Around Mull: Part I

I.

WE had come from Dumbarton, (my temporary home,) the Bailie, Christie, and I, for a week's tour along the western coast and among the Highlands. Sallying forth from Strathleven cottage one sunny morning in August, we had footed it to the river-side,

(I learned the full use of my feet in Scotland,) had stepped on board a wee bonnie boat, just large enough for us and our light baggage, exclusive of the space occupied by a single oarsman,— and dropping down the Leven, and past the Castle, had gained the broad Clyde, drifted into mid-stream, and there, lying on our oars, had patiently waited until the great puffing steamer of the Hutcheson line, from Glasgow, hove in sight. Then, raising one oar as a signal, we had hailed the monster, which, condescendingly relaxing her speed, had suffered our boat, tossing like a feather on the steamer’s mighty swell, to come in palpitating, timid fashion under the shadow of her paddle-box, where the strong arms of men stationed on the portable ladder let down from her side had caught our skiff by the prow and held the inconstant thing for one instant firmly enough to suffer us to spring to their precarious stairway and so secure our passage to Ardrishaig. Thence, after two hours’ sail by track-boat through the Crinan Canal, and a second passage by steamer,

— literally an ocean passage, for it took us out into the deep Atlantic, —we had bent our course awhile among the islands that lie nearer the rocky shore, and had at length, just at nightfall, gained the little land-locked harbor of Oban, — sweet, smiling Oban, nestling securely within her rocky bulwarks, the glistening curve of her white sea-wall, her little fleet of safely moored vessels, her clustering cottages, her neat tempting inns, all challenging our wonder and delight, as, skirting the headland which had hitherto jealously hidden the mimic seaport, the entire picture flashed instantaneously on our view.

Nothing in this hospitable spot turns its back on the voyager who there seeks refuge. The sea-wall curving like a half-moon round the bay, and the pebbled esplanade above it, occupy all the foreground. The principal street of Oban skirts this artificial quay, where the shipping of the place lies at anchor, and on its farther side the buildings all front the sea. Thus the whole place smiles a welcome ; its white garniture — for everything in Oban seems freshly whitewashed — reflects the last rays of the western sunlight, or, if night has already clothed the neighboring islands and headlands in gloom, the lights from the numerous windows of the dwellinghouses, shops, and hotels, which face you as you make the port, excite a glad surprise, and promise the weary traveller, what he is sure to find, shelter, comfort, and good cheer in Oban.

More than these I found there ; for, leaving the spot always in the morning to pursue our excursions, and returning thither on successive occasions at nightfall, the charm of the place grew upon me, until I came to view it not merely as a refuge from exposure and fatigue, a nook screened and protected by Nature’s benediction from wintry storms and Hebridean gloom, but as a sanctum for the spirit, an ideal resting-place for restless souls, — a place to be loved and longed for forevermore. If I have said too much, and you convict me of romance and exaggeration, fellow-travellers, who like me have sometimes made this haven, then sunlight and moonlight and soft breezes and sweet sounds have been kinder to me than to you, and you did not see Oban in the light and the air that I did.

One would scarcely expect, judging from the size of the town, that Oban could contain more than a single comfortable inn; still, besides the Caledonian Hotel, of which alone I can testify from experience, there are at least two or three similar public-houses, and I know not how many lodging-houses of lesser pretension ; for Oban is the centre of no little travel, and is the rallying-point and rendezvous for tourists, especially during the months of August and September, the popular season in the Highlands.

