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and thus it passed with incredible celerity through all the district which owed allegiance to the chief, and also among his allies and neighbors, if the danger was common to them. At sight of the Fiery Cross, every man, from sixteen years old to sixty, capable of bearing arms, was obliged instantly to repair, in his best arms and accoutrements, to the place of rendezvous. He who failed to appear, suffered the extremities of fire and sword, which were emblematically denounced to the disobedient by the bloody and burnt marks upon this warlike signal. During the civil war of 1745-6, the Fiery Cross ofter made its circuit; and upon one occasion it passed through the whole district o. Breadalbane, a tract of thirty-two miles, in three hours. - SCOTT.
71. That monk, etc. The state of religion in the middle ages afforded considerable facilities for those whose mode of life excluded them from regular worship, to secure, nevertheless, the ghostly assistance of confessors, perfectly willing to adapt the nature of their doctrine to the necessities and peculiar circumstances of their flock. Robin Hood, it is well known, had his celebrated domestic chaplain, Friar Tuck.
74. Benharrow. Near Loch Lomond.
102. Bucklered protected by a buckler or shield.
104. Fieldfare: the common English thrush. 114. See note to Canto i, line 363.
138. Sable-lettered, or black-lettered, on account of the heavy types used.
142. Cabala. A Hebrew word. It signified originally the mystic interpretations that vain commentators read into the Hebrew scriptures: then, any mystic or magic doctrine.
154. River Demon. The River Demon, or River-horse, for it is that form which he commonly assumes, is the Kelpy of the Lowlands, an evil and malicious spirit, delighting to forebode and to witness calamity. — SCOTT.
168. Ben-Shie. Most great families in the Highlands were supposed to have a tutelar, or rather a domestic spirit attached to them, who took an interest in their prosperity and intimated, by its wailings, any approaching dis
aster. - SCOTT.
169. Sounds. A presage of the kind alluded to in the text, is still believed to announce death to the ancient Highland family of McLean of Loch Buy. The spirit of an ancestor slain in battle is heard to gallop along a stony bank, and then to ride thrice around the family residence, ringing his fairy bridle and thus intimating the approaching calamity. — SCOTT.
177. (To) ban to curse.
189. Cubit. This word is very common in the 1611 version of the Bible. See, for example, Genesis vi. 15-16.
191. Inch-Cailliach. The Isle of Nuns, or of Old Women, is a most beautiful island at the lower extremity of Loch Lomond. The church belonging to the former nunnery was long used as the place of worship for the parish of Buchanan, but scarce any vestiges of it now remain. The burial ground continues to be used, and contains the family places of sepulture of several neighboring clans. The monuments of the lairds of MacGregor, and of other families, claiming a descent from the old Scottish King Alpine, are most remarkable. - SCOTT.
200. Yew-trees, on account of their sad-colored foliage, are sometimes planted in grave-yards.
This form is an inadmissible license.
226. Scathed=(literally) injured: here it must be used to mean "burn " or "char."
243. Goshawk: originally goose-hawk, from being flown at geese. 253. Coir-Uriskin=Den of the wild men. In the Keltic mythology the Urisk corresponds in form to the Hellenic Satyr. See stanza xxvi of this canto.
255. Beala-nam-bo, or the pass of cattle, is a most magnificent glade, overhung with aged birch-trees, a little higher up the mountain than the Coir-nam-Uriskin. - SCOTT.
286. Lanrick-mead, near Loch Vennachar.
300. Dun deer's hide. The ancient buskin was . . made of undressed deer's hide, with the hair outwards, - a circumstance which procured the Highlanders the well-known epithet of Redshanks. SCOTT.
310. Scaur Scar cliff, as in the name of the Yorkshire town, Scarborough.
341. Loch Achray. Between Loch Katrine and Loch Vennachar. 344. Bosky woody.
349. Duncraggan. Near the Brigg of Turk.
369. Coronach. The Coronach of the Highlanders was a wild expression of lamentation, poured forth by the mourners over the body of a departed friend. When the words of it were articulate, they expressed the praises of the deceased, and the loss the clan would sustain by his death. SCOTT.
