A Run Ashore at Queenstown
Queenstown is full of interest. It is the entrance for many Americans to Europe, the point of their initiation into scenes read of and mentally pictured, but yet to be tried by the light of personal experience. It is the first page of the book of foreign travel, and it is often the last of the same volume—a place of meeting and farewell, where the ocean voyage practically begins and ends. Those who have friends bound for Europe look for its name with much anxiety in the telegraphic columns of their newspapers, and they are relieved by seeing among the marine news the brief paragraph which tells them in formal words like these that the steamer for which they have been hoping has reached her destination:
- "Queenstown, Thursday—The steamer Servia arrived here this morning, and having landed all mails and some passengers, proceeded for Liverpool immediately."
On board the ship herself this famous port of call is also the subject of much speculation, and the probabilities as to when it will be reached occupy no small part of the abundant leisure of the voyage. A miniature chart of the North Atlantic on a scale so diminished that a pen line of an inch indicates three or four hundred miles is hung in the companionway, and from day to day the vessel's course and position are marked upon it. It is taken away from its place into the chief officer's room for a few minutes at noon, and when it is replaced a crowd of passengers surround the little frame in which it is hung, and are grateful for the pledge which the extremity of the ink line, with the note of latitude and longitude, gives that they are somewhere and not nowhere, as the similarity of the view day after day would lead them to think. The line has its beginning at Sandy Hook; thence (at certain seasons) it is drawn due east about an inch, and from this point it works in a curve, inclining to the south as it approaches the irregular shape of the Irish coast near Cape Clear. It is when it is an inch or two of Cape Clear that Queenstown becomes a more engrossing topic than ever, and not the day but the hour of arrival is now spoken of with a confidence which has dismissed any fears or doubts there may have been at the outset of the voyage. The novels and games which have engaged the passengers previously are abandoned. The saloon tables are littered with stationery, and the general occupation is epistolary. No one is unexcited by the prospect save a few used-up travellers who are too familiar with Queenstown to care in the least about it; but to most of those on board the places mean many things: it is land again, and bring them once more in communication with home; it opens new scenes and awakens new emotions, and through it old associations are renewed and new relations established.
The land is perhaps sighted in the early morning—a gray upheaval scarcely distinguishable among the moist and billowy clouds which hang on the faint horizon. Very pale and cold are the sunrises on the southern coast, though full of wild and unusual color. The water holds on the surface deep greens, warm browns, and a purple over which a translucent white seems to have been washed. The heavily gray masses conceal the sky, but as they break and unfold they reluctantly permit a cheerless light to fall upon the sea. Long before the solid cliffs are visible the vapor shapes itself into a phantasmal coast, which seems more real to the inexperienced eye than the land when it appears; and if you stood up on the bridge of the steamer on one of these white mornings you would likely not recognize the hills of Kerry when they first revealed themselves in the indistinct distance to the sharp eyes of the watch. From the .lofty bridge, the whole length of the ship is visible, and at four in the morning, though land is so near, the long decks have not one passenger upon them. The hills of the mountainous country in which Ireland ends have extricated themselves from the clouds, and instead of gray they appear softly blue before the sleepers are stirring; but by seven o'clock many of the ports are thrown open, and many eyes are looking out of the small circular apertures in the vessel's side to see the expected land.
Then, until Queenstown is reached, there is more animation than at any other time during the voyage. Flags are flying from each mast and astern; the decks are holy-stoned to a creamy whiteness; the officers wear their best uniforms, with the newest of gold-lace, and the passengers have discarded the loose and négligé costumes of the voyage for the more precise and elegant attire of the shore. The transformations in dress are so complete that one's most intimate acquaintances are not immediately recognizable. The soft Tweed hat and helmet, and the loose, copious ulsters, are packed up somewhere in the rolls of shawls and rugs which the stewards are bringing up from the cabins, and those who have worn them have adopted closer-fitting garments and the uncomfortable "stove-pipes" of civilization.
