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it, and even though it was nearly ten o'clock, the sail ended only too soon.
Many people know Balachulish, where in a quiet inlet of the sea a splendid hotel has been built, to which very grand people go. We, who had been living completely out of the world, felt half afraid of its splendid civilization—
O sleep, thou art a blessed thing,
Beloved from pole to pole;
and more especially when one is in that state of trial, and almost permanent weariness and worry, called by courtesy "a tour of pleasure." But things look different at night and in the morning; and when at 8 A.m. I was out on the shore, smelling the salt weed and investigating the mountains so picturesquely heaped together, the tribulations of last night had completely vanished. Our sole wrong was that, as usual, we had to wait for breakfast. Is it possible for the Celtic mind ever to take in the virtue of punctuality? I fear not.
Our carrying out our plans last night was fortunate, for we found we had come in for the finale of the season. After to-day no tourist coach would run to Glencoe, though of course, even in winter, there is a small amount of traffic through that notable glen. English travellers, especially, seem to think a visit there indispensable; and in the quickly filled open omnibus now at the door, English tongues abounded, and A's were few. The people were of the customary tourist tribe—a little peculiar in dress, and sometimes in manner ; lively and chatty, making comments with the not too courteous freedom of John Bull out for a holiday; and starting with the true John Bull feeling that everything in another country must be inferior to what we leave behind in our own. As perhaps it is—it ought to be—even as every man ought to think his own wife vastly superior to his neighbor's. But it is not quite civil to say so.
The first interest of our heterogeneous party, as it wound slowly along the shores of the loch, Loch Levin—a very narrow channel, which diverges from Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil—was the sight of a herd of cattle being conveyed from the other side in the most original and primitive fashion —by swimming. They were collected on a sloping pier of stones, and then pushed off, one by one, into the water, to follow their destiny—of course, not voluntarily;
but as all four-footed animals can swim, the poor things soon submitted to fate, and struck out for land—all but one helpless calf, whose head had to be held above the water by a man in one of the two boats which kept guard on either flank of the battalion. It was curious to watch the little fleet of horned heads slowly progressing across the loch, preceded by a huge bull, who courageously led the van, always a yard or two in advance, and was the first to climb up on the weed-covered rocks, and stand shaking dry his long dripping hide, with an air of mingled satisfaction and indignation. One by one his family followed him, and we left the whole herd, safely collected on the shore, looking a little damp and forlorn, but very picturesque, which ought to be a consolation for everything.
We looked anxiously for the " village" of Balachulish, having on our hands a trifling commission which we had promised to bring back from the regions of civilization, viz., gunpowder, a pack of cards, and some nut-crackers—three vital necessities in our glen, where the only daily duties were shooting, fishing, and nut-gathering, and the only evening entertainment conversation, which sometimes flags. It had never flagged yet: indeed we usually sat up fighting furiously till midnight—chiefly upon abstract questions; but still that resource might fail; and we faithfully promised to bring, at any rate, the cards. Alas! we might as well have gathered them on the bushes of Glencoe! The slate-quarries, which everybody told us was a place where there were "plenty of shops," proved to have only a baker's, butcher's, and one more ; but the luxuries of life, as typified by cards and nut-crackers, were quite beyond our reach, as I should think of everybody hereabouts.
It was very tantalizing to have to pass the slate-mines unexamined, for they were exceedingly curious. Those long slides, reminding one of the Slide of Alpnach, down which the slate-wagons come tearing to the loch-side; those lofty slate arches, built in such architectural proportion, underneath which the roads winds; those slate fences, slate cottages, everything of slate; the air even was filled with a faint slate odor.
As we left the slate-village behind, and got again into the solitude of the mountains, our chattering companions became rather trying. These worthy English people showed about as much knowledge of Scotland—its geography, history, manners, and customs—as if it had been the interior of Africa. "That is a shealing," said one. "What is a shealing?" asked a second lady. "Oh, a sort of cottage or hut where the inhabitants live. The word is derived from shielding, because it shields them from the weather." Of Glencoe, or any story connected with it, few or none seemed to have the remotest information, or interest in getting information. One gentleman—and I here beg to make an exception in his favor, for we afterwards found both him and his wife to be most intelligent and pleasant people— sitting beside the driver, turned to point out the house "where the head of the clan was murdered." "Oh, indeed," blandly replied a young lady, pausing in an obvious—rather too obvious—flirtation. "Was it lately?" "Not very lately," said the gentleman's wife, with a quiet politeness that I am afraid I can admire far easier than I could have imitated.
