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To whom, though more than kindred knew,
* [MS.—“To whom, though more remote her claim, Young Ellen gave a mother's name.”]
2 The Highlanders, who carried hospitality to a punctilious excess, are said to have considered it as churlish, to ask a stranger his name or lineage, before he had taken refreshment. Feuds were so frequent among them, that a contrary rule would in many cases have produced the discovery of some circumstance, which might have excluded the guest from the benefit of the assistance he stood in need of.
XXX. Fain would the Knight in turn require The name and state of Ellen's sire; Well show'd the elder lady's mien," That courts and cities she had seen ; Ellen, though more her looks display’d The simple grace of sylvan maid, In speech and gesture, form and face, Show'd she was come of gentle race. 'Twere strange in ruder rank to find Such looks, such manners, and such mind. Each hint the Knight of Snowdoun gave, Dame Margaret heard with silence grave; Or Ellen, innocently gay, Turn’d all inquiry light away — “Weird women wel by dale and down We dwell, afar from tower and town. We stem the flood, we ride the blast, On wandering knights our spells we cast; * "While viewless minstrels touch the string, ‘Tis thus our charmed rhymes we sing.”
She sung, and still a harp unseen
1 “They’’ (meaning the Highlanders) “delight much in music, but chiefly in harps and clairschoes of their own fashion. The strings of the clairschoes are made of brass wire, and the strings of the harps of sinews; which strings they strike either with their mayles, growing long, or else with an instrument appointed for that use. They take great pleasure to decke their harps and clairschoes with silver and precious stones; the poor ones that cannot attayne hereunto, decke them with christall. They sing verses prettily compound, contayning (for the most part) prayses of valiant men. There is not almost any other argument, whereof their rhymes intreat. They speak the ancient French language altered a little.” 1–" The harp and clairschoes are now only heard of in the Highlands in ancient song. At what period these instruments ceased to be used, is not on record; and tradition is silent on this head. But, as Irish harpers occasionally visited the Highlands and Western Isles till lately, the harp might have been extant so late as the middle of the present century. Thus far we know, that from remote times down to the present, harpers were received as welcome guests, particularly in the Highlands of Scotland; and so late as the latter end of the sixteenth century, as appears by . the above quotation, the harp was in common use among the natives of the Western Isles. How it happened that the noisy and unharmonious bagpipe banished the soft and expressive harp, we cannot say; but certain it is, that the bagpipe is now the only instrument that obtains universally in the Highland districts.”—CAMPBELL's Journey through North Britain. Lond. 1808, 4to, I. 175. Mr. Gunn, of Edinburgh, has lately published a curious
Essay upon the Harp and Harp Music of the Highlands of
1 Wide “Certayne Matters concerning the Realms of Scotland, &c. as they were Anno Domini 1597. Lond, 1608.” 4to.
“No rude sound shall reach thine ear,”
Trump nor pibroch summon here
Yet the lark's shrill fife may come
Scotland. That the instrument was once in common use there, is most certain. Cleland numbers an acquaintance with it among the few accomplishments which his satire allows to the Highlanders:—
“In nothing they're accounted sharp,
* [MS.—“Noon of hunger, night of waking. No rude sound shall rouse thine ear.”]