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THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
"The rose is fairest when 'tis budding new,
I bid your blossoms in my bonnet wave,
Such fond conceit, half said, half sung,
For on a pass 'twixt lake and wood,
Hark! on the rock a footstep rung,
"Stand, or thou diest!-What, Malise?-soon
(For while the Fiery Cross hied on,
To his lone couch I'll be your guide."—
And stirr'd him with his slacken'd bow-
Together up the pass they sped:
"What of the foemen?" Norman said.—
' [MS." And rapture dearest when obscured by fears."]
"Varying reports from near and far;
At prompt command, to march from Doune;
Soon will this dark and gathering cloud
The warrior's plaid may bear it out;
That such dear pledge may rest secure?"
""Tis well advised-the Chieftain's plan '
But wherefore sleeps Sir Roderick Dhu
Brian an augury hath tried,
Of that dread kind which must not be
The Taghairm call'd; by which, afar,
"Ah! well the gallant brute I knew!
When swept our merry-men Gallangad.3
MS.-"TIs well advised-a prudent plan,
2 [See Appendix, Note I.]
Worthy the father of bis clan."]
3 I know not if it be worth observing, that this passage is taken almost literally from the mouth of an old Highland Kern, or Ketteran, as they were called. He used to narrate the merry doings of the good old time when he was follower of Rob Roy MacGregor. This leader, on one occasion, thought proper to make a descent upon the lower part of the Loch Lomond district, and summoned all the heritors and farmers to meet at the Kirk of Drymen, to pay him black-mail, i. e. tribute for forbearance and protection. As this invitation was
His hide was snow, his horns were dark,
A child might scatheless stroke his brow."
"That bull was slain : his reeking hide
supported by a band of thirty or forty stout fellows, only one gentleman, an ancestor, if I mistake not, of the present Mr. Grahame of Gartmore, ventured to decline compliance. Rob Roy instantly swept his land of all he could drive away, and among the spoil was a bull of the old Scottish wild breed, whose ferocity occasioned great plague to the Ketterans. "But ere we had reached the Row of Dennan," said the old man, a child might have scratched his ears." The circumstance is a minute one, but it paints the times when the poor beeve was compelled
"To hoof it o'er as many weary miles,
As e'er the bravest antler of the woods."
There is a rock so named in the Forest of Glenfinlas, by which a tumultuary cataract takes its course. This wild place is said in former times to have afforded refuge to an outlaw, who was supplied with provisions by a woman, who lowered them down from the brink of the precipice above. His water he procured for himself, by letting down a flagon tied to a string, into the black pool beneath the fall.
This anecdote was, in former editions, inaccurately ascribed to Gregor Macgregor of Glengyle, called Ghlune Dhu, or Black-knee, a relation of Rob Roy, but, as I have been assured, not addicted to his predatory excesses.-Note to Third Edition.
That hovers o'er a slaughter'd host?
That, watching while the deer is broke,"
"Peace! peace! to other than to me,
But still I hold Sir Roderiek's blade
Not aught that, glean'd from heaven or hell,
And, as they came, with Alpine's Lord
Whose eye can stare in stony trance,
Whose hair can rouse like warrior's lance,
Quartered.-Every thing 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. "There is a little gristle," says Turberville, "which is upon the spoone of the brisket, which we call the raven's bone; and I have seen in some places a raven so wont and accustomed to it, that she would never fail to croak and cry for it all the time you were in breaking up of the deer, and would not depart till she had it." In the very ancient metrical romance of Sir Tristrem, that peerless knight, who is said to have been the very deviser of all rules of chase, did not omit the ceremony:
The raven might also challenge his rights by the Book of St. Albans; for thus says Dame Juliana Berners:
The bely to the side, from the corbyn bone;
That is corbyn's fee, at the death he will be."
Jonson, in "The Sad Shepherd," gives a more poetical account of the same ceremony.
"Marian. He that undoes him,
Doth cleave the brisket bone, upon the spoon
Marian. Now o er head sat a raven
On a sere bough, a grown, great bird, and hoarse,
'Tis hard for such to view, unfurl'd,
Not spoke in word, nor blazed in scroll,
WHICH SPILLS THE FOREMOST FOEMAN'S LIFE,'
THAT PARTY CONQUERS IN THE STRIFE.
"Thanks, Brian, for thy zeal and care!
Self-offer'd to the auspicious blow:
[MS. "Which foremost spills a foeman's life."]
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.
[MS." The clansman vainly deem'd his guide."]