William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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to be wondered, that there is not a little gri-
mace and hypocrify. It is not many years
fince the magiftrates of Glafgow, humouring
the aufterity of certain of their clergy, and


( 93 )

the general prejudices of the people, were
wont to be very rigid in enforcing a judai-
cal obfervance of the fabbath. The elders,
a clafs of men in Scotland that feem to unite
in their perfons fomewhat of the authority of
curates, conftables, and church-wardens, ufed
to fearch, on the Sunday evenings, the public
houfes ; and if any perfon, not belonging to
the family, was found there, he was fubjedled
to a fine, or, if he could not give an account
of himfelf, perhaps to imprifonment. Yet
means were found by all who had a mind
to evade the laws of fobriety in the follow-
ing manner. They called at an elder's houfe,
on pretence of feeking the benefit of his pray-
ers or family worfhip. This duty being over,
the elder put up his bible on an adjoining
flielf, and took down a bowl, in which he
made a fmall quantity of punch, prefenting,
at the fame time, fomething to eat, as ham,
oat-cake, cheefe, dried fifli, &c. which they
call a relijb. The elder's bowl being foon
exhauiled, each of the guefls, in his turn,


( 94 )

infifted alfo on having his bowl; for which
demands the landlord took care, before hand,
to be well provided with rum and other in-
gredients, which he retailed, in this private
manner, chiding his guefts, (at the fame
time that he drank glafs for glafs) for their
intemperance. The company parted at a late
hour, fufficiently replenifhed, it muil be own-
ed, with the fpirit.

A more liberal fpirit, it is juftice to ob-
ferve, begins to prevail here, as in other
parts of Scotland. In Glafgow, we find the
moil complete abbey that is in Scotland, in
which there are now three places for public
devotion ; one of them in the fpot which
was formerly appointed for the burial of the
dead ; a moft gloomy place, and well adapt-
ed to the genius of the Prefbyterian religion.
Two handfome bridges extend over the
Clyde. In this city, there are two glafs-
houfes ; one for making black, the other for
making white glafs. There is a canal from
this placs to the eaft fea, which will admit


( 95 )

of veflcls of 1 50 tons ; but the cxpcncc has
been greater than the commerce * repays, for
500!. fliares are now felling for 200!. Had
this canal been made only half as large, it
would have anfwered much better.

Sunday, 26th June. Go from Glafgow
to Paifley. This town contains 20,000 in-
habitants, the greateft part of whom are
employed in the manufacture of filk and
thread gauze. This latl is made from five-
pence halfpenny to nine-pence per yard, and
the filk from nine-pence to twelve fhillings.
The people are paid by the yard, in propor-
tion to the finenefs of the gauze. Some of
the men and women earn five (hillings a day
for the fine gauze. Very young girls are em-
ployed in weaving the coarfcr fort. Some of
them weave three yards a day or more, and
can earn thirteen or fourteen pence. Young
children are alfo made ufeful in preparing the


* Since writing the above, commerce has been very much
increafed, and the price of (hares in the canal increafed, of
courfe, in proportion.

( 96 )

the filk and thread for the loom, and are
paid from four-pence to fix-pence a day.

At this place are the remains of an an-
tient abbey, built in the year noo, part of
which is in tolerable order, and ferves inftead
of a kirk. There are two other regular kirks
in Paifley, and five Diflenting meeting-
houfes. The manufactory here was efta-
bliihed about twenty-five years ago, by an
Engliiliman of the name of Philips -, and it
is now increafed to the amazing magnitude of
giving employment and fubfiftence to 1 5,000
fouls. They have lately introduced the cot-
ton manufacture here, which is increafing
very fail.

The town of Paifley is near two miles long,
and the new part of it, which has been built
within thefe five years, contains many very
good houfes, built of free-ftone. The prin-
cipal manufacturers are fixteen in number,
feven Englim. and nine Scotch. Many of
thefe have made confiderable fortunes, fet up
their carriages, and built, in the neighbour-
hood of the town, elegant country houfes.


