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less, awful as the Corruisk of Skye. At the
first descent of the ridge-crowned path, we
hailed a niche of shelter; and, though wet
and tired, found in the cold mutton and
chicken which the guide produced, that
substantial comfort which has a large and
important portion in human affairs, and never
vindicates it more clearly than in mountain
researches. Hence we retraced our steps; and,
having found the horses as we left them, were
slowly carried to Braemar in the waning light
of a gusty evening.

This imperfect glimpse of the Aberdeen-
shire Highlands assures me that, although
they want the splendid variety which the
mountains of Argyleshire and Perthshire
embrace, having no fair expanse of lakes, nor
coasts deeply indented by sea, nor prodigal
richness of garniture lavished along rocky
streamsthey have a grandeur of their own,
which would well reward the labour of young
and happy pedestrians. To them, especially
if associated in groups, the solitude would not
be oppressive, though it is deeper than I have
ever elsewhere felt, or than I believe could be
felt in our island. The poet, who has more
than any other discerned the affinities of the
world without and within us, allows that

". . . . . . . . . The shepherd and his cot
Are privileged inmates of deep solitude;"

but here the privilege is unused. From the
time we crossed the Linn of Dee to our
return to the same spot (about nine hours),
we saw no man, woman, or childnay, not an
animal domesticated by man, nor any vestige
of human abode or labour, except two men and
a lad, who were pretending to dig turves just
at the entrance of Glen Lui when we entered
it, and who, when we returned, were exactly
in the same position, as if they had stood to
sentinel the untrodden wilds. Wordsworth
represents the Cove of Helvellyn, where the
faithful dog watched his dead master for three
months, as visited only by elemental precursors
the rainbow, the mist, and the cloud;
but the recesses of Helvellyn are populous,
compared to the Cairngorm solitudes. On the
top of Snowdon, or Cader Idris, you may
calculate on finding people whom you door do
notwish to meet. The ascent of Ben Lomond
is a pastoral walk; and on the loftiest
summits above Glencoe you will meet some eager
sportsman arousing the ptarmigan from the
white and dove-coloured stones, where it
seeks refuge among kindred colours. If you
wish to feel what solitude really isnot
Zimmermann's but Nature'syou should seek
its British home in the Aberdeenshire hills.


WHEN the veracity of any person has been
impugned, it is a duty which we owe to
society, if it lies in our power, to endeavour
to establish it; and when that person is a
lady, gallantry redoubles the obligation. Our
chivalry is, on the present occasion, excited
in favour of Madame Merian, who, towards
the latter end of the seventeenth century,
and. during a two years' residence in Surinam,
employed her leisure in studying the many
interesting' forms of winged and vegetable life
indigenous to that prolific country. After
her return to Holland, her native land, she
published the results of her researches. Her
writings, although abounding in many
inaccuracies and seeming fables, contained much
curious and new information; all the more
valuable from the objects of her study having
been, at that period, either entirely unknown
to the naturalists of Europe, or vaguely
reported by stray seafaring visitants; who,
with the usual license of travellers, were more
anxious to strike their hearers with astonishment
than to extend their knowledge.

These works were rendered still more
attractive by numerous platesthe result of
Madame Merian's artistic skillwith which
they were profusely embellished. It is one
of these which, with the description
accompanying it, has caused her truth to be called
into question by subsequent writers; who,
we must conclude, had either not the good
fortune or the good eyesight to verify her
statements by their own experience. The
illustration to which I allude represents a
large spider carrying off in its jaws a
humming-bird, whose nest appears close at hand,
and who had apparently been seized whilst
sitting on its eggs.

Linnaeus, however, did not doubt the lady,
and called the spider (which belongs to the
genus Mygale), "avicularia" (bird-eating).
Whether this ferocious-looking hunter does
occasionally capture small birds; or whether
he subsists entirely on the wasps, bees, ants,
and beetles which everywhere abound, what I
chanced myself to see in the forest will help
to determine.

Shortly after daybreak one morning in 1848,
whilst staying at a woodcutting establishment
on the Essequibo, a short distance above the
confluence of that river and the Magaruni, we
a tall Yorkshireman and myselfstarted in
our "wood-skin" to examine some spring
hooks which we had set during the previous
evening, in the embouchure of a neighbouring
creek. Our breakfast that morning depended
on our success. Our chagrin may be imagined
on finding all the baits untouched save one; and,
from that, some lurking cayman had snapped
the body of the captured fish, leaving nothing
but the useless head dangling in the air.
After mentally despatching our spoilerwho
had not tricked us for the first timeto a
place very far distant, we paddled further up
the creek in search of a maam, or maroudi;
or, indeed, of anything eatable bird, beast, or
reptile. We had not proceeded far, when my
companion, Blottle, who was sitting, gun in
hand, prepared to deal destruction on the first
living creature we might chance to encounter