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Excerpt from "The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth" Vol. 2
by Maria Edgeworth
July 3, 1823

The next day we took a beautiful walk to the territory and near the residence of Lochiel, through a wood where groups of clansmen and clanswomen were barking trees that had been cut down; and the faggoting and piling the bark was as picturesque as heart could wish.  This day's journey was through fine wild Highland scenery, where rocks and fragments of rocks were tumbled upon each other, as if by giants in a passion, and now and then by giants playing at bowls with huge round bowls.  These roads--some of them for which we "lift up our eyes and bless Marshal Wade," and some made by Telford, the vast superiority in the laying out of which William has had the pleasure of pointing out to his sisters--beautifully wind over hill and through valley, by the sides of streams and lakes. We saw the eight locks joining together on the Caledonian Canal, called Neptune's Stairs; and at another place on the canal William, who had been asleep, instinctively wakened just in time to see a dredging machine at work: we stopped the carriage, and walked down to look at it: took a boat and rowed round the vessel, and went on board and saw the machinery.  A steam-engine works an endless chain of buckets round and round upon a platform with rollers.  The buckets have steel mouthpieces, some with quite sharp projecting lips, which cut into the sand and gravelly bottom, and scoop up what fills each bucket.  At the bottom of each are cullender holes, through which the water drains off as the buckets go on and pass over the platform and empty themselves on an inclined plane, down which the contents fall into a boat, which rows away when full, and deposits the contents wherever wanted.  If you ever looked at a book at Edgeworthstown called Machines Approuvés, you would have the image of this machine.  It brought my father's drawings of the Rhone machine before my eyes.  The whole day's drive was delightful--mountains behind mountains as far as the eye could reach, in every shade, from darkest to palest Indian-ink cloud colour; an ocean of mountains, with perpetually changing foreground of rocks, sometimes bare as ever they were born, sometimes wooded better than ever the hand of mortal taste clothed a mountain in reality or in picture, with oak, aspen, and the beautiful pendant birch.

Editor's Notes:  Maria Edgeworth was an Irish novelist, born in Oxfordshire, who spent most of her life in Ireland, on her father's estate.