EOBEET DICK

•*

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ROBERT DICK

BAKER, OF THURSO

GEOLOGIST AND BOTANIST

By SAMUEL SMILES, LL.D.

AUTHOR OF LIVES OF THE ENGINEERS,’ SELF-HELP,’ * THRIFT,’

* CHARACTER,’ ETC.

WITH A PORTRAIT ETCHED BY PAUL RAJON, AND NUMEROUS

ILLUSTRATIONS

In Nature’s infinite book of secrecy A little I can read.’

Shakespeare.

The heights by great men reached and kept, Were not attained by sudden flight ;

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upwards in the night.’

Longfellow.

LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET

1878

[The right of translation is reserved.]

Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.

PREFACE.

- 4 -

The preparation of this book has occupied me at intervals during several years. It would have been published before the Life of a Scotch Naturalist, but for want of the requisite materials.

I have to thank my reviewers, one and all, for their favourable notices of that work. It has, however, been objected that I should have culled my last example of Self-Help from a career not already concluded, and exposed the Scotch Naturalist, after his long unmerited neglect, to the harder trial of intrusive patronage, to which my premature biography was likely to expose him.

Whatever truth there may be in this objection, it certainly does not apply in the present case. Robert Dick died twelve years ago, without any recognition of his services to the cause of science, and without any of that Royal Help which, as in the case of Edward, is likely to render the later years of his life more free from care and anxiety.

The first account that I heard of Robert Dick was from the lips of the late Sir Roderick Murchison. He

VI

PREFACE.

delivered a speech at Leeds on the occasion of the meeting of the British Association, which was held there in September 1858.

In pursuing my researches in the Highlands,” said the Baronet, and going beyond Sutherland into Caithness, it was my gratification a second time to meet with a remarkable man in the town of Thurso, named Robert Dick, a baker by trade. I am proud to call him my distinguished friend. When I went to see him, he spread out before me a map of Caithness and pointed out its imperfections. Mr. Dick had travelled over the whole county in his leisure hours, and was thoroughly acquainted with its features. He delineated to me, by means of some flour which he spread out on his baking board, not only its geographical features, but certain geological phenomena which he desired to impress upon my attention. Here is a man who is earning his daily bread by his hard work ; who is obliged to read and study by night ; and yet who is able to instruct the Director-General of the Geographical Society.

But this is not half of what I have to tell you of Robert Dick. When I became better acquainted with this distinguished man, and was admitted into his sanctum which few were permitted to enter I found there busts of Byron, of Sir Walter Scott, and other great poets. I also found there books, carefully and beautifully bound, which this man had been able to

PREFACE.

Vll

purchase out of the savings of his single bakery. I also found that Robert Dick was a profound botanist. I found, to my humiliation, that this baker knew infinitely more of botanical science ay, ten times more than I did ; and that there were only some twenty or thirty British plants that he had not collected. Some he had obtained as presents, some he had purchased, but the greater portion had been accumulated by his own industry in his native county of Caithness. These specimens were all arranged in most beautiful order, with their respective names and habitats ; and he is so excellent a botanist that he might well have been a professed ornament of Section D [Zoology and Botany]. I have mentioned these facts,” concluded the Baronet, in order that the audience may deduce a practical application.”

This notice of Robert Dick, by a man of so much eminence as Sir Roderick Murchison, interested me greatly. His perseverance in the cause of Science, while pursuing the occupations of his daily labour his humility, his modesty, and his love of nature were things well worthy of being commemorated. But I was at that time unable to follow up my inquiries. I could merely mention him in Self-Help , which was published in the following year, as an instance of cheerful, honest working, and of energetic effort to make the most of small means and ordinary opportunities.

Vlll

PREFACE.

Many years passed. Robert Dick died in 1866. Was it possible that he had left any memoranda on which a memoir of his life and labours could be written ? On inquiry I found that many of his letters were still in existence. I believe that I have been successful in obtaining the greater part of them, or, at all events, those which are the most interesting. In fact, by means of these letters the story of Dick’s* life has in a great measure been told by himself.

