Posts tagged Walter Scott

Literary Loch Lomond and the Trossachs: 12. Loch Ard

Strathard

From Aberfoyle Leave by B829 to Inversnaid by Milton-of-Aberfoyle. There is a good general description of the Trossachs in E.A.Baker‘s Scottish Highlands. Interestingly, he regards Aberfoyle as their focal point:

What was called Rob Roy’s or the MacGregor’s Country is the hilly region, difficult at that time with streams, marshes, lochans, and the absence of roads, the no-man’s land on the far side of Ben Lomond, the one habitable place in which was the hamlet of Aberfoyle. What romantic reader has not dreamed himself into the skin of Frank Osbaldistone, and gone with Bailie Nichol Jarvie on that journey from Glasgow into the fastnesses where Rob Roy bade his enemies defiance? Aberfoyle is now a most respectable place; a good hotel represents the tavern where Mr Jarvie fought the Highlandman with the red-hot coulter of a plough, and there are villas and boarding-houses where visitors from Glasgow and Edinburgh come and rusticate.

Queen Victoria‘s description of her journey up Strathard, which is here fringed with meadowlands and called, on that account, the Laggan, is as follows:

Here the splendid scenery begins – high rugged and green hills(reminding me again of Pilatus), very fine large trees and beautiful pink heather, interspersed with bracken, rocks and underwood in the most lovely profusion and Ben Lomond towering up before us with its noble range. We went on perhaps a quarter of a mile, and it being then two o’ clock, we got out and lunched on the grass under an oak tree at the foot of Craigmore. It was very hot, the sun stinging, but there were many lightwhite clouds in the blue sky, which gave the most beautiful effects of light and shade on this most marvellous colouring.

In Rob Roy Scott describes the inn at the Milton-of-Aberfoyle as follows:

About half a mile’s riding, after we crossed the bridge, placed us at the door of the public house where we were to pass the evening. It was a hovel rather worse than better than that in which we had dined; but its little windows were lighted up, voices were heard from within, and all intimated the prospect of food and shelter, to which we were by no means indifferent.

The inn, ‘Jean MacAlpine’s Inn’, is the scene of perhaps the most famous incident in Rob Roy, the ‘Fray at the Clachan’. Frank Osbaldistone, who relates the occurrence, and his companions, including Bailie Nichol Jarvie, are engaged in a brawl with a gang of Highlanders:

The Fray at the Clachan in Rob Roy

The Fray at the Clachan in Rob Roy

I put myself in a posture of defence, and, aware of the superiority of my weapon, a rapier or small sword, was little afraid of the outcome of the contest. The Bailie behaved with unexpected   mettle: as he saw the gigantic Highlander about to confront him with his weapon drawn, he tugged for a second or two at the hilt of his shabble as he called it; but finding it loth to quit the  sheath, to which it had long been secured by rust and disuse, he siezed, as a substitute, on the red hot coulter of a plough, which had been employed arranging the fire by way of a poker, and brandished it with such effect, that at the first pass he set the Highlander’s plaid on fire, and compelled him to keep a respectful distance, till he could get it extinguished. Andrew Fairservice, who ought to have faced the Lowland champion, vanished at the very commencement of the fray; but his antagonist, crying “fair play!” seemed courteously disposed to take no share in the scuffle. Osbaldistone’s aim was to possess himself of his antagonist’s weapon, but he declined from closing with him through fear of a dirk which he held in his left hand. The Bailie, notwithstanding the success of his first onset, was sorely bested. The weight of his weapon, the corpulence of his person, the very effervescence of his own passion, were rapidly exhausting his strength and his breath, and he was almost at the mercy of his antagonist when up started the sleeping Highlander, with his naked sword and target in his hand, and threw himself between the discomfited magistrate and his assailant, exclaiming, “her nainsell has eaten the town bread at the cross o’ Glasgow, and by her troth sh’ll fight for Bailie Sharvie at the clachan of Aberfoil.

Walter Scott Rob Roy

The incident was depicted on the inn sign at the Bailie Nichol Jarvie Hotel in the village and, opposite the hotel, attached to the stout oak tree, the supposed ‘coulter’, often renewed, can be seen. This has led thousands of visitors to suppose that the affray took place there, but Scott undoubtedly set it at the Milton where a few stones behind the cottage at the foot of the Pass of Aberfoyle were, at one time, all that was left of the highland residence which was for long known as ‘Jean MacAlpine’s Inn’. The cottage has now been lovingly restored and thatched.

At the Milton there is another bridge over the infant Forth which tumbles in great style from Loch Ard to the Laggan. Just below the Milton this river, which is called the Avon Dow, joins the Duchary to form the Forth proper:

The Duchary, which is one of the parent streams of the Forth, takes its rise on the north-east shoulder of Ben Lomond, not much more than half a mile south of Loch Arklet, and for five or six miles flows in a south easterly direction through a wild and dreary and solitary valley. About half way from its source to its junction with the stream from Loch Ard it forms one of the wildest cataracts, with the exception of Foyers, I think I have ever seen. The stream here bounds over an overhanging precipice of great height into an extraordinary basin formed in the solid rock, well known in the district as ‘The Big Linn’.

Malcolm Ferguson Tour Through the Highlands of Perthshire 1870

This waterfall is the Black Linn of Blairvaich. It is a fine fall, and it was used, very effectively, in a scene in the Richard Todd film of Rob Roy. It can be reached from the Milton, or from Kinlochard. Rather closer at hand is Craigmuick Cottage associated with William Glen (1789-1826) Scottish poet, and singularly unsuccessful businessman in the West Indian trade. He was author of Wae’s Me For Prince Charlie, and other lyrics, and was born and died in Glasgow. He married Mary MacFarlane of Aberfoyle, and spent the summers of the last eight years of his life at Craigie Cottage[Craigmuick Cottage] which is situated in the Loch Ard Forest. There is a relief of a small bird in the wall of the cottage commemorating Glen’s most famous poem. He also wrote the poem Mary, of Sweet Aberfoyle, about his wife when he was in the West Indies:

The sun hadna peeped frae behind the dark billow,:
The slow-sinking moon half illumined the scene,
As I lifted my head frae my care-hunted pillow,
An’ wandered to muse on the days that were gane.
Sweet hope seemed to smile o’er ideas romantic,
An’ gay were the dreams that my soul would beguile,
But my eyes filled wi’ tears as I viewed the Atlantic,
An’ thought on my Mary of sweet Aberfoyle

Though far frae my hame in a tropical wild wood,
Yet the fields o’ my forefathers rose on my view;
An’ I wept when I thought on the days of my childhood,
An’ the vision was painful the brighter it grew.
Sweet days! when my bosom with rapture was swelling,
Though I knew it not then, it was love made me smile,
Oh! the snow wreath is pure when the moonbeams are
dwelling,
Yet as pure is my Mary of sweet Aberfoyle.

Glen’s most famous poem is about the Young Pretender. Birds were used in songs like this to mean Jacobites. The poem was a favourite with Queen Victoria. It begins as follows:

A wee bird cam to oor ha’ door,
He warbled sweet and clearly,
And aye the owre-come o’ his sang
Was ‘Wae’s me for Prince Charlie!’
Oh! when I heard the bonnie, bonnie bird
The tears cam drappin rarely,
I took my bonnet aff my head,
For weel I lo’ed Prince Charlie.

 

These sights can be reached by walks from the Car Park in the Lochard Forest  at the Milton.

Loch Ard

Loch Ard

Loch Ard

From the Milton the road climbs a short hill which forms the beginning of the Pass of Aberfoyle. Queen’s View, Loch Ard is the viewpoint where the Loch comes into sight. The road [B829] mainly by the lochside to Ledard. In discussing Scott’s literary techniques Coleman Parsons (1905-1991) , for long a significant authority on Scottish Literture, points out the way in which the author uses changes in the landscape to quicken the interest in the story. One such boundary is about to be crossed at the Pass of Aberfoyle, the narrow road which leads from the Milton to Loch Ard:

Scott is at his best in conveying awe, suspense, mystery, and personal feeling through nature. When Edward Waverley or Frank Osbaldistone penetrate the Highlands interest quickens. Entering Highland passes, caves, glens, and recesses is like slipping from the conscious into the unconscious, womblike, enfolding, dream freighted, or from the illusion of free will into the substance of fate. A border is also being crossed between what is and what might be, reality and romance, between selfish causes and lost causes, the calculating present and the impulsive past. This excitement and tension may be due to a symbolic re-enactment by Scott of his own crossing of the border between youth and manhood, fancy and sober control. Because renewed choice is renewal of possibility, to go back is a way of briefly recapturing what is lost.

Coleman Parsons Witchcraft and Demonology in Scott’s Fiction 1964

On the morning following the affray described above, Osbaldistone and his companions enter the Highlands by this route and very soon have a dramatic, if unreal, encounter with Helen MacGregor. Scott describes the scene, ‘such a scene of natural romance and beauty as had never before greeted my eyes’:

To the left lay the valley, down which the Forth wandered on its easterly course surrounding the beautiful detached hill, with all its garland of woods. On the right, amid a profusion of thickets, knolls and crags, lay the bend of a broad mountain lake, lightly curled into tiny waves by the breath of the morning breeze, each glittering in its courseunder the morning sunbeams. High hills, rocks, and banks, waving with natural forests of birch and oak, formed the borders of this enchanting sheet of water; and as their leaves rustled to the wind and twinkled in the sun, gave to the depth of solitude a sort of life and vivacity. Man alone seemed to be placed in a state of inferiority, in a scene where all the ordinary features of nature were raised and exalted.”

