A LEGEND OF MONTROSE
Sir Walter Scott
I. Introduction to A LEGEND OF MONTROSE.
II. Introduction (Supplement). Sergeant More M'Alpin.
III. Main text of A LEGEND OF MONTROSE.
IV. Appendix No. I Clan Alpin's Vow.
No. II The Children of the Mist.
V. Notes Note I Fides et Fiducia sunt relativa.
Note II Wraiths.
Note: Footnotes in the printed book have been inserted in the
etext in square brackets ("") close to the place where
they were referenced by a suffix in the original text.
I. INTRODUCTION TO A LEGEND OF MONTROSE.
The Legend of Montrose was written chiefly with a view to place before
the reader the melancholy fate of John Lord Kilpont, eldest son of
William Earl of Airth and Menteith, and the singular circumstances
attending the birth and history of James Stewart of Ardvoirlich, by
whose hand the unfortunate nobleman fell.
Our subject leads us to talk of deadly feuds, and we must begin with
one still more ancient than that to which our story relates. During
the reign of James IV., a great feud between the powerful families
of Drummond and Murray divided Perthshire. The former, being the most
numerous and powerful, cooped up eight score of the Murrays in the kirk
of Monivaird, and set fire to it. The wives and the children of the
ill-fated men, who had also found shelter in the church, perished by the
same conflagration. One man, named David Murray, escaped by the humanity
of one of the Drummonds, who received him in his arms as he leaped from
amongst the flames. As King James IV. ruled with more activity than most
of his predecessors, this cruel deed was severely revenged, and several
of the perpetrators were beheaded at Stirling. In consequence of the
prosecution against his clan, the Drummond by whose assistance David
Murray had escaped, fled to Ireland, until, by means of the person whose
life he had saved, he was permitted to return to Scotland, where he and
his descendants were distinguished by the name of Drummond-Eirinich, or
Ernoch, that is, Drummond of Ireland; and the same title was bestowed on
The Drummond-ernoch of James the Sixth's time was a king's forester in
the forest of Glenartney, and chanced to be employed there in search of
venison about the year 1588, or early in 1589. This forest was adjacent
to the chief haunts of the MacGregors, or a particular race of them,
known by the title of MacEagh, or Children of the Mist. They considered
the forester's hunting in their vicinity as an aggression, or perhaps
they had him at feud, for the apprehension or slaughter of some of their
own name, or for some similar reason. This tribe of MacGregors were
outlawed and persecuted, as the reader may see in the Introduction to
ROB ROY; and every man's hand being against them, their hand was of
course directed against every man. In short, they surprised and slew
Drummond-ernoch, cut off his head, and carried it with them, wrapt in
the corner of one of their plaids.
In the full exultation of vengeance, they stopped at the house of
Ardvoirlich and demanded refreshment, which the lady, a sister of the
murdered Drummond-ernoch (her husband being absent), was afraid or
unwilling to refuse. She caused bread and cheese to be placed before
them, and gave directions for more substantial refreshments to be
prepared. While she was absent with this hospitable intention, the
barbarians placed the head of her brother on the table, filling the
mouth with bread and cheese, and bidding him eat, for many a merry meal
he had eaten in that house.
The poor woman returning, and beholding this dreadful sight, shrieked
aloud, and fled into the woods, where, as described in the romance,
she roamed a raving maniac, and for some time secreted herself from all
living society. Some remaining instinctive feeling brought her at length
to steal a glance from a distance at the maidens while they milked the
cows, which being observed, her husband, Ardvoirlich, had her conveyed
back to her home, and detained her there till she gave birth to a child,
of whom she had been pregnant; after which she was observed gradually to
recover her mental faculties.
Meanwhile the outlaws had carried to the utmost their insults against
the regal authority, which indeed, as exercised, they had little reason
for respecting. They bore the same bloody trophy, which they had so
savagely exhibited to the lady of Ardvoirlich, into the old church of
Balquidder, nearly in the centre of their country, where the Laird of
MacGregor and all his clan being convened for the purpose, laid their
hands successively on the dead man's head, and swore, in heathenish
and barbarous manner, to defend the author of the deed. This fierce and
vindictive combination gave the author's late and lamented friend,
Sir Alexander Boswell, Bart., subject for a spirited poem, entitled
"Clan-Alpin's Vow," which was printed, but not, I believe, published, in
1811 [See Appendix No. I].
The fact is ascertained by a proclamation from the Privy Council, dated
4th February, 1589, directing letters of fire and sword against the
MacGregors [See Appendix No. II]. This fearful commission was executed
with uncommon fury. The late excellent John Buchanan of Cambusmore
showed the author some correspondence between his ancestor, the Laird of
Buchanan, and Lord Drummond, about sweeping certain valleys with their
followers, on a fixed time and rendezvous, and "taking sweet revenge for
the death of their cousin, Drummond-ernoch." In spite of all, however,
that could be done, the devoted tribe of MacGregor still bred up
survivors to sustain and to inflict new cruelties and injuries.
[I embrace the opportunity given me by a second mention of this tribe,
to notice an error, which imputes to an individual named Ciar Mohr
MacGregor, the slaughter of the students at the battle of Glenfruin.
I am informed from the authority of John Gregorson, Esq., that the
chieftain so named was dead nearly a century before the battle
in question, and could not, therefore, have done the cruel action
mentioned. The mistake does not rest with me, as I disclaimed being
responsible for the tradition while I quoted it, but with vulgar fame,
which is always disposed to ascribe remarkable actions to a remarkable
name.--See the erroneous passage, ROB ROY, Introduction; and so soft
sleep the offended phantom of Dugald Ciar Mohr.
It is with mingled pleasure and shame that I record the more important
error, of having announced as deceased my learned acquaintance, the Rev.
Dr. Grahame, minister of Aberfoil.--See ROB ROY, p.360. I cannot now
recollect the precise ground of my depriving my learned and excellent
friend of his existence, unless, like Mr. Kirke, his predecessor in the
parish, the excellent Doctor had made a short trip to Fairyland, with
whose wonders he is so well acquainted. But however I may have been
misled, my regret is most sincere for having spread such a rumour; and
no one can be more gratified than I that the report, however I have been
induced to credit and give it currency, is a false one, and that Dr.
Grahame is still the living pastor of Aberfoil, for the delight and
instruction of his brother antiquaries.]
Meanwhile Young James Stewart of Ardvoirlich grew up to manhood
uncommonly tall, strong, and active, with such power in the grasp of his
hand in particular, as could force the blood from beneath the nails of
the persons who contended with him in this feat of strength. His temper
was moody, fierce, and irascible; yet he must have had some ostensible
good qualities, as he was greatly beloved by Lord Kilpont, the eldest
son of the Earl of Airth and Menteith.
This gallant young nobleman joined Montrose in the setting up his
standard in 1644, just before the decisive battle at Tippermuir, on the
1st September in that year. At that time, Stewart of Ardvoirlich shared
the confidence of the young Lord by day, and his bed by night, when,
about four or five days after the battle, Ardvoirlich, either from a fit
of sudden fury or deep malice long entertained against his unsuspecting
friend, stabbed Lord Kilpont to the heart, and escaped from the camp of
Montrose, having killed a sentinel who attempted to detain him. Bishop
Guthrie gives us a reason for this villainous action, that Lord Kilpont
had rejected with abhorrence a proposal of Ardvoirlich to assassinate
Montrose. But it does not appear that there is any authority for this
charge, which rests on mere suspicion. Ardvoirlich, the assassin,
certainly did fly to the Covenanters, and was employed and promoted by
them. He obtained a pardon for the slaughter of Lord Kilpont, confirmed
by Parliament in 1634, and was made Major of Argyle's regiment in 1648.
Such are the facts of the tale here given as a Legend of Montrose's
wars. The reader will find they are considerably altered in the
The author has endeavoured to enliven the tragedy of the tale by the
introduction of a personage proper to the time and country. In this
he has been held by excellent judges to have been in some degree
successful. The contempt of commerce entertained by young men having
some pretence to gentility, the poverty of the country of Scotland, the
national disposition to wandering and to adventure, all conduced to lead
the Scots abroad into the military service of countries which were at
war with each other. They were distinguished on the Continent by
their bravery; but in adopting the trade of mercenary soldiers, they
necessarily injured their national character. The tincture of learning,
which most of them possessed, degenerated into pedantry; their good
breeding became mere ceremonial; their fear of dishonour no longer kept
them aloof from that which was really unworthy, but was made to depend
on certain punctilious observances totally apart from that which was
in itself deserving of praise. A cavalier of honour, in search of his
fortune, might, for example, change his service as he would his shirt,
fight, like the doughty Captain Dalgetty, in one cause after another,
without regard to the justice of the quarrel, and might plunder the
peasantry subjected to him by the fate of war with the most unrelenting
rapacity; but he must beware how he sustained the slightest reproach,
even from a clergyman, if it had regard to neglect on the score of duty.
The following occurrence will prove the truth of what I mean:--
"Here I must not forget the memory of one preacher, Master William
Forbesse, a preacher for souldiers, yea, and a captaine in neede
to leade souldiers on a good occasion, being full of courage, with
discretion and good conduct, beyond some captaines I have knowne, that
were not so capable as he. At this time he not onely prayed for us, but
went on with us, to remarke, as I thinke, men's carriage; and having
found a sergeant neglecting his dutie and his honour at such a time
(whose name I will not expresse), having chidden him, did promise to
reveale him unto me, as he did after their service. The sergeant being
called before me, and accused, did deny his accusation, alleaging, if he
were no pasteur that had alleaged it, he would not lie under the injury,
The preacher offered to fight with him, [in proof] that it was truth
he had spoken of him; whereupon I cashiered the sergeant, and gave his
place to a worthier, called Mungo Gray, a gentleman of good worth,
and of much courage. The sergeant being cashiered, never called Master
William to account, for which he was evill thought of; so that he
retired home, and quit the warres."
The above quotation is taken from a work which the author repeatedly
consulted while composing the following sheets, and which is in great
measure written in the humour of Captain Dugald Dalgetty. It bears the
following formidable title:--"MONRO his Expedition with the worthy
Scots Regiment, called MacKeye's Regiment, levied in August 1626, by Sir
Donald MacKeye Lord Rees Colonel, for his Majestie's service of Denmark,
and reduced after the battle of Nerling, in September 1634, at Wormes,
in the Palz: Discharged in several duties and observations of service,
first, under the magnanimous King of Denmark, during his wars against
the Empire; afterwards under the invincible King of Sweden, during
his Majestie's lifetime; and since under the Director-General, the
Rex-Chancellor Oxensterne, and his Generals: collected and gathered
together, at spare hours, by Colonel Robert Monro, as First Lieutenant
under the said Regiment, to the noble and worthy Captain Thomas
MacKenzie of Kildon, brother to the noble Lord, the Lord Earl of
Seaforth, for the use of all noble Cavaliers favouring the laudable
profession of arms. To which is annexed, the Abridgement of Exercise,
and divers Practical Observations for the Younger Officer, his
consideration. Ending with the Soldier's Meditations on going on
Another worthy of the same school, and nearly the same views of the
military character, is Sir James Turner, a soldier of fortune, who
rose to considerable rank in the reign of Charles II., had a command in
Galloway and Dumfries-shire, for the suppression of conventicles, and
was made prisoner by the insurgent Covenanters in that rising which
was followed by the battle of Pentland. Sir James is a person even
of superior pretensions to Lieutenant-Colonel Monro, having written
a Military Treatise on the Pike-Exercise, called "Pallas Armata."
Moreover, he was educated at Glasgow College, though he escaped to
become an Ensign in the German wars, instead of taking his degree of
Master of Arts at that learned seminary.
In latter times, he was author of several discourses on historical and
literary subjects, from which the Bannatyne Club have extracted and
printed such passages as concern his Life and Times, under the title
of SIR JAMES TURNER'S MEMOIRS. From this curious book I extract the
following passage, as an example of how Captain Dalgetty might have
recorded such an incident had he kept a journal, or, to give it a more
just character, it is such as the genius of De Foe would have devised,
to give the minute and distinguishing features of truth to a fictitious
"Heere I will set doun ane accident befell me; for thogh it was not
a very strange one, yet it was a very od one in all its parts. My tuo
brigads lay in a village within halfe a mile of Applebie; my own quarter
was in a gentleman's house, ho was a Ritmaster, and at that time with
Sir Marmaduke; his wife keepd her chamber readie to be brought to bed.
The castle being over, and Lambert farre enough, I resolved to goe to
bed everie night, haveing had fatigue enough before. 'The first night
I sleepd well enough; and riseing nixt morning, I misd one linnen
stockine, one halfe silke one, and one boothose, the accoustrement under
a boote for one leg; neither could they be found for any search. Being
provided of more of the same kind, I made myselfe reddie, and rode to
the head-quarters. At my returne, I could heare no news of my stockins.
That night I went to bed, and nixt morning found myselfe just so used;
missing the three stockins for one leg onlie, the other three being left
intire as they were the day before. A narrower search then the first
was made, bot without successe. I had yet in reserve one paire of whole
stockings, and a paire of boothose, greater then the former. These I put
on my legs. The third morning I found the same usage, the stockins for
one leg onlie left me. It was time for me then, and my servants too, to
imagine it must be rats that had shard my stockins so inequallie with
me; and this the mistress of the house knew well enough, but would not
tell it me. The roome, which was a low parlour, being well searched with
candles, the top of my great boothose was found at a hole, in which
they had drawne all the rest. I went abroad and ordered the boards to be
raised, to see how the rats had disposed of my moveables. The mistress
sent a servant of her oune to be present at this action, which she knew
concerned her. One board being bot a litle opend, a litle boy of mine
thrust in his hand, and fetchd with him foure and tuentie old peeces of
gold, and one angell. The servant of the house affirmed it appertained
to his mistres. The boy bringing the gold to me, I went immediatlie to
the gentlewomans chamber, and told her, it was probable Lambert haveing
quarterd in that house, as indeed he had, some of his servants might
have hid that gold; and if so, it was lawfullie mine; bot if she could
make it appeare it belongd to her, I should immediatlie give it her. The
poore gentlewoman told me with many teares, that her husband being none
of the frugallest men (and indeed he was a spendthrift), she had hid
that gold without his, knowledge, to make use of it as she had occasion,
especiallie when she lay in; and conjured me, as I lovd the King (for
whom her husband and she had suffered much), not to detaine her gold.
She said, if there was either more or lesse then foure and tuentie whole
peeces, and two halfe ones, it sould be none of hers; and that they were
put by her in a red velvet purse. After I had given her assureance of
her gold, a new search is made, the other angell is found, the velvet
purse all gnawd in bits, as my stockins were, and the gold instantlie
restord to the gentlewoman. I have often heard that the eating or
gnawing of cloths by rats is ominous, and portends some mischance
to fall on those to whom the cloths belong. I thank God I was never
addicted to such divinations, or heeded them. It is true, that more
misfortunes then one fell on me shortlie after; bot I am sure I could
have better forseene them myselfe then rats or any such vermine, and yet
did it not. I have heard indeed many fine stories told of rats, how they
abandon houses and ships, when the first are to be burnt and the second
dround. Naturalists say they are very sagacious creatures, and I beleeve
they are so; bot I shall never be of the opinion they can forsee future
contingencies, which I suppose the divell himselfe can neither forknow
nor fortell; these being things which the Almightie hath keepd hidden
in the bosome of his divine prescience. And whither the great God hath
preordained or predestinated these things, which to us are contingent,
to fall out by ane uncontrollable and unavoidable necessitie, is a
question not yet decided." [SIR JAMES TURNER'S MEMOIRS, Bannatyne
edition, p. 59.]
In quoting these ancient authorities, I must not forget the more modern
sketch of a Scottish soldier of the old fashion, by a masterhand, in
the character of Lesmahagow, since the existence of that doughty
Captain alone must deprive the present author of all claim to absolute
originality. Still Dalgetty, as the production of his own fancy, has
been so far a favourite with its parent, that he has fallen into the
error of assigning to the Captain too prominent a part in the story.
This is the opinion of a critic who encamps on the highest pinnacles of
literature; and the author is so far fortunate in having incurred his
censure, that it gives his modesty a decent apology for quoting the
praise, which it would have ill-befited him to bring forward in an
unmingled state. The passage occurs in the EDINBURGH REVIEW, No. 55,
containing a criticism on IVANHOE:--
"There is too much, perhaps, of Dalgetty,--or, rather, he engrosses
too great a proportion of the work,--for, in himself, we think he is
uniformly entertaining;--and the author has nowhere shown more affinity
to that matchless spirit who could bring out his Falstaffs and his
Pistols, in act after act, and play after play, and exercise them every
time with scenes of unbounded loquacity, without either exhausting their
humour, or varying a note from its characteristic tone, than in his
large and reiterated specimens of the eloquence of the redoubted
Ritt-master. The general idea of the character is familiar to our comic
dramatists after the Restoration--and may be said in some measure to
be compounded of Captain Fluellen and Bobadil;--but the
ludicrous combination of the SOLDADO with the Divinity student of
Mareschal-College, is entirely original; and the mixture of talent,
selfishness, courage, coarseness, and conceit, was never so happily
exemplified. Numerous as his speeches are, there is not one that is not
characteristic--and, to our taste, divertingly ludicrous."
While these pages were passing through the press, the author received
a letter from the present Robert Stewart of Ardvoirlich, favouring him
with the account of the unhappy slaughter of Lord Kilpont, differing
from, and more probable than, that given by Bishop Wishart, whose
narrative infers either insanity or the blackest treachery on the part
of James Stewart of Ardvoirlich, the ancestor of the present family of
that name. It is but fair to give the entire communication as received
from my respected correspondent, which is more minute than the histories
of the period.
"Although I have not the honour of being personally known to you, I hope
you will excuse the liberty I now take, in addressing you on the subject
of a transaction more than once alluded to by you, in which an ancestor
of mine was unhappily concerned. I allude to the slaughter of Lord
Kilpont, son of the Earl of Airth and Monteith, in 1644, by James
Stewart of Ardvoirlich. As the cause of this unhappy event, and the
quarrel which led to it, have never been correctly stated in any history
of the period in which it took place, I am induced, in consequence of
your having, in the second series of your admirable Tales on the History
of Scotland, adopted Wishart's version of the transaction, and being
aware that your having done so will stamp it with an authenticity which
it does not merit, and with a view, as far as possible, to do justice to
the memory of my unfortunate ancestor, to send you the account of this
affair as it has been handed down in the family.
"James Stewart of Ardvoirlich, who lived in the early part of the 17th
century, and who was the unlucky cause of the slaughter of Lord Kilpont,
as before mentioned, was appointed to the command of one of several
independent companies raised in the Highlands at the commencement of
the troubles in the reign of Charles I.; another of these companies was
under the command of Lord Kilpont, and a strong intimacy, strengthened
by a distant relationship, subsisted between them. When Montrose raised
the royal standard, Ardvoirlich was one of the first to declare for him,
and is said to have been a principal means of bringing over Lord Kilpont
to the same cause; and they accordingly, along with Sir John Drummond
and their respective followers, joined Montrose, as recorded by Wishart,
at Buchanty. While they served together, so strong was their intimacy,
that they lived and slept in the same tent.
"In the meantime, Montrose had been joined by the Irish under the
command of Alexander Macdonald; these, on their march to join Montrose,
had committed some excesses on lands belonging to Ardvoirlich, which
lay in the line of their march from the west coast. Of this Ardvoirlich
complained to Montrose, who, probably wishing as much as possible to
conciliate his new allies, treated it in rather an evasive manner.
Ardvoirlich, who was a man of violent passions, having failed to receive
such satisfaction as he required, challenged Macdonald to single combat.
Before they met, however, Montrose, on the information and by advice,
as it is said, of Kilpont, laid them both under arrest. Montrose, seeing
the evils of such a feud at such a critical time, effected a sort of
reconciliation between them, and forced them to shake hands in his
presence; when, it was said, that Ardvoirlich, who was a very powerful
man, took such a hold of Macdonald's hand as to make the blood start
from his fingers. Still, it would appear, Ardvoirlich was by no means
"A few days after the battle of Tippermuir, when Montrose with his
army was encamped at Collace, an entertainment was given by him to his
officers, in honour of the victory he had obtained, and Kilpont and
his comrade Ardvoirlich were of the party. After returning to their
quarters, Ardvoirlich, who seemed still to brood over his quarrel with
Macdonald, and being heated with drink, began to blame Lord Kilpont
for the part he had taken in preventing his obtaining redress, and
reflecting against Montrose for not allowing him what he considered
proper reparation. Kilpont of course defended the conduct of himself
and his relative Montrose, till their argument came to high words; and
finally, from the state they were both in, by an easy transition, to
blows, when Ardvoirlich, with his dirk, struck Kilpont dead on the
spot. He immediately fled, and under the cover of a thick mist escaped
pursuit, leaving his eldest son Henry, who had been mortally wounded at
Tippermuir, on his deathbed.
"His followers immediately withdrew from Montrose, and no course
remained for him but to throw himself into the arms of the opposite
faction, by whom he was well received. His name is frequently mentioned
in Leslie's campaigns, and on more than one occasion he is mentioned as
having afforded protection to several of his former friends through his
interest with Leslie, when the King's cause became desperate.
"The foregoing account of this unfortunate transaction, I am well aware,
differs materially from the account given by Wishart, who alleges that
Stewart had laid a plot for the assassination of Montrose, and that he
murdered Lord Kilpont in consequence of his refusal to participate in
his design. Now, I may be allowed to remark, that besides Wishart having
always been regarded as a partial historian, and very questionable
authority on any subject connected with the motives or conduct of those
who differed from him in opinion, that even had Stewart formed such a
design, Kilpont, from his name and connexions, was likely to be the
very last man of whom Stewart would choose to make a confidant and
accomplice. On the other hand, the above account, though never, that I
am aware, before hinted at, has been a constant tradition in the family;
and, from the comparative recent date of the transaction, and the
sources from which the tradition has been derived, I have no reason to
doubt its perfect authenticity. It was most circumstantially detailed as
above, given to my father, Mr. Stewart, now of Ardvoirlich, many years
ago, by a man nearly connected with the family, who lived to the age of
100. This man was a great-grandson of James Stewart, by a natural son
John, of whom many stories are still current in this country, under his
appellation of JOHN DHU MHOR. This John was with his father at the time,
and of course was a witness of the whole transaction; he lived till
a considerable time after the Revolution, and it was from him that
my father's informant, who was a man before his grandfather, John dhu
Mhor's death, received the information as above stated.
"I have many apologies to offer for trespassing so long on your
patience; but I felt a natural desire, if possible, to correct what I
conceive to be a groundless imputation on the memory of my ancestor,
before it shall come to be considered as a matter of History. That he
was a man of violent passions and singular temper, I do not pretend to
deny, as many traditions still current in this country amply verify;
but that he was capable of forming a design to assassinate Montrose, the
whole tenor of his former conduct and principles contradict. That he was
obliged to join the opposite party, was merely a matter of safety, while
Kilpont had so many powerful friends and connexions able and ready to
avenge his death.
"I have only to add, that you have my full permission to make what use
of this communication you please, and either to reject it altogether, or
allow it such credit as you think it deserves; and I shall be ready at
all times to furnish you with any further information on this subject
which you may require, and which it may be in my power to afford.
"ARDVOIRLICH, 15TH JANUARY, 1830."
The publication of a statement so particular, and probably so correct,
is a debt due to the memory of James Stewart; the victim, it would
seem, of his own violent passions, but perhaps incapable of an act of
ABBOTSFORD, 1ST AUGUST, 1830.
II. INTRODUCTION (Supplement).
Sergeant More M'Alpin was, during his residence among us, one of the
most honoured inhabitants of Gandercleugh. No one thought of disputing
his title to the great leathern chair on the "cosiest side of the
chimney," in the common room of the Wallace Arms, on a Saturday evening.
No less would our sexton, John Duirward, have held it an unlicensed
intrusion, to suffer any one to induct himself into the corner of
the left-hand pew nearest to the pulpit, which the Sergeant regularly
occupied on Sundays. There he sat, his blue invalid uniform brushed
with the most scrupulous accuracy. Two medals of merit displayed at his
button-hole, as well as the empty sleeve which should have been occupied
by his right arm, bore evidence of his hard and honourable service.
His weatherbeaten features, his grey hair tied in a thin queue in the
military fashion of former days, and the right side of his head a little
turned up, the better to catch the sound of the clergyman's voice, were
all marks of his profession and infirmities. Beside him sat his sister
Janet, a little neat old woman, with a Highland curch and tartan plaid,
watching the very looks of her brother, to her the greatest man upon
earth, and actively looking out for him, in his silver-clasped Bible,
the texts which the minister quoted or expounded.
I believe it was the respect that was universally paid to this worthy
veteran by all ranks in Gandercleugh which induced him to choose
our village for his residence, for such was by no means his original
He had risen to the rank of sergeant-major of artillery, by hard service
in various quarters of the world, and was reckoned one of the most tried
and trusty men of the Scotch Train. A ball, which shattered his arm in
a peninsular campaign, at length procured him an honourable discharge.
with an allowance from Chelsea, and a handsome gratuity from the
patriotic fund. Moreover, Sergeant More M'Alpin had been prudent as well
as valiant; and, from prize-money and savings, had become master of a
small sum in the three per cent consols.
He retired with the purpose of enjoying this income in the wild Highland
glen, in which, when a boy, he had herded black cattle and goats, ere
the roll of the drum had made him cock his bonnet an inch higher, and
follow its music for nearly forty years. To his recollection, this
retired spot was unparalleled in beauty by the richest scenes he had
visited in his wanderings. Even the Happy Valley of Rasselas would have
sunk into nothing upon the comparison. He came--he revisited the loved
scene; it was but a sterile glen, surrounded with rude crags, and
traversed by a northern torrent. This was not the worst. The fires had
been quenched upon thirty hearths--of the cottage of his fathers
he could but distinguish a few rude stones--the language was almost
extinguished--the ancient race from which he boasted his descent
had found a refuge beyond the Atlantic. One southland farmer, three
grey-plaided shepherds, and six dogs, now tenanted the whole glen, which
in his youth had maintained, in content, if not in competence, upwards
of two hundred inhabitants.
In the house of the new tenant, Sergeant M'Alpin found, however, an
unexpected source of pleasure, and a means of employing his social
affections. His sister Janet had fortunately entertained so strong a
persuasion that her brother would one day return, that she had refused
to accompany her kinsfolk upon their emigration. Nay, she had consented,
though not without a feeling of degradation, to take service with the
intruding Lowlander, who, though a Saxon, she said, had proved a kind
man to her. This unexpected meeting with his sister seemed a cure
for all the disappointments which it had been Sergeant More's lot to
encounter, although it was not without a reluctant tear that he
heard told, as a Highland woman alone could ten it, the story of the
expatriation of his kinsmen.
She narrated at great length the vain offers they had made of advanced
rent, the payment of which must have reduced them to the extremity of
poverty, which they were yet contented to face, for permission to live
and die on their native soil. Nor did Janet forget the portents which
had announced the departure of the Celtic race, and the arrival of the
strangers. For two years previous to the emigration, when the night wind
howled dawn the pass of Balachra, its notes were distinctly modelled
to the tune of "HA TIL MI TULIDH" (we return no more), with which the
emigrants usually bid farewell to their native shores. The uncouth cries
of the Southland shepherds, and the barking of their dogs, were often
heard in the midst of the hills long before their actual arrival.
A bard, the last of his race, had commemorated the expulsion of the
natives of the glen in a tune, which brought tears into the aged eyes of
the veteran, and of which the first stanza may be thus rendered:--
Woe, woe, son of the Lowlander,
Why wilt thou leave thine own bonny Border?
Why comes thou hither, disturbing the Highlander,
Wasting the glen that was once in fair order?
What added to Sergeant More M'Alpin's distress upon the occasion was,
that the chief by whom this change had been effected, was, by tradition
and common opinion, held to represent the ancient leaders and fathers of
the expelled fugitives; and it had hitherto been one of Sergeant More's
principal subjects of pride to prove, by genealogical deduction, in what
degree of kindred he stood to this personage. A woful change was now
wrought in his sentiments towards him.
"I cannot curse him," he said, as he rose and strode through the room,
when Janet's narrative was finished--"I will not curse him; he is the
descendant and representative of my fathers. But never shall mortal man
hear me name his name again." And he kept his word; for, until his dying
day, no man heard him mention his selfish and hard-hearted chieftain.
After giving a day to sad recollections, the hardy spirit which had
carried him through so many dangers, manned the Sergeant's bosom against
this cruel disappointment. "He would go," he said, "to Canada to his
kinsfolk, where they had named a Transatlantic valley after the glen of
their fathers. Janet," he said, "should kilt her coats like a leaguer
lady; d--n the distance! it was a flea's leap to the voyages and marches
he had made on a slighter occasion."
With this purpose he left the Highlands, and came with his sister as far
as Gandercleugh, on his way to Glasgow, to take a passage to Canada.
But winter was now set in, and as he thought it advisable to wait for a
spring passage, when the St. Lawrence should be open, he settled among
us for the few months of his stay in Britain. As we said before, the
respectable old man met with deference and attention from all ranks
of society; and when spring returned, he was so satisfied with his
quarters, that he did not renew the purpose of his voyage. Janet was
afraid of the sea, and he himself felt the infirmities of age and hard
service more than he had at first expected. And, as he confessed to the
clergyman, and my worthy principal, Mr. Cleishbotham, "it was better
staying with kend friends, than going farther, and faring worse."
He therefore established himself and his domicile at Gandercleugh, to
the great satisfaction, as we have already said, of all its inhabitants,
to whom he became, in respect of military intelligence, and able
commentaries upon the newspapers, gazettes, and bulletins, a very
oracle, explanatory of all martial events, past, present, or to come.
It is true, the Sergeant had his inconsistencies. He was a steady
jacobite, his father and his four uncles having been out in the
forty-five; but he was a no less steady adherent of King George, in
whose service he had made his little fortune, and lost three brothers;
so that you were in equal danger to displease him, in terming Prince
Charles, the Pretender, or by saying anything derogatory to the dignity
of King George. Further, it must not be denied, that when the day of
receiving his dividends came round, the Sergeant was apt to tarry longer
at the Wallace Arms of an evening, than was consistent with strict
temperance, or indeed with his worldly interest; for upon these
occasions, his compotators sometimes contrived to flatter his
partialities by singing jacobite songs, and drinking confusion to
Bonaparte, and the health of the Duke of Wellington, until the Sergeant
was not only flattered into paying the whole reckoning, but occasionally
induced to lend small sums to his interested companions. After such
sprays, as he called them, were over, and his temper once more cool, he
seldom failed to thank God, and the Duke of York, who had made it much
more difficult for an old soldier to ruin himself by his folly, than had
been the case in his younger days.
It was not on such occasions that I made a part of Sergeant More
M'Alpin's society. But often, when my leisure would permit, I used to
seek him, on what he called his morning and evening parade, on which,
when the weather was fair, he appeared as regularly as if summoned by
tuck of drum. His morning walk was beneath the elms in the churchyard;
"for death," he said, "had been his next-door neighbour for so many
years, that he had no apology for dropping the acquaintance." His
evening promenade was on the bleaching-green by the river-side, where
he was sometimes to be seen on an open bench, with spectacles on
nose, conning over the newspapers to a circle of village politicians,
explaining military terms, and aiding the comprehension of his hearers
by lines drawn on the ground with the end of his rattan. On other
occasions, he was surrounded by a bevy of school-boys, whom he sometimes
drilled to the manual, and sometimes, with less approbation on the part
of their parents, instructed in the mystery of artificial fire-works;
for in the case of public rejoicings, the Sergeant was pyrotechnist (as
the Encyclopedia calls it) to the village of Gandercleugh.
It was in his morning walk that I most frequently met with the veteran.
And I can hardly yet look upon the village footpath, overshadowed by
the row of lofty elms, without thinking I see his upright form advancing
towards me with measured step, and his cane advanced, ready to pay me
the military salute--but he is dead, and sleeps with his faithful Janet,
under the third of those very trees, counting from the stile at the west
corner of the churchyard.
The delight which I had in Sergeant M'Alpin's conversation, related
not only to his own adventures, of which he had encountered many in the
course of a wandering life, but also to his recollection of numerous
Highland traditions, in which his youth had been instructed by his
parents, and of which he would in after life have deemed it a kind of
heresy to question the authenticity. Many of these belonged to the wars
of Montrose, in which some of the Sergeant's ancestry had, it seems,
taken a distinguished part. It has happened, that, although these civil
commotions reflect the highest honour upon the Highlanders, being indeed
the first occasion upon which they showed themselves superior, or even
equal to their Low-country neighbours in military encounters, they have
been less commemorated among them than any one would have expected,
judging from the abundance of traditions which they have preserved upon
less interesting subjects. It was, therefore, with great pleasure, that
I extracted from my military friend some curious particulars respecting
that time; they are mixed with that measure of the wild and wonderful
which belongs to the period and the narrator, but which I do not in the
least object to the reader's treating with disbelief, providing he
will be so good as to give implicit credit to the natural events of the
story, which, like all those which I have had the honour to put under
his notice, actually rest upon a basis of truth.
III. A LEGEND OF MONTROSE.
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun,
Decide all controversies by
And prove their doctrine orthodox,
By apostolic blows and knocks.--BUTLER.
It was during the period of that great and bloody Civil War which
agitated Britain during the seventeenth century, that our tale has its
commencement. Scotland had as yet remained free from the ravages of
intestine war, although its inhabitants were much divided in political
opinions; and many of them, tired of the control of the Estates of
Parliament, and disapproving of the bold measure which they had
adopted, by sending into England a large army to the assistance of
the Parliament, were determined on their part to embrace the earliest
opportunity of declaring for the King, and making such a diversion
as should at least compel the recall of General Leslie's army out of
England, if it did not recover a great part of Scotland to the King's
allegiance. This plan was chiefly adopted by the northern nobility, who
had resisted with great obstinacy the adoption of the Solemn League and
Covenant, and by many of the chiefs of the Highland clans, who conceived
their interest and authority to be connected with royalty, who had,
besides, a decided aversion to the Presbyterian form of religion, and
who, finally, were in that half savage state of society, in which war is
always more welcome than peace.
Great commotions were generally expected to arise from these concurrent
causes; and the trade of incursion and depredation, which the Scotch
Highlanders at all times exercised upon the Lowlands, began to assume a
more steady, avowed, and systematic form, as part of a general military
Those at the head of affairs were not insensible to the peril of the
moment, and anxiously made preparations to meet and to repel it. They
considered, however, with satisfaction, that no leader or name of
consequence had as yet appeared to assemble an army of royalists,
or even to direct the efforts of those desultory bands, whom love of
plunder, perhaps, as much as political principle, had hurried into
measures of hostility. It was generally hoped that the quartering a
sufficient number of troops in the Lowlands adjacent to the Highland
line, would have the effect of restraining the mountain chieftains;
while the power of various barons in the north, who had espoused the
Covenant, as, for example, the Earl Mareschal, the great families of
Forbes, Leslie, and Irvine, the Grants, and other Presbyterian clans,
might counterbalance and bridle, not only the strength of the Ogilvies
and other cavaliers of Angus and Kincardine, but even the potent family
of the Gordons, whose extensive authority was only equalled by their
extreme dislike to the Presbyterian model.
In the West Highlands the ruling party numbered many enemies; but the
power of these disaffected clans was supposed to be broken, and the
spirit of their chieftains intimidated, by the predominating influence
of the Marquis of Argyle, upon whom the confidence of the Convention
of Estates was reposed with the utmost security; and whose power in
the Highlands, already exorbitant, had been still farther increased
by concessions extorted from the King at the last pacification. It was
indeed well known that Argyle was a man rather of political enterprise
than personal courage, and better calculated to manage an intrigue
of state, than to control the tribes of hostile mountaineers; yet the
numbers of his clan, and the spirit of the gallant gentlemen by whom it
was led, might, it was supposed, atone for the personal deficiencies of
their chief; and as the Campbells had already severely humbled several
of the neighbouring tribes, it was supposed these would not readily
again provoke an encounter with a body so powerful.
Thus having at their command the whole west and south of Scotland,
indisputably the richest part of the kingdom,--Fifeshire being in a
peculiar manner their own, and possessing many and powerful friends even
north of the Forth and Tay,--the Scottish Convention of Estates saw no
danger sufficient to induce them to alter the line of policy they had
adopted, or to recall from the assistance of their brethren of the
English Parliament that auxiliary army of twenty thousand men, by means
of which accession of strength, the King's party had been reduced to the
defensive, when in full career of triumph and success.
The causes which moved the Convention of Estates at this time to take
such an immediate and active interest in the civil war of England, are
detailed in our historians, but may be here shortly recapitulated. They
had indeed no new injury or aggression to complain of at the hand of the
King, and the peace which had been made between Charles and his subjects
of Scotland had been carefully observed; but the Scottish rulers were
well aware that this peace had been extorted from the King, as well by
the influence of the parliamentary party in England, as by the terror
of their own arms. It is true, King Charles had since then visited the
capital of his ancient kingdom, had assented to the new organization of
the church, and had distributed honours and rewards among the leaders of
the party which had shown themselves most hostile to his interests; but
it was suspected that distinctions so unwillingly conferred would be
resumed as soon as opportunity offered. The low state of the English
Parliament was seen in Scotland with deep apprehension; and it was
concluded, that should Charles triumph by force of arms against his
insurgent subjects of England, he would not be long in exacting from the
Scotch the vengeance which he might suppose due to those who had set
the example of taking up arms against him. Such was the policy of the
measure which dictated the sending the auxiliary army into England; and
it was avowed in a manifesto explanatory of their reasons for giving
this timely and important aid to the English Parliament. The English
Parliament, they said, had been already friendly to them, and might
be so again; whereas the King, although he had so lately established
religion among them according to their desires, had given them no ground
to confide in his royal declaration, seeing they had found his promises
and actions inconsistent with each other. "Our conscience," they
concluded, "and God, who is greater than our conscience, beareth us
record, that we aim altogether at the glory of God, peace of both
nations, and honour of the King, in suppressing and punishing in a legal
way, those who are the troublers of Israel, the firebrands of hell, the
Korahs, the Balaams, the Doegs, the Rabshakehs, the Hamans, the Tobiahs,
the Sanballats of our time, which done, we are satisfied. Neither
have we begun to use a military expedition to England as a mean for
compassing those our pious ends, until all other means which we could
think upon have failed us: and this alone is left to us, ULTIMUM ET
UNICUM REMEDIUM, the last and only remedy."
Leaving it to casuists to determine whether one contracting party is
justified in breaking a solemn treaty, upon the suspicion that, in
certain future contingencies, it might be infringed by the other, we
shall proceed to mention two other circumstances that had at least equal
influence with the Scottish rulers and nation, with any doubts which
they entertained of the King's good faith.
The first of these was the nature and condition of their army; headed by
a poor and discontented nobility, under whom it was officered chiefly
by Scottish soldiers of fortune, who had served in the German wars until
they had lost almost all distinction of political principle, and even
of country, in the adoption of the mercenary faith, that a soldier's
principal duty was fidelity to the state or sovereign from whom he
received his pay, without respect either to the justice of the quarrel,
or to their own connexion with either of the contending parties. To men
of this stamp, Grotius applies the severe character--NULLUM VITAE GENUS
ET IMPROBIUS, QUAM EORUM, QUI SINE CAUSAE RESPECTU MERCEDE CONDUCTI,
MILITANT. To these mercenary soldiers, as well as to the needy gentry
with whom they were mixed in command, and who easily imbibed the same
opinions, the success of the late short invasion of England in 1641 was
a sufficient reason for renewing so profitable an experiment. The good
pay and free quarters of England had made a feeling impression upon the
recollection of these military adventurers, and the prospect of again
levying eight hundred and fifty pounds a-day, came in place of all
arguments, whether of state or of morality.
Another cause inflamed the minds of the nation at large, no less than
the tempting prospect of the wealth of England animated the soldiery.
So much had been written and said on either side concerning the form
of church government, that it had become a matter of infinitely more
consequence in the eyes of the multitude than the doctrines of
that gospel which both churches had embraced. The Prelatists and
Presbyterians of the more violent kind became as illiberal as the
Papists, and would scarcely allow the possibility of salvation beyond
the pale of their respective churches. It was in vain remarked to
these zealots, that had the Author of our holy religion considered any
peculiar form of church government as essential to salvation, it would
have been revealed with the same precision as under the Old Testament
dispensation. Both parties continued as violent as if they could have
pleaded the distinct commands of Heaven to justify their intolerance,
Laud, in the days of his domination, had fired the train, by attempting
to impose upon the Scottish people church ceremonies foreign to their
habits and opinions. The success with which this had been resisted, and
the Presbyterian model substituted in its place, had endeared the latter
to the nation, as the cause in which they had triumphed. The Solemn
League and Covenant, adopted with such zeal by the greater part of the
kingdom, and by them forced, at the sword's point, upon the others, bore
in its bosom, as its principal object, the establishing the doctrine and
discipline of the Presbyterian church, and the putting down all error
and heresy; and having attained for their own country an establishment
of this golden candlestick, the Scots became liberally and fraternally
anxious to erect the same in England. This they conceived might be
easily attained by lending to the Parliament the effectual assistance of
the Scottish forces. The Presbyterians, a numerous and powerful party in
the English Parliament, had hitherto taken the lead in opposition to the
King; while the Independents and other sectaries, who afterwards, under
Cromwell, resumed the power of the sword, and overset the Presbyterian
model both in Scotland and England, were as yet contented to lurk under
the shelter of the wealthier and more powerful party. The prospect
of bringing to a uniformity the kingdoms of England and Scotland in
discipline and worship, seemed therefore as fair as it was desirable.
