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slept, and not a sound vibrated on the still air, save the hollow tramps of my steed, which were returned in soft responses from the secret echoes that were listening nigh.
The road turned with many windings amongst this wild scenery, and as I was slowly ascenda ing the first rocky eminence I again looked back on the prospect I had quitted, perhaps, for ever. The scene was indeed impressive; the sun had nearly finished his daily course, and his radiant car which had now descended very near the horizon, was just discernable over the bold summits of distant mountains, whose lofty brows were tinged by his golden rays, while his fainter beams had scarcely strength sufficient to cast the lengthened shadows of the neighbouring trees across the road upon which I stood. Part of the lake, which was now left far behind, faintly gleamed through an opening in the remote mountains, and was scarcely distinguishable from the blue mist of evening, that forbade the pensive sight from embracing more distant objects, and threw a veil of softness over the scenery not to be described; whilst the hoarsely roaring of Foyers, now rendered a tremulous murmur by distance,
was borne along on the evening breeze, which now began to sigh amongst the trees, and warble wild her sweetest strains of untaught melody. My soul, absorbed in pensive thought, received a kind of divine placidity from the influence of these enchanting notes, played by the invisible minstrels of Colus, who were now chanting forth their heavenly music in harmonious consonance with the beauteous scenery, and which could only be felt.
“ In broken air, tremb'ling, the wild music floats,
“ 'Till by degrees, remote and small,
“ In a dying, dying fall."
Such exquisite imagery as I there beheld, might indeed have inspired Scotia's ancient bards with the most sublime conceptions in their poetical effusions, in which are sung the tender tales of love, or the great atchievements of their mightiest chiefs. Here, indeed it was, where the favoured bards of Ossian dwelt and sung amongst the rocks, and shades of “ woody Morven."
Obliged to proceed, I again pursued my way, and leaving this picturesque and placid scenery, I entered upon a wilder range of mountains, far more barren than any of those I had yet seen; and as the shades of evening began to darken the prospect, and render every object of one obscure tint, these rude barriers of Nature became of an unusually gloomy appearance, and rose horrific to the view.
The sky, which had hitherto been clear and beatiful, gradually became overspread by heavy clouds, whose sombre hues, nearly hid the pale face of the moon, as she was rising in solemn majesty to her distinguished station in the heavens, and by their encreasing dark. ness, portended a dismal and cheerless night, if not attended with those storms and whirlwinds that sometimes drive along through the northern mountains, and rend their massy heights.
I proceeded as rapidly as my peculiar circumstances would allow, and after a dreary ride I found myself in the middle of a vast black moor. I looked around with painful anxiety, and was not a little delighted when I perceived a man and a little boy, who were driving some small, meagre, black cattle, across the barren waste, towards a peat-built
hamlet, which stood at no great distance, and bore every appearance of perfect wretched
I immediately quitted the grass-grown road, and approaching the man, enquired how far distant I was from Fort Augustus. This obscure Highlander appeared to observe me with a considerable degree of attention, but made no kind of answer to my eager question; and as the anxious state of my mind required immediate satisfaction, I repeated it with no small degree of ardour; he then placed the first-finger of his right hand upon his lips, and shaking his head, informed me by this dumb shew, that he could not speak English, and I was then unacquainted with the Gaelic, which is the native language of the Highlanders.
You may easily suppose that this disappointment served to irritate my feelings still more, and I returned somewhat dejected to the road.
The genial and all enlivening rays of the sun, now no longer shone upon the earth, or cheered her creatures by the presence of day. The harsh screams of the night-birds already announced the close of twilight; and instead of being gratified by the picturesque yiews which I had 'so recently beheld, I could now only just perceive the rude outlines of tremendous mountains, which appeared to be reclining in dull repose, and slumbering on their heavy bases.
“ Both sea and land looked dark and confined, as if only emerging from their original chaos; and light and darkness seemed still undivided.”
Even the melancholy pleasure I derived from the contemplation of the sublime objects of nature, thus indiscriminately beheld, was soon denied
me, by the intervention of total darkness, which was but occasionally illumined by the transitory beams of the moon, that sometimes gleamed her pale light through the gloom of a cheeriess night.
All the real and imaginary terrors of a benighted scene now rushed in full force on my mind. Wholly unacquainted with the road and nature of the country I was traversing, I proceeded with all the caution circumstances would allow, which was rendered more necessary when the frequent stumbles of my beast, led me to imagine that I had quitted