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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=fern.
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.
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.
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.
I. 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 Marial=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.
CANTO IV 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.
68. Merrymen. A dissyllable.
77. Dennan's Row, better known as Rowardennan : the best point from which to ascend Ben Lomond.
78. Scathless without scath or injury. Compare scathed in Canto 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. - 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. See note on 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.
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 were made.
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. - Scott.
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. The meaning “ boundary” is a secondary one. 424. Forth it shall. To what does it refer? 446. As= as if. 473. Reck of = regard, think of. 506. Weeds
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.
If we say
532. Devan, commonly known as Devon, another tributary of the Forth, celebrated by Burns and other Scotch poets. The word heard refers to the cascades of the Devon as they roar through the chasm spanned by what is known as The Rumbling Bridge.
552. Bridegroom, must be accented on the second syllable to preserve the metre.
no such change is needed. 555. Maudlin, is here used as a proper name. It is contracted from “ Magdalen," with reference to Mary Magdalene regarded as “the penitent woman which was a sinner,” and represented by painters with eyes swollen and red with weeping.
559. Bar. See Canto vi, lines 646–648. 567. Batten
fatten, as in Hamlet, iii, 4. 574. Been. The rime shows the common pronunciation of this word in England.
590. The toils are pitched. This song warns Fitz-James of his danger.
594. A stag of ten. Having ten branches on his antlers. — Scott.
618-636. This passage illustrates what we have previously noticed that Scott is at his best when the subject calls for the objective description of action.
665-674. Foreshadows the action of the next canto. 676. Poured his eyes, seems a strained expression for “flowed his
We gain nothing but the weak alliteration in poured and pity. 709. Only is incorrectly placed. See also line 240 of this canto.
722. Summer solstice : when the heat of summer is greatest. Look up the etymology of solstice.
746. Slip (from the leash).
762. Hardened flesh. The Scottish Highlanders, in former times, nad a concise mode of cooking their venison, or rather of dispensing with cooking it . . . [by] compressing it between two batons of wood, so as force out the blood and render it extremely hard. This they reckoned a great delicacy. - Scott.
787. Coilantogle, on the Teith just below Loch Vennachar.
For further illustrations of Highland hospitality, see Stevenson's Kidnapped, Chapters xv, xvi, xix, xxi, xxiii, xxv.
CANTO V 10. Sheen
shining. 18. Gael Highlander. Saxon = Lowlander. 46. Shingles = broken stone. 54. Cumbered = encumbered. See note on Canto iii, line 387. 95. Doune. The ruins of Doune Castle, formerly the residence of the
Earls of Menteith, now the property of the Earl of Moray, are situated at the confluence of the Ardoch and the Teith. Scott.
See line 492 of this canto. 108. Regent: John Stewart, Duke of Albany, a relative of the young King's.
119. Holy-Rood. See note on canto ii, line 221. 125. Truncheon=literally something cut off : hence, a cudgel ; then,
days when Might was Right, a staff that merely symbolized authority instead of beating it in.
127. Stranger to respect. There is scarcely a more disorderly period in Scottish history than that which succeeded the battle of Flodden and occupied the minority of James V. Scott.
169. Seek other cause. So far, indeed, was a Creagh, or foray, from being held disgraceful, that a young chief was always expected to show his talents for command, so soon as he assumed it, by leading his clan on a successful enterprise of this nature, either against a neighboring sept, for which constant feuds usually furnished an apology, or against the Saxons, or Lowlanders, for which no apology was necessary. The Gael, great traditional historians, never forgot that the Lowlands had, at some remote period, been
property of their Celtic forefathers, which furnished an ample vindication of all the ravages that they could make on the unfortunate districts which lay within their reach. - Scott.
By “great traditional historians” Scott means, “ historians great in tradition."
196-227. This passage is highly dramatic, its force lying in suspense and surprise.
234-239. A famous passage. Dr. Johnson has the same simile expressed in a citified way.
When some one asked him how he felt after the failure of his play, he replied : “ Like the Monument.”
253. Jack. A cheap coat-of-armor worn by footsoldiers. This word is probably derived from the proper name, Jack. See the Century Dictionary, if you are interested in the twenty-one principal and innumerable secondary meanings of Jack.
262. That I need not say. Because I know that you are brave. 270. Only meant. The order of these words should be inverted,
273. Without a pass from Roderick Dhu. This incident, like some other passages in the poem, illustrative of the character of the ancient Gael, is not imaginary, but borrowed from fact. The Highlanders, with the inconsistency of most nations in the same state, were alternately capable of great exertions of generosity, and of cruel revenge and perfidy. — Scott. 277. Wont
= customary. 298. Three mighty lakes. The torrent which discharges itself from Loch Vennachar, the lowest and eastmost of the three lakes which form the scenery adjoining to the Trosachs, sweeps through a flat and extensive moor called Bochastle. Upon a small eminence called the Dun of Bochastle, and,