But what is the land like at which most of the passengers are looking with wistful eyes and many surmises? One of the first points sighted is Crookhaven, a telegraph station from which the arrival of the ship is telegraphed over both continents, and a few miles east of this is the island of Cape Clear and the rock of Fastnet, on which one of the most useful lights is pillared. The distance from Fastnet to Queenstown is about seventy-five miles, and between them the coast is broken by many bays and perilous headlands which jut out from the cliffs. The cliffs are lofty and savage, and in contrast with their brown escarpment the sea fringes their bases with a long line of white surf, which is high enough to be visible many miles away when the Atlantic is calmest, and which, when a gale is blowing, is uplifted half-way to their tops. The land above the cliffs is drowsy and vacant, a moist green in color, sad in its effect, with few other signs of life upon it than the dots of white where a small village lies under the pale blue streak of its own smoke, and the tower and inclosing walls of a light-house. The white of the cottages and the light-house looks the whiter from the darkness of the rocks, and the cloudiness which shuts out the sun or admits it in misty beams. The feeling inspired is one of desolation. An uncompanionable maiden or youth may yield to this and sigh responsively to this piteous-looking land; but most of the passengers find too much to do to let the scene, which soon becomes tiresome, absorb them. There are good-byes to be said to those who are going ashore at Queenstown, and telegrams and letters to be written for dispatch at that port; the purser has to be consulted on the times of trains, the selection of routes and hotels, and on a variety of encyclopædical questions with which that useful officer is expected to be acquainted. About four hours after passing Fastnet the steamer is abreast f a bolder promontory than any: it is the Old Head of Kinsale, and in the distance, over the port bow, another promontory is seen. This is Roche's Point, at the entrance to Queenstown Harbor, and standing off it is the tender which is to take ashore the mails and the passengers who are not going on to Liverpool.
Perhaps it will be well to say just here what the uses of Queenstown are to the transatlantic steamers, and what their relations are with it. All the mail steamers between New York, Boston, and Philadelphia and Liverpool call at it both on their way from America to England and from England to America. They deliver the American mails there, and receive the English mails. The distance from Queenstown to Liverpool is two hundred and forty miles, and the steamers usually take from seventeen to twenty hours in making it. The time is occasionally increased by from one to nine hours through detentions caused by the insufficiency of water at the Liverpool bar. But by the mail service via Dublin and Holyhead the time occupied between Queenstown and London, two hundred and one miles farther than Liverpool, is only nineteen hours; and thus it is possible for a mail to be delivered in London before the steamer which brought it to Queenstown has entered the Mersey. The service is by train to Cork and Dublin; then by extraordinarily powerful Channel steamers across the Irish Sea to Holyhead, on the Welsh coast, and from Holyhead to the metropolis by fast trains, which cover the distance, two hundred and sixty miles, in six hours and forty minutes. In coming to America the steamers are required to wait at Queenstown for the mail leaving London at nine o'clock in the evening of the day on which they sail from Liverpool. In other words, supposing that one of them left the latter port at noon on Saturday, she would be in Queenstown early on Sunday morning, and would anchor there until the arrival of the train which left London nine hours after she left Liverpool, and which would be due in Queenstown at about three o'clock on Sunday afternoon. The mail is not the only thing benefited. A hurried business man gains a whole working day on shore by using the mail route to Queenstown, and the steamers themselves find that a convenient port for the embarkation of the large number of emigrants coming from Ireland. The passengers who embark at Liverpool usually have enough time ashore at Queenstown, while their steamers are waiting for the mail, to see the beautiful harbor, the river Lee, Cork, and even to kiss the Blarney Stone, and for those who are bound to Europe it is the best starting-point for the tour of Killarney. To such an extent are Americans seen in it, and to such an extent do they patronize its hotels, its shops, its hawkers, and its beggars, that it seems like an American possession, and the American flag, throwing out its crimson bars, looks quite at home on the roof of the consulate, which is embanked high on one of the white terraces of the town.
But let us return to our steamer off the Old Head of Kinsale, on her way to Liverpool. The tender lying to off the port bow is the Lord Bandon, the Mount Etna, or the Jackal, and when we are within half a mile of her the engines are slowed, and then stopped, to allow her to come aside. There is a hush and a straining of sight among the passengers as she approaches. A few of them expect friends to meet them; all of them are deeply interested. She breaks the eight-day spell of the voyage, and reopens communication with the larger world, and solves the little social knot which the isolation of the voyage has tied. The firmness and greenness of the land are not more welcome than the new and unfamiliar faces, except to the bridal pair who have been living on the Eden isle of their passion, and propose to take that unreal estate on shore with the rest of their baggage. Except to them there is a sense of release, and we at once begin to feel a greater fullness of space than the immensity of mid-ocean has ever impressed upon us. The spell is indeed broken and the knot untied. Scarcely is the gang-plank out when a vendor of newspapers is distributing the New York Herald and the London Times. There is a flutter of excitement over a weather-stained leather dispatch bag which a man from the shore delivers to the purser. That gentleman is uncivilly mobbed by the passengers in their anxiety to get at the contents. The little circular plate to the lock focuses their attention, and for a moment, while the key is inserted, every face is fixed in suspense. A bundle of letters and telegrams is brought out and distributed; then the mob disperses to read what it has received in quiet corners, while the few disappointed ones who have received nothing mournfully try to interest themselves in what is going on upon the deck. In the meantime the mails have been put on board the tender, and the passengers are warned by bells and whistles to follow them. This is speedily done, and the great ship, which looks nobler at the end of the voyage than when she started, is hailed with cheers, which are answered with three hoarse blasts from her fog-horn. She bears off to the northeast, and the tender makes for Roche's Point, within the shelter of which she soon is.