( 97 )

Many houfes in Paifley pay, in wages to
journeymen weavers, women and children,
500!. a week. The carriage of new gauze
patterns .from London to this place, by the
coach and waggons, cofts 500!. a year. A
fertile country, cheap labour, a fober and
fteady people, abundance of coal and water
carriage, were the circumftances which invited
Englifh manufacturers to fettle in this coun-
try j and the juftnefs of their views has been
fully evinced by the moft profperous fuccefs.

In the abbey, which belongs to Lord Aber-
corn, there is a monument of the wife of
Robert Bruce, who broke her neck near this
place, when (lie was big with child. The
infant was preferved, and afterwards created
Lord Semple, and was grandfather to James I.
The bells were taken out of this abbey^
and are now at Durham. There is a mod ex-
cellent inn at Paifley, built by Lord Abercorn,
and kept in very good order by the prefent
landlord, Mr. Watts, who provided us with a
handfome carriage, and horfes that performed
a journey of 600 miles through the moft

G moun-

( 98 )

mountainous part of Scotland with the greateft
eafe. The civility and attention of Mr.
Watts merits this remembrance.

Monday at Paifley.

Tuefday, 28th June. Return to Glafgow,
the country between which and Paifley is
pretty well cultivated, and prefents feveral
pleafant profpects. The country round
Glafgow produces but little corn, nor is
there fuch attention (hewn to AGRICULTURE
as might be expected near the fecond city in
Scotland. A great deal of ground is appro-
priated to the purpofe of raifing vegetables
for the table, but they will not take the trou-
ble to water any of the plants, let the feafon


be never fo dry. In the city of Glafgow,
there are many houfes, to all outward appear-
ance, exceedingly elegant. They are, how-
ever, only half finifhed. The window-^
fhutters and doors are unpainted deal, and
many of the walls bare planter. So large
and opulent a city as this might have water
conveyed into it, and be drained, without op-
preffing the inhabitants, by which means it


( 99 )

would be much cleaner, and of courfe, more
healthful. The police of the city feems to be
well attended to. It is governed by a provoft
and twelve inferior magistrates, who take cog-
nizance of fmall offences, and chaftife petty
offenders by flight punifhments. Two of the
jufticiary lords come here twice a year from
Edinburgh, to try offences of an higher nature,
and to inflict proportionable punifhments.

The inn, or rather the hotel at Glafgow,
called the Tontine, is a very large houfe. The
coffee-room, and ball-room, are very elegant :
but there are only fix bed-rooms. The liquors,
of all kinds, are exceedingly good.

Wednefday, 29th June. Leave Glafgow,
and ride to Dunbarton, fourteen miles, on
the banks of the Clyde. Many good houfes
on each fide of the road, and both fides of
the river well improved and wooded. The
Clyde, after pafling Glafgow, has level, green,
and fertile banks, always filled up to the
brim by the rains that fall fo plentifully on
the weftern fhores of Scotland. Mr. Spears,
a merchant in Glafgow, has built near Ren-

G 2 frew,

frew, a very handfome villa, fuch as a capital
merchant in London might have erected on
the Thames, at an expence not lefs than

On the beautiful River Cart, which dif-
. charges itfelf in the Clyde, near Renfrew,
about two miles from Paifley, there is a very
pleafing feat, belonging to the Earl of Glaf-
gow. The city of Glafgow, and the town of
Paifley, ARE BOTH within view of this charm-
ing refidence. The River Cart meanders
fweetly through the park ; and Cruickftone-
Caftle, now in ruins, ftanding on a moil
beautiful eminence, adds an intereft to the
- delightful fcene, having been a maifon de
flalfance to the unfortunate Mary Queen of
Scots. It was here that fhe indulged her
loves with Lord Darnley, during the happy
period of their union, and here fprings frefh,
to this hour, her favourite yew-tree, which
flie often imprefTed on her copper coin.
The remains of a ditch are flill to be traced
round the caflle, and the ruins are piclurefque,


though not extenfive. In examining the
interior parts of this old manfion, you
can flill diftinguifh the lofty hall where the
tender Mary, among a race of barbarian and
ruffian lords, difplayed the refinements of
France, and the charms of Venus. You can
alfo trace her favourite apartment, where fhe
dedicated the foft hours of her retirement to
the loves and graces.