The celebrated Sir Henry Vane, one of the commissioners who negotiated
the alliance betwixt England and Scotland, saw the influence which this
bait had upon the spirits of those with whom he dealt; and although
himself a violent Independent, he contrived at once to gratify and
to elude the eager desires of the Presbyterians, by qualifying the
obligation to reform the Church of England, as a change to be executed
"according to the word of God, and the best reformed churches." Deceived
by their own eagerness, themselves entertaining no doubts on the JUS
DIVINUM of their own ecclesiastical establishments, and not holding
it possible such doubts could be adopted by others, the Convention
of Estates and the Kirk of Scotland conceived, that such expressions
necessarily inferred the establishment of Presbytery; nor were they
undeceived, until, when their help was no longer needful, the sectaries
gave them to understand, that the phrase might be as well applied to
Independency, or any other mode of worship, which those who were at the
head of affairs at the time might consider as agreeable "to the word
of God, and the practice of the reformed churches." Neither were the
outwitted Scottish less astonished to find, that the designs of the
English sectaries struck against the monarchial constitution of Britain,
it having been their intention to reduce the power of the King, but by
no means to abrogate the office. They fared, however, in this respect,
like rash physicians, who commence by over-physicking a patient, until
he is reduced to a state of weakness, from which cordials are afterwards
unable to recover him.
But these events were still in the womb of futurity. As yet the Scottish
Parliament held their engagement with England consistent with justice,
prudence, and piety, and their military undertaking seemed to succeed to
their very wish. The junction of the Scottish army with those of Fairfax
and Manchester, enabled the Parliamentary forces to besiege York, and to
fight the desperate action of Long-Marston Moor, in which Prince Rupert
and the Marquis of Newcastle were defeated. The Scottish auxiliaries,
indeed, had less of the glory of this victory than their countrymen
could desire. David Leslie, with their cavalry, fought bravely, and to
them, as well as to Cromwell's brigade of Independents, the honour of
the day belonged; but the old Earl of Leven, the covenanting general,
was driven out of the field by the impetuous charge of Prince Rupert,
and was thirty miles distant, in full flight towards Scotland, when he
was overtaken by the news that his party had gained a complete victory.
The absence of these auxiliary troops, upon this crusade for the
establishment of Presbyterianism in England, had considerably diminished
the power of the Convention of Estates in Scotland, and had given rise
to those agitations among the anti-covenanters, which we have noticed at
the beginning of this chapter.
His mother could for him as cradle set
Her husband's rusty iron corselet;
Whose jangling sound could hush her babe to rest,
That never plain'd of his uneasy nest;
Then did he dream of dreary wars at hand,
And woke, and fought, and won, ere he could stand.--HALL'S SATIRES
It was towards the close of a summer's evening, during the anxious
period which we have commemorated, that a young gentleman of quality,
well mounted and armed, and accompanied by two servants, one of whom led
a sumpter horse, rode slowly up one of those steep passes, by which the
Highlands are accessible from the Lowlands of Perthshire. [The beautiful
pass of Leny, near Callander, in Monteith, would, in some respects,
answer this description.] Their course had lain for some time along the
banks of a lake, whose deep waters reflected the crimson beams of the
western sun. The broken path which they pursued with some difficulty,
was in some places shaded by ancient birches and oak-trees, and in
others overhung by fragments of huge rock. Elsewhere, the hill, which
formed the northern side of this beautiful sheet of water, arose in
steep, but less precipitous acclivity, and was arrayed in heath of the
darkest purple. In the present times, a scene so romantic would have
been judged to possess the highest charms for the traveller; but
those who journey in days of doubt and dread, pay little attention to
The master kept, as often as the wood permitted, abreast of one or both
of his domestics, and seemed earnestly to converse with them, probably
because the distinctions of rank are readily set aside among those who
are made to be sharers of common danger. The dispositions of the leading
men who inhabit this wild country, and the probability of their taking
part in the political convulsions that were soon expected, were the
subjects of their conversation.
They had not advanced above half way up the lake, and the young
gentleman was pointing to his attendants the spot where their intended
road turned northwards, and, leaving the verge of the loch, ascended a
ravine to the right hand, when they discovered a single horseman coming
down the shore, as if to meet them. The gleam of the sunbeams upon his
head-piece and corslet showed that he was in armour, and the purpose of
the other travellers required that he should not pass unquestioned.
"We must know who he is," said the young gentleman, "and whither he is
going." And putting spurs to his horse, he rode forward as fast as the
rugged state of the road would permit, followed by his two attendants,
until he reached the point where the pass along the side of the lake
was intersected by that which descended from the ravine, securing thus
against the possibility of the stranger eluding them, by turning into
the latter road before they came up with him.
The single horseman had mended his pace, when he first observed the
three riders advance rapidly towards him; but when he saw them halt and
form a front, which completely occupied the path, he checked his
horse, and advanced with great deliberation; so that each party had an
opportunity to take a full survey of the other. The solitary stranger
was mounted upon an able horse, fit for military service, and for
the great weight which he had to carry, and his rider occupied his
demipique, or war-saddle, with an air that showed it was his familiar
seat. He had a bright burnished head-piece, with a plume of feathers,
together with a cuirass, thick enough to resist a musket-ball, and a
back-piece of lighter materials. These defensive arms he wore over a
buff jerkin, along with a pair of gauntlets, or steel gloves, the
tops of which reached up to his elbow, and which, like the rest of his
armour, were of bright steel. At the front of his military saddle hung
a case of pistols, far beyond the ordinary size, nearly two feet in
length, and carrying bullets of twenty to the pound. A buff belt, with a
broad silver buckle, sustained on one side a long straight double-edged
broadsword, with a strong guard, and a blade calculated either to strike
or push. On the right side hung a dagger of about eighteen inches
in length; a shoulder-belt sustained at his back a musketoon or
blunderbuss, and was crossed by a bandelier containing his charges of
ammunition. Thigh-pieces of steel, then termed taslets, met the tops of
his huge jack-boots, and completed the equipage of a well-armed trooper
of the period.
The appearance of the horseman himself corresponded well with his
military equipage, to which he had the air of having been long inured.
He was above the middle size, and of strength sufficient to bear with
ease the weight of his weapons, offensive and defensive. His age
might be forty and upwards, and his countenance was that of a resolute
weather-beaten veteran, who had seen many fields, and brought away
in token more than one scar. At the distance of about thirty yards
he halted and stood fast, raised himself on his stirrups, as if to
reconnoitre and ascertain the purpose of the opposite party, and brought
his musketoon under his right arm, ready for use, if occasion should
require it. In everything but numbers, he had the advantage of those who
seemed inclined to interrupt his passage.
The leader of the party was, indeed, well mounted and clad in a buff
coat, richly embroidered, the half-military dress of the period; but his
domestics had only coarse jackets of thick felt, which could scarce be
expected to turn the edge of a sword, if wielded by a strong man; and
none of them had any weapons, save swords and pistols, without which
gentlemen, or their attendants, during those disturbed times, seldom
When they had stood at gaze for about a minute, the younger gentleman
gave the challenge which was then common in the mouth of all strangers
who met in such circumstances--"For whom are you?"
"Tell me first," answered the soldier, "for whom are you?--the strongest
party should speak first."
"We are for God and King Charles," answered the first speaker.--"Now
tell your faction, you know ours."
"I am for God and my standard," answered the single horseman.
"And for which standard?" replied the chief of the other
party--"Cavalier or Roundhead, King or Convention?"
"By my troth, sir," answered the soldier, "I would be loath to reply to
you with an untruth, as a thing unbecoming a cavalier of fortune and
a soldier. But to answer your query with beseeming veracity, it
is necessary I should myself have resolved to whilk of the present
divisions of the kingdom I shall ultimately adhere, being a matter
whereon my mind is not as yet preceesely ascertained."
"I should have thought," answered the gentleman, "that, when loyalty and
religion are at stake, no gentleman or man of honour could be long in
choosing his party."
"Truly, sir," replied the trooper, "if ye speak this in the way of
vituperation, as meaning to impugn my honour or genteelity, I would
blithely put the same to issue, venturing in that quarrel with my single
person against you three. But if you speak it in the way of logical
ratiocination, whilk I have studied in my youth at the Mareschal-College
of Aberdeen, I am ready to prove to ye LOGICE, that my resolution
to defer, for a certain season, the taking upon me either of these
quarrels, not only becometh me as a gentleman and a man of honour, but
also as a person of sense and prudence, one imbued with humane letters
in his early youth, and who, from thenceforward, has followed the wars
under the banner of the invincible Gustavus, the Lion of the North, and
under many other heroic leaders, both Lutheran and Calvinist, Papist and
After exchanging a word or two with his domestics, the younger gentleman
replied, "I should be glad, sir, to have some conversation with you upon
so interesting a question, and should be proud if I can determine you
in favour of the cause I have myself espoused. I ride this evening to
a friend's house not three miles distant, whither, if you choose to
accompany me, you shall have good quarters for the night, and free
permission to take your own road in the morning, if you then feel no
inclination to join with us."
"Whose word am I to take for this?" answered the cautious soldier--"A
man must know his guarantee, or he may fall into an ambuscade."
"I am called," answered the younger stranger, "the Earl of Menteith,
and, I trust, you will receive my honour as a sufficient security."
"A worthy nobleman," answered the soldier, "whose parole is not to be
doubted." With one motion he replaced his musketoon at his back,
and with another made his military salute to the young nobleman, and
continuing to talk as he rode forward to join him--"And, I trust," said
he, "my own assurance, that I will be BON CAMARADO to your lordship in
peace or in peril, during the time we shall abide together, will not
be altogether vilipended in these doubtful times, when, as they say, a
man's head is safer in a steel-cap than in a marble palace."
"I assure you, sir," said Lord Menteith, "that to judge from your
appearance, I most highly value the advantage of your escort; but, I
trust, we shall have no occasion for any exercise of valour, as I expect
to conduct you to good and friendly quarters."
"Good quarters, my lord," replied the soldier, "are always acceptable,
and are only to be postponed to good pay or good booty,--not to mention
the honour of a cavalier, or the needful points of commanded duty. And
truly, my lord, your noble proffer is not the less welcome, in that I
knew not preceesely this night where I and my poor companion" (patting
his horse), "were to find lodgments."
"May I be permitted to ask, then," said Lord Menteith, "to whom I have
the good fortune to stand quarter-master?"
"Truly, my lord," said the trooper, "my name is Dalgetty--Dugald
Dalgetty, Ritt-master Dugald Dalgetty of Drumthwacket, at your
honourable service to command. It is a name you may have seen in GALLO
BELGICUS, the SWEDISH INTELLIGENCER, or, if you read High Dutch, in the
FLIEGENDEN MERCOEUR of Leipsic. My father, my lord, having by unthrifty
courses reduced a fair patrimony to a nonentity, I had no better shift,
when I was eighteen years auld, than to carry the learning whilk I
had acquired at the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, my gentle bluid and
designation of Drumthwacket, together with a pair of stalwarth arms, and
legs conform, to the German wars, there to push my way as a cavalier of
fortune. My lord, my legs and arms stood me in more stead than either
my gentle kin or my book-lear, and I found myself trailing a pike as
a private gentleman under old Sir Ludovick Leslie, where I learned the
rules of service so tightly, that I will not forget them in a hurry.
Sir, I have been made to stand guard eight hours, being from twelve at
noon to eight o'clock of the night, at the palace, armed with back and
breast, head-piece and bracelets, being iron to the teeth, in a bitter
frost, and the ice was as hard as ever was flint; and all for stopping
an instant to speak to my landlady, when I should have gone to
"And, doubtless, sir," replied Lord Menteith, "you have gone through
some hot service, as well as this same cold duty you talk of?"
"Surely, my lord, it doth not become me to speak; but he that hath seen
the fields of Leipsic and of Lutzen, may be said to have seen pitched
battles. And one who hath witnessed the intaking of Frankfort, and
Spanheim, and Nuremberg, and so forth, should know somewhat about
leaguers, storms, onslaughts and outfalls."
"But your merit, sir, and experience, were doubtless followed by
"It came slow, my lord, dooms slow," replied Dalgetty; "but as my
Scottish countrymen, the fathers of the war, and the raisers of those
valorous Scottish regiments that were the dread of Germany, began to
fall pretty thick, what with pestilence and what with the sword, why
we, their children, succeeded to their inheritance. Sir, I was six years
first private gentleman of the company, and three years lance speisade;
disdaining to receive a halberd, as unbecoming my birth. Wherefore I
was ultimately promoted to be a fahndragger, as the High Dutch call
it (which signifies an ancient), in the King's Leif Regiment of
Black-Horse, and thereafter I arose to be lieutenant and ritt-master,
under that invincible monarch, the bulwark of the Protestant faith, the
Lion of the North, the terror of Austria, Gustavus the Victorious."
"And yet, if I understand you, Captain Dalgetty,--I think that rank
corresponds with your foreign title of ritt-master--"
"The same grade preceesely," answered Dalgetty; "ritt-master signifying
"I was observing," continued Lord Menteith, "that, if I understood you
right, you had left the service of this great Prince."
"It was after his death--it was after his death, sir," said Dalgetty,
"when I was in no shape bound to continue mine adherence. There are
things, my lord, in that service, that cannot but go against the stomach
of any cavalier of honour. In especial, albeit the pay be none of
the most superabundant, being only about sixty dollars a-month to a
ritt-master, yet the invincible Gustavus never paid above one-third of
that sum, whilk was distributed monthly by way of loan; although, when
justly considered, it was, in fact, a borrowing by that great monarch of
the additional two-thirds which were due to the soldier. And I have seen
some whole regiments of Dutch and Holsteiners mutiny on the field of
battle, like base scullions, crying out Gelt, gelt, signifying their
desire of pay, instead of falling to blows like our noble Scottish
blades, who ever disdained, my lord, postponing of honour to filthy
"But were not these arrears," said Lord Menteith, "paid to the soldiery
at some stated period?"
"My lord," said Dalgetty, "I take it on my conscience, that at no
period, and by no possible process, could one creutzer of them ever be
recovered. I myself never saw twenty dollars of my own all the time I
served the invincible Gustavus, unless it was from the chance of a storm
or victory, or the fetching in some town or doorp, when a cavalier of
fortune, who knows the usage of wars, seldom faileth to make some small
"I begin rather to wonder, sir," said Lord Menteith, "that you should
have continued so long in the Swedish service, than that you should have
ultimately withdrawn from it."
"Neither I should," answered the Ritt-master; "but that great leader,
captain, and king, the Lion of the North, and the bulwark of the
Protestant faith, had a way of winning battles, taking towns,
over-running countries, and levying contributions, whilk made his
service irresistibly delectable to all true-bred cavaliers who follow
the noble profession of arms. Simple as I ride here, my lord, I have
myself commanded the whole stift of Dunklespiel on the Lower Rhine,
occupying the Palsgrave's palace, consuming his choice wines with my
comrades, calling in contributions, requisitions, and caduacs, and not
failing to lick my fingers, as became a good cook. But truly all this
glory hastened to decay, after our great master had been shot with three
bullets on the field of Lutzen; wherefore, finding that Fortune had
changed sides, that the borrowings and lendings went on as before out of
our pay, while the caduacs and casualties were all cut off, I e'en gave
up my commission, and took service with Wallenstein, in Walter Butler's
"And may I beg to know of you," said Lord Menteith, apparently
interested in the adventures of this soldier of fortune, "how you liked
this change of masters?"
"Indifferent well," said the Captain--"very indifferent well. I cannot
say that the Emperor paid much better than the great Gustavus. For
hard knocks, we had plenty of them. I was often obliged to run my head
against my old acquaintances, the Swedish feathers, whilk your honour
must conceive to be double-pointed stakes, shod with iron at each
end, and planted before the squad of pikes to prevent an onfall of the
cavalry. The whilk Swedish feathers, although they look gay to the eye,
resembling the shrubs or lesser trees of ane forest, as the puissant
pikes, arranged in battalia behind them, correspond to the tall pines
thereof, yet, nevertheless, are not altogether so soft to encounter as
the plumage of a goose. Howbeit, in despite of heavy blows and light
pay, a cavalier of fortune may thrive indifferently well in the Imperial
service, in respect his private casualties are nothing so closely looked
to as by the Swede; and so that an officer did his duty on the field,
neither Wallenstein nor Pappenheim, nor old Tilly before them, would
likely listen to the objurgations of boors or burghers against any
commander or soldado, by whom they chanced to be somewhat closely shorn.
So that an experienced cavalier, knowing how to lay, as our Scottish
phrase runs, 'the head of the sow to the tail of the grice,' might get
out of the country the pay whilk he could not obtain from the Emperor."
"With a full hand, sir, doubtless, and with interest," said Lord
"Indubitably, my lord," answered Dalgetty, composedly; "for it would be
doubly disgraceful for any soldado of rank to have his name called in
question for any petty delinquency."
"And pray, Sir," continued Lord Menteith, "what made you leave so
gainful a service?"
"Why, truly, sir," answered the soldier, "an Irish cavalier, called
O'Quilligan, being major of our regiment, and I having had words with
him the night before, respecting the worth and precedence of our several
nations, it pleased him the next day to deliver his orders to me with
the point of his batoon advanced and held aloof, instead of declining
and trailing the same, as is the fashion from a courteous commanding
officer towards his equal in rank, though, it may be, his inferior in
military grade. Upon this quarrel, sir, we fought in private rencontre;
and as, in the perquisitions which followed, it pleased Walter
Butler, our oberst, or colonel, to give the lighter punishment to
his countryman, and the heavier to me, whereupon, ill-stomaching such
partiality, I exchanged my commission for one under the Spaniard."
"I hope you found yourself better off by the change?" said Lord
"In good sooth," answered the Ritt-master, "I had but little to complain
of. The pay was somewhat regular, being furnished by the rich Flemings
and Waloons of the Low Country. The quarters were excellent; the good
wheaten loaves of the Flemings were better than the Provant rye-bread of
the Swede, and Rhenish wine was more plenty with us than ever I saw the
black-beer of Rostock in Gustavus's camp. Service there was none, duty
there was little; and that little we might do, or leave undone, at our
pleasure; an excellent retirement for a cavalier somewhat weary of field
and leaguer, who had purchased with his blood as much honour as might
serve his turn, and was desirous of a little ease and good living."
"And may I ask," said Lord Menteith, "why you, Captain, being, as I
suppose, in the situation you describe, retired from the Spanish service
"You are to consider, my lord, that your Spaniard," replied Captain
Dalgetty, "is a person altogether unparalleled in his own conceit,
where-through he maketh not fit account of such foreign cavaliers of
valour as are pleased to take service with him. And a galling thing
it is to every honourable soldado, to be put aside, and postponed, and
obliged to yield preference to every puffing signor, who, were it the
question which should first mount a breach at push of pike, might be
apt to yield willing place to a Scottish cavalier. Moreover, sir, I was
pricked in conscience respecting a matter of religion."
"I should not have thought, Captain Dalgetty," said the young nobleman,
"that an old soldier, who had changed service so often, would have been
too scrupulous on that head."
"No more I am, my lord," said the Captain, "since I hold it to be the
duty of the chaplain of the regiment to settle those matters for me, and
every other brave cavalier, inasmuch as he does nothing else that I know
of for his pay and allowances. But this was a particular case, my lord,
a CASUS IMPROVISUS, as I may say, in whilk I had no chaplain of my own
persuasion to act as my adviser. I found, in short, that although my
being a Protestant might be winked at, in respect that I was a man of
action, and had more experience than all the Dons in our TERTIA put
together, yet, when in garrison, it was expected I should go to mass
with the regiment. Now, my lord, as a true Scottish man, and educated at
the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, I was bound to uphold the mass to be
an act of blinded papistry and utter idolatry, whilk I was altogether
unwilling to homologate by my presence. True it is, that I consulted on
the point with a worthy countryman of my own, one Father Fatsides, of
the Scottish Covenant in Wurtzburg--"
"And I hope," observed Lord Menteith, "you obtained a clear opinion from
this same ghostly father?"
"As clear as it could be," replied Captain Dalgetty, "considering we had
drunk six flasks of Rhenish, and about two mutchkins of Kirchenwasser.
Father Fatsides informed me, that, as nearly as he could judge for a
heretic like myself, it signified not much whether I went to mass or
not, seeing my eternal perdition was signed and sealed at any rate,
in respect of my impenitent and obdurate perseverance in my damnable
heresy. Being discouraged by this response, I applied to a Dutch pastor
of the reformed church, who told me, he thought I might lawfully go
to mass, in respect that the prophet permitted Naaman, a mighty man of
valour, and an honourable cavalier of Syria, to follow his master into
the house of Rimmon, a false god, or idol, to whom he had vowed service,
and to bow down when the king was leaning upon his hand. But neither
was this answer satisfactory to me, both because there was an unco
difference between an anointed King of Syria and our Spanish colonel,
whom I could have blown away like the peeling of an ingan, and chiefly
because I could not find the thing was required of me by any of the
articles of war; neither was I proffered any consideration, either in
perquisite or pay, for the wrong I might thereby do to my conscience."
"So you again changed your service?" said Lord Menteith.
"In troth did I, my lord; and after trying for a short while two
or three other powers, I even took on for a time with their High
Mightinesses the States of Holland."
"And how did their service jump with your humour?" again demanded his
"O! my lord," said the soldier, in a sort of enthusiasm, "their
behaviour on pay-day might be a pattern to all Europe--no borrowings, no
lendings, no offsets no arrears--all balanced and paid like a
banker's book. The quarters, too, are excellent, and the allowances
unchallengeable; but then, sir, they are a preceese, scrupulous people,
and will allow nothing for peccadilloes. So that if a boor complains of
a broken head, or a beer-seller of a broken can, or a daft wench does
but squeak loud enough to be heard above her breath, a soldier of honour
shall be dragged, not before his own court-martial, who can best judge
of and punish his demerits, but before a base mechanical burgo-master,
who shall menace him with the rasp-house, the cord, and what not, as if
he were one of their own mean, amphibious, twenty-breeched boors. So
not being able to dwell longer among those ungrateful plebeians, who,
although unable to defend themselves by their proper strength, will
nevertheless allow the noble foreign cavalier who engages with them
nothing beyond his dry wages, which no honourable spirit will put
in competition with a liberal license and honourable countenance, I
resolved to leave the service of the Mynheers. And hearing at this time,
to my exceeding satisfaction, that there is something to be doing this
summer in my way in this my dear native country, I am come hither,
as they say, like a beggar to a bridal, in order to give my loving
countrymen the advantage of that experience which I have acquired
in foreign parts. So your lordship has an outline of my brief story,
excepting my deportment in those passages of action in the field, in
leaguers, storms, and onslaughts, whilk would be wearisome to narrate,
and might, peradventure, better befit any other tongue than mine own."
For pleas of right let statesmen vex their head,
Battle's my business, and my guerdon bread;
And, with the sworded Switzer, I can say,
The best of causes is the best of pay.--DONNE.
The difficulty and narrowness of the road had by this time become such
as to interrupt the conversation of the travellers, and Lord Menteith,
reining back his horse, held a moment's private conversation with his
domestics. The Captain, who now led the van of the party, after about
a quarter of a mile's slow and toilsome advance up a broken and rugged
ascent, emerged into an upland valley, to which a mountain stream acted
as a drain, and afforded sufficient room upon its greensward banks for
the travellers to pursue their journey in a more social manner.
Lord Menteith accordingly resumed the conversation, which had been
interrupted by the difficulties of the way. "I should have thought,"
said he to Captain Dalgetty, "that a cavalier of your honourable mark,
who hath so long followed the valiant King of Sweden, and entertains
such a suitable contempt for the base mechanical States of Holland,
would not have hesitated to embrace the cause of King Charles, in
preference to that of the low-born, roundheaded, canting knaves, who are
in rebellion against his authority?"
"Ye speak reasonably, my lord," said Dalgetty, "and, CAETERIS PARIBUS,
I might be induced to see the matter in the same light. But, my lord,
there is a southern proverb, fine words butter no parsnips. I have heard
enough since I came here, to satisfy me that a cavalier of honour is
free to take any part in this civil embroilment whilk he may find
most convenient for his own peculiar. Loyalty is your pass-word,
my lord--Liberty, roars another chield from the other side of
the strath--the King, shouts one war-cry--the Parliament, roars
another--Montrose, for ever, cries Donald, waving his bonnet--Argyle
and Leven, cries a south-country Saunders, vapouring with his hat
and feather. Fight for the bishops, says a priest, with his gown and
rochet--Stand stout for the Kirk, cries a minister, in a Geneva cap and
band.--Good watchwords all--excellent watchwords. Whilk cause is the
best I cannot say. But sure am I, that I have fought knee-deep in blood
many a day for one that was ten degrees worse than the worst of them
"And pray, Captain Dalgetty," said his lordship, "since the pretensions
of both parties seem to you so equal, will you please to inform us by
what circumstances your preference will be determined?"
"Simply upon two considerations, my lord," answered the soldier.
"Being, first, on which side my services would be in most honourable
request;--And, secondly, whilk is a corollary of the first, by whilk
party they are likely to be most gratefully requited. And, to deal
plainly with you, my lord, my opinion at present doth on both points
rather incline to the side of the Parliament."
"Your reasons, if you please," said Lord Menteith, "and perhaps I may be
able to meet them with some others which are more powerful."
"Sir, I shall be amenable to reason," said Captain Dalgetty, "supposing
it addresses itself to my honour and my interest. Well, then, my lord,
here is a sort of Highland host assembled, or expected to assemble, in
these wild hills, in the King's behalf. Now, sir, you know the nature of
our Highlanders. I will not deny them to be a people stout in body
and valiant in heart, and courageous enough in their own wild way of
fighting, which is as remote from the usages and discipline of war as
ever was that of the ancient Scythians, or of the salvage Indians of
America that now is, They havena sae mickle as a German whistle, or a
drum, to beat a march, an alarm, a charge, a retreat, a reveille, or the
tattoo, or any other point of war; and their damnable skirlin' pipes,
whilk they themselves pretend to understand, are unintelligible to the
ears of any cavaliero accustomed to civilised warfare. So that, were I
undertaking to discipline such a breechless mob, it were impossible for
me to be understood; and if I were understood, judge ye, my lord, what
chance I had of being obeyed among a band of half salvages, who are
accustomed to pay to their own lairds and chiefs, allenarly, that
respect and obedience whilk ought to be paid to commissionate officers.
If I were teaching them to form battalia by extracting the square root,
that is, by forming your square battalion of equal number of men of rank
and file, corresponding to the square root of the full number present,
what return could I expect for communicating this golden secret of
military tactic, except it may be a dirk in my wame, on placing some
M'Alister More M'Shemei or Capperfae, in the flank or rear, when he
claimed to be in the van?--Truly, well saith holy writ, 'if ye cast
pearls before swine, they will turn again and rend ye.'"
"I believe, Anderson," said Lord Menteith, looking back to one of
his servants, for both were close behind him, "you can assure this
gentleman, we shall have more occasion for experienced officers, and be
more disposed to profit by their instructions, than he seems to be aware
"With your honour's permission," said Anderson, respectfully raising his
cap, "when we are joined by the Irish infantry, who are expected, and
who should be landed in the West Highlands before now, we shall have
need of good soldiers to discipline our levies."
"And I should like well--very well, to be employed in such service,"
said Dalgetty; "the Irish are pretty fellows--very pretty fellows--I
desire to see none better in the field. I once saw a brigade of Irish,
at the taking of Frankfort upon the Oder, stand to it with sword and
pike until they beat off the blue and yellow Swedish brigades, esteemed
as stout as any that fought under the immortal Gustavus. And although
stout Hepburn, valiant Lumsdale, courageous Monroe, with myself and
other cavaliers, made entry elsewhere at point of pike, yet, had we all
met with such opposition, we had returned with great loss and little
profit. Wherefore these valiant Irishes, being all put to the sword,
as is usual in such cases, did nevertheless gain immortal praise and
honour; so that, for their sakes, I have always loved and honoured those
of that nation next to my own country of Scotland."
"A command of Irish," said Menteith, "I think I could almost promise
you, should you be disposed to embrace the royal cause."
"And yet," said Captain Dalgetty, "my second and greatest difficulty
remains behind; for, although I hold it a mean and sordid thing for a
soldado to have nothing in his mouth but pay and gelt, like the base
cullions, the German lanz-knechts, whom I mentioned before; and although
I will maintain it with my sword, that honour is to be preferred before
pay, free quarters, and arrears, yet, EX CONTRARIO, a soldier's pay
being the counterpart of his engagement of service, it becomes a wise
and considerate cavalier to consider what remuneration he is to receive
for his service, and from what funds it is to be paid. And truly,
my lord, from what I can see and hear, the Convention are the
purse-masters. The Highlanders, indeed, may be kept in humour, by
allowing them to steal cattle; and for the Irishes, your lordship and
your noble associates may, according to the practice of the wars in
such cases, pay them as seldom or as little as may suit your pleasure or
convenience; but the same mode of treatment doth not apply to a cavalier
like me, who must keep up his horses, servants, arms, and equipage, and
who neither can, nor will, go to warfare upon his own charges."
Anderson, the domestic who had before spoken now respectfully addressed
his master.--"I think, my lord," he said, "that, under your lordship's
favour, I could say something to remove Captain Dalgetty's second
objection also. He asks us where we are to collect our pay; now, in my
poor mind, the resources are as open to us as to the Covenanters. They
tax the country according to their pleasure, and dilapidate the estates
of the King's friends; now, were we once in the Lowlands, with our
Highlanders and our Irish at our backs, and our swords in our hands,
we can find many a fat traitor, whose ill-gotten wealth shall fill our
military chest and satisfy our soldiery. Besides, confiscations will
fall in thick; and, in giving donations of forfeited lands to every
adventurous cavalier who joins his standard, the King will at once
reward his friends and punish his enemies. In short, he that joins these
Roundhead dogs may get some miserable pittance of pay--he that joins our
standard has a chance to be knight, lord, or earl, if luck serve him."
"Have you ever served, my good friend?" said the Captain to the
"A little, sir, in these our domestic quarrels," answered the man,
"But never in Germany or the Low Countries?" said Dalgetty.
"I never had the honour," answered Anderson.
"I profess," said Dalgetty, addressing Lord Menteith, "your lordship's
servant has a sensible, natural, pretty idea of military matters;
somewhat irregular, though, and smells a little too much of selling the
bear's skin before he has hunted him.--I will take the matter, however,
into my consideration."
"Do so, Captain," said Lord Menteith; "you will have the night to think
of it, for we are now near the house, where I hope to ensure you a
"And that is what will be very welcome," said the Captain, "for I have
tasted no food since daybreak but a farl of oatcake, which I divided
with my horse. So I have been fain to draw my sword-belt three bores
tighter for very extenuation, lest hunger and heavy iron should make the
Once on a time, no matter when,
Some Glunimies met in a glen;
As deft and tight as ever wore
A durk, a targe, and a claymore,
Short hose, and belted plaid or trews,
In Uist, Lochaber, Skye, or Lewes,
Or cover'd hard head with his bonnet;
Had you but known them, you would own it.--MESTON.
A hill was now before the travellers, covered with an ancient forest
of Scottish firs, the topmost of which, flinging their scathed branches
across the western horizon, gleamed ruddy in the setting sun. In the
centre of this wood rose the towers, or rather the chimneys, of the
house, or castle, as it was called, destined for the end of their
As usual at that period, one or two high-ridged narrow buildings,
intersecting and crossing each other, formed the CORPS DE LOGIS. A
protecting bartizan or two, with the addition of small turrets at the
angles, much resembling pepper-boxes, had procured for Darnlinvarach the
dignified appellation of a castle. It was surrounded by a low court-yard
wall, within which were the usual offices.
As the travellers approached more nearly, they discovered marks of
recent additions to the defences of the place, which had been suggested,
doubtless, by the insecurity of those troublesome times. Additional
loop-holes for musketry were struck out in different parts of the
building, and of its surrounding wall. The windows had just been
carefully secured by stancheons of iron, crossing each other athwart and
end-long, like the grates of a prison. The door of the court-yard was
shut; and it was only after cautious challenge that one of its leaves
was opened by two domestics, both strong Highlanders, and both under
arms, like Bitias and Pandarus in the AEneid, ready to defend the
entrance if aught hostile had ventured an intrusion.
When the travellers were admitted into the court, they found additional
preparations for defence. The walls were scaffolded for the use of
fire-arms, and one or two of the small guns, called sackers, or falcons,
were mounted at the angles and flanking turrets.
More domestics, both in the Highland and Lowland dress, instantly rushed
from the anterior of the mansion, and some hastened to take the horses
of the strangers, while others waited to marshal them a way into the
dwelling-house. But Captain Dalgetty refused the proffered assistance
of those who wished to relieve him of the charge of his horse. "It is my
custom, my friends, to see Gustavus (for so I have called him, after
my invincible master) accommodated myself; we are old friends and
fellow-travellers, and as I often need the use of his legs, I always
lend him in my turn the service of my tongue, to call for whatever he
has occasion for;" and accordingly he strode into the stable after his
steed without farther apology.
Neither Lord Menteith nor his attendants paid the same attention to
their horses, but, leaving them to the proffered care of the servants of
the place, walked forward into the house, where a sort of dark vaulted
vestibule displayed, among other miscellaneous articles, a huge barrel
of two-penny ale, beside which were ranged two or three wooden queichs,
or bickers, ready, it would appear, for the service of whoever thought
proper to employ them. Lord Menteith applied himself to the spigot,
drank without ceremony, and then handed the stoup to Anderson, who
followed his master's example, but not until he had flung out the drop
of ale which remained, and slightly rinsed the wooden cup.
"What the deil, man," said an old Highland servant belonging to the
family, "can she no drink after her ain master without washing the cup
and spilling the ale, and be tamned to her!"
"I was bred in France," answered Anderson, "where nobody drinks after
another out of the same cup, unless it be after a young lady."
"The teil's in their nicety!" said Donald; "and if the ale be gude, fat
the waur is't that another man's beard's been in the queich before ye?"
Anderson's companion drank without observing the ceremony which had
given Donald so much offence, and both of them followed their master
into the low-arched stone hall, which was the common rendezvous of a
Highland family. A large fire of peats in the huge chimney at the upper
end shed a dim light through the apartment, and was rendered necessary
by the damp, by which, even during the summer, the apartment was
rendered uncomfortable. Twenty or thirty targets, as many claymores,
with dirks, and plaids, and guns, both match-lock and fire-lock, and
long-bows, and cross-bows, and Lochaber axes, and coats of plate armour,
and steel bonnets, and headpieces, and the more ancient haborgeons, or
shirts of reticulated mail, with hood and sleeves corresponding to it,
all hung in confusion about the walls, and would have formed a month's
amusement to a member of a modern antiquarian society. But such things
were too familiar, to attract much observation on the part of the
There was a large clumsy oaken table, which the hasty hospitality of the
domestic who had before spoken, immediately spread with milk, butter,
goat-milk cheese, a flagon of beer, and a flask of usquebae, designed
for the refreshment of Lord Menteith; while an inferior servant made
similar preparations at the bottom of the table for the benefit of his
attendants. The space which intervened between them was, according to
the manners of the times, sufficient distinction between master and
servant, even though the former was, as in the present instance, of high
rank. Meanwhile the guests stood by the fire--the young nobleman under
the chimney, and his servants at some little distance.
"What do you think, Anderson," said the former, "of our
"A stout fellow," replied Anderson, "if all be good that is upcome.
I wish we had twenty such, to put our Teagues into some sort of
"I differ from you, Anderson," said Lord Menteith; "I think this fellow
Dalgetty is one of those horse-leeches, whose appetite for blood being
only sharpened by what he has sucked in foreign countries, he is now
returned to batten upon that of his own. Shame on the pack of these
mercenary swordmen! they have made the name of Scot through all Europe
equivalent to that of a pitiful mercenary, who knows neither honour
nor principle but his month's pay, who transfers his allegiance from
standard to standard, at the pleasure of fortune or the highest bidder;
and to whose insatiable thirst for plunder and warm quarters we owe much
of that civil dissension which is now turning our swords against our own
bowels. I had scarce patience with the hired gladiator, and yet could
hardly help laughing at the extremity of his impudence."
"Your lordship will forgive me," said Anderson, "if I recommend to
you, in the present circumstances, to conceal at least a part of this
generous indignation; we cannot, unfortunately, do our work without the
assistance of those who act on baser motives than our own. We cannot
spare the assistance of such fellows as our friend the soldado. To use
the canting phrase of the saints in the English Parliament, the sons of
Zeruiah are still too many for us."
"I must dissemble, then, as well as I can," said Lord Menteith, "as I
have hitherto done, upon your hint. But I wish the fellow at the devil
with all my heart."
"Ay, but still you must remember, my lord," resumed Anderson, "that
to cure the bite of a scorpion, you must crush another scorpion on the
wound--But stop, we shall be overheard."
From a side-door in the hall glided a Highlander into the apartment,
whose lofty stature and complete equipment, as well as the eagle's
feather in his bonnet, and the confidence of his demeanour, announced to
be a person of superior rank. He walked slowly up to the table, and made
no answer to Lord Menteith, who, addressing him by the name of Allan,
asked him how he did.
"Ye manna speak to her e'en now," whispered the old attendant.
The tall Highlander, sinking down upon the empty settle next the fire,
fixed his eyes upon the red embers and the huge heap of turf, and seemed
buried in profound abstraction. His dark eyes, and wild and enthusiastic
features, bore the air of one who, deeply impressed with his own
subjects of meditation, pays little attention to exterior objects.
An air of gloomy severity, the fruit perhaps of ascetic and solitary
habits, might, in a Lowlander, have been ascribed to religious
fanaticism; but by that disease of the mind, then so common both in
England and the Lowlands of Scotland, the Highlanders of this
period were rarely infected. They had, however, their own peculiar
superstitions, which overclouded the mind with thick-coming fancies, as
completely as the puritanism of their neighbours.
"His lordship's honour," said the Highland servant sideling up to Lord
Menteith, and speaking in a very low tone, "his lordship manna speak to
Allan even now, for the cloud is upon his mind."
Lord Menteith nodded, and took no farther notice of the reserved
"Said I not," asked the latter, suddenly raising his stately person
upright, and looking at the domestic--"said I not that four were to
come, and here stand but three on the hall floor?"
"In troth did ye say sae, Allan," said the old Highlander, "and here's
the fourth man coming clinking in at the yett e'en now from the stable,
for he's shelled like a partan, wi' airn on back and breast, haunch and
shanks. And am I to set her chair up near the Menteith's, or down wi'
the honest gentlemen at the foot of the table?"
Lord Menteith himself answered the enquiry, by pointing to a seat beside
"And here she comes," said Donald, as Captain Dalgetty entered the hall;
"and I hope gentlemens will all take bread and cheese, as we say in the
glens, until better meat be ready, until the Tiernach comes back frae
the hill wi' the southern gentlefolk, and then Dugald Cook will show
himself wi' his kid and hill venison."
In the meantime, Captain Dalgetty had entered the apartment, and walking
up to the seat placed next Lord Menteith, was leaning on the back of it
with his arms folded. Anderson and his companion waited at the bottom
of the table, in a respectful attitude, until they should receive
permission to seat themselves; while three or four Highlanders, under
the direction of old Donald, ran hither and thither to bring additional
articles of food, or stood still to give attendance upon the guests.
In the midst of these preparations, Allan suddenly started up, and
snatching a lamp from the hand of an attendant, held it close to
Dalgetty's face, while he perused his features with the most heedful and
"By my honour," said Dalgetty, half displeased, as, mysteriously shaking
his head, Allan gave up the scrutiny--"I trow that lad and I will ken
each other when we meet again."
Meanwhile Allan strode to the bottom of the table, and having, by
the aid of his lamp, subjected Anderson and his companion to the same
investigation, stood a moment as if in deep reflection; then, touching
his forehead, suddenly seized Anderson by the arm, and before he could
offer any effectual resistance, half led and half dragged him to the
vacant seat at the upper end, and having made a mute intimation that
he should there place himself, he hurried the soldado with the same
unceremonious precipitation to the bottom of the table. The Captain,
exceedingly incensed at this freedom, endeavoured to shake Allan from
him with violence; but, powerful as he was, he proved in the struggle
inferior to the gigantic mountaineer, who threw him off with such
violence, that after reeling a few paces, he fell at full length, and
the vaulted hall rang with the clash of his armour. When he arose, his
first action was to draw his sword and to fly at Allan, who, with folded
arms, seemed to await his onset with the most scornful indifference.
Lord Menteith and his attendants interposed to preserve peace, while the
Highlanders, snatching weapons from the wall, seemed prompt to increase
"He is mad," whispered Lord Menteith, "he is perfectly mad; there is no
purpose in quarrelling with him."
"If your lordship is assured that he is NON COMPOS MENTIS," said Captain
Dalgetty, "the whilk his breeding and behaviour seem to testify, the
matter must end here, seeing that a madman can neither give an affront,
nor render honourable satisfaction. But, by my saul, if I had my
provstnt and a bottle of Rhenish under my belt, I should hive stood
otherways up to him. And yet it's a pity he should be sae weak in the
intellectuals, being a strong proper man of body, fit to handle pike,
morgenstern, or any other military implement whatsoever." [This was
a sort of club or mace, used in the earlier part of the seventeenth
century in the defence of breaches and walls. When the Germans insulted
a Scotch regiment then besieged in Trailsund, saying they heard there
was a ship come from Denmark to them laden with tobacco pipes, "One of
our soldiers," says Colonel Robert Munro, "showing them over the work a
morgenstern, made of a large stock banded with iron, like the shaft of
a halberd, with a round globe at the end with cross iron pikes, saith,
'Here is one of the tobacco pipes, wherewith we will beat out your
brains when you intend to storm us.'"]
Peace was thus restored, and the party seated themselves agreeably to
their former arrangement, with which Allan, who had now returned to his
settle by the fire, and seemed once more immersed in meditation, did
not again interfere. Lord Menteith, addressing the principal domestic,
hastened to start some theme of conversation which might obliterate all
recollection of the fray that had taken place. "The laird is at the hill
then, Donald, I understand, and some English strangers with him?"
"At the hill he is, an it like your honour, and two Saxon calabaleros
are with him sure eneugh; and that is Sir Miles Musgrave and Christopher
Hall, both from the Cumraik, as I think they call their country."
"Hall and Musgrave?" said Lord Menteith, looking at his attendants, "the
very men that we wished to see."
"Troth," said Donald, "an' I wish I had never seen them between the een,
for they're come to herry us out o' house and ha'."
"Why, Donald," said Lord Menteith, "you did not use to be so churlish of
your beef and ale; southland though they be, they'll scarce eat up all
the cattle that's going on the castle mains."
