Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

“Perish my name, if aught afford
Its Chieftain safety save his sword!”
Thus as they strove, their desperate hand
Griped to the dagger or the brand,
And death had been—but Douglas rose,
And thrust between the struggling foes
His giant strength :—“ Chieftains, forego!
I hold the first who strikes, my foe.-->
Madmen, forbear your frantic jar !
What! is the Douglas fall’n so far,
His daughter's hand is doom'd the spoil
Of such dishonourable broil !”
Sullen and slowly, they unclasp,
As struck with shame, their desperate grasp,
And each upon his rival glared,
With foot advanced, and blade half bared.

3

XXXV.

Ere yet the brands aloft were flung,

1

of wrestling match that takes place between the rival chieftains on the occasion, is humiliating and indecorous."-JEFFREY.)

[MS.-" Thus as they strove, each better hand

Grasp'd for the dagger or the brand."] · The Author has to apologize for the inadvertent appropriation of a whole line from the tragedy of Douglas,

" I hold the first who strikes, my foe."
(Note to the second edition.]
[MS.—“Sullen and show the rivals bold

Loosed at his best tbeir desperate bold,
But either still on other glared," etc." ]

3

Margaret on Roderick's mantle hung,
And Malcolm heard his Ellen's scream,
As falter'd through terrific dream.
Then Roderick plunged in sheath his sword,
And veil'd his wrath in scornful word.
“Rest safe till morning; pity 'twere
Such cheek should feel the midnight air!'

1 Hardihood was in every respect so essential to the character of a Highlander, that the reproach of effeminacy was the most bitter which could be thrown upon him. Yet it was sometimes hazarded on what we might presume to think slight grounds. It is reported of old Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochield, when upwards of sevenly, that he was surprised by night on a hunting or military expedition. He wrapped him in his plaid, and lay contentedly down upon the snow, with which the ground happened to be covered. Among his attendants, who were preparing to take their rest in the same manner, he observed that one of his grandsons, for his better accommodation, had rolled a large snow-ball, and placed it below his head. The wrath of the aucient chef was awakened by a symptom of what he conceived to be degenerate luxury. “Out upon thee," said he, kicking the frozen bolster. from the head which it supported, "art thou so effeminate as to need a pillow ?" The officer of engineers, whose curious letters from the Highlands have been more than once quoted, tells a similar story of Macdonald of Keppoch, and subjoins the following remarks :-—"This and many other stories are romantick; but there is one thing, that at first thought might seem very romantick, of which I have been credibly assured, that when the Highlanders are constrained to lie among the hills, in cold dry windy weather, they sometimes soak the plaid in some river or burn, (i.e. brook,) and then, holding up a corner of it a little above their heads, they turn themselves round and round, till they are enveloped by the whole mantle. They then lay themselves down on the heath, upon the leeward side of some hill, where the wet and the

Then mayest thou to James Stewart tell,
Roderick will keep the lake and fell,
Nor lackey, with his freeborn clan,
The pageant pomp of earthly man.
More would he of Clan-Alpine know,
Thou canst our strength and passes show.-
Malise, what ho!”-his henchman came;'
“Give our safe-conduct to the Græme."
Young Malcolm answer’d, calm and bold,
“Fear nothing for thy favourite hold;
The spot, an angel deign’d to grace,

warmth of their bodies make a steam, like that of a boiling kettle. The wet, they say, keeps them warm by thickening the stnff, and keeping the wind from penetrating. I must confess I should have been apt to question this fact, bad I not frequently seen them wet from morning to night, and, even at the beginning of the rain, not so much as stir a few yards to shelter, but continue in it without necessity, till they were, as we say, wet through and through. And that is soon effected by the looseness and spunginess of the plaiding; but the bonnet is frequently taken off, and wrung like a dish-clout, and then put on again. They have been accustomed from their infancy to be often wet, and to take the water like spaniels, and this is become a second nature, and can scarcely be called a hardship to them, insomuch that I used to say, they seemed to be of the duck kind, and to love water as well. Though I never saw this preparation for sleep in windy weather, yet, setting out early in a morning from one of the huts, I have seen the marks of their lodging, where the ground has been free from rime or snow, which remained all round the spot where they had lain."-Letters from Scotland, Lond. 1754, 8vo, ii. p. 108.

1 " This officer is a sort of secretary, and is to be ready, uporz

Is bless’d, though robbers haunt the place.
Thy churlish courtesy for those
Reserve, who fear to be thy foes.
As safe to me the mountain way
At midnight as in blaze of day,
Though with his boldest at his back,
Even Roderick Dhu beset the track.-
Brave Douglas,-lovely Ellen,-nay,
Nought here of parting will I say.
Earth does not hold a lonesome glen,
So secret, but we meet agen.-
Chieftain! we too shall find an hour."-
He said, and left the silvan bower.

[ocr errors]

all occasions, to venture his life in defence of his master; and at drinking-bouts he stands behind his seat, at his haunch, from whence his title is derived, and watches the conversation, to see if any one offends his patron. An English officer being in company with a certain chieftain, and several other Highland gentlemen, near Killichumen, had an argument wilh the great man; and both being well warmed with usky,* at last the dispute grew very hot. A youth who was henchman, not understanding one word of English, imagined his chief was insulted, and thereupon drew his pistol from his side, and snapped it at the officer's head: but the pistol missed fire, otherwise it is more than probable he might have suffered death from the hand of that little vermin. But it is very disagreeable to an Englishman over a bottle, with the Highlanders, to see every one of them have his gilly, that is, his servant, standing behind him all the while, let what will be the subject of conversation."-Letters from Scotland, ii. 159.

• [ Whisky. 1

XXXVI.

Old Allan follow'd to the strand,
(Such was the Douglas's command,)
And anxious told, how, on the morn,
The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn,
The Fiery Cross should circle o'er
Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor.
Much were the peril to the Græme,
From those who to the signal came;
Far up the lake 'twere safest land,
Himself would row him to the strand.
He gave his counsel to the wind,
While Malcolm did, unheeding, bind,
Round dirk and pouch and broadsword rollid,
His ample plaid in tighten'd fold,
And stripp'd his limbs to such array,
As best might suit the watery way, —

XXXVII.

Then spoke abrupt: “Farewell to thee,
Pattern of old fidelity!”
The Minstrel's hand he kindly press’d, -
O! could I point a place of rest!
My sovereign holds in ward my land,
My uncle leads my vassal band;
To tame his foes, his friends to aid,
Poor Malcolm has but heart and blade.
Yet, if there be one faithful Græme,
Who loves the Chieftain of his name,

« AnteriorContinuar »