Queenstown Harbor is not unlike that of New York. As the Narrows protect the latter, Roche's Point and its opposite headland are so close together that they shut out the storms from the former, and keep the water within it smooth when that outside is raging. The circular bay, with its islands and hilly shores, is also a duplicate of what may be seen in the neighborhood of Staten Island. At the mouth the land is craggy, and the heights are fortified, but farther in the foliage is profuse. There is anchorage for thousands of ships, and a sufficient depth of water to admit the largest at all states of the tide.
At the head of the bay, in an almost straight line from the Point, is the town, built in terraces, one above the other, on a wooded and heathery bluff. The houses are nearly all white and square and uniform in feature. Their color and the frequent green which surrounds them give them a tropical resemblance, especially, as is not often the case, when the sun lights them up and distills all sorts of rainbow tints from the atmosphere, which is usually soft, but gray and dispiriting. On a clear and placid summer day Queenstown Harbor is as beautiful as anything that can be imagined. The foliage has a soft and cloudy depth, and the water is a still pool of emerald. Every object is refined and idealized, every color harmonized. The substantial things themselves seem as beautifully phantasmal as their minute reflections.
At the foot of the cliff and along the quays is a street of shops and taverns, most of them aiming for patronage at tourists, emigrants, and seamen. The higher terraces are principally dwellings, and the higher they are, the better is the class to which they belong. On the ridge above all the others are two or three houses which may be called palaces without extravagance of phrase. Though the interests of Queenstown are much varied, and social complications are scarcely to be expected from them, the lines of caste and rank are drawn with English precisions. Primarily the chief interest of Queenstown is as a port of call. Like Falmsouth, which is similarly situated on the southern coast of England, it is made for by many ships consigned to order, or, in other words, sent here that the choice of a port of delivery may be governed by the conditions of the market, and ships in ballast from abroad, which can be ordered from here to that point where the most favorable terms for carrying a cargo are procurable.
The captain whose vessel is lying in the harbor waiting orders is one of the constituent figures of Queenstown—a comfortable person, with a complexion of copper bronze and a marked steadiness of eye, and a simplicity and brevity of manner. One degree above him is the ship agent, who also is a comfortable person, with a villa on the heathery bluff, set in its own grounds, and commanding a view of the mirror-like bay—a cozy habitation, full of the spoils of travel, in which he gives little dinners, celebrated by libations as deep as they were in country houses twenty years ago. This is a great ship agents, whose argosies, "with portly sail, like signiors and rich burghers of the flood, do overpeer the petty traffickers." The agent of "the petty traffickers" also has a house somewhere on the hill, and a little office, filled with charts and maps and pictures of ships, in the street by the water-side. Another element is contributed by the officers of the garrison and the officers of the Board of Trade, whose duty lies with the outgoing ships; and the salubrity of its climate brings a small number of invalid visitors to it, especially consumptives and sufferers from nervous debility. The dominant person in this little society is the admiral of the port, and not to know him is to be unknown—at least in fashionable eyes. An obsolete old warship is moored in the harbor, and though it is nominally a guard-ship, its principal use is as a vessel on which the admiral can fly his flag. Practically he might fly his flag with no less effectiveness from any pole on land, but that would be an infringement of naval usages, and the harmless old frigate is maintained, with a crew of two hundred or more men, to fulfill a tradition. Besides flying his flag, the admiral has one or two other duties to perform. Now and then one of the enormous armored ships calls at Queenstown, or a great white transport comes into the harbor to carry troops away from this inactive little station to the Cape or India, and as soon as she is moored a ladder is lowered down her side, and the captain in full uniform enters a boat which bears him away to the admiral to report, and the admiral receives him with gratifying blandness. The functions of the admiral are almost entirely ornamental, and around him clusters an acquiescent little court, with many naval and military courtiers. A few yachtsmen, whose bird-like vessels add to the beauty of the harbor, are also present in the summer season, and sometimes there is the special correspondent of