Lady Glafgow, much to her praife, has
lately contributed to the prefervation of this
interefting ruin, by a well-timed fupport to
its decaying foundations.

Dunba:ton is a fmall town, in a femi-cir-
cular form, on the banks of the Clyde. Being
well fituated for receiving kelp from the
weftcrn coaft of Scotland, it has two glafs-
houfes, both of which find full employ-
ment. The caftle is fituated on a rocky
hill, nearly conical, rifing out of a plain, to
the height of 500 feet, defended, where it
is acceflible, by a wall, and its bafe wafhed by
the Clyde and theLeven, whofe pure ftream
G 3 flows

flows entirely from Loch-Lomond. The
rock of this hill has, at different times, tum-
bled down in large fragments, which remain
upon the plain below, forming an huge mafs
of ruins. The country around is for feveral
miles quite level. The view from Dunbar-
ton-Caftle up and down the Clyde, is very
pleafant, and particularly beautified by the
towns of Greenock and Port-Glafgow, which
run out into the river. The residence of
Lord Semple, with another feat acquired by
marriage, on the fouth fide of the Clyde, and
Lord Blantyre's, near Port-Glafgow, are very
good houfes, and add to the beauty of this
linking landfcape. The land about them is
well wooded, and greatly improved. The
Clyde, above Port-Glafgow, becomes very
lhallow, and will not admit of veflels above
80 tons. To the north of Dunbarton, there
is a fine vale, well cultivated and peopled ;
and Ben-Lomond, a very high and ftupen-
dous mountain, forms the back ground of
this magnificent profpecl.


( 103 )

On the caftle of Dunbarton are mounted
thirty guns. The garrifon confifts of a cap-
tain, a lieutenant, an enfign, and fixty pri-
vates. On the fouth fide of the rock there is
a good houfe for the governor. The gun-
ner's houfe and barracks are higher up, and
the magazine, which is bomb-proof, is on
the very fummit. This bold eminence is
not of eafy accefs, at any place, and, if for-
tified in the modern flile, would be as im-
pregnable on the fide of the water as the rock
of Gibraltar. It has the advantage of feveral
good fprings in it, which produce a fufficient
quantity of water for any number of men.

At Dunbarton there is a tolerable inn, kept
by Macfarlane, at the Macfarlane Arms. The
prifon, oppofite to this houfe, forms not a very
pleafant object. This day was kept facred on
account of the preparation for the facrament.
At leaft i, 200 people attended this folemnity;
all of them with fhoes and fiockings, and
otherwife very clean, and welldrefTed. The
G 4 weather

weather was at this time remarkably hot.
The thermometer flood 84.

Thurfday, 3oth June. Leave Dunbarton,
and go to Lufs. The banks of the Leven, up
to Loch-Lomond, are fertile and populous.
The pure nream is well adapted to bleach-
ing, and other ufeful purpofes. Thefe plea-
fing fcenes, in the fore ground, are contraft-
ed with the purply-blue hills of the High-
lands behind, rifmg over them in aweful gran-
deur j and the majeftic Ben-Lomond, like the
father of the mountains, which feem to do him
homage, rearing his venerable head into the
clouds. And here the traveller from the
Low Countries, is fuddenly and forcibly flruck
with the character of the Highlands. The
number of the mountains, their approxima-
tion to one another, their abrupt and per-
pendicular elevation : all thefe circumflances
taken together, give an idea of a country con-
fiding of mountains without intermirlion,
formed by nature into an impregnable for-
trefs. This is the fortrefs, which has enabled


the natural hardinefs and valour of the an-
tient Caledonians to tranfmit, from the ear-
lieft records of their hiftory, the dignity of
an unconquered and independent nation, to
their lateft pofterity.

