ページの画像
PDF
ePub

kindness of consanguinity, and the ob. ligations of patriarchal authority, could command, were absorbed in their idol, their chief, in Oil Roi Dunmorven: and the extensive obligation operated with a force scarcely credibie; for Dunmorven and the chieftain Mactorloisk, drawing their dirks from their belts, and thrusting them in the smooth lawn before the castle, all the vassals present, knowing well that it was by Dunmorven's nod they knew who were friends and who were enemies, what kings they should obey, and what religion they should profess, sheathed to the hilt their dirks in their mother earth ; and the example of Dunmorven, with his claymore, caused the hall of his castle to glitter with the massive heads of their broad swords.

This precaution was, perhaps, not necessary; but there had been bickerings among some of the subdivisions

of his clan, and Dunmorven, who studied the human heart, gave them an example which none would offer to oppose. When they got into the hall of the castle, the head of the table was occupied by the chief himself, on his right and left were his wife and daughters, and Thegn Mactorloisk and St. Clyde.

But Dunmorven, in the true spirit of the times, welcomed his chieftain Mactorloisk with a rummer of claret and another of sherry-sack. The chieftain's vassals were severally presented with a large queigh full of ale, or a horn of whiskey.

The chief, his family, and visitors, being seated at the head of the table, the elders of the clan, the wadsetters and the taxmen set themselves next in rank; the sons and nephews and the foster brothers were next in order; beneath them were the officers of Dun

morven's household, and next to them those of Mactorloisk's household, and last of all sat the vassals. The dishes of the long oakén táble were ranged according to the quality of the guests; and thus was preserved due respect to economy, in the carving of the venison, the game, the fowls, and the fish. But those who were, regaled on the lawn relished well the broth, the beef, the fragments of the fish and the game, and every one feasted on the broken venison.

The claret, the l'eau-de-vie, and the good old Jamaica, were excellent; and the guests in the hall did ample honour to the well-filled goblets as they circled round. On the lawn, the whiskey was plied about in horns that had measured the potency of their owners on Sky and on Isla, in Jura and Colonsa, at Icolumkill and at Barra. Dunmoryen could not let this op

F 5

[ocr errors]

portunity slip of declaring before St. Clyde, how high the love of a Highdand chief might rise in the breast of a vassal, and related accordingly the following anecdote: .;;" At the battle of Glenshiel, in the year 19, when the Highlanders at Strachell destroyed the king's forces by rolling down stones upon them from the 'lveights, Monro of Culcraine was dangerously wounded in the thigh, and when he was down, the fire from a party posted on the declivity of a mountain, might have made holes in his body. Finding they were resolved to dispatch him, he bid his servant, who was by, get out of the danger, for he might lose his life, but could be of no service to him ; but the Highdander burst into tears, and asking

how he thought he could leave him in that condition ?' set himself down on his hands and knees over his master, and received several wounds to shjeld him from further danger; till one of the clan, who acted as a sergeant, after having taken an oath upon his dirk, that he would do it,' with a small party dislodged the enemy: and this brave man Monroof Culcraine has now to wait at his table, but otherwise he treats him more as a friend than as a servant."

Dunmorven was not a declaimer: his oratory lay chiefly in anecdotes, tales of other times, the politics of the years fifteen and forty-five; and parental laconic lectures he sometimes read the refractory, the lazy, and the busy-bodies of his clan. He now called aloud for “ the tongue of joy, and the breath that healed the widowed heart."

The bairdh was not now dignified with a harp, the instrument had long been disused; and the piper was the

« 前へ次へ »