"Teil care an they did," said Donald, "an that were the warst o't, for
we have a wheen canny trewsmen here that wadna let us want if there was
a horned beast atween this and Perth. But this is a warse job--it's nae
less than a wager."
"A wager!" repeated Lord Menteith, with some surprise.
"Troth," continued Donald, to the full as eager to tell his news as Lord
Menteith was curious to hear them, "as your lordship is a friend and
kinsman o' the house, an' as ye'll hear eneugh o't in less than an hour,
I may as weel tell ye mysell. Ye sall be pleased then to know, that when
our Laird was up in England where he gangs oftener than his friends can
wish, he was biding at the house o' this Sir Miles Musgrave, an' there
was putten on the table six candlesticks, that they tell me were twice
as muckle as the candlesticks in Dunblane kirk, and neither airn, brass,
nor tin, but a' solid silver, nae less;--up wi' their English pride, has
sae muckle, and kens sae little how to guide it! Sae they began to jeer
the Laird, that he saw nae sic graith in his ain poor country; and
the Laird, scorning to hae his country put down without a word for its
credit, swore, like a gude Scotsman, that he had mair candlesticks, and
better candlesticks, in his ain castle at hame, than were ever lighted
in a hall in Cumberland, an Cumberland be the name o' the country."
"That was patriotically said," observed Lord Menteith.
"Fary true," said Donald; "but her honour had better hae hauden her
tongue: for if ye say ony thing amang the Saxons that's a wee by
ordinar, they clink ye down for a wager as fast as a Lowland smith would
hammer shoon on a Highland shelty. An' so the Laird behoved either to
gae back o' his word, or wager twa hunder merks; and sa he e'en tock the
wager, rather than be shamed wi' the like o' them. And now he's like to
get it to pay, and I'm thinking that's what makes him sae swear to come
hame at e'en."
"Indeed," said Lord Menteith, "from my idea of your family plate,
Donald, your master is certain to lose such a wager."
"Your honour may swear that; an' where he's to get the siller I kenna,
although he borrowed out o' twenty purses. I advised him to pit the twa
Saxon gentlemen and their servants cannily into the pit o' the tower
till they gae up the bagain o' free gude-will, but the Laird winna hear
Allan here started up, strode forward, and interrupted the conversation,
saying to the domestic in a voice like thunder, "And how dared you to
give my brother such dishonourable advice? or how dare you to say he
will lose this or any other wager which it is his pleasure to lay?"
"Troth, Allan M'Aulay," answered the old man, "it's no for my father's
son to gainsay what your father's son thinks fit to say, an' so the
Laird may no doubt win his wager. A' that I ken against it is, that the
teil a candlestick, or ony thing like it, is in the house, except the
auld airn branches that has been here since Laird Kenneth's time, and
the tin sconces that your father gard be made by auld Willie Winkie the
tinkler, mair be token that deil an unce of siller plate is about the
house at a', forby the lady's auld posset dish, that wants the cover and
ane o' the lugs."
"Peace, old man!" said Allan, fiercely; "and do you, gentlemen, if your
refection is finished, leave this apartment clear; I must prepare it for
the reception of these southern guests."
"Come away," said the domestic, pulling Lord Menteith by the sleeve;
"his hour is on him," said he, looking towards Allan, "and he will not
They left the hall accordingly, Lord Menteith and the Captain being
ushered one way by old Donald, and the two attendants conducted
elsewhere by another Highlander. The former had scarcely reached a
sort of withdrawing apartment ere they were joined by the lord of the
mansion, Angus M'Aulay by name, and his English guests. Great joy was
expressed by all parties, for Lord Menteith and the English gentlemen
were well known to each other; and on Lord Menteith's introduction,
Captain Dalgetty was well received by the Laird. But after the first
burst of hospitable congratulation was over, Lord Menteith could observe
that there was a shade of sadness on the brow of his Highland friend.
"You must have heard," said Sir Christopher Hall, "that our fine
undertaking in Cumberland is all blown up. The militia would not march
into Scotland, and your prick-ear'd Covenanters have been too hard for
our friends in the southern shires. And so, understanding there is some
stirring work here, Musgrave and I, rather than sit idle at home, are
come to have a campaign among your kilts and plaids."
"I hope you have brought arms, men, and money with you," said Lord
"Only some dozen or two of troopers, whom we left at the last Lowland
village," said Musgrave, "and trouble enough we had to get them so far."
"As for money," said his companion, "We expect a small supply from our
friend and host here."
The Laird now, colouring highly, took Menteith a little apart, and
expressed to him his regret that he had fallen into a foolish blunder.
"I heard it from Donald," said Lord Menteith, scarce able to suppress a
"Devil take that old man," said M'Aulay, "he would tell every thing,
were it to cost one's life; but it's no jesting matter to you neither,
my lord, for I reckon on your friendly and fraternal benevolence, as a
near kinsman of our house, to help me out with the money due to these
pock-puddings; or else, to be plain wi' ye, the deil a M'Aulay will
there be at the muster, for curse me if I do not turn Covenanter rather
than face these fellows without paying them; and, at the best, I shall
be ill enough off, getting both the scaith and the scorn."
"You may suppose, cousin," said Lord Menteith, "I am not too well equipt
just now; but you may be assured I shall endeavour to help you as well
as I can, for the sake of old kindred, neighbourhood, and alliance."
"Thank ye--thank ye--thank ye," reiterated M'Aulay; "and as they are to
spend the money in the King's service, what signifies whether you, they,
or I pay it?--we are a' one man's bairns, I hope? But you must help me
out too with some reasonable excuse, or else I shall be for taking to
Andrew Ferrara; for I like not to be treated like a liar or a braggart
at my own board-end, when, God knows, I only meant to support my honour,
and that of my family and country."
Donald, as they were speaking, entered, with rather a blither face than
he might have been expected to wear, considering the impending fate of
his master's purse and credit. "Gentlemens, her dinner is ready, and HER
CANDLES ARE LIGHTED TOO," said Donald, with a strong guttural emphasis
on the last clause of his speech.
"What the devil can he mean?" said Musgrave, looking to his countryman.
Lord Menteith put the same question with his eyes to the Laird, which
M'Aulay answered by shaking his head.
A short dispute about precedence somewhat delayed their leaving the
apartment. Lord Menteith insisted upon yielding up that which belonged
to his rank, on consideration of his being in his own country, and of
his near connexion with the family in which they found themselves. The
two English strangers, therefore, were first ushered into the hall,
where an unexpected display awaited them. The large oaken table was
spread with substantial joints of meat, and seats were placed in
order for the guests. Behind every seat stood a gigantic Highlander,
completely dressed and armed after the fashion of his country, holding
in his right hand his drawn sword, with the point turned downwards, and
in the left a blazing torch made of the bog-pine. This wood, found in
the morasses, is so full of turpentine, that, when split and dried, it
is frequently used in the Highlands instead of candles. The unexpected
and somewhat startling apparition was seen by the red glare of
the torches, which displayed the wild features, unusual dress, and
glittering arms of those who bore them, while the smoke, eddying up to
the roof of the hall, over-canopied them with a volume of vapour. Ere
the strangers had recovered from their surprise, Allan stept forward,
and pointing with his sheathed broadsword to the torch-bearers, said,
in a deep and stern tone of voice, "Behold, gentlemen cavaliers, the
chandeliers of my brother's house, the ancient fashion of our ancient
name; not one of these men knows any law but their Chiefs command--Would
you dare to compare to THEM in value the richest ore that ever was dug
out of the mine? How say you, cavaliers?--is your wager won or lost?"
"Lost; lost," said Musgrave, gaily--"my own silver candlesticks are all
melted and riding on horseback by this time, and I wish the fellows
that enlisted were half as trusty as these.--Here, sir," he added to the
Chief, "is your money; it impairs Hall's finances and mine somewhat, but
debts of honour must be settled."
"My father's curse upon my father's son," said Allan, interrupting him,
"if he receive from you one penny! It is enough that you claim no right
to exact from him what is his own."
Lord Menteith eagerly supported Allan's opinion, and the elder M'Aulay
readily joined, declaring the whole to be a fool's business, and
not worth speaking more about. The Englishmen, after some courteous
opposition, were persuaded to regard the whole as a joke.
"And now, Allan," said the Laird, "please to remove your candles; for,
since the Saxon gentlemen have seen them, they will eat their dinner
as comfortably by the light of the old tin sconces, without scomfishing
them with so much smoke."
Accordingly, at a sign from Allan, the living chandeliers, recovering
their broadswords, and holding the point erect, marched out of the hall,
and left the guests to enjoy their refreshment. [Such a bet as that
mentioned in the text is said to have been taken by MacDonald of
Keppoch, who extricated himself in the manner there narrated.]
Thareby so fearlesse and so fell he grew,
That his own syre and maister of his guise
Did often tremble at his horrid view;
And if for dread of hurt would him advise,
The angry beastes not rashly to despise,
Nor too much to provoke; for he would learne
The lion stoup to him in lowly wise,
(A lesson hard,) and make the libbard sterne
Leave roaring, when in rage he for revenge did earne.--SPENSER.
Notwithstanding the proverbial epicurism of the English,--proverbial,
that is to say, in Scotland at the period,--the English visitors made
no figure whatever at the entertainment, compared with the portentous
voracity of Captain Dalgetty, although that gallant soldier had already
displayed much steadiness and pertinacity in his attack upon the lighter
refreshment set before them at their entrance, by way of forlorn hope.
He spoke to no one during the time of his meal; and it was not until
the victuals were nearly withdrawn from the table, that he gratified
the rest of the company, who had watched him with some surprise, with an
account of the reasons why he ate so very fast and so very long.
"The former quality," he said, "he had acquired, while he filled a place
at the bursar's table at the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen; when," said
he; "if you did not move your jaws as fast as a pair of castanets, you
were very unlikely to get any thing to put between them. And as for the
quantity of my food, be it known to this honourable company," continued
the Captain, "that it's the duty of every commander of a fortress, on
all occasions which offer, to secure as much munition and vivers as
their magazines can possibly hold, not knowing when they may have to
sustain a siege or a blockade. Upon which principle, gentlemen," said
he, "when a cavalier finds that provant is good and abundant, he will,
in my estimation, do wisely to victual himself for at least three days,
as there is no knowing when he may come by another meal."
The Laird expressed his acquiescence in the prudence of this principle,
and recommended to the veteran to add a tass of brandy and a flagon of
claret to the substantial provisions he had already laid in, to which
proposal the Captain readily agreed.
When dinner was removed, and the servants had withdrawn, excepting the
Laird's page, or henchman, who remained in the apartment to call for or
bring whatever was wanted, or, in a word, to answer the purposes of a
modern bell-wire, the conversation began to turn upon politics, and
the state of the country; and Lord Menteith enquired anxiously and
particularly what clans were expected to join the proposed muster of the
"That depends much, my lord, on the person who lifts the banner," said
the Laird; "for you know we Highlanders, when a few clans are assembled,
are not easily commanded by one of our own Chiefs, or, to say the truth,
by any other body. We have heard a rumour, indeed, that Colkitto--that
is, young Colkitto, or Alaster M'Donald, is come over the Kyle from
Ireland, with a body of the Earl of Antrim's people, and that they had
got as far as Ardnamurchan. They might have been here before now, but, I
suppose, they loitered to plunder the country as they came along."
"Will Colkitto not serve you for a leader, then?" said Lord Menteith.
"Colkitto?" said Allan M'Aulay, scornfully; "who talks of
Colkitto?--There lives but one man whom we will follow, and that is
"But Montrose, sir," said Sir Christopher Hall, "has not been heard of
since our ineffectual attempt to rise in the north of England. It is
thought he has returned to the King at Oxford for farther instructions."
"Returned!" said Allan, with a scornful laugh; "I could tell ye, but it
is not worth my while; ye will know soon enough."
"By my honour, Allan," said Lord Menteith, "you will weary out your
friends with this intolerable, froward, and sullen humour--But I know
the reason," added he, laughing; "you have not seen Annot Lyle to-day."
"Whom did you say I had not seen?" said Allan, sternly.
"Annot Lyle, the fairy queen of song and minstrelsy," said Lord
"Would to God I were never to see her again," said Allan, sighing, "On
condition the same weird were laid on you!"
"And why on me?" said Lord Menteith, carelessly.
"Because," said Allan, "it is written on your forehead, that you are to
be the ruin of each other." So saying, he rose up and left the room.
"Has he been long in this way?" asked Lord Menteith, addressing his
"About three days," answered Angus; "the fit is wellnigh over, he will
be better to-morrow.--But come, gentlemen, don't let the tappit-hen
scraugh to be emptied. The King's health, King Charles's health! and
may the covenanting dog that refuses it, go to Heaven by the road of the
The health was quickly pledged, and as fast succeeded by another, and
another, and another, all of a party cast, and enforced in an earnest
manner. Captain Dalgetty, however, thought it necessary to enter a
"Gentlemen cavaliers," he said, "I drink these healths, PRIMO, both out
of respect to this honourable and hospitable roof-tree, and, SECUNDO,
because I hold it not good to be preceese in such matters, INTER POCULA;
but I protest, agreeable to the warrandice granted by this honourable
lord, that it shall be free to me, notwithstanding my present
complaisance, to take service with the Covenanters to-morrow, providing
I shall be so minded."
M'Aulay and his English guests stared at this declaration, which would
have certainly bred new disturbance, if Lord Menteith had not taken up
the affair, and explained the circumstances and conditions. "I trust,"
he concluded, "we shall be able to secure Captain Dalgetty's assistance
to our own party."
"And if not," said the Laird, "I protest, as the Captain says, that
nothing that has passed this evening, not even his having eaten my bread
and salt, and pledged me in brandy, Bourdeaux, or usquebaugh, shall
prejudice my cleaving him to the neck-bone."
"You shall be heartily welcome," said the Captain, "providing my sword
cannot keep my head, which it has done in worse dangers than your fend
is likely to make for me."
Here Lord Menteith again interposed, and the concord of the company
being with no small difficulty restored, was cemented by some deep
carouses. Lord Menteith, however, contrived to break up the party
earlier than was the usage of the Castle, under pretence of fatigue and
indisposition. This was somewhat to the disappointment of the valiant
Captain, who, among other habits acquired in the Low countries, had
acquired both a disposition to drink, and a capacity to bear, an
exorbitant quantity of strong liquors.
Their landlord ushered them in person to a sort of sleeping gallery, in
which there was a four-post bed, with tartan curtains, and a number
of cribs, or long hampers, placed along the wall, three of which,
well stuffed with blooming heather, were prepared for the reception of
"I need not tell your lordship," said M'Aulay to Lord Menteith, a little
apart, "our Highland mode of quartering. Only that, not liking you
should sleep in the room alone with this German land-louper, I have
caused your servants' beds to be made here in the gallery. By G--d, my
lord, these are times when men go to bed with a throat hale and sound as
ever swallowed brandy, and before next morning it may be gaping like an
Lord Menteith thanked him sincerely, saying, "It was just the
arrangement he would have requested; for, although he had not the least
apprehension of violence from Captain Dalgetty, yet Anderson was a
better kind of person, a sort of gentleman, whom he always liked to have
near his person."
"I have not seen this Anderson," said M'Aulay; "did you hire him in
"I did so," said Lord Menteith; "you will see the man to-morrow; in the
meantime I wish you good-night."
His host left the apartment after the evening salutation, and was about
to pay the same compliment to Captain Dalgetty, but observing him deeply
engaged in the discussion of a huge pitcher filled with brandy posset,
he thought it a pity to disturb him in so laudable an employment, and
took his leave without farther ceremony.
Lord Menteith's two attendants entered the apartment almost immediately
after his departure. The good Captain, who was now somewhat encumbered
with his good cheer, began to find the undoing of the clasps of his
armour a task somewhat difficult, and addressed Anderson in these words,
interrupted by a slight hiccup,--"Anderson, my good friend, you may
read in Scripture, that he that putteth off his armour should not boast
himself like he that putteth it on--I believe that is not the right
word of command; but the plain truth of it is, I am like to sleep in my
corslet, like many an honest fellow that never waked again, unless you
unloose this buckle."
"Undo his armour, Sibbald," said Anderson to the other servant.
"By St. Andrew!" exclaimed the Captain, turning round in great
astonishment, "here's a common fellow--a stipendiary with four pounds
a-year and a livery cloak, thinks himself too good to serve Ritt-master
Dugald Dalgetty of Drumthwacket, who has studied humanity at the
Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, and served half the princes of Europe!"
"Captain Dalgetty," said Lord Menteith, whose lot it was to stand
peacemaker throughout the evening, "please to understand that Anderson
waits upon no one but myself; but I will help Sibbald to undo your
corslet with much pleasure."
"Too much trouble for you, my lord," said Dalgetty; "and yet it would do
you no harm to practise how a handsome harness is put on and put off.
I can step in and out of mine like a glove; only to-night, although not
EBRIUS, I am, in the classic phrase, VINO CIBOQUE GRAVATUS."
By this time he was unshelled, and stood before the fire musing with a
face of drunken wisdom on the events of the evening. What seemed chiefly
to interest him, was the character of Allan M'Aulay. "To come over
the Englishmen so cleverly with his Highland torch-bearers--eight
bare-breeched Rories for six silver candlesticks!--it was a
master-piece--a TOUR DE PASSE--it was perfect legerdemain--and to be a
madman after all!--I doubt greatly, my lord" (shaking his head), "that
I must allow him, notwithstanding his relationship to your lordship, the
privileges of a rational person, and either batoon him sufficiently to
expiate the violence offered to my person, or else bring it to a matter
of mortal arbitrement, as becometh an insulted cavalier."
"If you care to hear a long story," said Lord Menteith, "at this time of
night, I can tell you how the circumstances of Allan's birth account so
well for his singular character, as to put such satisfaction entirely
out of the question."
"A long story, my lord," said Captain Dalgetty, "is, next to a good
evening draught and a warm nightcap, the best shoeinghorn for drawing on
a sound sleep. And since your lordship is pleased to take the trouble to
tell it, I shall rest your patient and obliged auditor."
"Anderson," said Lord Menteith, "and you, Sibbald, are dying to hear,
I suppose, of this strange man too! and I believe I must indulge your
curiosity, that you may know how to behave to him in time of need. You
had better step to the fire then."
Having thus assembled an audience about him, Lord Menteith sat down upon
the edge of the four-post bed, while Captain Dalgetty, wiping the relics
of the posset from his beard and mustachoes, and repeating the first
verse of the Lutheran psalm, ALLE GUTER GEISTER LOBEN DEN HERRN, etc.
rolled himself into one of the places of repose, and thrusting his shock
pate from between the blankets, listened to Lord Menteith's relation in
a most luxurious state, between sleeping and waking.
"The father," said Lord Menteith, "of the two brothers, Angus and Allan
M'Aulay, was a gentleman of consideration and family, being the chief
of a Highland clan, of good account, though not numerous; his lady, the
mother of these young men, was a gentlewoman of good family, if I may be
permitted to say so of one nearly connected with my own. Her brother, an
honourable and spirited young man, obtained from James the Sixth a grant
of forestry, and other privileges, over a royal chase adjacent to
this castle; and, in exercising and defending these rights, he was so
unfortunate as to involve himself in a quarrel with some of our Highland
freebooters or caterans, of whom I think, Captain Dalgetty, you must
"And that I have," said the Captain, exerting himself to answer the
appeal. "Before I left the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, Dugald Garr
was playing the devil in the Garioch, and the Farquharsons on Dee-side,
and the Clan Chattan on the Gordons' lands, and the Grants and Camerons
in Moray-land. And since that, I have seen the Cravats and Pandours in
Pannonia and Transylvania, and the Cossacks from the Polish frontier,
and robbers, banditti, and barbarians of all countries besides, so that
I have a distinct idea of your broken Highlandmen."
"The clan," said Lord Menteith, "with whom the maternal uncle of the
M'Aulays had been placed in feud, was a small sept of banditti, called,
from their houseless state, and their incessantly wandering among the
mountains and glens, the Children of the Mist. They are a fierce and
hardy people, with all the irritability, and wild and vengeful passions,
proper to men who have never known the restraint of civilized society.
A party of them lay in wait for the unfortunate Warden of the Forest,
surprised him while hunting alone and unattended, and slew him with
every circumstance of inventive cruelty. They cut off his head,
and resolved, in a bravado, to exhibit it at the castle of his
brother-in-law. The laird was absent, and the lady reluctantly received
as guests, men against whom, perhaps, she was afraid to shut her gates.
Refreshments were placed before the Children of the Mist, who took an
opportunity to take the head of their victim from the plaid in which
it was wrapt, placed it on the table, put a piece of bread between the
lifeless jaws, bidding them do their office now, since many a good meal
they had eaten at that table. The lady, who had been absent for some
household purpose, entered at this moment, and, upon beholding her
brother's head, fled like an arrow out of the house into the woods,
uttering shriek upon shriek. The ruffians, satisfied with this savage
triumph, withdrew. The terrified menials, after overcoming the alarm
to which they had been subjected, sought their unfortunate mistress in
every direction, but she was nowhere to be found. The miserable husband
returned next day, and, with the assistance of his people, undertook a
more anxious and distant search, but to equally little purpose. It
was believed universally, that, in the ecstasy of her terror, she must
either have thrown herself over one of the numerous precipices which
overhang the river, or into a deep lake about a mile from the castle.
Her loss was the more lamented, as she was six months advanced in
her pregnancy; Angus M'Aulay, her eldest son, having been born about
eighteen months before.--But I tire you, Captain Dalgetty, and you seem
inclined to sleep."
"By no means," answered the soldier; "I am no whit somnolent; I always
hear best with my eyes shut. It is a fashion I learned when I stood
"And I daresay," said Lord Menteith, aside to Anderson, "the weight of
the halberd of the sergeant of the rounds often made him open them."
Being apparently, however, in the humour of story-telling, the young
nobleman went on, addressing himself chiefly to his servants, without
minding the slumbering veteran.
"Every baron in the country," said he, "now swore revenge for this
dreadful crime. They took arms with the relations and brother-in-law of
the murdered person, and the Children of the Mist were hunted down,
I believe, with as little mercy as they had themselves manifested.
Seventeen heads, the bloody trophies of their vengeance, were
distributed among the allies, and fed the crows upon the gates of their
castles. The survivors sought out more distant wildernesses, to which
"To your right hand, counter-march and retreat to your former ground,"
said Captain Dalgetty; the military phrase having produced the
correspondent word of command; and then starting up, professed he had
been profoundly atttentive to every word that had been spoken.
"It is the custom in summer," said Lord Menteith, without attending
to his apology, "to send the cows to the upland pastures to have the
benefit of the grass; and the maids of the village, and of the family,
go there to milk them in the morning and evening. While thus employed,
the females of this family, to their great terror, perceived that their
motions were watched at a distance by a pale, thin, meagre figure,
bearing a strong resemblance to their deceased mistress, and passing,
of course, for her apparition. When some of the boldest resolved to
approach this faded form, it fled from them into the woods with a wild
shriek. The husband, informed of this circumstance, came up to the glen
with some attendants, and took his measures so well as to intercept
the retreat of the unhappy fugitive, and to secure the person of his
unfortunate lady, though her intellect proved to be totally deranged.
How she supported herself during her wandering in the woods could not be
known--some supposed she lived upon roots and wild-berries, with which
the woods at that season abounded; but the greater part of the vulgar
were satisfied that she must have subsisted upon the milk of the wild
does, or been nourished by the fairies, or supported in some manner
equally marvellous. Her re-appearance was more easily accounted for. She
had seen from the thicket the milking of the cows, to superintend which
had been her favourite domestic employment, and the habit had prevailed
even in her deranged state of mind.
"In due season the unfortunate lady was delivered of a boy, who not only
showed no appearance of having suffered from his mother's calamities,
but appeared to be an infant of uncommon health and strength. The
unhappy mother, after her confinement, recovered her reason--at least
in a great measure, but never her health and spirits. Allan was her only
joy. Her attention to him was unremitting; and unquestionably she must
have impressed upon his early mind many of those superstitious ideas to
which his moody and enthusiastic temper gave so ready a reception. She
died when he was about ten years old. Her last words were spoken to him
in private; but there is little doubt that they conveyed an injunction
of vengeance upon the Children of the Mist, with which he has since
"From this moment, the habits of Allan M'Aulay were totally changed.
He had hitherto been his mother's constant companion, listening to
her dreams, and repeating his own, and feeding his imagination,
which, probably from the circumstances preceding his birth, was
constitutionally deranged, with all the wild and terrible superstitions
so common to the mountaineers, to which his unfortunate mother had
become much addicted since her brother's death. By living in this
manner, the boy had gotten a timid, wild, startled look, loved to seek
out solitary places in the woods, and was never so much terrified, as
by the approach of children of the same age. I remember, although some
years younger, being brought up here by my father upon a visit, nor can
I forget the astonishment with which I saw this infant-hermit shun every
attempt I made to engage him in the sports natural to our age. I can
remember his father bewailing his disposition to mine, and alleging, at
the same time, that it was impossible for him to take from his wife
the company of the boy, as he seemed to be the only consolation that
remained to her in this world, and as the amusement which Allan's
society afforded her seemed to prevent the recurrence, at least in its
full force, of that fearful malady by which she had been visited. But,
after the death of his mother, the habits and manners of the boy seemed
at once to change. It is true he remained as thoughtful and serious as
before; and long fits of silence and abstraction showed plainly that
his disposition, in this respect, was in no degree altered. But at other
times, he sought out the rendezvous of the youth of the clan, which
he had hitherto seemed anxious to avoid. He took share in all their
exercises; and, from his very extraordinary personal strength, soon
excelled his brother and other youths, whose age considerably exceeded
his own. They who had hitherto held him in contempt, now feared, if they
did not love him; and, instead of Allan's being esteemed a dreaming,
womanish, and feeble-minded boy, those who encountered him in sports or
military exercise, now complained that, when heated by the strife, he
was too apt to turn game into earnest, and to forget that he was only
engaged in a friendly trial of strength.--But I speak to regardless
ears," said Lord Menteith, interrupting himself, for the Captain's nose
now gave the most indisputable signs that he was fast locked in the arms
"If you mean the ears of that snorting swine, my lord," said Anderson,
"they are, indeed, shut to anything that you can say; nevertheless, this
place being unfit for more private conference, I hope you will have the
goodness to proceed, for Sibbald's benefit and for mine. The history of
this poor young fellow has a deep and wild interest in it."
"You must know, then," proceeded Lord Menteith, "that Allan continued to
increase in strength and activity, till his fifteenth year, about which
time he assumed a total independence of character, and impatience of
control, which much alarmed his surviving parent. He was absent in the
woods for whole days and nights, under pretence of hunting, though he
did not always bring home game. His father was the more alarmed, because
several of the Children of the Mist, encouraged by the increasing
troubles of the state, had ventured back to their old haunts, nor did
he think it altogether safe to renew any attack upon them. The risk
of Allan, in his wanderings, sustaining injury from these vindictive
freebooters, was a perpetual source of apprehension.
"I was myself upon a visit to the castle when this matter was brought
to a crisis. Allan had been absent since day-break in the woods, where
I had sought for him in vain; it was a dark stormy night, and he did not
return. His father expressed the utmost anxiety, and spoke of detaching
a party at the dawn of morning in quest of him; when, as we were sitting
at the supper-table, the door suddenly opened, and Allan entered the
room with a proud, firm, and confident air. His intractability of
temper, as well as the unsettled state of his mind, had such an
influence over his father, that he suppressed all other tokens of
displeasure, excepting the observation that I had killed a fat buck, and
had returned before sunset, while he supposed Allan, who had been on
the hill till midnight, had returned with empty hands. 'Are you sure of
that?' said Allan, fiercely; 'here is something will tell you another
"We now observed his hands were bloody, and that there were spots of
blood on his face, and waited the issue with impatience; when suddenly,
undoing the corner of his plaid, he rolled down on the table a human
head, bloody and new severed, saying at the same time, 'Lie thou where
the head of a better man lay before ye.' From the haggard features,
and matted red hair and beard, partly grizzled with age, his father and
others present recognised the head of Hector of the Mist, a well-known
leader among the outlaws, redoubted for strength and ferocity, who had
been active in the murder of the unfortunate Forester, uncle to Allan,
and had escaped by a desperate defence and extraordinary agility,
when so many of his companions were destroyed. We were all, it may
be believed, struck with surprise, but Allan refused to gratify our
curiosity; and we only conjectured that he must have overcome the outlaw
after a desperate struggle, because we discovered that he had sustained
several wounds from the contest. All measures were now taken to ensure
him against the vengeance of the freebooters; but neither his wounds,
nor the positive command of his father, nor even the locking of the
gates of the castle and the doors of his apartment, were precautions
adequate to prevent Allan from seeking out the very persons to whom he
was peculiarly obnoxious. He made his escape by night from the window of
the apartment, and laughing at his father's vain care, produced on one
occasion the head of one, and upon another those of two, of the Children
of the Mist. At length these men, fierce as they were, became appalled
by the inveterate animosity and audacity with which Allan sought out
their recesses. As he never hesitated to encounter any odds, they
concluded that he must bear a charmed life, or fight under the
guardianship of some supernatural influence. Neither gun, dirk, nor
dourlach [DOURLACH--quiver; literally, satchel--of arrows.], they
said, availed aught against him. They imputed this to the remarkable
circumstances under which he was born; and at length five or six of the
stoutest caterans of the Highlands would have fled at Allan's halloo, or
the blast of his horn.
"In the meanwhile, however, the Children of the Mist carried on their
old trade, and did the M'Aulays, as well as their kinsmen and allies,
as much mischief as they could. This provoked another expedition against
the tribe, in which I had my share; we surprised them effectually, by
besetting at once the upper and under passes of the country, and made
such clean work as is usual on these occasions, burning and slaying
right before us. In this terrible species of war, even the females and
the helpless do not always escape. One little maiden alone, who smiled
upon Allan's drawn dirk, escaped his vengeance upon my earnest entreaty.
She was brought to the castle, and here bred up under the name of Annot
Lyle, the most beautiful little fairy certainly that ever danced upon a
heath by moonlight. It was long ere Allan could endure the presence
of the child, until it occurred to his imagination, from her features
perhaps, that she did not belong to the hated blood of his enemies, but
had become their captive in some of their incursions; a circumstance
not in itself impossible, but in which he believes as firmly as in holy
writ. He is particularly delighted by her skill in music, which is so
exquisite, that she far exceeds the best performers in this country in
playing on the clairshach, or harp. It was discovered that this produced
upon the disturbed spirits of Allan, in his gloomiest moods, beneficial
effects, similar to those experienced by the Jewish monarch of old; and
so engaging is the temper of Annot Lyle, so fascinating the innocence
and gaiety of her disposition, that she is considered and treated in the
castle rather as the sister of the proprietor, than as a dependent upon
his charity. Indeed, it is impossible for any one to see her without
being deeply interested by the ingenuity, liveliness, and sweetness of
"Take care, my lord," said Anderson, smiling; "there is danger in such
violent commendations. Allan M'Aulay, as your lordship describes him,
would prove no very safe rival."
"Pooh! pooh!" said Lord Menteith, laughing, yet blushing at the same
time; "Allan is not accessible to the passion of love; and for myself,"
said he, more gravely; "Annot's unknown birth is a sufficient reason
against serious designs, and her unprotected state precludes every
"It is spoken like yourself, my lord," said Anderson.--"But I trust you
will proceed with your interesting story."
"It is wellnigh finished," said Lord Menteith; "I have only to add, that
from the great strength and courage of Allan M'Aulay, from his
energetic and uncontrollable disposition, and from an opinion generally
entertained and encouraged by himself that he holds communion with
supernatural beings, and can predict future events, the clan pay a much
greater degree of deference to him than even to his brother, who is a
bold-hearted rattling Highlander, but with nothing which can possibly
rival the extraordinary character of his younger brother."
"Such a character," said Anderson, "cannot but have the deepest effect
on the minds of a Highland host. We must secure Allan, my lord, at all
events. What between his bravery and his second sight--"
"Hush!" said Lord Menteith, "that owl is awaking."
"Do you talk of the second sight, or DEUTERO-SCOPIA?" said the soldier;
"I remember memorable Major Munro telling me how Murdoch Mackenzie,
born in Assint, a private gentleman in a company, and a pretty soldier,
foretold the death of Donald Tough, a Lochaber man, and certain other
persons, as well as the hurt of the major himself at a sudden onfall at
the siege of Trailsund."
"I have often heard of this faculty," observed Anderson, "but I have
always thought those pretending to it were either enthusiasts or
"I should be loath," said Lord Menteith, "to apply either character
to my kinsman, Allan M'Aulay. He has shown on many occasions too much
acuteness and sense, of which you this night had an instance, for the
character of an enthusiast; and his high sense of honour, and manliness
of disposition, free him from the charge of imposture."
"Your lordship, then," said Anderson, "is a believer in his supernatural
"By no means," said the young nobleman; "I think that he persuades
himself that the predictions which are, in reality, the result of
judgment and reflection, are supernatural impressions on his mind, just
as fanatics conceive the workings of their own imagination to be divine
inspiration--at least, if this will not serve you, Anderson, I have no
better explanation to give; and it is time we were all asleep after the
toilsome journey of the day."
Coming events cast their shadows before.--CAMPBELL.
At an early hour in the morning the guests of the castle sprung from
their repose; and, after a moment's private conversation with his
attendants, Lord Menteith addressed the soldier, who was seated in a
corner burnishing his corslet with rot-stone and chamois-leather, while
he hummed the old song in honour of the victorious Gustavus Adolphus:--
When cannons are roaring, and bullets are flying,
The lad that would have honour, boys, must never fear dying.
"Captain Dalgetty," said Lord Menteith, "the time is come that we must
part, or become comrades in service."
"Not before breakfast, I hope?" said Captain Dalgetty.
"I should have thought," replied his lordship, "that your garrison was
victualled for three days at least."
"I have still some stowage left for beef and bannocks," said the
Captain; "and I never miss a favourable opportunity of renewing my
"But," said Lord Menteith, "no judicious commander allows either flags
of truce or neutrals to remain in his camp longer than is prudent; and
therefore we must know your mind exactly, according to which you shall
either have a safe-conduct to depart in peace, or be welcome to remain
"Truly," said the Captain, "that being the case, I will not attempt
to protract the capitulation by a counterfeited parley, (a thing
excellently practised by Sir James Ramsay at the siege of Hannau, in the
year of God 1636,) but I will frankly own, that if I like your pay as
well as your provant and your company, I care not how soon I take the
oath to your colours."
"Our pay," said Lord Menteith, "must at present be small, since it
is paid out of the common stock raised by the few amongst us who can
command some funds--As major and adjutant, I dare not promise Captain
Dalgetty more than half a dollar a-day."
"The devil take all halves and quarters!" said the Captain; "were it in
my option, I could no more consent to the halving of that dollar, than
the woman in the Judgment of Solomon to the disseverment of the child of
"The parallel will scarce hold, Captain Dalgetty, for I think you would
rather consent to the dividing of the dollar, than give it up entire to
your competitor. However, in the way of arrears, I may promise you the
other half-dollar at the end of the campaign."
"Ah! these arrearages!" said Captain Dalgetty, "that are always
promised, and always go for nothing! Spain, Austria, and Sweden,
all sing one song. Oh! long life to the Hoganmogans! if they were no
officers of soldiers, they were good paymasters.--And yet, my lord, if
I could but be made certiorate that my natural hereditament of
Drumthwacket had fallen into possession of any of these loons of
Covenanters, who could be, in the event of our success, conveniently
made a traitor of, I have so much value for that fertile and pleasant
spot, that I would e'en take on with you for the campaign."
"I can resolve Captain Dalgetty's question," said Sibbald, Lord
Menteith's second attendant; "for if his estate of Drumthwacket be, as
I conceive, the long waste moor so called, that lies five miles south of
Aberdeen, I can tell him it was lately purchased by Elias Strachan, as
rank a rebel as ever swore the Covenant."
"The crop-eared hound!" said Captain Dalgetty, in a rage; "What the
devil gave him the assurance to purchase the inheritance of a family of
four hundred years standing?--CYNTHIUS AUREM VELLET, as we used to say
at Mareschal-College; that is to say, I will pull him out of my father's
house by the ears. And so, my Lord Menteith, I am yours, hand and
sword, body and soul, till death do us part, or to the end of the next
campaign, whichever event shall first come to pass."
"And I," said the young nobleman, "rivet the bargain with a month's pay
"That is more than necessary," said Dalgetty, pocketing the money
however. "But now I must go down, look after my war-saddle and
abuilziements, and see that Gustavus has his morning, and tell him we
have taken new service."
"There goes your precious recruit," said Lord Menteith to Anderson, as
the Captain left the room; "I fear we shall have little credit of him."
"He is a man of the times, however," said Anderson; "and without such we
should hardly be able to carry on our enterprise."
"Let us go down," answered Lord Menteith, "and see how our muster is
likely to thrive, for I hear a good deal of bustle in the castle."
When they entered the hall, the domestics keeping modestly in the
background, morning greetings passed between Lord Menteith, Angus
M'Aulay, and his English guests, while Allan, occupying the same settle
which he had filled the preceding evening, paid no attention whatever to
any one. Old Donald hastily rushed into the apartment. "A message from
Vich Alister More; [The patronymic of MacDonell of Glengarry.] he is
coming up in the evening."
"With how many attendants?" said M'Aulay.
"Some five-and-twenty or thirty," said Donald, "his ordinary retinue."
"Shake down plenty of straw in the great barn," said the Laird.
Another servant here stumbled hastily in, announcing the expected
approach of Sir Hector M'Lean, "who is arriving with a large following."
"Put them in the malt-kiln," said M'Aulay; "and keep the breadth of the
middenstead between them and the M'Donalds; they are but unfriends to
Donald now re-entered, his visage considerably lengthened--"The tell's
i' the folk," he said; "the haill Hielands are asteer, I think. Evan
Dhu, of Lochiel, will be here in an hour, with Lord kens how many
"Into the great barn with them beside the M'Donalds," said the Laird.
More and more chiefs were announced, the least of whom would have
accounted it derogatory to his dignity to stir without a retinue of six
or seven persons. To every new annunciation, Angus M'Aulay answered
by naming some place of accommodation,--the stables, the loft, the
cow-house, the sheds, every domestic office, were destined for the night
to some hospitable purpose or other. At length the arrival of M'Dougal
of Lorn, after all his means of accommodation were exhausted, reduced
him to some perplexity. "What the devil is to be done, Donald?" said
he; "the great barn would hold fifty more, if they would lie heads
and thraws; but there would be drawn dirks amang them which should lie
upper-most, and so we should have bloody puddings before morning!"
"What needs all this?" said Allan, starting up, and coming forward with
the stern abruptness of his usual manner; "are the Gael to-day of softer
flesh or whiter blood than their fathers were? Knock the head out of
a cask of usquebae; let that be their night-gear--their plaids
their bed-clothes--the blue sky their canopy, and the heather their
couch.--Come a thousand more, and they would not quarrel on the broad
heath for want of room!"
"Allan is right," said his brother; "it is very odd how Allan, who,
between ourselves," said he to Musgrave, "is a little wowf, [WOWF, i.e.
crazed.] seems at times to have more sense than us all put together.
Observe him now."
"Yes," continued Allan, fixing his eyes with a ghastly stare upon the
opposite side of the hall, "they may well begin as they are to end; many
a man will sleep this night upon the heath, that when the Martinmas wind
shalt blow shall lie there stark enough, and reck little of cold or lack
"Do not forespeak us, brother," said Angus; "that is not lucky."
"And what luck is it then that you expect?" said Allan; and straining
his eyes until they almost started from their sockets, he fell with a
convulsive shudder into the arms of Donald and his brother, who, knowing
the nature of his fits, had come near to prevent his fall. They seated
him upon a bench, and supported him until he came to himself, and was
about to speak.
"For God's sake, Allan," said his brother, who knew the impression his
mystical words were likely to make on many of the guests, "say nothing
to discourage us."
"Am I he who discourages you?" said Allan; "let every man face his world
as I shall face mine. That which must come, will come; and we shall
stride gallantly over many a field of victory, ere we reach yon fatal
slaughter-place, or tread yon sable scaffolds."
"What slaughter-place? what scaffolds?" exclaimed several voices; for
Allan's renown as a seer was generally established in the Highlands.
"You will know that but too soon," answered Allan. "Speak to me no more,
I am weary of your questions." He then pressed his hand against his
brow, rested his elbow upon his knee, and sunk into a deep reverie.
"Send for Annot Lyle, and the harp," said Angus, in a whisper, to his
servant; "and let those gentlemen follow me who do not fear a Highland
All accompanied their hospitable landlord excepting only Lord Menteith,
who lingered in one of the deep embrasures formed by the windows of the
hall. Annot Lyle shortly after glided into the room, not ill described
by Lord Menteith as being the lightest and most fairy figure that ever
trode the turf by moonlight. Her stature, considerably less than the
ordinary size of women, gave her the appearance of extreme youth,
insomuch, that although she was near eighteen, she might have passed
for four years younger. Her figure, hands, and feet, were formed upon a
model of exquisite symmetry with the size and lightness of her
person, so that Titania herself could scarce have found a more fitting
representative. Her hair was a dark shade of the colour usually termed
flaxen, whose clustering ringlets suited admirably with her fair
complexion, and with the playful, yet simple, expression of her
features. When we add to these charms, that Annot, in her orphan state,
seemed the gayest and happiest of maidens, the reader must allow us to
claim for her the interest of almost all who looked on her. In fact, it
was impossible to find a more universal favourite, and she often
came among the rude inhabitants of the castle, as Allan himself, in
a poetical mood, expressed it, "like a sunbeam on a sullen sea,"
communicating to all others the cheerfulness that filled her own mind.
Annot, such as we have described her, smiled and blushed, when, on
entering the apartment, Lord Menteith came from his place of retirement,
and kindly wished her good-morning.
"And good-morning to you, my lord," returned she, extending her hand to
her friend; "we have seldom seen you of late at the castle, and now I
fear it is with no peaceful purpose."
