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history, what treasures of lore-what a fund of pathos, wit, and humour, awaits the exertions of the investigator! And Mr. Picken tells us that, if encouraged by private communications, he will continue to offer to the representatives of ancient families, and others, an opportunity of bringing out much curious, and always instructive, matter, which might have little chance, otherwise, of obtaining the attention of the public.
The stories before us are chiefly confined to Scotch families, a circumstance which, while it is to be lamented, is by no means the result of the author's neglect.
It appears that, in his undertaking, the representatives of the old Scotch families afforded him good encouragement, by imparting to him information ; whereas, neither those of England nor Ireland acted with the like courtesy.
The first of the narratives, for we suppose that we must not say Tales," is entitled, “ The Forbeses and the Gordons :" it is very brief, and is connected with the romantic origin of the Forbeses of Brux. During the fiery and lawless times of Scotland, when men and lords quarrelled merely for pleasure, and when they fell upon each other with sword or club, merely because they had no more congenial occupation to employ them; at this period, we say, a contest sprung up between the Laird of Brux, that property then belonging to the old clan of the Camerons, and Muat of Abergeldy, proprietor then of the extensive wilds of Braemar. They had been for a long time quarrelling; and at last, getting tired, they determined to have a meet, with a few followers each, and either end the feud by fighting it out, or become reconciled. The Laird of Abergeldý proposed bringing but twelve horses, to which the other agreed. On the appointed morning, the Laird of Brux and his three gallant sons, attended by eight of their clan, arrived at the foot of the hill of Drumgoudrum, to await the coming of the enemy. proach was soon descried; but, to the astonishment and dismay of the laird, he found that the wily Laird of Abergeldy had mounted two men on each horse. Nevertheless, sooner than yield, he determined to fight, though the enemy was two to one against them. The victory fell to the strongest, and the Laird of Brux, with all his noble sons, were slain, and the remnant of the clan returned to inform the widow and daughter of the fatal result. This daughter, the beautiful Kate Cameron, vows she will not give her fair hand but to him who should avenge the deaths of her father and brothers. A champion is soon found in the youngest son of Lord Forbes, who has been smitten by the lady's charms. She agrees to meet him by moonlight on the spot where the battle was fought. We will give Mr. Picken's description of the meeting. Having reached the appointed place
"“ Are you here, Rob Forbes ?" she at length said, taking him at once by the arm, with the familiarity of energetic emotion. “ Know you where
we are? You are treading on the very spot where my father and my three brave brothers spilled their hearts blood." !
• The gleam of her eagle-eye in his face, as she said this, penetrated into his heart, and though he tried, he could not speak.
Rob,” she continued-.“ from this glen, made for ever sacred by death and blood, I warn you never to think of me. I am young, it is true, and I know and respect a noble youth; but I have vowed a vow to my father's manes, and to that Kate Cameron will make herself the sacrifice—were it to the most ill-favoured Grumach that ever avenged a father's death, and satisfied a mother's feelings for her three brave sons, that met their death on a sad and solemn spot like this."
"" Kate," he said, ardently-" say but that you love me!-say but that I may hope to make you mine, and I will avenge you and your father's house, or spill my last blood to the manes of the dead !"
• “ Are you mad, Rob Forbes ?” she exclaimed—" talk you with the madness of a boy? Shall the bravest men that ever drew sword in the valley of Strathdon, and the stoutest hearts from Strathtay to Lochaber, quail at the name of Muat of Abergeldy? And you would lift the feeble arm of mere youth against him! Go back, go back to the halls of Drimminor, and think you from hence of some other maiden ; for
troth is pledged alone to a bloody hand, and heavy arm, that shall answer with a sure and home-stroke the cry of revenge from this glen of the dead."