At the Caledonian, an hotel not dissimilar to our best summer resorts in the White Mountains and other picturesque districts, we were comfortably, I may say luxuriously, entertained. The accommodations, as with us, included ladies’ parlor and table d'hôte, and, after a brief lounge in the former and a substantial meal at the latter, we were ready to set forth for an evening stroll through the town, a stroll never omitted by us at that hour in Oban, a delightful and essential sedative after the fatigues or excitements of the day,—strolls the charm of which I could never quite define, and the impression from which is incommunicable. There would seem to be little that was pleasant or memorable in our perambulations of the main street of a little fishing-town,— the Bailie, with his stump of a pipe for company, always choosing the esplanade, while Christie and I as frequently idled along the opposite pavement, pausing now and then at the little shop-windows and gazing at their mean or meagre displays, illumined by a farthing candle, with a keener zest than I had ever experienced in the Rue Rivoli or the Palais Royal. Our walk rarely extended beyond either extremity of this street; it was uniform, monotonous, unvaried by any more striking incident than a plunge into the most humble and illfurnished of the shops to procure a penny pipe for the Bailie, whose smoky stump had accidentally come to grief, or a continuation of our stroll as far as the remotest point of the arc formed by the quay, where, seated on a wall of rough stones, we took in at one glance the moonlit bay, and the quiet, peaceful town, scarce a hum from which reached our ears, so hushed and still was the place at this hour.

A couple of little girls of true Gaelic blood came and gazed curiously at us one evening, as we thus sat. The elder of the two, a head shorter than her companion, responded readily to the Bailie’s questions, — among other things naïvely accounted to us for her diminutive size, as if it were a foregone and inevitable result of her lot, by the grave statement, “ Oh, I am the eldest, Sir; I tended all the rest” ; and then, at his request, they united in singing us a genuine Erse song, the guttural accents of which, softened by their childish tongues, harmonized wonderfully with the Hebridean landscape, redeemed from its otherwise rigidity and gloom by Oban gleaming like a pearly jewel from its rude setting of stone. It was the only incident that I can recall connected with our moonlight ramblings. Was it not, perhaps, the absence of incident or adventure, the holy calm, the unbroken stillness of the scene, that lulled our hearts then to pensive musings, and that still whispers to our memories, "Peace" ?

The Caledonian, though it found room for us, was wellnigh overflowing with visitors. Besides our fellow-passengers and those of another steamer of the same line, which had arrived almost simultaneously from the northern or opposite direction, there were not a few who had either been waiting in Oban, or had returned thither from some excursion in the neighborhood, to be in readiness for the first opportunity for a voyage around Mull. This trip, which occupies twelve hours, is during the travelling season advertised for every alternate day; but, as the pleasure, oftentimes the possibility, of the excursion is dependent on wind and weather, persevering tourists are often detained for a week or more in default of sunshine and a fair breeze. The elements on the morning after our arrival being in all respects favorable, the great household was early astir. Though breakfast is served on board the luxurious pleasureboat, we preferred to rise at the earliest notice and make all possible haste with our toilets, for the sake of breakfasting on terra firma. Many were of the same mind with ourselves ; and the crowded tables, the good-natured jostling of elbows, and the eager scrambling for food, with the bells of variously bound steamers at the neighboring pier already ringing out their warning, exhilarated us with a sense of companionship and excited us to activity. Indeed, the analogy which I detected between hotel life in the Highlands and in our own country may have been partly due to these hasty breakfasts, which the necessity of securing a long day rendered as inevitable to tourists as hurriedly bolted meals so often are to travellers on our interminable routes, or to our time-saving business-men of callous digestion.

Alter all, we had the mortification of feeling that we had been deceived like children and huddled like sheep as an atonement for the sluggishness or obstinacy of that less alert and punctual class of travellers who, as the experience of steamboat agents had proved, could be aroused only by successive bell-ringings and repeated threats of a forfeited passage. We had some compensation and revenge, however, as, seated in our early secured best places, we watched our fellow-excursionists come straggling on board.

The Pioneer, strongly built for service in the open sea, and of ample dimensions, must have boasted this day something like two hundred passengers. So ample were the accommodations, so widely scattered the parties, that I should scarcely believe the number to have been so considerable, but for my vivid recollection of the successive and, as it seemed, never-ending boat-companies, each of a dozen or more, that were rowed ashore at the points where we made land. Of course there was but a fractional part of these people whose individuality made any impression on me. In one respect we were a unit: all were pleasure-seekers, and the Pioneer, unlike most of the steaming monsters which ply on regular routes, was dedicated to beauty, sacred to the adventurous and the picturesque. She carried no mail; she was destined to none of the ends of traffic or profit. Her freight was all human, Nature was her mistress, and the love of Nature her inspiration and motive-power.

