor fish

say nay.

Another and most important particular in which the Duke co-operates with nature in making welcome and provision for honest anglers throughout the realm of Sutherland is in the matter of inns. And is that a small matter? Who that hath much partaken of that species of Highland hospitality which is dispensed, for the most part, by gentlemen belong ing to the great clans of Campbell and M Gregor, under arrangements with the Quarter Sessions and H. M. Inland Revenue, has not bitterly repeated the lamentation unluckily put in the mouth of that scandalous old defaulter, John Falstaff, "Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but I shall have my pocket picked?" It " feelingly reminds us what we are" to be made aware of how much of the enjoyment of mind and eye-how much our peace within and our appreciation of even the grandest objects without-depend upon what we get, and not less upon what we give, in the places where our mere bodily needs are attended to. A friend who always felt a certain amount of depression whilst touring in the Highlands, could not, by mental analyses pursued through years, solve a tormenting doubt whether it was the scenery or the inns that were too much for him-whether it was the stupendousness of the hills or of the bills that so weighed upon his soul. After experience in Sutherland, he concludes that it was all

along of the bills; for there the hills tower and frown beyond almost all other hills; yet the bills being small, and the hosts smiling, the feeling of awe departed out of him; whilst as soon as he got down to the low country of Ross, where the hills sink but the bills mount, he had a return to that solemnised condition which he had hitherto been inclined to ascribe to a spiritual frame too impressible by the glories of nature. The mode in which the Duke of Sutherland prevents the grand scenery of his realm being thus unjustly accused of depressive influences, is by furnishing good houses, and looking out for good people to keep them, and then putting the good people on good terms with the good houses by having no rent to intervene between them,the consideration in lieu thereof being, that the wayfaring man shall be well and cheaply entertained. And the contract is faithfully fulfilled. Loch Inver, Scourie, Duírnish, Tongue, Altnaharra-et, almost without exception, cetera-plenty, comfort, cleanliness, cheerfulness, give welcome to the coming and reluctance to the going guest. Let tourists take a care that this system, devised for their benefit, is not impaired or destroyed by their own folly, in either of the two ways of protesting that they are giving too little, or of attempting to get too much. The charges are not ridiculously small, but merely fair; and if, on the whole transactions, there is any loss, it is obviously borne by the Duke, who, we daresay, can very well afford it. The proper recompense, therefore, consists in drinking his Grace's health, and not in making corrupting preachments to the innkeepers about what some people insist on calling the "excessive moderation" of the charges. Again, do not expect things which it would be unnatural to find, and is affectation to seek. People wanting luxury and show-people who cannot be content with good things, unless they are the very same good things presenting themselves in the very same style as they are accustomed to, or affect to be accustomed to, when at home should never leave home, or at least should never come so far afield

as Cape Wrath. It is that low-thinking high-living class who, by their exacting demands, have rendered so many of the inns in the nearer Highlands unfit for quieter and better people. In this respect, tourists may be divided into two classesthose who tour for the apparent purpose of indulging in in-door luxuries and ostentations in unfit places; and those who tour, if not somewhat to escape such things, at least to seek the pleasures appropriate, and not those alien, to the region. The former class will be apt to fare the worse the farther they go from home; the class seeking scenery, health, and recreation, and content with all indoor things neat but not gaudy, sufficient but not luxurious, abundant but not superfine, may take ship for Sutherland with greater confidence than for any other portion of Her Majesty's realm on which the sun (occasionally) shines.

Suppose the tourist angler landed from the steamer at Loch Inver, the south-western corner of the county, he has two difficulties to encounter, according to the nature of his expectations. If his soul be attuned solely to salmon-fishing, he will find the difficulties on the river Inver more insuperable than almost anywhere else; if he is prepared to be content with access to everything in the district but that one stream, he is immediately plunged into very considerable suffering from embarras de richesses. He finds about as much water as land-water, too, more productive than the land-and all not only permitting but inviting his attentions. Here he is immersed at once in the angling wealth peculiar to Sutherland, the lakes which lie on every hand, up on the hill and down in the glen, in bewildering number and endless variety. There is Loch Assynt, seven miles long; and as for the rest, they are innumerable and unnameable. Loch Assynt has salmon, and the much-coveted, seldom caught, and little worth, salmo ferox; besides being crowded with common trouts of that variety and uncertainty of size which form so much of the tormenting pleasure which only anglers know. But Andrew Young (tacksman of the Shin fisheries,

