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Yell'd on the view the opening pack;
Less loud the sounds of silvan war
For ere that steep ascent was won,
The noble stag was pausing now,
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
[Benvoirlich, a mountain comprehended in the cluster of the Grampians, at the head of the valley of the Garry, a river which springs from its base. It rises to an elevation of 3330 feet above the level of the sea.]
And ponder'd refuge from his toil,
'Twere long to tell what steeds gave o'er,
Who flagg'd upon Bochastle's heath,
["About a mile to the westward of the inn of Aberfoyle, Lochard opens to the view. A few hundred yards to the east of it, the Avendow, which had just issued from the lake, tumbles its waters over a rugged precipice of more than thirty feet in height, forming, in the rainy season, several very magnificent cataracts.
"The first opening of the lower lake, from the east, is uncommonly picturesque. Directing the eye nearly westward, Benlomond raises its pyramidal mass in the background. In nearer prospect, you have gentle eminences, covered with oak and birch to the very summit; the bare rock sometimes peeping through amongst the clumps. Immediately under the eye, the lower lake, stretching out from narrow beginnings, to the breadth of about half a mile, is seen in full prospect. On the right, the banks are skirted with extensive oak woods, which cover the mountain more than half way up.
"Advancing to the westward, the view of the lake is lost for about a mile. The upper lake, which is by far the most extensive, is separated from the lower by a stream of about 200 yards, in length. The most advantageous view of the upper lake presents itself from a rising ground near its lower extremity, where a foot-path strikes off to the south, into the wood that overhangs this connecting stream. Looking westward, Benlomond is seen in the back-ground, rising, at the distance of six miles, in the form of a regular cone, its side presenting a gentle slope to the N. W. and S. E. On the right is the lofty mountain of Benoghrie, running west, towards the deep vale in which Lochcon lies concealed from the eye. In the foreground, Lochard stretches out to the west in fairest prospect; its length three miles and its breadth a mile and a half. On the right, it is skirted with woods; the northern and western extremity of the lake is diversified with meadows, and corn fields, and farm houses. On the left, few marks of cultivation are to be seen.
"Farther on, the traveller passes along the verge of the lake under a ledge of rock, from thirty to fifty feet high; and standing immediately under this rock, towards its western extremity, he has a double echo, of uncommon distinctness. Upon pronouncing, with a firm voice, a line of ten syllables, it is returned, first from the opposite side of the lake; and when that is finished, it is repeated with equal distinctness from the wood on the east. The day must be perfectly calm, and the lake as smooth as glass, for otherwise no human voice can be returned from a distance of at least a quarter of a mile."-GRAHAM's Sketches of Perthshire, 2d edit. p. 182, etc.
[MS." Fresh vigour with the thought return'd,
With flying hoof the heath he spurn'd." ]
3 [Cambus-more, within about two miles of Callender, on the wooded banks of the Keltie, a tributary of the Teith, is the seat of a family of the name of Buchanan, whom the poet frequently visited in his younger days.]
4 [Benledi is a magnificent mountain, 3009 feet in height, which bounds the horizon on the north-west from Callender. The name, according to Celtic etymologists, signifies the mountain of God.]
Who shunn'd to stem the flooded Teith,-'
Alone, but with unbated zeal,
That horseman plied the scourge and steel;
[Two mountain streams, the one flowing from Loch Voil, by the pass of Lenny; the other from Loch Katrine, by Loch Achray and Loch Vennachar, unite at Callender, and the river thus formed thenceforth takes the name of Teith. Hence the designation of the territory of Menteith.]
* [Loch Vennachar, a beautiful expanse of water of about five miles in length, by a mile and a half in breadth."-GRAHAM.]
3 ["About a mile above Loch Vennachar, the approach (from the east) to the Brigg or Bridge of Turk (the scene of the death of a wild-boar famous in Celtic tradition,) leads to the summit of an eminence, where there bursts upon the traveller's eye a sudden and wide prospect of the windings of the river that issues from Loch Achray, with that sweet lake itself in front; the gently-rolling river pursues its serpentine course through an extensive meadow; at the west end of the lake, on the side of Aberfoyle, is situated the delightful farm of Achray, the level field, a denomination justly due to it, when considered in contrast with the rugged rocks and mountains which surround it. From this eminence are to be seen also, on the right hand, the entrance to Glenfinlas, and in the distance Benvenue.— GRAHAM.]