Nature wipes out all curses in lapse of years, with her merciful, tender hand. The spot which was the scene of the worst of the massacre, a little narrow valley, where the ruins of the houses still lie as they were left, is now full of the sweet smell of bog-myrtle, and green with bright beds of moss. And the mountains that saw it all, to-day stand smiling in their veil of mystic haze, which softens the grim outlines of the pass, and, taking away its grandeur, adds to peace and beauty. For it was a thoroughly summer day, in which one could scarcely imagine winter, or death, or destruction; no more than, a year or two after this terrible year 1870, travelling tourists, watching French or German farmers tilling their fields, will remember that some of theiri are battle-fields, sown with dead men's bones, and watered with streams of blood.
Glencoe was, on the whole, not so fine as we had anticipated. But how can one expect to be overwhelmed with a sense of solitary grandeur when, at the most picturesque point, a knot of lively tourists gather round a little table, on which is spread bread, butter, milk, water, and something a good deal stronger than water, to which they do full justice? And what possible Ossianic enthusiasm can one get up when, on the mention of that hero's
name, a young lady—the same young lady, who has flirted straight on ever since— mildly observes, "Dear me! He wrote poetry, you say? Did he reside in these parts?"
She must have been a little surprised at his traditionary residence—rather uncomfortable even for a poet—a cave nearly at the top of the Black Rock, and only reached by ascending the bed of a waterfall. Our driver, in pointing it out, mentioned, rather sarcastically, a romantic young Englishman, who, determining to perform, all alone, the feat of entering Ossian's cave, got up, but could not get down again, and had to call to his aid one of those Highland shepherds who are nearly as agile as their own sheep.
These shepherds, and a few sportsmen who come to shoot over the hills or fish in a lonely little loch at the head of the pass, said to contain very fine trout, are, when tourist time is done, the only visitants of Glencoe; and its sole inhabitant is the widow woman who keeps the small public house where our half-way refreshment was spread. There is not a single Macdonald left in the glen. We thought it looked sadder in that bright sunshine than if it had been buried in cloud and gloom. How soon does nature forget !—but not sooner than man.
Back again we drove, in the same fashion as we came. Not a passenger paused in chatter, except one lady, who fell comfortably asleep. Evidently the dead Macdonalds, their rights and their wrongs, were not of the slightest consequence to these good English people. Nor were the mountains, with their bare outlines crossing and recrossing in such strange shapes; nor the gurgling of nearly dried-up torrents, which one could fancy, a month hence, would come tumbling down, with a hungry roar, carrying everything before them. I should like to pass through Glencoe in December.
Well, we had "done" Glencoe most conscientiously and completely; but in a holiday people often enjoy most the hours when they "did" scarcely anything, went nowhere, and looked at nothing, but just daundered about in that perfect idleness which is delicious in proportion to its extreme rarity in one's existence. Thus, the two hours spent on the shore in front of the hotel, awaiting a three-o'clock dinner, were the pleasantest of our whole twenty-six. The air felt so pure, the sunshine so balmy, the hazy mountains smiled so sleepily upon the glassy sea. Still, we were not very sorry to be going home to our own glen. There was something dreadfully unhomelike in that large hotel, and the long table d'hote, laid for about thirty people, to which not more than half a dozen sat down. We looked forward to a most dreary dinner —but were mistaken.
I have been complaining of certain obnoxious tourists, who spoil with their silly chatter the pleasure of all the rest; but equally objectionable is the sullen traveller, who wraps himself up in his stony British reserve, and holds aloof from his fellowcreatures in what he calls "shyness," and thinks it rather a virtuous quality, when, in truth, it is only supreme self-conceit. He is such an important personage in his own eyes that he is always afraid of committing himself by interchanging a civil word or friendly action with a stranger, They may never meet again—why, then, take the trouble to be kind or pleasant? Why not, I should like to know, if it helps that brief moment of association to pass more brightly—sometimes even profitably? Two human minds, rubbing together for an hour or two, quite accidentally, are sometimes the better for the friction, both then and long afterwards. One of the most earnest talks I ever had was with an unknown fellow-traveller, who at last said, taking out a photograph, "Look here, I have no idea of your name, nor you of mine; we shall, in all probability, never meet again in this world; therefore tell me what you think of this face, and I will tell you my story." It was a love story, very touching, to which I gave both sympathy and, being asked, advice also. How it ended I am as ignorant now as then, for though, when the relator and I parted, we shook hands like old friends, we scrupulously abstained from giving or gaining the smallest clue to each other's identity. It will be the most extraordinary coincidence if we ever do meet again; but 1 am sure we shall carry a mutual kindly remembrance to our lives' end.
