« PreviousContinue »
most accurately on its natural base. The flood immediately assailed this, and carried off the greater part of it piecemeal. Part of it yet remains, however, with the trees growing on it, in the upright position, after having traveled through a horizontal distance of 60 or 70 yards, with a perpendicular descent of not less than 60 feet."
low lands of Lord Moray's estate of Braemoray, and converted the green slopes of the hills into naked precipices. The damage done on Mr. Cumming Bruce's part of the Dorback is of the same character and comparative extent. At the Ess, or waterfall of the Dorback, where the river runs through a ravine thirty feet wide, the flood was twenty feet high-a towering altitude for a rivulet which, in ordinary seasons, you may wade,-at a hundred fords-knee-deep. Lower down, the deluge of rain performed a curious achievement. It so soaked and saturated about an acre of wood on the face of a bank, 100 feet the assistant miller-a lad, and a high, that the whole mass, with slopes and terraces covered with birch and alder-trees, gave way at once, threw itself headlong down, and bounded across the Dorback, blocking up the waters in that tremendous flood.
"William Macdonald, the farmer of Easter Tillyglens, witnessed this phenomenon. He told me that it fell wi' a sort o' a dumb sound,' which, though somewhat of a contradiction in terms, will yet convey the true meaning better than any more correct expression. Astonished and confounded, Macdonald remained gazing. The bottom of the valley is here some 200 yards or more wide, and the flood nearly fill ed it. The stoppage was not so great, therefore, as altogether to arrest the progress of the stream. But this sudden obstacle created an accumulation of water behind it, which went on increasing for nearly an hour, till, becoming too powerful to be longer resisted, the enormous dam began to yield, and was swept off at once, and hurled onwards like a floating island. But this was not all; for while Macdonald was standing, lost in wonderment, to behold his farm thus sailing off to the ocean by acres at a time, better than half an acre more of it rent itself away from its native hill, and descended at once, with a whole grove of trees on it, to the river, where it rested
The Dorback then destroyed the beautiful meal-mill and carding-mill of Dunphail. The whole family, consisting of the miller, a meritorious and ingenious, and what is far better, religious young man, William Sutherland-a boy, his brother
servant girl, found themselves surrounded by the flood. As they were engaged in family worship, down came the river suddenly upon them, pouring into the house both by the doors and windows. But here we must quote the miller's own impressive account of the affair :
"I ran,' said the miller, 'to the bed where my little brother lay; and, snatching him up, I carried him out to the meal-mill, the floor of which was elevated and dry, and I kindled a fire on the bricks to keep him and the lass warm. By this time the cattle were up to the bellies in water in the byre; and I ran to throw straw bundles under them and the pigs, to raise them, to prevent their being drowned. I had hardly returned to the house, when the south gable, which had the current beating against it, fell inwards on the other room, and I was instantly obliged to knock out that window in the north gable, to let the water escape, otherwise we must have perished where we were. About five o'clock, I observed my neighbors John Grant and his wife standing on the bank in front. The distance between us was not thirty yards; yet I could not make them hear for the fearsome roar of the water, which was now quite tremendous. Large trees were constantly coming down and striking against the carding-mill. The look up the
water was awful. It seemed as if a sea was coming down upon us, with terrible waves, tossing themselves into the air, much higher than the houses. I saw Grant's wife go up the bank, and she returned some time afterwards with four men. We watched them consulting together, and our hopes rose high; but when we saw them leave the place without making any attempt to save us, we thought that all hope for us in this world was gone. Willingly would I have given all I had, or might expect to possess, to have planted but the soles of my feet, and those of my companions, on yon bit green sod, then still untouched by the waters. Every moment we expected the crazed walls of the house to yield, and to bury us in their ruins, or that we and it together should be swept away. We began to prepare ourselves for the fate that seemed to await us. I thank Almighty God that supported me in that hour of trial. I felt calm and collected, and my assistant was no less so. My little brother, too, said he was na feared; but the woman and the lad were frantic, and did nothing but shriek and wring their hands.
"While we were in this situation, we suddenly saw about sixty people coming down the bank, and our hopes revived. The four men had gone to raise the country, and they now appeared with ropes. All our attention was fixed on their moThey drove a post into the ground, and threw the end of a thick rope across to me. This we fixed to a strong beam, and jammed it within the front window, whilst they on the bank made fast the other end
of it to the post. A smaller rope was thrown over. This I fastened round the boy's waist, and he was dragged through the water to the bank, supporting himself all the way on the larger rope, that was stretched between the window and the post. The lass lost her hold, and was taken out half drowned; but, thank Providence! we were all saved. By six o'clock in the evening, the water
had so fallen that I made my way in to give provender to the beasts. then found that the whole Dorback had come over from the west side of the valley, and cut a new course close at the back of the mills. All the mill-leads were cut entirely away. A deep ravine was dug out between the houses and the bank— their foundations were undermined in that direction—the machinery destroyed-the gables next the river carried away-and all, even the very ground, so ruined, that it is quite impossible ever to have mills here again.""