But as she lay there at the pier, puffing off steam and ringing perpetual bells, she gave evidence of business-like impatience ; and her human cargo, as they came on board, had scarcely yet awakened to any other emotions than those of unwillingness and discomfort. Some were yet chewing the cud of unfinished breakfasts, the crumbs of which still clung to their garments; others had the blue, ghostly look of unwonted early risers, shivering with the chill morning air and the faint heart which a fasting stomach entails ; some, the latest comers of all, were quite breathless, and were nervously holding on to the gloves, veils, shawls, or over-shoes caught up at the last moment and only half put on or adjusted.

Here comes a party of young people, however, lads and lasses, whose high spirits triumph over all the inconveniences of the hour, and who, as they rush laughingly on board, seem to defy the steamer to have started without so important an addition to the joyousness of the occasion as they represent. A group of elderly Scotch folk, anxious, bewildered, and fussy, are congratulating themselves, on the contrary, that they are just in time and “ weel ower ” the perils of embarkation. Here is a sallow clergyman whose dress and expression proclaim him an English churchman ; he and his cadaverous wife, who seems, from her slightly pretentious air, to have, as the English say, “blood” (a very little blood / should judge in this case); both have a worn and melancholy appearance, which is, I suspect, chronic, and not wholly due to the occasion. And, why, whom have we here ? we have certainly seen those girls before, who are hurrying across the plank just as the last bell is ringing its last stroke. Yes, to be sure, they are the same trio whom we found on board the steamer which we took at Inversnaid on Loch Lomond, one day, when we were returning toward sunset from a visit to Loch Katrine and the Trosachs. Christie and I remember them perfectly, they and their young brother seated in a picturesque group on the little upper deck, each with open sketch-book copying Nature at the moment, or carrying out some design conceived earlier in the day ; their mother, the same self-poised mammoth Englishwoman of marvellous physique and perfect equanimity of forces who accompanies them to-day, seated at a little distance, the occasional superintendent and invariable referee of their work and progress. Their “papa ” is of the party this time, — a tall, gray-haired gentleman, old enough to be venerable, young enough to have the promise of half a score of years or more yet in which to serve his country, — a gentleman whose sweet dignity and serene self-possession entitle him at a glance to the encomium once bestowed involuntarily by some English friends of mine upon one of our gifted historians, “Why, he might be a duke ! ” Our fellow-traveller was only Sir Thomas, however, — Sir Thomas Somebody, — I have forgotten what, a London baronet, holding some high office or other under Government. We may imagine it anything we please, for I have forgotten that too. Indeed, the little we ever knew of him was learned at a later day, I suspect, from a buxom lawyer’s wife, up North with her husband for the vacation, and who, as well as Sir Thomas’s family, was of our travelling company on an ensuing journey, and had her little gossip with Christie. Other acquaintance than that of accidental companionship we never had with any of the Pioneer’s passengers ; but what a charm there is in that involuntary knowledge one comes to have of these chance fellow-travellers whom we meet, pass, fall behind, and come up with again, until they become at last familiar features of our route !

But we have been long enough getting on board. It is well that these laggards are the last, for it is high time we were off.

The wind being fair for our purpose, we are able to take the northern course and commence the circuit of the island by striking directly for the Sound of Mull, much the most favorable route, as it introduces the traveller at once to some of the most picturesque objects of the excursion.

The first of these, standing like a sentinel to the land-locked bay of Oban, is Dunolly Castle, which commands the bold promontory around which we bend our course, as, emerging from our little harbor, we gain the comparatively open sea. The only remnant of this once proud dwelling of the Lords of Lorn which remains entire is the old mossy tower or keep, around which are grouped numerous ivy-grown fragments, attesting the former greatness of a stronghold whose chieftain once had power to defy and defeat Robert Bruce. Many are the traditions and associations that cluster about this spot, but none, perhaps, more ancient and suggestive than that which still points out the Clach-nacau, or the Dog's Pillar, — a huge, upright pillar, a detached fragment of rock, — which stands at the very edge of the promontory, and which is still pointed out as the stake to which Fingal, chief of the race of Morven, mighty in the hunt as well as in battle, was accustomed to bind his white-breasted Bran, that “long-bounding son of the chase." “ Raise high the mossy stones of their fame,” sang the poet of Scandinavian heroes. The fame of the huntsman and hound “ is in the desert no more ” ; but as “the sons of the feeble ” pass along, they see, as did Fingal at the tomb of Ryno, “how peaceful lies the stone of him who was the first at the chase ! ”

