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To St. Albans' town we came; Roman Albanus — hence the name. Whose shrine commemorates the faith Which led him to a martyr's death. A high cathedral marks his grave, With noble screen and sculptured nave. From thence to Hatfield lay our way, Where the proud Cecils held their sway, And ruled the country, more or less, Since the days of Good Queen Bess. Next through Hitchin's Quaker hold To Bedford, where in days of old John Bunyan, the unorthodox, Did a deal in local stocks. Then from Bedford's peaceful nook Our pilgrim's progress still we took Until we slackened up our pace In Saint Neots' market-place. Next day, the motor flying fast, Through Newark, Tuxford, Retford passed, Until at Doncaster we found That we had crossed broad Yorkshire's bound. Northward and ever North we pressed, The Brontė Country to our West. Still on we flew without a wait, Skirting the edge of Harrowgate, And through a wild and dark ravine, As bleak a pass as we have seen, Until we slowly circled down And settled into Settle town. On Sunday, in the pouring rain, We started on our way again. Through Kirkby Lonsdale on we drove, The weary rain-clouds still above, Until at last at Windermere We felt our final port was near, Thence the lake with wooded beach Stretches far as eye can reach. There above its shining breast We enjoyed our welcome rest. Tuesday saw us — still in rain — Buzzing on our road again. Rydal first, the smallest lake, Famous for great Wordsworth's sake; Grasmere next appeared in sight, Grim Helvellyn on the right, Till we made our downward way To the streets of Keswick gray. Then amid a weary waste On to Penrith Town we raced, And for many a flying mile, Past the ramparts of Carlisle, Till we crossed the border line Of the land of Auld lang syne. Here we paused at Gretna Green, Where many curious things were seen At the grimy blacksmith's shop, Where flying couples used to stop And forge within the smithy door The chain which lasts for evermore. They'd soon be back again, I think, If blacksmith's skill could break the link. Ecclefechan held us next, Where old Tom Carlyle was vexed By the clamour and the strife Of this strange and varied life. We saw his pipe, we saw his hat, We saw the stone on which he sat. The solid stone is resting there, But where the sitter? Where, oh! where? Over a dreary wilderness We had to take our path by guess, For Scotland's glories don't include The use of signs to mark the road. For forty miles the way ran steep Over bleak hills with scattered sheep, Until at last, 'neath gloomy skies, We saw the stately towers rise Where noble Edinburgh lies — No city fairer or more grand Has ever sprung from human hand. But I must add (the more's the pity) That though in fair Dunedin's city Scotland's taste is quite delightful, The smaller Scottish towns are frightful. When in other lands I roam And sing "There is no place like home." In this respect I must confess That no place has its ugliness. Here on my mother's granite breast We settled down and took our rest. On Saturday we ventured forth To push our journey to the North. Past Linlithgow first we sped, Where the Palace rears its head, Then on by Falkirk, till we pass The famous valley and morass Known as Bannockburn in story, Brightest scene of Scottish glory. On pleasure and instruction bent We made the Stirling hill ascent, And saw the wondrous vale beneath, The lovely valley of Monteith, Stretching under sunlit skies To where the Trossach hills arise. Thence we turned our willing car Westward ho! to Callander, Where childish memories awoke In the wood of ash and oak, Where in days so long gone by I heard the woodland pigeons cry, And, consternation in my face, Legged it to some safer place. Next morning first we viewed a mound, Memorial of some saint renowned, And then the mouldered ditch and ramp Which marked an ancient Roman camp. Then past Lubnaig on we went, Gazed on Ben Ledi's steep ascent, And passed by lovely stream and valley Through Dochart Glen to reach Dalmally, Where on a rough and winding track We wished ourselves in safety back; Till on our left we gladly saw The spreading waters of Loch Awe, And still more gladly — truth to tell — A very up-to-date hotel, With Conan's church within its ground, Which gave it quite a homely sound. Thither we came upon the Sunday, Viewed Kilchurn Castle on the Monday, And Tuesday