One of his principal correspondents was the late Hugh Miller, author of My Schools and Schoolmasters , The Old Red Sandstone, and other geological works. His son, Mr. Hugh Miller, of the Geological Survey, has kindly sent me Dick’s letters to his father; though Hugh Miller’s letters to Dick have not yet reached me. They are supposed to be in Australia.

Mr. Charles W. Peach, A.L.S., one of Dick’s best friends, has sent me all Dick’s letters to him, together with much other valuable information as to his life and character. But perhaps the best of Dick’s letters those containing his references to his private life were those wTritten to his sister, principally for her amusement ; and these have been kindly placed in my hands by Dick’s brother-in-law, Mr. Falconer of Haddington.

I am also indebted to Dr. Meiklejohn, to Dr. Robert Brown, F.L.S., for many letters; and to the

PREFACE.

IX

Rev. William Miller, A.M., Thurso, for the letters sent by Dick to his uncle, the late Mr. John Miller, F.G.S.

Among those who have also favoured me with valuable information as to Dick’s life, I have to mention Mr. Brims, Procurator-Fiscal, Thurso ; Mr. G. M. Sutherland and Mr. Fielding, Wick ; Professor Shearer, Airedale College, Bradford; and Dr. George Shearer, Liverpool.

With respect to the Illustrations, they have, for the most part, been the result of several journeys which I have made round the coast of Caithness, and also into the inland districts frequented by Robert Dick, while making his numerous journeys in search of fossils, boulder clay, ferns, plants, and grasses.

The illustrations have been much improved by being drawn on the wood by such accomplished artists as Leitch, Skelton, and Boot, and engraved by Cooper, Whymper, and Paterson.

Mr. Sheriff Russell of Wick and Mr. Charles Peach of Edinburgh have also given me their assistance in the preparation of the illustrations.

The engraving of Mr. Peach has been executed by Charles Roberts, after a photograph by Mr. Dallas, Edinburgh.

London, November 1878.

CONTENTS.

- 4- -

CHAPTER I.

TULLIBODY.

The village of Tullibody Windings of the Forth and Devon Scenery of the Devon The Ochils Castle Campbell Rift in the Ochils Menstrie Bencleuch The Piets The Standi ng-Stane” Cambuskenneth The French at Tullibody The Abercromby family ....... Pages 1-7

CHAPTER II.

ROBERT DICK’S BOYHOOD.

Robert Dick’s birthplace His mother The children sent to school Teacher of the Barony School Robert Dick an apt scholar His talent for languages Resides at Dam’s Burn Schoolmaster at Menstrie Climbs the Ochils Life at home His stepmother Family difficulties What Dick learnt as a boy He leaves home ....... Pages 8-16

CHAPTER III.

ROBERT DICK APPRENTICED.

Apprenticed to a baker Life of a baker’s boy His early and late hours Delivering the bread His observations of Nature First acquaintance with Botany Remembrance of the plants of the Devon His sister Agnes His day of rest A great reader Mr. Dick removes to Thurso Robert Dick leaves Tullibody A journey¬ man baker at Leith, Glasgow, and Greenock Removes to Thurso Begins business in Thurso Thurso Bay His delight in the sea I'he sea-bird’s cry ..... Pages 17-25

CHAPTER IY.

DESCRIPTION OF CAITHNESS.

The name Caithness” Nesses along the coast Caithness Scandi¬ navian Wicks in Caithness Saetrs, Dahls, Thorsa The people

Xll

CONTENTS.

Firths or fiords The Piets drowned Currents in the Pentland Firth Stroma Pentland Skerries The furious winds in Caith¬ ness No trees or hedges Barrogill Castle The coast scenery Wick Bay Duncansby Head The Stacks John o’ Groats The old castles Al-wick, Keiss, Girnigo The Gyoes The inland country— The Caithness mountains The great mountain, Morven Agriculture The old Caithness plough— Thurso— Roads Crub- bans Ord of Caithness Sir John Sinclair Thurso Castle Road over Bencheilt Sir John Sinclair’s improvements . Pages 26-39

CHAPTER V.

DICK BEGINS BUSINESS.

Wilson Lane, Thurso First flour bought Studies conchology Botany His father leaves for Haddington Dunnet Head, Hol- born Head, and the Clett The Gyoes The inland country Entomology Beetles, Bees, Butterflies, and Moths The boys follow Dick Makes friends of the boys Rare insects brought to him Astronomy, Geology, Phrenology Dick invited to marry Annie Mackay Mechanical method for making biscuits His biscuits ...... Pages 40-49

CHAPTER VI.

