Biographers and historians may continue to impose upon the public, and tell us that railways were invented by scientific men for the benefit of mankind; but every one capable of framing an a priori argument must have long since come to the conclusion that they are mis­chievous inventions of the heartless rascals of doctors, who, finding their practice failing them in consequence of the publication of such valuable substitutes for living quacks, as “Buchan’s Medicine” and “Combe’s Laws of Health,” just hit upon the idea of making railways, that people might in some measure be taught to forget the proper use of their limbs, and get so acquainted with the filth and dangerous draughts that continually whistle through what is ostentatiously termed a railway car­riage, that in a very short time their whole constitution will become so undermined that they—the cormorants —cannot fail to feast and fatten on the sufferings of humanity! Hence, we hold that no one ought to patronise a railway; and we take this opportunity of holding ourselves up to public ridicule for being so im­posed upon the other day, as to be persuaded to allow one of those four-wheeled agents of cramp, disease, and pestilence, to carry us all the way from the city of Elgin to Craigellachie. But nature’s Laws may not be in­fringed with impunity, and our rash experiment was punished with a numbness of the limbs, and a stagna­tion of the blood, that did not leave us until we had reached the brae of the Grogach, when the scene before us brought the sweet memories of years upon us, and caused us with rapture to exclaim—

“Hurra! for the banks of the Fiddoch,
Whare glee an’ guid neberty reijn ;
The braes o’ the Dullan and Laichie
Whare Malcolm ramscutered the Dane!”

Nor is the scene before us unworthy of such an outburst of feeling, for in addition to its natural beauties—and they are many—it has more historic memorials and associations than most scenes of the same compass can boast of. On the left—with the hill of Tulloch rising steeply behind it, the trees clustering round it, and the clear and winding Fiddoch stealing past it—rise the turrets of the ancient house of Kininvie—the castellated home of the Leslies of Tulloch and Kininvie, (of the stock of Balquhan,) for centuries, and the reputed birth­place of Alexander, the diminutive and deformed, but great first Earl of Leven, the covenanting general. A little farther southward, is the face of the same hill, yon neat and pleasantly situated mansion is Tulloch Cottage. It was built not many years ago by Mr Stephen, and, with the fine farm that lie spread out behind it, belongs to the stalwart laird of Kininvie. The house down here beneath you, with its face to the stream, is Mr Findlater’s—for many years the much esteemed factor for the Earl of Fife; and if you choose to descend and get a better view of it, you will find it delightfully situated in a place transformed by the skill and taste of Mrs Findlater, from whin hillocks and gravel banks into a perfect Eden. Below, and nearer the river, is the Mill of Balvenie—long since cleared of the evil name that attended it when the defrauded miller had to make a destructive crusade among the quirns of those sucken to the mill, in order to compel them to bring their multers to his girnal. Yonder lonely and deserted-looking building in the hollow before you, with its numberless pigeonhouse-like doors and windows, and flat roof is the new castle of Bal­venie—the name of which runs through a chequered page of the history of James, second Earl of Fife. Be­yond it you see blackened walls and jagged turrets, lowering above the trees that grow upon the grassy mound—it is the old castle of Balvenie—old as the days of the Picts and Scots, and strong as the stern and stalwart men who reared it. To the westward of it, there is a small clump of trees encircling a spot hal­lowed with the respect of centuries as the last resting place of royal bones; beside it is the hill and wood of Tomnamuid, where the final struggle for victory between Malcolm and the Danes, on the eventful day of the battle of Mortlach, took place, and where the tide of fortune turned fairly and for ever against the northern hordes. Beyond this, and a little to the right, is seen the tower and houses of the city of Dufftown, not in­ aptly described by one of its poets when he says—

Like a gem on lady’s bosom, nestling down between the breasts,
Kindly sheltered by the mountains, the Dufftown city rests;
Benaigen’s massive shoulders rise between it and the sea,
And shield it from the tempests that o’er the waters flee;

And, like mother with her darling lying calmly at her feet,
Kindly bares its bosom to it, though its back the storm may beat.
The Convals, too, ‘gainst breezes that rise in northern land,
Rise proudly up before it, and as giant sentries stand.

Round and round by hill protected, as island is by sea,
‘Tis home for love and friendship, if home for such there be.
When Phoebus crests the mountains, and gilds its towers and spire,
His rays reflected o’er it are like lines of golden fire;

And each waving knoll and valley, decked with bush or flow’ret fair,
Sends forth its feathered warblers with song to fill the air,
Then its daughters, bright as dreamland, flit like angels through its streets,
And voices soft as zephyr the ravished listner greets.

At its feet, like bride bespangled, does the Dullan water run—
Every bubble diamond-tinted neath a bright and laughing sun—
Murmuring prates of love long plighted—singing softly of the charms
That await it at its bridal when clasped in Fiddoch’s arms.

Scenes are round it that to rapture the painter’s eye would turn,
Fields with names make foemen tremble and patriot hearts to burn;
Castles, ivy-clad and hoary, that with stern and slow decay,

Chant a silent-speaking requiem to the heroes passed away;

Nooks, altars most befitting for lovers vows to plight,
And glens for which the coward like a raging lion might fight.
Oh! Like gem on lady’s bosom is this lovely place to me,
Sure ’tis home for love and friendship, if home for such there be.

