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turning to the Curragh camp, which occupied me the whole of a summer's day.
The future visits which I made to the county of Wicklow I deferred until I had an opportunity of setting off from Dublin. For a rural excursion I should recommend the traveller to commence here by taking the first route to Enniskerry, which is rather more than ten miles from Dublin. By an exceedingly pretty and retired road one reaches the Scalp, which is a chasm through the solid rocky mountain, cleft as it were by a convulsion of nature, exhibiting on each side of the road rough piles of stones or the solid hewn rocks which on each side formed the interior of the mountain from which this cavern was rent. It is for wildness and curiosity a more striking picture than any of the neatwooded artificial show-places which one meets with so frequently in this county and other parts of the United Kingdom. Thus my view was bounded on each side of the road by the rugged rocks for the continuance of more than half a mile, and after passing the Scalp I had a view of the high Sugar-loaf towering in front like a huge pyramid. The name, though city-like, is not an inappropriate one, but I learn from the writings of a celebrated antiquarian, Monck Mason, that the native Irish name was a much more poetical one, it being called, in common with its brother mount, which is adjacent, from the circumstance of their tops shining in the sun though all the country round is enveloped in mists, the "Gilt Spear." In the clear sunshine of a bright day it gave me the idea of having a likeness to the aspect of the great pyramid of Cheops, which I well recollect having visited in Egypt some years ago, and begging pardon of the authority who gives it the nomenclature of Sugar-loaf," its shape is much more pyramidal than conical. I had this in view for two miles, and then, descending a slight hill, came upon the village of Enniskerry. I determined to linger at this very pretty rural village, to have an opportunity of seeing Sugar-loaf, the Dargle, and the Waterfall of Powerscourt, Lough Bray, and Luggielaw. To see the sun rise from Sugar-loaf of a fine morning in June, when the expansive view over the horizon embraces such an extent of hilly and wooded country, with a fine sea-view in the background, is one of the charms of the excursion to the county of Wicklow. As it was dusk when I started with a companion, it was fortunate for us that we had a beaten high-road for the first four miles of our journey until we got to Kilmacanac, and then we had to get information from a cottager as to the best route to pursue on reaching the topmost point of the highest of the two Sugar-loaves, through fields, over ditches, by long tracks of sheepwalks, and plains half-covered with stones and scanty in herbage, until we reached the base of the mountain, where it was completely dry and composed of solid stones, and then the toilsome ascent upwards began. I found this the most tiresome task of any, and though the generality of the mountain fens are covered with a thick heather which bears a dark claret-coloured blossom, this was an exception to the general rule, the heather having (during a recent conflagration which took place in the mountain during the summer season) been completely burned down. When on the summit, we certainly were repaid for our trouble. The air was sharp, and, though summer-time, piercing, but the clear sun just emerging showed us the adjacent hills most beautifully gilded
Little Sugar-loaf, Douce, the Down Mountain, Brayhead, the calm, clear, glassy Irish Channel, like a blue lake, and the faint glimpse of the outline of the highest Welsh mountains on the other side of it. The valleys between the hills which I mentioned the names of were thickly and beautifully planted with trees and young plantations, and the corn-fields, meadows, and pastures formed an abundant assemblage of tracts bearing promise of a plenteous harvest. To view such a vista totally undisturbed is one of the charms which repays one for the trouble of the rough vicissitudes which one meets with in a country excursion. Here and there the mansion-houses of the rich proprietors peered through the intervals of the trees, and reminded you that the ample clothing which spread over the surface of nature was mostly afforded by the hand of cultivation. I was reminded of
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
While the landscape round it measures:
Where the nimbling flocks do stray,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The next place which I went to visit was the Dargle, which lies at a distance of two miles from Enniskerry. There were two interpretations of the meaning of this word: the first seemed the most obvious, being that it meant "the dark glen;" but those learned in the Irish phraseology assert that it means in Irish "the oak valley." However this may be, it is certainly a dark deep glen, most romantic in appearance, with a river running through its deepest recess, and most thickly planted with oak on each side. Being nearer Dublin than any of the other places of resort here, it is so constantly being visited by parties who come here, like the plebeians mentioned in "Pickwick," "to devour their food," that I need not descant upon the truly beautiful views which it affords as seen from the Fisherman's Bed, Mosshouse, Lover's Leap, and Money Hole; but I admire the taste of the owner of a small but very neat mansion who resides near it, in having completely walled in his grounds from the "garish eye" of the profanum vulgus who flock from the city, but having still reserved to himself a side entrance by which he may be enabled to come into the Dargle and visit its beauties at leisure.