author of the Tourist's and Angler's Guide already mentioned, and a terrible fellow upon the " parr" question), otherwise so accurate, is wrong in speaking of an abundance of sea-trout: that enterprising but capricious immigrant seems to turn back from the mouth of this river as if offended with its coarseness and brawling. Such sport, too, as is here attainable, is enjoyed in the heart of some of the finest mountain scenery in the British Islands. To glide about a summer's day on the now leaden, now golden surface of this hill-encircled sea, “gazing, untired, the morn, the noon, the eve away; now gloomed beneath the almost mingling shadows of Coinag and Ben More, then dazzled and oppressed by the rays poured down from the mid-day sun, multiplied and intensified by the ramparts of rock; no sound but the clatter of cascades high and unseen upon the mountainside, the scream of the bird of prey in the sky above, and, not least sweet, the plungings of the fish in the waters below;-even one such day is recompense for months by past, and material for refreshing memories during months to come, of toils and anxieties in the sweltering city. Nor less, though different, are the delights of straying at will through the endless series, or rather labyrinth of lakeshere, one fringed with copse and isleted by rocks clothed with the silverstemmed and trembling birch-there, one gorgeously carpeted with waterlilies-next, another black and barren. The great drawback to ordinary loch-fishing is its sameness or tameness; all day you look on the same unvaried surface, and whichever way you turn, it is as likely one way as the other that your line will fall in pleasant and profitable places. But here you have, within a few yards from one another, lakes differing each from each in size, shape, and features, with differences as great as between the different streams and turnings of a river, and also with a variety, and, we may say, mystery of produce, which no river can equal. Your knowledge of the species and magnitude of fish existing in one loch is no index at all to what you will find in its neighbour round the

corner; each time you shift your ground or water, you begin in utter uncertainty as to what may be the fruit of your labour and skill, or what may have caused that troubling of the waters which has drawn your cast-perhaps it may turn out a newt, perhaps turn out a salmon. And so may you wander the livelong day, with unsated eye, by bog and cliff, always catching something "good," always expecting something better, till the hour comes when no man can fish, and every sensible man takes thought of what he shall eat, and how much he shall drink, and wherewithal he shall be bed-clothed. Among the grand and peculiar scenery stretching from Loch Assynt to Cape Wrath, and even onwards to where the country ceases to be mountainous and to be called Sutherland, and becomes flat under the name of Caithness, there is much more than a fair day's work among these lochs between each inn or resting-place-that is, more than enough for the pedestrian angler. Perhaps it may seem absurd to speak of the pedestrian angler; but once, at least, we saw an equestrian one: an officer of the royal navy, whose frigate had been temporarily turned into a mealgirnel for the relief of Highland destitution, borrowed a pony to reach a trouting loch in Mull, and when he got to the place was much struck with the fortunate idea of "getting in to the big ones," and yet keeping his feet dry, by making his casts off the back of his steed, which, at the first" whip" of the line, pitched the ingenious operator into his "native element"- -as the newspapers say in describing a ship-launch, obviously on the hypothesis that timber is a marine vegetable-and careered off madly to the mountains, taking with it the only bridle and saddle in the parish. Three days afterwards, this anglophobian brute was still missing; and the equestrian angler, on his quarter-deck, was threatening to quell with thunders from our native oak any person or persons whatsoever coming from the shore with inquiries as to what he had made of the "pit peastie," and who was to pay for the saddlery. The pedes trian angler, we repeat, has more than

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enough to do and to see between inns between, for instance, Loch Inver and Scourie. On every hand are temptations to loiter kyles, black and deep to the edge, and rushing in and out of the land with the speed of mighty rivers--streams, now tumbling into the ocean sheer over the cliffs, now suddenly stagnating on meadows and bogs, and, like the lochs, giving variety and sweet uncertainty to the angler's search.

At Scourie, if the angler, slightly sated by diligence in his proper vocation, desires to seek variety of interest, he has it at hand. There is the island of Handa, probably the most stupendous cliff-scenery in the British Islands. No description nor expectation is felt as adequate, when, after the slow ascent from the landward side of the island, you at one step stand on a wall of rock seven hundred feet sheer above the Atlantic, which chafes and thunders eternally against that mighty battlement. Here, the front presented to the assailing surges is without ledge or cleft that would give footing to a bird or hiding to an insect. There, you see it rent and worn by the storms of ages, and look down upon the fallen ruins and isolated, fantastic turrets, and upon the savage and half-enroofed bays within which the wild waters are one moment lying in grim repose, the next roaring and leaping in fierce impatience. Standing on this sublime rampart, awed by the alternating silence and the thunder of ocean's artillery, as each slow-succeeding wave crashed against the repelling rock, or rushed booming into the caves and bays, a singing-bird, unseen on the face of the cliff, sent forth a strain so low, so clear, so sweet, like a spirit-visitant from some far and better world. Awe stole in by eye and ear in presence of that truceless war between the invading ocean and the defying land; but so it was-a deeper, though less dreary dread, came from the faint notes of that tiny and unseen songster. No fine-strung mental frame was required to hear in it an echo and memory of that

still small voice" which, issuing we know not whence, is heard ever and again amid the loudest storms

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