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McCarty, “how that little satin slipper felt the last thrill of her poor body."
But McCarty is not Edinburgh, though much mixed with all my recollections of the town. It was with him that I went up the winding street to the castle, and looked at those fine fellows, the Seventy-eighth Highlanders, who garrison it; with him I looked at the big, ugly old gun, Mons Meg; and with him I leaned over the battlement, and looked at the green park that lies at the foot of the crags, and beyond at the New Town, and the blue, shining waters of the Frith of Forth. One dim day we went to Holyrood together, and wandered through the bare, dismal rooms where the cowardly, brutal murder of Rizzio was perpetrated. I wonder Queen Mary did not go mad in such a place, and surrounded by such people. It was McCarty who went with me to Greyfriars churchyard, where is the holy shrine of the Covenanters. It is a black slab, set in the gray wall, and surrounded by clambering vines of a hard, stiff, thorny nature, not unlike that of the Covenanters themselves, who stood at bay against the wicked Claverhouse and his dragoons at Drumclog. There is a long inscription in verse commemorating the virtues, sufferings and death of the eighteen thousand martyrs of the Covenant. Two old women from Glasgow stood by while I read aloud the inscription, and one of the women wept. Then the four of us wandered about in the churchyard, and read the inscriptions; and coming upon the tomb of the family of Dalzell, one of the women told me a fearful story of the last moments of one General Dalzell, who was a bloody persecutor, and was himself tormented before the time. It was like hearing a tale from Howie's “Scots Worthies." But times change. This old woman, it is true, kept her lamp trimmed and burning with the old-fashioned oil; but going on Sunday to Greyfriars Kirk, expecting to receive more of the same kind of illumination, I was astonished, not to say shocked. Service was read from a book; the minister preached about his travels on the Continent, instead of the pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem; there was a pipe-organ, and the leading soprano, whose face did not betray any deep consciousness of personal guilt, threw back her bonnet and sang with divers trills and flourishes, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me."
But I am in a fair way to add another volume to the books that have been written about Edinburgh. What a queer place it is, to be sure, with its two towns — the old and the new; its heights and its depths; its broad squares and its narrow streets; its wonderful high houses, such as we dream of when we are sick unto death; houses which we fear are about to fall on us, or we are to fall from. Edinburgh, with its street-sounds, which are all its own— the drone of the bagpipes; the old Jacobite songs, sung first by gallant men and lovely women who have been but dust for a hundred years. Edinburgh, with its memories, dark and bright-crusted with the blood of murder-radiant with the light of love or heroism. Edinburgh, where the pale face of Queen Mary looks out at the narrow window of the high tower; where the Heart of Mid-Lothian looks up at you from the sidewalk. What town is like Edinburgh: the strange, the beautiful, the indescribable?
Of Ayr, my next stopping-place, I have already spoken; and it does not matter how or why I went from Ayr to Kirkcudbright, and thence seven miles out among the sheep farms of the parish of Borgue. It is sufficient that I went there.
A white stone cottage in the midst of green, broken pastures; all in hillocks, and diversified by clumps of low, ragged bushes, which the people call “whins;” and this cottage the habitation of a shepherd's family: this was what I went out into the Scotch wilderness "for to see,” and I was content. The frith of Solway was at our back door, and the weather was fine for Scotland, and it was enough. All the coast is full of cliffs, and the cliffs are full of caves; and sometimes little Katie and I climbed down to the caves, and peered therein, and sometimes we were content to look over the edges of the cliffs, and watch the brown sea-weed swinging, in its lazy way, in the still, green water. There are stories and stories about these caves; and Scott has used one of them in Guy Mannering. On the landward side, we walked about the farms, where the pastures are full of the huge, black, hornless Galloway cattle; and went to the village of Borgue, which is a small affair, consisting of two churches, and the manse, and the school house, and the “store,” kept by a young fellow who was born in America, and so will be called “Yankee" to the end of his days. But America is no unknown country. One of the lighthouse keepers at Little Ross told me he was a printer, and had worked in Buffalo, New York; and from this cheese-making country young Scotchmen go to the United States, to superintend cheese factories in the summer, and come back to Scotland in the winter.
So passed, in wandering about the shore and hill and dale, the peaceful days; every hour was brightened by humble but hearty hospitality; every night the fire shone bright, and the songs of one world were sung and the stories of two worlds were told; here battles were recounted, from Bannockburn to Gettysburg. So passed these last days in Scotland, and so they will linger in memory like the breathing of the gentle wind, the plashing of the pleased and solaced wave.
A GLIMPSE OF ULSTER.
“How is old Ireland ?- and how does she stand?”-Napper Tandy. THE maxim that “half a loaf is better than no bread,” has
been repeated so often that mankind has come generally to believe it; but in the case of Ireland, I was obliged to “dilute" the maxim by one-half, since my brief travels were confined to Ulster alone, and Leinster, Munster and Connaught, three-fourths of Ireland, were left untouched.
There are many ways of getting to Ireland, but the one selected by myself was, though perhaps the shortest in use, not the most frequented. It was from Stranraer to Larne. The gove ernment years ago expended a great deal of money at Portpatrick, which is the point on the Scotch coast nearest to Ireland, but, like, many internal-improvement schemes in America, the port of Portpatrick miscarried, and the business was transferred to Stranraer, at the head of Loch Ryan. From here the boats run to Larne, whence it is a brief trip by rail to Belfast, the “Liverpool of Ireland.”
Stranraer is a dirty town, more Irish, I should judge, than Scotch, at least the street music appeared to be entirely of the shillelah and jig order. A few fishing vessels lay in the harbor, the only steamer being the Larne boat. Altogether Stranraer is a slow town - as slow as Artemus Ward's town in Indiana, where the plank road came in three times a week.