Sir Walter Scott Rob Roy                              

Queen Victoria is equally enthusiastic:

After luncheon and walking about a little, not finding any good views to sketch, we got into the carriage (our horses had been changed), but had not gone above a few yards when we came upon Loch Ard, and a lovelier picture could not be seen. Ben Lomond, blue and yellow, rose above the lower hills, which were pink and purple with heather, and an isthmus of green trees in front dividing it from the rest of the loch. We got out and sketched.

Queen Victoria Journal 1869

Loch Ard is generally regarded as one of the most attractive of Scotland’s smaller lochs.

For picturesque effect it has justly been said to exceed almost all the Scottish Lakes.

Charles Roger A Week at the Bridge of Allan 1851

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The best view of Loch Ard is that first encountered from Aberfoyle, the Queen’s View, so-called because Queen Victoria executed some sketches there when she visited Aberfoyle while she was staying at Invertrossachs in 1869. After making the sketches at the Queen’s View her account continues:

We then drove on, and certainly one of the most lovely drives I can remember, along Loch Ard, a fine long loch, with trees of all kinds overhanging the road, heather making all pink; bracken, rocks, high hills of such fine shape and trees growing up them as in Switzerland; the road rough and bad, with very steep bits of hill (but the post-horses went remarkably well) overhanging the loch, which reminded me very much of the drive along Loch Zug in Switzerland.

A short distance beyond the Queen’s View the road climbs away from the loch to traverse a wood, situated above ‘The Narrows’, a strait which joins the two parts of the loch. It descends to the loch shore beside a steep cliff. Scott’s description of the road is faithful to the topography:

Our route, though leading towards the lake, had hitherto been so much shaded by wood, that we only from time to time obtained a glimpse of that beautiful sheet of water. But the road now suddenly emerged from the forest ground, and winding close by the margin of the loch, afforded us a full view of its spacious mirror, which now, the breeze havingtotally subsided, reflected in still magnificence the high dark heathy mountains, huge grey rocks, and shaggy banks by which it is encircled. The hills now sunk on its margin so closely, and were so broken and precipitous, as to afford no passage except just upon the narrow line of the track which we occupied, and which was overhung with rocks, from which we might have been destroyed merely by rolling down stones, without much possibility of offering resistance. Add to this, that, as the road winded round every promontory and bay which indented the lake, there was rare;ly a possibility of seeing a hundred yards before us.

It was the stretch of country where Scott set the first memorable encounter in Rob Roy with Helen MacGregor. In the resulting skirmish Bailie Nichol Jarvie is suspended from a tree on one cliff, and Helen orders their guide to be thrown into the loch from another. The Bailie’s Rock is the one beside the road:

The Bailie, to whom fear had given a temporary share of agility, had ascended about twenty feet from the path, when his foot slipping, as he straddled from one huge rock to another, he would have slumbered with his father the deacon, whose acts and words he was so fond of quoting, but for a projecting branch of ragged thorn, which, catching hold of the skirts of his riding coat, supported him in mid air, where he dangled not unlike to the sign of the Golden Fleece over the door of a mercer in the Trongate of his native city.

Rob Roy so captured the imagination that it was successfully adapted for the stage as early as 1818, and used as the basis of the libretto for at least two operas. There can be no better illustration of the quality of some of these adaptations, and of the grasp that the average foreigner had and still has of Scottish history than the following plot summary of Act II of De Koven’s light opera, an ancestor of Brigadoon, first performed in New York in 1894:

The Highlanders led by Rob Roy are posted to guard a mountain pass. The Battle of Culloden is in progress and the Scotch expect a great victory. After a song by Janet, bag-pipes are heard in the distance. The Highlanders at first think it is a signal of victory, but presently they recognise the song of defeat, the coronach. The Scotch, led by the Prince and Locheil return wounded and defeated. a chorus declaring allegiance follows. A reward is offered for the Prince who, disguised as a peasant is sheltered by the MacGregors in their mountain retreat. The Provost and his henchmen appear as wandering ballad-mongers, having fled before the battle. They are still in highland dress, not having heard of the rout of the Scotch. Sandy MacSherry arrives and informs the Provost of the English victory, and the Provost, changing Highland kilt for English uniform, becomes an Englishman. He determines to obtain the reward offered for the Prince, and the at is mainly devoted to his his efforts toward this end and his sudden change of nationality according to the fortunes of war. At length the English capture the prince in the dress of a miller’s boy and are about to lead him away when Flora is led away by the English soldiers in spite of efforts made to rescue her by the Prince, Rob Roy and their followers.

Patrick Graham, Minister of Aberfoyle, already referred to published his early account of the District in 1806 in his Sketches of Perthshire. It is the source of many subsequent accounts. For example, it was Graham who first described, long before the publication of Rob Roy, the echo at what subsequently became known as the ‘The Bailie’s Rock’:

Immediately under this rock, near its western extremity, is a remarkable echo. In a calm day, a line of ten syllables, uttered with a firm voice, is distinctly repeated across the lake, and again repeated by the woods on the east.

In a preface Graham relates how he first put the description together in 1792 for a visit by Joseph Farington (1747-1821), one of the most influential artists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who was engaged in making some sketches of the Forth for what proved to be an abortive publication. Farington commented:

A stranger must feel himself uncommonly struck on meeting, at the very back of Ben Lomond, in a spot so sequestered as to be almost unknown to the world, a scene like the present; an extensive sheet of water, skirted with woods and cultivated fields, and accompanied with every object essential to picturesque beauty; the whole grouped and diversified in a style of harmony which may be thought by some to rival the scenes presented by the Cumberland lakes.

It was Farington who advised Turner about his early visits to Scotland in 1797 and 1801, but the great man did not visit Loch Ard until 1831. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1857) is generally regarded as Britain’s greatest landscape painter. Unlike Loch Katrine, Loch Ard did not produce any famous finished works, but his ‘Loch Ard Sketch Book’ contains notable drawings of Aberfoyle, Craigmore, the Queen’s View and Loch Ard. In their way they are quite as impressive as his drawings of other parts of the Trossachs. Turner was visiting the district with a view to illustrating Scott’s Poetical Works and outlined his plans to Scott, who offered him a pony for the duration of his visit, as follows:

Therefore, do pray say how long do you think it will take me to collect the materials in your neighbourhood. Many are near but my bad horsemanship puts your kind offer of a pony, I fear, out of the account in shortening the time, and when I get as far as Loch Katrine shall not like to turn back without Staffa, Mull and all. A steamboat is now established to the Western Isles, so I have heard lately, and therefore much of the difficulty becomes removed, but being wholly unacquainted with the distance I will thank you to say what time will be absolutely wanting.

J.M.W.Turner April 1931

Turner, not wanting to opt for pony trekking, opted for ‘public transport’ and was almost certainly following one of the formal ‘Trossachs Tours’. Farington’s comparison with the English Lake District is frequently echoed by later writers. Such parallels owe their origin to Thomas Gray and William Gilpin who, along with Boswell and Johnson, were amongst the first travellers to visit Scotland in the eighteenth century which, at the time, was far less well known than places on the
Continent visited during the course of the ‘Grand Tour’. The Lake District had already been ‘discovered’, and the comparison was natural enough, although it tends to aggravate many Scots. The Wordsworths were by far the most prone to draw these parallels, and they were almost always to the disadvantage of the Scottish countryside. William Wordsworth visited Loch Ard and Loch Chon in 1814 in company with Mary Wordsworth and Sarah Hutchinson. The latter’s journal describes the
district:

From Luss on Sunday morning we went to breakfast at Drymen and attended the kirk where there was an excellent preacher – this was a sweet drive by the side of Loch Lomond and then across an excessive, rich, and well cultivated strata just like English Parks, well wooded, and surrounded by all the magnificent hills of Scotland – the Duke of Montrose’s property – from Drymen to Aberfoyle where we spent the night and the next forenoon viewing Loch Ard and Loch Chon above Aberfoyle,
and then we met with a friendly Highlander who went with us; he lived in an abject house but was a Gentleman and his wife a Lady – we passed also another highland farm where the genteel appearance of the inhabitants surprised us; for you can have no idea of the deep solitude of these places – but they go many miles to kirk – and during the interval of morning and afternoon service those who have not friends near, almost all the congregation indeed, sit in the churchyard. From Aberfoyle we passed a sweet lake in a vale – which hilly scene is called Menteith – with two islands, upon which are five ruins – and here we saw Stirling Castle at a great distance – the walls brightened by the setting sun – slept at Callander and went to the Trossachs where we were drenched.

Sarah Hutchinson Letter 3rd Aug 1814

James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862), the nineteenth century actor-manager and playwright, frequently stayed at the residence of Robert Dick, Lochard Lodge, which is now Altskeith. In the summer vacation reading parties from the universities came to Loch Ard as well as to other Highland resorts. Charles Lloyd (1824-1862) from Christ Church, Oxford spent several summers at Loch Ard with reading parties, and was visited there by other literary lights, including John Campbell Shairp (1819-85) and Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-61):

On Thursday we passed through Glen Croe – descended on the fine salt Loch Long, crossed the four miles intervening miles and found ourselves on Loch Lomond – six or seven miles from its head. We went up it about three miles on a steamer ‘to the rough falls of Inversnaid’ crossed a high moor of five miles and found ourselves at the head of Loch Katrine – rowed twelve miles down and were landed in the Trossachs.