"At least, let me not interrupt your harmony, Annot," said Lord
Menteith, "though my arrival may breed discord elsewhere. My cousin
Allan needs the assistance of your voice and music."
"My preserver," said Annot Lyle, "has a right to my poor exertions; and
you, too, my lord,--you, too, are my preserver, and were the most
active to save a life that is worthless enough, unless it can benefit my
So saying, she sate down at a little distance upon the bench on which
Allan M'Aulay was placed, and tuning her clairshach, a small harp, about
thirty inches in height, she accompanied it with her voice. The air was
an ancient Gaelic melody, and the words, which were supposed to be very
old, were in the same language; but we subjoin a translation of them,
by Secundus Macpherson, Esq. of Glenforgen, which, although submitted to
the fetters of English rhythm, we trust will be found nearly as genuine
as the version of Ossian by his celebrated namesake.
"Birds of omen dark and foul,
Night-crow, raven, bat, and owl,
Leave the sick man to his dream--
All night long he heard your scream--
Haste to cave and ruin'd tower,
Ivy, tod, or dingled bower,
There to wink and mope, for, hark!
In the mid air sings the lark.
"Hie to moorish gills and rocks,
Prowling wolf and wily fox,--
Hie you fast, nor turn your view,
Though the lamb bleats to the ewe.
Couch your trains, and speed your flight,
Safety parts with parting night;
And on distant echo borne,
Comes the hunter's early horn.
"The moon's wan crescent scarcely gleams,
Ghost-like she fades in morning beams;
Hie hence each peevish imp and fay,
That scare the pilgrim on his way:--
Quench, kelpy! quench, in bog and fen,
Thy torch that cheats benighted men;
Thy dance is o'er, thy reign is done,
For Benyieglo hath seen the sun.
"Wild thoughts, that, sinful, dark, and deep,
O'erpower the passive mind in sleep,
Pass from the slumberer's soul away,
Like night-mists from the brow of day:
Foul hag, whose blasted visage grim
Smothers the pulse, unnerves the limb,
Spur thy dark palfrey, and begone!
Thou darest not face the godlike sun."
As the strain proceeded, Allan M'Aulay gradually gave signs of
recovering his presence of mind, and attention to the objects around
him. The deep-knit furrows of his brow relaxed and smoothed themselves;
and the rest of his features, which had seemed contorted with internal
agony, relapsed into a more natural state. When he raised his head
and sat upright, his countenance, though still deeply melancholy,
was divested of its wildness and ferocity; and in its composed state,
although by no means handsome, the expression of his features was
striking, manly, and even noble. His thick, brown eyebrows, which had
hitherto been drawn close together, were now slightly separated, as in
the natural state; and his grey eyes, which had rolled and flashed
from under them with an unnatural and portentous gleam, now recovered a
steady and determined expression.
"Thank God!" he said, after sitting silent for about a minute, until
the very last sounds of the harp had ceased to vibrate, "my soul is no
longer darkened--the mist hath passed from my spirit."
"You owe thanks, cousin Allan," said Lord Menteith, coming forward,
"to Annot Lyle, as well as to heaven, for this happy change in your
"My noble cousin Menteith," said Allan, rising and greeting him very
respectfully, as well as kindly, "has known my unhappy circumstances so
long, that his goodness will require no excuse for my being thus late in
bidding him welcome to the castle."
"We are too old acquaintances, Allan," said Lord Menteith, "and too good
friends, to stand on the ceremonial of outward greeting; but half the
Highlands will be here to-day, and you know, with our mountain Chiefs,
ceremony must not be neglected. What will you give little Annot for
making you fit company to meet Evan Dhu, and I know not how many bonnets
"What will he give me?" said Annot, smiling; "nothing less, I hope, than
the best ribbon at the Fair of Doune."
"The Fair of Doune, Annot?" said Allan sadly; "there will be bloody work
before that day, and I may never see it; but you have well reminded me
of what I have long intended to do."
Having said this, he left the room.
"Should he talk long in this manner," said Lord Menteith, "you must keep
your harp in tune, my dear Annot."
"I hope not," said Annot, anxiously; "this fit has been a long one, and
probably will not soon return. It is fearful to see a mind, naturally
generous and affectionate, afflicted by this constitutional malady."
As she spoke in a low and confidential tone, Lord Menteith naturally
drew close, and stooped forward, that he might the better catch the
sense of what she said. When Allan suddenly entered the apartment,
they as naturally drew back from each other with a manner expressive of
consciousness, as if surprised in a conversation which they wished to
keep secret from him. This did not escape Allan's observation; he stopt
short at the door of the apartment--his brows were contracted--his eyes
rolled; but it was only the paroxysm of a moment. He passed his broad
sinewy hand across his brow, as if to obliterate these signs of emotion,
and advanced towards Annot, holding in his hand a very small box made
of oakwood, curiously inlaid. "I take you to witness," he said, "cousin
Menteith, that I give this box and its contents to Annot Lyle. It
contains a few ornaments that belonged to my poor mother--of trifling
value, you may guess, for the wife of a Highland laird has seldom a rich
"But these ornaments," said Annot Lyle, gently and timidly refusing the
box, "belong to the family--I cannot accept--"
"They belong to me alone, Annot," said Allan, interrupting her; "they
were my mother's dying bequest. They are all I can call my own, except
my plaid and my claymore. Take them, therefore--they are to me valueless
trinkets--and keep them for my sake--should I never return from these
So saying, he opened the case, and presented it to Annot. "If," said he,
"they are of any value, dispose of them for your own support, when this
house has been consumed with hostile fire, and can no longer afford
you protection. But keep one ring in memory of Allan, who has done, to
requite your kindness, if not all he wished, at least all he could."
Annot Lyle endeavoured in vain to restrain the gathering tears, when
she said, "ONE ring, Allan, I will accept from you as a memorial of
your goodness to a poor orphan, but do not press me to take more; for I
cannot, and will not, accept a gift of such disproportioned value."
"Make your choice, then," said Allan; "your delicacy may be well
founded; the others will assume a shape in which they may be more useful
"Think not of it," said Annot, choosing from the contents of the casket
a ring, apparently the most trifling in value which it contained; "keep
them for your own, or your brother's bride.--But, good heavens!" she
said, interrupting herself, and looking at the ring, "what is this that
I have chosen?"
Allan hastened to look upon it, with eyes of gloomy apprehension; it
bore, in enamel, a death's head above two crossed daggers. When Allan
recognised the device, he uttered a sigh so deep, that she dropped the
ring from her hand, which rolled upon the floor. Lord Menteith picked it
up, and returned it to the terrified Annot.
"I take God to witness," said Allan, in a solemn tone, "that your hand,
young lord, and not mine, has again delivered to her this ill-omened
gift. It was the mourning ring worn by my mother in memorial of her
"I fear no omens," said Annot, smiling through her tears; "and nothing
coming through the hands of my two patrons," so she was wont to call
Lord Menteith and Allan, "can bring bad luck to the poor orphan."
She put the ring on her finger, and, turning to her harp, sung, to a
lively air, the following verses of one of the fashionable songs of
the period, which had found its way, marked as it was with the quaint
hyperbolical taste of King Charles's time, from some court masque to the
wilds of Perthshire:--
"Gaze not upon the stars, fond sage,
In them no influence lies;
To read the fate of youth or age,
Look on my Helen's eyes.
"Yet, rash astrologer, refrain!
Too dearly would be won
The prescience of another's pain,
If purchased by thine own."
"She is right, Allan," said Lord Menteith; "and this end of an old song
is worth all we shall gain by our attempt to look into futurity."
"She is WRONG, my lord," said Allan, sternly, "though you, who treat
with lightness the warnings I have given you, may not live to see the
event of the omen.--laugh not so scornfully," he added, interrupting
himself "or rather laugh on as loud and as long as you will; your term
of laughter will find a pause ere long."
"I care not for your visions, Allan," said Lord Menteith; "however short
my span of life, the eye of no Highland seer can see its termination."
"For heaven's sake," said Annot Lyle, interrupting him, "you know his
nature, and how little he can endure--"
"Fear me not," said Allan, interrupting her,--"my mind is now constant
and calm.--But for you, young lord," said he, turning to Lord Menteith,
"my eye has sought you through fields of battle, where Highlanders and
Lowlanders lay strewed as thick as ever the rooks sat on those ancient
trees," pointing to a rookery which was seen from the window--"my eye
sought you, but your corpse was not there--my eye sought you among a
train of unresisting and disarmed captives, drawn up within the bounding
walls of an ancient and rugged fortress;--flash after flash--platoon
after platoon--the hostile shot fell amongst them, They dropped like
the dry leaves in autumn, but you were not among their ranks;--scaffolds
were prepared--blocks were arranged, saw-dust was spread--the priest was
ready with his book, the headsman with his axe--but there, too, mine eye
found you not."
"The gibbet, then, I suppose, must be my doom?" said Lord Menteith. "Yet
I wish they had spared me the halter, were it but for the dignity of the
He spoke this scornfully, yet not without a sort of curiosity, and
a wish to receive an answer; for the desire of prying into futurity
frequently has some influence even on the minds of those who disavow all
belief in the possibility of such predictions.
"Your rank, my lord, will suffer no dishonour in your person, or by the
manner of your death. Three times have I seen a Highlander plant his
dirk in your bosom--and such will be your fate."
"I wish you would describe him to me," said Lord Menteith, "and I
shall save him the trouble of fulfilling your prophecy, if his plaid be
passible to sword or pistol."
"Your weapons," said Allan, "would avail you little; nor can I give you
the information you desire. The face of the vision has been ever averted
"So be it then," said Lord Menteith, "and let it rest in the uncertainty
in which your augury has placed it. I shall dine not the less merrily
among plaids, and dirks, and kilts to-day."
"It may be so," said Allan; "and, it may be, you do well to enjoy these
moments, which to me are poisoned by auguries of future evil. But I," he
continued--"I repeat to you, that this weapon--that is, such a weapon as
this," touching the hilt of the dirk which he wore, "carries your fate."
"In the meanwhile," said Lord Menteith, "you, Allan, have frightened
the blood from the cheeks of Annot Lyle--let us leave this discourse,
my friend, and go to see what we both understand,--the progress of our
They joined Angus M'Aulay and his English guests, and, in the military
discussions which immediately took place, Allan showed a clearness
of mind, strength of judgment, and precision of thought, totally
inconsistent with the mystical light in which his character has been
When Albin her claymore indignantly draws,
When her bonneted chieftains around her shall crowd,
Clan-Ranald the dauntless, and Moray the proud,
All plaided and plumed in their tartan array--LOCHEIL'S WARNING.
Whoever saw that morning, the Castle of Darnlinvarach, beheld a busy and
a gallant sight.
The various Chiefs, arriving with their different retinues, which,
notwithstanding their numbers, formed no more than their usual equipage
and body-guard upon occasions of solemnity, saluted the lord of the
castle and each other with overflowing kindness, or with haughty and
distant politeness, according to the circumstances of friendship or
hostility in which their clans had recently stood to each other.
Each Chief, however small his comparative importance, showed the full
disposition to exact from the rest the deference due to a separate and
independent prince; while the stronger and more powerful, divided among
themselves by recent contentions or ancient feuds, were constrained in
policy to use great deference to the feelings of their less powerful
brethren, in order, in case of need, to attach as many well-wishers as
might be to their own interest and standard. Thus the meeting of Chiefs
resembled not a little those ancient Diets of the Empire, where the
smallest FREY-GRAF, who possessed a castle perched upon a barren crag,
with a few hundred acres around it, claimed the state and honours of a
sovereign prince, and a seat according to his rank among the dignitaries
of the Empire.
The followers of the different leaders were separately arranged and
accommodated, as room and circumstances best permitted, each retaining
however his henchman, who waited, close as the shadow, upon his person,
to execute whatever might be required by his patron.
The exterior of the castle afforded a singular scene. The Highlanders,
from different islands, glens, and straths, eyed each other at a
distance with looks of emulation, inquisitive curiosity, or hostile
malevolence; but the most astounding part of the assembly, at least to
a Lowland ear, was the rival performance of the bagpipers. These warlike
minstrels, who had the highest opinion, each, of the superiority of
his own tribe, joined to the most overweening idea of the importance
connected with his profession, at first, performed their various
pibrochs in front each of his own clan. At length, however, as the
black-cocks towards the end of the season, when, in sportsman's
language, they are said to flock or crowd, attracted together by the
sound of each others' triumphant crow, even so did the pipers, swelling
their plaids and tartans in the same triumphant manner in which the
birds ruffle up their feathers, begin to approach each other within
such distance as might give to their brethren a sample of their skill.
Walking within a short interval, and eyeing each other with looks in
which self-importance and defiance might be traced, they strutted,
puffed, and plied their screaming instruments, each playing his own
favourite tune with such a din, that if an Italian musician had lain
buried within ten miles of them, he must have risen from the dead to run
out of hearing.
The Chieftains meanwhile had assembled in close conclave in the
great hall of the castle. Among them were the persons of the greatest
consequence in the Highlands, some of them attracted by zeal for the
royal cause, and many by aversion to that severe and general domination
which the Marquis of Argyle, since his rising to such influence in
the state, had exercised over his Highland neighbours. That statesman,
indeed, though possessed of considerable abilities, and great power, had
failings, which rendered him unpopular among the Highland chiefs. The
devotion which he professed was of a morose and fanatical character; his
ambition appeared to be insatiable, and inferior chiefs complained
of his want of bounty and liberality. Add to this, that although a
Highlander, and of a family distinguished for valour before and since,
Gillespie Grumach [GRUMACH--ill-favored.] (which, from an obliquity in
his eyes, was the personal distinction he bore in the Highlands, where
titles of rank are unknown) was suspected of being a better man in the
cabinet than in the field. He and his tribe were particularly obnoxious
to the M'Donalds and the M'Leans, two numerous septs, who, though
disunited by ancient feuds, agreed in an intense dislike to the
Campbells, or, as they were called, the Children of Diarmid.
For some time the assembled Chiefs remained silent, until some one
should open the business of the meeting. At length one of the most
powerful of them commenced the diet by saying,--"We have been summoned
hither, M'Aulay, to consult of weighty matters concerning the King's
affairs, and those of the state; and we crave to know by whom they are
to be explained to us?"
M'Aulay, whose strength did not lie in oratory, intimated his wish
that Lord Menteith should open the business of the council. With great
modesty, and at the same time with spirit, that young lord said, "he
wished what he was about to propose had come from some person of better
known and more established character. Since, however, it lay with him
to be spokesman, he had to state to the Chiefs assembled, that those who
wished to throw off the base yoke which fanaticism had endeavoured to
wreath round their necks, had not a moment to lose. 'The Covenanters,'"
he said, "after having twice made war upon their sovereign, and having
extorted from him every request, reasonable or unreasonable, which
they thought proper to demand--after their Chiefs had been loaded with
dignities and favours--after having publicly declared, when his Majesty,
after a gracious visit to the land of his nativity, was upon his
return to England, that he returned a contented king from a contented
people,--after all this, and without even the pretext for a national
grievance, the same men have, upon doubts and suspicions, equally
dishonourable to the King, and groundless in themselves, detached a
strong army to assist his rebels in England, in a quarrel with which
Scotland had no more to do than she has with the wars in Germany. It was
well," he said, "that the eagerness with which this treasonable purpose
was pursued, had blinded the junta who now usurped the government of
Scotland to the risk which they were about to incur. The army which they
had dispatched to England under old Leven comprehended their veteran
soldiers, the strength of those armies which had been levied in Scotland
during the two former wars--"
Here Captain Dalgetty endeavoured to rise, for the purpose of explaining
how many veteran officers, trained in the German wars, were, to his
certain knowledge, in the army of the Earl of Leven. But Allan M'Aulay
holding him down in his seat with one hand, pressed the fore-finger of
the other upon his own lips, and, though with some difficulty, prevented
his interference. Captain Dalgetty looked upon him with a very scornful
and indignant air, by which the other's gravity was in no way moved, and
Lord Menteith proceeded without farther interruption.
"The moment," he said, "was most favourable for all true-hearted and
loyal Scotchmen to show, that the reproach their country had lately
undergone arose from the selfish ambition of a few turbulent and
seditious men, joined to the absurd fanaticism which, disseminated from
five hundred pulpits, had spread like a land-flood over the Lowlands of
Scotland. He had letters from the Marquis of Huntly in the north, which
he should show to the Chiefs separately. That nobleman, equally loyal
and powerful was determined to exert his utmost energy in the common
cause, and the powerful Earl of Seaforth was prepared to join the same
standard. From the Earl of Airly, and the Ogilvies in Angusshire, he had
had communications equally decided; and there was no doubt that these,
who, with the Hays, Leiths, Burnets, and other loyal gentlemen, would be
soon on horseback, would form a body far more than sufficient to overawe
the northern Covenanters, who had already experienced their valour in
the well-known rout which was popularly termed the Trot of Turiff. South
of Forth and Tay," he said, "the King had many friends, who, oppressed
by enforced oaths, compulsatory levies, heavy taxes, unjustly imposed
and unequally levied, by the tyranny of the Committee of Estates, and
the inquisitorial insolence of the Presbyterian divines, waited but the
waving of the royal banner to take up arms. Douglas, Traquair, Roxburgh,
Hume, all friendly to the royal cause, would counterbalance," he said,
"the covenanting interest in the south; and two gentlemen, of name and
quality, here present, from the north of England, would answer for the
zeal of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Northumberland. Against so many
gallant gentlemen the southern Covenanters could but arm raw levies; the
Whigamores of the western shires, and the ploughmen and mechanics of
the Low-country. For the West Highlands, he knew no interest which the
Covenanters possessed there, except that of one individual, as well
known as he was odious. But was there a single man, who, on casting his
eye round this hall, and recognising the power, the gallantry, and the
dignity of the chiefs assembled, could entertain a moment's doubt of
their success against the utmost force which Gillespie Grumach could
collect against them? He had only farther to add, that considerable
funds, both of money and ammunition, had been provided for the
army"--(Here Dalgetty pricked up his ears)--"that officers of ability
and experience in the foreign wars, one of whom was now present," (the
Captain drew himself up, and looked round,) "had engaged to train such
levies as might require to be disciplined;--and that a numerous body
of auxiliary forces from Ireland, having been detached from the Earl of
Antrim, from Ulster, had successfully accomplished their descent upon
the main land, and, with the assistance of Clanranald's people, having
taken and fortified the Castle of Mingarry, in spite of Argyle's
attempts to intercept them, were in full march to this place of
rendezvous. It only remained," he said, "that the noble Chiefs
assembled, laying aside every lesser consideration, should unite, heart
and hand, in the common cause; send the fiery cross through their clans,
in order to collect their utmost force, and form their junction with
such celerity as to leave the enemy no time, either for preparation, or
recovery from the panic which would spread at the first sound of their
pibroch. He himself," he said, "though neither among the richest nor the
most powerful of the Scottish nobility, felt that he had to support
the dignity of an ancient and honourable house, the independence of an
ancient and honourable nation, and to that cause he was determined
to devote both life and fortune. If those who were more powerful were
equally prompt, he trusted they would deserve the thanks of their King,
and the gratitude of posterity."
Loud applause followed this speech of Lord Menteith, and testified
the general acquiescence of all present in the sentiments which he
had expressed; but when the shout had died away, the assembled Chiefs
continued to gaze upon each other as if something yet remained to be
settled. After some whispers among themselves, an aged man, whom his grey
hairs rendered respectable, although he was not of the highest order of
Chiefs, replied to what had been said.
"Thane of Menteith," he said, "you have well spoken; nor is there one of
us in whose bosom the same sentiments do not burn like fire. But it is
not strength alone that wins the fight; it is the head of the commander,
as well as the arm of the soldier, that brings victory. I ask of you who
is to raise and sustain the banner under which we are invited to rise
and muster ourselves? Will it be expected that we should risk our
children, and the flower of our kinsmen, ere we know to whose guidance
they are to be intrusted? This were leading those to slaughter, whom, by
the laws of God and man, it is our duty to protect. Where is the royal
commission, under which the lieges are to be convocated in arms? Simple
and rude as we may be deemed, we know something of the established rules
of war, as well as of the laws of our country; nor will we arm ourselves
against the general peace of Scotland, unless by the express commands
of the King, and under a leader fit to command such men as are here
"Where would you find such a leader," said another Chief, starting up,
"saving the representative of the Lord of the Isles, entitled by birth
and hereditary descent to lead forth the array of every clan of the
Highlands; and where is that dignity lodged, save in the house of Vich
"I acknowledge," said another Chief, eagerly interrupting the speaker,
"the truth in what has been first said, but not the inference. If Vich
Alister More desires to be held representative of the Lord of the Isles,
let him first show his blood is redder than mine."
"That is soon tried," said Vich Alister More, laying his hand upon the
basket hilt of his claymore. Lord Menteith threw himself between
them, entreating and imploring each to remember that the interests of
Scotland, the liberty of their country, and the cause of their King,
ought to be superior in their eyes to any personal disputes respecting
descent, rank, and precedence. Several of the Highland Chiefs, who had
no desire to admit the claims of either chieftain, interfered to the
same purpose, and none with more emphasis than the celebrated Evan Dhu.
"I have come from my lakes," he said, "as a stream descends from the
hills, not to turn again, but to accomplish my course. It is not by
looking back to our own pretensions that we shall serve Scotland or King
Charles. My voice shall be for that general whom the King shall name,
who will doubtless possess those qualities which are necessary to
command men like us. High-born he must be, or we shall lose our rank in
obeying him--wise and skilful, or we shall endanger the safety of
our people--bravest among the brave, or we shall peril our own
honour--temperate, firm, and manly, to keep us united. Such is the man
that must command us. Are you prepared, Thane of Menteith, to say where
such a general is to be found?"
"There is but ONE," said Allan M'Aulay; "and here," he said, laying
his hand upon the shoulder of Anderson, who stood behind Lord Menteith,
"here he stands!"
The general surprise of the meeting was expressed by an impatient
murmur; when Anderson, throwing back the cloak in which his face was
muffled, and stepping forward, spoke thus:--"I did not long intend to be
a silent spectator of this interesting scene, although my hasty friend
has obliged me to disclose myself somewhat sooner than was my intention.
Whether I deserve the honour reposed in me by this parchment will best
appear from what I shall be able to do for the King's service. It is a
commission under the great seal, to James Graham, Earl of Montrose, to
command those forces which are to be assembled for the service of his
Majesty in this kingdom."
A loud shout of approbation burst from the assembly. There was, in fact,
no other person to whom, in point of rank, these proud mountaineers
would have been disposed to submit. His inveterate and hereditary
hostility to the Marquis of Argyle insured his engaging in the war with
sufficient energy, while his well-known military talents, and his
tried valour, afforded every hope of his bringing it to a favourable
Our plot is a good plot as ever was laid; our friends true and
constant: a good plot, good friends, and full of expectation:
an excellent plot, very good friends.--HENRY IV Part I.
No sooner had the general acclamation of joyful surprise subsided, than
silence was eagerly demanded for reading the royal commission; and the
bonnets, which hitherto each Chief had worn, probably because unwilling
to be the first to uncover, were now at once vailed in honour of
the royal warrant. It was couched in the most full and ample terms,
authorizing the Earl of Montrose to assemble the subjects in arms,
for the putting down the present rebellion, which divers traitors
and seditious persons had levied against the King, to the manifest
forfaulture, as it stated, of their allegiance, and to the breach of
the pacification between the two kingdoms. It enjoined all subordinate
authorities to be obedient and assisting to Montrose in his enterprise;
gave him the power of making ordinances and proclamations, punishing
misdemeanours, pardoning criminals, placing and displacing governors and
commanders. In fine, it was as large and full a commission as any with
which a prince could intrust a subject. As soon as it was finished,
a shout burst from the assembled Chiefs, in testimony of their ready
submission to the will of their sovereign. Not contented with generally
thanking them for a reception so favourable, Montrose hastened to
address himself to individuals, The most important Chiefs had already
been long personally known to him, but even to those of inferior
consequence he now introduced himself and by the acquaintance he
displayed with their peculiar designations, and the circumstances and
history of their clans, he showed how long he must have studied the
character of the mountaineers, and prepared himself for such a situation
as he now held.
While he was engaged in these acts of courtesy, his graceful manner,
expressive features, and dignity of deportment, made a singular contrast
with the coarseness and meanness of his dress. Montrose possessed that
sort of form and face, in which the beholder, at the first glance, sees
nothing extraordinary, but of which the interest becomes more impressive
the longer we gaze upon them. His stature was very little above the
middle size, but in person he was uncommonly well-built, and capable
both of exerting great force, and enduring much fatigue. In fact,
he enjoyed a constitution of iron, without which he could not have
sustained the trials of his extraordinary campaigns, through all of
which he subjected himself to the hardships of the meanest soldier.
He was perfect in all exercises, whether peaceful or martial, and
possessed, of course, that graceful ease of deportment proper to those
to whom habit has rendered all postures easy.
His long brown hair, according to the custom of men of quality among the
Royalists, was parted on the top of his head, and trained to hang down
on each side in curled locks, one of which, descending two or three
inches lower than the others, intimated Montrose's compliance with that
fashion against which it pleased Mr. Prynne, the puritan, to write a
treatise, entitled, THE UNLOVELINESS OF LOVE-LOCKS. The features which
these tresses enclosed, were of that kind which derive their interest
from the character of the man, rather than from the regularity of their
form. But a high nose, a full, decided, well-opened, quick grey eye, and
a sanguine complexion, made amends for some coarseness and irregularity
in the subordinate parts of the face; so that, altogether, Montrose
might be termed rather a handsome, than a hard-featured man. But those
who saw him when his soul looked through those eyes with all the energy
and fire of genius--those who heard him speak with the authority of
talent, and the eloquence of nature, were impressed with an opinion
even of his external form, more enthusiastically favourable than the
portraits which still survive would entitle us to ascribe to it. Such,
at least, was the impression he made upon the assembled Chiefs of the
mountaineers, over whom, as upon all persons in their state of society,
personal appearance has no small influence.
In the discussions which followed his discovering himself, Montrose
explained the various risks which he had run in his present undertaking.
His first attempt had been to assemble a body of loyalists in the north
of England, who, in obedience to the orders of the Marquis of Newcastle,
he expected would have marched into Scotland; but the disinclination of
the English to cross the Border, and the delay of the Earl of Antrim,
who was to have landed in the Solway Frith with his Irish army,
prevented his executing this design. Other plans having in like manner
failed, he stated that he found himself under the necessity of assuming
a disguise to render his passage secure through the Lowlands, in which
he had been kindly assisted by his kinsman of Menteith. By what means
Allan M'Aulay had come to know him, he could not pretend to explain.
Those who knew Allan's prophetic pretensions, smiled mysteriously;
but he himself only replied, that "the Earl of Montrose need not be
surprised if he was known to thousands, of whom he himself could retain
"By the honour of a cavalier," said Captain Dalgetty, finding at length
an opportunity to thrust in his word, "I am proud and happy in having an
opportunity of drawing a sword under your lordship's command; and I do
forgive all grudge, malecontent, and malice of my heart, to Mr. Allan
M'Aulay, for having thrust me down to the lowest seat of the board
yestreen. Certes, he hath this day spoken so like a man having full
command of his senses, that I had resolved in my secret purpose that he
was no way entitled to claim the privilege of insanity. But since I
was only postponed to a noble earl, my future commander-in-chief, I do,
before you all, recognise the justice of the preference, and heartily
salute Allan as one who is to be his BON-CAMARADO."
Having made this speech, which was little understood or attended to,
without putting off his military glove, he seized on Allan's hand,
and began to shake it with violence, which Allan, with a gripe like a
smith's vice, returned with such force, as to drive the iron splents of
the gauntlet into the hand of the wearer.
Captain Dalgetty might have construed this into a new affront, had not
his attention, as he stood blowing and shaking the injured member, been
suddenly called by Montrose himself.
"Hear this news," he said, "Captain Dalgetty--I should say Major
Dalgetty,--the Irish, who are to profit by your military experience, are
now within a few leagues of us."
"Our deer-stalkers," said Angus M'Aulay, "who were abroad to bring in
venison for this honourable party, have heard of a band of strangers,
speaking neither Saxon nor pure Gaelic, and with difficulty making
themselves understood by the people of the country, who are marching
this way in arms, under the leading, it is said, of Alaster M'Donald,
who is commonly called Young Colkitto."
"These must be our men," said Montrose; "we must hasten to send
messengers forward, both to act as guides and to relieve their wants."
"The last," said Angus M'Aulay, "will be no easy matter; for I am
informed, that, excepting muskets and a very little ammunition, they
want everything that soldiers should have; and they are particularly
deficient in money, in shoes, and in raiment."
"There is at least no use in saying so," said Montrose, "in so loud
a tone. The puritan weavers of Glasgow shall provide them plenty of
broad-cloth, when we make a descent from the Highlands; and if the
ministers could formerly preach the old women of the Scottish boroughs
out of their webs of napery, to make tents to the fellows on Dunse Law,
[The Covenanters encamped on Dunse Law, during the troubles of 1639.] I
will try whether I have not a little interest both to make these godly
dames renew their patriotic gift, and the prick-eared knaves, their
husbands, open their purses."
"And respecting arms," said Captain Dalgetty, "if your lordship will
permit an old cavalier to speak his mind, so that the one-third have
muskets, my darling weapon would be the pike for the remainder, whether
for resisting a charge of horse, or for breaking the infantry. A common
smith will make a hundred pike-heads in a day; here is plenty of wood
for shafts; and I will uphold, that, according to the best usages of
war, a strong battalion of pikes, drawn up in the fashion of the Lion of
the North, the immortal Gustavus, would beat the Macedonian phalanx,
of which I used to read in the Mareschal-College, when I studied in the
ancient town of Bon-accord; and further, I will venture to predicate--"
The Captain's lecture upon tactics was here suddenly interrupted by
Allan M'Aulay, who said, hastily,--"Room for an unexpected and unwelcome
At the same moment, the door of the hall opened, and a grey-haired man,
of a very stately appearance, presented himself to the assembly. There
was much dignity, and even authority, in his manner. His stature was
above the common size, and his looks such as were used to command. He
cast a severe, and almost stern glance upon the assembly of Chiefs.
Those of the higher rank among them returned it with scornful
indifference; but some of the western gentlemen of inferior power,
looked as if they wished themselves elsewhere.
"To which of this assembly," said the stranger, "am I to address myself
as leader? or have you not fixed upon the person who is to hold an
office at least as perilous as it is honourable?"
"Address yourself to me, Sir Duncan Campbell," said Montrose, stepping
"To you!" said Sir Duncan Campbell, with some scorn.
"Yes,--to me," repeated Montrose,--"to the Earl of Montrose, if you have
"I should now, at least," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "have had some
difficulty in recognising him in the disguise of a groom.--and yet I
might have guessed that no evil influence inferior to your lordship's,
distinguished as one who troubles Israel, could have collected together
this rash assembly of misguided persons."
"I will answer unto you," said Montrose, "in the manner of your own
Puritans. I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house.
But let us leave an altercation, which is of little consequence but
to ourselves, and hear the tidings you have brought from your Chief of
Argyle; for I must conclude that it is in his name that you have come to
"It is in the name of the Marquis of Argyle," said Sir Duncan
Campbell,--"in the name of the Scottish Convention of Estates, that
I demand to know the meaning of this singular convocation. If it is
designed to disturb the peace of the country, it were but acting like
neighbours, and men of honour, to give us some intimation to stand upon
"It is a singular, and new state of affairs in Scotland," said Montrose,
turning from Sir Duncan Campbell to the assembly, "when Scottish men of
rank and family cannot meet in the house of a common friend without an
inquisitorial visit and demand, on the part of our rulers, to know the
subject of our conference. Methinks our ancestors were accustomed to
hold Highland huntings, or other purposes of meeting, without asking
the leave either of the great M'Callum More himself, or any of his
emissaries or dependents."
"The times have been such in Scotland," answered one of the Western
Chiefs, "and such they will again be, when the intruders on our
ancient possessions are again reduced to be Lairds of Lochow instead of
overspreading us like a band of devouring locusts."
"Am I to understand, then," said Sir Duncan, "that it is against my name
alone that these preparations are directed? or are the race of Diarmid
only to be sufferers in common with the whole of the peaceful and
orderly inhabitants of Scotland?"
"I would ask," said a wild-looking Chief, starting hastily up, "one
question of the Knight of Ardenvohr, ere he proceeds farther in his
daring catechism.--Has he brought more than one life to this castle,
that he ventures to intrude among us for the purposes of insult?"
"Gentlemen," said Montrose, "let me implore your patience; a messenger
who comes among us for the purpose of embassy, is entitled to freedom of
speech and safe-conduct. And since Sir Duncan Campbell is so pressing, I
care not if I inform him, for his guidance, that he is in an assembly
of the King's loyal subjects, convoked by me, in his Majesty's name and
authority, and as empowered by his Majesty's royal commission."
"We are to have, then, I presume," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "a civil
war in all its forms? I have been too long a soldier to view its
approach with anxiety; but it would have been for my Lord of Montrose's
honour, if, in this matter, he had consulted his own ambition less, and
the peace of the country more."
"Those consulted their own ambition and self-interest, Sir Duncan,"
answered Montrose, "who brought the country to the pass in which it
now stands, and rendered necessary the sharp remedies which we are now
reluctantly about to use."
"And what rank among these self-seekers," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "we
shall assign to a noble Earl, so violently attached to the Covenant,
that he was the first, in 1639, to cross the Tyne, wading middle deep at
the head of his regiment, to charge the royal forces? It was the same,
I think, who imposed the Covenant upon the burgesses and colleges of
Aberdeen, at the point of sword and pike."
"I understand your sneer, Sir Duncan," said Montrose, temperately; "and
I can only add, that if sincere repentance can make amends for youthful
error, and for yielding to the artful representation of ambitious
hypocrites, I shall be pardoned for the crimes with which you taunt me.
I will at least endeavour to deserve forgiveness, for I am here, with
my sword in my hand, willing to spend the best blood of my body to make
amends for my error; and mortal man can do no more."
"Well, my lord," said Sir Duncan, "I shall be sorry to carry back this
language to the Marquis of Argyle. I had it in farther charge from the
Marquis, that, to prevent the bloody feuds which must necessarily follow
a Highland war, his lordship will be contented if terms of truce could
be arranged to the north of the Highland line, as there is ground enough
in Scotland to fight upon, without neighbours destroying each other's
families and inheritances."
"It is a peaceful proposal," said Montrose, smiling, "such as it
should be, coming from one whose personal actions have always been more
peaceful than his measures. Yet, if the terms of such a truce could be
equally fixed, and if we can obtain security, for that, Sir Duncan, is
indispensable,--that your Marquis will observe these terms with strict
fidelity, I, for my part, should be content to leave peace behind us,
since we must needs carry war before us. But, Sir Duncan, you are too
old and experienced a soldier for us to permit you to remain in our
leaguer, and witness our proceedings; we shall therefore, when you have
refreshed yourself, recommend your speedy return to Inverary, and we
shall send with you a gentleman on our part to adjust the terms of
the Highland armistice, in case the Marquis shall be found serious in
proposing such a measure." Sir Duncan Campbell assented by a bow.
"My Lord of Menteith," continued Montrose, "will you have the goodness
to attend Sir Duncan Campbell of Ardenvohr, while we determine who shall
return with him to his Chief? M'Aulay will permit us to request that he
be entertained with suitable hospitality."
"I will give orders for that," said Allan M'Aulay, rising and coming
forward. "I love Sir Duncan Campbell; we have been joint sufferers in
former days, and I do not forget it now."
"My Lord of Menteith," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "I am grieved to
see you, at your early age, engaged in such desperate and rebellious
"I am young," answered Menteith, "yet old enough to distinguish between
right and wrong, between loyalty and rebellion; and the sooner a good
course is begun, the longer and the better have I a chance of running
"And you too, my friend, Allan M'Aulay," said Sir Duncan, taking his
hand, "must we also call each other enemies, that have been so often
allied against a common foe?" Then turning round to the meeting, he
said, "Farewell, gentlemen; there are so many of you to whom I wish
well, that your rejection of all terms of mediation gives me deep
affliction. May Heaven," he said, looking upwards, "judge between our
motives, and those of the movers of this civil commotion!"
"Amen," said Montrose; "to that tribunal we all submit us."
Sir Duncan Campbell left the hall, accompanied by Allan M'Aulay and Lord
Menteith. "There goes a true-bred Campbell," said Montrose, as the envoy
departed, "for they are ever fair and false."
"Pardon me, my lord," said Evan Dhu; "hereditary enemy as I am to their
name, I have ever found the Knight of Ardenvohr brave in war, honest in
peace, and true in council."
"Of his own disposition," said Montrose, "such he is undoubtedly; but
he now acts as the organ or mouth-piece of his Chief, the Marquis, the
falsest man that ever drew breath. And, M'Aulay," he continued in a
whisper to his host, "lest he should make some impression upon the
inexperience of Menteith, or the singular disposition of your brother,
you had better send music into their chamber, to prevent his inveigling
them into any private conference."
"The devil a musician have I," answered M'Aulay, "excepting the piper,
who has nearly broke his wind by an ambitious contention for superiority
with three of his own craft; but I can send Annot Lyle and her harp."
And he left the apartment to give orders accordingly.
Meanwhile a warm discussion took place, who should undertake the
perilous task of returning with Sir Duncan to Inverary. To the higher
dignitaries, accustomed to consider themselves upon an equality even
with M'Callum More, this was an office not to be proposed; unto others
who could not plead the same excuse, it was altogether unacceptable. One
would have thought Inverary had been the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
the inferior chiefs showed such reluctance to approach it. After a
considerable hesitation, the plain reason was at length spoken
out, namely, that whatever Highlander should undertake an office so
distasteful to M'Callum More, he would be sure to treasure the offence
in his remembrance, and one day or other to make him bitterly repent of
In this dilemma, Montrose, who considered the proposed armistice as
a mere stratagem on the part of Argyle, although he had not ventured
bluntly to reject it in presence of those whom it concerned so nearly,
resolved to impose the danger and dignity upon Captain Dalgetty, who had
neither clan nor estate in the Highlands upon which the wrath of Argyle
could wreak itself.
"But I have a neck though," said Dalgetty, bluntly; "and what if he
chooses to avenge himself upon that? I have known a case where an
honourable ambassador has been hanged as a spy before now. Neither did
the Romans use ambassadors much more mercifully at the siege of Capua,
although I read that they only cut off their hands and noses, put out
their eyes, and suffered them to depart in peace."
"By my honour Captain Dalgetty," said Montrose, "should the Marquis,
contrary to the rules of war, dare to practise any atrocity against you,
you may depend upon my taking such signal vengeance that all Scotland
shall ring of it."
"That will do but little for Dalgetty," returned the Captain; "but
corragio! as the Spaniard says. With the Land of Promise full in
view, the Moor of Drumthwacket, MEA PAUPERA REGNA, as we said at
Mareschal-College, I will not refuse your Excellency's commission,
being conscious it becomes a cavalier of honour to obey his commander's
orders, in defiance both of gibbet and sword."
"Gallantly resolved," said Montrose; "and if you will come apart with
me, I will furnish you with the conditions to be laid before M'Callum
More, upon which we are willing to grant him a truce for his Highland
With these we need not trouble our readers. They were of an evasive
nature, calculated to meet a proposal which Montrose considered to have
been made only for the purpose of gaining time. When he had put Captain
Dalgetty in complete possession of his instructions, and when that
worthy, making his military obeisance, was near the door of his
apartment, Montrose made him a sign to return.
"I presume," said he, "I need not remind an officer who has served under
the great Gustavus, that a little more is required of a person sent with
a flag of truce than mere discharge of his instructions, and that his
general will expect from him, on his return, some account of the state
of the enemy's affairs, as far as they come under his observation. In
short, Captain Dalgetty, you must be UN PEU CLAIR-VOYANT."
"Ah ha! your Excellency," said the Captain, twisting his hard features
into an inimitable expression of cunning and intelligence, "if they do
not put my head in a poke, which I have known practised upon honourable
soldados who have been suspected to come upon such errands as the
present, your Excellency may rely on a preceese narration of whatever
Dugald Dalgetty shall hear or see, were it even how many turns of tune
there are in M'Callum More's pibroch, or how many checks in the sett of
his plaid and trews."
"Enough," answered Montrose; "farewell, Captain Dalgetty: and as they
say that a lady's mind is always expressed in her postscript, so I would
have you think that the most important part of your commission lies in
what I have last said to you."
Dalgetty once more grinned intelligence, and withdrew to victual his
charger and himself, for the fatigues of his approaching mission.
At the door of the stable, for Gustavus always claimed his first
care,--he met Angus M'Aulay and Sir Miles Musgrave, who had been looking
at his horse; and, after praising his points and carriage, both united
in strongly dissuading the Captain from taking an animal of such value
with him upon his present very fatiguing journey.
Angus painted in the most alarming colours the roads, or rather
wild tracks, by which it would be necessary for him to travel into
Argyleshire, and the wretched huts or bothies where he would be
condemned to pass the night, and where no forage could be procured for
his horse, unless he could eat the stumps of old heather. In short,
he pronounced it absolutely impossible, that, after undertaking such a
pilgrimage, the animal could be in any case for military service. The
Englishman strongly confirmed all that Angus had said, and gave himself,
body and soul, to the devil, if he thought it was not an act little
short of absolute murder to carry a horse worth a farthing into such a
waste and inhospitable desert. Captain Dalgetty for an instant looked
steadily, first at one of the gentlemen and next at the other, and then
asked them, as if in a state of indecision, what they would advise him
to do with Gustavus under such circumstances.
"By the hand of my father, my dear friend," answered M'Aulay, "if you
leave the beast in my keeping, you may rely on his being fed and sorted
according to his worth and quality, and that upon your happy return, you
will find him as sleek as an onion boiled in butter."
"Or," said Sir Miles Musgrave, "if this worthy cavalier chooses to part
with his charger for a reasonable sum, I have some part of the silver
candlesticks still dancing the heys in my purse, which I shall be very
willing to transfer to his."
