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Queen Mary’s Child-Garden
by [?]

If any one wants a pleasure that is sure to please, one over which he needn’t growl the sardonic beatitude of the great Dean, let him, when the Mercury is at “Fair,” take the nine A.M. train to the North and a return-ticket for Callander, and when he arrives at Stirling, let him ask the most obliging and knowing of station-masters to telegraph to “the Dreadnought” for a carriage to be in waiting. When passing Dunblane Cathedral, let him resolve to write to the Scotsman, advising the removal of a couple of shabby trees which obstruct the view of that beautiful triple end window which Mr. Ruskin and everybody else admires, and by the time he has written this letter in his mind, and turned the sentences to it, he will find himself at Callander and the carriage all ready. Giving the order for the Port of Monteith, he will rattle through this hard-featured, and to our eye comfortless village, lying ugly amid so much grandeur and beauty, and let him stop on the crown of the bridge, and fill his eyes with the perfection of the view up the Pass of Leny–the Teith lying diffuse and asleep, as if its heart were in the Highlands and it were loath to go, the noble Ben Ledi imaged in its broad stream. Then let him make his way across a bit of pleasant moorland–flushed with maidenhair and white with cotton grass, and fragrant with the Orchis conopsia, well deserving its epithet odoratissima.

He will see from the turn of the hill-side the Blair of Drummond waving with corn and shadowed with rich woods, where eighty years ago there was a black peat-moss; and far off, on the horizon, Damyat and the Touch Fells; and at his side the little loch of Ruskie, in which he may see five Highland cattle, three tawny brown and two brindled, standing in the still water–themselves as still, all except their switching tails and winking ears–the perfect images of quiet enjoyment. By this time he will have come in sight of the Lake of Monteith, set in its woods, with its magical shadows and soft gleams. There is a loveliness, a gentleness and peace about it more like “lone St. Mary’s Lake,” or Derwent Water, than of any of its sister lochs. It is lovely rather than beautiful, and is a sort of gentle prelude, in the minor key, to the coming glories and intenser charms of Loch Ard and the true Highlands beyond.

You are now at the Port, and have passed the secluded and cheerful manse, and the parish kirk with its graves, close to the lake, and the proud aisle of the Grahams of Gartmore washed by its waves. Across the road is the modest little inn, a Fisher’s Tryst. On the unruffled water lie several islets, plump with rich foliage, brooding like great birds of calm. You somehow think of them as on, not in the lake, or like clouds lying in a nether sky–“like ships waiting for the wind.” You get a coble, and a yauld old Celt, its master, and are rowed across to Inchmahome, the Isle of Rest. Here you find on landing huge Spanish chestnuts, one lying dead, others standing stark and peeled, like gigantic antlers, and others flourishing in their viridis senectus, and in a thicket of wood you see the remains of a monastery of great beauty, the design and workmanship exquisite. You wander through the ruins, overgrown with ferns and Spanish filberts, and old fruit-trees, and at the corner of the old monkish garden you come upon one of the strangest and most touching sights you ever saw–an oval space of about 18 feet by 12, with the remains of a double row of boxwood all round, the plants of box being about fourteen feet high, and eight or nine inches in diameter, healthy, but plainly of great age.