The woody banks of Loch-Lomond, with
its irregular form, and its numerous and va-
riegated iilands, running up, and vanishing
at an immenfe diftance, among the bafes of
lofty mountains, form an object both aweful
and pleafing, and happily unite the beautiful
with the fublime.

About two miles from Dumbarton, is a
pillar, erected to the memory of Smollet, who
was born in this country, on the banks of
the Leven, four miles from Dunbarton.
Arrive at the edge of Loch-Lomond : go
into a boat, and row fix miles to Lufs, which
is a fmall village.

Friday, July i ft. Go upon the lake, in a
boat, and dine upon an ifland, called Inch-
conachan : catch fome good trout, and re-
turn in the evening to Lufs.



Saturday, July ad. Navigate the lake, and
go round moft of the iflands. A hard gale
of wind, and the lake greatly agitated. At
Lufs there is a tolerable inn, kept by one

Sunday, 3d July. Go to the lop of an
hill, which took two hours to afcend it, and
two to come down. From hence we had a
moft extenfive view to the fouth and eaft of
Stirling and Edinburgh, with the parts ad-
jacent, and, to the weft and north of the fea,
and the tops of near an hundred craggy
mountains, difmal, bleak, and barren.

Loch-Lomond is twenty-four miles long,
and about eight broad. Near the fouth end,
it has from 20 to 140 fathom water. It is
chiefly towards this end, too, that it is inter-
fperfed with various iflands, to the num-
ber of twenty-four. Several of thefe are
from one to three miles broad : fome rife a
confiderable height above the water, and are
well covered with wood : others are flat, and
have a great deal of grazing land, and, in


( 107 )

fome places, produce good corn : a few of
them are barren rocks, with here and there
fome ftraggling mrubs and trees. The
fouthern part of the lake is environed with
high mountains. Some of thefe, floping
gradually down to the water's edge, produce,
towards their bafe, a great quantity of grafs,
and fome corn ; particularly, on the fouth-
eaft fide of the loch, where the Duke of
Montrofe has an houfe, and much cultivated
land around it. On the weft fide, on a large
promontory, well covered with wood, Sir
James Colquhoun has built a very handfome
modern houfe, which is beautifully fituated,
and commands feveral fine views of the loch.
All the northern parts of this great body of
water is encompafled by ftupendous, barren
mountains, rifing almoft perpendicularly
from the tranfparent furface, which reflects
and foftens their rude image ; witli the ex-
ception of only a few fpots, in which there
is a confiderable quantity of wood, with fome
pretty large trees, and in fome places a fmall
extent of level ground, which enables the


poor inhabitants to fcratch out a few acres of
corn and potatoes for their fcanty meal in
the winter. On the fouthern point of an
iiland, in this extenfive and beautiful lake,
called Inchmerran, there ftands an antient
caflle belonging to the Duke of Lennox.

The fouth end of Loch-Lomond, beauti-
fully interfperfed with ifles, prefents a num-
ber of charming profpecls : but all the nor-
thern part of it, being narrow, and bounded,
and overfhadowed by the moft tremendous
precipices, tends only to fill the mind with
horror, and leads us to lament the unhappy
lot of thofe whofe defliny it is to live within
its confines. Very different from this are
the lakes of Cumberland and Weftmoreland,
where an appearance of plenty gladdens the
fympathetic heart, as much as the romantic
profpefts which they afford, amufe the ima-