• She turned to retreat up the hill. He followed her with the eagerness of disappointed love and deep mortification. “ Scorn me you may,” he said, " and flout me from my suit; but-by this dirk, that now gleams in the holy light of the moon, before one month passes round, I will either die by Muat's hand, or bury it in his treacherous heart's blood! Now pledge me to this, Kate Cameron. Pledge my vow, ere you go, on this clear cold steel ; for either you shall be mine, and your house be revenged ere another moon shall have waned, or I will be a dim ghost in the cloudy halls of the Fingalians.”
"" Now, bless thee for thy resolve, my gallant Forbes !” she said ; " and I will pledge thee, not only on the steel—that is cold to love-but print the fairy's charm where love should be sealed; for be thou mine in one little month, or be thou a sacrifice to my father's manes, thou hast won the heart of thy own Kate Cameron.” – Vol. i. pp. 19–21.
The fight takes place, and young Forbes buries his dagger in heart of the laird; he returns to the castle, and there the mother of Kate thus addresses him : “ There, take my daughter! brave Rob Forbes; and you that are here, bring the priest while the gore is warm; for this very night, Kate, thou shalt lie in this youth's arms, before Muat's blood shall dry on his victorious steel!" The priest was soon at hand, and on the same night the feast and wedding were held at Brux.
Even at the present day the enmity between the Gordons and the Forbeses has not been quite done away with. It is not quite so ardent as in former days, as the following very characteristic anecdote will testify. One of the most memorable events, arising out of the wars of those two clans, was the barbarous burning of
Corgarff Castle, which was perpetrated by the order of Sir Adam Gordon, in Queen Mary's time, the castle being then in the possession of Alexander Forbes. This tragical event has given rise
very famous old ballad of Sir Adam Gordon of Achindown, in which the following pathetic verses occur :
• So when the lady saw the flames,
Now bursting o'er her head,
Then sank among the dead.
• Put on, put on, my trusty men!
And neither fleech nor flee,
Shall ne'er get good from me.
Did neither stop nor stint,
his hands and tore his hair,
Ye shall weep tears of blood.”
Revenged his lady dear. – Vol. i. p. 37. In process of time, the differences between the two families were made up—at least apparently; and, after the reconciliation, a feast was provided by Forbes for the Gordons. The feast being over, and the drink going round; whilst the clansmen in the hall, being equal in number, were so arranged as that every Forbes had a Gordon seated at his right hand, a conversation
""Now," said Gordon of Huntly to his neighbour chief, " as this business has been so satisfactorily settled, tell me, if it had not been so, what it was your intention to have done ?"
"" There would have been bloody work-bloody work," said Lord Forbes—" and we would have had the best of it. I will tell you : see, we are mixed one and one, Forbeses and Gordons. I had only to give a sign by the stroking down of my beard, thus, and every Forbes was to have drawn the skein from under his left arm, and stabbed to the heart his right hand man;" and, as he spoke, he suited the sign to the word, and stroked down his flowing beard.
"“God Almighty!" exclaimed Huntly, “ what is this?”—for in a moment a score of skeins were out, and flashing in the light of the pinetorches held behind the guests. In another moment they were buried in as many hearts; for, the Forbeses, whose eyes constantly watched their chief, mistaking this involuntary motion in the telling of his story for the agreed sign of death, struck their weapons into the bodies of the unsuspecting Gordons.
•The chiefs looked at each other in silent consternation. At length Forbes said, “ This is a sad tragedy we little expected but what is done cannot be undone, and the blood that now flows on the floor of Drimminor will just help to sloaken the auld fire of Corgarff."-Vol. i.
The series of stories after this fact, are given under the denomination of · A Story of the Dominie,' who is supposed to be a retired member of the kirk, and employs his time in collecting traditions, which he is too lazy to publish himself, but leaves them as a legacy to the author, for the edification of the world. A more copious account of this individual is given inThe Dominie's Legacy.'
