« AnteriorContinuar »
The Lady of the Lake:
JOHN JAMES MARQUIS OF ABERCORN,
ARGUMENT. The Scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the Vicinity of Loch-Katrine, in the Western Highlands of Perthshire. The time of Action includes Six Days, and the transactions of each Day occupy a Canto.9
1 Published by John Ballantyne & Co. in 4to, with engra- or the heath which waves over their mors."- Quarterly Reved frontispiece of Saxon's portrait of Scott, £2, 28. May vieu, May 1810. 18H.
“ It is honourable to Mr. Scott's genius that he has been g“Never, we think, has the analogy between poetry and able to interest the public so deeply with this third presentpainting been more strikingly exemplified than in the writiugs ment of the same chivalrous scenes; but we cannot help of Mr. Scott. He sees everything with a painter's eye. What thinking, that both his glory and our gratification would have ever he represents has a character of individuality, and is been greater, if he had changed his hand more completels, drawn with an accuracy and minuteness of discrimination, and actually given us a true Celtic story, with all its drapery which we are not accustomed to expect from verbal descrip- and accompaniments in a corresponding style of decoration tion. Much of this, no doubt, is the result of genius: for Such a subject, we are persuaded, has very great capabilities, there is a quick and comprehensive power of discernment, an and only wants to be introduced to public notice by such a intensity and keenness of observation, an almost intuitive hand as Mr. Scott's, to make a still more powerful impression glance, which nature alone can give, and by means of which than he has already effected by the resurrection of the tales her favourites are enabled to discover characteristic differ- of romance. There are few persons, we believe, of any degree ences, where the eye of dulness sees nothing but nniformity; of poetical susceptibility, who have wandered among the sebut something also must be referred to discipline and exer- cluded valleys of the Highlands, and contemplated the singucise. The liveliest fancy can only call forth those images lar people by whom they are still tenanted, with their love of which are already stored up in the memory; and all that in- music and of song-their hardy and irregular life, so unlike vention can do is to unite these into new combinations, which the unvarying toils of the Saxon mechanic-their devotion to must appear confused and ill-defined, if the impressions ori- their chiefs-their wild and lofty traditions--their national ginally received by the senses were deficient in strength and enthusiasm-the melancholy grandeur of the scenes they in distinctness. It is because Mr. Scott usually delineates those habit -- and the multiplied superstitions which still linger objects with which he is perfectly familiar, that his touch is among them - without feeling, that there is no existing 80 easy, correct, and animated. The rocks, the ravines, and people so well adapted for the purposes of poetry, or so the torrents, which he exhibits, are not the imperfect sketches capable of furnishing the occasions of new and striking inof a hurried traveller, but the finished studies of a resident ventions. artist, deliberately drawn from different points of view; each “We are persuaded, that if Mr. Scoll's powerful and creahas its true shape and position; it is a portrait ; it has its tire genius were to be turned in good earnest to such a subject, name by which the spectator is invited to examine the exact- something might be produceri still more impressive and original ness of the resemblance. The figures which are combined than even this age has yet witnessed."-JEFFREY, Edinburgh with the landscape are painted with the same fidelity. Like Revier, No. xvi. for 1810. those of Salvator Rosa, they are perfectly appropriate to the “ The subject of The Lady is a common Highland irrupspot on which they stand. The boldness of feature, the light- tion, but at a point where the neighbourhood of the Lowness and compactness of form, the wildness of air, and the lands affords the best contrast of manners-where the scenery careless ease of attitude of these mountaineers, are as conge affords the noblest subject of description-and where the bial to their native Highlands, as the birch and the pine wild clan is so near to the Court, that their robberies can which darken their glens, the sedge which fringes their lakes be connected with the romantic adventures of a disguised
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
The deep-mouth'd bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring, “ To arms! the foemen storm the wall,"
Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep, Toss'd his beam'd frontlet to the sky;
A moment snuff'd the tainted gale, Not thus, in ancient days of Caledon,
A moment listend to the cry, Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd,
That thicken’d as the chase drew nigh; When lay of hopeless love, or glory won,
Then, as the headmost foes appear'd, Aroused the fearful, or subdued the proud.
With one brave bound the copse he clear’d, At each according pause, was heard aloud?
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.
Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them back;
To many a mingled sound at once O wake once more ! how rude soe'er the hand
The awaken’d mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bay'd deep and strong,
Their peal the merry horns rung out,
With hark and whoop and wild halloo, Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.*
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint and more faint, its failing din Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
Return'd from cavern, cliff, and linn,
king, an exiled lord, and a high-born beauty. The whole I M8.-" And on the fitful breeze thy numbers flung, narrative is very fine. There are not so many splendid pas
Till envious ivy, with her verdant ring, sages for quotation as in the two former poems. This may
Mantled and muftled each melodious string, indeed silence the objections of the critics, but I doubt whe
O Wizard Harp, still must thine accents sleep?" ther it will promote the popularity of the poem. It has nothing so good as the Address to Scotland, or the Death of Mar
2 MS." At each according pause thou spokest aloud mion."--MACKINTOSu, in his Diary, 1811, see his Lift, vol. ii.
Thine ardent sympathy." p. 82.
