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It was a wild and strange retreat,
No murmur waked the solemn still,
But when the wind chafed with the lake,
A sullen sound would upward break,
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 Lubbar Fiend, or of the Scottish Brownie, though he differed from both in name and appearance. "The Urisks," says Dr. Graham, were a sort 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 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.
["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 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.]
* Journey from Edinburgh, 1802, p. 169.
With dashing hollow voice, that spoke
Now eve, with western shadows long, '
1 The Urisk, or Highland satyr. See a previous Note.
* 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. 3 A Highland chief, being as absolute in his patriarchal authority as any prince, had a corresponding number of officers attached 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 retainers 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 I am now, not only to eat the flesh from the bone, but even to tear off the inner skin, or filament?" The hint was quite sufficient, and MacLean next morning, to relieve his followers from such dire necessity, undertook an inroad on the mainland, the ravage of which altogether effaced the memory of his former expeditions for the like purpose.
Our officer of Engineers, so often quoted, has given us a distinct list of the domestic officers who, independent of Luichttach, or gardes de corps, belonged to the establishment of a Highland Chief. These are, 1. The Henchman. See these notes, p. 52. 2. The Bard, See p. 28. 3. Bladier, or spokesman. 4. Gilliemore, or sword-bearer, alluded to in the text. 5. Gillie-cusflue, who carried the chief, if on foot, over the fords. 6. Gillie-com
The rest their way through thickets break,
It was a fair and gallant sight,
To view them from the neighbouring height,
As even afar might well be seen,
Their Chief, with step reluctant, still
Eve finds the Chief, like restless ghost,
A parting meeting to his eye,
Still fondly strains his anxious ear,
The accents of her voice to hear,
And inly did he curse the breeze
That waked to sound the rustling trees.
straine, who leads the chief's horse. 7. Gillie-Trushanarinsh, the baggage man. piper. 9. The piper's gillie, or attendant, who carries the bagpipe.* Although this appeared, naturally enough, very ridiculous to an English officer, who considered the master of such a retinue as no more than an English gentleman of 5001. a-year, yet in the circumstances of the chief, whose strength and importance consisted in the number and attachment of his followers, it was of the last consequence, in point of policy, to have in his gift subordinate offices, which called immediately round his person those who were most devoted to him, and, being of value in their estimation, were also the means of rewarding them.
That wakes its measure slow and high,
What melting voice attends the strings ?
'Tis Ellen, or an angel, sings.
HYMN TO THE VIRGIN.
Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share1 Shall seem with down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled; Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer,
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Then while his plaid he round him cast,
He mutter'd thrice," the last time e'er
A various scene the clansmen made,
But most, with mantles folded round,
Like glow-worm twinkling through the shade.
And Silence claim'd her evening reign.