4 "The hounds which we call Saint Hubert's hounds, are commonly all blacke, yet neuertheless, their race is so mingled at these days, that we find them of all colours. These are the hounds which the abbots of St. Hubert haue always kept some of their race or kind, in honour or remembrance of the saint, which was a hunter with S. Eustace. Whereupon we may concieue that (by the grace of God) all good huntsmen shall follow them into paradise. To return vnto my former purpose, this kind of dogges hath beene dispersed through the counties of Henault, Lorayne, Flanders, and Burgoyne. They are mighty of body, neuertheless their legges are low and short, likewise they are not swift, although they be very good of sent, hunting chaces which are farre straggled, fearing neither water nor cold, and doe more couet the chaces that smell, as foxes, bore, and such like, than other, because they find themselves neither of swiftness nor courage to hunt and kill the chaces that are lighter and swifter. The blood-hounds of this colour proue good, especially those that are cole blacke, but I made no great account to breede on them, or to keepe the kind, and yet I found a book which a hunter did dedicate to a prince of Lorayne, which seemed to loue hunting much, wherein was a blason which the same hunter gaue to his bloodhound, called Souyllard, which was white :
'My name came first from holy Hubert's race,
Whereupon we may presume that some of the kind prooue white sometimes, but they are not of the kind of the Greffiers or Bouxes, which we haue at these dayes."-The noble Arl of Venerie or Hunting, translated and collected for the Use of all Noblemen and Gentlemen. Lond. 1611. 4to, p. 15.
And all but won that desperate game;
For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch,
O'er stock and rock their race they take.
The Hunter mark'd that mountain high,
Measured his antlers with his eyes;
For the death-wound and death-halloo,
When the stag turned to bay, the ancient hunter had the perilous task of going in upon, and killing or disabling the desperate animal. At certain times of the year this was held particularly dangerous, a wound received from a stag's horn being then deemed poisonous, and more dangerous than one from the tusks of a boar, as the old rhyme testifies :
"If thou be hurt with hart, it brings thee to thy bier,
But barber's hand will boar's hurt heal, therefore thou need'st not fear."
At all times, however, the task was dangerous, and to be adventured upon wisely and warily, either by getting behind the stag while he was gazing on the hounds, or by watching an opportunity to gallop roundly in upon him, and kill him with the sword. See many directions to this purpose in the Booke of Hunting, chap. 41. Wilson the historian has recorded a providential escape which befell him in this hazardous sport, while a youth and follower of the Earl of Essex.
"Sir Peter Lee, of Line, in Cheshire, invited my lord one summer to hunt the stagg. And having a great stagg in chase, and many gentlemen in the pursuit, the stagg took soyle. And divers, whereof I was one, alighted, and stood with swords drawne, to have a cut at him, at his coming out of the water. The staggs there being wonderfully fierce and dangerous, made us youths more eager to be at him. But he escaped us all. And it was my misfortune to be hindered of my coming nere him, the way being sliperie, by a falle; which gave occasion to some, who did not know mee, to speak as if I had falne for feare. Which being told mee, I left the stagg, and followed the gentleman who [first] spake it. But I found him of that cold temper, that it seems his words made an escape from him; as by his denial and repentance it appeared. But this made mee more violent in the pursuit of the stagg, to recover my reputation. And I happened to be the only horseman in, when the dogs sett him up at bay; and approaching near him on horsebacke, he broke through the dogs and run at mee, and tore my horse's side with his hornes, close by my thigh. Then I quitted my horse, and grew more cunning, (for the dogs had sette him up againe,) stealing behind him with my sword, and cut his hamstrings; and then got upon his back, and cut his throate; which, as I was doing, the company came in, and blamed my rashness for running such a hazard."-PECK'S Desiderata Curiosa, ii, 464.
In the deep Trosachs' wildest nook
There, while close couch'd, the thicket shed
Rave through the hollow pass amain,
Close on the hounds the hunter came,
Then through the dell his horn resounds,
To join some comrades of the day;
So wondrous were the scenes it show'd.
["The term Trosachs signifies the rough or bristled territory."—GRAHAM.]