3 MS. -" The bloodhonnd's notes of heavy bass “ The Lay, if I may venture to state the creed now esta
Resounded hoarsely up the pass." blished, is, I should say, generally considered as the most na tural and original, Marmion as the most powerful and splen- 4 Benvoirlich, a mountain comprehended in the cluster of did, the Lady of the Lake as the most interesting, romantic, "he Grampians, at the head of the valley of the Garry, a picturesque, and graceful of his great poems." -LOCKHART, | river which springs from its base. It rises to an elevation of rol. in. p. 256.
3330 feet above the level of the sea.
And silence settled, wide and still,
And ponder'd refuge from his toil,
By far Lochard or Aberfoyle.
That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
And mingled with the pine-trees blue Disturb’d the heights of Uam-Var,
On the bold cliffs of Benvenue. And roused the cavern, where 'tis told,
Fresh vigour with the hope return'd, 3 A giant made his den of old;'
With flying foot the heath he spurn'd, For ere that steep ascent was won,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.
'Twere long to tell what steeds gave o'er, Scarce half the lessening pack was near;
As swept the hunt through Cambus-more ;* So shrewdly on the mountain side
What reins were tightend in despair, Had the bold burst their mettle tried.
When rose Benledi's ridge in air ;5
Who flaggd upon Bochastle's heath,
Who shunn'd to stem the flooded Teith,_6
For twice that day, from shore to shore, Upon the mountain's southern brow,
The gallant stag swam stoutly o'er. Where broad extended, far beneath,
Few were the stragglers, following far, The varied realms of fair Menteith.
That reach'd the lake of Vennachar;? With anxious eye he wander'd o'er
And when the Brigg of Turk was won, Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
The headmost horseman rode alone.
I See Appendix, Note A.
it is returned, first from the opposite side of the lake; and ! " About a mile to the westward of the inn of Aberfoyle, when that is finished, is repeated with equal distinctness Lochard opens to the view. A few hundred yards to the east from the wood on the east. The day must be perfectly calm, of it, the Avendow, which had just issued from the lake, and the lake as smooth as glass, for otherwise no human voice tumbles its waters over a rugged precipice of more than thirty can be returned from a distance of at least a quarter of a mile." feet in height, forming, in the rainy season, several very mag--Graham's Sketches of Perthshire, 2d edit. p. 182, &c. nificent cataracts.
3 MS.-“ Fresh vigour with the thenight return'd, “ The first opening of the lower lake, from the east, is un
With flying hoof the heath be spurn'd." commonly picturesque. Directing the eye nearly westward, Benlomond raises its pyramidal mass in the background. In
• Cambus-more, within about two miles of Callender, on the
wooded banks of the Keltie, a tributary of the Teith, is the nearer prospect, you have gentle eminences, covered with oak and birch to the very summit; the bare rock sometimes peep
seat of a family of the name of Buchanan, whom the Poet freing through amongst the clumps. Immediately under the quently visited in his younger days. eye, the lower lake, stretching out from narrow beginnings to 6 Benledi is a magnificent mountain, 3009 feet in height, a breadth of about half a mile, is seen in full prospect. On which bounds the horizon on the north-west from Callender. the right, the banks are skirted with extensive oak woods The name, according to Celtic etymologists, signifies the Mounwhich cover the mountain more than half way up.
tain of God. “Advancing to the westward, the view of the lake is lost
6 Two mountain streams-the one flowing from Loch Voil, for about a mile. The upper lake, which is by far the most by the pass of Leny; the other from Loch Katrine, by Loch extensive, is separated from the lower by a stream of about Achray and Loch Vennachar, unite at Callender; and the 200 yards in length. The most advantageous view of the river thus formed thenceforth takes the name of Teith. Hence upper lake presents itself from a rising ground near its lower the designation of the territory of Menteith. extremity, where a footpath strikes off to the south, into the wood that overhangs this connecting stream. Looking west
7 “Loch Vennachar, a beautiful expanse of water, of about ward, Benlomond is seen in the background, rising, at the dis- five miles in length, by a mile and a-half in breadth."tance of six miles, in the form of a regular cone, its sides pre-Graham. senting a gentle slope to the N.W. and S.E. On the right is 8 " About a mile above Loch Vennachar, the approach the lofty mountain of Benoghrie, running west towards the (from the east) to the Brigg, or Bridge of Turk (the scene of deep vale in which Lochcon lies concealed from the eye. In the death of a wild-boar famous in Celtic tradition), leads to the foreground, Lochard stretches out to the west in the the summit of an eminence, where there bursts upon the trafairest prospect; its length three miles, and its breadth a mile veller's eye a sudden and wide prospect of the windings of and a half. On the right, it is skirted with woods; the the river that issues from Loch Achray, with that sweet lake northern and western extremity of the lake is diversified with itself in front; the gently rolling river pursues its serpentine meadows, and corn-fields, and farm-houses. On the lefi, few course through an extensive meadow; at the west end of the marks of cultivation are to be seen.
lake, on the side of Aberfoyle, is situated the delightful farm “Farther on, the traveller passes along the verge of the of Achray, the level ficld, a denomination justly due to it, lake under a ledge of rock, from thirty to fifty feet high; and, when considered in contrast with the rugged rocks and mounstanding immediately under this rock, towards its western tains which surround it. From this eminence are to be seen extremity, he has a double echo, of uncommon distinctness. also, on the right hand, the entrance to Glenfinlas, and in the Upon proneuncing with a firm voice, a line of ten syllables, distance Benvenue."-GRAHAM.