an important newspaper waiting to beguile some distinguished traveller by sea into an "interview." These dissimilar elements find a point of contact in the Club, which adheres to many of the rules under which it was formed in 1720, and is the oldest of all yacht clubs. A writer in 1748 thus describes one of its customs to the Admiralty: "I shall now acquaint your Lordships with a ceremony they have at Cork. It is somewhat like that of the Doge of Venice's wedding the Sea. A set of worthy Gentlemen who have formed themselves into a body, which they call the Water Club, proceed a few leagues out to Sea , once a year, in a Number of little Vessels which for painting and gilding exceeed the King's Yacht at Greenwich and Deptford. Their Admiral, who is annually elected, and hoists his Flag about his little Vessel, leads the Van, and receives the honours of the Flag. The rest of the fleet fall in their proper stations, and keep their line in the same manner as the King's Ships. This Fleet is attended with a prodigious Number of Boats, which with their colors flying, Drums beating, and Trumpets sounding, forms one of the most agreeable and splendid Sights your Lordships can conceive." Some of the rules are very odd. They direct, among other things, that "no admiral do bring more than two Dishes of Meat for the Entertainment of the Club"; that "no admiral do presume to bring more than two Dozen of Wine to his Treat, for it has always been deemed a Breach of the ancient Rules and Constitutions of the Club, except when my Lords the Judges are invited"; that "no captain do bring any Stranger to the Club, unless they should lie at the Captain's House the Night before: this order not to extend to the admiral, who has a right to invite whom he pleases"; and that "no long tail Wigs, large Sleeves, or Ruffles be worn by any Member at the Club."
Though the club is less restrictive now, and is a very pleasant little house of entertainment, it is not enough to beguile all the spare time which the men have, and one hears many complaints of ennui among those who are fixtures. Queenstown is dull, and to an active temperament the torpor of its ways soon become execrable. The passengers of the ocean steamers ripple the surface for a few hours, but the moment they are gone the place relapses into its usual and oppressive quietude.
As soon as an American steamer is telegraphed it is known among the thatched cottages on the hill-side through some rapid but mysterious agency, and long before the tender comes in from Roche's Point a voluble rabble of hawkers, beggars, and carmen gathers on the quays. When the passenger lands he is confused by the chorus of importunities to buy and to give. Each carman pretends to believe that he has been especially selected, and waves his whip and arms frantically at the suppositious hirer: "Very well, yer haner; this yer, yer haner; I'm waiting for yer haner"—though the person addressed has not signified any intention of riding. Unless he mounts one of the shabby jaunting-cars, however, he will not find it easy to extricate himself from the beleaguering mendicants, who surround him and follow him with propitiatory blessings, which are showered upon him with rapid and indistinct reiteration. There are old women with long black cloaks falling from the shoulders to the feet, and square caps which envelop the whole of the back and crown of the head, surrounding the face with a clean white frill, who have grapes and other fruit to sell at five times their value. There are hawkers of lace, shillalahs, bog-oak, pictures, and sprigs of the shamrock—everything at unscrupulous prices. There is an unblushing fluency of lying, flattery, and humbug, and when the crowd is evaded without purchases the blessings are quickly turned into muttered curses. The Englishmen who have to run this blockade scowl at the nuisance, and do not disguise their annoyance with it; but the Americans treat it as capital fun, and buy and give with a reckless liberality which has made many of the peddlers rich, and begging a lucrative profession.
The run ashore at Queenstown depends for what it embraces on the time which the passengers have; but the westward-bound steamers are usually in the harbor long enough, waiting for the mails, to enable them to go up the river to Cork and kiss the Blarney Stone. The "sweetness" of Cork has been sung by one of its melodious sons in easily remembered lines, but its beauty was surely in the glamour cast upon it by his own fondness. The stranger wanders its streets and quays in vain to find a confirmation of Father Prout's musical verses. What he sees is a city of small size, which reminds him somehow of inky-sleeved and dissolute Captain Shandon penning the prospectus of the Pall Mall Gazette in the Fleet prison. W. Maginn, the original of that famous picture of Thackeray's, was a native of Cork. So, too, was Francis Mahony, the gifted humorist who has sent the music of the Shandon Bells all round the world.