On the evening of the 3d, the Divie rose so as to carry away two handsome wooden bridges, and, an embankment at the upper end of a broad, green, and partially wooded island of some acres in extent, having given way, a mighty torrent poured towards the house of Mr. Cumming Bruce, of Dunphail, who prevailed on his wife and daughter to repair to the house of a friend. Before doing so, about six in the evening, their anxiety had been extremely excited for the fate of a favorite old pony, then at pasture in the island. Though the house of Dunphail itself was about to be in jeopardy, their feeling hearts felt for old Dobbin.
"As the spot had never been flooded in the memory of man, no one thought of removing him until it was too late. When the embankment gave way, and the patches of green gradually diminished, Dobbin, now in his twenty-seventh year, and in shape something like a 74 gun-ship cut down to a frigate, was seen galloping about in great alarm, as the wreck of roots and trees floated past him; and as the last spot of grass disappeared, he was given up for lost. At this moment he made a desperate effort to cross the stream under the house, was turned head over heels by its force-rose again, with his head up the river-made boldly up against it, but was again borne down and turned over. Every one believed him gone, when, rising once more, and setting down the
waste of water, he crossed the torrent, and landed safely on the opposite bank,"
At two o'clock on Tuesday morning Mr. Cumming Bruce ordered every one to quit the building, and he and his people took their station at some distance, to witness the fate of the beautiful structure. But at four o'clock the river began to subside, and the house was saved.
"The ruin and devastation of the place was dreadful. The shrubbery all along the river side, with its little hill and moss-house, had vanished; two stone and three wooden bridges were carried off; the beautiful fringe of wood on both sides of the river, with the ground it grew on, were washed to the ocean, together with all those sweet and pastoral projections of the fields, which gave so peaceful and fertile a character to the valley; whilst the once green island, robbed of its groups of trees, and furrowed by a dozen channels, was covered with large stones, gravel, and torn up roots. The rock in the old channel had been rendered unavailing by the great quantity of gravel brought down, which raised the water over it, so that it acted against the superincumbent mass of mortary gravel that was incapable of resisting it; and thus the house was left in the midst of ruin-like a precious gem, the lustre and effect of which have been destroyed by its setting being injured, and the stone itself left in jeopardy. Dreadful, indeed,' says Mrs. Cumming Bruce, feelingly, in a billet written in reply to our inquiries, is the devastation that a few hours have wrought. But we must be thankful that all around us are safe. God's will be done. I daresay we were all too proud of the beauty of our valley-a beauty which we had not given, and could not take away, but which has vanished in an instant before His sweeping arm.'
This is the spirit in which all losses in this life should be met; and though from the eyes of her 3 ATHENEUM, VOL. 5, 3d series.
But we now accompany the worthy Baronet to his own Relugas." On the evening of Monday the 3d, being roused while at dinner by alarming accounts of the rivers, the family took their way through the garden to their favorite Mill Island. Sir Thomas, anxious for the safety of a little rustic Doric temple, partly constructed of masonry, and partly of unpeeled spruce trees, that occupied an isolated rock above a broken cascade crossed by picturesque bridges, said to the gardener, John, I fear our temple may be in some danger if this goes on.
"Ou, sir, it's awa else," (already), was John's reply-and looking upsays Sir Thomas, "The Divie appalled us!
"It resembled the outlet to some great inland sea, that had suddenly broken from its bounds. It was already 8 or 10 feet higher than any one had ever seen it, and setting directly down against the sloping terrace under the offices, where we were standing, it washed up over the shrubs and strawberry-beds, with a strange and alarming flux and reflux, dashing out over the ground 10 or 15 yards at a time,covering the knees of some of the party, standing, as they thought, far beyond its reach, and, retreating with a suction, which it required great exertion to resist. The whirlpool produced by the turn of the river, was in some places elevated 10 or 12 feet above other parts of it. The flood filled the whole space from the rocks of the right bank on the east, to the base of the wooded slope, forming the western boundary of the Mill Island, thus covering the whole of that beautiful spot, except where two rocky wooded knolls, and the Otter's Rock beyond them, appeared from its eastern side. The temple was indeed gone, as well as its bridges, and four other
rustic bridges in the Island. Already its tall ornamental trees had begun to yield, one by one, to the pressure and undermining of the water, and to the shocks they received from the beams of the Dunphail wooden bridges. The noise was a distinct combination of two kinds of sound; one, an uniformly continued roar, the other like rapidly repeated discharges of many cannons at once. The first of these proceeded from the violence of the water; the other, which was heard through it, and, as it were, muffled by it, came from the enormous stones which the stream was hurling over its even bed of rock. Above all this was heard the fiendlike shriek of the wind, yelling, as if the demon of desolation had been riding upon its blast. The leaves of the trees were stript off and whirled into the air, and their thick boughs and stems were bending and cracking beneath the tempest, and groaning like terrified creatures, impatient to escape from the coils of the watery serpent.'
How fared the beautiful and beloved Mill Island? All its magnificent trees were falling like grass beneath the mower's scythe. Numerous as they were, says the Baronet, feelingly, they were all individually well-known friends. Each as it fell gave one enormous plash on the surface-then a plunge then the root appeared above water for a moment then again all was submerged-then uprose the stem, disbranched and peeled-and finally they either hurled round in the cauldron, or darted like arrows down the river.
