Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 58

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The Clyde we left a little on our left-hand at Dunbritton, where it widens into an aestuary or frith, being augmented by the influx of the Leven. On this spot stands the castle formerly called Alcluyd, washed, by these two rivers on all sides, except a narrow isthmus, which at every spring-tide is overflowed. The whole is a great curiosity, from the quality and form of the rock, as well as from the nature of its situation — We now crossed the water of Leven, which, though nothing near so considerable as the Clyde, is much more transparent, pastoral, and delightful. This charming stream is the outlet of Lough-Lomond, and through a tract of four miles pursues its winding course, murmuring over a bed of pebbles, till it joins the Frith at Dunbritton. A very little above its source, on the lake, stands the house of Cameron, belonging to Mr Smollett, so embosomed in an oak wood, that we did not see it till we were within fifty yards of the door. I have seen the Lago di Garda, Albano, De Vico, Bolsena, and Geneva, and, upon my honour, I prefer Lough-Lomond to them all, a preference which is certainly owing to the verdant islands that seem to float upon its surface, affording the most inchanting objects of repose to the excursive view. Nor are the banks destitute of beauties, which even partake of the sublime. On this side they display a sweet variety of woodland, cornfield, and pasture, with several agreeable villas emerging as it were out of the lake, till, at some distance, the prospect terminates in huge mountains covered with heath, which being in the bloom, affords a very rich covering of purple. Every thing here is romantic beyond imagination. This country is justly stiled the Arcadia of Scotland; and I don't doubt but it may vie with Arcadia in every thing but climate. — I am sure it excels it in verdure, wood, and water. — What say you to a natural bason of pure water, near thirty miles long, and in some places seven miles broad, and in many above a hundred fathom deep, having four and twenty habitable islands, some of them stocked with deer, and all of them covered with wood; containing immense quantities of delicious fish, salmon, pike, trout, perch, flounders, eels, and powans, the last a delicate kind of fresh-water herring peculiar to this lake; and finally communicating with the sea, by sending off the Leven, through which all those species (except the powan) make their exit and entrance occasionally?

Inclosed I send you the copy of a little ode to this river, by Dr Smollett, who was born on the banks of it, within two miles of the place where I am now writing. — It is at least picturesque and accurately descriptive, if it has no other merit. — There is an idea of truth in an agreeable landscape taken from nature, which pleases me more than the gayest fiction which the most luxuriant fancy can display.

I have other remarks to make; but as my paper is full, I must reserve them till the next occasion. I shall only observe at present, that I am determined to penetrate at least forty miles into the Highlands, which now appear like a vast fantastic vision in the clouds, inviting the approach of

Yours always,
CAMERON, Aug. 28.


On Leven's banks, while free to rove,
And tune the rural pipe to love;
I envied not the happiest swain
That ever trod th' Arcadian plain.

Pure stream! in whose transparent wave
My youthful limbs I wont to lave;
No torrents stain thy limpid source;
No rocks impede thy dimpling course,
That sweetly warbles o'er its bed,
With white, round, polish'd pebbles spread;
While, lightly pois'd, the scaly brood
In myriads cleave thy crystal flood;
The springing trout in speckled pride;
The salmon, monarch of the tide;
The ruthless pike, intent on war;
The silver eel, and motled par.*

Devolving from thy parent lake,
A charming maze thy waters make,
By bow'rs of birch, and groves of pine,
And hedges flow'r'd with eglantine.

Still on thy banks so gayly green,
May num'rous herds and flocks be seen,
And lasses chanting o'er the pail,
And shepherds piping in the dale,
And ancient faith that knows no guile,
And industry imbrown'd with toil,
And hearts resolv'd, and hands prepar'd,
The blessings they enjoy to guard.

* The par is a small fish, not unlike the smelt, which it rivals in delicacy and flavour.