On Friday, Edward and Oliver went off to Perth, Tom and I crossed the hills to Loch Ard where a Christ Church man named Lloyd is staying with a pupil, and I went up the lake and there took a pony and joined them by a roundabout way, passing a very beautiful water called Loch Chon. I came back and slept at Inversnaid; they remained behind and attended a Highland reel party in a shoemaker’s hut at Loch Ard and after staying up dancing and drinking milk and whisky till half-past-two, rose at half-past-four, walked 11 miles to a hasty breakfast with, or rather after me and then took steam down to the foot of Loch Lomond, and so by Dumbarton we came home, dirty and dusty and bankrupt.

Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond are both like Ullswater, the former less beautiful, the latter, I think more so. Both are less cultivated; Loch Katrine quite cold, and the little land-locked lakelet at its foot cut off by Lady’s Island and one or two promontories is exceedingly beautiful – the heather is also a great accession throughout the Highlands.

Arthur Hugh Clough Letters August 1845

Clough, who wrote poems set in the Highlands and in the Lake District, was with Lloyd and others at Drumnadrochit in 1845, and he returned to Loch Ard in 1846. Prodigious walks often before breakfast, like that described in the above letter, were characteristic of Clough. In 1846 on a day trip, we learn from his diary, he crossed from the Trossachs by Loch Drunkie to Aberfoyle, went to Loch Ard and then climbed Ben Venue descending to Loch Achray.
A good descriptive piece about Loch Ard occurs in Cunninghame Graham‘s introduction to Kirk’s Secret Commonwealth (1933):

Standing up sentinel above Loch Chon, Ben Lomond with the shadows of evening creeping up its flanks, to join the fleecy clouds that mantle round its top looms as gigantic as Aconcagua or Purac. It seems to watch over the whole district and to dominate it. No sound is heard, except the babbling of the mountain streams as they slip down over the smooth stones, or the sharp belling of a roe in the thick alder copsewood that surrounds Loch Ard. The little wavelets break upon the pebbly beaches, or plash gently on the rocks of the steep islet on which Duke Murdoch’s ruined Castle stands. In Couligarten Bay, the bullrushes bend gently, as the homing wild duck squatter down noiselessly amongst their stems, vanishing as silently as a seal slips into the sea. The lime trees on the point below the mansion of Alt Skeigh look dark and menacing, as the light fades gradually, blotting out the little pier, the beach, the high road, and the ground they stand upon, leaving their tops suspended in the air.

The lochside road clings to the very edge of the water in places until, at the head of it, there is a stretch of rather more open country where former country houses are occupied by the Youth Hostel, and the Forest Hills complex. At the end of this stretch is the seventeenth century farmhouse of Ledard. In 1821 Percy York, a student, published an account of a memorable visit to Ledard in Three Nights in Perthshire. Ledard is associated with Scott who used the waterfall behind the house in both Waverley and Rob Roy.

I am sure you will be gratified by the scenery which time cannot make any impression upon. Pray do not omit to visit the head of Loch Awe, which I look upon as equal to anything in the Highlands. There is some curious scenery near Aberfoyle, in Perthshire, particularly a waterfall at Ledard, at the top of Loch Ard, within an hour’s walk of the inn, which from its size and accompaniments, I should think particularly qualified to fill up a Highland landscape. I never saw any thing which I admired so much: the height is not remarkable, but the accompaniments are exquisitely beautiful. In a different style, and at no great distance is an island called Inchmahome which has some ruins of a monastery surrounded by huge chestnut trees, very striking, though looking of no importance from the shore.

Sir Walter Scott Letter to David Wilkie 1817

Immediately above the farmhouse of Ledard, and near the west end of the lake, is to be seen a cascade, which the traveller will do well to visit. The stream, which is considerable, falls in one sheet, over a height of ten or twelve feet, into a beautiful basin, formed of the solid rock, and so transparent, that, at the depth of ten feet the smallest pebble may be seen. From this basin, dashing over a ledge of rock, it precipitates itself again over an irregular shape of more than fifty feet, finely skirted with wood

Patrick Graham Sketches of Perthshire 1806

The rocks now receded, but still showed their grey and shaggy crests rising among the copsewood. Still higher rose eminences and peaks, some bare, some clothed with wood, some round and purple with heath, and others splintered into rocks and crags. At a short turning, the path, which had for some furlongs lost sight of the brook, suddenly placed Waverley in front of a romantic waterfall. It was not so remarkable for either its great height or quantity of water, as for the beautiful accompaniments which made the spot interesting. After a broken cataract of about twenty feet, the stream was received in a large natural basin filled to the brim with water, which, where the bubbles of the fall subsided, was so exquisitely clear, that although it was of great depth, the eye could discern each pebble at the bottom. Eddying round this reservoir, the brook found its way as if over a broken part of the ledge, and formed a second fall, which seemed to seek the very abyss; then wheeling out beneath from among the smooth dark rocks, which it had polished for ages, it wandered down the glen forming the stream up which Waverley had just ascended.

Sir Walter Scott Waverley 1814

At this point in the narrative Scott appends a note: ‘The description of the waterfall mentioned in this chapter is taken from that of Ledard, at the farm so called on the northern side of Loch Ard, and near the head of the lake, four or five miles from Aberfoyle. It is upon a small scale, but otherwise one of the most exquisite cascades it is possible to behold.’ There can be little doubt that Scott’s description was influenced by Graham’s; indeed one can suppose that Graham introduced him to the place. It is at the waterfall that Waverley encounters Flora MacIvor, who says, “I have given you the trouble of walking to this spot, Captain Waverley, both because I thought the scenery would interest you, and because a Highland song would suffer still more from my imperfect translation, were I to introduce it without its own wild and appropriate accompaniments.” The song is another of Scott’s splendid incantatory romps through Scottish land names, reminiscent of The MacGregors Gathering :

There is mist on the mountain, and night on the vale
But more dark is the sleep of the sons of the Gael.
A stranger commanded – it sunk on the land,
It has frozen each heart, and benumb’d every hand!

The dirk and the target lie sordid with dust,
The bloodless claymore is but redden’d with rust;
On the hill or the glen if a gun should appear,
It is only to war with the heath-cock or deer.

The deeds of our sires if our bards should rehearse,
Let a blush or a blow be the meed of their verse!
Be mute every string, and be hushed every tone,
That shall bid us remember the fame that is flown.

But the dark hours of night and of slumber are past,
The morn on our mountains is dawning at last;
Glenaladale’s peaks are illumined with the rays,
And the streams of Glenfinnan leap bright in the blaze.

O high-minded Moray! – the exiled – the dear !
In the blush of the dawning the standard uprear!
Wide, wide on the winds of the north let it fly,
Like the sun’s latest flash when the tempest is nigh!

Ye sons of the strong, when that dawning shall break,
Need the harp of the aged remind you to wake?
That dawn never beam’d on your forefathers’ eye,
But it roused each high chieftain to vanquish or die.

O, sprung from the Kings who in Islay kept state,
Proud chiefs of Clan Ranald, Glengarry and Sleat!
Combine like three streams from one mountain of snow,
And resistless in union rush down on the foe!

True son of Sir Evan, undaunted Locheil,
Place thy targe on thy shoulder and burnish thy steel!
Rough Keppoch, give breath to thy bugle’s bold swell,
Till far Coryarrick resound to the knell!

Stern son of Lord Kenneth, high chief of Kintail,
Let the stag in thy standard bound wild in the gale!
May the race of Clan Gilean, the fearless and free,
Remember Glenlivet, Harlaw and Dundee!

Let the clan of grey Fingon, whose offspring has given;
Such heroes to earth, and such martyrs to heaven,
Unite with the race of renown’d Rory More,
To launch the long galley, and stretch to the oar.

How Mac-Shimei will joy when their chief shall display
The yew-crested bonnet o’er tresses of grey!
How the race of wrong’d Alpine and murder’d Glencoe;
Shall shout for revenge when they pour on the foe

Ye sons of brown Dermid, who slew the wild boar,
Resume the pure faith of the great Callum-More!
MacNeil of the Islands, and Moy of the Lake,
For honour, for freedom, for vengeance awake!

Awake on your hills, on your islands awake,
Brave sons of the mountain, the frith and the lake!
‘Tis the bugle – but not for the chase is the call;
‘Tis the pibroch’s shrill summons – but not to the hall.

‘Tis the summons of heroes for conquest or death,
When the banners are blazing on mountain and heath;
They call to the dirk, the claymore, and the targe,
To the march and the muster, the line and the charge.

Be the brand of each Chieftain like Fin’s in his ire!
May the blood through his veins flow like currents of fire!
Burst the base foreign yoke as your sires did of yore,
Or die like your sires, and endure it no more!

Walter Scott Waverley 1814

Scott also uses the same waterfall in ‘Rob Roy’, and describes it in similar terms:

The brook, hurling its waters downwards from the mountain, had in this spot encountered a barrier rock, over which it had made its way by two distinct leaps. The first fall, across which a magnificent old oak, slanting out from the farther bank, partly extended itself as if to shroud the dusky stream of the cascade, might be about twelve feet high; the broken waters were received in a beautiful stone basin, almost as regular as if hewn by a sculptor; and after wheeling around its flinty margin, they made a second precipitous dash, through a dark narrow chasm, at least fifty feet in depth, and from thence, in a hurried, but comparatively more gentle course, escaped to join the lake.