But we may not pause to muse upon Dunolly, with its dreams of other days. As we sweep round the base of the promontory, a scene bursts on our view so wildly grand that any single feature of the imposing landscape shrinks abashed and owns its insignificance. We are making direct for the entrance to the Sound of Mull; but behind and to the north of us is stretched out a panorama of rock and hill and deeply indented coast of incomparable grandeur. To the left of us rise the rugged and desolate shores of Mull, while far away to the northeast extends the lofty range of dark, resounding Morven,—the prospect in that direction terminated and crowned by the huge and precipitous Cruachan Ben, while in a more northerly direction the Adnamurchan Hills shut in our horizon.

And when, at length, the eye is satisfied with gazing on the prospect in its entirety, one after another, the mossgrown fortresses and other hoary relics of ancient Erse architecture claim our reverent attention ; for the Hebridean chieftains, an amphibious race, almost invariably chose the extreme verge of ocean-precipice for the site of their fortresses, thus securing facilities for friendly communication, and defence against the attacks of hostile clans. Dunstaffnage, though left some distance to our right, is still sufficiently in view for us to discern its regal proportions. On the opposite shore, and farther up the coast, glimpses may be had here and there of many a solitary tower,

“ that, steep and gray,
Like falcon-nest, o'erhangs the bay."

And as Imagination travels on, she sees each misty eminence crowned with its airy castle, its ancient beacon, —

“ Each on its own dark cape reclined,
And listening to its own wild wind,
From where Mingarry, sternly placed,
O’erawes the woodland and the waste,
To where Dunstaffnage hears the raging
Of Connal with his rocks engaging."

But that we are bound to the steamer’s track, we should be continually darting off our course to explore the deep indentations of island and coast, many of which are the entrances to romantic inland lochs. Could we spread white sails to the winds of Morven, and linger at pleasure in this picturesque region, we should leave no haunted castle or lonely watch-tower unexplored, from Castle Stalker, on its island-rock, to KinLoch-Aline, on the copsy bank of Loch Aline, “one of the most picturesque of the Highland castles,” so says the Guidebook, and one which brought material reward to its builder too ; for tradition tells us that it was built by Dubh-Chal, an Amazon of the Clan McInnes, who paid the architect with its bulk in butter. What a dairy-woman, as well as warrior, must this Dubh-Chal have been in her day ! And what a fortune this architect would have realized, could he have lived in ours !

We are now entering the Sound of Mull ; and on our left, at the easternmost point of the island, Duart Castle, which commands the entrance to the Sound, looks down upon us from its rocky promontory. We have just passed the Lady Rock, which, bare and black at ebb-tide, but wave-washed at highwater, is the scene of a legend which has given a wicked notoriety to one of the ancient lairds of this same Duart. It gave rise to Campbell’s poem of “ Glenara.” and forms the basis of Joanna Baillie’s tragedy of "The Family Legend.” But we have neither at hand to consult at this moment, even if the steamer would pause to indulge us in literary pastime so we must wait the leisure of some winter evening for poem and tragedy, and content ourselves with the prose account given by James Wilson, (the Professor's brother,) which is as much as we can digest en passant.