BOTANICAL WANDERINGS.

His entomological collection Tested everything by observation His books Books imbedded in his flour His microscope Hogarth’s works A great reader Botanical excursions Spring in the North Watching the growth of the flowers The ferns Caithness flora Study of Botany Midsummer time Solitude The moors The soaking rain Walking for a fern Standing on a hill -top— Letters to his sister Walking over a moor Journey to Morven top Dick taken for a salmon-poacher . . . Pages 50-69

CHAPTER VII.

DISCOVERS THE u HOLY GRASS.”

Business and science Want of friends Plis dress His love of nature A deputation from the boys Dick a general referee His know¬ ledge of plants— The Hicrochloe borealis Retains the discovery for twenty years Dick’s paper on the subject The Royal Botani¬ cal Society, Edinburgh The Moonwort The Stork’s-bill Pursuit of ferns Dunnet Sands The Dorery Hills Loch Shurery Dick’s fernery at the Reay Kills .... Pages 70-80

CONTENTS.

xm

CHAPTER VIII.

DUNNET HEAD.

The coast scenery near Thurso -Holborn Head The rockbound coast The Gyoes Fury of the waves Scrabster Roads Hew rocks laid bare Dunnet Head a favourite haunt Height of the cliffs - Extent of the peninsula Dwarwick Head Yachting trip round Dunnet Head The gyoe near Dwarwick— The sea-birds The lighthouse Slips of the rocks Dick’s journey to Dunnet Head Dunnet sands Over the heather Down the cliffs Search for ferns Overtaken by the sea Dick found by a pleasure party Geology of Dunnet Head Devoid of organisms The sandstone cliffs Sandstone from shore to shore Rocks at Brough— Dunnet Loch A superstition of Caithness . . . Pages 81-97

CHAPTER IX.

GEOLOGY - DISCOVERY OF A HOLOPTYCHIUS.

Studies Geology Mantell and Buckland Hugh Miller’s Old Red Sandstone Addresses Hugh Miller The Holoptycliius Describes the beginning of his studies— Hugh Miller’s account of Dick Gentlemen-geologists The scalding theory Dick sends his fossils to Hugh Miller Hugh Miller’s acknowledgments . Pages 98-109

CHAPTER X.

GEOLOGY OF THE THURSO COAST.

Invitations to Hugh Miller Description of the coast Thurso East Fossiliferous beds “That man is mad” View from the coast Pudding Gyoe Murkle Bay View of Dunnet cliffs Geologising at Scrabster The sea The Coccosteus An old burying-ground Bishop’s Palace Scrabster Roads Holborn Head— The Deil’s Brig The Clett Slater’s monument Brims Searching for fossils on Holborn Head . Pages 110-128

CHAPTER XI.

HUGH MILLER VISITS DICK.

Dick’s observations in geology Opposed to theorising Dip of the strata How came the fossil fish ? The flagstones of Caithness Geological formation of Caithness Elevation and depression of the

XIV

CONTENTS.

land Differences of climate The glaciers The houlder clay Beds of coal Dick sends his fossil remains to Hugh Miller A bundle of findings Dick publicly mentioned Weydale An auld bachelor Dipterus and Diplopterus The quarrymen and the fossils Banniskirk “Fresh herring” Walking sentry Reconnoitres for Hugh Miller Hugh Miller visits Robert Dick Their walks along the shore Dunnet sands and Dunnet Head Holborn Head Description of Hugh Miller The expatriated Highlanders Donald’s Flittin Pages 129-150

CHAPTER XII.

DEATH OF DICK’S FATHER - THE BOULDER CLAY.

Thomas Dick at Haddington Removes to Tullibody His illness and death Letter to his sister Competition at Thurso His absence from “the Kirk” The reason why Dick’s solitary service His collection of fossils Researches into the boulder clay His journeys by daylight and moonlight Boulder clay along the Thurso river Finds marine shells and flints Thurdistoft Belts of clay Harpsdale Sends Hugh Miller the marine shells Pages 151-166

CHAPTER XIII.

dick’s searchings amongst the boulder clay.