"In brief, mine honourable friends," said Captain Dalgetty, again eyeing
them both with an air of comic penetration, "I find it would not be
altogether unacceptable to either of you, to have some token to remember
the old soldier by, in case it shall please M'Callum More to hang him
up at the gate of his own castle. And doubtless it would be no small
satisfaction to me, in such an event, that a noble and loyal cavalier
like Sir Miles Musgrave, or a worthy and hospitable chieftain like our
excellent landlord, should act as my executor."
Both hastened to protest that they had no such object, and insisted
again upon the impassable character of the Highland paths. Angus
M'Aulay mumbled over a number of hard Gaellic names, descriptive of the
difficult passes, precipices, corries, and beals, through which he
said the road lay to Inverary, when old Donald, who had now entered,
sanctioned his master's account of these difficulties, by holding up his
hands, and elevating his eyes, and shaking his head, at every gruttural
which M'Aulay pronounced. But all this did not move the inflexible
"My worthy friends," said he, "Gustavus is not new to the dangers of
travelling, and the mountains of Bohemia; and (no disparagement to the
beals and corries Mr. Angus is pleased to mention, and of which Sir
Miles, who never saw them, confirms the horrors,) these mountains may
compete with the vilest roads in Europe. In fact, my horse hath a most
excellent and social quality; for although he cannot pledge in my cup,
yet we share our loaf between us, and it will be hard if he suffers
famine where cakes or bannocks are to be found. And, to cut this matter
short, I beseech you, my good friends, to observe the state of Sir
Duncan Campbell's palfrey, which stands in that stall before us, fat
and fair; and, in return for your anxiety an my account, I give you
my honest asseveration, that while we travel the same road, both that
palfrey and his rider shall lack for food before either Gustavus or I."
Having said this he filled a large measure with corn, and walked up with
it to his charger, who, by his low whinnying neigh, his pricked ears,
and his pawing, showed how close the alliance was betwixt him and his
rider. Nor did he taste his corn until he had returned his master's
caresses, by licking his hands and face. After this interchange of
greeting, the steed began to his provender with an eager dispatch, which
showed old military habits; and the master, after looking on the animal
with great complacency for about five minutes, said,--"Much good may it
do your honest heart, Gustavus;--now must I go and lay in provant myself
for the campaign."
He then departed, having first saluted the Englishman and Angus M'Aulay,
who remained looking at each other for some time in silence, and then
burst out into a fit of laughter.
"That fellow," said Sir Miles Musgrave, "is formed to go through the
"I shall think so too," said M'Aulay, "if he can slip through M'Callum
More's fingers as easily as he has done through ours."
"Do you think," said the Englishman, "that the Marquis will not respect,
in Captain Dalgetty's person, the laws of civilized war?"
"No more than I would respect a Lowland proclamation," said Angus
M'Aulay.--"But come along, it is time I were returning to my guests."
. . . . In a rebellion,
When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,
Then were they chosen, in a better hour,
Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
And throw their power i' the dust.--CORIOLANUS.
In a small apartment, remote from the rest of the guests assembled at
the castle, Sir Duncan Campbell was presented with every species of
refreshment, and respectfully attended by Lord Menteith, and by Allan
M'Aulay. His discourse with the latter turned upon a sort of hunting
campaign, in which they had been engaged together against the Children
of the Mist, with whom the Knight of Ardenvohr, as well as the M'Aulays,
had a deadly and irreconcilable feud. Sir Duncan, however, speedily
endeavoured to lead back the conversation to the subject of his present
errand to the castle of Darnlinvarach.
"It grieved him to the very heart," he said, "to see that friends and
neighbours, who should stand shoulder to shoulder, were likely to be
engaged hand to hand in a cause which so little concerned them. What
signifies it," he said, "to the Highland Chiefs, whether King or
Parliament got uppermost? Were it not better to let them settle their
own differences without interference, while the Chiefs, in the meantime,
took the opportunity of establishing their own authority in a manner
not to be called in question hereafter by either King or Parliament?"
He reminded Allan M'Aulay that the measures taken in the last reign
to settle the peace, as was alleged, of the Highlands, were in fact
levelled at the patriarchal power of the Chieftains; and he mentioned
the celebrated settlement of the Fife Undertakers, as they were
called, in the Lewis, as part of a deliberate plan, formed to introduce
strangers among the Celtic tribes, to destroy by degrees their ancient
customs and mode of government, and to despoil them of the inheritance
of their fathers. [In the reign of James VI., an attempt of rather an
extraordinary kind was made to civilize the extreme northern part of the
Hebridean Archipelago. That monarch granted the property of the Island
of Lewis, as if it had been an unknown and savage country, to a number
of Lowland gentlemen, called undertakers, chiefly natives of the shire
of Fife, that they might colonize and settle there. The enterprise
was at first successful, but the natives of the island, MacLeods and
MacKenzies, rose on the Lowland adventurers, and put most of them to
the sword.] "And yet," he continued, addressing Allan, "it is for
the purpose of giving despotic authority to the monarch by whom these
designs have been nursed, that so many Highland Chiefs are upon
the point of quarrelling with, and drawing the sword against, their
neighbours, allies, and ancient confederates." "It is to my brother,"
said Allan, "it is to the eldest son of my father's house, that the
Knight of Ardenvohr must address these remonstrances. I am, indeed, the
brother of Angus; but in being so, I am only the first of his clansmen,
and bound to show an example to the others by my cheerful and ready
obedience to his commands."
"The cause also," said Lord Menteith, interposing, "is far more general
than Sir Duncan Campbell seems to suppose it. It is neither limited
to Saxon nor to Gael, to mountain nor to strath, to Highlands nor to
Lowlands. The question is, if we will continue to be governed by the
unlimited authority assumed by a set of persons in no respect superior
to ourselves, instead of returning to the natural government of the
Prince against whom they have rebelled. And respecting the interest of
the Highlands in particular," he added, "I crave Sir Duncan Campbell's
pardon for my plainness; but it seems very clear to me, that the only
effect produced by the present usurpation, will be the aggrandisement
of one overgrown clan at the expense of every independent Chief in the
"I will not reply to you, my lord," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "because
I know your prejudices, and from whom they are borrowed; yet you will
pardon my saying, that being at the head of a rival branch of the House
of Graham, I have both read of and known an Earl of Menteith, who
would have disdained to have been tutored in politics, or to have been
commanded in war, by an Earl of Montrose."
"You will find it in vain, Sir Duncan," said Lord Menteith, haughtily,
"to set my vanity in arms against my principles. The King gave my
ancestors their title and rank; and these shall never prevent my acting,
in the royal cause, under any one who is better qualified than myself
to be a commander-in-chief. Least of all, shall any miserable jealousy
prevent me from placing my hand and sword under the guidance of the
bravest, the most loyal, the most heroic spirit among our Scottish
"Pity," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "that you cannot add to this panegyric
the farther epithets of the most steady, and the most consistent. But I
have no purpose of debating these points with you, my lord," waving
his hand, as if to avoid farther discussion; "the die is cast with you;
allow me only to express my sorrow for the disastrous fate to which
Angus M'Aulay's natural rashness, and your lordship's influence, are
dragging my gallant friend Allan here, with his father's clan, and many
a brave man besides."
"The die is cast for us all, Sir Duncan," replied Allan, looking gloomy,
and arguing on his own hypochondriac feelings; "the iron hand of destiny
branded our fate upon our forehead long ere we could form a wish, or
raise a finger in our own behalf. Were this otherwise, by what means
does the Seer ascertain the future from those shadowy presages which
haunt his waking and his sleeping eye? Nought can be foreseen but that
which is certain to happen."
Sir Duncan Campbell was about to reply, and the darkest and most
contested point of metaphysics might have been brought into discussion
betwixt two Highland disputants, when the door opened, and Annot Lyle,
with her clairshach in her hand, entered the apartment. The freedom of
a Highland maiden was in her step and in her eye; for, bred up in the
closest intimacy with the Laird of M'Aulay and his brother, with
Lord Menteith, and other young men who frequented Darnlinvarach, she
possessed none of that timidity which a female, educated chiefly among
her own sex, would either have felt, or thought necessary to assume, on
an occasion like the present.
Her dress partook of the antique, for new fashions seldom penetrated
into the Highlands, nor would they easily have found their way to a
castle inhabited chiefly by men, whose sole occupation was war and the
chase. Yet Annot's garments were not only becoming, but even rich. Her
open jacket, with a high collar, was composed of blue cloth, richly
embroidered, and had silver clasps to fasten, when it pleased the
wearer. Its sleeves, which were wide, came no lower than the elbow, and
terminated in a golden fringe; under this upper coat, if it can be so
termed, she wore an under dress of blue satin, also richly embroidered,
but which was several shades lighter in colour than the upper garment.
The petticoat was formed of tartan silk, in the sett, or pattern, of
which the colour of blue greatly predominated, so as to remove the
tawdry effect too frequently produced in tartan, by the mixture and
strong opposition of colours. An antique silver chain hung round
her neck, and supported the WREST, or key, with which she turned her
instrument. A small ruff rose above her collar, and was secured by a
brooch of some value, an old keepsake from Lord Menteith. Her profusion
of light hair almost hid her laughing eyes, while, with a smile and a
blush, she mentioned that she had M'Aulay's directions to ask them if
they chose music. Sir Duncan Campbell gazed with considerable surprise
and interest at the lovely apparition, which thus interrupted his debate
with Allan M'Aulay.
"Can this," he said to him in a whisper, "a creature so beautiful and so
elegant, be a domestic musician of your brother's establishment?"
"By no means," answered Allan, hastily, yet with some hesitation; "she
is a--a--near relation of our family--and treated," he added, more
firmly, "as an adopted daughter of our father's house."
As he spoke thus, he arose from his seat, and with that air of courtesy
which every Highlander can assume when it suits him to practise it, he
resigned it to Annot, and offered to her, at the same time, whatever
refreshments the table afforded, with an assiduity which was probably
designed to give Sir Duncan an impression of her rank and consequence.
If such was Allan's purpose, however, it was unnecessary. Sir Duncan
kept his eyes fixed upon Annot with an expression of much deeper
interest than could have arisen from any impression that she was
a person of consequence. Annot even felt embarrassed under the old
knight's steady gaze; and it was not without considerable hesitation,
that, tuning her instrument, and receiving an assenting look from Lord
Menteith and Allan, she executed the following ballad, which our friend,
Mr. Secundus M'Pherson, whose goodness we had before to acknowledge, has
thus translated into the English tongue:
THE ORPHAN MAID.
November's hail-cloud drifts away,
November's sunbeam wan
Looks coldly on the castle grey,
When forth comes Lady Anne.
The orphan by the oak was set,
Her arms, her feet, were bare,
The hail-drops had not melted yet,
Amid her raven hair.
"And, Dame," she said, "by all the ties
That child and mother know,
Aid one who never knew these joys,
Relieve an orphan's woe."
The Lady said, "An orphan's state
Is hard and sad to bear;
Yet worse the widow'd mother's fate,
Who mourns both lord and heir.
"Twelve times the rolling year has sped,
Since, when from vengeance wild
Of fierce Strathallan's Chief I fled,
Forth's eddies whelm'd my child."
"Twelve times the year its course has born,"
The wandering maid replied,
"Since fishers on St. Bridget's morn
Drew nets on Campsie side.
"St. Bridget sent no scaly spoil;--
An infant, wellnigh dead,
They saved, and rear'd in want and toil,
To beg from you her bread."
That orphan maid the lady kiss'd--
"My husband's looks you bear;
St. Bridget and her morn be bless'd!
You are his widow's heir."
They've robed that maid, so poor and pale,
In silk and sandals rare;
And pearls, for drops of frozen hail,
Are glistening in her hair.
The admirers of pure Celtic antiquity, notwithstanding the elegance of
the above translation, may be desirous to see a literal version from the
original Gaelic, which we therefore subjoin; and have only to add, that
the original is deposited with Mr. Jedediah Cleishbotham.
The hail-blast had drifted away upon the wings of the gale
of autumn. The sun looked from between the clouds, pale as
the wounded hero who rears his head feebly on the heath when
the roar of battle hath passed over him.
Finele, the Lady of the Castle, came forth to see her
maidens pass to the herds with their leglins [Milk-pails].
There sat an orphan maiden beneath the old oak-tree of
appointment. The withered leaves fell around her, and her
heart was more withered than they.
The parent of the ice [poetically taken from the frost]
still congealed the hail-drops in her hair; they were like
the specks of white ashes on the twisted boughs of the
blackened and half-consumed oak that blazes in the hall.
And the maiden said, "Give me comfort, Lady, I am an orphan
child." And the Lady replied, "How can I give that which I
have not? I am the widow of a slain lord,--the mother of a
perished child. When I fled in my fear from the vengeance
of my husband's foes, our bark was overwhelmed in the tide,
and my infant perished. This was on St. Bridget's morn,
near the strong Lyns of Campsie. May ill luck light upon
the day." And the maiden answered, "It was on St. Bridget's
morn, and twelve harvests before this time, that the
fishermen of Campsie drew in their nets neither grilse nor
salmon, but an infant half dead, who hath since lived in
misery, and must die, unless she is now aided." And the Lady
answered, "Blessed be Saint Bridget and her morn, for these
are the dark eyes and the falcon look of my slain lord; and
thine shall be the inheritance of his widow." And she
called for her waiting attendants, and she bade them clothe
that maiden in silk, and in samite; and the pearls which
they wove among her black tresses, were whiter than the
While the song proceeded, Lord Menteith observed, with some surprise,
that it appeared to produce a much deeper effect upon the mind of Sir
Duncan Campbell, than he could possibly have anticipated from his
age and character. He well knew that the Highlanders of that period
possessed a much greater sensibility both for tale and song than was
found among their Lowland neighbours; but even this, he thought, hardly
accounted for the embarrassment with which the old man withdrew his eyes
from the songstress, as if unwilling to suffer them to rest on an object
so interesting. Still less was it to be expected, that features which
expressed pride, stern common sense, and the austere habit of authority,
should have been so much agitated by so trivial a circumstance. As the
Chief's brow became clouded, he drooped his large shaggy grey eyebrows
until they almost concealed his eyes, on the lids of which something
like a tear might be seen to glisten. He remained silent and fixed in
the same posture for a minute or two, after the last note had ceased to
vibrate. He then raised his head, and having looked at Annot Lyle, as if
purposing to speak to her, he as suddenly changed that purpose, and was
about to address Allan, when the door opened, and the Lord of the Castle
made his appearance.
Dark on their journey lour'd the gloomy day,
Wild were the hills, and doubtful grew the way;
More dark, more gloomy, and more doubtful, show'd
The mansion, which received them from the road.
--THE TRAVELLERS, A ROMANCE.
Angus M'Aulay was charged with a message which he seemed to find some
difficulty in communicating; for it was not till after he had framed his
speech several different ways, and blundered them all, that he succeeded
in letting Sir Duncan Campbell know, that the cavalier who was to
accompany him was waiting in readiness, and that all was prepared for
his return to Inverary. Sir Duncan Campbell rose up very indignantly;
the affront which this message implied immediately driving out of his
recollection the sensibility which had been awakened by the music.
"I little expected this," he said, looking indignantly at Angus M'Aulay.
"I little thought that there was a Chief in the West Highlands, who, at
the pleasure of a Saxon, would have bid the Knight of Ardenvohr leave
his castle, when the sun was declining from the meridian, and ere the
second cup had been filled. But farewell, sir, the food of a churl does
not satisfy the appetite; when I next revisit Darnlinvarach, it shall be
with a naked sword in one hand, and a firebrand in the other."
"And if you so come," said Angus, "I pledge myself to meet you fairly,
though you brought five hundred Campbells at your back, and to afford
you and them such entertainment, that you shall not again complain of
the hospitality of Darnlinvarach."
"Threatened men," said Sir Duncan, "live long. Your turn for
gasconading, Laird of M'Aulay, is too well known, that men of honour
should regard your vaunts. To you, my lord, and to Allan, who have
supplied the place of my churlish host, I leave my thanks.--And to you,
pretty mistress," he said, addressing Annot Lyle, "this little token,
for having opened a fountain which hath been dry for many a year."
So saying, he left the apartment, and commanded his attendants to be
summoned. Angus M'Aulay, equally embarrassed and incensed at the
charge of inhospitality, which was the greatest possible affront to a
Highlander, did not follow Sir Duncan to the court-yard, where, mounting
his palfrey, which was in readiness, followed by six mounted attendants,
and accompanied by the noble Captain Dalgetty, who had also awaited him,
holding Gustavus ready for action, though he did not draw his girths and
mount till Sir Duncan appeared, the whole cavalcade left the castle.
The journey was long and toilsome, but without any of the extreme
privations which the Laird of M'Aulay had prophesied. In truth, Sir
Duncan was very cautious to avoid those nearer and more secret paths,
by means of which the county of Argyle was accessible from the eastward;
for his relation and chief, the Marquis, was used to boast, that he
would not for a hundred thousand crowns any mortal should know the
passes by which an armed force could penetrate into his country.
Sir Duncan Campbell, therefore, rather shunned the Highlands, and
falling into the Low-country, made for the nearest seaport in the
vicinity, where he had several half-decked galleys, or birlings, as
they were called, at his command. In one of these they embarked, with
Gustavus in company, who was so seasoned to adventure, that land and sea
seemed as indifferent to him as to his master.
The wind being favourable, they pursued their way rapidly with sails and
oars; and early the next morning it was announced to Captain Dalgetty,
then in a small cabin beneath the hall-deck, that the galley was under
the walls of Sir Duncan Campbell's castle.
Ardenvohr, accordingly, rose high above him, when he came upon the deck
of the galley. It was a gloomy square tower, of considerable size and
great height, situated upon a headland projecting into the salt-water
lake, or arm of the sea, which they had entered on the preceding
evening. A wall, with flanking towers at each angle, surrounded the
castle to landward; but, towards the lake, it was built so near the
brink of the precipice as only to leave room for a battery of seven
guns, designed to protect the fortress from any insult from that side,
although situated too high to be of any effectual use according to the
modern system of warfare.
The eastern sun, rising behind the old tower, flung its shadow far on
the lake, darkening the deck of the galley, on which Captain Dalgetty
now walked, waiting with some impatience the signal to land. Sir Duncan
Campbell, as he was informed by his attendants, was already within the
walls of the castle; but no one encouraged the Captain's proposal of
following him ashore, until, as they stated, they should receive the
direct permission or order of the Knight of Ardenvohr.
In a short time afterwards the mandate arrived, while a boat, with a
piper in the bow, bearing the Knight of Ardenvohr's crest in silver upon
his left arm, and playing with all his might the family march, entitled
"The Campbells are coming," approached to conduct the envoy of Montrose
to the castle of Ardenvohr. The distance between the galley and the
beach was so short as scarce to require the assistance of the eight
sturdy rowers, in bonnets, short coats, and trews, whose efforts sent
the boat to the little creek in which they usually landed, before one
could have conceived that it had left the side of the birling. Two of
the boatmen, in spite of Dalgetty's resistance, horsed the Captain on
the back of a third Highlander, and, wading through the surf with him,
landed him high and dry upon the beach beneath the castle rock. In
the face of this rock there appeared something like the entrance of a
low-browed cavern, towards which the assistants were preparing to hurry
our friend Dalgetty, when, shaking himself loose from them with some
difficulty, he insisted upon seeing Gustavus safely landed before he
proceeded one step farther. The Highlanders could not comprehend what he
meant, until one who had picked up a little English, or rather Lowland
Scotch, exclaimed, "Houts! it's a' about her horse, ta useless baste."
Farther remonstrance on the part of Captain Dalgetty was interrupted
by the appearance of Sir Duncan Campbell himself, from the mouth of
the cavern which we have described, for the purpose of inviting Captain
Dalgetty to accept of the hospitality of Ardenvohr, pledging his honour,
at the same time, that Gustavus should be treated as became the hero
from whom he derived his name, not to mention the important person
to whom he now belonged. Notwithstanding this satisfactory guarantee,
Captain Dalgetty would still have hesitated, such was his anxiety to
witness the fate of his companion Gustavus, had not two Highlanders
seized him by the arms, two more pushed him on behind, while a fifth
exclaimed, "Hout awa wi' the daft Sassenach! does she no hear the Laird
bidding her up to her ain castle, wi' her special voice, and isna that
very mickle honour for the like o' her?"
Thus impelled, Captain Dalgetty could only for a short space keep a
reverted eye towards the galley in which he had left the partner of his
military toils. In a few minutes afterwards he found himself involved in
the total darkness of a staircase, which, entering from the low-browed
cavern we have mentioned, winded upwards through the entrails of the
"The cursed Highland salvages!" muttered the Captain, half aloud; "what
is to become of me, if Gustavus, the namesake of the invincible Lion of
the Protestant League, should be lamed among their untenty hands!"
"Have no fear of that," said the voice of Sir Duncan, who was nearer to
him than he imagined; "my men are accustomed to handle horses, both in
embarking and dressing them, and you will soon see Gustavus as safe as
when you last dismounted from his back."
Captain Dalgetty knew the world too well to offer any farther
remonstrance, whatever uneasiness he might suppress within his own
bosom. A step or two higher up the stair showed light and a door, and
an iron-grated wicket led him out upon a gallery cut in the open face
of the rock, extending a space of about six or eight yards, until he
reached a second door, where the path re-entered the rock, and which was
also defended by an iron portcullis. "An admirable traverse," observed
the Captain; "and if commanded by a field-piece, or even a few muskets,
quite sufficient to ensure the place against a storming party."
Sir Duncan Campbell made no answer at the time; but, the moment
afterwards, when they had entered the second cavern, he struck with the
stick which he had in his hand, first on the one side, and then on the
other of the wicket, and the sullen ringing sound which replied to the
blows, made Captain Dalgetty sensible that there was a gun placed on
each side, for the purpose of raking the gallery through which they had
passed, although the embrasures, through which they might be fired on
occasion, were masked on the outside with sods and loose stones. Having
ascended the second staircase, they found themselves again on an open
platform and gallery, exposed to a fire both of musketry and wall-guns,
if, being come with hostile intent, they had ventured farther. A third
flight of steps, cut in the rock like the former, but not caverned over,
led them finally into the battery at the foot of the tower. This last
stair also was narrow and steep, and, not to mention the fire which
might be directed on it from above, one or two resolute men, with pikes
and battle-axes, could have made the pass good against hundreds; for the
staircase would not admit two persons abreast, and was not secured by
any sort of balustrade, or railing, from the sheer and abrupt precipice,
on the foot of which the tide now rolled with a voice of thunder. So
that, under the jealous precautions used to secure this ancient Celtic
fortress, a person of weak nerves, and a brain liable to become dizzy,
might have found it something difficult to have achieved the entrance to
the castle, even supposing no resistance had been offered.
Captain Dalgetty, too old a soldier to feel such tremors, had no sooner
arrived in the court-yard, than he protested to God, the defences of Sir
Duncan's castle reminded him more of the notable fortress of Spandau,
situated in the March of Brandenburg, than of any place whilk it had
been his fortune to defend in the course of his travels. Nevertheless,
he criticised considerably the mode of placing the guns on the battery
we have noticed, observing, that "where cannon were perched, like to
scarts or sea-gulls on the top of a rock, he had ever observed that
they astonished more by their noise than they dismayed by the skaith or
damage which they occasioned."
Sir Duncan, without replying, conducted the soldier into the tower; the
defences of which were a portcullis and ironclenched oaken door, the
thickness of the wall being the space between them. He had no sooner
arrived in a hall hung with tapestry, than the Captain prosecuted his
military criticism. It was indeed suspended by the sight of an excellent
breakfast, of which he partook with great avidity; but no sooner had he
secured this meal, than he made the tour of the apartment, examining the
ground around the Castle very carefully from each window in the room.
He then returned to his chair, and throwing himself back into it at his
length, stretched out one manly leg, and tapping his jack-boot with the
riding-rod which he carried in his hand, after the manner of a half-bred
man who affects ease in the society of his betters, he delivered his
unasked opinion as follows:--"This house of yours, now, Sir Duncan, is a
very pretty defensible sort of a tenement, and yet it is hardly such as
a cavaliero of honour would expect to maintain his credit by holding out
for many days. For, Sir Duncan, if it pleases you to notice, your house
is overcrowed, and slighted, or commanded, as we military men say, by
yonder round hillock to the landward, whereon an enemy might stell
such a battery of cannon as would make ye glad to beat a chamade within
forty-eight hours, unless it pleased the Lord extraordinarily to show
"There is no road," replied Sir Duncan, somewhat shortly, "by which
cannon can be brought against Ardenvohr. The swamps and morasses around
my house would scarce carry your horse and yourself, excepting by such
paths as could be rendered impassable within a few hours."
"Sir Duncan," said the Captain, "it is your pleasure to suppose so; and
yet we martial men say, that where there is a sea-coast there is always
a naked side, seeing that cannon and munition, where they cannot be
transported by land, may be right easily brought by sea near to the
place where they are to be put in action. Neither is a castle, however
secure in its situation, to be accounted altogether invincible, or, as
they say, impregnable; for I protest t'ye, Sir Duncan, that I have known
twenty-five men, by the mere surprise and audacity of the attack, win,
at point of pike, as strong a hold as this of Ardenvohr, and put to the
sword, captivate, or hold to the ransom, the defenders, being ten times
their own number."
Notwithstanding Sir Duncan Campbell's knowledge of the world, and his
power of concealing his internal emotion, he appeared piqued and hurt
at these reflections, which the Captain made with the most unconscious
gravity, having merely selected the subject of conversation as one upon
which he thought himself capable of shining, and, as they say, of laying
down the law, without exactly recollecting that the topic might not be
equally agreeable to his landlord.
"To cut this matter short," said Sir Duncan, with an expression of voice
and countenance somewhat agitated, "it is unnecessary for you to
tell me, Captain Dalgetty, that a castle may be stormed if it is not
valorously defended, or surprised if it is not heedfully watched.
I trust this poor house of mine will not be found in any of these
predicaments, should even Captain Dalgetty himself choose to beleaguer
"For all that, Sir Duncan," answered the persevering commander, "I would
premonish you, as a friend, to trace out a sconce upon that round
hill, with a good graffe, or ditch, whilk may be easily accomplished by
compelling the labour of the boors in the vicinity; it being the custom
of the valorous Gustavus Adolphus to fight as much by the spade and
shovel, as by sword, pike, and musket. Also, I would advise you to
fortify the said sconce, not only by a foussie, or graffe, but also by
certain stackets, or palisades."--(Here Sir Duncan, becoming impatient,
left the apartment, the Captain following him to the door, and raising
his voice as he retreated, until he was fairly out of hearing.)--"The
whilk stackets, or palisades, should be artificially framed with
re-entering angles and loop-holes, or crenelles, for musketry, whereof
it shall arise that the foeman--The Highland brute! the old Highland
brute! They are as proud as peacocks, and as obstinate as tups--and here
he has missed an opportunity of making his house as pretty an irregular
fortification as an invading army ever broke their teeth upon.--But I
see," he continued, looking own from the window upon the bottom of the
precipice, "they have got Gustavus safe ashore--Proper fellow! I would
know that toss of his head among a whole squadron. I must go to see what
they are to make of him."
He had no sooner reached, however, the court to the seaward, and put
himself in the act of descending the staircase, than two Highland
sentinels, advancing their Lochaber axes, gave him to understand that
this was a service of danger.
"Diavolo!" said the soldier, "and I have got no pass-word. I could not
speak a syllable of their salvage gibberish, an it were to save me from
"I will be your surety, Captain Dalgetty," said Sir Duncan, who had
again approached him without his observing from whence; "and we will go
together, and see how your favourite charger is accommodated."
He conducted him accordingly down the staircase to the beach, and from
thence by a short turn behind a large rock, which concealed the stables
and other offices belonging to the castle, Captain Dalgetty became
sensible, at the same time, that the side of the castle to the land was
rendered totally inaccessible by a ravine, partly natural and partly
scarped with great care and labour, so as to be only passed by a
drawbridge. Still, however, the Captain insisted, not withstanding the
triumphant air with which Sir Duncan pointed out his defences, that a
sconce should be erected on Drumsnab, the round eminence to the east of
the castle, in respect the house might be annoyed from thence by burning
bullets full of fire, shot out of cannon, according to the curious
invention of Stephen Bathian, King of Poland, whereby that prince
utterly ruined the great Muscovite city of Moscow. This invention,
Captain Dalgetty owned, he had not yet witnessed, but observed, "that
it would give him particular delectation to witness the same put to
the proof against Ardenvohr, or any other castle of similar strength;"
observing, "that so curious an experiment could not but afford the
greatest delight to all admirers of the military art."
Sir Duncan Campbell diverted this conversation by carrying the soldier
into his stables, and suffering him to arrange Gustavus according to
his own will and pleasure. After this duty had been carefully performed,
Captain Dalgetty proposed to return to the castle, observing, it was his
intention to spend the time betwixt this and dinner, which, he presumed,
would come upon the parade about noon, in burnishing his armour, which
having sustained some injury from the sea-air, might, he was afraid,
seem discreditable in the eyes of M'Callum More. Yet, while they were
returning to the castle, he failed not to warn Sir Duncan Campbell
against the great injury he might sustain by any sudden onfall of an
enemy, whereby his horses, cattle, and granaries, might be cut off and
consumed, to his great prejudice; wherefore he again strongly conjured
him to construct a sconce upon the round hill called Drumsnab, and
offered his own friendly services in lining out the same. To this
disinterested advice Sir Duncan only replied by ushering his guest to
his apartment, and informing him that the tolling of the castle bell
would make him aware when dinner was ready.
Is this thy castle, Baldwin? Melancholy
Displays her sable banner from the donjon,
Darkening the foam of the whole surge beneath.
Were I a habitant, to see this gloom
Pollute the face of nature, and to hear
The ceaseless sound of wave, and seabird's scream,
I'd wish me in the hut that poorest peasant
E'er framed, to give him temporary shelter.--BROWN.
The gallant Ritt-master would willingly have employed his leisure in
studying the exterior of Sir Duncan's castle, and verifying his own
military ideas upon the nature of its defences. But a stout sentinel,
who mounted guard with a Lochaber-axe at the door of his apartment, gave
him to understand, by very significant signs, that he was in a sort of
It is strange, thought the Ritt-master to himself, how well these
salvages understand the rules and practique of war. Who should have
pre-supposed their acquaintance with the maxim of the great and godlike
Gustavus Adolphus, that a flag of truce should be half a messenger half
a spy?--And, having finished burnishing his arms, he sate down patiently
to compute how much half a dollar per diem would amount to at the end of
a six-months' campaign; and, when he had settled that problem, proceeded
to the more abstruse calculations necessary for drawing up a brigade of
two thousand men on the principle of extracting the square root.
From his musings, he was roused by the joyful sound of the dinner bell,
on which the Highlander, lately his guard, became his gentleman-usher,
and marshalled him to the hall, where a table with four covers bore
ample proofs of Highland hospitality. Sir Duncan entered, conducting his
lady, a tall, faded, melancholy female, dressed in deep mourning. They
were followed by a Presbyterian clergyman, in his Geneva cloak, and
wearing a black silk skull-cap, covering his short hair so closely, that
it could scarce be seen at all, so that the unrestricted ears had an
undue predominance in the general aspect. This ungraceful fashion was
universal at the time, and partly led to the nicknames of roundheads,
prick-eared curs, and so forth, which the insolence of the cavaliers
liberally bestowed on their political enemies.
Sir Duncan presented his military guest to his lady, who received his
technical salutation with a stiff and silent reverence, in which it
could scarce be judged whether pride or melancholy had the greater
share. The churchman, to whom he was next presented, eyed him with a
glance of mingled dislike and curiosity.
The Captain, well accustomed to worse looks from more dangerous persons,
cared very little either for those of the lady or of the divine, but
bent his whole soul upon assaulting a huge piece of beef, which smoked
at the nether end of the table. But the onslaught, as he would have
termed it, was delayed, until the conclusion of a very long grace,
betwixt every section of which Dalgetty handled his knife and fork, as
he might have done his musket or pike when going upon action, and as
often resigned them unwillingly when the prolix chaplain commenced
another clause of his benediction. Sir Duncan listened with decency,
though he was supposed rather to have joined the Covenanters out of
devotion to his chief, than real respect for the cause either of liberty
or of Presbytery. His lady alone attended to the blessing, with symptoms
of deep acquiescence.
The meal was performed almost in Carthusian silence; for it was none of
Captain Dalgetty's habits to employ his mouth in talking, while it could
be more profitably occupied. Sir Duncan was absolutely silent, and the
lady and churchman only occasionally exchanged a few words, spoken low,
But, when the dishes were removed, and their place supplied by liquors
of various sorts, Captain Dalgetty no longer had, himself, the same
weighty reasons for silence, and began to tire of that of the rest
of the company. He commenced a new attack upon his landlord, upon the
"Touching that round monticle, or hill, or eminence, termed Drumsnab, I
would be proud to hold some dialogue with you, Sir Duncan, on the nature
of the sconce to be there constructed; and whether the angles
thereof should be acute or obtuse--anent whilk I have heard the great
Velt-Mareschal Bannier hold a learned argument with General Tiefenbach
during a still-stand of arms."
"Captain Dalgetty," answered Sir Duncan very dryly, "it is not our
Highland usage to debate military points with strangers. This castle
is like to hold out against a stronger enemy than any force which the
unfortunate gentlemen we left at Darnlinvarach are able to bring against
A deep sigh from the lady accompanied the conclusion of her husband's
speech, which seemed to remind her of some painful circumstance.
"He who gave," said the clergyman, addressing her in a solemn tone,
"hath taken away. May you, honourable lady, be long enabled to say,
Blessed be his name!"
To this exhortation, which seemed intended for her sole behoof, the
lady answered by an inclination of her head, more humble than Captain
Dalgetty had yet observed her make. Supposing he should now find her in
a more conversible humour, he proceeded to accost her.
"It is indubitably very natural that your ladyship should be downcast
at the mention of military preparations, whilk I have observed to spread
perturbation among women of all nations, and almost all conditions.
Nevertheless, Penthesilea, in ancient times, and also Joan of Arc,
and others, were of a different kidney. And, as I have learned while
I served the Spaniard, the Duke of Alva in former times had the
leaguer-lasses who followed his camp marshalled into TERTIAS (whilk
me call regiments), and officered and commanded by those of their own
feminine gender, and regulated by a commander-in chief, called in German
Hureweibler, or, as we would say vernacularly, Captain of the Queans.
True it is, they were persons not to be named as parallel to your
ladyship, being such QUAE QUAESTUM CORPORIBUS FACIEBANT, as we said
of Jean Drochiels at Mareschal-College; the same whom the French term
CURTISANNES, and we in Scottish--"
"The lady will spare you the trouble of further exposition, Captain
Dalgetty," said his host, somewhat sternly; to which the clergyman
added, "that such discourse better befitted a watch-tower guarded
by profane soldiery than the board of an honourable person, and the
presence of a lady of quality."
"Craving your pardon, Dominie, or Doctor, AUT QUOCUNQUE ALIO NOMINE
GAUDES, for I would have you to know I have studied polite letters,"
said the unabashed envoy, filling a great cup of wine, "I see no ground
for your reproof, seeing I did not speak of those TURPES PERSONAE, as if
their occupation or character was a proper subject of conversation
for this lady's presence, but simply PAR ACCIDENS, as illustrating
the matter in hand, namely, their natural courage and audacity, much
enhanced, doubtless, by the desperate circumstances of their condition."
"Captain Dalgetty," said Sir Duncan Campbell, "to break short this
discourse, I must acquaint you, that I have some business to dispatch
to-night, in order to enable me to ride with you to-morrow towards
Inverary; and therefore--"
"To ride with this person to-morrow!" exclaimed his lady; "such cannot
be your purpose, Sir Duncan, unless you have forgotten that the morrow
is a sad anniversary, and dedicated to as sad a solemnity."
"I had not forgotten," answered Sir Duncan; "how is it possible I can
ever forget? but the necessity of the times requires I should send this
officer onward to Inverary, without loss of time."
"Yet, surely, not that you should accompany him in person?" enquired the
"It were better I did," said Sir Duncan; "yet I can write to the
Marquis, and follow on the subsequent day.--Captain Dalgetty, I will
dispatch a letter for you, explaining to the Marquis of Argyle your
character and commission, with which you will please to prepare to
travel to Inverary early to-morrow morning."
"Sir Duncan Campbell," said Dalgetty, "I am doubtless at your
discretionary disposal in this matter; not the less, I pray you to
remember the blot which will fall upon your own escutcheon, if you do
in any way suffer me, being a commissionate flag of truce, to be
circumvented in this matter, whether CLAM, VI, VEL PRECARIO; I do not
say by your assent to any wrong done to me, but even through absence of
any due care on your part to prevent the same."
"You are under the safeguard of my honour, sir," answered Sir Duncan
Campbell, "and that is more than a sufficient security. And now,"
continued he, rising, "I must set the example of retiring."
Dalgetty saw himself under the necessity of following the hint, though
the hour was early; but, like a skilful general, he availed himself of
every instant of delay which circumstances permitted. "Trusting to
your honourable parole," said he, filling his cup, "I drink to you, Sir
Duncan, and to the continuance of your honourable-house." A sigh
from Sir Duncan was the only reply. "Also, madam," said the soldier,
replenishing the quaigh with all possible dispatch, "I drink to your
honourable health, and fulfilment of all your virtuous desires--and,
reverend sir" (not forgetting to fit the action to the words), "I fill
this cup to the drowning of all unkindness betwixt you and Captain
Dalgetty--I should say Major--and, in respect the flagon contains but
one cup more, I drink to the health of all honourable cavaliers and
brave soldados--and, the flask being empty, I am ready, Sir Duncan, to
attend your functionary or sentinel to my place of private repose."
He received a formal permission to retire, and an assurance, that as
the wine seemed to be to his taste, another measure of the same vintage
should attend him presently, in order to soothe the hours of his
No sooner had the Captain reached the apartment than this promise was
fulfilled; and, in a short time afterwards, the added comforts of a
pasty of red-deer venison rendered him very tolerant both of confinement
and want of society. The same domestic, a sort of chamberlain, who
placed this good cheer in his apartment, delivered to Dalgetty a packet,
sealed and tied up with a silken thread, according to the custom of
the time, addressed with many forms of respect to the High and Mighty
Prince, Archibald, Marquis of Argyle, Lord of Lorne, and so forth. The
chamberlain at the same time apprized the Ritt-master, that he must
take horse at an early hour for Inverary, where the packet of Sir Duncan
would be at once his introduction and his passport. Not forgetting that
it was his object to collect information as well as to act as an envoy,
and desirous, for his own sake, to ascertain Sir Duncan's reasons for
sending him onward without his personal attendance, the Ritt-master
enquired the domestic, with all the precaution that his experience
suggested, what were the reasons which detained Sir Duncan at home on
the succeeding day. The man, who was from the Lowlands, replied, "that
it was the habit of Sir Duncan and his lady to observe as a day of
solemn fast and humiliation the anniversary on which their castle had
been taken by surprise, and their children, to the number of four,
destroyed cruelly by a band of Highland freebooters during Sir Duncan's
absence upon an expedition which the Marquis of Argyle had undertaken
against the Macleans of the Isle of Mull."
"Truly," said the soldier, "your lord and lady have some cause for fast
and humiliation. Nevertheless, I will venture to pronounce, that if he
had taken the advice of any experienced soldier, having skill in the
practiques of defending places of advantage, he would have built a
sconce upon the small hill which is to the left of the draw-brigg. And
this I can easily prove to you, mine honest friend; for, holding that
pasty to be the castle--What's your name, friend?"
"Lorimer, sir," replied the man.
"Here is to your health, honest Lorimer.--I say, Lorimer--holding that
pasty to be the main body or citadel of the place to be defended, and
taking the marrow-bone for the sconce to be erected--"
"I am sorry, sir," said Lorimer, interrupting him, "that I cannot stay
to hear the rest of your demonstration; but the bell will presently
ring. As worthy Mr. Graneangowl, the Marquis's own chaplain, does family
worship, and only seven of our household out of sixty persons understand
the Scottish tongue, it would misbecome any one of them to be absent,
and greatly prejudice me in the opinion of my lady. There are pipes and
tobacco, sir, if you please to drink a whiff of smoke, and if you want
anything else, it shall be forthcoming two hours hence, when prayers are
over." So saying, he left the apartment.
No sooner was he gone, than the heavy toll of the castle-bell summoned
its inhabitants together; and was answered by the shrill clamour of the
females, mixed with the deeper tones of the men, as, talking Earse at
the top of their throats, they hurried from different quarters by a long
but narrow gallery, which served as a communication to many rooms, and,
among others, to that in which Captain Dalgetty was stationed. There
they go as if they were beating to the roll-call, thought the soldier to
himself; if they all attend the parade, I will look out, take a mouthful
of fresh air, and make mine own observations on the practicabilities of
Accordingly, when all was quiet, he opened his chamber door, and
prepared to leave it, when he saw his friend with the axe advancing
towards him from the distant end of the gallery, half whistling, a
Gaelic tune. To have shown any want of confidence, would have been at
once impolitic, and unbecoming his military character; so the Captain,
putting the best face upon his situation he could, whistled a Swedish
retreat, in a tone still louder than the notes of his sentinel; and
retreating pace by pace, with an air of indifference, as if his only
purpose had been to breathe a little fresh air, he shut the door in the
face of his guard, when the fellow had approached within a few paces of
It is very well, thought the Ritt-master to himself; he annuls my parole
by putting guards upon me, for, as we used to say at Mareschal-College,
FIDES ET FIDUCIA SUNT RELATIVA [See Note I]; and if he does not trust my
word, I do not see how I am bound to keep it, if any motive should occur
for my desiring to depart from it. Surely the moral obligation of the
parole is relaxed, in as far as physical force is substituted instead
Thus comforting himself in the metaphysical immunities which he deduced
from the vigilance of his sentinel, Ritt-master Dalgetty retired to his
apartment, where, amid the theoretical calculations of tactics, and the
occasional more practical attacks on the flask and pasty, he consumed
the evening until it was time to go to repose. He was summoned by
Lorimer at break of day, who gave him to understand, that, when he had
broken his fast, for which he produced ample materials, his guide and
horse were in attendance for his journey to Inverary. After complying
with the hospitable hint of the chamberlain, the soldier proceeded
to take horse. In passing through the apartments, he observed that
domestics were busily employed in hanging the great hall with black
cloth, a ceremony which, he said, he had seen practised when the
immortal Gustavus Adolphus lay in state in the Castle of Wolgast, and
which, therefore, he opined, was a testimonial of the strictest and
When Dalgetty mounted his steed, he found himself attended, or perhaps
guarded, by five or six Campbells, well armed, commanded by one, who,
from the target at his shoulder, and the short cock's feather in his
bonnet, as well as from the state which he took upon himself, claimed
the rank of a Dunniewassel, or clansman of superior rank; and indeed,
from his dignity of deportment, could not stand in a more distant degree
of relationship to Sir Duncan, than that of tenth or twelfth cousin at
farthest. But it was impossible to extract positive information on this
or any other subject, inasmuch as neither this commander nor any of
his party spoke English. The Captain rode, and his military attendants
walked; but such was their activity, and so numerous the impediments
which the nature of the road presented to the equestrian mode of
travelling, that far from being retarded by the slowness of their pace,
his difficulty was rather in keeping up with his guides. He observed
that they occasionally watched him with a sharp eye, as if they were
jealous of some effort to escape; and once, as he lingered behind at
crossing a brook, one of the gillies began to blow the match of his
piece, giving him to understand that he would run some risk in case of
an attempt to part company. Dalgetty did not augur much good from the
close watch thus maintained upon his person; but there was no remedy,
for an attempt to escape from his attendants in an impervious and
unknown country, would have been little short of insanity. He therefore
plodded patiently on through a waste and savage wilderness, treading
paths which were only known to the shepherds and cattle-drivers, and
passing with much more of discomfort than satisfaction many of those
sublime combinations of mountainous scenery which now draw visitors from
every corner of England, to feast their eyes upon Highland grandeur, and
mortify their palates upon Highland fare.
