Imágenes de páginas

Note VII.

Here, for retreat in dangerous hour,

Some chief had framed a rustic bower.-St. XXV. p. 17.

The Celtic chieftains, whose lives were continually exposed to peril, had usually, in the most retired spot of their domains, some place of retreat for the hour of necessity, which, as circumstances would admit, was a tower, a cavern, or a rustic hut in a strong and secluded situation. One of these last gave refuge to the unfortunate Charles Edward, in his perilous wanderings after the battle of Culloden.

"It was situated in the face of a very rough, high, and rocky moun tain, called Letternilichk, still a part of Benalder, full of great stones and crevices, and some scattered wood interspersed. The habitation called the Cage, in the face of that mountain, was within a small thick bush of wood. There were first some rows of trees laid down, in order to level a floor for a habitation; and as the place was steep, this raised the lower side to an equal height with the other; and these trees, in the way of joists or planks, were levelled with earth and gravel. There were betwixt the trees, growing naturally on their own roots, some stakes fixed in the earth, which, with the trees, were interwoven with ropes, made of heath and birch twigs, up to the top of the Cage, it being of a round or rather oval shape: and the whole thatched and covered over with fog. The whole fabric hung, as it were, by a large tree, which reclined from the one end, all along the roof, to the other, and which gave it the name of the Cage; and by chance there happened to be two stones at a small distance from one another, in the side next the precipice, resembling the pillars of a chimney, where the fire was placed. The smoke had its vent out here, all along the fall of the rock, which was so much of the same colour, that one could discover no difference in the clearest day."-Hoмx's History of the Rebellion, Lond. 1802, 4to. p. 381.

Note VIII.

My sire's tall form might grace the part

Of Ferragus, or Ascabart.-St. XXVIII. p. 19.

These two sons of Anak flourished in romantic fable. The first is well known to the admirers of Ariosto, by the name of Ferrau. He was an antagonist of Orlando, and was at length slain by him in single combat. There is a romance in the Auchinleck MS., in which Ferragus is thus described :

[blocks in formation]

Romance of Charlemagne, 1. 461-484. Auchinlech MS. fol. 265.

Ascapart, or Ascabart, makes a very material figure in the History of Bevis of Hampton, by whom he was conquered. His effigies may be seen guarding one side of a gate at Southampton, while the other is occupied by Sir Bevis himself. The dimensions of Ascapart were little inferior to those of Ferragus, if the following description be

[blocks in formation]

His clob was, to yeue* a strok,
A lite bodi of an ok.t

Beues had of him wonder gret,
And asked him what a het, i
And yaf § men of his contre
Were ase meche || ase was he.
'Me name,' a sede , is Ascopard;
Garci me sent hiderward,

For to bring this quene ayen,
And the Beues her of-slen, **
Icham Garci is †† champioun,
And was i-driue out of me ‡‡ toun,
Al for that ich was so lite. §§
Eueri man me wolde smite,

Ich was so lite and so merugh, II
Eueri man me clepede dwerugh. 11
And now icham in this londe,

I wax mor *** ich understonde,

And strengere than other tene; †††

And that schel on us be sene."

Sir Bevis of Hampton, 1. 2512. Auchinlech MS. fol. 189.

Note IX.

Though all unusk'd his birth or name.-St. XXIX. p. 20. The highlanders, who carried hospitality to a punctilious excess, are said to have considered it as churlish to ask a stranger his name or lineage, before he had taken refreshment. Feuds were so frequent among them, that a contrary rule would, in many places, have produced the discovery of some circumstance, which might have excluded the guest from the benefit of the assistance he stood in need of.

Note X.

-And still a harp unseen,

Filled up the symphony between.-St. XXX. p. 21.

"They (meaning the highlanders) delight much in musicke, but chiefly in harps and clairschoes of their own fashion. The strings of

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

the clairschoes are made of brassewire, and the strings of the harps of sinews; which strings they strike either with their nayles, growing long, or else with an instrument appointed for that use. They take great pleasure to decke their harps and clairschoes with silver and precious stones; the poore ones that cannot attain hereunto, decke them with christall. They sing verses prettily compound, contayning (for the most part) prayses of valiant men. There is not almost any other argument, whereof their rhymes intreat. They speak the ancient French language, altered a little." The harp and clairschoes are now heard of in ancient song only in the highlands. At what period these instruments ceased to be used, is not on record; and tradition is silent on this head. But as Irish harpers occasionally visited the highlands and western Isles till lately, the harp might have been extant so late as the middle of the present century. Thus far we know, that from remote times down to the present, harpers were received as welcome guests, particularly in the highlands of Scotland; and so late as the latter end of the sixteenth century, as appears by the above quotation, the harp was in common use among the natives of the Western Isles. How it happened that the noisy and inharmonious bagpipe banished the soft and expressive harp, we cannot say; but certain it is, that the bagpipe is now the only instrument that obtains universally in the highland districts."-CAMPBELL's Journey through North Britain, Lond. 1808. 4to. i. 175,

Mr. Gunn, of Edinburgh, has lately published a curious essay upon the harp and harp music of the highlands of Scotland. That the instrument was once in common use there is most certain. Cleland numbers an acquaintance with it among the few accomplishments which his satire allows to the Highlanders :

In nothing they're accounted sharp,
Except in bag-pipe or in harp.

* Vide " Certeyne matters concerning the realme of Scotland, &c., as they were anno Domini 1597. Lond. 1603." 4to.

« AnteriorContinuar »