From this it seems that “ Lauchlan Catenach Maclean of Duart had married a daughter of Archibald, second Earl of Argyll, with whom it may be presumed he lived on bad terms, whatever may have been the cause, although the character of the act alluded to depends in some measure on that cause. No man has a right to expose his wife, in consequence of any ordinary domestic disagreement, upon a wave-washed rock, with the probability of her catching cold in the first place, and the certainty of her being drowned in the second. But some accounts say that she had twice attempted her husband’s life, and so assuredly she deserved to be most severely reprimanded. Be this as it may, Lauchlan carried the lady to the rock in question, where he left her at low water, no doubt desiring that at high water she would be seen no more. However, it so chanced that her cries, ‘ piercing the night’s dull ear,’ were heard by some passing fishermen, who, subduing their fear of water-witches, or perhaps thinking that they had at last caught a mermaid, secured the fair one, and conveyed her away to her own people, to whom, of course, she told her own version of the story. We forget what legal steps were taken, (a sheriff’s warrant probably passed for little in those days, at least in Mull.) but considerable feudal disorders ensued in consequence, and the Laird of Duart was eventually assassinated in bed one night, (in Edinburgh.) by Sir John Campbell of Calder, the brother of the bathed lady. We hope that this was the means of reconciling all parties.”

Next comes, on our right, Ardtornish Castle,

" on her frowning steep,
" Twixt cloud and ocean hung,”

the opening scene of Scott’s “ Lord of the Isles,” and the stronghold of that hero chieftain. It is now, for the most part, in ruins. One old keep, or tower, still remains standing: the same, perhaps, of which Sir Walter says, —

“ The turret’s airy head,
Slender and steep and battled round,
O’erlooked, dark Mull, thy mighty Sound,
Where thwarting tides with mingled roar
Part thy swarth hills from Morven’s shore.”

And if we would form a conception of the inaccessible character of this and similar ocean-washed fortresses, we have but to recall the poet’s description of the approach to it by Bruce and his companions on the seaward side : —

" Hewn in the rock, a passage there
Sought the dark fortress by a stair
So straight, so high, so steep,
With peasant’s staff one valiant hand
Might well the dizzy pass have manned,
And plunged them in the deep.”

Other ancient castles meet our view, both on the right and left, during the passage of the Sound. None of these rough, but romantic ruins constitute the present residence of their owners, who could be better accommodated in the poorest fishing-hut. They serve, however. to give interest and dignity to the modern residence or miniature village which nestles demurely under the shelter of their pristine fame. At Tobermory, or the Well of Mary, the metropolis of Mull, the steamer stops to deposit and receive passengers,—this, and one or two other pauses for a similar practical purpose, constituting, in favor of a few chance travellers, an exception to her otherwise strict character of an excursionor pleasure-boat. Indeed, in the eyes of the Islanders, the services she thus renders may constitute her a business agent, though we tourists, being so much in the majority, recognize her only in her festive and recreative capacity. And, after all, who knows but this scheme of touching at Tobermory originated in the design to accommodate us with the lovely view which is presented by the picturesque, straggling town, its terraced walks, its green copses, and its mountainous background and inclosure, which combine to form the landscape that greets us as we enter the little bay ?

II.

WE leave Tobermory and the shelter of the Sound almost simultaneously; and now, as we emerge into open ocean, the long wave of the Atlantic, on which the steamer is rolling, no less than the grand ocean prospect, unbroken, except by the numerous small islands among which our course lies, betrays the fact that we are getting out to sea. We have passed the westernmost extremity of the main land, and are outside of and beyond the great island whose circuit we are making. The romantic and legendary character of the scenery has now given place to the sublime ; and, the attention no longer diverted by a succession of objects close at hand, we can give ourselves uninterruptedly to the contemplation of Nature in her grandeur. The chief objects of our voyage are already dawning upon us. As we pass the Point of Callioch, a stormy headland on the northeastern shore of Mull, we share the experience of the poet Campbell, who, living for some months in his youth as a tutor at Sunipol House, just in this neighborhood, wrote to a friend, “The Point of Callioch commands a magnificent prospect of thirteen Hebrid islands, among which are Staffa and Icolmkill, which I visited with enthusiasm.” Thus we have the poet’s warrant, as well as that of travellers and sages of many centuries, for the enthusiasm with which we had embarked on an excursion, the principal objects of which were Staffa and its far-famed Fingal's Cave, and Icolmkill, otherwise the sacred island of Iona.

