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Arr. II. Dinbur Castle, its Gardens and its Gardeners. By Peter
(Continued from our preceding Volume, p. 610.)
On the north side of the garden there was a small glen; the side next the garden was steep and rocky, the opposite side was sloped and of more easy access; here and there lay large blocks of whinstone rock, and the vegetation consisted chiefly
of whins and broom. Near this place were some of the labourers' cottages, which could easily be seen from the bothy; and there was a footpath across the small ravine, which led from the one place to the other. Bauldy Black was well acquainted with the path, and could find his way in the dark, although it required the assistance of the loose roots and the broom to help one along.
That night he was often looked for by Maggy Scraunky; for she heard that he was going to the dance, and she was anxious to know whom he was to have for a partner. As she was looking at one time towards the bothy she was surprised to see a bright light come from the bothy window; a flash of lightning, as she thought. She kept looking in the same direction for some time, when another illumination took place. She instantly turned away, and ran into one of the houses, exclaiming : “ There is something no canny about the garden this night; only come out and ye 'll see. There is surely something wrang wi’ Bauldy.”
“ What can be wrang wi’ Bauldy, mair than ony o'the rest?” said Geordie Lowrie: “he was hale and weel when I cam frae my wark in the gloamin.” However, old and young ran to the door, and all eyes were directed to the bothy, when soon another flash was seen brighter than any that had yet appeared. ye
that?” roared out Meg: “ye'll ken noo gif I hae been haivering to ye.”
That is an unchancy blink,” said Geordie, “ and unco uncanny like. My granny has often tauld me about warlocks and witches, and brownies and fairies, and kelpies and spunkies, but ony thing like that I hae never seen. I mind fu weel, on a night when I gaed awa to see Jenny, a pick mirk night it was ; and coming near the cairny loan I saw a blue_low dancing atween the hedges, and coming in my direction. Though I was a raukle handit chield then, I was unco eerie, and felt a groozzling in my throat, and a smell o’ brimstone; and if I hadna set a tryst wi' Jenny, it wouldna been that night I would hae gane to the hethery knowe; and I tried to gang faster, but it turned the corner before me. I begun to feel gif the bonnet was on my head, for I thought a' my hair stiffened; and it still gaed dancing before me, but I followed slowly behind it. Sometimes it went
faster than I was able to follow, at last it took a turn awa to the auld kirkyard of Mirkness, which was near by. When I entered Jenny's father's house I nearly fainted. —- What's wrang wi' ye the night, Geordie lad, ye are no yersel ava?' —Come awa to the door, and ye'll see something that will may be mak ye wonder. Do ye see yon blue low dancing in the corner of the kirkyard?'—That's nae ferlie,” said the auld carle; “whar did it come frae?' - It cam frae the clauchan airt, and up the cairny loan.' — Weel, weel, there will be a funeral in a few days come the same gate, and if ye wait awee ye will see it gang awa the road it cam.' And I stood upon a knowe and saw it gang awa again, and in three days after the auld miller o’ Melderston was brought to his lang hame.”
Geordie was beginning another spunkie story when another brilliant light was seen, and he cried out : “ Come awa, bodies, come awa, we are lang enough here; there will be waur news than piper's news heard o'ere long. We will, maybe, soon hae to read Bauldy's epitaph, puir chield, for he deserves ane as weel as Habbie Simson the piper o Kilbarchan, or anither fiddler, whose name I forget, but it is said of him:
• Here lies dear John, whose pipe and drone,
And fiddle oft has made us glad ;
A sweet and merry lad.'” Next morning the young men were greatly amused by the remarks Geordie Lowrie made concerning the “awfu' lights he had seen coming frae the bothy yestreen.” They, however, took care, the next time that Sandy Macalpine made chemical experiments, to hang up one of their aprons over the window, to prevent any of their neighbours imagining that they were raising the devil.
In a few nights after Sandy Macalpine had delivered his remarks on oxygen, Walter Glenesk was prepared to give a short outline of geology, a branch of knowledge which he thought every gardener ought to be acquainted with. It was well, he said, to be acquainted with mathematical, physical, and political geography, to know the general form of the earth, and be able to determine the relative positions of places upon the earth's surface; also to know something about the principal features of the surface of our globe, to have some knowledge of the mountain ranges of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, as well as of the valleys and plains of these extensive districts; to be acquainted with the subject of climate and temperature, and how these and other natural causes affected the condition of the human race; also with the moral and social condition of the various nations of the world. All these were subjects well worth the study of man: but, however varied and beautiful the exterior features of the earth may be, together with the herbs and trees that adorn it, and the numerous tribes of organised beings which people it, yet the interior structure of our earth deserves also our particular attention ; for it could be easily shown how close a relation exists between rocks and soils, and how a knowledge of the nature of soils must be of essential benefit to those who cultivate them; every gardener, therefore, ought to be a geologist.
Walter Glenesk took his own way to illustrate his subject. When travelling from place to place, he made himself, as far as he was able, familiar with the geological features of the country through which he passed, and when he had settled he collected specimens of the rocks and erratic boulders which he found in the neighbourhood of the place in which he resided, so he was enabled to make his discourse more interesting, by exhibiting specimens of many of the rocks that form part of the different geological formations. The other lads in the bothy were able to examine the specimens at their leisure, which was an advantage which many students who attend geological lectures do not enjoy. He had prepared an ideal section of part of the earth’s crust on a large scale, by means of which he was able to point out more clearly the relation which one rock bears to another.