I turned backwards to the Bray road, and was shown a high hill on the top of which was situated a house said to be haunted. At the bottom of the hill lay the stream which ran from Dargle, augmented by the waters of another stream from Enniskerry, and immediately at the lowest base of the hill was a deep pool of the rivers which had got the name of Ralph's Hole. The house was said to have been inhabited by a man bearing that name, and this man had murdered his wife there and thrown her body into the hole or depth of waters. It is thus in this country that a wild and gloomy legend mingles with nearly every description of any place which you visit, and it is thus that the desolating ban which
follows after man since his fall imparts some of its character to every place he sojourns in,
And life abhorring gloom
Writes on his brow curst Cain's unresting doom.
I turned backward to the Dargle, and as the road through this woody and charming glen led to a spot near the entrance of Powerscourt demesne, I took the opportunity of visiting it. I certainly share in the admiration which most persons express for the Dargle, but I am never myself so enthusiastic in applauding places which are kept in an artificial manner, enclosed in gates and fences, and evidently planted by owners in the first instance. Thus, for example, the size of the oak-plantations in the Dargle show clearly that the trees are not of a very ancient growth. The demesne of Powerscourt is truly a superb one. The house is noble, with its Egyptian hall of black oak, its turrets, its numerous apartments, and the façade it presents as seen from all parts of the country. I was shown by the old Irish peasant who accompanied me here a wonderful instance of the superstition of the Irish. There was a field not far from the house, where were two marks which resembled in their hollow formation the impressions which would be made on soft ground by two heavy weights being laid upon it, lying about a foot and a half apart. These, the old peasant told me, were the marks of the knees of some zealous Roman Catholic. At the time of the rebellion of 1798, the noble viscount, then in possession of the property, which he had held in right from his ancestors, and which for several centuries had been in his family, had shown an activity in bringing the rebels to justice. The Roman Catholic had knelt and prayed that the heirs of the family should die young. This seems simply the record of a malicious and impious imprecation, but, strange to say, it is really the case that since that time no owner of that noble title has lived to the term of middle age.
I was very glad to take the first opportunity of a day, which was one of the appointed ones for visitors seeing the Waterfall, as the scenery around this cascade is really the finest which this part of the county boasts of. The fall is spoken of in Goldsmith's "Animated Nature" as the highest in the world, but when, with regard to the cascade, you say that, you say all that can be said in reference to the water, for it is certainly a very small and narrow rill, though issuing from Down Mountain downwards. It is a maze of rocks to a very great descent, being three hundred feet high. When we consider that the famous falls at Niagara, with their immense volume of waters, which, including the small islands they enclose, are a mile broad, and are only half this height, we may readily believe that the great altitude which this small rill descends from may entitle it to be called the highest of waterfalls. The precipitous rock, the wooded grounds below, and the beauteous plain skirted with thick groves, which the stream flows through, constitute the principal attractions. It is, as may be supposed, a favourite resort. It is reckoned the finest spot in an estate where there are many very fine ones, the Powerscourt property being the most beautiful demesne in this part of the country; one side of Dargle also belonging to it, and another to Lord Monck, whose ancient family is descended from the famous Duke of Albemarle. The dwelling-place of the last nobleman is at Charleville, a
mansion-house which was finished during the time of his uncle, the late Earl of Rathdowne. It is, in point of picturesque scenery, the next in order to Powerscourt. I cannot help adverting to the circumstance of the present Lord Powerscourt having granted ground to the Papists to build upon it a most superb chapel near Enniskerry. This structure now rears its head in what was the peaceful solitude of Knocksink.