The second tale is entitled, Lady Barbara of Carloghie, and Johnstons of Fairly. It affords another to the numerous illustrations which we have of the evil effects of unequal marriages. The heroine of the tale is the third and youngest daughter of the proud earl of Carloghie, who, just before the opening of the tale, loses his son and heir. All his remaining hopes are centered in Lady Barbara's making a splendid alliance, as the two elder sisters were old and ill-formed. The earl presses a suitor on her; she refuses to accept him, being desperately in love with the youngest son of farmer Johnston, who lived on the earl's estate. Her father, mistaking her temper, treats her with great rigour; she flies to the farm, and is privately married to James Johnston. When the earl finds she does not come home, he goes to fetch her, imagining it is but one of her wild freaks. But, in a few days, the rumour of her being married reaches the castle, and she is ultimately driven out in the night, an outcast for ever from her father's house. She returns to the farm, where she determines to become a real farmer's wife. The troubles and annoyances which she has to undergo in this her new station, are faithfully ard graphically described. Being thus sent adrift, she proceeded in the dead of the night to the house of the farmer, where the elder had only just arrived. The old man was astonished at the story of the marriage, and blames his wife for having been the chief instrument in what he considered to be a most rash and improper marriage. Whilst he was lamenting the misfortune which had been so much opposed to the simplicity of his life, and to his hopes of worldly happiness, the Lady Barbarà strove to reconcile him to the marriage
""Oh! sir,” she said, “though I may have acted foolishly to my family, your son is the choice of my heart, and the election of my fancy;
VOL. IV. (1833) no. 1.
you will only be our friend until we have fairly begun the world, you will tie us to you for ever by the gratitude of children, and I will do my duty to my dear husband here, through every scene that belongs to our humble station. Nay, do not look so incredulous, sir. For his sake, whom I have taken by the hand, I will lay aside all the notions of my former rank, and early and late I will, by labour or superintendence, strive to make him a useful and suitable wife.”
"" You speak delightfully and intend nobly, my dear young lady," said the old man, much moved by her earnest enthusiasm; " but do not deceive yourself with the glowing promises of your own fancy. Believe me, this pretty hand was never made for the labours of the dairy or the kitchen; nor are these sentiments of love-formed romance suited to the homely occupations of a farmer's wife. I do not wish to prophesy evil, but God grant that you may be in no other state of mind, when a twelvemonth or two have passed over our heads, and given you that time's experience of the difference between your former and present condition. But good night now; and may God bless you again, and make you, in your own love, abundantly happy !"
• He shook hands with both once more, and looked at them kindly and with fatherly affection; yet he parted from them, upon the whole, with a countenance of meaning melancholy, and shook his head mournfully as he left them togther. The moment he shut the door behind him, I saw Barbara burst again into tears, and, with a wild ardour of womanly iabandonment, throw herself passionately into her husband's arms.'—Vol. · pp. 157-159.
I was ashamed, says the narrator of this story, to watch any more, and, turning from the little window where I had been standing, I ran down the holm, crossed, by the moonlight the Fairly burn, and, occupied with various feelings, I soon reached Carloghie planting, and got back to my own solitary apartment in the castle.
For a time, after her residence at the farm-house, it was not known how Barbara did in her new situation. The servants, when asked, gave a chuckle, and said, they could not wish for a better mistress, and then she began to be wonderfully industrious, and would be attending to everything, though still dressed up in her own flowing and genty dress. Next, she would bustle out towards the fields, upon some ladylike errand of fancied usefulness; or might be seen of a morning, feeding the poultry behind the house, with long kid gloves on her arms. Also she would, as was currently said,
be often observed with silk stockings and high-heeled shoes, picking her steps among the puddles about the barn-door, and asking such questions at the servant lasses and the men as gave the loons an extraordinary degree of giggling diversion. And then the hens and ducks began to know her, and ran cackling after her whenever she appeared without the door; and it was quite a fun to see them and the geese "quacking' at her tail, when her ladyship went out in hier dimity wrapper to gather the eggs of a morning.