Cork, as the second city of Ireland, is of no little commercial importance, and though its streets are untidy and its architecture is uninteresting, the scenery above it and below it is exceedingly beautiful. From the wide and deep harbor of Queenstown the Lee winds up to it, in an almost straight course, between verdant hills, with many comfortable villages and luxurious residences upon them, and several quiet little watering-places along the grassy shore. The distance is eleven miles, and the channel has a depth of ten feet at low water. Above Cork the river greatly resembles the Thames in the neighborhood of Henley. It flows placidly through fragrant meadows, with willows drooping over it, and here and there inclosing it. The banks here are low and firm, and the hills are distant, so that long reaches of the stream are open to view. The scene has the highly cultivated character of the best of English landscape.
This is the way to Blarney, which is five miles from Cork, and there is the stone of talismanic eloquence, one of the many humbugs in Ireland. Blarney itself is a thriving manufacturing village which produces excellent cloth, and the castle is a picturesque ruin, once the stronghold of the Earls of Clancarty. The origin of the magic power ascribed to the stone is not known, but whoever kisses it acquires, in the language of one version of the legend, "the gift of gentle insinuating speech, with soft talk in all its ramifications, whether employed in vows light as air, such as lead captive the female heart, or elaborate mystifications of a grosser grain, such as may do for the House of Commons." This magniloquence is of a piece with the description Father Prout gave Sir Walter Scott, who made a pilgrimage to Blarney in 1825. "You behold, Sir Walter, the most valuable remnant of Ireland's ancient glory, the most precious lot of her Phœnician inheritance. Possessed of this treasure, she may well be designated
- 'First flower of the earth, and first gem of the sea,'
for neither the musical stone of Memnon that so 'sweetly played in tune,' nor the oracular stone of Delphi, nor the lapidary talisman of the Lydian Gyges, northe colossal granite shaped into a Sphinx in Upper Egypt, nor Stonehedge, nor the Pelasgic walls of Palestrina, offer so many attractions. The long sought lapis philosophorum, compared with this jewel, dwindles into insignificance; nay, the savory fragment which was substituted for the infant Jupiter when Saturn had the mania for devouring his children; the Luxor obelisk; the treaty stone of Limerick, with all its historical endearments; the zodiacal monument at Denderah, with all its astronomic importance; the Elgin marbles, with all their sculptured, the Arundelian, with all their lettered riches—cannot for a moment stand in competition with the Blarney block. What stone in the world save this alone can communicate to the tongue that suavity of speech and that splendid effrontery so necessary to get through life?
The authentic stone can only be reached by a perilous suspension from the top of the castle tower; but the more sensible visitors satisfy any ambition they may have to add unconscionable garrulity to their other vices by touching a less horrifying part of the masonry with their lips. After the osculation a rapid journey must be made to the harbor. The mails will be on board the tender, and the beggars and peddlers crying for patronage with increasing urgency. An hour later, Queenstown will be behind, and from the quiet headlands a long black shape, emitting an endless chain of smoke, will be seen silently gliding into the sunset.
The greatest pleasure of the run ashore is when the passenger lands from an inward-bound steamer, and has time to visit Glengariff and Killarney. There are some disadvantages connected with this excursion. The rain is as wearily persistent as the sunshine is infrequent. The mountains are nearly always in a gray retirement. The rains and mists are not so objectionable, however, that the splendor of scenery will not atone for them. What detracts from the tour most is the miserable comprehensiveness of the beggars, who from end to end of the journey follow the visitor with dogged perseverance, and chase him for miles and miles—bare-footed women, shock-headed children, and even able-bodied men who appearance is far from that of destitution. He can never be alone, never for a moment left to the quiet enjoyment of what he has come to see. Every cottage on the way sends out after him a rosy-faced and well-fed crowd of beggars, who will not take the most absolute refusal nor the most savage rebuke, and who keep at his heels until another cottage is reached, when they give up the chase to the emissaries of that, who continue it until they reach their limit, where they leave their next neighbor to sustain the agony. There is a deliberate intention to weary him into surrender, and surrender increases rather than diminishes the plague. Killarney can only be half enjoyed under these circumstances, but it is so lovely that the pleasure which can be derived from it is great, despite the many annoyances.
All natural beauties are embraced in this region; not one form, but all forms—mountains and lakes, gaunt hills and delightful valleys; the amplest fertility and the most unconquerable barrenness; the bleakest uplands and glens and lanes in which everything is green. History, tradition, and poetry increase the charm which Nature herself possesses. Scarcely a spot is unstoried; scarcely a spot unsung, or unclaimed by fable.
