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THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
Fair as the earliest beam of eastern light,
And silvers o'er the torrent's foaming tide,.
Shine martial Faith, and Courtesy's bright star,
That early beam, so fair and sheen,
Was twinkling through the hazel screen,
When, rousing at its glimmer red,
Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew,—
[MS." And lights the fearful way along its side."]
The Scottish Highlander calls himself Gael, or Gaul, and terms the Lowlanders, Sassenach, or Saxons.
That diamond dew, so pure and clear,
It rivals all but Beauty's tear !
At length they came where, stern and steep,1
Here Vennachar in silver flows,
Beneath steep bank and threatening stone;
But where the lake slept deep and still,
Led slowly through the pass's jaws,
And ask'd Fitz-James, by what strange cause
He sought these wilds, traversed by few,
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.
"Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried,
Yet, sooth to tell," the Saxon said,
Nor soon expected back from war.
A warrior thou, and ask me why!Moves our free course by such fix'd cause, As gives the poor mechanic laws? Enough, I sought to drive away The lazy hours of peaceful day; Slight cause will then suffice to guide A knight's free footsteps far and wide,A falcon flown, a greyhound stray'd, The merry glance of mountain maid : Or, if a path be dangerous known, The danger's self is lure alone."
Thy secret keep, I urge thee not; Yet, ere again ye sought this spot, Say, heard ye nought of Lowland war, Against Clan-Alpine, rais'd by Mar ?" -"No, by my word;-of bands prepared To guard King James's sports I heard ; Nor doubt I aught, but, when they hear This muster of the mountaineer, Their pennons will abroad be flung, Which else in Doune had peaceful hung.""Free be they flung! for we were loth Their silken folds should feast the moth. Free be they flung!-as free shall wave Clan-Alpine's pine in banner brave. But, Stranger, peaceful since you came, Bewilder'd in the mountain game, Whence the bold boast by which you show Vich-Alpine's vow'd and mortal foe?"
Warrior, but yester-morn, I knew
Nought of thy Chieftain, Roderick Dhu,
[MS. "My errant footsteps
A knight's bold wanderings
far and wide."]
[MS.-Thy secret keep, I ask it not."]~~
[MS.-"Which else in hall had peaceful hung."]
Wrothful at such arraignment foul,
Dark lower'd the clansman's sable scowl.
"And heard'st thou why he drew his blade?
Held borrow'd truncheon of command,
The Gael beheld him grim the while,
Deep waving fields and pastures green,
With gentle slopes and groves between :
These fertile plains, that soften'd vale,
Were once the birthright of the Gael;
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. Feuds of ancient standing broke out like old wounds, and every quarrel among the independent nobility, which occurred daily, and almost hourly, gave rise to fresh bloodshed. "There arose," says Pitscottie, (6 great trouble and deadly feuds in many parts of Scotland, both in the north and west parts. The Master of Forbes, in the north, siew the Laird of Meldrum, under tryst : " (i. e. at an agreed and secure meeting :) "Likewise, the Laird of Drummelzier slow the Lord Fleming at the hawking; and, likewise, there was slaughter among many other great lords," p. 121. Nor was the matter much mended under the government of the Earl of Angus: for though he caused the King to ride through all Scotland, "under the pretence and colour of justice, to punish thief and traitor, none were found greater than were in their own company, And none at that time durst strive with a Douglas, nor yet a Douglas 's man; for if they would, they got the worst. Therefore, none durst plainzie of no extortion, theft, reiff, nor slaughter, done to them by the Douglasses, or their men; in that cause they were not heard, so long as the Douglas had the court in guiding."—Ibid. p. 155.
The stranger came with iron hand,
Your own good blades must win the rest."
Shall, with strong hand, redeem his share.
Seek other cause 'gainst Roderick Dhu."
The ancient Highlanders verified in their practice the lines of Gray :—
An iron race the mountain cliffs maintain,
To tame the savage rushing from the wood;
What wonder if, to patient valour train'd,
They guard with spirit what by strength they gain'd;
And while their rocky ramparts round they see
The rough abode of want and liberty,
(As lawless force from confidence will grow,)
Insult the plenty of the vales below ??
Fragment on the Alliance of Education and Government.
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 neighbouring sept, for which constant fends usually furnished an apology, or against the Sassenach, 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 the 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. Sir James Grant of Grant is in possession of a letter of apology from Cameron of Lochiel, whose men had committed some depredation upon a farm called Moines, occupied by one of the Grants. Lochiel assures Grant, that, however the mistake had happened, his instructions were precise, that the party should foray the province of Moray, (a Lowland district,) where, as he coolly observes, "all men take their prey."