ページの画像
PDF

Madmen, forbear your frantic jar !
What! is the Douglas fall'n so far,
His daughter's hand is doom'd the spoil
Of such dishonourable broil | *
Sullen and slowly, they unclasp."
As struck with shame, their desperate grasp,
And each upon his rival glared,
With foot advanced, and blade half bared.

XXXV. Ere yet the brands aloft were flung, Margaret on Roderick's mantle hung, And Malcolm heard his Ellen's scream, As falter'd through terrific dream. Then Roderick plunged in sheath his sword, And veil'd his wrath in scornful word. “Rest safe till morning; pity 'twere Such cheek should feel the midnight air | *

I [MS.—“Sullen and slow the rivals bold Loos'd at his hest their desperate hold, But either still on other glard,” &c.] 2 Hardihood was in every respect so essential to the character of a Highlander, that the reproach of effeminacy was the most bitter which could be thrown upon him. Yet it was sometimes hazarded on what we might presume to think slight grounds. It is reported of old Sir Ewen Cameron, of Lochiel, when upwards of seventy, that he was surprised by night on a hunting or military expedition. He wrapped him in his plaid, and lay contentedly down upon the snow, with which the ground happened to be covered. Among his attendants, who were preparing to take their rest in the same manner, he observed that one of his grandsons, for his better accommodation, had rolled a large snow-ball and placed it

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Then mayest thou to James Stewart tell,
Roderick will keep the lake and fell,

below his head. The wrath of the ancient chief was awak. ened by a symptom of what he conceived to be degenerate luxury. “Out upon thee,” said he, kicking the frozen bolster from the head which it supported; art thou so effeminate as to need a pillow 2 * The officer of engineers, whose curious letters from the Highlands have been more than once quoted, tells a similar story of Macdonald of Keppoch, and subjoins the following remarks : “This and many other stories are romantick; but there is one thing, that at first thought might seem very romantick, of which I have been credibly assured, that when the Highlanders are constrained to lie among the hills, in cold dry windy weather, they sometimes soak the plaid in some river or burn (i. e.) brook, and then, holding up a corner of it a little above their heads, they turn themselves round and round, till they are enveloped by the whole mantle. They then lay themselves down on the heath, upon the leeward side of some hill, where the wet and the warmth of their bodies make a steam, like that of a boiling kettle. The wet, they say, keeps them warm by thickening the stuff, and keeping the wind from penetrating. I must confess I should have been apt to question this fact, had I not frequently seen them wet from morning to night, and, even at the beginning of the rain, not so much as stir a few yards to shelter, but continue in it without necessity, till they were, as we say, wet through and through. And that is soon effected by the looseness and spunginess of the plaiding; but the bonnet is frequently taken off and wrung like a dishclout, and then put on again. They have been accustomed from their infancy to be often wet, and to take the water like spaniels, and this is become a second nature, and can scarcely be called a hardship to them, insomuch that I used to say, they seemed to be of the duck kind, and to love water as well. Though I never saw this preparation for sleep in windy weather, yet, setting out early in a morning from one of the huts, I have seen the marks of their lodging, where the ground has been free from rime or snow, which remained

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

|

Nor lackey, with his freeborn clan,
The pageant pomp of earthly man.
More would he of Clan-Alpine know,
Thou canst our strength and passes show.—-
Malise, what ho!”—his henchman came ; *
“Give our safe-conduct to the Graeme.”
Young Malcolm answer'd, calm and bold,
“Fear nothing for thy favourite hold;
The spot, an angel deigned to grace,
Is bless'd, though robbers haunt the place.
Thy churlish courtesy for those
Reserve, who fear to be thy foes.
As safe to me the mountain way
At midnight as in blaze of day,

all round the spot where they had lain.”—Letters from Scot. land, Lond. 1754, 8vo., ii. p. 108.

1 “This officer is a sort of secretary, and is to be ready, upon all occasions, to venture his life in defence of his master; and at drinking-bouts he stands behind his seat, at his haunch, from whence his title is derived, and watches the conversation, to see if any one offends his patron. An English officer being in company with a certain. chieftain, and several other Highland gentlemen, near Kilichumen, had an argument with the great man: and both being well warmed with usky,1 at last the dispute grew very hot. A youth who was henchman, not understanding one word of English, imagined his chief was insulted, and thereupon drew his pistol from his side, and snapped it at the officer's head; but the pistol missed fire, otherwise it is more than probable he might have suffered death from the hand of that little vermin. But it is very disagreeable to an Englishman over a bottle, with the Highlanders, to see every one of them have his gilly, that is, his servant standing behind him, all the while, let what will be the subject of conversation.”—Letters from Scotland, ii. 159.

[l Whisky.]

[graphic]
[graphic]

Though with his boldest at his back
Fven Roderick Dhu beset the track.-
Brave Douglas, lovely Ellen, nay,
Nought here of parting will I say.
Earth does not hold a lonesome glen,
So secret, but we meet agen.—
Chieftain we too shall find an hour.”—
He said, and left the sylvan bower.

XXXVI. Old Allan follow'd to the strand, (Such was the Douglas's command,) And anxious told, how, on the morn, The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn, The Fiery Cross should circle o'er Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor Much were the peril to the Graeme, From those who to the signal came ; Far up the lake 'twere safest land, Himself would row him to the strand. He gave his counsel to the wind, While Malcolm did, unheeding, bind, Round dirk and pouch and broadsword roll'd, His ample plaid in tighten’d fold, And stripp'd his limbs to such array, As best might suit the watery way,+

XXXVII.
Then spoke abrupt: “Farewell to thee,
Pattern of old fidelity 1"

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

The Minstrel's hand he kindly press'd, “O ! could I point a place of rest My sovereign holds in ward my land, - My uncle leads my vassal band; To tame his foes, his friends to aid, Poor Malcolm has but heart and blade. Yet, if there be one faithful Graeme, Who loves the Chieftain of his name, Not long shall honoured Douglas dwell, Like hunted stag in mountain cell; Nor, ere yond pride-swoll'n robber dare, I may not give the rest to air Tell Roderick Dhu, I owed him nought, Not the poor service of a boat, To waft me to yon mountain side.” Then plunged he in the flashing tide." Bold o'er the flood his head he bore, And stoutly steer'd him from the shore; And Allan strain’d his anxious eye, Far 'mid the lake his form to spy. Darkening across each puny wave, To which the moon her silver gave, Fast as the cormorant could skim, The swimmer plied each active limb; Then landing in the moonlight dell, Loud shouted of his weal to tell. The Minstrel heard the far halloo, And joyful from the shore withdrew.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
« 前へ次へ »