On the fides of the mountains that en-
viron Loch-Lomond, near the edge of the
water, there is a good deal of birch, oak, and


other underwood, with fome tolerable trees.
This underwood is cut down at the end
of every fifteen years. The bark of the
oak is peeled off for tanners : and the
wood of this, and other underwood and
trees, being turned into charcoal, is fent to
Glafgow : a fpecies of commerce which muft
be tolerably productive, as the conveyance
from the Loch to the Clyde is all by water.
This circumftance tends to ftimulate general
induftry, and to increafe the value of the
whole vicinity of Loch-Lomon.l. The fifli
in this lake are, trout, falmon, perch, pike,
&c. which the furrounding inhabitants, not-
withftanding the incitement of water con-
veyance to the Firth of the Clyde, take for
their own ufe only* At the fouth end of
the loch a number of black cattle are fed,
and, at the north, a few ftragglihg fheep.

Monday, July 4th. Leave Lufs, and ride,
by the fide of Loch-Lomond, eight miles, to
Tarbat, where there is an inn much better
and cleaner than that at Lufs. Oppofite to
tins inn appears the majefty of Ben-Lomond.


( no )

We waited two days for an opportunity of
afcending it, but the clouds were fo low,
that it was uncovered but once the whole of
this time, and that only for a few minutes.


Stranger, if o'er this pane ofglafs, perchance,
Thy roving eye fhould caft a cafual glance,
If tafte for grandeur and the dread fublime
Prompt thee Ben-Lomond's fearful height to climb,
Here gaze attentive ; nor with fcorn refufe,
The friendly rhymings of a tavern mufe.
For thee that mufe this rude infcription plann'd,
Prompted for thee her humble poet's hand.
Heed thou the Poet, he thy fteps fhall lead
Safe o'er yon towering hill's afpiring head ;
Attentive, then, to this informing lay,
Read how he dictates, as he points the way;
Truft not at firft a quick advent'rous pace,
Six miles its top points gradual from the bafe.
Up the high rife with panting hafte I pafs'd,
And gain'd the long laborious fteep atlaft.
More prudent thou, when once you pafs the deep,
With meafur'd pace, and flow, afcend the lengthen'd fteep,
Oft ftay thy fteps, oft tafte the cordial drop,
And reft, O reft, long, long, upon the top.
There hail the breezes, nor with toilfome hafte
Down the rough flope thy precious vigour wafte.


So fliall thy wondering fight at once furvey

Vales, lakes, woods, mountains, iflands, rocks, andfea;

Huge hills that heap'd in crouded order ftand,

Stretch'd o'er the northern, and the weftern land;

Vaft lumpy groups, while Bin, who often Ihrouds

His loftier fummit in a veil of clouds,

High o'er the reft difplays fuperior ftate,

In proud pre-eminence fublimely great.

One fide all aweful to the gazing eye,

Prefents a fteep three hundred fathom high.

The fcene tremendous, mocks the ftartled fenfe,

With all the pomp of dread magnificence :

All thefe, and more, flialt thou tranfported fee,

And own a faithful monitor in me.*

Leave Tarbat, and ride two miles to the
top of Loch-Long : an arm of the fea,
where the tide rifes about fix feet. At the
north-eaft end of this loch is a fmall houfc,
with fome firs about it, the refidence of the
Laird of Macfarlane, renowned, amon^ other
good qualities, for his knowledge of Scottifh
antiquities, particularly genealogies, and for
tafte and proficiency in the antient Scottifh


* Thefe lines are written on a pane of glafs, at the inn of
Tarbat ; and they are fubfcribed J. R.

mufic. Ride two miles round the end of
Loch-Long, where there is another houfe of
the fame fort, belonging to a gentleman of
the name of Campbell, which has a view of
Glencroe, with a river multiplied by a thou-
fand cafcades from the tops of craggy moun-
tains roaring over loofe ftones, juft by his
houfe, and difcharging itfelf into the lake.
At this place enter Glencroe, which is fix
miles long, and at feveral places fo narrow,
that the road has been made by blowing out
the folid rock, and is carried above the river,
which runs over large rocks below, and oc-
cupies the bottom of the glen. The fides of
the mountains on each hand, formed of black,
craggy rocks, are almoft perpendicular.
While we paffed through the narrow glen
between them, a thick fog rendered this
gloomy avenue, at all times aweful, now ftill
more dreadful. At the end of Glencroe
there is an hill which terminates it, on the
. fummit of which is a ftone, with the follow-
ing infcription : " Reft and be thankful."