At length they arrived on the southern verge of that noble lake upon
which Inverary is situated; and a bugle, which the Dunniewassel winded
till rock and greenwood rang, served as a signal to a well-manned
galley, which, starting from a creek where it lay concealed, received
the party on board, including Gustavus; which sagacious quadruped, an
experienced traveller both by water and land, walked in and out of the
boat with the discretion of a Christian.
Embarked on the bosom of Loch Fine, Captain Dalgetty might have admired
one of the grandest scenes which nature affords. He might have noticed
the rival rivers Aray and Shiray, which pay tribute to the lake, each
issuing from its own dark and wooded retreat. He might have marked, on
the soft and gentle slope that ascends from the shores, the noble old
Gothic castle, with its varied outline, embattled walls, towers, and
outer and inner courts, which, so far as the picturesque is concerned,
presented an aspect much more striking than the present massive and
uniform mansion. He might have admired those dark woods which for many
a mile surrounded this strong and princely dwelling, and his eye might
have dwelt on the picturesque peak of Duniquoich, starting abruptly from
the lake, and raising its scathed brow into the mists of middle sky,
while a solitary watch-tower, perched on its top like an eagle's nest,
gave dignity to the scene by awakening a sense of possible danger.
All these, and every other accompaniment of this noble scene, Captain
Dalgetty might have marked, if he had been so minded. But, to confess
the truth, the gallant Captain, who had eaten nothing since daybreak,
was chiefly interested by the smoke which ascended from the castle
chimneys, and the expectations which this seemed to warrant of his
encountering an abundant stock of provant, as he was wont to call
supplies of this nature.
The boat soon approached the rugged pier, which abutted into the loch
from the little town of Inverary, then a rude assemblage of huts, with a
very few stone mansions interspersed, stretching upwards from the banks
of Loch Fine to the principal gate of the castle, before which a scene
presented itself that might easily have quelled a less stout heart,
and turned a more delicate stomach, than those of Ritt-master Dugald
Dalgetty, titular of Drumthwacket.
For close designs and crooked counsels fit,
Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit,
Restless, unfix'd in principle and place,
In power unpleased, impatient in disgrace.
--ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL.
The village of Inverary, now a neat country town, then partook of the
rudeness of the seventeenth century, in the miserable appearance of the
houses, and the irregularity of the unpaved street. But a stronger and
more terrible characteristic of the period appeared in the market-place,
which was a space of irregular width, half way betwixt the harbour, or
pier, and the frowning castle-gate, which terminated with its gloomy
archway, portcullis, and flankers, the upper end of the vista. Midway
this space was erected a rude gibbet, on which hung five dead bodies,
two of which from their dress seemed to have been Lowlanders, and the
other three corpses were muffled in their Highland plaids. Two or three
women sate under the gallows, who seemed to be mourning, and singing
the coronach of the deceased in a low voice. But the spectacle was
apparently of too ordinary occurrence to have much interest for the
inhabitants at large, who, while they thronged to look at the military
figure, the horse of an unusual size, and the burnished panoply of
Captain Dalgetty, seemed to bestow no attention whatever on the piteous
spectacle which their own market-place afforded.
The envoy of Montrose was not quite so indifferent; and, hearing a word
or two of English escape from a Highlander of decent appearance, he
immediately halted Gustavus and addressed him, "The Provost-Marshal has
been busy here, my friend. May I crave of you what these delinquents
have been justified for?"
He looked towards the gibbet as he spoke; and the Gael, comprehending
his meaning rather by his action than his words, immediately replied,
"Three gentlemen caterans,--God sain them," (crossing himself)--"twa
Sassenach bits o' bodies, that wadna do something that M'Callum More
bade them;" and turning from Dalgetty with an air of indifference, away
he walked, staying no farther question.
Dalgetty shrugged his shoulders and proceeded, for Sir Duncan Campbell's
tenth or twelfth cousin had already shown some signs of impatience.
At the gate of the castle another terrible spectacle of feudal power
awaited him. Within a stockade or palisade, which seemed lately to have
been added to the defences of the gate, and which was protected by two
pieces of light artillery, was a small enclosure, where stood a huge
block, on which lay an axe. Both were smeared with recent blood, and
a quantity of saw-dust strewed around, partly retained and partly
obliterated the marks of a very late execution.
As Dalgetty looked on this new object of terror, his principal guide
suddenly twitched him by the skirt of his jerkin, and having thus
attracted his attention, winked and pointed with his finger to a
pole fixed on the stockade, which supported a human head, being that,
doubtless, of the late sufferer. There was a leer on the Highlander's
face, as he pointed to this ghastly spectacle, which seemed to his
fellow-traveller ominous of nothing good.
Dalgetty dismounted from his horse at the gateway, and Gustavus was
taken from him without his being permitted to attend him to the stable,
according to his custom.
This gave the soldier a pang which the apparatus of death had not
conveyed.--"Poor Gustavus!" said he to himself, "if anything but good
happens to me, I had better have left him at Darnlinvarach than brought
him here among these Highland salvages, who scarce know the head of
a horse from his tail. But duty must part a man from his nearest and
"When the cannons are roaring, lads, and the colours are flying,
The lads that seek honour must never fear dying;
Then, stout cavaliers, let us toil our brave trade in,
And fight for the Gospel and the bold King of Sweden."
Thus silencing his apprehensions with the but-end of a military ballad,
he followed his guide into a sort of guard-room filled with armed
Highlanders. It was intimated to him that he must remain here until his
arrival was communicated to the Marquis. To make this communication
the more intelligible, the doughty Captain gave to the Dunniewassel Sir
Duncan Campbell's packet, desiring, as well as he could, by signs, that
it should be delivered into the Marquis's own hand. His guide nodded,
The Captain was left about half an hour in this place, to endure with
indifference, or return with scorn, the inquisitive, and, at the same
time, the inimical glances of the armed Gael, to whom his exterior and
equipage were as much subject of curiosity, as his person and country
seemed matter of dislike. All this he bore with military nonchalance,
until, at the expiration of the above period, a person dressed in black
velvet, and wearing a gold chain like a modern magistrate of Edinburgh,
but who was, in fact, steward of the household to the Marquis of Argyle,
entered the apartment, and invited, with solemn gravity, the Captain to
follow him to his master's presence.
The suite of apartments through which he passed, were filled with
attendants or visitors of various descriptions, disposed, perhaps, with
some ostentation, in order to impress the envoy of Montrose with an idea
of the superior power and magnificence belonging to the rival house of
Argyle. One ante-room was filled with lacqueys, arrayed in brown and
yellow, the colours of the family, who, ranged in double file, gazed in
silence upon Captain Dalgetty as he passed betwixt their ranks. Another
was occupied by Highland gentlemen and chiefs of small branches, who
were amusing themselves with chess, backgammon, and other games, which
they scarce intermitted to gaze with curiosity upon the stranger. A
third was filled with Lowland gentlemen and officers, who seemed also
in attendance; and, lastly, the presence-chamber of the Marquis himself
showed him attended by a levee which marked his high importance.
This apartment, the folding doors of which were opened for the reception
of Captain Dalgetty, was a long gallery, decorated with tapestry and
family portraits, and having a vaulted ceiling of open wood-work, the
extreme projections of the beams being richly carved and gilded. The
gallery was lighted by long lanceolated Gothic casements, divided
by heavy shafts, and filled with painted glass, where the sunbeams
glimmered dimly through boars'-heads, and galleys, and batons, and
swords, armorial bearings of the powerful house of Argyle, and emblems
of the high hereditary offices of Justiciary of Scotland, and Master of
the Royal Household, which they long enjoyed. At the upper end of this
magnificent gallery stood the Marquis himself, the centre of a splendid
circle of Highland and Lowland gentlemen, all richly dressed, among whom
were two or three of the clergy, called in, perhaps, to be witnesses of
his lordship's zeal for the Covenant.
The Marquis himself was dressed in the fashion of the period, which
Vandyke has so often painted, but his habit was sober and uniform
in colour, and rather rich than gay. His dark complexion, furrowed
forehead, and downcast look, gave him the appearance of one frequently
engaged in the consideration of important affairs, and who has acquired,
by long habit, an air of gravity and mystery, which he cannot shake off
even where there is nothing to be concealed. The cast with his eyes,
which had procured him in the Highlands the nickname of Gillespie
Grumach (or the grim), was less perceptible when he looked downward,
which perhaps was one cause of his having adopted that habit. In person,
he was tall and thin, but not without that dignity of deportment and
manners, which became his high rank. Something there was cold in his
address, and sinister in his look, although he spoke and behaved with
the usual grace of a man of such quality. He was adored by his own clan,
whose advancement he had greatly studied, although he was in proportion
disliked by the Highlanders of other septs, some of whom he had already
stripped of their possessions, while others conceived themselves in
danger from his future schemes, and all dreaded the height to which he
We have already noticed, that in displaying himself amidst his
councillors, his officers of the household, and his train of vassals,
allies, and dependents, the Marquis of Argyle probably wished to make
an impression on the nervous system of Captain Dugald Dalgetty. But that
doughty person had fought his way, in one department or another, through
the greater part of the Thirty Years' War in Germany, a period when a
brave and successful soldier was a companion for princes. The King of
Sweden, and, after his example, even the haughty Princes of the Empire,
had found themselves fain, frequently to compound with their dignity,
and silence, when they could not satisfy the pecuniary claims of their
soldiers, by admitting them to unusual privileges and familiarity.
Captain Dugald Dalgetty had it to boast, that he had sate with princes
at feasts made for monarchs, and therefore was not a person to be
brow-beat even by the dignity which surrounded M'Callum More. Indeed, he
was naturally by no means the most modest man in the world, but, on the
contrary, had so good an opinion of himself, that into whatever company
he chanced to be thrown, he was always proportionally elevated in his
own conceit; so that he felt as much at ease in the most exalted society
as among his own ordinary companions. In this high opinion of his own
rank, he was greatly fortified by his ideas of the military profession,
which, in his phrase, made a valiant cavalier a camarade to an emperor.
When introduced, therefore, into the Marquis's presence-chamber, he
advanced to the upper end with an air of more confidence than grace, and
would have gone close up to Argyle's person before speaking, had not
the latter waved his hand, as a signal to him to stop short. Captain
Dalgetty did so accordingly, and having made his military congee with
easy confidence, he thus accosted the Marquis: "Give you good morrow, my
lord--or rather I should say, good even; BESO A USTED LOS MANOS, as the
"Who are you, sir, and what is your business?" demanded the Marquis, in
a tone which was intended to interrupt the offensive familiarity of the
"That is a fair interrogative, my lord," answered Dalgetty, "which I
shall forthwith answer as becomes a cavalier, and that PEREMPTORIE, as
we used to say at Mareschal-College."
"See who or what he is, Neal," said the Marquis sternly, to a gentleman
who stood near him.
"I will save the honourable gentleman the labour of investigation,"
continued the Captain. "I am Dugald Dalgetty, of Drumthwacket, that
should be, late Ritt-master in various services, and now Major of I
know not what or whose regiment of Irishes; and I am come with a flag of
truce from a high and powerful lord, James Earl of Montrose, and
other noble persons now in arms for his Majesty. And so, God save King
"Do you know where you are, and the danger of dallying with us, sir,"
again demanded the Marquis, "that you reply to me as if I were a child
or a fool? The Earl of Montrose is with the English malignants; and I
suspect you are one of those Irish runagates, who are come into this
country to burn and slay, as they did under Sir Phelim O'Neale."
"My lord," replied Captain Dalgetty, "I am no renegade, though a Major
of Irishes, for which I might refer your lordship to the invincible
Gustavus Adolphus the Lion of the North, to Bannier, to Oxenstiern, to
the warlike Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Tilly, Wallenstein, Piccolomini, and
other great captains, both dead and living; and touching the noble Earl
of Montrose, I pray your lordship to peruse these my full powers for
treating with you in the name of that right honourable commander."
The Marquis looked slightingly at the signed and sealed paper which
Captain Dalgetty handed to him, and, throwing it with contempt upon a
table, asked those around him what he deserved who came as the avowed
envoy and agent of malignant traitors, in arms against the state?
"A high gallows and a short shrift," was the ready answer of one of the
"I will crave of that honourable cavalier who hath last spoken," said
Dalgetty, "to be less hasty in forming his conclusions, and also of your
lordship to be cautelous in adopting the same, in respect such threats
are to be held out only to base bisognos, and not to men of spirit and
action, who are bound to peril themselves as freely in services of this
nature, as upon sieges, battles, or onslaughts of any sort. And albeit I
have not with me a trumpet, or a white flag, in respect our army is not
yet equipped with its full appointments, yet the honourable cavaliers
and your lordship must concede unto me, that the sanctity of an envoy
who cometh on matter of truth or parle, consisteth not in the fanfare of
a trumpet, whilk is but a sound, or in the flap of a white flag, whilk
is but an old rag in itself, but in the confidence reposed by the party
sending, and the party sent, in the honour of those to whom the message
is to be carried, and their full reliance that they will respect the
JUS GENTIUM, as weel as the law of arms, in the person of the
"You are not come hither to lecture us upon the law of arms, sir," said
the Marquis, "which neither does nor can apply to rebels and insurgents;
but to suffer the penalty of your insolence and folly for bringing a
traitorous message to the Lord Justice General of Scotland, whose duty
calls upon him to punish such an offence with death."
"Gentlemen," said the Captain, who began much to dislike the turn which
his mission seemed about to take, "I pray you to remember, that the
Earl of Montrose will hold you and your possessions liable for
whatever injury my person, or my horse, shall sustain by these unseemly
proceedings, and that he will be justified in executing retributive
vengeance on your persons and possessions."
This menace was received with a scornful laugh, while one of the
Campbells replied, "It is a far cry to Lochow;" proverbial expression of
the tribe, meaning that their ancient hereditary domains lay beyond
the reach of an invading enemy. "But, gentlemen," further urged the
unfortunate Captain, who was unwilling to be condemned, without at least
the benefit of a full hearing, "although it is not for me to say how
far it may be to Lochow, in respect I am a stranger to these parts,
yet, what is more to the purpose, I trust you will admit that I have
the guarantee of an honourable gentleman of your own name, Sir Duncan
Campbell of Ardenvohr, for my safety on this mission; and I pray you
to observe, that in breaking the truce towards me, you will highly
prejudicate his honour and fair fame."
This seemed to be new information to many of the gentlemen, for they
spoke aside with each other, and the Marquis's face, notwithstanding
his power of suppressing all external signs of his passions, showed
impatience and vexation.
"Does Sir Duncan of Ardenvohr pledge his honour for this person's
safety, my lord?" said one of the company, addressing the Marquis.
"I do not believe it," answered the Marquis; "but I have not yet had
time to read his letter."
"We will pray your lordship to do so," said another of the Campbells;
"our name must not suffer discredit through the means of such a fellow
"A dead fly," said a clergyman, "maketh the ointment of the apothecary
"Reverend sir," said Captain Dalgetty, "in respect of the use to be
derived, I forgive you the unsavouriness of your comparison; and also
remit to the gentleman in the red bonnet, the disparaging epithet of
FELLOW, which he has discourteously applied to me, who am no way to
be distinguished by the same, unless in so far as I have been called
fellow-soldier by the great Gustavus Adolphus, the Lion of the North,
and other choice commanders, both in Germany and the Low Countries. But,
touching Sir Duncan Campbell's guarantee of my safety, I will gage my
life upon his making my words good thereanent, when he comes hither
"If Sir Duncan be soon expected, my Lord," said one of the intercessors,
"it would be a pity to anticipate matters with this poor man."
"Besides that," said another, "your lordship--I speak with
reverence--should, at least, consult the Knight of Ardenvohr's letter,
and learn the terms on which this Major Dalgetty, as he calls himself,
has been sent hither by him."
They closed around the Marquis, and conversed together in a low tone,
both in Gaelic and English. The patriarchal power of the Chiefs was very
great, and that of the Marquis of Argyle, armed with all his grants of
hereditary jurisdiction, was particularly absolute. But there interferes
some check of one kind or other even in the most despotic government.
That which mitigated the power of the Celtic Chiefs, was the necessity
which they lay under of conciliating the kinsmen who, under them, led
out the lower orders to battle, and who formed a sort of council of the
tribe in time of peace. The Marquis on this occasion thought himself
under the necessity of attending to the remonstrances of this senate, or
more properly COUROULTAI, of the name of Campbell, and, slipping out
of the circle, gave orders for the prisoner to be removed to a place of
"Prisoner!" exclaimed Dalgetty, exerting himself with such force as
wellnigh to shake off two Highlanders, who for some minutes past had
waited the signal to seize him, and kept for that purpose close at his
back. Indeed the soldier had so nearly attained his liberty, that the
Marquis of Argyle changed colour, and stepped back two paces, laying,
however, his hand on his sword, while several of his clan, with ready
devotion, threw themselves betwixt him and the apprehended vengeance of
the prisoner. But the Highland guards were too strong to be shaken off,
and the unlucky Captain, after having had his offensive weapons taken
from him, was dragged off and conducted through several gloomy passages
to a small side-door grated with iron, within which was another of wood.
These were opened by a grim old Highlander with a long white beard, and
displayed a very steep and narrow flight of steps leading downward. The
Captain's guards pushed him down two or three steps, then, unloosing his
arms, left him to grope his way to the bottom as he could; a task
which became difficult and even dangerous, when the two doors being
successively locked left the prisoner in total darkness.
Whatever stranger visits here,
We pity his sad case,
Unless to worship he draw near
The King of Kings--his Grace.
--BURNS'S EPIGRAM ON A VISIT TO INVERARY.
The Captain, finding himself deprived of light in the manner we have
described, and placed in a very uncertain situation, proceeded to
descend the narrow and broken stair with all the caution in his power,
hoping that he might find at the bottom some place to repose himself.
But with all his care he could not finally avoid making a false step,
which brought him down the four or five last steps too hastily to
preserve his equilibrium. At the bottom he stumbled over a bundle of
something soft, which stirred and uttered a groan, so deranging the
Captain's descent, that he floundered forward, and finally fell upon his
hands and knees on the floor of a damp and stone-paved dungeon.
When Dalgetty had recovered, his first demand was to know over whom he
"He was a man a month since," answered a hollow and broken voice.
"And what is he now, then," said Dalgetty, "that he thinks it fitting
to lie upon the lowest step of the stairs, and clew'd up like a hurchin,
that honourable cavaliers, who chance to be in trouble, may break their
noses over him?"
"What is he now?" replied the same voice; "he is a wretched trunk,
from which the boughs have one by one been lopped away, and which cares
little how soon it is torn up and hewed into billets for the furnace."
"Friend," said Dalgetty, "I am sorry for you; but PATIENZA, as the
Spaniard says. If you had but been as quiet as a log, as you call
yourself, I should have saved some excoriations on my hands and knees."
"You are a soldier," replied his fellow-prisoner; "do you complain on
account of a fall for which a boy would not bemoan himself?"
"A soldier?" said the Captain; "and how do you know, in this cursed dark
cavern, that I am a soldier?"
"I heard your armour clash as you fell," replied the prisoner, "and now
I see it glimmer. When you have remained as long as I in this darkness,
your eyes will distinguish the smallest eft that crawls on the floor."
"I had rather the devil picked them out!" said Dalgetty; "if this be the
case, I shall wish for a short turn of the rope, a soldier's prayer, and
a leap from a ladder. But what sort of provant have you got here--what
food, I mean, brother in affliction?"
"Bread and water once a day," replied the voice.
"Prithee, friend, let me taste your loaf," said Dalgetty; "I hope we
shall play good comrades while we dwell together in this abominable
"The loaf and jar of water," answered the other prisoner, "stand in
the corner, two steps to your right hand. Take them, and welcome. With
earthly food I have wellnigh done."
Dalgetty did not wait for a second invitation, but, groping out the
provisions, began to munch at the stale black oaten loaf with as much
heartiness as we have seen him play his part at better viands.
"This bread," he said, muttering (with his mouth full at the same time),
"is not very savoury; nevertheless, it is not much worse than that which
we ate at the famous leaguer at Werben, where the valorous Gustavus
foiled all the efforts of the celebrated Tilly, that terrible old hero,
who had driven two kings out of the field--namely, Ferdinand of Bohemia
and Christian of Denmark. And anent this water, which is none of the
most sweet, I drink in the same to your speedy deliverance, comrade,
not forgetting mine own, and devoutly wishing it were Rhenish wine, or
humming Lubeck beer, at the least, were it but in honour of the pledge."
While Dalgetty ran on in this way, his teeth kept time with his tongue,
and he speedily finished the provisions which the benevolence or
indifference of his companion in misfortune had abandoned to his
voracity. When this task was accomplished, he wrapped himself in his
cloak, and seating himself in a corner of the dungeon in which he could
obtain a support on each side (for he had always been an admirer of
elbow-chairs, he remarked, even from his youth upward), he began to
question his fellow-captive.
"Mine honest friend," said he, "you and I, being comrades at bed
and board, should be better acquainted. I am Dugald Dalgetty of
Drumthwacket, and so forth, Major in a regiment of loyal Irishes,
and Envoy Extraordinary of a High and Mighty Lord, James Earl of
Montrose.--Pray, what may your name be?"
"It will avail you little to know," replied his more taciturn companion.
"Let me judge of that matter," answered the soldier.
"Well, then--Ranald MacEagh is my name--that is, Ranald Son of the
"Son of the Mist!" ejaculated Dalgetty. "Son of utter darkness, say I.
But, Ranald, since that is your name, how came you in possession of the
provost's court of guard? what the devil brought you here, that is to
"My misfortunes and my crimes," answered Ranald. "Know ye the Knight of
"I do know that honourable person," replied Dalgetty.
"But know ye where he now is?" replied Ranald.
"Fasting this day at Ardenvohr," answered the Envoy, "that he may feast
to-morrow at Inverary; in which last purpose if he chance to fail, my
lease of human service will be something precarious."
"Then let him know, one claims his intercession, who is his worst foe
and his best friend," answered Ranald.
"Truly I shall desire to carry a less questionable message," answered
Dalgetty, "Sir Duncan is not a person to play at reading riddles with."
"Craven Saxon," said the prisoner, "tell him I am the raven that,
fifteen years since, stooped on his tower of strength and the pledges
he had left there--I am the hunter that found out the wolfs den on the
rock, and destroyed his offspring--I am the leader of the band which
surprised Ardenvohr yesterday was fifteen years, and gave his four
children to the sword."
"Truly, my honest friend," said Dalgetty, "if that is your best
recommendation to Sir Duncan's favour, I would pretermit my pleading
thereupon, in respect I have observed that even the animal creation are
incensed against those who intromit with their offspring forcibly, much
more any rational and Christian creatures, who have had violence done
upon their small family. But I pray you in courtesy to tell me, whether
you assailed the castle from the hillock called Drumsnab, whilk I uphold
to be the true point of attack, unless it were to be protected by a
"We ascended the cliff by ladders of withies or saplings," said the
prisoner, "drawn up by an accomplice and clansman, who had served six
months in the castle to enjoy that one night of unlimited vengeance.
The owl whooped around us as we hung betwixt heaven and earth; the tide
roared against the foot of the rock, and dashed asunder our skiff, yet
no man's heart failed him. In the morning there was blood and ashes,
where there had been peace and joy at the sunset."
"It was a pretty camisade, I doubt not, Ranald MacEagh, a very
sufficient onslaught, and not unworthily discharged. Nevertheless, I
would have pressed the house from that little hillock called Drumsnab.
But yours is a pretty irregular Scythian fashion of warfare, Ranald,
much resembling that of Turks, Tartars, and other Asiatic people.--But
the reason, my friend, the cause of this war--the TETERRIMA CAUSA, as I
may say? Deliver me that, Ranald."
"We had been pushed at by the M'Aulays, and other western tribes," said
Ranald, "till our possessions became unsafe for us."
"Ah ha!" said Dalgetty; "I have faint remembrance of having heard of
that matter. Did you not put bread and cheese into a man's mouth, when
he had never a stomach whereunto to transmit the same?"
"You have heard, then," said Ranald, "the tale of our revenge on the
"I bethink me that I have," said Dalgetty, "and that not of an old date.
It was a merry jest that, of cramming the bread into the dead man's
mouth, but somewhat too wild and salvage for civilized acceptation,
besides wasting the good victuals. I have seen when at a siege or a
leaguer, Ranald, a living soldier would have been the better, Ranald,
for that crust of bread, whilk you threw away on a dead pow."
"We were attacked by Sir Duncan," continued MacEagh, "and my brother
was slain--his head was withering on the battlements which we scaled--I
vowed revenge, and it is a vow I have never broken."
"It may be so," said Dalgetty; "and every thorough-bred soldier will
confess that revenge is a sweet morsel; but in what manner this story
will interest Sir Duncan in your justification, unless it should move
him to intercede with the Marquis to change the manner thereof from
hanging, or simple suspension, to breaking your limbs on the roue or
wheel, with the coulter of a plough, or otherwise putting you to death
by torture, surpasses my comprehension. Were I you, Ranald, I would be
for miskenning Sir Duncan, keeping my own secret, and departing quietly
by suffocation, like your ancestors before you."
"Yet hearken, stranger," said the Highlander. "Sir Duncan of Ardenvohr
had four children. Three died under our dirks, but the fourth survives;
and more would he give to dandle on his knee the fourth child which
remains, than to rack these old bones, which care little for the utmost
indulgence of his wrath. One word, if I list to speak it, could turn his
day of humiliation and fasting into a day of thankfulness and rejoicing,
and breaking of bread. O, I know it by my own heart? Dearer to me is the
child Kenneth, who chaseth the butterfly on the banks of the Aven, than
ten sons who are mouldering in earth, or are preyed on by the fowls of
"I presume, Ranald," continued Dalgetty, "that the three pretty fellows
whom I saw yonder in the market-place, strung up by the head like
rizzer'd haddocks, claimed some interest in you?"
There was a brief pause ere the Highlander replied, in a tone of strong
emotion,--"They were my sons, stranger--they were my sons!--blood of my
blood--bone of my bone!--fleet of foot--unerring in aim--unvanquished by
foemen till the sons of Diarmid overcame them by numbers! Why do I wish
to survive them? The old trunk will less feel the rending up of its
roots, than it has felt the lopping off of its graceful boughs. But
Kenneth must be trained to revenge--the young eagle must learn from the
old how to stoop on his foes. I will purchase for his sake my life and
my freedom, by discovering my secret to the Knight of Ardenvohr."
"You may attain your end more easily," said a third voice, mingling in
the conference, "by entrusting it to me."
All Highlanders are superstitious. "The Enemy of Mankind is among us!"
said Ranald MacEagh, springing to his feet. His chains clattered as he
rose, while he drew himself as far as they permitted from the
quarter whence the voice appeared to proceed. His fear in some degree
communicated itself to Captain Dalgetty, who began to repeat, in a sort
of polyglot gibberish, all the exorcisms he had ever heard of, without
being able to remember more than a word or two of each.
"IN NOMINE DOMINI, as we said at Mareschal-College--SANTISSMA MADRE DI
DIOS, as the Spaniard has it--ALLE GUTEN GEISTER LOBEN DEN HERRN, saith
the blessed Psalmist, in Dr. Luther's translation--"
"A truce with your exorcisms," said the voice they had heard before;
"though I come strangely among you, I am mortal like yourselves, and my
assistance may avail you in your present streight, if you are not too
proud to be counselled."
While the stranger thus spoke, he withdrew the shade of a dark lantern,
by whose feeble light Dalgetty could only discern that the speaker who
had thus mysteriously united himself to their company, and mixed in
their conversation, was a tall man, dressed in a livery cloak of the
Marquis. His first glance was to his feet, but he saw neither the cloven
foot which Scottish legends assign to the foul fiend, nor the horse's
hoof by which he is distinguished in Germany. His first enquiry was, how
the stranger had come among them?
"For," said he, "the creak of these rusty bars would have been heard had
the door been made patent; and if you passed through the keyhole, truly,
sir, put what face you will on it, you are not fit to be enrolled in a
regiment of living men."
"I reserve my secret," answered the stranger, "until you shall merit the
discovery by communicating to me some of yours. It may be that I shall
be moved to let you out where I myself came in."
"It cannot be through the keyhole, then," said Captain Dalgetty, "for my
corslet would stick in the passage, were it possible that my head-piece
could get through. As for secrets, I have none of my own, and but few
appertaining to others. But impart to us what secrets you desire
to know; or, as Professor Snufflegreek used to say at the
Mareschal-College, Aberdeen, speak that I may know thee."
"It is not with you I have first to do," replied the stranger, turning
his light full on the mild and wasted features, and the large limbs of
the Highlander, Ranald MacEagh, who, close drawn up against the walls of
the dungeon, seemed yet uncertain whether his guest was a living being.
"I have brought you something, my friend," said the stranger, in a more
soothing tone, "to mend your fare; if you are to die to-morrow, it is no
reason wherefore you should not live to-night."
"None at all--no reason in the creation," replied the ready Captain
Dalgetty, who forthwith began to unpack the contents of a small basket
which the stranger had brought under his cloak, while the Highlander,
either in suspicion or disdain, paid no attention to the good cheer.
"Here's to thee, my friend," said the Captain, who, having already
dispatched a huge piece of roasted kid, was now taking a pull at the
wine-flask. "What is thy name, my good friend?"
"Murdoch Campbell, sir," answered the servant, "a lackey of the Marquis
of Argyle, and occasionally acting as under-warden."
"Then here is to thee once more, Murdoch," said Dalgetty, "drinking to
you by your proper name for the better luck sake. This wine I take to be
Calcavella. Well, honest Murdoch, I take it on me to say, thou deservest
to be upper-warden, since thou showest thyself twenty times better
acquainted with the way of victualling honest gentlemen that are under
misfortune, than thy principal. Bread and water? out upon him! It was
enough, Murdoch, to destroy the credit of the Marquis's dungeon. But I
see you would converse with my friend, Ranald MacEagh here. Never mind
my presence; I'll get me into this corner with the basket, and I will
warrant my jaws make noise enough to prevent my ears from hearing you."
Notwithstanding this promise, however, the veteran listened with all
the attention he could to gather their discourse, or, as he described it
himself, "laid his ears back in his neck, like Gustavus, when he heard
the key turn in the girnell-kist." He could, therefore, owing to the
narrowness of the dungeon, easily overhear the following dialogue.
"Are you aware, Son of the Mist," said the Campbell, "that you will
never leave this place excepting for the gibbet?"
"Those who are dearest to me," answered MacEagh, "have trode that path
"Then you would do nothing," asked the visitor, "to shun following
The prisoner writhed himself in his chains before returning an answer.
"I would do much," at length he said; "not for my own life, but for the
sake of the pledge in the glen of Strath-Aven."
"And what would you do to turn away the bitterness of the hour?" again
demanded Murdoch; "I care not for what cause ye mean to shun it."
"I would do what a man might do, and still call himself a man."
"Do you call yourself a man," said the interrogator, "who have done the
deeds of a wolf?"
"I do," answered the outlaw; "I am a man like my forefathers--while
wrapt in the mantle of peace, we were lambs--it was rent from us, and ye
now call us wolves. Give us the huts ye have burned, our children whom
ye have murdered, our widows whom ye have starved--collect from the
gibbet and the pole the mangled carcasses, and whitened skulls of our
kinsmen--bid them live and bless us, and we will be your vassals and
brothers--till then, let death, and blood, and mutual wrong, draw a dark
veil of division between us."
"You will then do nothing for your liberty," said the Campbell.
"Anything--but call myself the friend of your tribe," answered MacEagh.
"We scorn the friendship of banditti and caterans," retorted Murdoch,
"and would not stoop to accept it.--What I demand to know from you, in
exchange for your liberty, is, where the daughter and heiress of the
Knight of Ardenvohr is now to be found?"
"That you may wed her to some beggarly kinsman of your great master,"
said Ranald, "after the fashion of the Children of Diarmid! Does not
the valley of Glenorquhy, to this very hour, cry shame on the violence
offered to a helpless infant whom her kinsmen were conveying to the
court of the Sovereign? Were not her escort compelled to hide her
beneath a cauldron, round which they fought till not one remained to
tell the tale? and was not the girl brought to this fatal castle, and
afterwards wedded to the brother of M'Callum More, and all for the sake
of her broad lands?" [Such a story is told of the heiress of the clan
of Calder, who was made prisoner in the manner described, and afterwards
wedded to Sir Duncan Campbell, from which union the Campbells of Cawdor
have their descent.]
"And if the tale be true," said Murdoch, "she had a preferment beyond
what the King of Scots would have conferred on her. But this is far
from the purpose. The daughter of Sir Duncan of Ardenvohr is of our own
blood, not a stranger; and who has so good a right to know her fate as
M'Callum More, the chief of her clan?"
"It is on his part, then, that you demand it!" said the outlaw. The
domestic of the Marquis assented.
"And you will practise no evil against the maiden?--I have done her
wrong enough already."
"No evil, upon the word of a Christian man," replied Murdoch.
"And my guerdon is to be life and liberty?" said the Child of the Mist.
"Such is our paction," replied the Campbell.
"Then know, that the child whom I saved our of compassion at the
spoiling of her father's tower of strength, was bred as an adopted
daughter of our tribe, until we were worsted at the pass of
Ballenduthil, by the fiend incarnate and mortal enemy of our tribe,
Allan M'Aulay of the Bloody hand, and by the horsemen of Lennox, under
the heir of Menteith."
"Fell she into the power of Allan of the Bloody hand," said Murdoch,
"and she a reputed daughter of thy tribe? Then her blood has gilded the
dirk, and thou hast said nothing to rescue thine own forfeited life."
"If my life rest on hers," answered the outlaw, "it is secure, for she
still survives; but it has a more insecure reliance--the frail promise
of a son of Diarmid."
"That promise shall not fail you," said the Campbell, "if you can assure
me that she survives, and where she is to be found."
"In the Castle of Darlinvarach," said Ranald MacEagh, "under the name
of Annot Lyle. I have often heard of her from my kinsmen, who have again
approached their native woods, and it is not long since mine old eyes
"You!" said Murdoch, in astonishment, "you, a chief among the Children
of the Mist, and ventured so near your mortal foe?"
"Son of Diarmid, I did more," replied the outlaw; "I was in the hall of
the castle, disguised as a harper from the wild shores of Skianach. My
purpose was to have plunged my dirk in the body of the M'Aulay with the
Bloody hand, before whom our race trembles, and to have taken thereafter
what fate God should send me. But I saw Annot Lyle, even when my hand
was on the hilt of my dagger. She touched her clairshach [Harp] to
a song of the Children of the Mist, which she had learned when her
dwelling was amongst us. The woods in which we had dwelt pleasantly,
rustled their green leaves in the song, and our streams were there with
the sound of all their waters. My hand forsook the dagger; the fountains
of mine eyes were opened, and the hour of revenge passed away.--And now,
Son of Diarmid, have I not paid the ransom of my head?"
"Ay," replied Murdoch, "if your tale be true; but what proof can you
assign for it?"
"Bear witness, heaven and earth," exclaimed the outlaw, "he already
looks how he may step over his word!"
"Not so," replied Murdoch; "every promise shall be kept to you when I am
assured you have told me the truth.--But I must speak a few words with
your companion in captivity."
"Fair and false--ever fair and false," muttered the prisoner, as he
threw himself once more on the floor of his dungeon.
Meanwhile, Captain Dalgetty, who had attended to every word of this
dialogue, was making his own remarks on it in private. "What the HENKER
can this sly fellow have to say to me? I have no child, either of my
own, so far as I know, or of any other person, to tell him a tale about.
But let him come on--he will have some manoeuvring ere he turn the flank
of the old soldier."
Accordingly, as if he had stood pike in hand to defend a breach, he
waited with caution, but without fear, the commencement of the attack.
"You are a citizen of the world, Captain Dalgetty," said Murdoch
Campbell, "and cannot be ignorant of our old Scotch proverb, GIF-GAF,
[In old English, KA ME KA THEE, i.e. mutually serving each other.] which
goes through all nations and all services."
"Then I should know something of it," said Dalgetty; "for, except the
Turks, there are few powers in Europe whom I have not served; and I have
sometimes thought of taking a turn either with Bethlem Gabor, or with
"A man of your experience and unprejudiced ideas, then, will understand
me at once," said Murdoch, "when I say, I mean that your freedom shall
depend on your true and up right answer to a few trifling questions
respecting the gentlemen you have left; their state of preparation; the
number of their men, and nature of their appointments; and as much as
you chance to know about their plan of operations."
"Just to satisfy your curiosity," said Dalgetty, "and without any
"None in the world," replied Murdoch; "what interest should a poor devil
like me take in their operations?"
"Make your interrogations, then," said the Captain, "and I will answer
"How many Irish may be on their march to join James Graham the
"Probably ten thousand," said Captain Dalgetty.
"Ten thousand!" replied Murdoch angrily; "we know that scarce two
thousand landed at Ardnamurchan."
"Then you know more about them than I do," answered Captain Dalgetty,
with great composure. "I never saw them mustered yet, or even under
"And how many men of the clans may be expected?" demanded Murdoch.
"As many as they can make," replied the Captain.
"You are answering from the purpose, sir," said Murdoch "speak plainly,
will there be five thousand men?"
"There and thereabouts," answered Dalgetty.
"You are playing with your life, sir, if you trifle with me," replied
the catechist; "one whistle of mine, and in less than ten minutes your
head hangs on the drawbridge."
"But to speak candidly, Mr. Murdoch," replied the Captain "do you think
it is a reasonable thing to ask me after the secrets of our army, and I
engaged to serve for the whole campaign? If I taught you how to defeat
Montrose, what becomes of my pay, arrears, and chance of booty?"
"I tell you," said Campbell, "that if you be stubborn, your campaign
shall begin and end in a march to the block at the castle-gate, which
stands ready for such land-laufers; but if you answer my questions
faithfully, I will receive you into my--into the service of M'Callum
"Does the service afford good pay?" said Captain Dalgetty.
"He will double yours, if you will return to Montrose and act under his
"I wish I had seen you, sir, before taking on with him," said Dalgetty,
appearing to meditate.
"On the contrary, I can afford you more advantageous terms now," said
the Campbell; "always supposing that you are faithful."
"Faithful, that is, to you, and a traitor to Montrose," answered the
"Faithful to the cause of religion and good order," answered Murdoch,
"which sanctifies any deception you may employ to serve it."
"And the Marquis of Argyle--should I incline to enter his service, is he
a kind master?" demanded Dalgetty.
"Never man kinder," quoth Campbell.
"And bountiful to his officers?" pursued the Captain.
"The most open hand in Scotland," replied Murdoch.
"True and faithful to his engagements?" continued Dalgetty.
"As honourable a nobleman as breathes," said the clansman.
"I never heard so much good of him before," said Dalgetty; "you must
know the Marquis well,--or rather you must be the Marquis himself!--Lord
of Argyle," he added, throwing himself suddenly on the disguised
nobleman, "I arrest you in the name of King Charles, as a traitor. If
you venture to call for assistance, I will wrench round your neck."
The attack which Dalgetty made upon Argyle's person was so sudden and
unexpected, that he easily prostrated him on the floor of the dungeon,
and held him down with one hand, while his right, grasping the Marquis's
throat, was ready to strangle him on the slightest attempt to call for
"Lord of Argyle," he said, "it is now my turn to lay down the terms
of capitulation. If you list to show me the private way by which you
entered the dungeon, you shall escape, on condition of being my LOCUM
TENENS, as we said at the Mareschal-College, until your warder visits
his prisoners. But if not, I will first strangle you--I learned the
art from a Polonian heyduck, who had been a slave in the Ottoman
seraglio--and then seek out a mode of retreat."
"Villain! you would not murder me for my kindness," murmured Argyle.
"Not for your kindness, my lord," replied Dalgetty: "but first, to teach
your lordship the JUS GENTIUM towards cavaliers who come to you under
safe-conduct; and secondly, to warn you of the danger of proposing
dishonourable terms to any worthy soldado, in order to tempt him to
become false to his standard during the term of his service."
"Spare my life," said Argyle, "and I will do as you require."
Dalgetty maintained his gripe upon the Marquis's throat, compressing it
a little while he asked questions, and relaxing it so far as to give him
the power of answering them.
"Where is the secret door into the dungeon?" he demanded.
"Hold up the lantern to the corner on your right hand, you will discern
the iron which covers the spring," replied the Marquis.
"So far so good.--Where does the passage lead to?"