Walter Scott Rob Roy 1818

Robertson points out in the Statistical Account that Ben Venue, the mountain on which the burn at Ledard rises is an English rendering of the gaelic for ‘less important mountain’ (i.e. less important than Ben Ledi). The following tribute may encourage the visitor to ascend Ben Venue:

Ben Venue is in every way a most beautiful mountain; in a sense, it seems to me to be a kind of epitome of the Scottish Highlands. The tourist from England or abroad is too often shewn the Trossachs and Loch Lomond as sample showpieces; having seen them from car, ‘bus, or steamer, he is allowed to have the impression that he knows what the Scottish Highlands are like. If, into the bargain, he were coaxed or encouraged to climb Ben Venue, he would realise some of the characteristics of Caledonia which, without that experience, remain unknown to him.

W.Kersley Holmes Tramping Scottish Hills 1946

Kinlochard was the residence for some years of the modern poet Tom Buchan (1933-1991), who wrote a memorable poem – The Low Road – about Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine which mused about the threat posed by the storage of nuclear weapons in Glen Douglas during the Cold War. It is a different kind of catechism from Flora MacIvor’s song, but equally heartfelt … :

But no doubt they’ll have arranged
for an airburst over Glen Douglas
the fireball of which will deforest Inchlonaig,.
vaporise Cailness and Rowcoish, fry
the Glasgow Councillors fishing for free
on Loch Katrine and kill all the spiders
and earwigs between here and Crianlarich
and me (he thought) as through the soft air
trucks cars buses and articulated lorries;
accelerated their loads of Omo, people and bricks
towards Oban and Inveraray.

Tom Buchan The Low Road

 

 

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Literary Loch Lomond and the Trossachs: 8. Stirling to Callander

 

Leave Stirling [or the M9] by A84 (signposted Crianlarich). After Craigforth the road immediately crosses the Forth at Drip Bridge and enters the former county of Perthshire. At Blair Drummond a road (A736) goes to Port of Menteith and Aberfoyle. The old road from Stirling to the west dawdled beside the Teith via Ochtertyre and Blair Drummond. Indeed, much traffic went on the other side by Bridge of Allan and Dunblane.

Craigforth

Craigforth (at the junction of M9 and A84) is C17 laird’s house on the outskirts of Stirling, which was altered about 1830. It is now overwhelmed by an insurance company; but it was the one-time residence of a startlingly literary family. John Callander (d. 1789), antiquary and farmer, published an edition of two famous poems, perhaps written by Kings of Scotland, The Gaberlunzie Man and Christ’s Kirk on the Green [1782], and many other works, but his scholarship is regarded as suspect. His son, the notorious James Callander (1745-1832) changed his name to Campbell on inheriting Ardkinglass in 1810. His second daughter by his third legal wife became Mrs Caroline Henrietta Sheridan (1779-1851), wife of Tom Sheridan (1775-1817), a noted versifier. She was thus a daughter-in-law of Richard Brindsley Sheridan. She had three novels [1830-33] published in London, but is also remembered as the talented mother of ‘the three Graces’, her beautiful and gifted daughters.

Lady Caroline Norton

Lady Caroline Norton

 

The second of these was the Hon. Caroline Norton (1808-77) , who made an unhappy marriage which ended in divorce, but not before the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, had been compromised, unjustly it was decided. Her poetry was praised by James Hogg. Of her novels, Stuart of Dunleath [1851] is autobiographical, but she also wrote passionately, as a result of her experiences, about the custody and property laws as they adversely affected women, and contributed to their being changed. At the close of her life she married Sir William Stirling-Maxwell of Keir. Alan Chedzoy’s A Scandalous Woman [1992] describes her.

Blair Drummond

The Blair Drummond estate, five miles from Stirling, used to belong to Henry Home, Lord Kames, a highly representative figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. He was a noted judge, and a great improver of his policies. The subjects of his books include Philosophy, Criticism, Education and Agricultural Improvement and, if they are not much read now, they are recognised as having been years ahead of their time. Amongst his civilised suggestions was that the inscription about Smollett in Renton, to which Home contributed, should have been in English. Quite what the great man would have thought of a ‘Safari Park’ must be guessed, but it can be surmised that he would have been interested in it, and approved of the way in which it may have saved his estate.

Nearby is Ochtertyre. The residence of John Ramsay (1736-1814), the Diarist. He was an eccentric, happiest at home in his garden, but known everywhere in the neighbourhood, and a man with an entree into literary society in Edinburgh. His voluminous diaries are still a significant source of information about C18 rural Scotland. Burns called on him with a letter of introduction from his friend the Annan poet, William Blacklock. Ramsay characterised Burns as follows:

I have been in the company of many men of genius, some of them poets, but never witnessed such flashes of intellectual brightness as from him . . .

A further visitor to the house was Waiter Scott. He used Ramsay as the basis for Jonathan Oldbuck, ‘the’ antiquary in The Antiquary. Ramsay is buried in the Old Kirk of Blair Drummond, and there is a memorial to him in the New Kirk (not open).

Doune

James Edmonstone of Newton, near Doune, carried the Royal Standard at Sheriffmuir, and he rebuffed Rob Roy after a dispute at Doune market. One of the most intimate friends of Sir Walter Scott in his younger days was John James Edmonstone of Newton. Scott visited him there and is said to have begun Waverley at Newton. Robina Edmonstone of Cambus Wallace was there when, on her invitation, expressed in broad Scots, Prince Charles pree’d the mu’ (kissed) the lady.

The fine castle was the scene of the escape of John Home, the author, and others during the’ 45. He was a volunteer and, being captured, did not see much action, but the episode gave him considerable cachet for an author. It provides an instance of a method of escape much favoured by Hollywood, the use of knotted sheets or blankets. Home, from Falkirk, was the author of Douglas, the play which famously provoked the cry “Whaur’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo!” It is partly set in the Stirlingshire of old (outside the boundaries of the National Park) on the Carron.
The town has long been connected with the castle’s owners and appears in the old ballad The Bonnie Earl of Moray:

He was a braw gallant
And he played at the glove;
And the bonnie Earl 0′ Moray,
0, he was the Queen’s love.
O lang will his lady
Look o’er the Castle Doune,
Ere she see the Earl o’Moray
Come sounding through the toun.

Uam Vahr is prominent, isolated mountain which dominates Callander from the southeast. Scott used it in the Chase in The Lady of the Lake, the subject of the first canto, and the source of most of the famous passages in that work. The reason for this was the magnificent view of the district from the brow of the hill. Indeed, here the stag appears to be surveying the alternatives provided by the two main routes to the Trossachs:

The noble stag was pausing now
Upon the mountain’s southern brow
Where broad extended, lay beneath
The varied realms of fair Menteith
With anxious eye he wandered o’er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor
And pondered refuge from his toil
By far Loch Ard or Aberfoyle;
But nearer was the copsewood gray
That waved and wept on Loch Achray,
And mingled with the pine-trees blue
On the bold cliffs of Ben Venue.

Properly Uaigh-mor, is a mountain to the north-east of the village of Callander, in Menteith, deriving its name, which signifies the great den, or cavern, from a sort of retreat among the rocks on the south side, said, by tradition, to have been the
abode of a giant. In latter times, it was the refuge of robbersand banditti, who have been only extirpated within these forty orfifty years. Strictly speaking, this stronghold is not a cave, as the name would imply, but a sort of small enclosure, or recess,
surrounded with large rocks and open above head. It may have been originally designed as a foil for deer, who might get in from the outside, but would find it difficult to return. This opinion prevails among the old sportsmen and deer-stalkers in the
neighborhood” (Scott).

Cambusmore
Cambusmore is ‘a plain three-storey, stone laird’s mansion’ (Charles McKean) dating from 1800, but incorporating parts of an older house, the house that Scott first knew. It is well situated beside the Keltie near the old bridge spans that tributary of the Teith. It belonged to John MacDonald Buchanan (d 1817) whose son was a close friend of Scott’s. The poet went there with his wife and eldest daughter for a week in 1809. He ‘ascertained in his own person, that a good horseman, well mounted might gallop from the shores of Loch Vennachar to the rock of Stirling within the space allotted for that purpose to Fitzjames.’ (J.G.Lockhart) Charles Rodgers in his Week at the Bridge of Allan (1851) relates that:

Cambusmore House has claim to the peculiar distinction, as being the residence of Sir Walter Scott, when he conceived and commenced his singularly happy and popular poem of the Lady of the Lake. Sir Walter first became acquainted with the district, by being sent, as a writer’s apprentice, along with a small escort of soldiers from Stirling Castle, to enforce the execution of a legal instrument against a refractory tenant of the proprietor of Appin; but it was while residing at Cambusmore, during a series of autumns with “the young laird”, afterwards Major Buchanan, that he was led to cast over it the bewitchery of his genius. Major Buchanan was in the habit of relating the incident, that he and Scott having just alighted, on their return from a ride to the banks of Loch Katrine, which the poet had not previously visited, and with the scenery of which he was delighted, he repeated to him, while standing in the porch of Cambusmore House, those lines which commence the first stanza of The Chase, exactly as they afterwards appeared:

The stag at eve had drunk his fill
Where danced the moon on Monan’s rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney’s hazel shade.

The incident has escaped the notice of Mr Lockhart, the minstrel’s distinguished biographer.

In fact Lockhart states that it was at Buchanan House, near Drymen, where the Duke of Montrose lived, that Scott first read to his friends the ‘Stag Chase’, which ‘he had just completed under the full influence of the genius loci’. Both stories could be true.