There are two ways of approaching the lakes, and that which includes Glengariff is the better. The train leaves the traveller at Banty, a little town on a magnificent bay which sweeps in from the Atlantic between jutting and rocky shores, and carries its brine in a deep flood at least seven miles inland. Bantry is the terminus of the railway, and thence the way is by car along the edge of the bay, which is now on a level with the road, and then far down at the foot of the bowlder-strewn slopes.
At the head of the bay, under the shadow of clustered mountains, is Glengariff. When it is discovered from a height the scene is one of sterile and tawny-colored splendor. The water spreading out to its gates is encircled by savage mountains; the rocks are bare and brown; the sky is cold. There is no promise of the fragrance and juicy verdure, the melting mood in which nature is found at a lower elevation; and as from the top of the hill we go down into an ever-increasing luxuriance of green of varying shades, from the solemn dark of the fir to the transparence and luminousness of banks of ferns, winding into tunnels of foliage, mixed with which is the blazing fruit of the mountain ash, and the fire-drops of the fuchsias, it seems like penetrating the outer brusqueness of one who at heart is full of gentleness. The cordiality of nature is expressed in elastic turf, springing softly under the pressure of the foot, in the moist exuberance of the verdure, in the sound of many rills which gush out from and between the rocks, in the strength and brilliance of scores of flowers, and in the languishing mildness of the air. The very hedges, as dense and as trim as the hawthorn of English fields, are compact masses of blossom, and the vines clamber up above the window sills to the roofs, enmeshing every stone in their tenacious threads. The mountains that from above look shaggy and awful are quieting in their influence down here, and the salt-water bay with its woody islands is like a calm inland lake. One or two houses and two hotels of uncommon excellence are built in this happy spot, and the climate is so genial that they are occupied all the year round.
Winding away from Glengariff again, of which Thackeray, Macauley, Froude, Lever, and many more writers have sung the praises—their testimony being hung in a printed form on the walls of all the bedrooms—the fertility is succeeded, as the mountains are ascended, by wild, stony pastures, deserted farms, sad moorlands, and craggy ridges, and for nearly forty miles these are the characteristics of the scenery. Great long rocky valleys are revealed, shut in by lofty mountains, and entered by dark and forbidding ravines, and the predominant color is a russet brown, or, in the farthest distance, a stormy blue. In one of these valleys, looking small, bleak, and wild, the three lakes of Killarney are at first seen from the summit of the Kenmare Road, a distance at which all their less austere beauties are hidden; but, as in approaching Glengariff, the way descends from a sterile uplands into a maze of foliage, and overhead and at both sides crops up the luscious green entanglement. The drive down from the police barracks to the untidy little town, a large part of whose population lives on the alms of summer visitors, is along a smooth and clean road. On one hand is a precipitous mountain slope completely covered with grasses, mosses, ferns, and shrubs, and in all that high embankment soaring up many hundred feet not one gray rock nor one black patch of earth is without its crown of green. On the other hand is a magnificent demesne of pasture and woodland opening out into vistas of the placid lakes, with their many islets, and the shadowy forms of the opposite mountains springing into the clouds.
It is impossible to imagine a fuller loveliness that that of Killarney. To-day we strike out between the immense walls of Dunloe Gap, where the mountains almost clasp one another overhead, and the bluish-gray rocks bear all the evidence of their fierce origin, and the spent forces of immemorial ages. Up this way there are Acherontic pools whose unrippled waters are dyed black by the surrounding fields of peat, and spongy bogs treacherously covered with pallid and feeble grasses, whose nature is forever sullen and threatening. To-morrow we loiter under the arbutus groves and by the white ruins of sweet Innisfallen, or tread through the vacant chambers of old Ross Castle, or conjure up the past out of the picturesque decay of Muckross Abbey. One hour we may be amid an uncompromising sterility, and the next imprisoned in a tropical prodigality of leafage, where the Torc water-fall leaps seventy feet down a precipice; one hour in the cool shadows of the Colleen Bawn caves, or calling echoes from the towering bluff of the Eagle's Nest, or swiftly shooting down the race under the old weir bridge, and next lying idly in the pasturage of the Earl of Kenmare's demesne, and watching a scene of pastoral contentment which seems to belong to another world than the Gap of Dunloe.
So varied is the interest and so many are the beauties of Killarney that the run ashore at Queenstown will be a memorable experience if it include this incomparable pleasure ground. It was so much to me that I begin to forget and forgive the pertinacity of the beggars and the cunning and servility of the guides.