A journey to Freswick Starts at midnight Castle of Freswick Wanderings up the burn Finds marine shells Hugh Miller’s conclusions— The eastern side of Dunnet Head Dick’s walk under the break-neck rocks Cliffs at Brough Goes into a boulder clay ravine Proceeds down a ledge Wonder upon wonder Dick’s reflections Journey to Harpsdale Another visit to Freswick Boulder stones Village of Castletown Wild bulls of Dunnet Moss of Mey The Skerry Lights Stroma Isle The Wart Hill Wades along Freswick Burn Searches amongst the boulder clay All the country once occupied by the sea Dick’s conclusions

Pages 167-191

CHAPTER XIV.

iceberg period.

Action of icebergs Journey to Dunbeath Crosses Caithness from north to south Granitic debris Dunbeath Water Finds marine

shells Granite and conglomerate The boulders The moors _

Loch More— The auld carle— The want of sneesliin— Deceived by

CONTENTS.

xv

the auld carle Formation of Caithness Journey to Acharynie Picturesque appearance of the river Dirlot Castle Dallmore and Cattack Strathbeg Journey to Sinclair Bay ISToss Head Various other journeys Visit to Shurery View from the Ben Walk up Strath Halladale Journey along the Pentland Firth The Haven of Mey The Caddis worm . . . Pages 192-213

CHAPTER XV.

END OF CORRESPONDENCE WITH HUGH MILLER.

Dick’s assistance to Hugh Miller Professor Agassiz’s testimony Professor Sedgwick Specimen of the Diplopterus Professor Owen Hugh Miller’s acknowledgments Ruling by authorities Geo¬ logical maps Dick’s travelling map Government should make the maps One first creation Winter in Caithness Groovings of ice Rolling home an Asterolepis How Dick polished his fossils Working among the rocks, at Barrogill, Mull of Mey, Scarskerry The base at Gill’s Bay Scotland Haven Ramble to Bencheilt The Druid’s Temple Stemster Loch Bed over bed Hugh Miller’s works Popes of all sorts Hugh Miller’s death Dick’s story of “The Fairies” Dick’s lamentations over Hugh’s death

Pages 214-237

CHAPTER XVI.

CHARLES W. PEACH, A.L.S.

Another worker among the rocks in Cornwall Charles Peach How working men may advance knowledge Peach and Dick Peach born at Wansford His schooling Assists in his father’s inn Is appointed riding officer in the Coastguard service Studies Natural History His frequent removals in Norfolk The Rev. J. Layton Superintendent at Cley Removed to Lyme Regis, Beer, Paignton, and Gorranhaven Studies Zoology The Geology of the Cornish coast Reads a paper at the British Association Constant attender at the meetings The meeting at York Dr. R. Chambers’ descrip¬ tion Discovery of the Holothuria nigra Charles Peach promoted to Landing Waiter at Fowey His discovery of organic fossils Testimony of the Royal Cornish Geological Society Removes to Peterhead Continues his studies in Zoology and Botany Removes to Wick His first visit to Robert Dick His second visit to Dick Their walks Battles in Dick’s bakehouse Peach dis¬ covers fossils in the limestone of Durness Effects a revolution in Geology ...... Pages 238-258

XVI

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XVII.

ROBERT DICK AND CHARLES PEACH.

Peach finds a new fossil Dick’s reply The monk of Cambray reading backwards Views of Geology Ill-will to geologists Mr. Peach’s paper at Liverpool Fossil wood Dick’s botanical collection Mr. W. L. Notcutt Dick’s correspondents His Sunday walks Dr. Macleod Ta tail pe brak” Encounter with a Highlander Sir Roderick Murchison Calls on Robert Dick Letter from Sir Roderick Second visit to Dick Moulds a map of Caithness in flour Sir Roderick’s letter Voyage of Murchison and Peach to the Shetland Islands Sir Roderick’s speech at Leeds “Hammers an’ chisels an’ a’ Amygdaloid Dick’s rhymes Another letter from Sir Roderick Another rhyme . . . Pages 259-281

CHAPTER XVIII.

LION-HUNTERS - FERNS AND MOSSES.