But these objects of engrossing interest are still far off in the distance. Staffa, the smaller and nearer of the two, presents but an unimposing front from the quarter by which we approach, being oval in form, low, and with a gently undulating surface, in which respect it does not differ materially, except in its dimensions, from the inferior islands among which we are steering our course, and which, cold, bald, and of a monotonous and desolate uniformity, betray their near relationship to the conical, heather-covered hills of the Highlands. It almost seems, indeed, as if these islands were some old acquaintances of the mainland, which have slipped their moorings and drifted out to sea. A sense of loneliness and melancholy steals over one amid this bleak, wild scenery, — a sense of having one’s self drifted away from the haunts of men, almost from those of vegetation, so much sameness is there in the landscape, so little of promise or growth on the soil. No wonder that Dr. Johnson, to whom London streets and atmosphere alone were congenial, and who brought with him to the Hebrides his strong antipathy to everything Scotch, was often a prey to discontent and murmuring in these latitudes, and that in a moment of ill-humor he should have exclaimed to Boswell, — “Oh, Sir, a most dolorous country ! ” No wonder, that, his suspicions excited by the nakedness of the land and his preconceived notions of Scotch cupidity, he should, on occasion of losing his stout oaken stick, while crossing the Island of Mull on a Highland sheltie, have vowed to Boswell that it had been stolen by the natives, justifying the charge by the argument, — “ Consider, Sir, the value of such a piece of timber here ! ” Campbell, so his biographer tells us, “felt the loneliness of his situation at Sunipol House acutely at first, though he soon became reconciled to a country which, though bleak and wild, was peculiarly romantic and nourished the poetry in his soul.” Even a creature of a lower order than philosophers, poets, or even us poor tourists, has been known to feel the chilling influence of Nature in these her wildest forms, and though weaned from softer airs, perhaps reconciled to its stern lot, has cherished in its innermost bosom a memory so warm, so strong, as to assert itself at last with a force that fired and burst the little breast in which it had unconsciously smothered. Witness Campbell’s little poem, “ The Parrot,” the incident of which he learned in the Island of Mull, from the family to whom the bird belonged, — an incident which inspired the poet to a strain so touchingly sweet that I cannot resist the temptation to quote it entire.

“ The deep affections of the breast,
That Heaven to living things imparts,
Are not exclusively possessed
By human hearts.
“A parrot from the Spanish Main,
Full young, and early caged, came o’er
With bright wings to the bleak domain
Of Mulla's shore.
“ To spicy groves where he had won
His plumage of resplendent hue,
His native fruits and skies and sun,
He bade adieu.
“ For these he changed the smoke of turf,
A heathery land and misty sky,
And turned on rocks and raging surf
His golden eye.
“ But, petted, in our climate cold
He lived and chattered many a day,
Until, with age, from green and gold
His wings grew gray.
“At last, when, blind, and seeming dumb,
He scolded, laughed, and spoke no more,
A Spanish stranger chanced to come
To Mulla’s shore.
“ He hailed the bird in Spanish speech ;
The bird in Spanish speech replied,
Flapped round his cage with joyous screech,
Dropped down, and died.”

If perfect sunshine, gentle breezes, and a smooth sea could lure one into unconsciousness of the surrounding desolation and into forgetfulness of the elemental warfare to which these Hebridean regions are exposed, we had complete antidotes to melancholy or dread, so perfect was the day chosen for our excursion ; and yet I never think of that part of our passage in which we threaded the islands lying north of Staffa without a gentle shade of sadness mingling with my recollections. But that the sage Johnson, the romantic Campbell, and the unreflecting parrot all indorse these emotions as instinctive, I should feel bound in honor (honor to the landscape) to ascribe them to that occasional thrill of homesickness which I have known take possession of me in the crowded streets of London or Edinburgh as well as here, making me inwardly exclaim, like the old woman from the wilds of Vermont, on her first visit to the metropolis, “All this may be very fine, but 1 wonder the folks can bear to live so far away.”

That I was the victim of a momentary sense of exile is rendered the more probable from the fact that about this time Christie was stretched in the cabin below, a victim to sea-sickness, in spite of the comparatively smooth sea, and that the Bailie had gone forward to smoke a pipe, thus leaving me alone with my meditations. That they were not wholly of the regretful or sentimental cast is evident, however, from the fact that I improved this opportunity to indulge in more than one observation upon the company, my gossip (that is, my imagination) and I making many a little comment on my human surroundings, especially those three specimens of English girls whom, as I had met them once before, I was beginning to recognize as acquaintances.

