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a shopkeeper of London, and a savage of the American wildernesses. Our opinions were, I think, maintained on both sides without full conviction ; Monboddo declared boldly for the savage, and I, perhaps for that reason, sided with the citizen. We came late to Aberdeen, where I found
my dear mistress's letter, and learned that all our little people were happily recovered of the measles. Every part of your letter was pleasing.
There are two cities of the name of Aberdeen: the old town, built about a mile inland, once the see of a bishop, which contains the King's College, and the remains of the cathedral, and the new town, which stands, for the sake of trade, upon a frith or arm of the sea, so that ships rest against the key.
The two cities have their separate magistrates, and the two colleges are in effect two universities, which confer degrees independently of each other.
New Aberdeen is a large town, built almost wholly of that granite which is used for the new pavement in London, which, hard as it is, they square with very little difficulty. Here I first saw the women in plaids. The plaid makes at once a hood and cloak, without cutting or sewing, merely by the manner of drawing the opposite sides over the shoulders. The maids at the inns run over the house barefoot, and children, not dressed in rags, go without shoes or stockings. Shoes are indeed not yet in universal use, they came late into this country. One of the professors told us, as we were mentioning a fort built by Cromwell, that the country owed much of its present industry to Cromwell's soldiers. They taught us, said he, to raise cabbage and make shoes.
How they lived without shoes may yet be seen; but in the passage through villages, it seems to him that surveys their gardens, that when they had not cabbage they had nothing.
Education is here of the same price as at St. Andrews, only the session is but from the 1st of November to the 1st of April. The academical buildings seem rather to advance than decline. They showed their libraries, which were not very splendid, but some manuscripts were so exquisitely penned that I wished my dear mistress to have seen them. I had an unexpected pleasure, by finding an old acquaintance now professor of physick in the King's College: we were on both sides glad of the interview, having not seen nor perhaps thought on one another for many years; but we had no emulation, nor had either of us risen to the other's envy, and our old kindness was easily renewed. I hope we shall never try the effect of so long an absence, and that I shall always be, Madam, your, &c.
LETTER XIX. To Mrs. Thrale.
Inverness, Aug. 28, 1773. August 23d, I had the honour of attending the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, and was presented with the freedom of the city, not in a gold box, but in good Latin. Let me pay Scotland one just praise ! there was no officer gaping for a fee; this could have been said of no city on the English side of the Tweed. I wore my patent of freedom pro more in my hat, from the new town to the old, about a mile. I then dined with my friend the professor of physick at his house, and saw the King's College. Boswell was very angry that the Aberdeen professors would not talk. When I was at the English church in Aberdeen, I happened to be espied by Lady Di. Middleton, whom I had sometime seen in London; she told what she had seen to Mr. Boyd, Lord Errol's brother, who wrote us an invitation to Lord Errol's house, called Slanes castle. We went thither on the next day (24th of August), and found a house, not old, except but one tower, built upon
the margin of the sea upon a rock, scarce accessible from the sea; at one corner a tower makes a perpendicular continuation of the lateral surface of the rock, so that it is impracticable to walk round; the house inclosed a square court, and on all sides within the court is a piazza or gallery two stories high. We came in as we were invited to dinner, and after dinner offered to go; but Lady Errol sent us word by Mr. Boyd, that if we went before Lord Errol came home we must never be forgiven, and ordered out the coach to show us two curiosities. We were first conducted by Mr. Boyd to Dunbuys, or the yellow rock. Dunbuys is a ck consisting of two protuberances, each perhaps one hundred yards round, joined together by a narrow neck, and separated from the land by a very narrow channel or gully. These rocks are the haunts of sea-fowl, whose clang, though this is not their season, we heard at a distance. The eggs and the young are gathered here in great numbers at the time of breeding. There is a bird here called a coote, which though not much bigger than a duck lays a larger egg than a goose. We went then to see the Buller or Boulloir of Buchan : Buchan is the name of the district, and the Buller is a small creek or gulf into which the sea flows through an arch of the rock. We walked round it, and saw it black at a great depth. It has its name from the violent ebullition of the water, when high winds or high tides drive it up the arch into the basin. Walking a little further I spied some boats, and told my companions that we would go into the Buller and examine it. There was no danger; all was calm ; we went through the arch, and found ourselves in a narrow gulf surrounded by craggy rocks, of height not stupendous, but to a Mediterranean visitor uncommon. On each side was a cave, of which the fishermen knew not the extent, in which smugglers hide their goods, and sometimes parties of pleasure take a dinner. I am, &c.
To Mrs. Thrale.
Skie, Sept. 1773. I am now looking on the sea from a house of Sir Alexander Macdonald in the isle of Skie. Little did I once think of seeing this region of obscurity, and little did you once expect a salutation from this verge of European life. I have now the pleasure of going where nobody goes, and seeing what nobody sees. Our design is to visit several of the smaller islands, and then pass over to the south west of Scotland.
I returned from the sight of Buller's Buchan to
Lord Errol's, and having seen his library, had for a time only to look upon the sea, which rolled between us and Norway. Next morning, August 25th, we continued our journey through a country not uncultivated, but so denuded of its woods, that in all this journey I had not travelled an hundred yards between hedges, or seen five trees fit for the carpenter. A few small plantations may be found, but I believe scarcely any thirty years old ; at least, they are all posteriour to the Union. This day we dined with a country gentleman, who has in his grounds the remains of a Druid's temple, which, when it is complete, is nothing more than a circle or double circle of stones, placed at equal distances, with a flat stone, perhaps an altar, at a certain point, and a stone taller than the rest at the opposite point. The tall stone is erected, I think, at the south. Of these circles there are many in all the unfrequented parts of the island. The inhabitants of these parts respect them as memorials of the sculpture of some illustrious person. Here I saw a few trees. We lay at Bamff.
August 26th, We dined at Elgin, where we saw the ruins of a noble cathedral; the chapter-house is yet standing. A great part of Elgin is built with small piazzas to the lower story.
We went on to Foris, over the heath where Macbeth met the witches, but had no adventure; only in the way we saw for the first time some houses with fruit trees about them. The improvements of the Scotch are for immediate profit, they do not yet think it quite worth their while to plant what will