The Clyde, Dumbarton, And Glasgow
( Originally Published 1912 )
" I say ! We've a jolly view from here! "
The presence of Mrs. Pitt's cousin, an important member of the Clyde Navigation Trust, which has control of the entire river, had, in-deed, worked a miracle. No sooner had the steamer left her dock than its captain, all politeness, had placed chairs for the whole party on his little private platform, where an under officer was standing at the wheel. From this point they could look over the heads of the other passengers, and get a splendid view of the busy scenes on both banks of the famous River Clyde.
" Near the pier we have just left," Mr. Gordon was telling them, " there is a district known by the curious name of ' Broomielaw.' From there was launched in 1847 the first iron vessel, the Henry Bell! It is said that crowds of people gathered near by, confidently expecting to see the heavy boat sink. That seems extraordinary to us, now, doesn't it? "
Glasgow Harbor, as it now exists, has been made by the patient deepening and widening of the Clyde ; the work is still in progress, for two great dredging-machines are yet in constant operation. Glasgow has spent about nine mil-lions sterling upon its harbor. The river banks once knew Roman stations, stately country seats of Glasgow bishops, and capital salmon fisheries ; but, one by one, they have disappeared, giving place to the deafening clang of hammer and steel, the great black stagings, and the giant forms of all manner of vessels in the making. Here are some of the most celebrated ship-building yards in the world.
As their boat steamed along, they saw cargo steamers, ocean steamers, cruisers, torpedo boats, all sorts of river and coasting craft, some even intended for use in Eastern and South African waters. There were ships in all stages of construction, from the mere keel of what will be the largest vessel afloat, a new Cunarder, to the launched battleship very recently given by Australia to the Imperial Government.
" Just look at her, will you? " cried John excitedly. " She's black with men ! They're just thick all over her ! "
There are two thousand men working now aboard her," answered Mr. Gordon, whose enthusiasm was second only to John's. " The Premier and a number of Australian officials were present at the launching a few weeks ago.
She'll not be finished for from nine to twelve months, however."
" Wish you could have taken us into a yard so we could have seen things working ! John exclaimed, after a while. " That would have been bully!
I could have done that, certainly, but Mrs. Pitt and I decided you would really understand it all better by being on board this boat sailing between the docks. You wouldn't have under-stood much that you saw at one of the yards, and it's impossible to explain, because one can't make oneself heard. You hear what the noise is even where we are now. To build a ship, John, they first put up an elaborate staging, like that you saw ready for the new Cunarder; then the materials are all brought together. The iron ore comes from Spain, and most companies have their own smelting-works, where it is made into the plates which are used. Did you know that the lower parts of warships have a curious double construction these days' There is an inner concave surface over which the outer hold is constructed to prevent sinking when the ships are in service."
While John was nodding his head wisely in response to all these explanations, Betty, who had given up any attempt to understand them, pointed to a huge iron crane with uneven arms.
" What's that? she inquired.
" That is one of the largest cranes in the world," said their host. " It can lift four hundred tons, one arm one hundred and fifty tons, and the other two hundred and fifty ! The arms are movable, of course, and they are in-tended principally to lift great boilers."
Somewhat farther down the river, where green fields were beginning to replace the great shipyards, they overtook an ocean steamer just leaving port.
" See the funny people in turbatis," said Betty, pointing to some men on deck, and one who was thrusting his head from out a porthole. " They look like the Eastern princes at the Coronation ! "
Mrs. Pitt explained that this ship was just starting for the Orient with a native crew. " It's a P. & 0. boat, isn't it? " she asked of Mr. Gordon.
" Ay, that's a P. & 0. on her way to Liverpool to pick up her passengers. All except her officers are natives; a whole Indian crew, you know. Those P. & 0. boats are built here on the Clyde, too. Ay, it's a good line."
They also saw a ship just sailing for Boston. For a moment, Betty looked at it a bit longingly, thinking of Father and Mother, but she soon reflected that she really was not yet ready to start for home. It was not long, either, before she espied the great rock of Dumbarton Castle, and at that moment America no longer existed for her.
" To think there should be three castle rocks so much alike," said she, as the cleft rock, rising five hundred and sixty feet from the river, drew nearer and nearer,—" Stirling, Edinburgh, and now Dumbarton! "
" It's a corking position," said John enthusiastically. " Is it still a fort, Mrs. Pitt? "
" Yes, John, it is still a fortress, but even its situation would count for very little in a modern war. The guns are old, the fortifications weak, and the buildings far too small. The most interesting thing about Dumbarton is its brilliant past, of course. Ossian,—you remember him, John?—called the rock ` Balclutha,' and said of it, ` The thistle shakes there its lovely head.' I believe that genuine Scotch thistles do still grow on the higher part of the rock, which is called Wallace's Seat. The Romans had a fortress here, which they named Dunbriton, or ` the Briton's Rock' Robert Bruce once took this castle by strategy; the little squadron, which was sent out against England after the defeat at Flodden Field, sailed from under the shelter of Dumbarton Rock; Mary Stuart lived here for about two years before she left for France, and this was her goal after her escape from Lochleven Castle. Oh, with innumerable historical events is Dumbarton associated, but I like it best for its connection with William Wallace."