386. Correi Hollow in which game hides.
387. Cumber=Trouble, difficulty. Martha was cumbered about much serving."
394. Stumah=The Faithful.
Compare Luke x. 40:
453. Strath-Ire. The first stage of the Fiery Cross is to Duncraggan, a place near the Brigg of Turk, where a short stream divides Loch Achray from Loch Vennachar. [From] thence, it passes towards Callander, and then, turning to the left up the pass of Leny, is consigned to Norman at the chapel of Saint Bride, which stood on a small and romantic knoll in the middle of the valley, called Strath-Ire. Tombea and Arnandave, or Ardmandave, are names of places in the vicinity. The alarm is then supposed to pass along
the lake of Lubnaig, and through the various glens in the district of Balquidder, including the neighboring tracts of Glenfinlas and Strath-Gartney.-SCOTT. 485. Coif. See note on Canto i, line 363. 546. Bracken
570. Midnight blaze. The heath on the Scottish moorlands is often set fire to, that the sheep may have the advantage of the young herbage produced, in room of the tough old heather plants. This custom (execrated by sportsmen) produces occasionally the most beautiful nocturnal appearances, similar almost to the discharge of a volcano. This simile is not new to poetry. The charge of a warrior, in the fine ballad of Hardyknute, is said to be "like fire to heather set." SCOTT.
577. Coil stir, confusion.
578-582. See note on line 453 of this canto.
599. By his chieftain's hand. The deep and implicit respect paid by the Highland clansmen to their chief, rendered this both a common and a solemn oath. In other respects, they were like most savage nations, capricious in their ideas concerning the obligatory power of oaths. — SCOTT.
607-609. Rednock, Cardross, Duchray: castles.
610. Loch Con: south-west of Loch Katrine.
622. Coir-nan-Uriskin. See note on line 253 of this canto.
672. A single page. A Highland chief, being as absolute in his authority as any prince, had a corresponding number of officers attached to his person. 1. The Henchman. 2. The Bard. 3. Bladier or Spokesman. 4. Gillie-more or Sword-bearer. 5. Gillie-casflue, who carried the chief, if on foot, over the fords. 6. Gillie-constraine, who leads the chief's horse. 7. Gillie-Trushanarinsh, the Baggage-man. 8. The Piper. 9. The Piper's Gillie, or attendant who carries the bag-pipes. · SCOTT.
713. Ave Maria!=Hail, Mary! The Roman Catholic Invocation of the Virgin. See Luke i. 26–28.
In this Canto, Brian is hardly a successful character: when intended to be tragic, he is merely melodramatic. The blood of bulls and of goats, which is his stock in trade, however fascinating to Homeric Greeks and Mosaic Hebrews, is not interesting to civilized people (Stanzas i-xi). When we get to really human affairs, the Canto improves the hurry of action, whether it be that of Malise or Angus or Norman, is given with fire and spirit (xii-xxii); the introduction of the funeral-train and the wedding procession is an excellent dramatic device, and the beautiful Ave Maria affords a peaceful closing in happy contrast to the turmoil with which the Canto opened.
19. Doune (Castle), on the north bank of the Teith, not far from its junction with the Forth.
63. Taghairm. The Highlanders, like all rude people, had various superstitious modes of inquiring into futurity. One of the most noted was the Taghairm mentioned in the text. A person was wrapped up in the skin of a newly-slain bullock, and deposited beside a waterfall, or at the bottom of a precipice, or in some other strange, wild, and unusual situation, where the scenery around him suggested nothing but objects of horror. In this situation he revolved in his mind the question proposed, and whatever was impressed upon him by his exalted imagination passed for the inspiration of the disembodied spirits who haunt the desolate recesses. - SCOTT.
