Page:Types of Scenery and Their Influence on Literature.djvu/58

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admiring their scenery. Previous to the suppression of the Jacobite rising, that mountainous region was regarded as the abode of a half-savage race, into whose wilds few lowlanders would venture without the most urgent reasons. Even after military roads were made across it, the accommodation for travellers was generally of the most wretched kind. Those who had occasion to traverse it gave such an account of their experiences as one would hardly now expect to receive from the heart of Africa[1]. The poet Gray during his visit to Scotland in the year 1765, made a brief excursion into the Perthshire Highlands, and, in spite of the discomforts of travel at that time, came away with a vivid impression of the grandeur and beauty of the scenery. But the only record that remains of this impression is to be found in a few sentences in his letters[2].

  1. In Burt's Letters, which give so graphic a picture of the condition of the Highlands of Scotland between the two risings of 1715 and 1745, the general impression made at that time on the mind of an intelligent stranger by the scenery of the region may be gathered from the following quotations:—'I shall soon conclude this description of the outward appearance of the mountains, which I am already tired of, as a disagreeable subject. . . . There is not much variety, but gloomy spaces, different rocks, heath, and high and low, . . . the whole of a dismal gloomy brown drawing upon a dirty purple; and most of all disagreeable when the heath is in bloom. But of all the views, I think the most horrid is, to look at the hills from east to west, or vice versa; for then the eye penetrates far among them, and sees more particularly their stupendous bulk, frightful irregularity, and horrid gloom, made yet more sombrous by the shades and faint reflections they communicate one to another.'—Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland to his Friend in London. Fifth edit., vol. i. p. 285.
  2. In writing to Mason he says: 'I am returned from Scotland, charmed with my expedition: it is of the Highlands I speak; the Lowlands are worth seeing once, but 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. A fig for your poets, painters, gardeners, and clergymen, that have not been among them, their imagination can be made up of nothing but bowling-greens, flowering shrubs, horse-ponds. Fleet ditches, shell-grottoes, and Chinese rails. Then I had so beautiful an autumn; Italy could hardly produce a nobler scene, and this so sweetly contrasted with that perfection of nastiness and total want of accommodation, that Scotland only can supply.'—Gray's Works, edit. E. Gosse, vol. iii. p. 223.