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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Highland Scenery
By Norman Macleod (1812–1872)
 
From ‘The Old Lieutenant and his Son’

HER great delight was in the scenery of that West Highland country. Italy has its gorgeous beauty, and is a magnificent volume of poetry, history, and art, superb within and without, read by the light of golden sunsets. Switzerland is the most perfect combination of beauty and grandeur; from its uplands—with grass more green and closely shaven than an English park; umbrageous with orchards; musical with rivulets; tinkling with the bells of wandering cattle and flocks of goats; social with picturesque villages gathered round the chapel spires—up to the bare rocks and mighty cataracts of ice; until the eye rests on the peaks of alabaster snow, clear and sharp in the intense blue of the cloudless sky, which crown the whole marvelous picture with awful grandeur! Norway too has its peculiar glory of fiords worming their way like black water-snakes among gigantic mountains, lofty precipices, or primeval forests. But the scenery of the Western Highlands has a distinctive character of its own. It is not beauty, in spite of its knolls of birch and oak copse that fringe the mountain lochs and the innumerable bights and bays of pearly sand. Nor is it grandeur—although there is a wonderful vastness in its far-stretching landscapes of ocean meeting the horizon, or of hills beyond hills, in endless ridges, mingling afar with the upper sky. But in the sombre coloring of its mountains; in the silence of its untrodden valleys; in the extent of its bleak and undulating moors; in the sweep of its rocky corries; in the shifting mists and clouds that hang over its dark precipices: in all this kind of scenery, along with the wild traditions which ghost-like float around its ancient keeps, and live in the tales of its inhabitants, there is a glory and a sadness, most affecting to the imagination, and suggestive of a period of romance and song, of clanships and of feudal attachments, which, banished from the rest of Europe, took refuge and lingered long in those rocky fastnesses, before they “passed away forever on their dun wings from Morven.”  1
 
 
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