"To my private apartment behind the tapestry," answered the prostrate
"From thence how shall I reach the gateway?"
"Through the grand gallery, the anteroom, the lackeys' waiting hall, the
"All crowded with soldiers, factionaries, and attendants?--that will
never do for me, my lord;--have you no secret passage to the gate, as
you have to your dungeons? I have seen such in Germany."
"There is a passage through the chapel," said the Marquis, "opening from
"And what is the pass-word at the gate?"
"The sword of Levi," replied the Marquis; "but if you will receive my
pledge of honour, I will go with you, escort you through every guard,
and set you at full liberty with a passport."
"I might trust you, my lord, were your throat not already black with the
grasp of my fingers--as it is, BESO LOS MANOS A USTED, as the Spaniard
says. Yet you may grant me a passport;--are there writing materials in
"Surely; and blank passports ready to be signed. I will attend you
there," said the Marquis, "instantly."
"It were too much honour for the like of me," said Dalgetty; "your
lordship shall remain under charge of mine honest friend Ranald MacEagh;
therefore, prithee let me drag you within reach of his chain.--Honest
Ranald, you see how matters stand with us. I shall find the means, I
doubt not, of setting you at freedom. Meantime, do as you see me do;
clap your hand thus on the weasand of this high and mighty prince, under
his ruff, and if he offer to struggle or cry out, fail not, my worthy
Ranald, to squeeze doughtily; and if it be AD DELIQUIUM, Ranald, that
is, till he swoon, there is no great matter, seeing he designed your
gullet and mine to still harder usage."
"If he offer at speech or struggle," said Ranald, "he dies by my hand."
"That is right, Ranald--very spirited:--A thorough-going friend that
understands a hint is worth a million!"
Thus resigning the charge of the Marquis to his new confederate,
Dalgetty pressed the spring, by which the secret door flew open,
though so well were its hinges polished and oiled, that it made not the
slightest noise in revolving. The opposite side of the door was secured
by very strong bolts and bars, beside which hung one or two keys,
designed apparently to undo fetterlocks. A narrow staircase, ascending
up through the thickness of the castle-wall, landed, as the Marquis had
truly informed him, behind the tapestry of his private apartment. Such
communications were frequent in old feudal castles, as they gave the
lord of the fortress, like a second Dionysius, the means of hearing the
conversation of his prisoners, or, if he pleased, of visiting them in
disguise, an experiment which had terminated so unpleasantly on the
present occasion for Gillespie Grumach. Having examined previously
whether there was any one in the apartment, and finding the coast clear,
the Captain entered, and hastily possessing himself of a blank passport,
several of which lay on the table, and of writing materials, securing,
at the same time, the Marquis's dagger, and a silk cord from the
hangings, he again descended into the cavern, where, listening a moment
at the door, he could hear the half-stifled voice of the Marquis making
great proffers to MacEagh, on condition he would suffer him to give an
"Not for a forest of deer--not for a thousand head of cattle," answered
the freebooter; "not for all the lands that ever called a son of
Diarmid master, will I break the troth I have plighted to him of the
"He of the iron-garment," said Dalgetty, entering, "is bounden unto you,
MacEagh, and this noble lord shall be bounden also; but first he must
fill up this passport with the names of Major Dugald Dalgetty and his
guide, or he is like to have a passport to another world."
The Marquis subscribed, and wrote, by the light of the dark lantern, as
the soldier prescribed to him.
"And now, Ranald," said Dalgetty, "strip thy upper garment--thy plaid
I mean, Ranald, and in it will I muffle the M'Callum More, and make of
him, for the time, a Child of the Mist;--Nay, I must bring it over your
head, my lord, so as to secure us against your mistimed clamour.--So,
now he is sufficiently muffled;--hold down your hands, or, by Heaven,
I will stab you to the heart with your own dagger!--nay, you shall be
bound with nothing less than silk, as your quality deserves.--So, now
he is secure till some one comes to relieve him. If he ordered us a late
dinner, Ranald, he is like to be the sufferer;--at what hour, my good
Ranald, did the jailor usually appear?"
"Never till the sun was beneath the western wave," said MacEagh. "Then,
my friend, we shall have three hours good," said the cautious Captain.
"In the meantime, let us labour for your liberation."
To examine Ranald's chain was the next occupation. It was undone by
means of one of the keys which hung behind the private door, probably
deposited there, that the Marquis might, if he pleased, dismiss a
prisoner, or remove him elsewhere without the necessity of summoning
the warden. The outlaw stretched his benumbed arms, and bounded from the
floor of the dungeon in all the ecstasy of recovered freedom.
"Take the livery-coat of that noble prisoner," said Captain Dalgetty;
"put it on, and follow close at my heels."
The outlaw obeyed. They ascended the private stair, having first secured
the door behind them, and thus safely reached the apartment of the
[The precarious state of the feudal nobles introduced a great deal of
espionage into their castles. Sir Robert Carey mentions his having put
on the cloak of one of his own wardens to obtain a confession from the
mouth of Geordie Bourne, his prisoner, whom he caused presently to be
hanged in return for the frankness of his communication. The fine old
Border castle of Naworth contains a private stair from the apartment
of the Lord William Howard, by which he could visit the dungeon, as is
alleged in the preceding chapter to have been practised by the Marquis
This was the entry then, these stairs--but whither after?
Yet he that's sure to perish on the land
May quit the nicety of card and compass,
And trust the open sea without a pilot.--TRAGEDY OF BENNOVALT.
"Look out for the private way through the chapel, Ranald," said the
Captain, "while I give a hasty regard to these matters."
Thus speaking, he seized with one hand a bundle of Argyle's most private
papers, and with the other a purse of gold, both of which lay in a
drawer of a rich cabinet, which stood invitingly open. Neither did he
neglect to possess himself of a sword and pistols, with powder-flask and
balls, which hung in the apartment. "Intelligence and booty," said the
veteran, as he pouched the spoils, "each honourable cavalier should
look to, the one on his general's behalf, and the other on his own. This
sword is an Andrew Ferrara, and the pistols better than mine own. But
a fair exchange is no robbery. Soldados are not to be endangered, and
endangered gratuitously, my Lord of Argyle.--But soft, soft, Ranald;
wise Man of the Mist, whither art thou bound?"
It was indeed full time to stop MacEagh's proceedings; for, not finding
the private passage readily, and impatient, it would seem, of farther
delay, he had caught down a sword and target, and was about to enter the
great gallery, with the purpose, doubtless, of fighting his way through
"Hold, while you live," whispered Dalgetty, laying hold on him. "We
must be perdue, if possible. So bar we this door, that it may be thought
M'Callum More would be private--and now let me make a reconnaissance for
the private passage."
By looking behind the tapestry in various places, the Captain at length
discovered a private door, and behind that a winding passage, terminated
by another door, which doubtless entered the chapel. But what was his
disagreeable surprise to hear, on the other side of this second door,
the sonorous voice of a divine in the act of preaching.
"This made the villain," he said, "recommend this to us as a private
passage. I am strongly tempted to return and cut his throat."
He then opened very gently the door, which led into a latticed gallery
used by the Marquis himself, the curtains of which were drawn, perhaps
with the purpose of having it supposed that he was engaged in attendance
upon divine worship, when, in fact, he was absent upon his secular
affairs. There was no other person in the seat; for the family of the
Marquis,--such was the high state maintained in those days,--sate during
service in another gallery, placed somewhat lower than that of the great
man himself. This being the case, Captain Dalgetty ventured to ensconce
himself in the gallery, of which he carefully secured the door.
Never (although the expression be a bold one) was a sermon
listened to with more impatience, and less edification,
on the part of one, at least, of the audience. The Captain heard
SIXTEENTHLY-SEVENTEENTHLY-EIGHTEENTHLY and TO CONCLUDE, with a sort of
feeling like protracted despair. But no man can lecture (for the service
was called a lecture) for ever; and the discourse was at length closed,
the clergyman not failing to make a profound bow towards the latticed
gallery, little suspecting whom he honoured by that reverence. To judge
from the haste with which they dispersed, the domestics of the Marquis
were scarce more pleased with their late occupation than the anxious
Captain Dalgetty; indeed, many of them being Highlandmen, had the excuse
of not understanding a single word which the clergyman spoke, although
they gave their attendance on his doctrine by the special order of
M'Callum More, and would have done so had the preacher been a Turkish
But although the congregation dispersed thus rapidly, the divine
remained behind in the chapel, and, walking up and down its Gothic
precincts, seemed either to be meditating on what he had just been
delivering, or preparing a fresh discourse for the next opportunity.
Bold as he was, Dalgetty hesitated what he ought to do. Time, however,
pressed, and every moment increased the chance of their escape being
discovered by the jailor visiting the dungeon perhaps before his wonted
time, and discovering the exchange which had been made there. At length,
whispering Ranald, who watched all his motions, to follow him and
preserve his countenance, Captain Dalgetty, with a very composed air,
descended a flight of steps which led from the gallery into the body of
the chapel. A less experienced adventurer would have endeavoured to
pass the worthy clergyman rapidly, in hopes to escape unnoticed. But the
Captain, who foresaw the manifest danger of failing in such an attempt,
walked gravely to meet the divine upon his walk in the midst of the
chancel, and, pulling off his cap, was about to pass him after a formal
reverence. But what was his surprise to view in the preacher the very
same person with whom he had dined in the castle of Ardenvohr! Yet he
speedily recovered his composure; and ere the clergyman could speak, was
the first to address him. "I could not," he said, "leave this mansion
without bequeathing to you, my very reverend sir, my humble thanks for
the homily with which you have this evening favoured us."
"I did not observe, sir," said the clergyman, "that you were in the
"It pleased the honourable Marquis," said Dalgetty, modestly, "to
grace me with a seat in his own gallery." The divine bowed low at this
intimation, knowing that such an honour was only vouchsafed to persons
of very high rank. "It has been my fate, sir," said the Captain, "in
the sort of wandering life which I have led, to have heard different
preachers of different religions--as for example, Lutheran, Evangelical,
Reformed, Calvinistical, and so forth, but never have I listened to such
a homily as yours."
"Call it a lecture, worthy sir," said the divine, "such is the phrase of
"Lecture or homily," said Dalgetty, "it was, as the High Germans say,
GANZ FORTRE FLICH; and I could not leave this place without testifying
unto you what inward emotions I have undergone during your edifying
prelection; and how I am touched to the quick, that I should yesterday,
during the refection, have seemed to infringe on the respect due to such
a person as yourself."
"Alas! my worthy sir," said the clergyman, "we meet in this world as
in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, not knowing against whom we
may chance to encounter. In truth, it is no matter of marvel, if we
sometimes jostle those, to whom, if known, we would yield all respect.
Surely, sir, I would rather have taken you for a profane malignant than
for such a devout person as you prove, who reverences the great Master
even in the meanest of his servants."
"It is always my custom to do so, learned sir," answered Dalgetty; "for
in the service of the immortal Gustavus--but I detain you from your
meditations,"--his desire to speak of the King of Sweden being for once
overpowered by the necessity of his circumstances.
"By no means, my worthy sir," said the clergyman. "What was, I pray
you, the order of that great Prince, whose memory is so dear to every
"Sir, the drums beat to prayers morning and evening, as regularly as for
parade; and if a soldier passed without saluting the chaplain, he had
an hour's ride on the wooden mare for his pains. Sir, I wish you a very
good evening--I am obliged to depart the castle under M'Callum More's
"Stay one instant, sir," said the preacher; "is there nothing I can
do to testify my respect for the pupil of the great Gustavus, and so
admirable a judge of preaching?"
"Nothing, sir," said the Captain, "but to shew me the nearest way to
the gate--and if you would have the kindness," he added, with great
effrontery, "to let a servant bring my horse with him, the dark grey
gelding--call him Gustavus, and he will prick up his ears--for I know
not where the castle-stables are situated, and my guide," he added,
looking at Ranald, "speaks no English."
"I hasten to accommodate you," said the clergyman; "your way lies
through that cloistered passage."
"Now, Heaven's blessing upon your vanity!" said the Captain to himself.
"I was afraid I would have had to march off without Gustavus."
In fact, so effectually did the chaplain exert himself in behalf of so
excellent a judge of composition, that while Dalgetty was parleying with
the sentinels at the drawbridge, showing his passport, and giving
the watchword, a servant brought him his horse, ready saddled for the
journey. In another place, the Captain's sudden appearance at large
after having been publicly sent to prison, might have excited suspicion
and enquiry; but the officers and domestics of the Marquis were
accustomed to the mysterious policy of their master, and never supposed
aught else than that he had been liberated and intrusted with some
private commission by their master. In this belief, and having received
the parole, they gave him free passage.
Dalgetty rode slowly through the town of Inverary, the outlaw attending
upon him like a foot-page at his horse's shoulder. As they passed the
gibbet, the old man looked on the bodies and wrung his hands. The look
and gesture was momentary, but expressive of indescribable anguish.
Instantly recovering himself, Ranald, in passing, whispered somewhat
to one of the females, who, like Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, seemed
engaged in watching and mourning the victims of feudal injustice and
cruelty. The woman started at his voice, but immediately collected
herself and returned for answer a slight inclination of the head.
Dalgetty continued his way out of the town, uncertain whether he should
try to seize or hire a boat and cross the lake, or plunge into the
woods, and there conceal himself from pursuit. In the former event he
was liable to be instantly pursued by the galleys of the Marquis, which
lay ready for sailing, their long yard-arms pointing to the wind, and
what hope could he have in an ordinary Highland fishing-boat to escape
from them? If he made the latter choice, his chance either of supporting
or concealing himself in those waste and unknown wildernesses, was in
the highest degree precarious. The town lay now behind him, yet what
hand to turn to for safety he was unable to determine, and began to be
sensible, that in escaping from the dungeon at Inverary, desperate
as the matter seemed, he had only accomplished the easiest part of a
difficult task. If retaken, his fate was now certain; for the personal
injury he had offered to a man so powerful and so vindictive, could be
atoned for only by instant death. While he pondered these distressing
reflections, and looked around with a countenance which plainly
expressed indecision, Ranald MacEagh suddenly asked him, "which way he
intended to journey?"
"And that, honest comrade," answered Dalgetty, "is precisely the
question which I cannot answer you. Truly I begin to hold the
opinion, Ranald, that we had better have stuck by the brown loaf and
water-pitcher until Sir Duncan arrived, who, for his own honour, must
have made some fight for me."
"Saxon," answered MacEagh, "do not regret having exchanged the foul
breath of yonder dungeon for the free air of heaven. Above all, repent
not that you have served a Son of the Mist. Put yourself under my
guidance, and I will warrant your safety with my head."
"Can you guide me safe through these mountains, and back to the army of
Montrose?" said Dalgetty.
"I can," answered MacEagh; "there lives not a man to whom the mountain
passes, the caverns, the glens, the thickets, and the corries are known,
as they are to the Children of the Mist. While others crawl on the level
ground, by the sides of lakes and streams, ours are the steep hollows of
the inaccessible mountains, the birth-place of the desert springs. Not
all the bloodhounds of Argyle can trace the fastnesses through which I
can guide you."
"Say'st thou so, honest Ranald?" replied Dalgetty; "then have on with
thee; for of a surety I shall never save the ship by my own pilotage."
The outlaw accordingly led the way into the wood, by which the castle
is surrounded for several miles, walking with so much dispatch as kept
Gustavus at a round trot, and taking such a number of cross cuts and
turns, that Captain Dalgetty speedily lost all idea where he might be,
and all knowledge of the points of the compass. At length, the path,
which had gradually become more difficult, altogether ended among
thickets and underwood. The roaring of a torrent was heard in the
neighbourhood, the ground became in some places broken, in others boggy,
and everywhere unfit for riding.
"What the foul fiend," said Dalgetty, "is to be done here? I must part
with Gustavus, I fear."
"Take no care for your horse," said the outlaw; "he shall soon be
restored to you."
As he spoke, he whistled in a low tune, and a lad, half-dressed in
tartan, half naked, having only his own shaggy hair, tied with a thong
of leather, to protect his head and face from sun and weather, lean,
and half-starved in aspect, his wild grey eyes appearing to fill up ten
times the proportion usually allotted to them in the human face, crept
out, as a wild beast might have done, from a thicket of brambles and
"Give your horse to the gillie," said Ranald MacEagh; "your life depends
"Och! och!" exclaimed the despairing veteran; "Eheu! as we used to say
at Mareschal-College, must I leave Gustavus in such grooming!"
"Are you frantic, to lose time thus!" said his guide; "do we stand on
friends' ground, that you should part with your horse as if he were your
brother? I tell you, you shall have him again; but if you never saw the
animal, is not life better than the best colt ever mare foaled?"
"And that is true too, mine honest friend," sighed Dalgetty; "yet if
you knew but the value of Gustavus, and the things we two have done and
suffered together--See, he turns back to look at me!--Be kind to him,
my good breechless friend, and I will requite you well." So saying,
and withal sniffling a little to swallow his grief, he turned from the
heart-rending spectacle in order to follow his guide.
To follow his guide was no easy matter, and soon required more agility
than Captain Dalgetty could master. The very first plunge after he had
parted from his charger, carried him, with little assistance from a few
overhanging boughs, or projecting roots of trees, eight foot sheer down
into the course of a torrent, up which the Son of the Mist led the way.
Huge stones, over which they scrambled,--thickets of them and brambles,
through which they had to drag themselves,--rocks which were to be
climbed on the one side with much labour and pain, for the purpose of
an equally precarious descent upon the other; all these, and many
such interruptions, were surmounted by the light-footed and half-naked
mountaineer with an ease and velocity which excited the surprise and
envy of Captain Dalgetty, who, encumbered by his head-piece, corslet,
and other armour, not to mention his ponderous jack-boots, found himself
at length so much exhausted by fatigue, and the difficulties of the
road, that he sate down upon a stone in order to recover his breath,
while he explained to Ranald MacEagh the difference betwixt travelling
EXPEDITUS and IMPEDITUS, as these two military phrases were understood
at Mareschal-College, Aberdeen. The sole answer of the mountaineer
was to lay his hand on the soldier's arm, and point backward in the
direction of the wind. Dalgetty could spy nothing, for evening was
closing fast, and they were at the bottom of a dark ravine. But at
length he could distinctly hear at a distance the sullen toll of a large
"That," said he, "must be the alarm--the storm-clock, as the Germans
"It strikes the hour of your death," answered Ranald, "unless you can
accompany me a little farther. For every toll of that bell a brave man
has yielded up his soul."
"Truly, Ranald, my trusty friend," said Dalgetty, "I will not deny
that the case may be soon my own; for I am so forfoughen (being, as
I explained to you, IMPEDITUS, for had I been EXPEDITUS, I mind not
pedestrian exercise the flourish of a fife), that I think I had better
ensconce myself in one of these bushes, and even lie quiet there to
abide what fortune God shall send me. I entreat you, mine honest friend
Ranald, to shift for yourself, and leave me to my fortune, as the Lion
of the North, the immortal Gustavus Adolphus, my never-to-be-forgotten
master (whom you must surely have heard of, Ranald, though you may have
heard of no one else), said to Francis Albert, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburgh,
when he was mortally wounded on the plains of Lutzen. Neither despair
altogether of my safety, Ranald, seeing I have been in as great pinches
as this in Germany--more especially, I remember me, that at the fatal
battle of Nerlingen--after which I changed service--"
"If you would save your father's son's breath to help his child out
of trouble, instead of wasting it upon the tales of Seannachies," said
Ranald, who now grew impatient of the Captain's loquacity, "or if your
feet could travel as fast as your tongue, you might yet lay your head on
an unbloody pillow to-night."
"Something there is like military skill in that," replied the Captain,
"although wantonly and irreverently spoken to an officer of rank. But
I hold it good to pardon such freedoms on a march, in respect of the
Saturnalian license indulged in such cases to the troops of all
nations. And now, resume thine office, friend Ranald, in respect I am
well-breathed; or, to be more plain, I PRAE, SEQUAR, as we used to say
Comprehending his meaning rather from his motions than his language,
the Son of the Mist again led the way, with an unerring precision that
looked like instinct, through a variety of ground the most difficult and
broken that could well be imagined. Dragging along his ponderous boots,
encumbered with thigh-pieces, gauntlets, corslet, and back-piece, not to
mention the buff jerkin which he wore under all these arms, talking of
his former exploits the whole way, though Ranald paid not the slightest
attention to him, Captain Dalgetty contrived to follow his guide a
considerable space farther, when the deep-mouthed baying of a hound was
heard coming down the wind, as if opening on the scent of its prey.
"Black hound," said Ranald, "whose throat never boded good to a Child of
the Mist, ill fortune to her who littered thee! hast thou already found
our trace? But thou art too late, swart hound of darkness, and the deer
has gained the herd."
So saying, he whistled very softly, and was answered in a tone equally
low from the top of a pass, up which they had for some time been
ascending. Mending their pace, they reached the top, where the moon,
which had now risen bright and clear, showed to Dalgetty a party of ten
or twelve Highlanders, and about as many women and children, by whom
Ranald MacEagh was received with such transports of joy, as made his
companion easily sensible that those by whom he was surrounded, must
of course be Children of the Mist. The place which they occupied well
suited their name and habits. It was a beetling crag, round which winded
a very narrow and broken footpath, commanded in various places by the
position which they held.
Ranald spoke anxiously and hastily to the children of his tribe, and
the men came one by one to shake hands with Dalgetty, while the women,
clamorous in their gratitude, pressed round to kiss even the hem of his
garment. "They plight their faith to you," said Ranald MacEagh, "for
requital of the good deed you have done to the tribe this day."
"Enough said, Ranald," answered the soldier, "enough said--tell them
I love not this shaking of hands--it confuses ranks and degrees in
military service; and as to kissing of gauntlets, puldrons, and the
like, I remember that the immortal Gustavus, as he rode through the
streets of Nuremberg, being thus worshipped by the poulace (being
doubtless far more worthy of it than a poor though honourable cavalier
like myself), did say unto them, in the way of rebuke, 'If you idolize
me thus like a god, who shall assure you that the vengeance of Heaven
will not soon prove me to be a mortal?'--And so here, I suppose you
intend to make a stand against your followers, Ranald--VOTO A DIOS, as
the Spaniard says?--a very pretty position--as pretty a position for
a small peloton of men as I have seen in my service--no enemy can
come towards it by the road without being at the mercy of cannon and
musket.--But then, Ranald, my trusty comrade, you have no cannon, I dare
to aver, and I do not see that any of these fellows have muskets either.
So with what artillery you propose making good the pass, before you come
to hand blows, truly, Ranald, it passeth my apprehension."
"With the weapons and with the courage of our fathers," said MacEagh;
and made the Captain observe, that the men of his party were armed with
bows and arrows.
"Bows and arrows!" exclaimed Dalgetty; "ha! ha! ha! have we Robin Hood
and Little John back again? Bows and arrows! why, the sight has not been
seen in civilized war for a hundred years. Bows and arrows! and why not
weavers' beams, as in the days of Goliah? Ah! that Dugald Dalgetty, of
Drumthwacket, should live to see men fight with bows and arrows!--The
immortal Gustavus would never have believed it--nor Wallenstein--nor
Butler--nor old Tilly,--Well, Ranald, a cat can have but its
claws--since bows and arrows are the word, e'en let us make the best
of it. Only, as I do not understand the scope and range of such
old-fashioned artillery, you must make the best disposition you can out
of your own head for MY taking the command, whilk I would have gladly
done had you been to fight with any Christian weapons, is out of the
question, when you are to combat like quivered Numidians. I will,
however, play my part with my pistols in the approaching melley, in
respect my carabine unhappily remains at Gustavus's saddle.--My service
and thanks to you," he continued, addressing a mountaineer who offered
him a bow; "Dugald Dalgetty may say of himself, as he learned at
"Non eget Mauri jaculis, neque arcu,
Nec venenatis gravida sagittis,
whilk is to say--"
Ranald MacEagh a second time imposed silence on the talkative commander
as before, by pulling his sleeve, and pointing down the pass. The bay
of the bloodhound was now approaching nearer and nearer, and they could
hear the voices of several persons who accompanied the animal, and
hallooed to each other as they dispersed occasionally, either in the
hurry of their advance, or in order to search more accurately the
thickets as they came along. They were obviously drawing nearer and
nearer every moment. MacEagh, in the meantime, proposed to Captain
Dalgetty to disencumber himself of his armour, and gave him to
understand that the women should transport it to a place of safety.
"I crave your pardon, sir," said Dalgetty, "such is not the rule of
our foreign service in respect I remember the regiment of Finland
cuirassiers reprimanded, and their kettle-drums taken from them, by
the immortal Gustavus, because they had assumed the permission to march
without their corslets, and to leave them with the baggage. Neither did
they strike kettle-drums again at the head of that famous regiment until
they behaved themselves so notably at the field of Leipsic; a lesson
whilk is not to be forgotten, any more than that exclamation of the
immortal Gustavus, 'Now shall I know if my officers love me, by their
putting on their armour; since, if my officers are slain, who shall lead
my soldiers into victory?' Nevertheless, friend Ranald, this is without
prejudice to my being rid of these somewhat heavy boots, providing I
can obtain any other succedaneum; for I presume not to say that my bare
soles are fortified so as to endure the flints and thorns, as seems to
be the case with your followers."
To rid the Captain of his cumbrous greaves, and case his feet in a pair
of brogues made out of deerskin, which a Highlander stripped off for his
accommodation, was the work of a minute, and Dalgetty found himself much
lightened by the exchange. He was in the act of recommending to Ranald
MacEagh, to send two or three of his followers a little lower to
reconnoitre the pass, and, at the same time, somewhat to extend his
front, placing two detached archers at each flank by way of posts of
observation, when the near cry of the hound apprised them that the
pursuers were at the bottom of the pass. All was then dead silence; for,
loquacious as he was on other occasions, Captain Dalgetty knew well the
necessity of an ambush keeping itself under covert.
The moon gleamed on the broken pathway, and on the projecting cliffs of
rock round which it winded, its light intercepted here and there by the
branches of bushes and dwarf-trees, which, finding nourishment in the
crevices of the rocks, in some places overshadowed the brow and ledge
of the precipice. Below, a thick copse-wood lay in deep and dark shadow,
somewhat resembling the billows of a half-seen ocean. From the bosom of
that darkness, and close to the bottom of the precipice, the hound was
heard at intervals baying fearfully, sounds which were redoubled by the
echoes of the woods and rocks around. At intervals, these sunk into deep
silence, interrupted only by the plashing noise of a small runnel of
water, which partly fell from the rock, partly found a more silent
passage to the bottom along its projecting surface. Voices of men were
also heard in stifled converse below; it seemed as if the pursuers had
not discovered the narrow path which led to the top of the rock, or
that, having discovered it, the peril of the ascent, joined to the
imperfect light, and the uncertainty whether it might not be defended,
made them hesitate to attempt it.
At length a shadowy figure was seen, which raised itself up from the
abyss of darkness below, and, emerging into the pale moonlight, began
cautiously and slowly to ascend the rocky path. The outline was so
distinctly marked, that Captain Dalgetty could discover not only the
person of a Highlander, but the long gun which he carried in his hand,
and the plume of feathers which decorated his bonnet. "TAUSEND TEIFLEN!
that I should say so, and so like to be near my latter end!" ejaculated
the Captain, but under his breath, "what will become of us, now they
have brought musketry to encounter our archers?"
But just as the pursuer had attained a projecting piece of rock about
half way up the ascent, and, pausing, made a signal for those who were
still at the bottom to follow him, an arrow whistled from the bow of one
of the Children of the Mist, and transfixed him with so fatal a wound,
that, without a single effort to save himself, he lost his balance, and
fell headlong from the cliff on which he stood, into the darkness below.
The crash of the boughs which received him, and the heavy sound of his
fall from thence to the ground, was followed by a cry of horror and
surprise, which burst from his followers. The Children of the Mist,
encouraged in proportion to the alarm this first success had caused
among the pursuers, echoed back the clamour with a loud and shrill yell
of exultation, and, showing themselves on the brow of the precipice,
with wild cries and vindictive gestures, endeavoured to impress on their
enemies a sense at once of their courage, their numbers, and their state
of defence. Even Captain Dalgetty's military prudence did not prevent
his rising up, and calling out to Ranald, more loud than prudence
warranted, "CAROCCO, comrade, as the Spaniard says! The long-bow for
ever! In my poor apprehension now, were you to order a file to advance
and take position--"
"The Sassenach!" cried a voice from beneath, "mark the Sassenach sidier!
I see the glitter of his breastplate." At the same time three muskets
were discharged; and while one ball rattled against the corslet of
proof, to the strength of which our valiant Captain had been more than
once indebted for his life, another penetrated the armour which covered
the front of his left thigh, and stretched him on the ground. Ranald
instantly seized him in his arms, and bore him back from the edge of the
precipice, while he dolefully ejaculated, "I always told the immortal
Gustavus, Wallenstein, Tilly, and other men of the sword, that, in my
poor mind, taslets ought to be made musket-proof."
With two or three earnest words in Gaelic, MacEagh commended the wounded
man to the charge of the females, who were in the rear of his little
party, and was then about to return to the contest. But Dalgetty
detained him, grasping a firm hold of his plaid.--"I know not how this
matter may end--but I request you will inform Montrose, that I died like
a follower of the immortal Gustavus--and I pray you, take heed how you
quit your present strength, even for the purpose of pursuing the enemy,
if you gain any advantage--and--and--"
Here Dalgetty's breath and eyesight began to fail him through loss of
blood, and MacEagh, availing himself of this circumstance, extricated
from his grasp the end of his own mantle, and substituted that of a
female, by which the Captain held stoutly, thereby securing, as he
conceived, the outlaw's attention to the military instructions which he
continued to pour forth while he had any breath to utter them, though
they became gradually more and more incoherent--"And, comrade, you
will be sure to keep your musketeers in advance of your stand of pikes,
Lochaber-axes, and two-handed swords--Stand fast, dragoons, on the left
flank!--where was I?--Ay, and, Ranald, if ye be minded to retreat, leave
some lighted matches burning on the branches of the trees--it shows as
if they were lined with shot--But I forget--ye have no match-locks nor
habergeons--only bows and arrows--bows and arrows! ha! ha! ha!"
Here the Captain sunk back in an exhausted condition, altogether unable
to resist the sense of the ludicrous which, as a modern man-at-arms, he
connected with the idea of these ancient weapons of war. It was a long
time ere he recovered his senses; and, in the meantime, we leave him in
the care of the Daughters of the Mist; nurses as kind and attentive, in
reality, as they were wild and uncouth in outward appearance.
But if no faithless action stain
Thy true and constant word,
I'll make thee famous by my pen,
And glorious by my sword.
I'll serve thee in such noble ways
As ne'er were known before;
I'll deck and crown thy head with bays,
And love thee more and more.--MONTROSE'S LINES.
We must now leave, with whatever regret, the valiant Captain Dalgetty,
to recover of his wounds or otherwise as fate shall determine, in order
briefly to trace the military operations of Montrose, worthy as they are
of a more important page, and a better historian. By the assistance of
the chieftains whom we have commemorated, and more especially by the
junction of the Murrays, Stewarts, and other clans of Athole, which were
peculiarly zealous in the royal cause, he soon assembled an army of two
or three thousand Highlanders, to whom he successfully united the Irish
under Colkitto. This last leader, who, to the great embarrassment of
Milton's commentators, is commemorated in one of that great poet's
sonnets, was properly named Alister, or Alexander M'Donnell, by birth a
Scottish islesman, and related to the Earl of Antrim, to whose patronage
he owed the command assigned him in the Irish troops. In many respects
he merited this distinction. He was brave to intrepidity, and almost to
insensibility; very strong and active in person, completely master of
his weapons, and always ready to show the example in the extremity of
danger. To counterbalance these good qualities, it must be recorded,
that he was inexperienced in military tactics, and of a jealous and
presumptuous disposition, which often lost to Montrose the fruits of
Colkitto's gallantry. Yet such is the predominance of outward personal
qualities in the eyes of a mild people, that the feats of strength and
courage shown by this champion, seem to have made a stronger impression
upon the minds of the Highlanders, than the military skill and
chivalrous spirit of the great Marquis of Montrose. Numerous traditions
are still preserved in the Highland glens concerning Alister M'Donnell,
though the name of Montrose is rarely mentioned among them.
[Milton's book, entitled TETRACHORDON, had been ridiculed, it would
seem, by the divines assembled at Westminster, and others, on account of
the hardness of the title; and Milton in his sonnet retaliates upon
the barbarous Scottish names which the Civil War had made familiar to
. . . . why is it harder, sirs, than Gordon,
COLKITTO or M'Donald, or Gallasp?
These rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek,
That would have made Quintillian stare and gasp.
"We may suppose," says Bishop Newton, "that these were persons of note
among the Scotch ministers, who were for pressing and enforcing the
Covenant;" whereas Milton only intends to ridicule the barbarism
of Scottish names in general, and quotes, indiscriminately, that of
Gillespie, one of the Apostles of the Covenant, and those of Colkitto
and M'Donnell (both belonging to one person), one of its bitterest
The point upon which Montrose finally assembled his little army, was in
Strathearn, on the verge of the Highlands of Perthshire, so as to menace
the principal town of that county.
His enemies were not unprepared for his reception. Argyle, at the head
of his Highlanders, was dogging the steps of the Irish from the west to
the east, and by force, fear, or influence, had collected an army nearly
sufficient to have given battle to that under Montrose. The Lowlands
were also prepared, for reasons which we assigned at the beginning of
this tale. A body of six thousand infantry, and six or seven thousand
cavalry, which profanely assumed the title of God's army, had been
hastily assembled from the shires of Fife, Angus, Perth, Stirling, and
the neighbouring counties. A much less force in former times, nay, even
in the preceding reign, would have been sufficient to have secured the
Lowlands against a more formidable descent of Highlanders, than those
united under Montrose; but times had changed strangely within the last
half century. Before that period, the Lowlanders were as constantly
engaged in war as the mountaineers, and were incomparably better
disciplined and armed. The favourite Scottish order of battle somewhat
resembled the Macedonian phalanx. Their infantry formed a compact body,
armed with long spears, impenetrable even to the men-at-arms of the age,
though well mounted, and arrayed in complete proof. It may easily
be conceived, therefore, that their ranks could not be broken by the
disorderly charge of Highland infantry armed for close combat only, with
swords, and ill furnished with missile weapons, and having no artillery
This habit of fight was in a great measure changed by the introduction
of muskets into the Scottish Lowland service, which, not being as yet
combined with the bayonet, was a formidable weapon at a distance, but
gave no assurance against the enemy who rushed on to close quarters. The
pike, indeed, was not wholly disused in the Scottish army; but it was no
longer the favourite weapon, nor was it relied upon as formerly by those
in whose hands it was placed; insomuch that Daniel Lupton, a tactician
of the day, has written a book expressly upon the superiority of the
musket. This change commenced as early as the wars of Gustavus Adolphus,
whose marches were made with such rapidity, that the pike was very soon
thrown aside in his army, and exchanged for fire-arms. A circumstance
which necessarily accompanied this change, as well as the establishment
of standing armies, whereby war became a trade, was the introduction of
a laborious and complicated system of discipline, combining a variety
of words of command with corresponding operations and manoeuvres, the
neglect of any one of which was sure to throw the whole into confusion.
War therefore, as practised among most nations of Europe, had assumed
much more than formerly the character of a profession or mystery, to
which previous practice and experience were indispensable requisites.
Such was the natural consequence of standing armies, which had almost
everywhere, and particularly in the long German wars, superseded what
may be called the natural discipline of the feudal militia.
The Scottish Lowland militia, therefore, laboured under a double
disadvantage when opposed to Highlanders. They were divested of the
spear, a weapon which, in the hands of their ancestors, had so often
repelled the impetuous assaults of the mountaineer; and they were
subjected to a new and complicated species of discipline, well adapted,
perhaps, to the use of regular troops, who could be rendered completely
masters of it, but tending only to confuse the ranks of citizen
soldiers, by whom it was rarely practised, and imperfectly understood.
So much has been done in our own time in bringing back tactics to their
first principles, and in getting rid of the pedantry of war, that it
is easy for us to estimate the disadvantages under which a half-trained
militia laboured, who were taught to consider success as depending upon
their exercising with precision a system of tactics, which they probably
only so far comprehended as to find out when they were wrong, but
without the power of getting right again. Neither can it be denied,
that, in the material points of military habits and warlike spirit,
the Lowlanders of the seventeenth century had sunk far beneath their
From the earliest period down to the union of the crowns, the whole
kingdom of Scotland, Lowlands as well as Highlands, had been the
constant scene of war, foreign and domestic; and there was probably
scarce one of its hardy inhabitants, between the age of sixteen and
sixty, who was not as willing in point of fact as he was literally bound
in law, to assume arms at the first call of his liege lord, or of a
royal proclamation. The law remained the same in sixteen hundred and
forty-five as a hundred years before, but the race of those subjected to
it had been bred up under very different feelings. They had sat in quiet
under their vine and under their fig-tree, and a call to battle involved
a change of life as new as it was disagreeable. Such of them, also, who
lived near unto the Highlands, were in continual and disadvantageous
contact with the restless inhabitants of those mountains, by whom their
cattle were driven off, their dwellings plundered, and their persons
insulted, and who had acquired over them that sort of superiority
arising from a constant system of aggression. The Lowlanders, who lay
more remote, and out of reach of these depredations, were influenced by
the exaggerated reports circulated concerning the Highlanders, whom,
as totally differing in laws, language, and dress, they were induced
to regard as a nation of savages, equally void of fear and of humanity.
These various prepossessions, joined to the less warlike habits of the
Lowlanders, and their imperfect knowledge of the new and complicated
system of discipline for which they had exchanged their natural mode
of fighting, placed them at great disadvantage when opposed to the
Highlander in the field of battle. The mountaineers, on the contrary,
with the arms and courage of their fathers, possessed also their simple
and natural system of tactics, and bore down with the fullest confidence
upon an enemy, to whom anything they had been taught of discipline was,
like Saul's armour upon David, a hinderance rather than a help, "because
they had not proved it."
It was with such disadvantages on the one side, and such advantages on
the other, to counterbalance the difference of superior numbers and the
presence of artillery and cavalry, that Montrose encountered the army of
Lord Elcho upon the field of Tippermuir. The Presbyterian clergy had not
been wanting in their efforts to rouse the spirit of their followers,
and one of them, who harangued the troops on the very day of battle,
hesitated not to say, that if ever God spoke by his mouth, he promised
them, in His name, that day, a great and assured victory. The cavalry
and artillery were also reckoned sure warrants of success, as the
novelty of their attack had upon former occasions been very discouraging
to the Highlanders. The place of meeting was an open heath, and the
ground afforded little advantage to either party, except that it allowed
the horse of the Covenanters to act with effect.
A battle upon which so much depended, was never more easily decided.
The Lowland cavalry made a show of charging; but, whether thrown into
disorder by the fire of musketry, or deterred by a disaffection to
the service said to have prevailed among the gentlemen, they made no
impression on the Highlanders whatever, and recoiled in disorder from
ranks which had neither bayonets nor pikes to protect them. Montrose
saw, and instantly availed himself of this advantage. He ordered his
whole army to charge, which they performed with the wild and desperate
valour peculiar to mountaineers. One officer of the Covenanters alone,
trained in the Italian wars, made a desperate defence upon the right
wing. In every other point their line was penetrated at the first onset;
and this advantage once obtained, the Lowlanders were utterly unable to
contend at close quarters with their more agile and athletic enemies.
Many were slain on the held, and such a number in the pursuit, that
above one-third of the Covenanters were reported to have fallen; in
which number, however, must be computed a great many fat burgesses who
broke their wind in the flight, and thus died without stroke of sword.
[We choose to quote our authority for a fact so singular:--"A great many
burgesses were killed--twenty-five householders in St. Andrews--many
were bursten in the flight, and died without stroke."--See Baillie's
Letters, vol. ii. page 92.]
The victors obtained possession of Perth, and obtained considerable sums
of money, as well as ample supplies of arms and ammunition. But
those advantages were to be balanced against an almost insurmountable
inconvenience that uniformly attended a Highland army. The clans could
be in no respect induced to consider themselves as regular soldiers,
or to act as such. Even so late as the year 1745-6, when the Chevalier
Charles Edward, by way of making an example, caused a soldier to be shot
for desertion, the Highlanders, who composed his army, were affected as
much by indignation as by fear. They could not conceive any principle
of justice upon which a man's life could be taken, for merely going home
when it did not suit him to remain longer with the army. Such had been
the uniform practice of their fathers. When a battle was over, the
campaign was, in their opinion, ended; if it was lost, they sought
safety in their mountains--if won, they returned there to secure their
booty. At other times they had their cattle to look after, and their
harvests to sow or reap, without which their families would have
perished for want. In either case, there was an end of their services
for the time; and though they were easily enough recalled by the
prospect of fresh adventures and more plunder, yet the opportunity
of success was, in the meantime, lost, and could not afterwards be
recovered. This circumstance serves to show, even if history had not
made us acquainted with the same fact, that the Highlanders had never
been accustomed to make war with the view of permanent conquest, but
only with the hope of deriving temporary advantage, or deciding some
immediate quarrel. It also explains the reason why Montrose, with all
his splendid successes, never obtained any secure or permanent footing
in the Lowlands, and why even those Lowland noblemen and gentlemen, who
were inclined to the royal cause, showed diffidence and reluctance to
join an army of a character so desultory and irregular, as might lead
them at all times to apprehend that the Highlanders securing themselves
by a retreat to their mountains, would leave whatever Lowlanders might
have joined them to the mercy of an offended and predominant enemy. The
same consideration will also serve to account for the sudden marches
which Montrose was obliged to undertake, in order to recruit his army in
the mountains, and for the rapid changes of fortune, by which we often
find him obliged to retreat from before those enemies over whom he had
recently been victorious. If there should be any who read these tales
for any further purpose than that of immediate amusement, they will find
these remarks not unworthy of their recollection.