So shall I of the little company at that table d'hote, of whom I equally know nothing. It does not matter who they were, or what they talked about, though
their conversation chanced to be very interesting ; it was the spirit of it and of them which I like to record; the cheerful cordiality of intelligent people, using their intelligence freely for the benefit of their fellow-creatures. It is your doubtful folk who are so anxious over their own dignity—your stupid folk, who are so afraid of doing a foolish thing.
We left them, and Balachulish, probably never to see either again in- this world. Walking leisurely to the pier we stood and watched the boat, for once punctual, glide up through the narrow channel of Loch Eil, which leads to Fort William. Soon we were on board, and steaming back through that wonderful net-work of islands which we had passed last night in the darkness. Oh! how lovely everything looked now! That splendid sunset—one of those rpsered sunsets in which the sea repeats the sky, and is dyed incarnadine! Even the mountains caught its glow, and became transfigured one by one. As for the sea, we seemed to have been sailing through waves of liquid crimson—the color of those roses of heaven which never fade. When it did fade it was only to "suffer a seachange" into exquisite amber, and then into as soft and celestial a gray. Not a dozen times in one's life does one see such a sight as we saw that evening, sailing down Loch Linnhe.
WThen we reached Appin it was already twilight. Days instead of hours might have passed since we left it, so glad were we to see it again, and retrace, feature by feature, our beautiful glen. And when the young moon—could she be only twentysix hours older than the moon of yesternight ?—appeared over the western ridge, standing like a dancer, with her foot on the mountain top; when presently the stars began to show themselves thickly overhead, and one or two earth-born stars —dip-candles in cottage windows—glimmered mysteriously here and there on the darkening hill-side, \ve said to ourselves, "Glencoe may be very fine, and perhaps it is well we have seen it; but, after all, there is no glen like our glen."
I thought so then, I think so still; but yet we have never regretted our innocent wander of Twenty-six Hours.
PRIMITIVE FORESTS OF THE EQUATOR.
The immense uniformity of the tropical 'forest, and its undulating surface of green, give it a certain resemblance to the ocean, and at first, its effect upon the mind is similar. All travellers speak of the sense of awe and depression that overwhelms them on plunging into a boundless sea of vegetation, most bewildering where it is most luxuriant. Everything is strangely formed—even the leaves and flowers are gigantic, as'well as the trees that bear them. Gorgeous lianas, or bushropes, climb and curl among the towering walls of verdure, rendering it often impenetrable to all but snakes and birds. The solitude is extreme. During the heat of the day, the only sounds are those of inanimate nature—of streams, that abound in the drenching equatorial climate, and of the trade-wind rushing through the tops of the giant trees. At other times, these are joined by the voice of general creation, or, as Auguste St. Hilaire says: "Cette voix du desert, qui n'est autre chose que l'accent de la crainte, de la douleur et du plaisir, exprime de differentes manures, partant d'6tres divers." There is a universal richness, an overflowing, an exuberance, by which each tree seems to expand into a pure enjoyment of life, to all seeming, as intense as that of its animal brethren. Nothing strikes the traveller more than the enormous energy of vegetation. In the forest, all things are at war with each other, and not the animal world only. As every tree drinks full draughts of moisture from the cold leaf-stained brooks that flow among its roots, so it desires light and air for its development, and struggles upwards, striving to raise its own head into the sunshine, and force its vast limbs through the dense surrounding mass. Undoubtedly, a like contest exists in every climate ; but here, where vegetation is so crowded and nourished by this superabundance of heat and moisture, it becomes remarkably apparent. European scenery is full of repose. Countless ages have passed and left no trace upon the most wildly tossed peaks of the Alps; they and their pine-covered slopes seem ever the same, quiet, and almost lifeless. There the fierce, feverish existence of the tropics is unknown.
Budding, flowering, fruiting, which, in colder climates, is the work of twelve months, is here accomplished in a few days, and the various stages are progressing in the same clump of trees. Every season may be observed in a single day; and throughout the year, the temperature only varies within a few degrees. After a hurricane, or the continual squalls of the rainy season, two or three fine days will suffice to revive the forest in all its joyous strength, regardless of uprooted trees and dead foliage, and it is then that the rapidity of its growth is most wonderful.
There are three great forests lying under the equator—those of Brazil, of Central Africa, and of the Asiatic Islands. Each is a thick, wide spreading mass of vegetation, subject to constant rains, and containing a world of life within itself. But as they essentially differ in their characteristics, I shall discuss them separately.