Thurso people and Dick Opinions about his rhymes Lion-hunters Annie Mackay The Duke of Argyll Sir George Sinclair Thomas Carlyle and Baroness Burdett Coutts Lady Sinclair “Welcome Charlie” Medical students Dr. Shearer Dr. Meiklejohn Dr. Brown The Juncus squcirrosus Study of mosses Club mosses Finds the Osmunda regalis Ferns on Dunnet Head Cornish heaths Studies from Nature Fossil wood Illness Hart’s-tongue fern— Section of Caithness strata Plants the Royal Fern over Caithness Darwin’s Journal The littleness of things Dr. Shearer’s question Correspondence with Dr. Meiklejohn Influence of climate on roses ..... Pages 282-311

CHAPTER XIX.

ROBERT DICK IN ADVERSITY.

Dick’s attention to business Is oppressed by competition Loses his money Loses his health Thinks of removing from Thurso More bakers Bakers and whisky dealers John Barleycorn Xo coddling and nursing Improvement of Thurso Annie Mackay’s conversa¬ tion, Dick’s housekeeper Dick’s honesty His cheerfulness Keeps moving Pores over dried mosses Jacob’s son Eyesight becomes defective His struggles to live SirW.yville Thomson His description of Dick— Dick resumes his researches among the fossils His great labour Finds an extraordinary fossil . Pages 312-328

CONTENTS.

XVII

CHAPTER XX.

DICK COMPELLED TO SELL HIS FOSSILS.

The “Prince Consort” shipwrecked Dick’s flour lost Unable to pay the loss Appeals to his sister Obtains £20 from her Pre¬ pares to sell his fossils Mr. John Miller, F.G.S. Correspondence with him Writes to Sir Roderick Murchison Sells his fossils to Mr. Miller Pays his bill for the lost flour His business again falls off Nature comes to his relief His lonely walks His favourite resorts The Daisy The Bulrush and Lapland Reed Troubled with rheumatism Native roses Professor Babington Professor Owen Mr. Notcutt— Mr. Pringle, Farmer s Gazette “0 waft me o’er the deep blue sea” Dick a sleepless man St. Peter’s burying-ground A believer in the unseen world . Pages 329-347

CHAPTER XXI.

RECOMMENCES A COLLECTION OF FOSSILS.

Again searches for fossil fish His wondrous astonishment The dead fish Platform of death View of Caithness and Orkney Death a necessity Interview with a quarryman Hugh Miller’s views referred to The Old Red conglomerate Searchings among the rocks A large fossil found Searches for an entire fossil fish His constant diggings Mr. Salter’s lecture Digs in hard frost— Order of succession Bed of rolled pebbles on Morven top Stony clays on Thurso river Metamorphic action Liquid silica Flint casts The chalk formation Dick’s letters . . Pages 348-370

CHAPTER XXII.

dick’s FRIENDS- FOSSILISING AND MOSS-HUNTING.

How the Thurso people regarded Dick His antediluvian garments - His appearance His inner thinkings The little we really know Dignity and purity of Dick’s character Dr. Shearer’s statement as to his thoroughness Peach and Dick Careful and abstemious “No pampering” Correspondence with his sister Ferns in De¬ cember, Peri Dick nearly shot Death of his sister A new friend His meeting with Dick His frequent interviews Dick’s museum described His herbarium Walls of his bakehouse His interest

XV111

CONTENTS.

in Egypt Natural History Society of Thurso A museum More correspondents Mr. Jamieson, Ellon Lines to Charles Peach Award to Peach for his discoveries in geology Peach finds new fossils A sea-snake Ptcrichthys Diclci Peach’s duties Retires from the service Continues the study of geology and zoology Dick’s letter on receiving his photograph . . . Pages 371-394

CHAPTER XXIII.

dick’s LAST YEAR - HIS DEATH.

Dick afflicted by rheumatism Competition' in business His trade sus* pended His biscuits Scarcely earns the wages of a day-labourer A good new year Collecting mosses and ferns Reform The rain— Working at fossils again The old days gone for ever A boulder stone from Helmsdale Bishop Colenso’s book The Thurso merchants Mr. Carlyle’s oration Railway projects— Dick pictures himself Dick’s last walk His description His illness Mr. Miller’s helpfulness Continues to work His last letters Mrs. Harold Robert Dick’s death A public funeral Followers to his grave Winding up of his affairs— Sale of his library The proposed pension Too late ..... Pages 395-416

CHAPTER XXIY.