From Cambusmore it is but a short jouney to Callander .

 

 

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Literary Loch Lomond and the Trossachs: 9. Callander

Callander

Callander owes its reputation to its situation on the Highland Boundary Fault, at one of the principal gateways to the Highlands, the Pass of Leny. Like Crieff and Dunkeld it would have been a popular place of resort without Scott; because of Scott, very many literary personages have visited Callander.

It was laid out as a planned village in 1739, and developed with the impetus of commissioners for the forfeited estates after 1745. The principal hotel in the place, the Dreadnought, gets its name from the motto of Francis McNab of McNab who built it in 1801-2. Robert Southey (1774-1843), the Lake Poet, Poet Laureate, and friend of Thomas Telford makes the following comment about the old hotel:

Over the entrance to the Inn yard at Callander are two most unlionlike Lions in stone, McNab’s crest, the Lord of this country, by whom the house was built. McNab was asked one day by his friend Lord Breadalbane for what those ugly figures were placed there; and he replied in an allusion to the fueds which had existed in old times between the two families, “Just to frighten the Campbells, I believe.”

Robert Southey Journal of a Tour in Scotland 1819

Lady Sarah Murray described Callander’s situation as follows:

Callander, and the town of Kilmahog adjoining to it, lie close to the River Teith, which is thee very rapid. The situation of these two towns is extremely romantic; Ben Ledi being to the north of them, and prodigiously high crags rising directly behind them; these crags are entirely composed of small stones cemented in a socket of clay. It is called plum pudding stone; the towns are entirely built of it. There is a very good bridge over the Teith at Callander, and one at Kilmahog, over the branch of that stream that comes from Loch Lubnaig.

Just outside Callander, superbly situated between the Leny and the Eas Gobhainn, is a walled graveyard on a little hill which can be seen from the Invertrossachs road, and can be reached from the riverside in the town itself. It is the graveyard of the clan most associated with the district, the Buchanans, and there is a monument there to a poet who was a native of Ardoch, Strathyre, one Dugald Buchanan (1716-1768). Buchanan ‘got’ religion under the influence of George Whitfield. He was essentially a simple man who thus resembles the hero of Smollett’s Humphry Clinker who was similarly afflicted. Campbell Nairne in his book, The Trossachs refers to Buchanan’s ‘gloomy theological poems’ and notes the boldness of the claim on a fountain in Strathyre that “There is not in any language truer poetry than that to be found in the sacred songs of Buchanan…” The memorial plaque in Callander reads as follows:

Dugald Buchanan

Gaelic Poet Teacher Evangelist

1716 – 1768

This monument marks his resting place,
and commemorates his gifts of inspired
language and sacred song by which
the literature of his native Highlands has
been enriched.

An Fhuil a dhiol do cheartas teann
S’a dhoirteadh air a chrann gu lar
S ann aisd tha mearbsa O m Righ
Nach dit thum anam air sgath.

Pittendrigh Macgillivray ERECTED 1925

A version of the Gaelic is as follows: The blood that repayed Your firm justice was shed on the ground from the Cross. It is from it, O King, that I trust that you will not condemn my soul.

James Pittendrigh Macgillivray (1856-1938) was a Poet, King’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland, and Principal of the Edinburgh School of Art. Thus the almost certainly both wrote the inscription and carved the plaque. One of his poems, from the same period is ‘On Sleepy Hillock’. It seems appropriate to the Buchanan graveyard:

On Sleepy Hillock
By the auld yew tree,
Wi’ monie anither, he lies
That was kind to me.

There’s lilac sweet,
And a white rose bush,
By the water worn stane whar he sleeps
To the burn’s laigh hush

What needs there be mair
For them lie here
Till Sleepy Hillock wake
in the day o’ fear?

But – O Sleepy Hillock!
Wi’ your whisperin’ burn;
Hae ye nae word for me,
Frae him I mourn?

 

A person who enhanced the literary and artistic associations of Callander during Edwardian times, and between the wars was Reginald Brett, Lord Esher (1852- 1930) who acquired The Roman Camp in 1897. Lord Esher held several high offices, and was an important confidante of Queen Victoria and of Edward V11. He retired to Callander. An admirable biography by James Lees Milne, the author and architectural historian, describes his acquisition.

For several years now the Bretts had gone to Callander in Perthshire, the little town known as the Gateway to the Highlands. Regy had fallen for the place and managed to buy the old hunting lodge of the Dukes of Perth, which derived its name from the Roman earthen ramparts which enclosed a field bounded by the River Teith. The house approached direct from the main street, lay between the town and the wide river which flowed in full spate within a few yards of it. When the Bretts acquired it the house was a simple farmstead, roughcast (or harled as it is called in Scotland) and washed pink – hence the family nickname for it, Pinkie. The central porch, bearing an inset plaque inscribed ‘Gang Warily’ and the date 1625 was probably built of old materials before 1914, because during the seventeen years before the First World War Regy made several additions, improvements and alterations. These were carried out in stages, mostly by a young architect, Gerald Dunnage. All the changes evinced remarkably conservative taste, with careful regard for the unpretentious style of the original block. The downstairs rooms of the house were low and mostly wainscotted, with the exception of the drawing room facing the Teith upstream and the library., both additions designed on a more generous scale.

Regy and Nellie together planned the sweeping green lawns and herbaceous borders. Facing the front door a seat on a mound of beech trees overlooked the river. At the rear, a small enclosed garden of yews had a sundial on a stone pillar in the centre. A large walled garden to the east still contains a noble Roman marble well-head acquired by Regy. On a greenhouse a frieze, carved by Howard Sturgis’ companion, the Babe, bore the Horatian tag, ‘Ille Terrarum mihi praeter Omnes Angulus ridet’ – That corner of the world smiles for me more than anywhere else. Westwards beyond the Teith, the solemn summit of Ben Ledi, where John Millais and Effie Riskin fell in love, brrods over the scene. In 1903 Regy bought the adjoining Ben Ledi Estate because Maurice wanted it. Regy grew to love the Roman Camp as he had never loved Orchard Lea, and it eventually became his only home. By some happy chance Pinkie, fifty years after the family disposed of it, still preserves that air of love and care bestowed upon it by the Bretts.

Brett rented some 20,000 acres of contiguous forest from his neighbour Lord Moray. He built a little chapel in a ravine overlooking Loch Lubnaig where he intended his ashes to be buried, though, as it happened they were deposited in 1940, to be joined by Nellie’s and Maurice’s, under the canopied Gothic monument to the first Viscount Esher outside the entrance to Esher parish church. Regy loved the house and garden, the river, the hills with the rough shooting they afforded, the tranquility, and the local people of this part of Scotland. ‘The calmness of the north and its justesse d’esprit are so health-giving,’ he told his younger son, adding characteristically, ‘yet there is no lack of romantic passion in the hills, you know.’

James Lees-Milne The Enigmatic Edwardian 1986

The chapel referred to was erected by a local builder in 1925 and is now roofless. It can be reached by the beautiful Forest Trail which leads to Stank Falls above the old railway track beside Loch Lubnaig. It is still possible to appreciate what a superb site it was, and his affection for the place. He wrote to his son in 1902: ‘Such a day. An absolutely cloudless day. Not a speck in the azure. Lubnaig was like Como. No movement of the deep blue water, except an occasional ripple, when the lightest of breezes touched the loch.’ Esher was clearly a keen Stevensonian because two plaques were carved in the doorway of the little chapel quoting RLS, the first from his poem ‘To S.R.Crockett’, the Galloway author:

Blows the wind today, and the sun and rain are flying,
Blows the wind on the moors to-day and now,
Where about the graves of the martyrs the waups are crying,
My heart remembers how!

Grey recumbant tombs of the dead in desert places,
Standing-stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
Hills of shep, and the homes of the silent vanquished races,
And winds, austere and pure:

The other is Stevenson’s famous epitaph:

Under a wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie
Glad did I live and gladly die
And I lay me down with a will

A further interesting coincidence is that one of Stevenson’s earliest poems, about the Pentlands, but almost certainly composed on the Darn Road beside the Allan Water, used a part of the Horatian tag quoted above for its title, ‘Ille Terrarum’. It can also be noted that Stevenson holidayed in Callander as a boy.

Among significant visitors to The Roman Camp were David Young Cameron, the distinguished painter and etcher, and, briefly in 1919, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), perhaps the best known of modern French women writers of the first half of the twentieth century. James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) was another friend of the Brett family who visited them there. One of Lord Esher’s daughters was Dorothy Brett, a painter and member of the Bloomsbury set, who went to New Mexico with Freida and D.H. Lawrence.

Lees-Milne throws some interesting light on life at the Roman Camp in 1914:

A tipsy butler and a handsome footman, Alfie, waited at table. Alfie, the old coachman’s son, also acted as chauffeur of a motor car called a Metallurgique, with a long brass serpent horn.

Lord Esher’s English residence – near Windsor – was called Orchard Lea. The guest house of that name in the High Street, at one time called Rosebank, was acquired by him for his grown-up children, and was briefly occupied by his widow after his death in 1930. Lees-Milne calls it ‘an ugly villa’. Beside it a public footpath leads to the ‘Roman Camp’. Esher’s son sold The Roman Camp which is now a hotel.

Callander’s other literary associations include two minor poets, Christina MacDonald (b.1868), who wrote sentimental poems, and J.A.Ferguson (b.1873), a native of the place, in whose Vimy Ridge and Other Poems there is a witty poem about small burgh life, frequently anthologised. Ferguson was an oft-performed dramatist, the author of Campbell of Kilmhor, a play about Jacobites set in North Perthshire, and a popular novelist who wrote thrillers and historical novels set in the Highlands.

