« AnteriorContinuar »
The Chieftain, with such anxious eye, be guessed from the following odd example of a Highland point of honour:
“The clan whereto the above-mentioned tribe belongs, is the only one I have heard of, which is without a chief: that is, being divided into families, under several chieftains, without any particular patriarch of the whole name. And this is a great reproach, as may appear from an affair that fell out at my table, in the Highlands, between one of that name and a Cameron. The provocation given by the latter was—Name your chief.'The return of it at once was,-'You are a fool. They went out next morning, but having early notice of it, I sent a small party of soldiers after them, which, in all probability, preventing some barbarous mischief that might have ensued; for the chiefless Highlander, who is himself a petty chieftain, was going to the place appointed with a small-sword and pistol, whereas the Cameron (an old man) took with him only his broadsword, according to the agreement.
“When all was over, and I had, at least seemingly, reconciled them, I was told the words, of which I seemed to think but slightly, were, to one of the clan, the greatest of all provoca
s."- Letters from Scotland, vol. ii. p. 221.
Ere to the muster he repair,
· This is a very steep and most romantic hollow in the mountain of Benvenue, overhanging the south-eastern extremity of Loch Katrine. It is surrounded with stupendous rocks, and overshadowed with birch-trees, mingled with oaks, the spontaneous production of the mountain, even where its cliffs appear denuded of soil. A dale in so wild a situation, and amid a people whose genius bordered on the romantic, did not remain without appropriate deities. The name literally implies the Corri, or Den, of the Wild or Shaggy men. Perhaps this, as conjectured by Mr Alexander Campbell, may have originally only implied its being the haunt of a ferocious banditti. But tradition has ascribed to the Urisk, who gives name to the cavern, a figure between a goat and a man; in short, however much the classical reader may be startled, precisely that of the Grecian Satyr. The Urisk seems not to have inherited, with the form, the petulance of the silvan deity of the classics: his occupation, on the contrary, resembled those of Milton's Lubber Fiend, or of the Scottish Brownie, though he differed from both in name and appearance. “ The Urisks,” says Dr Graham, were a set of lubberly supernaturals, who, like the Brownies, could be gained over, by kind attention, to perform the drudgery of the farm, and it was believed that many of the families in the Highlands had one of the order attached to it. They were supposed to be dispersed over the
Journey from Edinburgh. 1902. D. 106
A softer name the Saxons gave,
And form'd the rugged silvan grot.? Highlands, each in his own wild recess, but the solemn stated meetings of the order were regularly held in this Cave of Benvenue. This current superstition, no doubt, alludes to some circumstance in the ancient history of this country."-Scenery on the Southern Confines of Perthshire, p. 19, 1806. It must be owned that the Coir, or Den, does not, in its present state, meet our ideas of a subterraneous grotto, or cave, being only a small and narrow cavity, among huge fragments of rocks rudely piled together. But such a scene is liable to convulsions of nature which a Lowlander cannot estimate, and which may have choked up what was originally a cavern. At least the name and tradition warrant the author of a fictitious tale, to assert its having been such at the remote period in which this scene is laid.
1 [“After landing on the skirts of Benvenue, we reach the cave (or more properly the cove) of the goblins, by a steep and narrow defile of a few hundred yards in length. It is a deep circular amphitheatre of at least 600 yards of extent in its upper diameter, gradually narrowing towards the base, hemmed in all round by steep and towering rocks, and rendered impenetrable to the rays of the sun by a close covert of luxuriant trees. On the
The oak and birch, with mingled shade,
south and west it is bounded by the precipitous shoulder of Benvenue, to the height of at least 500 feet; towards the east, the rock appears at some former period to have tumbled down, strewing the whole course of its fall with immense fragments, which now serve only to give shelter to foxes, wild-cats, and badgers,"_Dr GRAHAM.]
The Urisk, or Highland satyr. See a previous Note.
1 Bealach-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-nan Uriskin, treated of in a former note. The whole composes the most sublime piece of scenery that imagination can conceive.
2 A Highland chief, being as absolute in his patriarchal authority as any prince, had a corresponding number of officers at. tached to his person. He had his body-guards, called Luichttach, picked from his clan for strength, activity, and entire devotion to his person. These, according to their deserts, were sure to share abundantly in the rude profusion of his hospitality. It is recorded, for example, by tradition, that Allan MacLean, chief of that clan, happened upon a time to hear one of these favourite retaihers observe to his comrade, that their chief grew old. “Whence do you infer that?” replied the other._"When was it," rejoined the first, " that a soldier of Allan's was obliged, as