And what we commented on them, I and another friendly gossip, namely, memory, often rehearse ; for that trio still stand out to my recollection as excellent, let us hope average, types of English maidenhood of the best blood and breeding, — blood not a whit purer, to my thinking, than flows in any honest veins, — breeding no higher than maybe attained in the humblest household in which Christian politeness is the ruling standard,

“ How pretty they were ! ” says Memory.

I. Yes, — just pretty enough to gladden a mother’s heart now and a lover’s by-and-by, but mercifully sparing us those ecstasies on their beauty which are so tiresome.

Memory. Theirs was chiefly the beauty of youth, health, and happiness ; they were all well-featured, though, and had faces which grew more and more interesting on acquaintance.

I. How hard it was to distinguish them one from another !

Memory. Yes, at first. But you must recollect that on closer observation one proved to be the taller, one the plumper, and one decidedly the younger of the three ; then, although they were dressed so exactly alike, — according to what must be, I suspect, a sumptuary law in England, — and although their stout travelling-dresses, drab cloaks, thick boots, the shaggy shawls severally carried by each on one arm, the faded blue cravats tied round their throats, were so precisely alike and had been subjected to so exactly the same amount of wear that you could have sworn each article was its fellow, you know you did detect a trifling difference in the feathers of their hats, sufficient to prove afterwards a distinguishing badge.

Here Reflection steps in and suggests whether this exact uniformity of dress among British children of one family may not be the outward sign of that harmony and subjection to rule which, so far as I have had an opportunity of judging, prevail in English households. Where could you find such a degree of conformity among American girls as to induce unqualified submission to one standard of taste, and that the maternal ? I am not sure that It is desirable to quench all individuality, even in a matter so comparatively insignificant as that of dress. But who can prize too highly the reverence for authority, the sweet feminine modesty, the domestic harmony, which are expressed in this sisterly uniformity of costume ? All this might have been spurious in the case just cited, and this harmonious effect arrived at only after an infinite amount of petty squabbling and rebellion ; but such unworthy skepticism is rebuked by my faithful Memory, who reminds me of the filial respect combined with girlish gayety and absence of all self-consciousness which forbade the idea for a moment that these young lives were regulated by harsh or compulsory discipline. Still it was discipline, there could be no doubt of that, and of the most healthy order, which gave such a charm to Sir Thomas's daughters. Perhaps they had reaped in their family circle all and more than all the benefits which school-training and contact with numbers are capable of affording, without the loss of home-influences ; for I overheard their mother (rather a loudvoiced woman, by the way) telling somebody,— the clergyman’s wife, I suspect, — that she had already married off two similar trios of daughters, and that these were the younger children. Blessings on the children who belong to so well filled a quiver, if they all attain to such a degree of sweetness and decorum as to impress the most casual observer, and one of their own sex, too, with such lasting recollections of their maiden loveliness ! I saw them under various

circumstances, both flattering and the reverse : saw them, when, with their own servants in attendance, and the advantages of social position, they might not unnaturally have laid claim to precedence ; saw them and their drawingmaterials shuffled hastily from the steamer’s cabin one rainy day, to make way for the dinner-cloth, in accordance with steamboat regulations, and in spite of their mild expostulations ; saw one of them, at least, subjected to the presumptuous advances of a chance admirer: but I never saw any instance in which their behavior was not marked by modesty and good-nature, accompanied by a quiet dignity and self-respect which repelled intrusion so effectually as to justify their experienced mother in giving them the freedom of steamboats, rocks, caves, and crowds, to a degree which is seldom exceeded by the boasted independence of American girls.

But Memory reminds me that I did not see all this during that noonday hour when the Pioneer was bearing down upon Staffa, and that long before these English girls had established themselves so high in my good opinion we had skirted nearly the whole of the eastern shore of the island. The steamer is now gradually slackening her speed, preparatory to coming to a full stop not far from the southeastern extremity, and we realize that the first goal of this day’s hopes is gained.