He commenced with granite, a rock considered as occupy-, ing the lowest part of the series, and often found in mountain ranges at the highest elevation. He did not stop to tell them of its constituent parts, but went on from granite to gneiss, from gneiss to mica-slate, from that to chlorite-slate, talcslate, hornblende-slate, clay-slate, primary limestone, quartz rocks, and serpentine rocks. Having gone over the various rocks of the primary formation several times, until the others could name them in their order, he then proceeded in describing the constituent parts of granite. He told them that it was composed of felspar, quartz, mica, and sometimes hornblende, but they were not to imagine that these were simple substances; and, taking up a specimen of felspar, he told them that it was composed of potash, silica, and alumina; mica contained potash, silica, alumina, magnesia, and iron; hornblende was composed of silica, lime, iron, and magnesia; and quartz, when pure, consisted of silica alone. He then showed them the difference between the best Aberdeen granite and that of Peterhead and Braemar: how it varied in colour; sometimes it was fleshcoloured, at other times dark grey : how some kinds of it were indestructible, and others were easily decomposed by means of the air and water acting upon the potash of the felspar. The celebrated Cornish clay, much used in potteries, is obtained from decomposed granite ; and sometimes, when the clay is mixed with
the quartz of the granite, a tolerably good soil is produced sufficient to bear corn crops when properly cultivated and manured.
From granite he proceeded to gneiss, and showed them the difference between the two rocks, although composed of nearly the same sort of materials, namely, felspar, quartz, mica, and hornblende; pointed out to them how granite was granular, and gneiss was granular and slaty; and how that a great part of the Highlands of Scotland is composed of strata of gneiss, and that vegetation, in those districts where gneiss abounds, is generally thought to be more productive than where granite abounds. He next showed them specimens of mica-slate, telling them that they were composed chiefly of mica and quartz, and that Ben-Lomond, Ben-Ledi, and other parts of the Grampian Mountains, were mostly composed of it. He showed them two varieties of it; one abounding with garnets, the other without them. Next followed specimens of clay-slate from various slate quarries in Scotland, such as Aberfoil, Callender, and other places where roofing slate is found; in some slates iron pyrites abound, others are without them. On the banks of Loch-Lomond it may be seen dipping into the water, and rising again on each side of the loch ; and may be compared to "a bonnie blue ribbon" thrown across the breast of the Grampians.
Next followed primary limestone, quartz rock, and serpentine. Primary limestone, he told them, was sometimes called statuary marble, and that some beautiful specimens of it were found in the North of Scotland. It is of a granular and crystalline texture, and some kinds of it take a very fine polish. Much of the marble that was used by the ancients was obtained from Mount Pentelicus in Attica, and also from the Island of Paros, as well as from Mount Hymettus, Lesbos, and other places; and much that is used by the moderns is obtained from the quarries of Carrara. Quartz, he told them, was also found in the primary formation, and there were many varieties of it. The Cairngorm stone, or rock crystal, is one variety of it; and the common, or amorphous, quartz is another. He also showed them some beautiful varieties of serpentine rock from Portsoy; a rock composed chiefly of magnesia, silica, and iron. After making them acquainted with the order of superposition of the rocks of the primary formation, and also pointing out the character of each, he proceeded to inform them that many of the metals were found in veins in the rocks belonging to the formation they had just been considering; and the richest mines in Cornwall, where copper and tin ores were obtained, were in the primary clay-slate resting on granite; also the mine of Valenciana, at one time the richest in Mexico, where gold and silver were obtained, traversed the clay-slate and porphyry.
3d Ser. - 1843. III,
Before proceeding to the transition series of rocks, he gave the young men an opportunity for making any observation they thought proper on the subject they had been hearing.
Bauldy Black was the first man that made any remarks. He said that he had listened wi' a' the attention he was able to give, and he thought he understood the subject as far as he had gane, for he once had some dealings wi’ stanes. When he was a laddie on the farm o' Rashenbrae, mony a cart-load had he broken to fill drains wi’; but he never had heard so much said about rocks and stones before, nor did he ken that they had sae mony braw names before. “What ye ca' granite, we used to ca’it a ringer; and mica was sheep's siller; and quartz was liverwhin, and chucky stanes. But, Watty, is that no the diamond that is found in slates which you name pyrites ? When I was herding, often hae I broken the slates for them; and large anes were sometimes found in a kind of slaty whinstone." Walter told him that the true diamond was quite a different substance altogether; that it was found in Bengal and the Island of Borneo, and also in Brazil and other places; and that it was found to be crystalline charcoal, while those yellow bodies that were obtained from roofing slate were composed chiefly of iron and sulphur. But it would appear that every country must have its diamonds, and almost every formation is sought for them; the Scotch seek for them in the primary formation, and the English in the gravelly hills . of Bagshot Heath.
“ But what kind of a stane is that,” said Bauldy, have
amang your specimens of primary rocks? I think I hae seen something like it sometimes turned up by the plough, and a hard heavy lump it is; there's nae braken o't; ye may maist as weel thump awa at a yetlin bullet; and I ance saw a sma' bit of it draw the needle of a compass to it, and make it spin round like Jenny Birril's wheel o fortune on the end of an auld herrin barrel at Broxbrae fair.”—“ That is magnetic iron-stone," said Walter; "and it is frequently found in primary mountains. It is also found in the Shetlands, and many parts of Germany and Sweden.”—“And how had it found its way to the Rashenbrae?” said Bauldy.-" That is a subject which we will not enter upon at present,” said Walter; “but, perhaps, we will be able to give you information on that point when we are farther advanced in geology."
o that ye
West Plean, December 10. 1824.