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instances of brutality in the Lowlands at no very distant
“ 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 obo tain. 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.
Upon Sir Rodric Mor Macleod, by Niall Mor Mac-Vuirick.
“ The six nights I remained in the Dunvegan, it was not a show of hospitality I met with there, but a plentiful feast in thy fair hall among thy numerous host of heroes.
“ The family placed all around under the protection of their great chief, raised by his prosperity and respect for his warlike feats, now enjoying the company of his friends at the feast, Amidst the sound of harps, overflowing cups, and happy youth unaccustomed to guile, or feud, partaking of the generous fare by a flaming fire.
Mighty Chief, liberal to all in your princely mansion, filled with your numerous warlike host, whose generous wine would overcome the hardiest heroes, yet we continued to enjoy the feast, so happy our host, so generous our fare."--Translated by D. Mac-Intosh.
It would be unpardonable in a modern bard, who has expes rienced the hospitality of Dunvegan Castle in the present day, to omit paying his own tribute of gratitude for a reception more elegant indeed, but not less kindly sincere, than Sir Roderick More himself could have afforded. But Johnson has already described a similar scene in the same ancient patriarchal residence of the Lords of Mac-Leod.
“ Whatever is imaged in the wildest tales, if giants, dragons, and enchantment be excepted, would be felt by him, who, wandering in the mountains without a guide, or upon the sea
without a pilot, should be carried amidst his terror and uncer. tainty, to the hospitality and elegance of Raasay or Dunvegan."
With solemn step, and silver wand,
-St. VI. p. 48:
“ Every family had commonly two stewards, which, in their language, were called Marischall Tach: the first of these served always at home, and was obliged to be versed in the pedigree of all the tribes in the isles, and in the highlands of Scotland; for it was his province to assign every man at table his seat according to his quality; and this was done without ope word speaking, only by drawing a score with a white rod, which this Marischall had in his hand, before the person who was bid by him to sit down : and this was necessary to prevent disorder and contention; and though the Marischall might sometimes be mistaken, the master of the family incurred no censure by such an escape ; but this custom has been laid aside of late. They had also cup-bearers, who always filled and carried the cup round the company, and he himself always drank off the first draught. They had likewise purse-masters, who kept their money. Both these officers had an hereditary right to their office in writing, and each of them had a town and
land for his service : some of those rights I have seen fairly written on good parchment.”—MARTIN's Western Isles.
With Carrick's out-law'd Chief ?-St. IX. p. 51. It must be remembered by all who have read the Scottish history, that after he had slain Comyn at Dumfries, and asserted his right to the Scottish crown, Robert Bruce was reduced to the greatest extremity by the English and their adherents. He was crowned at Scone by the general consent of the Scottish barons, but his authority endured but a short time. According to the phrase said to have been used by his wife, he was for that year a summer king, but not a winter one." On the 29th March, 1306, he was crowned king at Scone. Upon the 19th June, in the same year, he was totally defeated at Methven, near Perth; and his most important adherents, with few exceptions, were either executed or compelled to embrace the English interest, for safety of their lives and fortunes. After this disaster, his life was that of an outlaw, rather than a candidate for monarchy. He separated himself from the females of his retinue, whom he sent for safety to the castle of Kildrummie, in Aberdeenshire, where they afterward became captives to England. From Aberdeenshire Bruce retreated to the mountainous parts of Breadalbane, and approached the borders of Argyleshire. There, as mentioned in