" He was almost as great a fellow as the Bruce, wasn't he? " inquired John.
" He was, and even a greater fellow, in my poor opinion. A wonderful man was Wallace, a powerful leader and organizer. So far as is known, William Wallace was the first and the last of his family to win fame. He was educated by an uncle who, lived at Riccarton in Ayrshire. You'll hear of Wallace when we go to Ayr, also. In 1297, Wallace's wife was brutally killed at Lanark when the English were in power there, and it was this that aroused the hero to take the lead against the English invaders. In four months' time he had forty thousand footmen and one hundred and eighty mounted men, and, at their head, he defeated a much larger English army at Stirling. Wallace's fame grew until he was known as the Guardian of Scotland, but he loyally did all in the name of King John Baliol, deposed as that weak monarch was. At the time of Wallace's great victory at Stirling, Edward I of England was away; but when, on his return, he advanced with an army of seven thousand men-at-arms, Wallace suffered a terrible defeat, not far from Stirling.
" After this, Wallace disappeared as suddenly as he had come to the aid of his country.
No one knows just where he went, perhaps abroad, perhaps to the depths of the Highlands; but, after a time, an enemy betrayed him, he was imprisoned at Dumbarton, and from here taken to London. He was beheaded at Smithfield. You remember Smithfield, Betty? "
By this time they had, of course, passed Dumbarton Rock, and were approaching Greenock, from which town, on the Firth of Clyde, they took a train back to Glasgow. Leaving kind Mr. Gordon at the station, they set out in a tram to visit the cathedral.
" This place looks as if you wouldn't find any old history in it," chuckled John, looking out at the large squares, fine hotels, public buildings, and shops of the second largest city in Great Britain. " Betty can't drag us back five or six centuries to-day !
" Can't I, though i That shows how much you know about it, John, and I'll do my worst just to punish you for not knowing any better. Hasn't Glasgow a university founded in 1450, and a cathedral which was begun in the twelfth century? It stands, too, upon the place where old St. Mungo had a cell so long ago that St. Columba was a friend of his, and used to come from Iona to see him. I can't think of the dates now, but it's true, isn't it, Mrs. Pitt? And I'll just tell you, John, that the Romans were here, too."
" Bother the Romans ! Wish to goodness they'd stayed in Rome, where they belonged ! "
" I'm afraid you'll have to believe Betty, John, for it's all true," said Mrs. Pitt, as they left the tram and ascended the High Street toward the cathedral.
Betty didn't know, either, that a famous scene in ` Rob Roy ' took place just behind us, near the old Tolbooth ; or that Queen Mary's last battle of Langside was fought and lost not far from Glasgow; and that James VI and Cromwell lodged in the Saltmarket. The history is here, John, but there's little in Glasgow's streets to recall it, so your mind may be almost at rest, I think."
On a Saturday afternoon it is a none too agreeable thing to walk the poorer streets of Glasgow, in the vicinity of the cathedral. If it happens also to be payroll day, the drunkenness of both men and women is a sight to strike terror to a much stouter heart than Betty's. She, Mrs. Pitt, and Barbara were very much relieved to escape to a teashop of fashionable Sauchiehall Street, after their visit to Glasgow's fine cathedral.
The following day was an unusually bright and beautiful one for gloomy Glasgow. After luncheon, they took a tram and rode until they reached a lovely residential section of Glasgow, in which are situated the University, the Art Galleries, and spacious Kelvingrove Park. Within this park the Glasgow Exhibition was then being held. Having been formally opened on the third of May by H.R.H., the Duke of Connaught, the Exhibition presented an admirable attempt to " preserve the Scottish National spirit," as was the wish of its founders.
" In comparison with some of the Exhibitions you have had in America, this is very unpretentious, I admit." They had bought tickets, and were entering the grounds as Mrs. Pitt spoke. " But there's one thing which I am sure you will agree with me is worth coming far to see," she went on. " That is the Palace of History. There will probably never be an-other chance to see so many objects of inestimable value and interest together under one roof. These have been sent from all over the country, from museums and from private collections everywhere, and the great wonder to me is that the authorities dared to take such a responsibility. But you'll soon see for yourself."