CHARACTERISTICS.

Dick self-sacrificing life Unhappiness in his bringing up His delight in nature His love of facts— The mystery of geology Its wonders His researches among the rocks and boulder clay His unselfish¬ ness His givings to Hugh Miller Hugh Miller’s acknowledgments His extraordinary journeys Necessity for work His intellectual labour His modesty His enthusiasm His closeness of observa¬ tion His idea of geology His collections of fossils— His herbarium His character His childlikeness Sir George Sinclair’s testimony Professor Shearer Charles Peach His poverty Annie Mackay Dick a reverent and devout man Moral of Dick’s life

Pages 417-432

ILLUSTRATIONS

Portrait of Robert Dick. Etched by Paul Rajon. Frontispiece.

Engraved by

Portrait of Charles W. Peach, A.L.S. C. Roberts.

To face page 238

Bencleuch Ochil Hills ....

>> >> 1

Rift in the Ochils, near Menstrie

page 3

Robert Dick’s Birthplace, Tullibody

8

Dam’s Burn, foot of the Ochils .

11

Dunmyat, from Cambuskenneth

» 17

Thurso Bay .

26

Map of Caithness .

To face page 26

Girnigo Castle, East Coast of Caithness .

. page 32

Ord of Caithness .

36

Duncansby Head, near John o’ Groat’s

39

The Clett, Holborn Head ....

To face page 44

Old Thurso Castle, from the Shore .

. page 54

Morven Mountain .

To face page 66

The Dorery Hills .

page 79

Dwarwick Head .

84

D unnet Head, from the East

To face page 86

Distant view of Dunnet Head, from Barrogill Castle page 97

Map of Coast near Thurso ....

» no

Hoy Head and Man of Hoy

115

Bishop’s Palace and Scrabster Roads

121

The Deil’s Brig, Holborn Head

To face page 124

Dunnet Sands .

. page 143

Rocks at Holborn Head Slater’s Monument

To face page 146

Thurso River, from the Bridge .

page 160

Stacks of Duncansby .

166

Freswick Castle and Headland

169

XX

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Dunnet Cliffs, Eastern Side . page 173

Rocks at Brough . To face page 174

Castlehill House, Castletown . %)age 180

The Skerry Lights, Pentland Firth : from Canisbay

To face page 182

Boulder Clay at Freswick . page 184

186 193 202 205 To face page 208 page 210

Freswick Bridge .

Dunbeath : East Coast of Caithness Euins of Dirlot Castle Sinclair Bay and Noss Head Strath Hall ad ale

Mouth of Strath Halladale Eiyer .

Dunnet Head : West Front near the Lighthouse

To face page 232

Wansford, Northamptonshire . page 240

Charles Peach’s House at Fowey .... 249

Robert Dick’s House, Wilson’s Lane, Thurso . . 271

Thurso Harbour : the Old Church . . . . 274

Old Thurso Castle . 286

Dunnet Head : West Front .... To face page 296 Dick’s Seat at Dorery : View into Sutherlandshire page 303 Thurso Parish Church, from the Wick Road .

Ruins of St. Peter’s, Thurso ....

Distant View of Moryen and Maiden Pap

Mouth of Thurso River .

Mill at Forss .

Monument to Robert Dick in Thurso Cemetery New Thurso Castle .

317 347 350 384 To face page 388 416

page 432

. r

BENCLEUGH: OCHIL HILLS,

ROBERT DICK.

- 4 -

CHAPTER I.

TULLIBODY.

The village of Tullibody stands upon a rising ground situated between the windings of the Forth and the Devon, in Clackmannanshire, Scotland. The Devon takes its rise among the burns and rivulets which flow down from the Ocliil Hills.

At the upper part of the river, some of the most romantic' scenery in Scotland is to be found. At the Caldron Linn the Devon forms a series of cascades, which rush down through precipitous rocks into almost unseen depths. Boiling about in the Caldrons, it passes with a violent noise under the Rumblin’ Brig, which spans the rocks about a hundred and twenty feet above the bed of the river.

