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was utterly lost they forced the king from the field. De Ar. gentine saw the king safe from immediate danger, and then took his leave of him ; “God be with you, sir,” he said, “ it is not my wont to fly.” So saying, he turned his horse, cried his war-cry, plunged into the midst of the combatants, and was slain. Baston, a rhyming monk who had been brought by Ed. ward to celebrate his expected triumph, and who was compelled by the victors to compose a poem on his defeat, mentions with some feeling the death of Sir Giles de Argentine:
“ Nobilis Argenten, pugil inclyte, dulcis Egidi,
“ The first line mentions the three chief requisites of a true knight, noble birth, valour, and courteousness. Few Leonine couplets can be produced that have so much sentiment. I wish that I could have collected more ample memorials concerning a character altogether different from modern manners. Sir Giles d'Argentine was a hero of romance in real life.” So observes the excellent Lord Hailes.
“ Erst own'd by royal Somerled.”-P. 50. A Hebridean drinking cup, of the most ancient and curious workmanship, has been long preserved in the castle of Dunvegan, in Skye, the romantic seat of Mac-Léod of Mac-Leod, the chief of that ancient and powerful clan. The horn of Rorie This very
More, preserved in the same family, and recorded by Dr Johnson, is not to be compared with this piece of antiquity, which is one of the greatest curiosities in Scotland. The following is a pretty accurate description of its shape and dimensions, but cannot, I fear, be perfectly understood without a drawing.
curious piece of antiquity is nine inches and three quarters in inside depth, and ten and a half in height on the outside, the extreme measure over the lips being four inches. and a half. The cup is divided into two parts by a wrought ledge, beautifully ornamented, about three-fourths of an inch in breadth. Beneath this ledge the shape of the cup is rounded off, and terminates in a flat 'circle, like that of a tea-cup; four short feet support the whole. Above the projecting ledge the shape of the cup is nearly square, projecting outward at the brim. The cup is made of wood, (oak to all appearance,) but most curiously wrought and embossed with silver work, which projects from the vessel. There are a number of regular projecting sockets, which appear to have been set with stones ; two or three of them still hold pieces of coral, the rest are empty. At the four corners of the projecting ledge or cor. nice, are four sockets, much larger, probably for pebbles or precious stones. The workmanship of the silver is extremely elegant, and appears to have been highly gilded. The ledge, brim, and legs of the cup, are of silver. The family tradition bears that it was the property of Neil Ghlune-dhu, or Black, knee. But who this Neil was, no one pretends to say. Around the edge of the cup is a legend, perfectly legible, in the Saxon black-letter, which seems to run thus :
AfD: 3DHES: 9936h : 11 DOR: PNP3S DE: hiR : ganAE: ach: | Lahja: PORY NEJL: || ET: SPAT:DDD: Jhu:DA:||TLDA:JLLORO:TP:|| FECJI : ARD : DJ : Jk : || 930 DNJLJ: DIRJ: ||
The inscription may run thus at length: Ufo Johanis Mich Magni Principis de Hr Manae Vich Liahia Magryneil et sperat Domino Ihesu dari clementiam illorum opera. Facit Anno Domini 993 Onili Oimi. Which may run in English: Ufo, the son of John, the son of Magnus, Prince of Man, the grandson of Liahia Macgryneil, trusts in the Lord Jesus that their works (i. e. his own and those of his ancestors) will obtain mercy. Oneil Oimi made this in the year of God nine hundred and ninety-three.
But this version does not include the puzzling letters HR bea fore the word Manae. Within the mouth of the cup the letters Jbs, (Jesus) are repeated four times. From this and other circumstances it would seem to have been a chalice. This cir. cumstance may perhaps account for the use of the two Arabic numerals 93. These figures were introduced by Pope Sylves. ter, A. D. 991, and might be used in a vessel formed for church service so early as 993. The workmanship of the whole cup is extremely elegant, and resembles, I am told, antiques of the same nature preserved in Ireland.
The cups thus elegantly formed, and highly valued, were by no means utensils of mere show. Martin gives the following account of the festivals of his time, and I have heard similar
instances of brutality in the Lowlands at no very distant period.
“ The manner of drinking used by the chief men of the Isles is called in their language Streah, i. e. a Round; for the company sat in a circle, the cup-bearer fill’d the drink round to them, and all was drank out, whatever the liquor was, whether strong or weak; they continued drinking sometimes twentyfour, sometimes forty-eight hours : It was reckoned a piece of manhood to drink until they became drunk, and there were two men with a barrow attending punctually on such occasions. They stood at the door until some became drunk, and they carry'd them upon the barrow to bed, and returned again to their post as long as any continued fresh, and so carried off the whole company, one by one, as they became drunk. Several of my acquaintance have been witnesses to this custom of drinking, but it is now abolished.”.
This savage custom was not entirely done away within this last generation. I have heard of a gentleman who happened to be a water-drinker, and was permitted to abstain from the strong potations of the company. The bearers carried away one man after another, till no one was left but this Scottish Mirglip. They then came to do him the same good office, which, however, he declined as unnecessary, and proposed to walk to his bed-room. It was a permission he could not obtain. Never such a thing had happened, they said, in the castle ! that it was impossible but he must require their assistance, at any rate he must submit to receive it ; and carried him off in the barrow accordingly. A classical penalty was some
times imposed on those who baulked the rules of good fellowship by evading their share of the banquet. The same author continues :
“ Among persons of distinction it was reckoned an affront put upon any company to broach a piece of wine, ale, or aquavitæ, and not to see it all drank out at one meeting. If any man chance to go out from the company, though but for a few minutes, he is obliged, upon his return, and before he take his seat, to make an apology for his absence in rhyme ; which if he cannot perform, he is liable to such a share of the reckoning as the company thinks fit to impose : which custom obtains in many places still, and is called Bianchiz Bard, which, in their language, signifies the poet's congratulating the company.”
Few cups were better, at least more actively, employed in the rude hospitality of the period, than those of Dunvegan; one of which we have just described. There is in the Leabhar Dearg, a song, intimating the overflowing gratitude of a bard of Clan-Ronald, after the exuberance of a Hebridean festival at the patriarchal fortress of Mac-Leod. The translation being obviously very literal, has greatly flattened, as I am informed, the enthusiastic gratitude of the ancient bard ; and it must be owned that the works of Homer or Virgil, to say nothing of Mac-Vuirich, might have suffered by their transfusion through such a medium. It is pretty plain, that when the tribute of poetical praise was bestowed, the horn of Rorie More had not been inactive.