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JOHN JAMES, MARQUIS OF ABERCORN,
The Scene of the following Poem is chiefly in the vicinity of Loch-Katrine, in the West Highlands of Perthshire. The time of action includes six days, and the transactions of each day occupy a Canto.
HARP of the North! that mouldering long hast hung
On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring,
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string-
Oh minstrel Harp! 'still must thine accents sleep?
Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep,
Nor bid & warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?
Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon,
Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd,
When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,
Aroused the fearful, or subdued the proud.
At each according pause, was heard aloud
Thine ardent symphony sublime and high!
Fair dames and crested chiefs attention bow'd;
For still the burthen of thy minstrelsy
Was Knighthood's dauntless deed, and Beauty's matchless eye.
Oh wake once more! how rude soe'er the hand
That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray; Oh wake once more! though scarce my skill com
Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay:
Though harsh and faint, and soon to die away
And all unworthy of thy nobler strain,
Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway,
The wizard note has not been touched in vain. Then silent be no more! Enchantress, wake again.
The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
But, when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head,
The deep-mouthed bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
As chief who hears his warder call,
"To arms! the foemen storm the wall!"
The antler'd monarch of the waste
Sprang from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,
The dew-drops from his flanks he shook;
Like crested leader proud and high,
Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuffed the tainted gale,
A moment listened to the cry,
That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.
Yelled on the view the opening pack-
Rock, glen, and cavern paid them back;
To many a mingled sound at once
The awakened mountain gave response.
An hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
Clattered an hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rang out,
An hundred voices joined the shout;
With hark, and whoop, and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Close in her covert cowered the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken,
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Returned from cavern, cliff, and line,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill
Less loud the sounds of sylvan war
Disturbed the heights of Uam-Var,
And roused the cavern where 'tis told
A giant made his den of old ;*
For ere that steep ascent was won,
High in the pathway hung the sun,
And many a gallant, stayed per-force,
Was fain to breathe his faltering horse;
And of the trackers of the deer
Scarce half the lessening pack was near;
So shrewdly, on the mountain side,
Had the bold burst their mettle tried.
The noble Stag was pausing now
Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Where broad extended far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.
With anxious eye he wandered o'er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And pondered refuge from his toil,
By far Lochard or Aberfoyle.
But nearer was the copsewood grey
That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
And mingled with the pine-trees blue
On the bold cliffs of Ben-venue.
Ua-var, or Uaighmor, is a mountain to the north-east of Callender, Stirlingshire. The name signifies a great den or cavern; and that small enclosure, or recess referred to, is surrounded with large rocks, and open above head. It is situated on the south side, and is supposed by the old sportsmen in the neighbourhood, wi have been a toil for deer.
Fresh vigour with the hope returned—
With flying foot the heath he spurned,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.
'Twere long to tell what steeds gave o'er,
As swept the hunt through Cambus-more:
What reins were tightened in despair,
When rose Benledi's ridge in air;
Who flagged upon Bochastle's heath,
Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith
For twice, that day, from shore to shore,
The gallant Stag swam stoutly o'er.
Few were the stragglers, following far,
That reached the lake of Vennachar;
And when the Brig of Turk was won,
The headmost Horseman rode alone.
Alone, but with unbated zeal,
That horseman plied the scourge and steel;
For, jaded now, and spent with toil,
Embossed with foam, and dark with soil,
While every gasp with sobs he drew,
The labouring Stag strained full in view.
Two dogs of black Saint Hubert's breed,*
Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed,
Fast on his flying traces came,
And all but won that desperate game;
For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch,
Vindictive toiled the bloodhounds staunch;
Nor nearer might the dogs attain,
Nor farther might the quarry strain.
Thus up the margin of the lake,
Between the precipice and brake,
O'er stock and rock their race they take.
The hunter marked that mountain high.
The lone lake's western boundary,
Blood-hounds bred by the Abbots of St Hubert, which were of remarkable strength, swiftness, and keenness of scent, and therefore greatly prized in hunting.