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sprung out of the darkness, and after stalking over the surface of the fog for a few brief seconds, as suddenly disappeared, leaving an evanescent trail of flame. The old shepherd had merely seen one of those shooting lights that in mountain districts so frequently startle the night traveller; but the apparition now filled his whole mind, as one, vouchsafed from the spiritual world, of strange and frightful portent

" A meteor of the night of distant years

That flashed unnoticed, save by wrinkled eld
Musing at midnight upon prophecies."

This visit enabled Hugh to view in the forest of Corrychalgan the last remains of that arboreous condition of our country, to which the youngest of our geological formations, the peat mosses, bear such significant witness, which still largely existing as the condition of the northern countries of Europe, remains to attest, more than even the records of history, the youthfulness of our civilization.

Returned from his highland tour, he made, or per haps, to speak more correctly, he renewed acquaintance with William Ross. Five years before, Ross had come from the neighbouring parish of Nigg, an apprentice to a house-painter; but though known to each other, there was then too great a disparity between them for friendship. William was a lad of genius, drew truthfully, had a nice sense of the beautiful, and possessed the true poetic faculty ; but of melancholy temperament and extremely diffident; thin and pale, fair hair, flat cuest, and stooping figure, already a drooping and withered flower; in seven years afterwards, he is in his grave. He had been unfortunate in his parents; his mother, though of a devout family of the old Scottish type, was an aberrant specimen-she had fallen in early youth, and had subsequently married an ignorant, half-imbecile labourer, with whom she passed a life of poverty and unhappiness; of this unpromising marriage William was the eldest child. From neither of his parents did he derive his genius. His maternal grandmother and aunt were, however, excellent Christian women. With them William had lived from an early age. His boyhood had been that of a poet; he had loved to indulge in day-dreams in the solitude of a deep wood beside his grandmother's cottage, had learned to write verses, and draw landscapes, as no one in that locality had written or drawn before; and, as the nearest approach to an artist in those primitive regions was a house-painter, William was despatched to Cromarty, to cultivate his taste for the fine arts, papering rooms and lobbies, and painting railings and wheel-barrows. The house-painter and the stone-mason having once fairly re-established old recognizances, the new friend went a long way to supply the gap which the breaking up of the band to which we have alluded, left in Hugh Miller's acquaintanceship. In their converse together, they beat over all the literature with which they were in common acquainted, and though the literary tastes of William were more circumscribed than the tastes of Hugh, in the field of nature both perfectly harmonized. Many a moonlight walk had the friends together, visiting after nightfall the glades of the surrounding woods, listening to the night breeze as it swept sullenly along the pine tops. It

deeply interesting to note the marked difference in the kind of enjoyment which the youths drew from those lofty images of the sublime and the beautiful with which they were equally enamoured. Hugh Miller, full of hope, joy, and life, yearning for the large excitement the coming years would yield, already looks out upon nature as a companion with whom he is destined to enjoy at once a lengthened and most familiar intercourse. William Ross already carried about with him the consciousness that, in a very special manner, here there was for him no continuing city. The shadow of the cypress shed its sadness into his soul. The joy with which the contemplation of nature filled him, was overcast by the melancholy foreboding that soon her raptures would be for other eyes than his. And yet, ere William has gone to the silent land, as the German Salis has it, we shall meet him valiantly doing battle with labour against capital in the metropolis of our country.

CHAPTER IV.

THE BOTHY,

In nothing does Hugh Miller's freshness, strength, and perfect freedom from conventionalism, come more clearly out, than in the unreserved disclosure of all that was really interesting or peculiar in his early career : never do we detect any attempt to dress up the story of his life in a manner that would indicate a wish to leave some other than the actual impression facts would produce. That tendency to shun the homely for the grand (the besetting sin of so many writers), never once seduced him from his simplicity. His experiences of life were occasionally sufficiently humble, and occasionally brought him in contact with the most vicious forms social and domestic existence have assumed in modern times. The bothy may appear to some a very vulgar place, out of which it was by no means likely any man of genius or science should come, and where if unfortunate enough ever to have been, it might just be as wel' not to shock delicate nerves by saying anything of its rough ways. Hugh Miller had, however, undertaken

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