The original cover of one of John Ferguson's novels.

The original cover of one of John Ferguson’s novels.

Malcolm Ferguson who wrote two books about West Perthshire lived at Morenish House, Callander.   In 1962, BBC Television made it the setting for adaptations from A.J.Cronin (1896-1981) in ‘Dr Finlay’s Casebook’, very loosely based on that author’s autobiography. However, Dumbarton has much more genuine and interesting associations with him. Scott frequently stayed at Cambusmore, just outside the town beside the Teith (see above). On one of his early visits to Callander Scott was in the company of, ‘Monk’ Lewis. It was ‘Monk’ Lewis (1775-1818) who first encouraged Scott to write poetry. Lewis himself wrote Poor Anne at Callander. He eventually published Tales of Wonder on 27 November 1800. It contained three original poems by Scott, including Glenfinlas.

'Monk' Lewis.

‘Monk’ Lewis.

Cronin and Scott can be combined by taking a walk to the Falls of Bracklinn [Brackland]. Arden House, where many episodes of the television programme were ‘set’, is in Bracklinn Road. Andrew Cruickshank (1907-87), who played the Dr Cameron in Dr Finlay’s Casebook, describes the series in his autobiography:

Fortunately our first Casebook script editor, Harry Green, combined grace and integrity so that the series had something of an exquisite period short story without sacrificing the underlying poverty and pain of the situation, in which the doctors were ignorant of modern discoveries.

That the series was scrambled together in haste was evident in that, for all the years (1962-69) we played in Arden House, Dr Cameron’s sitting room never had a window. A conservatory, however, where he could lambast his violin with a Paganini-like ferocity, was provided. But no-one seemed to notice. After the first three stories, it was very evident that the moral tone of the series had captured the early Sunday evening audience which usually goes to church. Slowly the process unfolded as the Casebook took its place in the production schedule of the BBC. At this time, episodes were produced in batches of thirteen, making twenty-six in a year, with a lengthy vacation during the summer. The exterior filming of the stories eventually settled in the area of Callander; otherwise production was in the London studios.

Andrew Cruickshank An Autobiography 1988

The falls are outside the town, rather further than Scott says they are. Scott had just to mention a site, it seems, for it to achieve lasting fame: in practice he mentions these falls twice in The Lady of the Lake, using them as an image in his description of the Battle of Bealach an Duine (Loch Katrine):

As Bracklinn’s chasm, so black and steep
Receives her roaring linn,

and as a description of a ‘ marauding chief’, earlier in the poem: “wild as Bracklinn’s thundering wave”

In a note Scott explains:

This is a beautiful cascade made by a mountain stream called the Keltie, at a place called the Bridge of Bracklinn, about a mile from the village of Callander in Menteith.

Earlier Lady Sarah Murray gave one of her most detailed accounts of any waterfall in Scotland, in her description of Bracklinn:

The next day I took a little boy for my guide, and proceeded (by the road that leads from Callander, over the hills, to Comrie) to Brackland Brig, and the cascades there of the Water of Keltie (or violent). I was told that it was not a mile to, walk thither, but I found it at least two. The glen about the bridge is extremely narrow and deep; and, until I came within the noise of the cascades, I perceived nothing that indicated the romantic horror which had been described to me. But on descending a steep field, close to the top of the falls, I found them grand and beautiful; dashing in different directions, height and breadths, till the water roars and foams through the deep chasm under the bridge, to thre pool just below it, which is, at least sixty feet beneath the bridge. The path to get at the bridge is about one foot and a half wide, upon the jutting sides of high towering rocks, from which sprout wood, from the the depth below to the jagged tops above, in every direction, feathering down to, and hanging over, the rushing water. the only safeguard for the hardy being advanced to this awful Brig, are upright, broken irregular pieces of rock which form a winding narrow parapet; and having the spray constantly falling upon them, arecovered with moss; and fern, and all sorts of aquatic weeds cling to them. It requires some strength of head to creep round this path; the huge mass of rocks to the right is woody to the top; to the left is a precipice of perpendicular jagged rocks, at the bottom of which the rushing cascades contend woith each other which shall first dash through thechasm, sixty feet beneath the spectator. After passing this winding path, a foot and a half wide, I came to the bridge which struck me with astonishment and admiration. The rocky bank on the other side of the bridge, is on a level with the flat projecting part of the rock, on which the path to the bridge is worn. The chasm between the two rocks, over which the bridge is laid, cannot be wider than four or five yards. Before I ventured upon the bridge, I stood trembling to gaze and admire; for I could not help shuddering, though I was highly gratified with the whole scene. Before me lay a bridge made of birch poles, extending from rock to rock, over the deep chasm, and these poles have branches of birch laid across them, and turf covers the whole. On the opposite bank is a beautiful rocky bank, covered with wood, intermixed with some verdure, coarse grass, rushes fern etc., with broken pieces of rock peeping through the stems of trees, weeds and moss. The bridge appeared so light, and the depth below so terrific, that I was in some doubt whether I should venture to cross it. My little guide, however, stood upon it, whistling with the utmost unconcern. I followed him; but in truth I looked not on either side, for the bridge vibrated, and the waters roared beneath, so that I wasglad to skip over as fast as I could. The bridge, to look at it, is a narrow, tottering green path, from rock to rock, not a bit of a fence on either side, about a yard wide.

In order to see this extraordinary bridge and the cascades, in every possible point of view, I crept through the wood and broken rocks, until I got upon a huge projecting tower, in front of the chasm, where the pent up water rushes through the narrowest passage. in getting, however, to that point, i was obliged to step over several rents in the rocks, of at least a foot wide, the depth of them not to be seen; but the grand beauties of the cascades, and the deep glen below, seen from that station, made me full amends for my temerity in getting to it. The bridge, on my return, seemed not less tremendous than when I first crossed it; and I was glad to reach my first situation on the side of the rock, with a solid parapet before me.

Lady Sarah Murray The Beauties of Scotland 1799

Few writers do much more than mention Callander, but Alexander Smith does it justice in ‘A Summer in Skye’:

A few miles on the road skirts the Teith, the sweetest voiced of all the Scottish streams. The Roman centurian heard its pebbly murmur on his march even as you now hear it. The river, like all beautiful things, is coquettish, and just when you come to love her music, she sweeps away into the darkness of the woods and leaves you companionless on he dusty road. Never mind you will meet her again in Callander, and there for a whole summer day, you can lean on the bridge and listen to her singing. It was sunset as I approached it first years ago. Beautiful the long crooked street of white houses dressed in rosy colours. Prettily dressed children were walking or running about. The empty coach was standing at the door of the hotel, and smoking horses were being led up and down. and right in front stood King Ben Ledi, clothed in imperial purple, the spokes of splendour from from the sinking sun raying far away into heaven from behind his mighty shoulders.

Callander sits like a watcher at the opening of the glens, and is a rendezvous of tourists. To the right the Pass of Leny – well worthy of a visit. You ascend a steep path, birch trees on the right and left; the stream comes brawling down, sleeping for a moment in black pools beloved by anglers then hastening on in foam and fury to meet her sister in the Vale of Menteith below.

Alexander Smith Summer in Skye               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Literary Loch Lomond and the Trossachs: 3. Arden and Glen Fruin

 

Arden

Those visitors who have been to Rowardennan can retrace their steps to Balloch where the A82 may be rejoined. The alternative is to head for Aberfoyle, ten miles away, to explore the Trossachs. The road to the North first reaches Loch Lomond at Duck Bay, just beyond Cameron House. Here is Smollett’s opinion of the loch:

“I have seen the Lago di Garda, Albano, De Vico, Bolsena and Geneva, and, upon my honour, I prefer Loch Lomond to them all a preference which is certainly owing to the verdant islands that seem to float upon its surface, affording the most inchanting objects ‘of repose to the excursive view. Nor are the banks destitute of beauties which even partake of the sublime. On this side hey display a sweet variety of woodland cornfield and pasture, with several agreeable villas emerging, as it were, out of the lake, till, at some distance, the prospect terminates in huge mountains covered with heath which being in the bloom, affords a very rich covering of purple. Everything here is romantic beyond imagination. This country is justly stiled the Arcadia of Scotland, and I don’t doubt but it may vie with Arcadia in everything but climate. I am sure it exceeds it in verdure, wood and water.”   

 
 
 
 
 

 

Loch Lomond from near Cameron House. Drawn: P.Sandby Engraved: P.Medland 1780

This quotation is from Humphry Clinker which is, of course, a work of fiction. Albano, De Vico and Bolsena figure in Smollett’s Travels in France and Italy, but neither Garda nor Geneva do, which raises the interesting question of whether or not Smollett actually saw either of them.