The broad rounded outline of the Brazilian forest is not so unlike that of a European wood as might be imagined; but it is the immense size of the trees, the deep-green color of the leaves, and the strangeness of each individual form, that distinguish it. Palms of a hundred species are mingled with the swollen-stemmed ceiba; while the gigantic mora, the bertholletia, or Brazil-nut, and the cow-tree tower, with several palms, above their fellows, two hundred feet from the ground. In some places there is a thick growth of underwood and ferns ; in others the ground is a bare swamp, rank and steaming, where no plant grows among the tall trunks but gloom-loving fungi. Few trees bear flowers; indeed, it seems to be a law of nature, the great mother, that trees constantly bearing leaves should seldom produce flowers; and there would be little color in the variously shaded mass of green but for the lianas, which form its distinguishing feature. To call them creepers is to describe them feebly, they are rather climbing trees, and sometimes of large size. Twining their lithe, ribbonlike arms round the nearest trunk, they obtain a firm support, and spread from tree to tree in labyrinthine festoons, displaying a wealth of brilliant flowers that irradiates the dimness of the forest. Often the tree dies in the murderous hug of its beautiful parasite, and hangs suspended, in the act of falling, by the liana, now scarcely smaller than itself. Nothing is at rest; but every living thing is fighting its own hard battle for existence. Heat and moisture are two great agents who are ceaselessly at work nourishing them all; no slight labor, when it is remembered that the equatorial rains, constant though they be, have to feed the Great River and its tributaries, as well as the forest that clothes their shores. To this excess of sunlight and rain does nature owe its marvellous freshness, life perpetually springing forth, hiding and sweeping away decay.
At every hour of the day and night, some living creatures awaken to activity. Sunrise is announced by a general chorus, especially of loud-voiced animals, as monkeys and parrots, whose varied cries continue in bursts, until the forest rings with the uproar. This gradually ceases as the sun rises higher in the sky; till at noon a death-like stillness prevails. The snake and cayman lie basking in open places, drinking in the fierce heat that drives all other animals to seek shade. Only a solitary cry is heard until sunset, when the chorus is renewed; but this time by different voices—those of the hungry jaguar and panther, the tapir, peccari, and others, besides noisy frogs, and those creatures that always accompany night, the owl and bat—the latter being often, in the tropics, the formidable bloodsucking vampire. It is at this time that fruit and flowers send forth their most delicious fragrance, and swarms of goatsuckers appear chasing night-insects. That much maligned but innocent bird, the goat-sucker, sleeps on the ground or on a low branch, and makes no nest, laying its eggs on the bare soil.
The sounds of the night are nearly the same, but even fewer than those of the day; the crash of a fallen tree, the mournful wail of the sloth, that seems to implore pity as it crawls slowly along the underside of a branch, the cayman's cry, hideous and terrible, for it means that the monster is seeking for prey. Sometimes, too, there is the roaring of the jaguar on the same quest, or perhaps lost in the wilderness, a thing which not unfrequently happens, and the perplexed animal lives
for weeks in the trees, the terror of monkeys and birds. That peculiar species of monkey called the howler makes a terrific noise, it is said most depressing to the spirits—this is generally just before sunrise. Some of the birds sing well, as the realejo, or organ-bird, the campanero, with its bell-like note, and one or two others. As a rule, Brazilian song-birds are dullplumaged, like our own. The glories of the winged kingdom are its humming-birds and butterflies. Birds lay throughout the year, and find plentiful food in the insects that abound. Every species of ant exists here, and in myriads. The formigo or fire-ant actually depopulates whole districts, man and beast fleeing from its fearful sting; while, on the other hand, termites, or white ants, perform a useful office in the system of nature, eating away the decayed parts of vegetation.
Beyond the ordinary sights and sounds of the forest, there are those for which no hunter, either Indian or white, can account —a ring as of an axe striking a tree, or a sudden sharp cry unlike that of any animal, and followed by profound silence. Mr. Bates describes them as producing a strange effect upon the mind in these vast solitudes. The Indians ascribe all such unexplained noises to the spirit of of the woods. In them, and the voices of nature around them, they believe a deity speaks. Very few in number, and shrinking from contact with the white man's civilization, these Indians lead a wild, solitary life. A wretched palm-thatched hut, containing a few earthen pots, and the universal hammock swung within, is their dwelling, which is generally surrounded by a small clearing, growing manioc and plantains. The women cultivate this ground, while the men hunt and fish. Boiled ant-eater and red monkey are their common food. One or two tribes are nomade, remaining but a short time in the same spot, and living entirely upon fruit and fish—a harmless, degraded people. Their history is as obscure as that of most savages—even tradition is silent among them. Whence they came, it would be hard to say, but certain it is that they do not seem fitted by nature for the climate, as the negro is. They suffer from the heat like the white, yet their race appears to have existed and grown old with the forest itself. Its pathless wilds are familiar to them. With the lore of