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But these peculiar hills have charms for me
To scenes alone, in boyhood's primne, explored. To those who choose to extend their wanderings to a greater distance, the scenery on the banks of the Esk, in the neighbourhood of Newhall and Auchindenny, will be found to present attractions of no ordinary kind. Magnificent trees, in striking groups, clothe the banks for miles and there are opening glades and winding walks—diversified by rude and picturesque projections of rocks and elegant bendings of the river, beside which the visitant may wander, for a long summer or autumn day, with ever varying pleasure, and with much improvement to his sensibility and taste.
When, after such a day's wanderings, the rapt traveller is journeying slowly homewards, along the south' foot of the Pentland Hillsand when the sun is now considerably declined in the horizon, a sight may occasionally be witnessed which, for its unusual effect, and strika ing contrasts of light and shade, is indiscribably beautiful and impressive. The sun being low, the shadow of the hills is stretched, in deep and sombre repose, over most of the valley that lies to the southward between the Pentland and the Moorfoot hills. But as the traveller pursues his meditative walk eastward, the sun begins to send his rays over that portion of the Pentland range where the height of the hills is at its lowest altitude, and where there is an opening from Glencorse bridge into the central valley. The first effect of the sun's rays, thus streaming through the opening of the hills, is to brighten the high grounds that rise south-eastward above the situation of Dalkeithslowly, the brilliancy extends itself over the whole of the Lammermuir and Moorfoot range—while still the shadow of the Pentlands lies deep and massy over the intervening landscape—and the contrast between the well-defined shade that covers the nearer valley--and the glorious light that streams over the landscape beyond it is so remarkable, that when once seen it never can be forgotten—and is well worth a day's travel, if for no other purpose, but to be favoured with a sight at once 80 unusual and so brilliant. If, as sometimes happens, and as we ourselves have witnessed, a splendid rainbow should at the same time overarch the landscape, the gorgeous effect is perfectly transporting: The sight must, of course, be familiar to persons living along the south declivity of the Pentlands--but to most other persons it will infallibly present itself as one of those unexpected but overpowering contrasts of light and shade, the remembrance of which they are never likely en. tirely to forget.
From the Pentlands and the wooded banks of the Esk, we proceed homewards by the Braid Hills. And here we may remark, that as there are some poems so true to nature, such as the Gentle Shepherd, as to be unfit fór scenic representation—so there are some pieces of
actual scenery so exquisitely wrought by nature, and so peculiarly marked in their expression, that no poetic description can be expected to do full justice to them. This, we think, is the case with the Hermitage of Braid—we certainly are not aware of any verses that can be considered as a suitable representation of this singularly delightful, and, at the same time, really “hermit-looking" retreat. Ferguson, however, evidently felt the true character of the scene—and accordingly in his verses relating to it, he has risen into a more refined tone of description than he usually assumes--and seems to us to have really hit the character of the place in the stanza, in which he says, that nature has there assumed å - fanciful look."
" Where a valley and crystalline brook,
Whose current glides sweetly along,
And form a retirement for love." No person however, is entitled to express dissatisfaction with the beautful stanzas of the later and far more distinguished poet, descriptive not of the “ hermit glen,” but of the hill that rises above it :
" Blackford! on whose uncultured breast,
Among the broom, and thorn, and whin,
Of early friendships past and gone." The hills, and especially the hermitage, however, were far more accessible in former days, than they have lately been. Any person attempting to make his way upwards along the side of the “chiming brook," will now find the place guarded by a savage dog-a very Cerberus—whose howl and wild tearings at his chain—will not be quieted by any sop-and next by some rude peasant, who has orders most unceremoniously to turn all visitants to the right about. Such an exclusive monopoly of a place, which, by the bye, is never, or at least very rarely, occupied by its proprietor, is quite revolting—for surely means might be obtained of preserving the place from unbecoming depredation, and yet laying it open to the quiet and meditative walks of persons who have no other wish but to enjoy the sight of a piece of beautiful, and in its character and expression, almost unique scenery.
ARTHUR Seat, it has been justly said, is, for grandeur and picturesque
effect, a nobler ornament to Edinburgh, than all their towers and monuments to London and Paris,—but it is more than a mere ornament to the city-for by its contiguity to the eastern portion of the Metropolis, it affords a ready access to the inhabitants for the enjoyment of pure air-of pastoral scenery—of beautiful distant views—and of healthful recreation. Its rocks and vallies have always been familiarly known to the youth of this city,--and the memory of these has gone with them into every country into which their future history may have called them.
It is perhaps, however, only an instance of the unwillingness with which evident improvements are received by those whose early history has been affectionately attached to a different condition of things —that some of those persons who in their youthful days were accustomed to wander in this neighbourhood, are known to express and to feel disapprobation at the changes which art and local improvements have accomplished in some of the walks which were once dearest to their hearts. The “ Wells o' Wearie” are now almost effaced—the Windy Gowl is not now what it once was—and, above all, the path among rocks, and along the green turf far up the south side of the hill, which was a prime favourite with all adventurous boys is now, and for ever, entirely obliterated. We, however, do not quarrel with these alterations --but we fondly hope, that the solitude of
the Hunter's Bog will never be altered by the completion of any public road through it—but that it will, for all coming time, be left in its natural simplicity-and still be the favourite haunt of those who love, as solitary wanderers, to escape from the din and tumult of the town, and to feel amidst its seclusion, as if they were far removed amidst the distant by-paths of some High
Arthur Seat has not yet been so much celebrated in song, or in other works of fiction, as it probably will afterwards be. Indeed, except the old song of “Walie, walie, up the bank”—and more recently, the novel of Sir Walter Scott, so full of interest, from the story of Jeannie Deans, we scarcely know of any literary passages, which are apt to associate themselves in the mind of the visitant to the interesting scenes of this locality. But multitudes of poets and other writers of fiction are yet to come forth—and we cannot doubt that works by some of these will hereafter be achieved, which will make the
scenery as remarkable for the imaginary interest connected with it, as it already is for the actual character of its solitary vallies and alpine heights.
DUDDINGSTON Loch still remains with all its wintry allurementsand less than its former wintry perils ; that interesting lake, on which, when crisp snows covered all the country, we have often wheeled our strangely devious course-till
" The orange sky of evening died away." And where, too, we have often tried to pass by a star seen in the inverted sky, without being able to come one inch nearer the position in which we first found it.
Roslin and HAWTHORNDEN—and the entire range of the banks of the Esk, in that neighbourhood—have always presented some of the
richest treats with which the opening fancy of the young can be gratified. But, instead of dwelling on these and only recording our regret
, that these charming scenes, have also been partially subjected to the same hindrances, which we have already noticed, as affecting other localities in this neighbourhood—we shall rather present to our readers the following lines of Akenside, in which he so beautifully recurs to the wanderings of his own boyhood-and alludes to the effect which such wanderings have, in opening the minds and ripening the tastes of the young visitants.
Ye happy souls,
"Nor will I e'er forget you ; nor shall e'er
For many future years." Returning from these long descriptions of scenery, to our original idea of the pleasure of meeting with a band of boys, setting out on a day, in quest of the amusement which such scenes are adapted to afford, we shall in the following stanzas, take a youth, of the middle ranks
, and follow him in his wanderings over some of the localities which have now been brought under review-
In lowly village school the childe was tanght,
And oh, the charms of that revolving day
Some with unpolished rod, and dangling line,
Others, apon the cool and glassy wave,
Some o'er the sands left by the ebbing tide,
Perchance, along the inland shore they wend,
On other days, they troop, in noarer quest,
And open vistas sweet of dark blue summer seas.