Smollett lived from 1721 to 1771. When he was born the Act of Union between England and Scotland 1707, in which his grandfather played a prominent part, and the rebellions of 1715 and 1719 were recent events still fresh in everyone’s minds. There were some Bleach Fields in the Vale of Leven, but the main occupation was farming and the whole aspect of the countryside was rural. Communications were very difficult indeed, and it was not until after1745 that that roads began to be improved. The lochside road from Dumbarton to Inveraray was built then, but it was not until 1765 that Dumbarton Bridge was completed. It was, perhaps, not surprising that travellers did not begin to frequent Scotland until after these improvements had taken place.Smollett himself returned to Scotland in 1753, 1760 and 1766. Thomas Gray visited Loch Lomond in 1764; Thomas Pennant in 1769, Samuel Johnson in 1773 John Wilkes in the early 1760s and William Gilpin in 1776.The following extracts from the writers themselves give some idea of Loch Lomond during the eighteenth century:

“The mountains are ecstatic and ought to be visited in pilgrimage once a year. None but those monstrous creatures of God know how to join so much beauty with so much horror. Rowed to Inchmurrin an island with a park of the Duke of Montrose’s whose house at Buchanan stands on the edge of Loch Lomond. Exquisite landscape round the lake; view of Ben Lomond, the second mountain in Scotland for height, Ben Nevis in Inverness-shire being the first.”

Thomas Gray (1764)

“To the north we looked far up the narrow channel of the lake which we had just seen from the shore. We were now more in the centre of the view, but the scene was more shifted. It was more a vista. The mountains shelved beautifully into the water, on both sides; and the bottom of the lake was occupied by Ben Vorlich which filled its station with great distinction, on the right Ben Lomond, the second hill in Scotland, raised its respectable head, while the waters at their base were dark, like a black, transparent mirror, But in this point of view the form of Ben Lomond was rather injured by the regularity of its line, which consists of three stages of ascent. In general, however, this mountain appears finely sloped; and its surface beautifully broken.”

William Gilpin (1776)

“Had Loch Lomond been in a happier climate it would have been the boast of wealth and vanity to own one of the little spots which it encloses, and to have employed upon it all the arts of embellishment. But, as it is, the islets which court the gazer at a distance disgust him at his approach when he finds; instead of soft lawns and shady thickets, nothing more than uncultivated ruggedness.”

Samuel Johnson (1773)

 

 In Rob Roy, set in the Eighteenth Century, Scott describes the loch as follows:

But certainly this noble lake, boasting innumerable beautiful islands, of every varying form and outline which fancy can frame,its northern extremity narrowing until it is lost among dusky and retreating mountains, while, gradually widening as it extends to the southward, it spreads its base around the indentures and promontories of a fair and fertile land, -affords one of the most surprising, beautiful, and sublime spectacles in nature.

Loch Lomond was celebrated by Paul Johnson (b. 1928) in his Highland Jaunt [1973]:

It is still a pleasing scene, and there is no through road on the far side of the loch, which sparkled under a blazing sun. But the affluent society has already lapped its shores. Myriads of little, brightly coloured sailing boats bounced on the water; speed boats roared to and fro; and we called at Duck Bay Marina from which such activities radiate. There is a vast bar and restaurant, whose plate glass, glare-proof windows frame the water and the hills beyond. Teams of smart and pretty waitresses, in tartan mini-kilts, busied themselves serving scampi and chips and other traditional Scotch dishes. There were thousands of people about and hundreds of cars. A shop sold tartan everythings and seven year old whisky marmalade.

Duck Bay can also be deemed to be the spot where the luscious Win Jenkins went bathing in the nude in Humphry Clinker, shrewdly covering her face, rather than any other portion of her anatomy when a gentleman whom she knew went by.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1901-1935), whose atmospheric novels conveyed the character of the Mearns, praised Loch Lomond in The Scottish Scene [1934], probably referring to the view seen from Duck Bay:

“Loch Lomond lies quite near Glasgow. Nice Glaswegians motor out there and admire the scenery and calculate its horsepower and drink whisky and chaff one another in genteelly Anglicized Glaswegianisms. After a hasty look at Glasgow the investigator would do well to disguise himself as one of like kind, drive down to Loch Lomondside and stare across its waters at the sailing clouds that crown the Ben, at the flooding of colours changing and darkling and miraculously lighting up and down those misty slopes, where night comes over long mountain leagues that know only the paddings of the shy, stray hare, the whirr and cry of the startled pheasant, silences so deep you can hear the moon come up, mornings so greyly coloured they seem stolen from Norse myth.”

A little further on Arden is reached. It may have been the Lochlomondside mansion where Robert Burns dined ‘at a goodfellow’s house’:

“I have lately been rambling over by Dumbarton and Inveraray, and running a drunken race on the side of Loch Lomond with a wild Highlandman; his horse which had never known the ornaments of iron or leather, zigzagged across before my old spavin’d hunter, whose name is Jenny Geddes, and down came Jenny and my Bardship; so I have such a skinful of bruises and wounds, that I shall be at least four weeks before I dare venture on my journey to Edinburgh.” [Burns to Richmond, July, 1787]

Nearby, along the B831, is Bannachra Castle, a castle of the Colquhouns in Glen Fruin, notorious because it was sacked in 1592 by a MacFarlane who mutilated the vanquished laird, his wife’s lover, ‘in a revolting but appropriate fashion’. He served his unfaithful lady with her lover’s private parts as a mocking dish: a tale to fascinate, and, possibly, discomfort Robert Burns who stayed with MacLachlan of Bannachra during his West Highland tour of 1787. Nearby is Dunfion, Fingal’s Hill, another of his numerous seats throughout Scotland.

One of the earliest literary visitors to Loch Lomond was Ben Jonson (1571-1637), the Elizabethan playwright. He was of Scottish extraction, and in 1618-19 he travelled Scotland, spending over a year there. He was entertained at the end of 1618 by William Drummond of Hawthornden who recorded as much as he could of what Jonson had to say in his diary, which was eventually published as Conversations. Jonson planned to write a versified account of his travels entitled A Discovery, and ‘a fisher or Pastorall play’ set on Loch Lomond. Whether he ever wrote it is not known, since Jonson’s papers were later lost in a fire.

In perhaps the best short guide to the Highlands of the thirties James Baikie (1866-1931) prompted visitors:

“It is said that Dr Chalmers, of Disruption fame, once expressed a gentle hope that there might be a Loch Lomond in heaven. Scripture says nothing to the contrary, though it unaccountably excludes the sea, which the Hebrew always hated; and one hopes that, were it only for the sake of Glasgow, the good Doctor’s pious aspiration may be realised.”

John Young, who published Lochlomondside and other Poems in 1872, expressed the same sentiment in verse:

A Poet-Preacher once, ’tis said,

When Lomond and her isles lay spread

Before his genius-flashing eye,

Loaded the pinions of a sigh,

Soul-born, with this impassioned cry—

O Joy! Should it to man be given

That a Loch Lomond be in Heaven”

John Keats (1795-1821), the Romantic poet, was at Loch Lomond in July, 1818. He is one of the few visitors to comment favourably on the weater:

“The banks of the Clyde are extremely beautiful – the north end of Loch Lomond grand in excess – the entrance at the lower end to the narrow part from a distance is precious good – the evening was beautiful and nothing could surpass our fortune in the weather.”

The loch is also the subject of one of Scotland’s most famous lyrics, the Jacobite lament Loch Lomond:

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes

Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond

Where me and my true love will ne-er meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

 

Chorus:

O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road

And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye

For me and my true love will ne-er meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

 

Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen

On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomon’

Where in purple hue, the hielan hills we view

And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.

 

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring

And in sunshine the waters are sleeping

But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again

Tho’ the waeful may cease frae their greetin’

The song has been rendered in countless ways. Famously, Runrig, the rock band, performed it to an audience of 40,000 in Balloch Park in June 1991. Paul Robeson recorded the song and Vaughan Williams made a madrigal of it. Rather carelessly, Martha Tilton, accompanied by the Benny Goodman Orchestra, referred to “the sun coming up through the gloaming”. Even Noel Coward considered his audiences would be sufficiently familiar with the lyrics to write a pastiche:

The high road is my road,

The low road’s a slow road

And I’ll guarantee ya

I’ll be there to see ya

On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond

John Purser (b.1942) in Scotland’s Music [1992] lambasts these travesties:

The return of the Jacobite army from Derby via Carlisle is commemorated in the internationally famous song Loch Lomond. The tune is a variant of The Bonnie Hoose 0′ Airlie, the words relatively modern. It certainly has no place in the mid-eighteenth century, and in any case scarcely anybody knows how to sing it. It has had heaped upon its head more appalling and ignorant performances than any song has a right to bear. Its subject matter is one of bitter and ironic tragedy. The Jacobite soldier awaiting execution claims he will reach Scotland before his companion as his spirit will get there first by the low road. This is usually rendered by singers and arrangers with an inane chirpiness more suited to selling washing-up liquid. One day perhaps it will be restored to its proper dignity.

Andrew Lang risked rendering the poem in his own way:

There’s an ending o’ the dance, and fair Morag’s

  safe in France,

And the Clans they hae paid the lawing,

And the wuddy has her ain, a we twa are left

  alane,

Free o’ Carlisle gaol in the dawning.

It is sometimes averred that Loch Lomond isbased on a slightly different folk tune, Robin Cushie, to be found in McGibbon’s Scots Tunes Book [1742] (i.e. before the Rising of 1745) At one time the words were attributed to Lady John Scott (1810-1900) who is said to have adapted a broadside ballad by Sanderson of Edinburgh [1838]. This tale (which is probably wrong) may have arisen because of confusion between Loch Lomond and Annie Laurie, of which Lady Scott made a ‘refined’ version. The version of Loch Lomond with which we are familiar seems to have first appeared in print in Poets and Poetry of Scotland [1876], but there are many variants. Tradition has it that the original words were written by a Jacobite incarcerated in Carlisle Castle in 1745.