( "3 )

This road was made by the 23d regiment,
and coil them not a little labour to accom-
pli Hi it. From thence, I fuppofe, arofe the
infcription ; for to the traveller, and even to
a carriage, it is neither long nor difficult.
From the point of this hill you look down
on a fmall lake, paffing by the fide of which
you enter into another glen, which is much
wider at the bottom, and from the edges or
extremities of which, the mountains rife with
a gradual (lope, and afford very good pafture
for fheep. This glen reaches by an extent of
four miles, all the way to Cairndow, a fmall
village on the north-eaft fide of Loch-Fine,
which, like Loch-Long, is an arm of the fea,
where the tide rifes about fix feet. Near
this place is a houfe, belonging to Sir
James Campbell, of Ardkinlafs, with a tole-
rable plantation about it. Dine at Cairn-
dow, a very indifferent inn, and, in the after-
noon, pafs on, round the north end of the
loch, to Inverary. This is a ride of eleven
miles, and very pleafant, the road, which runs

H along

along the fide of the loch, being very good,
and the adjacent mountains being well
covered with wood.

Inverary and Loch-Fine. In Loch-Fine
there are no iflands. The mountains on each
fide are fo very high, that they are in general
covered with clouds. At their bafis, near the
water, there is a good deal of coppice-wood ;
and, in fome fpots, the land is flat enough
to admit of corn, and grafs for hay. There
is a great quantity of fea-weed thrown on the
beach, which makes good manure, and is
applied to that purpofe. By thefe means,
good crops are produced ; but fo much rain
falls, that the poor cottager feldom reaps the
fruits of his labour in good condition. The
culture of potatoes here, as in every part of
the country, is an objecl of great care and
attention, and anfwers very well. But the
corn, after it is fown, is greatly neglected,
and fuffered to be choaked up with weeds.

This arm of the fea produces herrings in
great abundance, cod, haddocks, whitings,


and various other kinds of fifh. Five hun-
dred boats are employed in the proper feafon
for fifhing, and are, for the moft part, fo
fortunate as to take a confiderabie quantity
of herrings j part of which are falted for the
ufe of the neighbouring country, and part
fent to Glafgow for exportation. This rifhn
ing might certainly be increafed, and become
a fource of great profit to individuals, as well
as general advantage to the nation.

Whoever has travel led over the weftern part
of Scotland, and viewed the various lochs,
and arms of the fea, mult naturally reflect on
the great advantages which the inhabitants,
and the nation at large, may derive from a
wife and liberal encouragement to promote
the increafe of the fifheries on that coaft,
and more efpecially when it is confidered,
that thoufands of the natives of that coun-
try have very little employment. While my
mind was impreflcd with thofe ideas, the
following plan ftruck me as the moft feafible,
being the moft likely to encourage induftry,
and to be attended with the leaft expence.

Ha Let

( 1=6 )

Let application be made to Government
for a certain number of old fifty gun mips, or
let any other large and commodious fhips (inch
as old Eaft-Indiamen ) be purchafed, which
they may be for a fmall fum of money, and
let them be fent round, and moored in fafe
fituations in the different lochs.

Let Government have thecontroul of thofe
fhips, by placing fome intelligent mailers of
men of war, or other officers to command
them, with ten or fifteen feamen, accuftomed
to fifhing, in each of them.

The fhips to^bejury rigged : that is, to have
fmaller mafls, yards, and rigging, than would
be required for aclual fervice. The rigging
of the vefTels is propofed for the purpofe of

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 5 of 16)