How stood the bridge over the Divie to the north of the house? Here, the river, bounding out from the rocky glen behind the Doune, was fearful. The arch is 24 feet high, and its span from rock to rock, 60 feet. The flood filled more than two thirds of its height-yet all night the bridge stood fast-though the wide body of water which covered the Mill Island, and wrought
such devastation there, had all to pass through that narrow chasm. All the servants who lived in the offices had sat up the whole night in dread of the building being carried away. Morning then cameand Sir Thomas thus describes the scene :
"I hurried out. But, prepared · as my mind had been for a scene of devastation, how much did the reality exceed my worst anticipations ! The Divie had apparently subsided, it is true, but it was more because it had widened and disencumbered its course, than from any actual diminution of its waters. The whole Mill Island was cleared completely of shrubs, trees, and soil, except the hard summit towards the Otter's Rock; and, instead of the space being filled with that wilderness of sweets into which the eye found difficulty in penetrating, one vast and powerful red-colored river, dividing itself into two branches against the other rocks, flowed in large streams around it, without one single obstacle to its action; with less turmoil than before, indeed, but with the terrible majesty of a mighty conqueror sweeping sternly over the carnage of his recent victory. And well might the enemy triumph!
For, besides the loss of the Mill Island, which I had looked for, the beautiful hanging bark, covered with majestic forest and ornamental trees, of all kinds, and of growth so fresh and vigorous, had vanished like the scenery of a dream, and, in its place, was the garden hedge, running for between 200 and 300 yards, along the brink of a red alluvial perpendicular precipice 50 feet high, with the broad remorseless flood, rolling at its base, eating into its foundation, and, every successive minute, bringing down masses of many cubic yards. And then, from time to time, some tall and graceful tree, on the brink of the fractured portions of the bank at either end, would slowly and magnificently bend its head, and launch into the foaming waves below. The whole scene
had an air of unreality about it that bewildered the senses. It was like some of those wild melodramatic exhibitions, where nature's operations are out-heroded by the mechanist of a theatre, and where mountains are thrown down by artificial storms."
"The rocks and recesses of the wooded banks, and the little grassy slopes, had been covered in a wild way with many thousand shrubs, of all kinds, especially with laurels, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs, and a profusion of roses, which were thriving vigorously, and beginning to bear blossoms, whilst the rocks were covered with the different saxifrages, hung with all sorts of creepers, and enameled with a variety of garden flowers, all growing artlessly, as if sown by the hand of Nature. The path was therefore considered to be not unworthy of the exquisite scenery through which it led. But the flood of the 3d and 4th of August left not one fragment of it remaining, from one end to the other. Not a tree, or shrub, or flower, or piece of soil, nay, or of moss or lichen, is to be seen beneath that boldly and sublimely sketched line of flood, that appears on either side, and from end to end of these rocks, like the awful hand-writing of God on the wall."
"The damage done at Relugas by the flood, is perhaps not more, in actual value, than L. 1200; yet, when the rocky defences all along this very small property are considered, even this sum is great. But the beauties of nature cannot be estimated in money; and although Relugas has yet enough left to captivate strangers, and to make them wonder how there could have been anything to regret; yet ten thousand points of locality are lost, on which hung many long-cherished associations with the memory of those who can never return to sanctify the new scenes resulting from the late catastrophe."
Hitherto we have seen the flood raging chiefly against plains, woods,
rocks, and bridges-but now the Findhorn threatened and endangered human life, and his progress is contemplated with a far deeperwith a tragic interest. Terrific was the discharge of water, wreck, and stones that burst from the pass at the Craig of Coulternose, over the extensive plain of Forres, spreading devastation abroad on that rich and beautifully hedgerowed country. On Monday, the 3d of August, Dr. Brands of Forres, a gentleman, as it appears, of rare intrepidity, was professionally called to the western side of the river, which he forded on horseback. Before he had crossed the second branch of the stream, he saw the flood come thundering down-his horse was caught by ithe was compelled to swim, and he had not long touched dry land, ere the river had risen six feet. After dinner at Moy, he accompanied Mr. Suter, the worthy dweller there, to several cottages, advising the inmates to leave them without delay, and come to Moy-a kind advice, which was taken by all except the family of one Kerr, who, trusting to their great distance from the river, somewhat obstinately refused to move. The house of Moy, by ten at night, was filled with men, women, and children, flying from the flood. "There's twa families yonder wholly surrounded," cried a voice, and as for poor Sandy Smith! Poor Funns! Naebody can ever houp till see him or his family again.' This Sandy Smith was an active boatman, commonly called Whins, or, in the provincial pronunciation, Funns, from his residence on a piece of furzy pasture, at no great distance from the river. A far distant gleam of light came from his window. "I have often heard of a ray of hope," said Mr. Suter, "but this is the first time I ever experienced it in a literal sense." What too was to become of the Kerrs at Stripeside! Here we must record in our pages an incident most honorable to the humanity and courage of Mr. Suter.