In By Yon Bonnie Banks Maurice Lindsay (1918-2009) comments that this beautiful loch has inspired little good poetry. With Burns he surveys the mountain of bad verse, which it has attracted. Both Lindsay and Burns particularly dislike Address to Loch Lomond [1788] by James Cririe (1752-1835. Here is part of the long letter which Burns wrote to his friend, Peter Hill, criticising the poem in October 1788:

The following perspective of mountains blue—the imprisoned billows beating in vain—the wooded isles—the digression on the yew-tree—“Benlomond’s lofty, cloud-envelop’d head,” &c. are beautiful. A thunder-storm is a subject which has been often tried, yet our poet in his grand picture has interjected a circumstance, so far as I know, entirely original:—

“the gloom

 Deep seam’d with frequent streaks of moving fire.”

Late in the nineteenth century Donald Macleod (1831-1916), the littérateur from Dumbarton, published Lays of Loch Lomond which included much such verse, but also took in both John Barbour and Thomas Campbell. A specimen of the bad verse. in this case by Willam Shand Daniel (1813-1858), runs as follows:

Tis evening upon Lomond’s lake,

On her green isles the morn is gleaming;

In Heaven there’s not a cloud to break

The lustre o’er the waters streaming

Maurice Lindsay also mentions Barbour, but he does not refer to two immensely successful poems by Englishmen: Wordsworth’s Highland Girl is set on Loch Lomond, as is Manley Hopkins’ Inversnaid, both of which are dealt with elsewhere. Wordsworth went on to write three other somewhat less successful Loch Lomond poems; The Brownie’s Cell, The Brownie and To the Planet Venus, an Evening Star. Composed at Loch Lomond . Adam and Charles Black’s Picturesque Tourist [1851] quotes a further Wordsworth poem, Ruth, in describing the islands of Loch Lomond, although it is Windermere that Wordsworth probably had in mind:

 

With all its fairy crowds

Of islands, that together lie

As quietly as spots of sky

Among the evening clouds.

Undeterred by his predecessors, in A View of Loch Lomond, Lindsay has a rather successful go himself:

….picture postcards

that claim to lay the constant on the table,

(the camera cannot lie) are popular;

what trotting tourists hoped to purchase for the

shelf;

the image they’d retain, if they were able.

But landscape’s an evasion of itself.”

Burns tells us he muttered some verses when he celebrated sunrise Loch Lomond, but what they were has been lost. He used a cold wind from Ben Lomond in his Epistle to Davie, addressed to a fellow poet, to provide a contrast to a warm fireside, but otherwise he appears to have remained silent.

Glen Fruin, lying between the foot of Loch Lomond and the Gareloch, can be reached by a road built for the convenience of the Ministry of Defence, or by the B831 (see above). It was the site of a clan battle between the MacGregors and the Colquhouns in 1603, and a memorial stone at the head of the glen marks the supposed site of it. Scott put it in Lady of the Lake:

Proudly our pibroch has thrill’d in Glen

Fruin,

And Bannochar’s groans to our slogan

replied;

Glen Luss and Ross Dhu, they are smoking

in ruin,

And the best of Loch Lomond lie dead on

her side.

 Widow and Saxon maid

Long shall lament our raid,

Think of Clan Alpine with fear and with woe;

Lennox and Leven glen

Shake when they hear again,

“Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! iero!”

The massacre of the Colquhouns has been the subject of several ballads. The last verse of The Raid of Glen Fruin is as follows:

And dearly has M’Gregor paid

By name proscribed and haunted band

For dark Glen Fruin’s lawless raid –

No more he rules Loch Katrine’s strand.

Hugh MacDonald (1817-1860), the Paisley poet and travel writer, asserted “All that is beautiful, indeed, of earth, sea or sky may be said to be congregated round this favoured spot…” W.H.Auden (1907-1973),teaching in Helensburgh, celebrated the quality of the view in Dec. 1931:

No strange sound laid my echo on the road

And when where two little lanes branched

off I stood,

On either side the moorland grew away,

Luminous all Glen Fruin lay

And the sky was silent as an unstruck bell.

Loch Lomond was below, I saw

Boats on a bay like toys on floor;

Scotland in every quarter touched me still.

 

North of Arden and Glen Fruin hills begin to encroach more closely on the road, and the monumental arch at the southern entrance to Ross Dhu is sometimes said to mark the beginning of the Highlands. In practice the Highland Boundary Fault is further south, most evident in the string of islands which culminate in Inchmurrin. [Ferry signposted at the Arden roundabout]. Inchmurrin was visited by Thomas Gray(1716-1771), the distinguished classical scholar and poet, in 1764. Gray was a very important literary ‘discoverer’ of the English Lake District to which he wrote a guide. He only made a modest impact on Scotland, but he was a man who was listened to in London and an arbiter of taste. His enthusiasm for Scottish mountains undoubtedly contributed to their discovery.
 
  For long the home of the Colquhouns, Ross Dhu is now a developer’s golf course, a somewhat wretched fate for a Scottish national treasure, but one which has preserved its character. In the grounds is a ruined keep which the family occupied before their petite classical mansion was built. The estate fringes the most exquisite part of Loch Lomond. Literary visitors have included Scott, who was insulted, and Boswell and Johnson.

It is often said that Boswell’s father, Lord Auchinleck (1706–82), gave the name “Ursa Major” to Dr Johnson. However, Lucy Walford tells a plausible tale in her Recollections. She states that Lady Helen Colquhoun, who was a fastidious woman, took a dislike to Johnson, in particular, it is reported to the fact that he entered her drawing room dripping wet. In an aside she muttered, ‘What a bear’, whereupon one of the company responded ‘if it is so, it is Ursa Major’. This event is not recorded in either Johnson’s or Boswell’s accounts of their visit. Of course, it may be due to a conflation, on Mrs. Walford’s part, of two half-remembered stories.

Johnson’s robustness is illustrated by the fact that when they were furnished with a boat to take them to Inch Galbraith and Inchlonaig one of the younger Colquhouns was made ill by the rough weather and had to be taken home, but Johnson proceeded. Here he reflects favourably on Scots servants:

“When I was upon the Deer Island, I gave the keeper who attended me a shilling, and he said it was too much. Boswell afterwards offered him another, and he excused himself from taking it, because he had been rewarded already.”

 

 

 

John Colquhoun

John Colquhoun,(1805–1885), sportsman and naturalist, was the second son of Sir James Colquhoun. He was brought up partly at Ross Dhu, but later took both Arrochar House and Glenfalloch. He wrote the archetypal nineteenth century huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ treatise, The Moor and the Loch [1840]. There were several editions of the book, which was substantially revised in 1878.He is rather regrettably associated with Inch Galbraith, a Loch Lomond island close to Ross Dhu with a ruined keep on it, where Pennant noted that an osprey nested. The island was also visited by Johnson and Boswell. John Colquhoun says, rather ruefully, that, as a young man, he shot the female osprey and trapped the male:

 

They were a beautiful pair, the female, as in most birds of prey, being considerably the larger. The eggs of these ospreys had regularly been every year, and yet they never forsook their eyrie. It was a beautiful sight to see them sail into our bay on a calm summer night, and, after flying round it several times, strike down on a good-sized pike and bear it away as if it were a minnow.

 

As a sporting writer John Colquhoun was a successor to Colonel Thomas Thornton (1747-1893) whose tour of the Highlands probably took place in 1784. His account of it, A Sporting Tour through . . . . . . Great Part of the Highlands of Scotland, was published in 1804. He too encountered an osprey on Loch Lomond:

We had in the course of the day seen an osprey or water eagle make some noble dashes into the lake after her prey and understanding from one of the boatmen that there was an eyrie on a small island in our voyage home I ordered them to attempt to get as near the nest as possible and loaded my gun well wishing to kill her as a specimen Notwithstanding all our precaution however she rose long before we got near the island at least we perceived a bird of some kind for it was too dark to distinguish of what sort at the distance we lay These birds are very rare in all my different excursions I never heard of any except at Loch Lomond and Loch Morlaix in Glennaore.

 

This last reference is probably to Loch Morlich in Glenmore. Thornton was a gifted exponent of the topographical malapropism. His best was probably ‘Cree in Laroche’ [Crianlaraich]

John Colquhoun’s seventh child was Lucy Bethia Walford [née Colquhoun], (1845–1915), who became the author of some 45 books. It was considered at the time that her novels might be mentioned in the same breath as those of Thomas Hardy.In Recollections of a Scottish Novelist [1910] she explains that Scott presented himself at Sir James Colquhoun’s door, confident of welcome and assistance. However, the author had not taken account of her ancestor’s sense of his own importance. Sir James regarded a mere Edinburgh lawyer as of little consequence, and ordered the butler to show him round Ross Dhu. Lucy Walford continues:

Such an affront was never forgotten nor forgiven; in Rob Roy the Colquhoun’s were absolutely ignored, and the scene of the Lady of the Lake, originally intended to be laid on the banks of Loch Lomond was removed to Loch Katrine.

The consequences of this episode are touched on in a footnote to Burt’s Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland by the editor, Robert Jamieson, who reports that an old Highlander (encountered on the summit of Ben Lomond in 1814) complained vehemently about the Lady of the Lake:

 That d—–d Walter Scott…ever since he wrote his Lady of the Lake, as they call it, everybody goes to see that filthy hole Loch Katrine then comes round by Luss, and I have had only two gentlemen to guide all this blessed season, which is now at an end. I shall never see the top of Ben Lomond again! — The devil confound his ladies and his lakes, say I!

 

 

 

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