Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Dropp'd from the sheath, that careless flung
Upon a stag's huge antlers swung;
For all around the walls to grace,
Hung trophies of the fight or chase :
A target there, a bugle here,
A battle-axe, a hunting spear,
And broadswords, bows, and arrows store,
With the tusk'd trophies of the boar.
Here grins the wolf as when he died,"
And there the wild-cat's brindled hide
The frontlet of the elk adorns,
Or mantles o'er the bison's horns ;
Pennons and flags defaced and stain'd,
That blackening streaks of blood retain'd,
And deer-skins, dappled, dun and white,
With otter's fur and seal's unite,
In rude and uncouth tapestry all,
To garnish forth the silvan hall.

XXVIII. The wandering stranger round him gazed, And next the fallen

weapon

raised: Few were the arms whose sinewy strength Sufficed to stretch it forth at length.

1 [MS." Here grins the wolf as when he died,

There hung the wild-cat's brindled hide,
Above the elk's branch'd brow and skull,
And frontlet of the forest bull.”]

And as the brand he poised and sway'd,

I never knew but one,” he said,
“ Whose stalwart arm might brook to wield
A blade like this in battle-field.”
She sigh'd, then smiled and took the word ;
“You see the guardian champion's sword;
As light it trembles in his hand,
As in my grasp a hazel wand;
My sire's tall form might grace the part
Of Ferragus, or Ascabart;
But in the absent giant's hold
Are women now, and menials old.”

XXIX.
The mistress of the mansion came,
Mature of age, a graceful dame;
Whose easy step and stately port
Had well become a princely court,
To whom, though more than kindred knew,
Young Ellen gave a mother's due.?
Meet welcome to her guest she made,
And every courteous rite was paid,
That hospitality could claim,
Though all unask'd his birth and name.

1 [See Appendix, Note B.]
2 (MS.-" To whom, though more remote her claim,

Young Ellen gave a mother's name."] 3 The Highlanders, who carried hospitality to a panctilious to age,

Such then the reverence to a guest,
That fellest foe might join the feast,
And from his deadliest fooman's door
Unquestion'd turn, the banquet o'er.
At length his rank the stranger names,
“The Knight of Snowdoun, James Fitz-James ;
Lord of a barren heritage,
Which his brave sires, from age
By their good swords had held with toil ;
His sire had fall'n in such turmoil,
And he, God wot, was forced to stand
Oft for his right with blade in hand.
This morning with Lord Moray's train
He chased a stalwart stag in vain.
Outstripp'd his comrades, miss'd the deer,
Lost his good steed, and wander'd here."

XXX.
Fain would the Knight in turn require
The name and state of Ellen's sire,
Well show'd the elder lady's mien,
That courts and cities she had seen;

1

excess, are said to have considered it as churlish, to ask a stranger his name or lineage, before he had taken refreshment. Feuds were so frequent among them, that a contrary rule would in many cases have produced the discovery of some circumstance, which might have excluded the guest from the benefit of the assistance he stood in need of.

1TMS.-"Well show'd the mother's easy mien.”?

Ellen, though more her looks display'd'
The simple grace of silvan maid,
In speech and gesture, form and face,
Show'd she was come of gentle race.
'Twere strange in ruder rank to find
Such looks, such manners, and such mind.
Each hint the Knight of Snowdoun gave,
Dame Margaret heard with silence grave;
Or Ellen, innocently gay,
Turn'd all enquiry light away

Weird women wel by dale and down
We dwell, afar from tower and town.
We stem the flood, we ride the blast,
On wandering knights our spells we cast;
While viewless minstrels touch the string,
'Tis thus our charmed rhymes we sing."
She

sung, and still a harp unseen
Fill'd up the symphony between."
1[MS.-"Ellen, though more her looks betray'd

The simple heart of mountain maid,
In speech and gesture, form and grace,
Show'd she was come of gentle race;
'Twas strange, in birth so rude, to find
Such face, such manners, and such mind.
Each anxious hint the stranger gave,

The mother heard with silence grave."] * “ They” (meaning the Highlanders) “ delight much in music, but chiefly in harps and clairschoes of their own fashion. The strings of the clairschoes are made of brass wire, and the strings of the harps of sinews; which strings they strike either with their nayles, growing long, or else with an instrument appointed for that use. They take great pleasure to decke their harps and XXXI.

Song. Soldier, rest I thy warfare o'er,

Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking : Dream of battled fields no more,

Days of danger, nights of waking. clairschoes with silver and precious stones; the poor ones that cannot attayne hereunto, decke them with christall. They sing verses prettily compound, contayning (for the most part) prayses of valiant men. There is not almost any other argument, whereof their rhymes intreat. They speak the ancient French language altered a little.”l_"The harp and clairschoes are now only heard of in the Highlands in ancient song. At what period these instruments ceased to be used, is not on record; and tradition is silent on this head. But, as Irish harpers occasionally visited the Highlands and Western Isles till lately, the harp might have been extant so late as the middle of the present century. Thus far we know, that from remote times down to the present, harpers were received as welcome guests, particularly in the Highlands of Scotland; and so late as the latter end of the sixteenth century, as appears by the above quotation, the harp was in common use among the natives of the Western Isles. How it happened that the noisy and unharmonious bagpipe banished the soft and expressive harp, we cannot say; but certain it is, that the bagpipe is now the only instrument that obtains universally in the Highland districts.”—CAMPBELL's Journey through North Britain. Lond. 1808, 4to, I. 175.

Mr Gunn, of Edinburgh, has lately published a curious Essay upon the Harp and Harp Music of the Highlands of Scotland. That the instrument was once in common use there, is most certain. Cleland numbers an acquaintance with it among the few accomplishments which his satire allows to the Highlanders :

"In nothing they're accounted sharp,

Except in bagpipe or in harp." 1 Vide“ Certayne Matters concerning tho Realme of Scotland, &c. de thos were Anno Domini 1597. Lond. 1603,” 4to.

« AnteriorContinuar »