Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

within,” and that when human nature is denied beautiful idols, it will go after ugly ones. There has been just as unspiritual a resting in coarse, bare, and disagreeable adjuncts of religion, as in beautiful and agreeable ones; men have worshipped Juggernaut as pertinaciously as they have Venus or the Graces; so that the good divine might better have aimed a sermon at the heart than an axe at the altar.

We lingered a long time around here, and could scarcely tear ourselves away. We paced up and down under the old trees, looking off on the waters of the Don, listening to the waving branches, and falling into a dreamy state of mind, thought what if it were six hundred years ago ! and we were pious simple hearted old abbots ! What a fine place that would be to walk up and down at eventide or on a Sabbath morning, reciting the penitential psalms, or reading St. Augustine !

I cannot get over the feeling, that the souls of the dead do somehow connect themselves with the places of their former habitation, and that the hush and thrill of spirit, which we feel in them, may be owing to the overshadowing presence of the invisible. St. Paul says, “ We are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses.” How can they be witnesses, if they cannot see and be cognizant ?

We left the place by a winding walk, to go to the famous bridge of Balgounie, another dream-land affair, not far from here. It is a single gray stone arch, apparently cut from solid rock, that spans the brown rippling waters, where wild, overhanging banks, shadowy trees, and dipping wild flowers, all conspire to make a romantic picture. This bridge, with the river and scenery, were poetic items that went, with other things, to form the sensitive mind of Byron, who lived here in his earlier days. He has some lines about it:

“ As auld lang syne' brings Scotland, one and all,

Scotch plaids, Scotch snoods, the blue hills and clear streams,
The Dee, the Don, Balgounie's brig's black wall,

All my boy-feelings, all my gentler dreams,
Of what I then dreamt clothed in their own pall,

Like Banquo's offspring, — floating past me seems
My childhood, in this childishness of mind :

I care not — 'tis a glimpse of auld lang syne.'”

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]

This old bridge has a prophecy connected with it, which was repeated to us, and you shall have it literatim :

[merged small][ocr errors]

The bridge was built in the time of Robert Bruce, by one

Bishop Cheyne, of whom all that I know is, that he evidently had a good eye for the picturesque.

After this we went to visit King's College. The tower of it is surmounted by a massive stone crown, which forms a very singular feature in every view of Aberdeen, and is said to be a perfectly unique specimen of architecture. This King's College is very old, being founded also by a bishop, as far back as the fifteenth century. It has an exquisitely carved roof, and carved oaken seats. We went through the library, the hall, and the museum. Certainly, the old, dark architecture of these universities must tend to form a different style of mind from our plain matter-of-fact college buildings.

Here in Aberdeen is the veritable Marischal College, so often quoted by Dugald Dalgetty. We had not time to go and see it, but I can assure you on the authority of the guide book, that it is a magnificent specimen of architecture.

After this, that we might not neglect the present in our zeal for the past, we went to the marble yards, where they work the Aberdeen granite. This granite, of which we have many specimens in America, is of two kinds, one being gray, the other of a reddish hue. It seems to differ from other granite in the fineness and closeness of its grain, which enables it to receive the most brilliant conceivable polish. I saw some superb columns of the red species, which were preparing to go over the Baltic to Riga, for an Exchange; and a sepulchral monument, which was going to New York. All was busy here, sawing, chipping, polishing; as different a scene from the gray old cathedral as could be imagined. The granite finds its way, I suppose, to countries which the old, unsophisticated abbots never dreamed of.

One of the friends who had accompanied us during the morning tour was the celebrated architect, Mr. Leslie, whose conversation gave us all much enjoyment. He and Mrs. Leslie gave me a most invaluable parting present, to wit, four volumes of engravings, representing the “Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland,” illustrated by Billings. I cannot tell you what a mine of pleasure it has been to me. It is a proof edition, and the engravings are so vivid, and the drawing so fine, that it is nearly as good as reality. It might almost save one the trouble of a pilgrimage. I consider the book a kind of national poem ; for architecture is, in its nature, poetry ; especially in these old countries, where it weaves into itself a nation's history, and gives literally the image and body of the times.

LETTER VII.

DEAR COUSIN :

While here in Aberdeen I received a very odd letter, so peculiar and curious that I will give you the benefit of it. The author appears to be, in his way, a kind of Christopher in his cave, or Timon of Athens. I omit some parts which are more expressive than agreeable. It is dated

“STONEHAVEN, N. B., Kincardineshire,

} “ To MRS. HARRIET B. STOWE:

“My dear Madam : By the time that this gets your length, the fouk o' Aberdeen will be shewin ye off as a rare animal, just arrived frae America; the wife that writ Uncle Tom's Cabin.

“I wad like to see ye mysel, but I canna win for want o’ siller, and as I thought ye might be writin a buke about the Scotch when ye get hame, I hae just sent ye this bit auld key to Sawney's Cabin.

“Well then, dinna forget to speer at the Aberdeenians if it be true they ance kidnappet little laddies, and selt them for slaves ;

that they dang down the Quaker's kirkyard dyke, and houket up dead Quakers out o' their graves; that the young boys at the college printed a buke, and maist naebody wad buy it, and they cam out to Ury, near Stonehaven, and took twelve stots frae Davie Barclay to pay the printer. “Dinna forget to speer at

if it was true that he flogget three laddies in the beginning o'last year, for the three following crimes : first, for the crime of being born of puir,

« ZurückWeiter »