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A TOUR IN TARTAN-LAND.
· INTRODUCTORY--NORTHERN LIGHTS,
The hatless Man and unprefaced Book - A desultory
M EDMOND ABOUT has somewhere said, that a 11. book sent out into the world without a preface is like a man going out of doors without his hat; and, certainly, a work that makes its appearance without a few introductory words is generally considered to be as incomplete for the public eye as was the hatless Frenchman for his morning promenade. And yet the public, with the remorselessness and inconsistency that are the frequent accompaniments of a despotic power, while they seem to insist upon the customary addition of a preface, very rarely condescend to look at it. It meets with the same scorn that is bestowed upon the chimneypot chapeau; and is dismissed with as much superciliousness as we may dismiss the necessary cabman who has brought us to meet the express train that shall so quickly convey us from one country to another—from England to Scotland, for example— from London to Glasgow.
Which brings me to the point; for I wish the courteous reader to accompany me on a pleasant tour in Tartanland; and, if a few prefatory words are considered necessary before we set out, let us get over the ordeal in a desultory chat, like to that de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis which has to be gone through in the drawing-room, before we can settle down to the repast to which we have been specially invited.
We are all acquainted with a delightful work called * Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life,' wherein the shine and shade of human existence are depicted with much pathos and power. From the title of this admirable work I had thought to have borrowed a hint; and, as there was but little of the shade of sorrow in my descriptive reminiscences of scenes, viewed, for the most part, under bright and favourable aspects, and of which I retain very "sunny memories,' I had intended to have called my lightsome Scotch sketches by the name of Northern Lights. However, I finally rejected this title in favour of that which the book now bears, whereby I have deprived any cynical critic of the chance of saying that the name of Northern Lights' was judiciously chosen from the popular designation of a certain meteor, for that the book was but a weak and flickering reflection of the light shed by bright literary orbs on the Highlands and Lowlands, and the land of Scott.' The critic can still say this in substance, but the metaphor will not be so ready to his hand.
My Tour in Tartan-land, therefore, has to do with the Lights,' instead of the “Shadows of Scottish Life;'
A CHANGE OF SCENE.
and this for many reasons. In the first place, it is no new discovery (for did not the younger Pliny make the same observation_Multum habet jucunditatis soli coelique mutatio ?'—but any schoolboy knows the passage), that change of air and scene are very delightful. Brown feels this, when he goes from his butter-tubs to Pegwell Bay; Smith sets his seal to the apopthegm when he changes his chambers to Chamounix; and the Country Parson will enjoy his Recreations among his own flock all the more for a brief holiday in remote pastures. In the second place, I prefer to entertain my own impressions of places and faces, thinking that if a man's opinion be worth recording, it is because it is a genuine expression, and not an echo or a cuckoo cry. If a spade appears to me to be a spade, why should I call it by any other name? although my friend Polonius declares it to be very like a rake. And, if an objection should be made that the colouring of my sketches is of a too uniform hue, and that I viewed these Scotch scenes through roseate glasses, I can only reply, that as I saw them, so have I endeavoured faithfully to represent them, and to reproduce in the following pages the impressions received from two very agreeable trips here, for the sake of convenience, moulded into one “Tour in Tartan-land.'
So far as regarded an almost entire absence from the discomforts and disagreeables that frequently attend upon tourists, either in the shape of miserable weather or more miserable accommodation (and this latter point is an important one where there is a lady in the case), we, i.e. my wife and I, were singularly fortunate. The wet days came just at the times and seasons when most convenient to us; and when we had only one day to visit any certain place, that day was sure to be “Queen's weather.' In lodgings or at inns we were equally fortunate. These circumstances, therefore, must be taken into consideration; for, having sunshine both from without and within, it was impossible to view (for the first time) a long succession of lovely and romantic scenes, under the favouring effects of health, weather, and comfort, without a certain roseate tinge pervading the whole, and without associating those Scotch scenes with most agreeable reminiscences. They come back to my memory irradiated with the rosy hue of “The Northern Lights.'
The new ideas awakened by the constantly changing panorama, and the new subjects of interest that spring up to entertain the mind, sustain cheerfulness and excite healthy thoughts; but when disturbing influences cross the traveller's path, they prevent the charms of nature from exercising their legitimate effect. Accidental circumstances readily turn lights into shadows; and very slight and unworthy causes will bring about most unexpected and erroneous results. Matters that are altogether extraneous to the scenery will, nevertheless, so greatly affect it, that the traveller will view the landscape through a distorting glass.
Thus, if Mr. Jones has set apart only one day for doing' Loch Lomond, and steams up the loch through a Scotch mist, his impressions of that ‘lake full of islands? will naturally be very different from those of Mr. Smith, on whose three hours' sail a bright sun shone with convenient splendour; or of Mr. Brown, who had spent three weeks upon the banks, and had good sport in fishing and shooting. If Mr. Jones, too, should arrive at McGregor's Trosachs Hotel by the last coach from Loch Katrine, only in time to find the hotel so crammed with visitors that he cannot even hire space upon the