saw us sally forth Bound for Oban and the North. We came to Oban in the rain, I need not mention it again, For you may take it as a fact That in that Western Highland tract It sometimes spouts and sometimes drops, But never, never, never stops. From Oban on we thought it well To take the steamer for a spell. But ere the motor went aboard The Pass of Melfort we explored. A lovelier vale, more full of peace, Was never seen in classic Greece; A wondrous gateway, reft and torn, To open out the land of Lome. Leading on for many a mile To the kingdom of Argyle. Wednesday saw us on our way Steaming out from Oban Bay, (Lord, it was a fearsome day!) To right and left we looked upon All the lands of Stevenson — Moidart, Morven, and Ardgour, Ardshiel, Appin, and Mamore — If their tale you wish to learn Then to "Kidnapped" you must turn. Strange that one man's eager brain Can make those dead lands live again! From the deck we saw Glencoe, Where upon that night of woe William's men did such a deed As even now we blush to read. Ben Nevis towered on our right, The clouds concealed it from our sight, But it was comforting to say That over there Ben Nevis lay'. Finally we made the land At Fort William's sloping strand, And in our car away we went Along that lasting monument, The good broad causeway which was made By King George's General Wade. He built a splendid road, no doubt, Alas! he left the sign-posts out. And so we wandered, sad to say, Far from our appointed way, Till twenty mile of rugged track In a circle brought us back. But the incident we viwed In a philosophic mood. Tired and hungry but serene We settled at the Bridge of Spean. Our journey now we onward press Toward the town of Inverness, Through a country all alive With memories of "forty-five." The noble clans once gathered here, Where now are only grouse and deer. Alas, that men and crops and herds Should ever yield their place to birds! And that the splendid Highland race Be swept aside to give more space For forests where the deer may stray For some rich owner far away, Whose keeper guards the lonely glen Which once sent out a hundred men! When from Inverness we turned, Feeling that a rest was earned. We stopped at Nairn, for golf links famed, "Scotland's Brighton" it is named, Though really, when the phrase we heard, It seemed a little bit absurd, For Brighton's size compared to Nairn Is just a mother to her bairn. We halted for a day of rest, But took one journey to the West To view old Cawdor's tower and moat Of which unrivalled Shakespeare wrote, Where once Macbeth, the schemer deep, Slew royal Duncan in his sleep, But actors since avenged his death By often murdering Macbeth. Hard by we saw the circles gray Where Druid priests were wont to pray. Three crumbling monuments we found, With Stonehenge monoliths around, But who had built and who had planned We tried in vain to understand, As future learned men may search The reasons for our village church. This was our limit, for next day We turned upon, our homeward way, Passing first Culloden's plain Where the tombstones of the slain Loom above the purple heather. There the clansmen lie together — Men from many an outland skerry, Men from Athol and Glengarry, Camerons from wild Mamore, MacDonalds from the Irish Shore, Red MacGregors and McLeods With their tartans for their shrouds, Menzies, Malcolms from the islands, Frasers from the upper Highlands — Callous is the passer by Who can turn without a sigh From the tufts of heather deep Where the noble clansmen sleep. Now we swiftly made our way To Kingussie in Strathspey, Skirting many a nameless loch As we flew through Badenoch, Till at Killiecrankie's Pass, Heather changing into grass We descended once again To the fertile lowland plain, And by Perth and old Dunblane Reached the banks of Allan Water, Famous for the miller's daughter, Whence at last we circled back Till we crossed our Stirling track. So our little journey ended, Gladness and instruction blended — Not a care to spoil our pleasure, Not a thought to break our leisure, Drifting on from Sussex hedges Up through Yorkshire's fells and ledges Past the deserts and morasses Of the dreary Border passes, Through the scenes of Scottish story Past the fields of battles gory. In the future it will seem To have been a happy dream, But unless my hopes are vain We may dream it soon again.
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