Another affluent of the Devon comes down from the Ochils at Castle Campbell Castle of Gloom, as it used to be called a ruined building occupying a wild and romantic situation on the summit of a high and almost insulated rock. The mount on which it is situated is nearly encompassed on all sides by thick bosky woods ; and the mountain rivulets which tumble down through

B

2

THE DEVON.

CHAP. I.

the chasms on either side, become united at the base. The whole of the scenes about the upper Devon are of the most romantic kind, and are strikingly different from all other Scottish scenery.

As the river winds out from its rocky bed below the

Caldron Linn, it enters the beautiful open valley which

runs along the foot of the Ochils, taking on its way the

rivulets which flow down from the mountains. It runs

«

westward near Dollar, Tillicoultry, Alva, and Menstrie ; then, winding sharp round towards the south near Tulli¬ body, it joins the Forth at Cambus, a little below the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey.

Among his many beautiful verses descriptive of the rivers of Scotland, Burns has not forgotten the Devon :

How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon,

With green spreading bushes and flowers blooming fair !”

The verses were composed as a poetic compliment to Miss Charlotte Hamilton, a charming lady, then residing at Harvieston, near Dollar* *

The lofty range of the Ochils is a prominent feature in the scenery of the Devon. The hills are soft, green, and pastoral. Their sunward slopes are here and there varied with magnificent wooded glades, intermingled with copse and whins, which in their golden summer yellow are supremely beautiful. The burns and streamlets come down in cascades through the deep rifts of the hills, and are turned to use in many mills along the valley.

* Near Dollar is Tait’s Tomb,” the family burial-place of the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose father built Harvieston, and became the possessor of Castle Campbell.

CHAP. I.

THE 0 CHITS.

3

The most south¬ erly of the Ocliil Hills is Dun my at, which is famous ' for the extensive view obtained from its summit. A little to the east of it rises Bencleuch, the highest hill in the range,

O O'

2352 feet high. It shoots up into a tall rocky point, called Craigleith, famous in ancient times for the production of fal¬ cons. In a hollow behind the point, where the sun’s rays never extend, the snow lies far into the summer. The people of the neighbourhood give it the name of Lady Alva’s Web.

The little town of Alva lies close to the

A RIFT IN THE OCHILS, NEAR MEN3TRIE.

4

TULLIBODY.

CHAP. I.

foot of Bencleuch. The glens and wooded copses behind it are full of beauty. The old ballad never¬ theless assumes the supremacy of Menstrie, near the foot of Dunmyat :

Oh, Alva’s woods are bonnie,

Tillicoultry’s hills are fair,

But when I think o’ the bonnie braes o’ Menstrie,

It makes my heart aye sair.”

The village of Tullibody looks down upon the bonnie braes o’ Menstrie.” A valley lies between, along which runs the clear winding Devon. A bridge spans the river near Tullibody, from which a fine view is obtained of the winding Devon, the hill of Bencleuch, and the village and woods of Alva at its base. In this neighbourhood the famous adventure of James the Fifth and the Gudeman of Ballangeich occurred. On the Gudeman’s visit to Stirling, the King designated him as King of the Muirs.” The cottage in which King James took shelter lay on an eminence near Tullibody, about a mile south of the Ochils.

Tullibody seems in some way to have been connected with that mythical people the Piets.*)' Who were the Piets or Pechs ? Many have tried to unravel the story, but the result has been mere guesswork. Some say that

* Menstrie House was formerly the seat of the Earl of Stirling. It was destroyed by the Parliamentarian army during the reign of Charles I. ; in return for which the clans under Montrose devoted Castle Campbell to flames and ruin in 1645.

+ The name of Tullibody is said to be derived from the Celtic language Tulach , a little green eminence, and Boidich, a vow, a solemn promise. Hence Tulachboidich, the knoll of the oath.

CHAP. I.

THE STANDING STANE.

5

they occupied the Orkneys, Caithness, and Sutherland ; others that they inhabited Mid-Scotland, between the West Highlands and the Lowlands north of the Forth. We hear of them at Brechin, at Galloway, and along the Piets’ Wall. Some say they were Celts, others Scandi¬ navians. The riddle is as yet quite unsolved.