Beyond the city, you will observe something like the curlings of smoke as it issues from the chimney between you and the heath-covered hill that forms the back­ ground of the scene. That is the smoke from the manse of Mortlach, winch stands near to the venerable church that claims the nameless honour of being the first in the north, and the second in Scotland, that was reared for the worship of the true God—the hallowed spot, from whence, as from a heavenly fountain, the blessings of truth, the light of immortality, and the songs of Zion, welled forth to irrigate and fructify the barren wilder­ness that surrounded it. To the right of Dufftown, these three conically-shaped hills are designated “The Convals.” On the centre one is observed at regular distances small cairns of stones. These are portions of the encampment where some hostile band had roosted Like an eagle in his eyrie, from whence he might de­scend with resistless fury to harry the adjoining glens. The hill nearest us is the Gallow or Gallowshill, where, when the lords of Balvenie enjoyed the feudal power of pot and gallows, they strung up their criminals and victims as they listed, and it is to be feared, sometimes feasted their eyes on the last struggles of others than those who suffered to meet the ends of Justice. Of course, the place where thieves and robbers hang could not be without its legends of horror, or wailing in its tale of “tousie-tykes” and all the supernatural atten­dants of such places of doom. But as these venture not forth by day, we shall step down the valley and make a more minute acquaintance with the different objects of interest. First we direct our steps to the

NEW CASTLE OF BALVENIE.

Passing the avenue leading to Mr Findlater’s and turning the corner of what had used to be Mr McPherson’s garden, and where by the way the Railway station is proposed to be erected—we get upon the road leading to the castle —one, certainly, even in its best days, possessed of little in point of taste or locality to recommend it. It leads us however, to the front of the building, and a cold and meaningless looking building it is. Projecting in front at each side but detached from the castle, are two salt-backet looking houses, that seem to have been the side wings of a court yard—so constructed that the visitors to the castle might be thoroughly scanned and scrutin­ized before meeting the welcome or repulse of the lord or lady in the hall. Nor indeed has the architect room for boasting of the castle itself. Not content with the low and unwholesome situation chosen, he must needs sink it a storey farther, that its inmates might get the full benefit of the damp and malaria. But that gentle­ man seems to have had more faith in line and square, than in the ornate flights of some of his architectural brethren; for the only attempt at ornament in the huge square block before us, is a stone bearing the Fife arms, and a flight of wide stone stairs not inelegantly railed with well-cut freestone balustrades. But these for the most part have disappeared, and the foot as it ascends hesitates to make an entrance to see more of this ex­ternally repulsive and unartistic castle. When the door is opened, the damp and unhealthy air that meets you, and the heaps of grain and grass seeds that lie before you, prove strong arguments for retreat—but if your curiosity is strong you may proceed. The entrance hall is spacious and lofty, and pannelled all round with well dressed mountain fir. Indeed the whole interior, with the exception of the ceiling, is pannelled and lined in the same manner; so that the rooms at the end and on the sides of the hall, present a uniform appearance, differing only in size according to the purpose for which they had been intended. The windows are all blocked up by wooden shutters admitting light only through small square apertures; and by the dim light thus afforded, we wander from room to room, and lobby to lobby, deploring all the while the ravages made and making by the damp which, assisted with every shower, is silently eating its way to the heart of every timber in the building. From a narrow staircase in the fourth and last storey, we scramble through an aperture in the roof, and get upon the top of the castle, which being flat, if you are strong of head and sure of foot, you may walk along with ease; but unless it be for the boast of saying you did so, you need not care, for though the space is large enough for a plough and a team of eight oxen to turn upon, the view (from the lowness of the foundation and the altitude of the surrounding hills) is limited to the glen which we have already attempted to describe. But why is this huge dormitory thus allowed to fall a prey to the elements? It does not appear from its structure or internal arrangement to be of an­cient date. Why we cannot say. The date of its erec­tion is about ninety or a hundred years ago. It was built by James, second Earl of Fife, as a jointure to his charming but petulent countess—daughter of Sinclair, Earl of Caithness.

The mason, however, if the work was taken by esti­mate, as the fashion is now-a-days, must have had dif­ferent calculations to make from that made by the modern contractor. The stones had to be brought from the Conval hills; a swampy morass beside the malt-kiln bad to be crossed; carts and cart-roads had not yet penetrated into Mortlach; and the mortar had also to come from a distance. The morass or “mossie’’ was in the first instance crossed with a rough and uneven road, which henceforth was designated the causeway, and which up to a recent period remained, but has now been rooted out, and the place converted into well-cultivated fields. Pothocks or sledges were next constructed, and on these the stones by driblets were drawn from the scurs of the hills to the hollow, where the building was going on. Courachs or creels were also in demand, being placed on the backs of ponies and filled with lime. The materials for this huge building were thus slowly and laboriously gathered together. There is also a story—and the slow method of driving materials would seem to favour it—that every stone of the castle was carried to the masons on the back of one man; and that, by way of finale, for a small wager’ when the building was nearly completed, this Hercules, after being assisted to put upon his back an immense stone, carried it to the top, and waiting there according to appointment to be relieved of his burden, lost his patience at what he found was a cruel joke to keep him for a length of time bending under it, and dashed it from him—its immense weight breaking the scaffolding, and, descending with great velocity, smashed everything it came in contact with until it reached the ground, and the jokers had the satisfaction of enjoying the fun and paying the piper.