The next day I fixed upon for a walk to Lough Bray. This I knew would be solely through a wild, mountainous, barren, and bleak part of the country. The rugged face of nature during my walk this day was not at all intruded upon by the cultivation of corn-fields or plantations. The different stony hills presented an uncultured and rude appearance, and though we had a walk of fully nine miles from Enniskerry, we scarcely saw any place which was indicative of its being the desirable residence of gentry till we arrived at the very picturesque but extremely wild lake called Lough Bray, where Sir Philip Crompton, the surgeongeneral, had built a very charming cottage residence. To use the oftresorted-to simile of an oasis in the desert seems now quite a platitude, but really this secluded residence is what most forcibly suggests it. The lake is dark, drear, and surrounded with gloomy hills, and this abode breaks most joyously the gloom of the surrounding objects. On our way back we encountered one of those showers which unhappily are so frequent in this hilly country, and we sought refuge in a cabin. Shortly after our having sat down, the hour for the afternoon meal came on, and the family, the inmates of this cabin, assembled for it. A board was placed on the mud floor, a large iron pot was capsized of its contents, which were a quantity of hot potatoes, and the party, consisting of the father, two sons, mother, and three small daughters, all took part in the meal. This meal consisted simply of potatoes, with a small portion of salt, which each member of the party took a handful of, and, unprovided with any other apparatus, they skinned the potatoes with their hands, and putting the skins into the iron pot for the use of the pigs, ate the potatoes with the salt. What do men mean in attributing the superior strength and stamina of the English peasantry to their eating beef or butcher's meat, when here (as well as in the Highlands of Scotland, I am informed) one meets with a strong and hardy race who seldom touch it? They are, in fact, unable to indulge in it. Their means do not permit their paying for butcher's meat. These poor unsophisticated creatures, whom it is the mode so much to abuse and to censure for their slovenly habits and want of cleanliness, are certainly open to the charges of both, but, considering their imperfect means of education and their extreme poverty, I think every one must allow that they exhibit a wonderful degree of intelligence. The presence of the wealthy stranger is a very strong temptation to them to urge them to impose and to use much deceit in making their opportunities of selling their wares, and they doubtless avail themselves of such temptations; still the facilities afforded to them by a false creed and neglected training for falling into error should always be taken into consideration in estimating their character. I think that, however short they may fall in civilisation as compared with their fellow-subjects in Great Britain, they are gradually improving, and that every day brings a visible mark of their assimilating to the habits of their brethren over the water. Thus the fairs which brought on their scenes of riot and drunkenness are
now meetings for business; the patterns are falling fast into desuetude; the faction fights have ceased, and are no longer aught but
A tale of the times of old,
A story of the deeds of the days of other years.
The keeners, with their dreadful howling lamentation, find place no longer, and both youths and maidens throughout the country seem to have no lack of employment.
The day after our visit to Lough Bray I went on an excursion to Luggelaw, which is a lake situated in the heart of the mountains, and previous to its being made the residence of a gentleman, who was at pains to plant with young trees the valley leading to it, as also the mountain sides which surround it, must have really merited the name which it bears, the meaning of which is the Lake of Death, for a more gloomy and dark-looking piece of water on a small scale I have never seen. The woody scenery, however, here takes away from the extreme wildness, and imparts a much more picturesque character to the view as seen from the water. I rowed over it, and I thought that for lake scenery it is, perhaps, the prettiest object which one meets with in the county of Wicklow. But still it is very small, and the mountains around it, though wild-looking, are low.
The boatman was loud in his praises of the place, and, like a great many of the people whom one meets here, he seemed to think that there was no paradise on earth to equal the county of Wicklow.
I was determined to start very early on one of the most promising days which the season afforded, in order to walk to the Seven Churches and Glendalough, which is a distance of fully fifteen miles from Enniskerry. My road lay up the hill towards Tinnehinch, then downwards to a very interesting-looking dwelling-house, which lies by the stream, and which is situated in a well-wooded estate. It was formerly the property of the great Henry Grattan, who was so celebrated for his oratory and his efforts in the cause of Ireland. Seen from the bridge which crosses the stream, the house and plantations form a very pretty picture. After this I passed the no less beautiful grounds and plantations of Charleville, and ascending another hill, passed the glebe-house and Ballyornen, all localities of which the situation and beauty of the surrounding woods arrest the attention. When I got to the top of the hill I had a more open country, and my back view of Charleville and Powerscourt demesne was really superb. Here I was obliged to ask a countryman for directions as to pursuing the journey. The accent and address of these country people differ as much from those of the English peasantry as it is possible to fancy any two people who speak the same language to differ. Though they do not either mutilate the words or clip the grammar, they still utter the sounds in a tone which Fielding describes as a "howl which is scarcely human," a hideous unearthly brogue, which is varied in all sorts of cacophonous modifications, according to the different counties you hear it spoken in. In addition to this, in place of a dry, common-place reply to a simple question, you are treated to a long palaver, accompanied with an abundance of discursive remarks, partly witty and partly absurd. I must say that I have invariably found among them, however, an obliging wish to render every assistance. This, I think, is evinced by the alacrity