The story goes that the Piets were totally defeated by King Kenneth in the neighbourhood of Tullibody, or Dunbodenum,* in the year 843, after five successive battles. It is said that the final overthrow of the Piets took place near the village of Logie, close under Dunmyat ; ajid others that it took place at Cambus- kenneth Abbey, which was built by David the Second on the very spot where his royal ancestor gave the final blow to the Pictish dominion.”

In commemoration of the event it is said that a Standing Stane was first erected at Tullibody, a usual method of distinguishing the site of a battle in ancient times. The Standing Stane was, however, demolished about fifty years ago, the broken fragments being found useful in mending the roads.

The Abbot of Cambuskenneth took Tullibody under his charge, whether in connection with the victory of Kenneth Macalpine over the Piets, or because the place was in his immediate vicinity, does not appear. At all events, a primitive place of worship was erected at Tullibody, which long continued to he an appendage to the wealthy Abbey of Cambuskenneth.

* From Dun Buddrav, the fort of Buddran, a celebrated Celtic

chief.

6

TULLIBODY BRIDGE,

CHAP. I.

At the period of the Reformation in Scotland, when the French troops under Mary of Guise were flying westward through Fife and Clackmannan on the arrival of the English fleet in the Forth, William Kirkaldy of Grange, to impede their progress, destroyed the eastern arch of Tullibody bridge.

The French, under General D’Oysel, never at a loss in

an emergency, unroofed the church at Tullibody for the

purpose of repairing the bridge. To use the words of

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John Knox: “Ye French, expert enough in sic feats, tuke downe ye roofe of a paroch kirk, and made ane brig over ye water called Devon, and sae. they escapet and gaed to Stirling, and thereafter to Leath.”*

For a long time nothing was done to repair the church, after the French had unroofed it. The ancient walls fell to decay, and became covered with wild weeds. The body of the church was used as a burial-place. The place might have gone to utter ruin hut for the Aber- cromby family, who own the estate of Tullibody. They

* John Knox adds As ye Frenclie spullyed ye cuntry in their returning, ane captane or soldiour, we cannot tell, but he had a reid clocke and a gilt murrion, entered upon a pure woman, that dwelt in ye Quliytsyid, and began to spoille. Ye pure woman offerit unto him sic breid as sche had redy prepairit, but he, in no ways tharewith content, wold have ye meil and a littill salt beef, quhilk ye pure woman had to sustein liir own lyif, and ye lyves of hir pure cliildrein ; nowther could teirs nor pitifull words mitigate ye merciles man, bot he wold have quhatsoevir lie micht cary. The pure woman pcrceaving him so bent , and that he stoupit down in hir tub for the taking furth of sick stuff as was within it , first coupit up his heilles, so that his lieid went down , and thairafter be hirself or if ony uthcr companie came to hclpe hir, bid there he endit his unhape lyif.

CHAP. I.

THE ABERCROMBIES.

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roofed over the church, and seated it as a place of worship. They erected some fine monuments and memo¬ rials in and about it to the memory of the distinguished men of the family. Among them is a cenotaph to the distinguished Sir Ralph Abercromby, the hero of Aboukir.

Having thus described the scenery of the Ochils and the Devon, amongst which Robert Dick spent many of his early days, we proceed to relate the story of his life.

ROBERT DICK’S BIRTHPLACE.

CHAPTER II.

ROBERT DICK’S BOYHOOD.

Robert Dick was born at Tullibody in January 1811 A He was one of four children Agnes, Robert, Jane, and James.

Thomas Dick, his father, was an officer of excise. He was an attentive, diligent, and able man. He eventually rose to one of the highest positions in his calling. At the time when Robert Dick was born,

* Miss Dick, his half-sister, says he was horn in 1810, though 1811 is on his tombstone.

chap. ii. BARONY SCHOOL , TULLIBODY.

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it was his business to attend daily at the Cambus Brewery, close at hand.

Margaret Gilchrist was Robert Dick’s mother. Very little is known of her, excepting that she was a very delicate woman, and died shortly after having given birth to her fourth child. Thomas Dick was thus left without a wife, and his children