74. Beal 'maha. East of Loch Lomond.
77. Dennan's Row, better known as Rowardennan: the best point from which to ascend Ben Lomond.
without scath or injury. Compare scathed in Canto
78. Scathless iii, line 226.
84. Hero's Targe. There is a rock so named in the forest of Glenfinlas by which a tumultuary cataract takes its course. - SCOTT.
Notice how correctly the metaphor implied in targe is carried out in boss (line 82).
98. Broke. Everything belonging to the chase was matter of solemnity among our ancestors; but nothing was more so than the mode of cutting up, or, as it was technically called, breaking the slaughtered stag. The forester had his allotted portion; the hounds had a certain allowance; and, to make the division as general as possible, the very birds had their share also. 1 - SCOTT.
132. Which spills. Though this be in the text described as a response of the Taghairm, or Oracle of the Hide, it was of itself an augury frequently attended to. The fate of the battle was often anticipated in the imagination of the combatants, by observing which party first shed blood. It is said that the Highlanders under Montrose were so deeply imbued with this notion, that, on the morning of the battle of Tippermoor, they murdered a defenceless herdsman, whom they found in the fields, merely to secure an advantage of so much consequence to their party. - SCOTT.
150. glaive sword, from the Latin gladius.
152-153. Moray, Mar. The Earl of Moray and the Earl of Mar were commanders of King James' forces. The star and the pale mean their cognizances. Pale in this sense is a technical term in heraldry, and signifies a band drawn perpendicularly through the middle of the shield.
164. Trosachs' shaggy glen. This is a tautology. Canto i, line 145.
174. Stance = station.
198. The red streamers of the North the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. Supposed to be caused by electrical discharges passing through the upper strata of our atmosphere.
217. Rife prevailing.
223. Trowed=believed. Aught: an adverb.
See note on
231. Cambus-kenneth=The field of (King) Kenneth ; an abbey about a mile northeast of Stirling: sometimes called The Monastery of Stirling. In 1559 the "Reformers" nearly destroyed the abbey: a few walls and a broken tower are all that remain.
261. Merry it is. This is a capital imitation of the Old English ballad, with its free measure, its alliterations and its suggestively-broken effects. Those interested in such matters should consult the learned Introduction to Gummere's Old Ballads.
262. Mavis, merle. Thrush, blackbird.
267. Wold means originally the same thing as wood, but by confusion of place-distinctions it has come to mean open, grazing country, as in the name Cotswold Hills.
277. Vest (Latin, vestis) =garment. Pall, from the Latin palla, means originally a mantle; then (as here) the rich cloth from which mantles
285. Vair (Latin, varius, spotted), was a kind of fur much worn in the Middle Ages. It is supposed to have been taken from the gray squirrel.
298. Woned = dwelt. Very common in Chaucer.
306. Fatal green. As the Daoine Shi', or Men of Peace, wore green habits, they were supposed to take offence when any mortals ventured to assume their favorite color. Indeed, from some reason, which has been, perhaps, originally a general superstition, green is held in Scotland to be unlucky to particular tribes and counties. The Caithness men, who hold this belief, allege as a reason that their bands wore that color when they were cut off at the battle of Flodden. . . Green is also disliked by those of the name of Ogilvy, but more especially it is held fatal to the whole clan of Grahame.
308. Christened man. The elves were supposed greatly to envy the privileges acquired by Christian imitation, and they gave to those mortals who had fallen into their power a certain precedence, founded upon this advantageous distinction. SCOTT.
330. Kindly kindred. Compare Hamlet, i, 2.
"A little more than kin and less than kind."
371. Dunfermline = The Fortified Hill of the Crooked Stream. Here was once the most magnificent abbey in Scotland: destroyed by the English in 1303. It was rebuilt, though less splendidly, and the ruins of the second structure are still among the finest in Great Britain.
387. Bourne stream.
424. Forth it shall. To what does it refer?
446. As as if. 473. Reck of 506. Weeds
regard, think of.
garments, as in the expression, "widow's weeds." 531. Allan: a Perthshire stream, noted for its picturesque scenery. It enters the Forth about two miles from Stirling.
The meaning "boundary" is a secondary one.