On their way to the large central court, surrounded by its many white buildings, they went through a clever reproduction of a medieval Scotch town, with its gabled houses, town cross, old castle tower, and tiny shops. A Highland clachan or hamlet was complete, with its smithy, its schools for lace-making, and for the manufacture of bagpipes and of baskets. On a bench, near a little burn, a man in a kilt was taking a lesson on the bagpipes, which here sounded quite as weird as when they had heard them amid real Highland surroundings. There was a " black hut," or type of oldtime crofter's cottage, with a roof made all of heather held down by stones, except at the flat edge where there was a little straw. Inside were two rooms, one of which had a peat fire on a raised place in the center of the floor. They were glad to escape from the choking atmosphere, but an old woman in a stiff white cap did not seem to mind it in the least.
" See! " said Betty, " here's a modern improved hut with spandy clean whitewash and the neatest thatched roof I ever saw. They're very nice," she added, with a superior air of one who had traveled widely, " except when you've seen the real ones up north."
Following the little stream, they came to a place where was floating the most curious procession of tiny model ships.
" Will you look ! " cried John, running on ahead. " There's every kind of a ship that ever was, from Columbus's great clumsy junk, to the Lusitania. They're bully ! Wait a second until I can look them over ! "
Outside the Palace of History a crowd had gathered, they found, and, upon inquiry, Mrs. Pitt was told that the doors were just then closed because the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden were looking at the exhibits.
" Fancy that ! " exclaimed Barbara. " Do let's wait here, Mother, and see them come out. She's a daughter of the Duke of Connaught, isn't she? "
" Oh, is she? Then I want to see her, too ! " This came from Betty, who had been the Duke's great admirer ever since the pretty review at St. James's Palace.
It was disappointing to be able to see only the tops of the silk hats worn by the Crown Prince and his escorts, and a large hat with a simple flower trimming; but the crowd hopelessly shut off their view, and soberly they turned away to enter the neighboring building, now thrown open to the waiting public.
Mrs. Pitt had not exaggerated the wonderful things that they found inside. To see and en-joy them all one would have needed to come many times. Barbara revelled in the collection of antique furniture, particularly the old chairs carved with initials or dates or strange pat-terns. Philip spent the entire afternoon poring over the exquisite bookplates. John, lacking devotion to any special line, first examined the curious old Ballantyne Press on which " Waverley " was printed; then marveled at the illegibility of some of Scott's and Burns's manuscripts; now he had discovered some ancient iron relics of the battle of Bannockburn; now an attendant had called his attention to the original Brooch of Lorne, which the Bruce lost from his plaid in 1306.
As for Mrs. Pitt and Betty, who always enjoyed the same things, they walked about arm in arm, seldom speaking except to call attention to some new treasure. No sooner had Mrs. Pitt discovered a lovely brooch made of red, green, and white enamel in the shape of a rose, which had had its place in Mary Queen of Scots' jewel case, than Betty saw a, wonderful little portrait of that Queen when a. child. Silently she went toward it, and, as she stood there, more and more of a spell did the portrait cast over her.
Isn't it beautiful? " she whispered. " Mary was only four years old when it was painted. Just think ! You can look right into her big, round blue eyes, though, and somehow you understand Mary better. Did you ever see such big eyes, such round and blue ones l I believe Mary knew about her life; she looks as if she did, anyhow. I think that she knew that she was going to be very beautiful, and that every-body was going to fall in love with her, and go right on spoiling her, until she began to do things that she oughtn't to have done. There was that dreadfully wicked mother-in-law in France, too. What was her name? Don't you think it was dreadful that little Queen Mary should have known it all so long ahead? Don't you pity her, too, Mrs. Pitt!"
And, as she stood and studied the portrait, Mrs. Pitt did pity Mary Stuart more than she ever had before. It was some minutes before they could pass the picture by.
Then they found Annie Laurie's will, and the original manuscript of " Kenilworth," and the charter granted by King David I for the founding of Melrose Abbey, and the " Whistle o' Worth.''
At last they halted before the National Covenant, fortunately coming up just as an attendant was uncovering it, which he did only once an hour.
" Not a copy, but the real one ! " Betty kept saying to herself,—" the real one that they signed in Greyfriars Churchyard. Some of them wrote their names in blood."
" Yes," said John, " I think maybe that's true. Some of these names still look red." He had stepped to the other side of the glass-case, which showed the back of the faded old document, covered by a mass of signatures, a few of which are still legible.
" Come here a minute. There's something I want to show you in the next room."
But Betty shook her head. " You'll have to excuse me, Barbara; I simply can't take in another thing," she said wearily. And all the way home in the tram she sat brooding over the wonderful things in that Palace of History.