It was owing to such causes, the slackness of the Lowland loyalists and
the temporary desertion of his Highland followers, that Montrose found
himself, even after the decisive victory of Tippermuir, in no condition
to face the second army with which Argyle advanced upon him from the
westward. In this emergency, supplying by velocity the want of strength,
he moved suddenly from Perth to Dundee, and being refused admission into
that town, fell northward upon Aberdeen, where he expected to be joined
by the Gordons and other loyalists. But the zeal of these gentlemen
was, for the time, effectually bridled by a large body of Covenanters,
commanded by the Lord Burleigh, and supposed to amount to three thousand
men. These Montrose boldly attacked with half their number. The battle
was fought under the walls Of the city, and the resolute valour of
Montrose's followers was again successful against every disadvantage.
But it was the fate of this great commander, always to gain the glory,
but seldom to reap the fruits of victory. He had scarcely time to repose
his small army in Aberdeen, ere he found, on the one hand, that the
Gordons were likely to be deterred from joining him, by the reasons we
have mentioned, with some others peculiar to their chief, the Marquis
of Huntly; on the other hand, Argyle, whose forces had been augmented by
those of several Lowland noblemen, advanced towards Montrose at the head
of an army much larger than he had yet had to cope with. These troops
moved, indeed, with slowness, corresponding to the cautious character
of their commander; but even that caution rendered Argyle's approach
formidable, since his very advance implied, that he was at the head of
an army irresistibly superior.
There remained one mode of retreat open to Montrose, and he adopted
it. He threw himself into the Highlands, where he could set pursuit
at defiance, and where he was sure, in every glen, to recover those
recruits who had left his standard to deposit their booty in their
native fastnesses. It was thus that the singular character of the
army which Montrose commanded, while, on the one hand, it rendered his
victory in some degree nugatory, enabled him, on the other, under the
most disadvantageous circumstances, to secure his retreat, recruit
his forces, and render himself more formidable than ever to the enemy,
before whom he had lately been unable to make a stand.
On the present occasion he threw himself into Badenoch, and rapidly
traversing that district, as well as the neighbouring country of Athole,
he alarmed the Covenanters by successive attacks upon various unexpected
points, and spread such general dismay, that repeated orders were
dispatched by the Parliament to Argyle, their commander, to engage, and
disperse Montrose at all rates.
These commands from his superiors neither suited the haughty spirit, nor
the temporizing and cautious policy, of the nobleman to whom they were
addressed. He paid, accordingly, no regard to them, but limited his
efforts to intrigues among Montrose's few Lowland followers, many of
whom had become disgusted with the prospect of a Highland campaign,
which exposed their persons to intolerable fatigue, and left their
estates at the Covenanters' mercy. Accordingly, several of them left
Montrose's camp at this period. He was joined, however, by a body of
forces of more congenial spirit, and far better adapted to the situation
in which he found himself. This reinforcement consisted of a large body
of Highlanders, whom Colkitto, dispatched for that purpose, had levied
in Argyleshire. Among the most distinguished was John of Moidart, called
the Captain of Clan Ranald, with the Stewarts of Appin, the Clan Gregor,
the Clan M'Nab, and other tribes of inferior distinction. By these
means, Montrose's army was so formidably increased, that Argyle cared no
longer to remain in the command of that opposed to him, but returned to
Edinburgh, and there threw up his commission, under pretence that his
army was not supplied with reinforcements and provisions in the manner
in which they ought to have been. From thence the Marquis returned to
Inverary, there, in full security, to govern his feudal vassals, and
patriarchal followers, and to repose himself in safety on the faith of
the Clan proverb already quoted--"It is a far cry to Lochow."
Such mountains steep, such craggy hills,
His army on one side enclose:
The other side, great griesly gills
Did fence with fenny mire and moss.
Which when the Earl understood,
He council craved of captains all,
Who bade set forth with mournful mood,
And take such fortune as would fall.
--FLODDEN FIELD, AN ANCIENT POEM.
Montrose had now a splendid career in his view, provided he could obtain
the consent of his gallant, but desultory troops, and their independent
chieftains. The Lowlands lay open before him without an army adequate to
check his career; for Argyle's followers had left the Covenanters' host
when their master threw up his commission, and many other troops, tired
of the war, had taken the same opportunity to disband themselves. By
descending Strath-Tay, therefore, one of the most convenient passes from
the Highlands, Montrose had only to present himself in the Lowlands, in
order to rouse the slumbering spirit of chivalry and of loyalty which
animated the gentlemen to the north of the Forth. The possession of
these districts, with or without a victory, would give him the command
of a wealthy and fertile part of the kingdom, and would enable him, by
regular pay, to place his army on a permanent footing, to penetrate as
far as the capital, perhaps from thence to the Border, where he deemed
it possible to communicate with the yet unsubdued forces of King
Such was the plan of operations by which the truest glory was to be
acquired, and the most important success insured for the royal cause.
Accordingly it did not escape the ambitious and daring spirit of him
whose services had already acquired him the title of the Great Marquis.
But other motives actuated many of his followers, and perhaps were not
without their secret and unacknowledged influence upon his own feelings.
The Western Chiefs in Montrose's army, almost to a man, regarded the
Marquis of Argyle as the most direct and proper object of hostilities.
Almost all of them had felt his power; almost all, in withdrawing their
fencible men from their own glens, left their families and property
exposed to his vengeance; all, without exception, were desirous
of diminishing his sovereignty; and most of them lay so near his
territories, that they might reasonably hope to be gratified by a share
of his spoil. To these Chiefs the possession of Inverary and its castle
was an event infinitely more important and desirable than the capture
of Edinburgh. The latter event could only afford their clansmen a little
transitory pay or plunder; the former insured to the Chiefs themselves
indemnity for the past, and security for the future. Besides these
personal reasons, the leaders, who favoured this opinion, plausibly
urged, that though, at his first descent into the Lowlands, Montrose
might be superior to the enemy, yet every day's march he made from the
hills must diminish his own forces, and expose him to the accumulated
superiority of any army which the Covenanters could collect from the
Lowland levies and garrisons. On the other hand, by crushing Argyle
effectually, he would not only permit his present western friends to
bring out that proportion of their forces which they must otherwise
leave at home for protection of their families; but farther, he would
draw to his standard several tribes already friendly to his cause, but
who were prevented from joining him by fear of M'Callum More.
These arguments, as we have already hinted, found something responsive
in Montrose's own bosom, not quite consonant with the general heroism
of his character. The houses of Argyle and Montrose had been in former
times, repeatedly opposed to each other in war and in politics, and the
superior advantages acquired by the former, had made them the subject
of envy and dislike to the neighbouring family, who, conscious of equal
desert, had not been so richly rewarded. This was not all. The existing
heads of these rival families had stood in the most marked opposition to
each other since the commencement of the present troubles.
Montrose, conscious of the superiority of his talents, and of having
rendered great service to the Covenanters at the beginning of the war,
had expected from that party the supereminence of council and command,
which they judged it safer to intrust to the more limited faculties,
and more extensive power, of his rival Argyle. The having awarded this
preference, was an injury which Montrose never forgave the Covenanters;
and he was still less likely to extend his pardon to Argyle, to whom
he had been postponed. He was therefore stimulated by every feeling of
hatred which could animate a fiery temper in a fierce age, to seek for
revenge upon the enemy of his house and person; and it is probable that
these private motives operated not a little upon his mind, when he found
the principal part of his followers determined rather to undertake an
expedition against the territories of Argyle, than to take the far more
decisive step of descending at once into the Lowlands.
Yet whatever temptation Montrose found to carry into effect his attack
upon Argyleshire, he could not easily bring himself to renounce the
splendid achievement of a descent upon the Lowlands. He held more than
one council with the principal Chiefs, combating, perhaps, his own
secret inclination as well as theirs. He laid before them the extreme
difficulty of marching even a Highland army from the eastward into
Argyleshire, through passes scarcely practicable for shepherds and
deer-stalkers, and over mountains, with which even the clans lying
nearest to them did not pretend to be thoroughly acquainted. These
difficulties were greatly enhanced by the season of the year, which was
now advancing towards December, when the mountain-passes, in themselves
so difficult, might be expected to be rendered utterly impassable by
snowstorms. These objections neither satisfied nor silenced the Chiefs,
who insisted upon their ancient mode of making war, by driving the
cattle, which, according to the Gaelic phrase, "fed upon the grass
of their enemy." The council was dismissed late at night, and without
coming to any decision, excepting that the Chiefs, who supported the
opinion that Argyle should be invaded, promised to seek out among their
followers those who might be most capable of undertaking the office of
guides upon the expedition.
Montrose had retired to the cabin which served him for a tent, and
stretched himself upon a bed of dry fern, the only place of repose which
it afforded. But he courted sleep in vain, for the visions of ambition
excluded those of Morpheus. In one moment he imagined himself displaying
the royal banner from the reconquered Castle of Edinburgh, detaching
assistance to a monarch whose crown depended upon his success, and
receiving in requital all the advantages and preferments which could be
heaped upon him whom a king delighteth to honour. At another time
this dream, splendid as it was, faded before the vision of gratified
vengeance, and personal triumph over a personal enemy. To surprise
Argyle in his stronghold of Inverary--to crush in him at once the rival
of his own house and the chief support of the Presbyterians--to show
the Covenanters the difference between the preferred Argyle and the
postponed Montrose, was a picture too flattering to feudal vengeance to
be easily relinquished.
While he lay thus busied with contradictory thoughts and feelings, the
soldier who stood sentinel upon his quarters announced to the Marquis
that two persons desired to speak with his Excellency.
"Their names?" answered Montrose, "and the cause of their urgency at
such a late hour?"
On these points, the sentinel, who was one of Colkitto's Irishmen, could
afford his General little information; so that Montrose, who at such a
period durst refuse access to no one, lest he might have been neglecting
some important intelligence, gave directions, as a necessary precaution,
to put the guard under arms, and then prepared to receive his untimely
visitors. His groom of the chambers had scarce lighted a pair of
torches, and Montrose himself had scarce risen from his couch, when two
men entered, one wearing a Lowland dress, of shamoy leather worn almost
to tatters; the other a tall upright old Highlander, of a complexion
which might be termed iron-grey, wasted and worn by frost and tempest.
"What may be your commands with me, my friends?" said the Marquis, his
hand almost unconsciously seeking the but of one of his pistols; for
the period, as well as the time of night, warranted suspicions which the
good mien of his visitors was not by any means calculated to remove.
"I pray leave to congratulate you," said the Lowlander, "my most noble
General, and right honourable lord, upon the great battles which you
have achieved since I had the fortune to be detached from you, It was
a pretty affair that tuilzie at Tippermuir; nevertheless, if I might be
permitted to counsel--"
"Before doing so," said the Marquis, "will you be pleased to let me know
who is so kind as to favour me with his opinion?"
"Truly, my lord," replied the man, "I should have hoped that was
unnecessary, seeing it is not so long since I took on in your service,
under promise of a commission as Major, with half a dollar of daily pay
and half a dollar of arrears; and I am to trust your lordship has nut
forgotten my pay as well as my person?"
"My good friend, Major Dalgetty," said Montrose, who by this time
perfectly recollected his man, "you must consider what important things
have happened to put my friends' faces out of my memory, besides this
imperfect light; but all conditions shall be kept.--And what news from
Argyleshire, my good Major? We have long given you up for lost, and I
was now preparing to take the most signal vengeance upon the old fox who
infringed the law of arms in your person."
"Truly, my noble lord," said Dalgetty, "I have no desire that my return
should put any stop to so proper and becoming an intention; verily it
is in no shape in the Earl of Argyle's favour or mercy that I now stand
before you, and I shall be no intercessor for him. But my escape
is, under Heaven, and the excellent dexterity which, as an old and
accomplished cavalier, I displayed in effecting the same,--I say, under
these, it is owing to the assistance of this old Highlander, whom
I venture to recommend to your lordship's special favour, as the
instrument of saving your lordship's to command, Dugald Dalgetty of
"A thankworthy service," said the Marquis, gravely, "which shall
certainly be requited in the manner it deserves."
"Kneel down, Ranald," said Major Dalgetty (as we must now call him),
"kneel down, and kiss his Excellency's hand."
The prescribed form of acknowledgment not being according to the custom
of Ranald's country, he contented himself with folding his arms on his
bosom, and making a low inclination of his head.
"This poor man, my lord," said Major Dalgetty, continuing his speech
with a dignified air of protection towards Ranald M'Eagh, "has strained
all his slender means to defend my person from mine enemies, although
having no better weapons of a missile sort than bows and arrows, whilk
your lordship will hardly believe."
"You will see a great many such weapons in my camp," said Montrose, "and
we find them serviceable." [In fact, for the admirers of archery it may
be stated, not only that many of the Highlanders in Montrose's army used
these antique missiles, but even in England the bow and quiver, once the
glory of the bold yeomen of that land, were occasionally used during the
great civil wars.]
"Serviceable, my lord!" said Dalgetty; "I trust your lordship will
permit me to be surprised--bows and arrows!--I trust you will forgive
my recommending the substitution of muskets, the first convenient
opportunity. But besides defending me, this honest Highlander also was
at the pains of curing me, in respect that I had got a touch of the
wars in my retreat, which merits my best requital in this special
introduction of him to your lordship's notice and protection."
"What is your name, my friend?" said Montrose, turning to the
"It may not be spoken," answered the mountaineer.
"That is to say," interpreted Major Dalgetty, "he desires to have his
name concealed, in respect he hath in former days taken a castle, slain
certain children, and done other things, whilk, as your good lordship
knows, are often practised in war time, but excite no benevolence
towards the perpetrator in the friends of those who sustain injury. I
have known, in my military experience, many brave cavaliers put to death
by the boors, simply for having used military license upon the country."
"I understand," said Montrose: "This person is at feud with some of our
followers. Let him retire to the court of guard, and we will think of
the best mode of protecting him."
"You hear, Ranald," said Major Dalgetty, with an air of superiority,
"his Excellency wishes to hold privy council with me, you must go to the
court of guard.--He does not know where that is, poor fellow!--he is
a young soldier for so old a man; I will put him under the charge of
a sentinel, and return to your lordship incontinent." He did so, and
Montrose's first enquiry respected the embassy to Inverary; and he
listened with attention to Dalgetty's reply, notwithstanding the
prolixity of the Major's narrative. It required an effort from the
Marquis to maintain his attention; but no one better knew, that where
information is to be derived from the report of such agents as Dalgetty,
it can only be obtained by suffering them to tell their story in their
own way. Accordingly the Marquis's patience was at length rewarded.
Among other spoils which the Captain thought himself at liberty to take,
was a packet of Argyle's private papers. These he consigned to the hands
of his General; a humour of accounting, however, which went no farther,
for I do not understand that he made any mention of the purse of gold
which he had appropriated at the same time that he made seizure of the
papers aforesaid. Snatching a torch from the wall, Montrose was in an
instant deeply engaged in the perusal of these documents, in which it is
probable he found something to animate his personal resentment against
his rival Argyle.
"Does he not fear me?" said he; "then he shall feel me. Will he fire my
castle of Murdoch?--Inverary shall raise the first smoke.--O for a guide
through the skirts of Strath-Fillan!"
Whatever might be Dalgetty's personal conceit, he understood his
business sufficiently to guess at Montrose's meaning. He instantly
interrupted his own prolix narration of the skirmish which had taken
place, and the wound he had received in his retreat, and began to speak
to the point which he saw interested his General.
"If," said he, "your Excellency wishes to make an infall into
Argyleshire, this poor man, Ranald, of whom I told you, together with
his children and companions, know every pass into that land, both
leading from the east and from the north."
"Indeed!" said Montrose; "what reason have you to believe their
knowledge so extensive?"
"So please your Excellency," answered Dalgetty, "during the weeks that I
remained with them for cure of my wound, they were repeatedly obliged
to shift their quarters, in respect of Argyle's repeated attempts to
repossess himself of the person of an officer who was honoured with Your
Excellency's confidence; so that I had occasion to admire the singular
dexterity and knowledge of the face of the country with which they
alternately achieved their retreat and their advance; and when, at
length, I was able to repair to your Excellency's standard, this honest
simple creature, Ranald MacEagh, guided me by paths which my steed
Gustavus (which your lordship may remember) trode with perfect safety,
so that I said to myself, that where guides, spies, or intelligencers,
were required in a Highland campaign in that western country, more
expert persons than he and his attendants could not possibly be
"And can you answer for this man's fidelity?" said Montrose; "what is
his name and condition?"
"He is an outlaw and robber by profession, something also of a homicide
or murderer," answered Dalgetty; "and by name, called Ranald MacEagh;
whilk signifies, Ranald, the Son of the Mist."
"I should remember something of that name," said Montrose, pausing: "Did
not these Children of the Mist perpetrate some act of cruelty upon the
Major Dalgetty mentioned the circumstance of the murder of the forester,
and Montrose's active memory at once recalled all the circumstances of
"It is most unlucky," said Montrose, "this inexpiable quarrel between
these men and the M'Aulays. Allan has borne himself bravely in these
wars, and possesses, by the wild mystery of his behaviour and
language, so much influence over the minds of his countrymen, that the
consequences of disobliging him might be serious. At the same time,
these men being so capable of rendering useful service, and being as you
say, Major Dalgetty, perfectly trustworthy--"
"I will pledge my pay and arrears, my horse and arms, my head and neck,
upon their fidelity," said the Major; "and your Excellency knows, that a
soldado could say no more for his own father."
"True," said Montrose; "but as this is a matter of particular moment, I
would willingly know the grounds of so positive an assurance."
"Concisely then, my lord," said the Major, "not only did they disdain to
profit by a handsome reward which Argyle did me the honour to place upon
this poor head of mine, and not only did they abstain from pillaging
my personal property, whilk was to an amount that would have tempted
regular soldiers in any service of Europe; and not only did they restore
me my horse, whilk your Excellency knows to be of value, but I could not
prevail on them to accept one stiver, doit, or maravedi, for the trouble
and expenses of my sick bed. They actually refused my coined money when
freely offered,--a tale seldom to be told in a Christian land."
"I admit," said Montrose, after a moment's reflection, "that their
conduct towards you is good evidence of their fidelity; but how to
secure against the breaking out of this feud?" He paused, and then
suddenly added, "I had forgot I have supped, while you, Major, have been
travelling by moonlight."
He called to his attendants to fetch a stoup of wine and some
refreshments. Major Dalgetty, who had the appetite of a convalescent
returned from Highland quarters, needed not any pressing to partake of
what was set before him, but proceeded to dispatch his food with such
alacrity, that the Marquis, filling a cup of wine, and drinking to his
health, could not help remarking, that coarse as the provisions of his
camp were, he was afraid Major Dalgetty had fared much worse during his
excursion into Argyleshire.
"Your Excellency may take your corporal oath upon that," said the worthy
Major, speaking with his mouth full; "for Argyle's bread and water are
yet stale and mouldy in my recollection, and though they did their
best, yet the viands that the Children of the Mist procured for me, poor
helpless creatures as they were, were so unrefreshful to my body, that
when enclosed in my armour, whilk I was fain to leave behind me for
expedition's sake, I rattled therein like the shrivelled kernel in a nut
that hath been kept on to a second Hallowe'en."
"You must take the due means to repair these losses, Major Dalgetty."
"In troth," answered the soldier, "I shall hardly be able to compass
that, unless my arrears are to be exchanged for present pay; for I
protest to your Excellency, that the three stone weight which I have
lost were simply raised upon the regular accountings of the States of
"In that case," said the Marquis, "you are only reduced to good marching
order. As for the pay, let us once have victory--victory, Major, and
your wishes, and all our wishes, shall be amply fulfilled. Meantime,
help yourself to another cup of wine."
"To your Excellency's health," said the Major, filling a cup to the
brim, to show the zeal with which he drank the toast, "and victory over
all our enemies, and particularly over Argyle! I hope to twitch another
handful from his board myself--I have had one pluck at it already."
"Very true," answered Montrose; "but to return to those men of the Mist.
You understand, Dalgetty, that their presence here, and the purpose for
which we employ them, is a secret between you and me?"
Delighted, as Montrose had anticipated, with this mark of his
General's confidence, the Major laid his hand upon his nose, and nodded
"How many may there be of Ranald's followers?" continued the Marquis.
"They are reduced, so far as I know, to some eight or ten men," answered
Major Dalgetty, "and a few women and children."
"Where are they now?" demanded Montrose.
"In a valley, at three miles' distance," answered the soldier, "awaiting
your Excellency's command; I judged it not fit to bring them to your
leaguer without your Excellency's orders."
"You judged very well," said Montrose; "it would be proper that they
remain where they are, or seek some more distant place of refuge. I will
send them money, though it is a scarce article with me at present."
"It is quite unnecessary," said Major Dalgetty; "your Excellency has
only to hint that the M'Aulays are going in that direction, and my
friends of the Mist will instantly make volte-face, and go to the right
"That were scarce courteous," said the Marquis. "Better send them a few
dollars to purchase them some cattle for the support of the women and
"They know how to come by their cattle at a far cheaper rate," said the
Major; "but let it be as your Excellency wills."
"Let Ranald MacEagh," said Montrose, "select one or two of his
followers, men whom he can trust, and who are capable of keeping their
own secret and ours; these, with their chief for scout-master-general,
shall serve for our guides. Let them be at my tent to-morrow at
daybreak, and see, if possible, that they neither guess my purpose, nor
hold any communication with each other in private.--This old man, has he
"They have been killed or hanged," answered the Major, "to the number of
a round dozen, as I believe--but he hath left one grand-child, a smart
and hopeful youth, whom I have noted to be never without a pebble in
his plaid-nook, to fling at whatsoever might come in his way; being
a symbol, that, like David, who was accustomed to sling smooth stones
taken from the brook, he may afterwards prove an adventurous warrior."
"That boy, Major Dalgetty," said the Marquis, "I will have to attend
upon my own person. I presume he will have sense enough to keep his name
"Your Excellency need not fear that," answered Dalgetty; "these Highland
imps, from the moment they chip the shell--"
"Well," interrupted Montrose, "that boy shall be pledge for the fidelity
of his parent, and if he prove faithful, the child's preferment shall be
his reward.--And now, Major Dalgetty, I will license your departure for
the night; tomorrow you will introduce this MacEagh, under any name or
character he may please to assume. I presume his profession has rendered
him sufficiently expert in all sort of disguises; or we may admit
John of Moidart into our schemes, who has sense, practicability,
and intelligence, and will probably allow this man for a time to be
disguised as one of his followers. For you, Major, my groom of the
chambers will be your quarter-master for this evening."
Major Dalgetty took his leave with a joyful heart greatly elated with
the reception he had met with, and much pleased with the personal
manners of his new General, which, as he explained at great length to
Ranald MacEagh, reminded him in many respects of the demeanour of the
immortal Gustavus Adolphus, the Lion of the North, and Bulwark of the
The march begins in military state,
And nations on his eyes suspended wait;
Stern famine guards the solitary coast,
And winter barricades the realms of frost.
He comes,--nor want, nor cold, his course delay.
--VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.
By break of day Montrose received in his cabin old MacEagh, and
questioned him long and particularly as to the means of approaching the
country of Argyle. He made a note of his answers, which he compared with
those of two of his followers, whom he introduced as the most prudent
and experienced. He found them to correspond in all respects; but, still
unsatisfied where precaution was so necessary, the Marquis compared the
information he had received with that he was able to collect from the
Chiefs who lay most near to the destined scene of invasion, and being in
all respects satisfied of its accuracy, he resolved to proceed in full
reliance upon it.
In one point Montrose changed his mind. Having judged it unfit to take
the boy Kenneth into his own service, lest, in case of his birth being
discovered, it should be resented as an offence by the numerous clans
who entertained a feudal enmity to this devoted family, he requested the
Major to take him in attendance upon himself; and as he accompanied
this request with a handsome DOUCEUR, under pretence of clothing and
equipping the lad, this change was agreeable to all parties.
It was about breakfast-time, when Major Dalgetty, being dismissed by
Montrose, went in quest of his old acquaintances, Lord Menteith and the
M'Aulays, to whom he longed to communicate his own adventures, as
well as to learn from them the particulars of the campaign. It may
be imagined he was received with great glee by men to whom the late
uniformity of their military life had rendered any change of society
an interesting novelty. Allan M'Aulay alone seemed to recoil from his
former acquaintance, although, when challenged by his brother, he could
render no other reason than a reluctance to be familiar with one who
had been so lately in the company of Argyle, and other enemies. Major
Dalgetty was a little alarmed by this sort of instinctive consciousness
which Allan seemed to entertain respecting the society he had been
lately keeping; he was soon satisfied, however, that the perceptions of
the seer in this particular were not infallible.
As Ranald MacEagh was to be placed under Major Dalgetty's protection and
superintendence, it was necessary he should present him to those persons
with whom he was most likely to associate. The dress of the old man had,
in the meantime, been changed from the tartan of his clan to a sort
of clothing peculiar to the men of the distant Isles, resembling a
waistcoat with sleeves, and a petticoat, all made in one piece. This
dress was laced from top to bottom in front, and bore some resemblance
to that called Polonaise, still worn by children in Scotland of the
lower rank. The tartan hose and bonnet completed the dress, which old
men of the last century remembered well to have seen worn by the distant
Islesmen who came to the Earl of Mar's standard in the year 1715.
Major Dalgetty, keeping his eye on Allan as he spoke, introduced Ranald
MacEagh under the fictitious name of Ranald MacGillihuron in Benbecula,
who had escaped with him out of Argyle's prison. He recommended him as
a person skilful in the arts of the harper and the senachie, and by no
means contemptible in the quality of a second-sighted person or seer.
While making this exposition, Major Dalgetty stammered and hesitated in
a way so unlike the usual glib forwardness of his manner, that he could
not have failed to have given suspicion to Allan M'Aulay, had not that
person's whole attention been engaged in steadily perusing the
features of the person thus introduced to him. This steady gaze so much
embarrassed Ranald MacEagh, that his hand was beginning to sink down
towards his dagger, in expectation of a hostile assault, when Allan,
suddenly crossing the floor of the hut, extended his hand to him in the
way of friendly greeting. They sat down side by side, and conversed in
a low mysterious tone of voice. Menteith and Angus M'Aulay were not
surprised at this, for there prevailed among the Highlanders who
pretended to the second-sight, a sort of Freemasonry, which generally
induced them, upon meeting, to hold communication with each other on the
nature and extent of their visionary experiences.
"Does the sight come gloomy upon your spirits?" said Allan to his new
"As dark as the shadow upon the moon," replied Ranald, "when she is
darkened in her mid-course in heaven, and prophets foretell of evil
"Come hither," said Allan, "come more this way, I would converse with
you apart; for men say that in your distant islands the sight is poured
forth with more clearness and power than upon us, who dwell near the
While they were plunged into their mystic conference, the two English
cavaliers entered the cabin in the highest possible spirits, and
announced to Angus M'Aulay that orders had been issued that all should
hold themselves in readiness for an immediate march to the westward.
Having delivered themselves of their news with much glee, they paid
their compliments to their old acquaintance Major Dalgetty, whom they
instantly recognised, and enquired after the health of his charger,
"I humbly thank you, gentlemen," answered the soldier, "Gustavas is
well, though, like his master, somewhat barer on the ribs than when you
offered to relieve me of him at Darnlinvarach; and let me assure you,
that before you have made one or two of those marches which you seem to
contemplate with so much satisfaction in prospect, you will leave, my
good knights, some of your English beef, and probably an English horse
or two, behind you."
Both exclaimed that they cared very little what they found or what they
left, provided the scene changed from dogging up and down Angus and
Aberdeenshire, in pursuit of an enemy who would neither fight nor run
"If such be the case," said Angus M'Aulay, "I must give orders to my
followers, and make provision too for the safe conveyance of Annot Lyle;
for an advance into M'Callum More's country will be a farther and fouler
road than these pinks of Cumbrian knighthood are aware of." So saying,
he left the cabin.
"Annot Lyle!" repeated Dalgetty, "is she following the campaign?"
"Surely," replied Sir Giles Musgrave, his eye glancing slightly from
Lord Menteith to Allan M'Aulay; "we could neither march nor fight,
advance nor retreat, without the influence of the Princess of Harps."
"The Princess of Broadswords and Targets, I say," answered his
companion; "for the Lady of Montrose herself could not be more
courteously waited upon; she has four Highland maidens, and as many
bare-legged gillies, to wait upon her orders."
"And what would you have, gentlemen?" said Allan, turning suddenly from
the Highlander with whom he was in conversation; "would you yourselves
have left an innocent female, the companion of your infancy, to die by
violence, or perish by famine? There is not, by this time, a roof upon
the habitation of my fathers--our crops have been destroyed, and our
cattle have been driven--and you, gentlemen, have to bless God, that,
coming from a milder and more civilized country, you expose only your
own lives in this remorseless war, without apprehension that your
enemies will visit with their vengeance the defenceless pledges you may
have left behind you."
The Englishmen cordially agreed that they had the superiority in this
respect; and the company, now dispersing, went each to his several
charge or occupation.
Allan lingered a moment behind, still questioning the reluctant Ranald
MacEagh upon a point in his supposed visions, by which he was greatly
perplexed. "Repeatedly," he said, "have I had the sight of a Gael, who
seemed to plunge his weapon into the body of Menteith,--of that young
nobleman in the scarlet laced cloak, who has just now left the bothy.
But by no effort, though I have gazed till my eyes were almost fixed
in the sockets, can I discover the face of this Highlander, or even
conjecture who he may be, although his person and air seem familiar to
me." [See Note II.--Wraiths.]
"Have you reversed your own plaid," said Ranald, "according to the rule
of the experienced Seers in such case?"
"I have," answered Allan, speaking low, and shuddering as if with
"And in what guise did the phantom then appear to you?" said Ranald.
"With his plaid also reversed," answered Allan, in the same low and
"Then be assured," said Ranald, "that your own hand, and none other,
will do the deed of which you have witnessed the shadow."
"So has my anxious soul a hundred times surmised," replied Allan. "But
it is impossible! Were I to read the record in the eternal book of fate,
I would declare it impossible--we are bound by the ties of blood, and by
a hundred ties more intimate--we have stood side by side in battle,
and our swords have reeked with the blood of the same enemies--it is
IMPOSSIBLE I should harm him!"
"That you WILL do so," answered Ranald, "is certain, though the cause be
hid in the darkness of futurity. You say," he continued, suppressing his
own emotions with difficulty, "that side by side you have pursued your
prey like bloodhounds--have you never seen bloodhounds turn their fangs
against each other, and fight over the body of a throttled deer?"
"It is false!" said M'Aulay, starting up, "these are not the forebodings
of fate, but the temptation of some evil spirit from the bottomless
pit!" So saying, he strode out of the cabin.
"Thou hast it!" said the Son of the Mist, looking after him with an
air of exultation; "the barbed arrow is in thy side! Spirits of the
slaughtered, rejoice! soon shall your murderers' swords be dyed in each
On the succeeding morning all was prepared, and Montrose advanced by
rapid marches up the river Tay, and poured his desultory forces into the
romantic vale around the lake of the same name, which lies at the head
of that river. The inhabitants were Campbells, not indeed the vassals
of Argyle, but of the allied and kindred house of Glenorchy, which
now bears the name of Breadalbane. Being taken by surprise, they were
totally unprepared for resistance, and were compelled to be passive
witnesses of the ravages which took place among their flocks and herds.
Advancing in this manner to the vale of Loch Dochart, and laying waste
the country around him, Montrose reached the most difficult point of his
To a modern army, even with the assistance of the good military road
which now leads up by Teinedrum to the head of Loch Awe, the passage of
these extensive wilds would seem a task of some difficulty. But at this
period, and for long afterwards, there was no road or path whatsoever;
and to add to the difficulty, the mountains were already covered with
snow. It was a sublime scene to look up to them, piled in great masses,
one upon another, the front rank of dazzling whiteness, while those
which arose behind them caught a rosy tint from the setting of a clear
wintry sun. Ben Cruachan, superior in magnitude, and seeming the very
citadel of the Genius of the Region, rose high above the others, showing
his glimmering and scathed peak to the distance of many miles.
The followers of Montrose were men not to be daunted by the sublime, yet
terrible prospect before them. Many of them were of that ancient race
of Highlanders, who not only willingly made their couch in the snow,
but considered it as effeminate luxury to use a snowball for a pillow.
Plunder and revenge lay beyond the frozen mountains which they beheld,
and they did not permit themselves to be daunted by the difficulty of
traversing them. Montrose did not allow their spirits time to subside.
He ordered the pipes to play in the van the ancient pibroch entitled,
"HOGGIL NAM BO," etc. (that is, We come through snow-drift to drive the
prey), the shrilling sounds of which had often struck the vales of the
Lennox with terror. [It is the family-march of the M'Farlanes, a warlike
and predatory clan, who inhabited the western banks of Loch-Lomond.
See WAVERLY, Note XV.] The troops advanced with the nimble alacrity
of mountaineers, and were soon involved in the dangerous pass, through
which Ranald acted as their guide, going before them with a select
party, to track out the way.
The power of man at no time appears more contemptible than when it
is placed in contrast with scenes of natural terror and dignity. The
victorious army of Montrose, whose exploits had struck terror into all
Scotland, when ascending up this terrific pass, seemed a contemptible
handful of stragglers, in the act of being devoured by the jaws of the
mountain, which appeared ready to close upon them. Even Montrose half
repented the boldness of his attempt, as he looked down from the summit
of the first eminence which he attained, upon the scattered condition
of his small army. The difficulty of getting forward was so great, that
considerable gaps began to occur in the line of march, and the distance
between the van, centre, and rear, was each moment increased in a degree
equally incommodious and dangerous. It was with great apprehension that
Montrose looked upon every point of advantage which the hill afforded,
in dread it might be found occupied by an enemy prepared for defence;
and he often afterwards was heard to express his conviction, that had
the passes of Strath-Fillan been defended by two hundred resolute men,
not only would his progress have been effectually stopped, but his army
must have been in danger of being totally cut off. Security, however,
the bane of many a strong country and many a fortress, betrayed, on this
occasion, the district of Argyle to his enemies. The invaders had only
to contend with the natural difficulties of the path, and with the snow,
which, fortunately, had not fallen in any great quantity. The army no
sooner reached the summit of the ridge of hills dividing Argyleshire
from the district of Breadalbane, than they rushed down upon the devoted
vales beneath them with a fury sufficiently expressive of the motives
which had dictated a movement so difficult and hazardous.
Montrose divided his army into three bodies, in order to produce a wider
and more extensive terror, one of which was commanded by the Captain
of Clan Ranald, one intrusted to the leading of Colkitto, and the third
remained under his own direction. He was thus enabled to penetrate the
country of Argyle at three different points. Resistance there was none.
The flight of the shepherds from the hills had first announced in the
peopled districts this formidable irruption, and wherever the clansmen
were summoned out, they were killed, disarmed, and dispersed, by an
enemy who had anticipated their motions. Major Dalgetty, who had been
sent forward against Inverary with the few horse of the army that were
fit for service, managed his matters so well, that he had very nearly
surprised Argyle, as he expressed it, INTER POCULA; and it was only a
rapid flight by water which saved that chief from death or captivity.
But the punishment which Argyle himself escaped fell heavily upon his
country and clan, and the ravages committed by Montrose on that devoted
land, although too consistent with the genius of the country and times,
have been repeatedly and justly quoted as a blot on his actions and
Argyle in the meantime had fled to Edinburgh, to lay his complaints
before the Convention of Estates. To meet the exigence of the moment,
a considerable army was raised under General Baillie, a Presbyterian
officer of skill and fidelity, with whom was joined in command the
celebrated Sir John Urrie, a soldier of fortune like Dalgetty, who had
already changed sides twice during the Civil War, and was destined to
turn his coat a third time before it was ended. Argyle also, burning
with indignation, proceeded to levy his own numerous forces, in order to
avenge himself of his feudal enemy. He established his head-quarters at
Dunbarton, where he was soon joined by a considerable force, consisting
chiefly of his own clansmen and dependants. Being there joined by
Baillie and Urrie, with a very considerable army of regular forces,
he prepared to march into Argyleshire, and chastise the invader of his
But Montrose, while these two formidable armies were forming a junction,
had been recalled from that ravaged country by the approach of a third,
collected in the north under the Earl of Seaforth, who, after some
hesitation, having embraced the side of the Covenanters, had now,
with the assistance of the veteran garrison of Inverness, formed
a considerable army, with which he threatened Montrose from
Inverness-shire. Enclosed in a wasted and unfriendly country, and
menaced on each side by advancing enemies of superior force, it might
have been supposed that Montrose's destruction was certain. But these
were precisely the circumstances under which the active and enterprising
genius of the Great Marquis was calculated to excite the wonder and
admiration of his friends, the astonishment and terror of his enemies.
As if by magic, he collected his scattered forces from the wasteful
occupation in which they had been engaged; and scarce were they again
united, ere Argyle and his associate generals were informed, that the
royalists, having suddenly disappeared from Argyleshire, had retreated
northwards among the dusky and impenetrable mountains of Lochaber.
The sagacity of the generals opposed to Montrose immediately
conjectured, that it was the purpose of their active antagonist to fight
with, and, if possible, to destroy Seaforth, ere they could come to his
assistance. This occasioned a corresponding change in their operations.
Leaving this chieftain to make the best defence he could, Urrie and
Baillie again separated their forces from those of Argyle; and, having
chiefly horse and Lowland troops under their command, they kept the
southern side of the Grampian ridge, moving along eastward into the
county of Angus, resolving from thence to proceed into Aberdeenshire,
in order to intercept Montrose, if he should attempt to escape in that
Argyle, with his own levies and other troops, undertook to follow
Montrose's march; so that, in case he should come to action either with
Seaforth, or with Baillie and Urrie, he might be placed between two
fires by this third army, which, at a secure distance, was to hang upon
For this purpose, Argyle once more moved towards Inverary, having an
opportunity, at every step, to deplore the severities which the hostile
clans had exercised on his dependants and country. Whatever noble
qualities the Highlanders possessed, and they had many, clemency in
treating a hostile country was not of the number; but even the ravages
of hostile troops combined to swell the number of Argyle's followers.
It is still a Highland proverb, He whose house is burnt must become a
soldier; and hundreds of the inhabitants of these unfortunate valleys
had now no means of maintenance, save by exercising upon others the
severities they had themselves sustained, and no future prospect of
happiness, excepting in the gratification of revenge. His bands were,
therefore, augmented by the very circumstances which had desolated his
country, and Argyle soon found himself at the head of three thousand
determined men, distinguished for activity and courage, and commanded by
gentlemen of his own name, who yielded to none in those qualities. Under
himself, he conferred the principal command upon Sir Duncan Campbell of
Ardenvohr, and another Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchenbreck, [This last
character is historical] an experienced and veteran soldier, whom he had
recalled from the wars of Ireland for this purpose. The cold spirit
of Argyle himself, however, clogged the military councils of his
more intrepid assistants; and it was resolved, notwithstanding their
increased force, to observe the same plan of operations, and to follow
Montrose cautiously, in whatever direction he should march, avoiding an
engagement until an opportunity should occur of falling upon his rear,
while he should be engaged with another enemy in front.
Piobracht au Donuil-dhu,
Piobrachet au Donuil,
Piobrachet agus S'breittach
Feacht an Innerlochy.
The war-tune of Donald the Black,
The war-tune of Black Donald,
The pipes and the banner
Are up in the rendezvous of Inverlochy.
The military road connecting the chains of forts, as it is called, and
running in the general line of the present Caledonian Canal, has now
completely opened the great glen, or chasm, extending almost across
the whole island, once doubtless filled by the sea, and still affording
basins for that long line of lakes, by means of which modern art has
united the German and Atlantic Oceans. The paths or tracks by which the
natives traversed this extensive valley, were, in 1645-6, in the same
situation as when they awaked the strain of an Irish engineer officer,
who had been employed in converting them into practicable military
roads, and whose eulogium begins, and, for aught I know, ends, as
Had you seen but these roads before they were made, You would have held
up your hands and bless'd General Wade.
But, bad as the ordinary paths were, Montrose avoided them, and led
his army, like a herd of wild deer, from mountain to mountain, and from
forest to forest, where his enemies could learn nothing of his motions,
while he acquired the most perfect knowledge respecting theirs from the
friendly clans of Cameron and M'Donnell, whose mountainous districts he
now traversed. Strict orders had been given that Argyle's advance should
be watched, and that all intelligence respecting his motions should be
communicated instantly to the General himself.
It was a moonlight night, and Montrose, worn out by the fatigues of
the day, was laid down to sleep in a miserable shieling. He had only
slumbered two hours, when some one touched his shoulder. He looked up,
and, by the stately form and deep voice, easily recognised the Chief of
"I have news for you," said that leader, "which is worth while to arise
and listen to."
"M'Ilduy [Mhich-Connel Dhu, the descendant of Black Donald.] can
bring no other," said Montrose, addressing the Chief by his patronymic
title--"are they good or bad?"
"As you may take them," said the Chieftain.
"Are they certain?" demanded Montrose.
"Yes," answered M'Ilduy, "or another messenger should have brought them.
Know that, tired with the task imposed upon me of accompanying that
unhappy Dalgetty and his handful of horse, who detained me for hours
on the march at the pace of a crippled badger, I made a stretch of four
miles with six of my people in the direction of Inverlochy, and there
met with Ian of Glenroy, who had been out for intelligence. Argyle is
moving upon Inverlochy with three thousand chosen men, commanded by the
flower of the sons of Diarmid.--These are my news--they are certain--it
is for you to construe their purport."
"Their purport must be good," answered Montrose, readily and cheerfully;
"the voice of M'Ilduy is ever pleasant in the ears of Montrose, and most
pleasant when it speaks of some brave enterprise at hand--What are our
He then called for light, and easily ascertained that a great part of
his followers having, as usual, dispersed to secure their booty, he had
not with him above twelve or fourteen hundred men.
"Not much above a third," said Montrose, pausing, "of Argyle's force,
and Highlanders opposed to Highlanders.--With the blessing of God upon
the royal cause, I would not hesitate were the odds but one to two."
"Then do not hesitate," said Cameron; "for when your trumpets shall
sound to attack M'Callum More, not a man of these glens will remain deaf
to the summons. Glengarry--Keppoch--I myself--would destroy, with
fire and sword, the wretch who should remain behind under any pretence
whatsoever. To-morrow, or the next day, shall be a day of battle to all
who bear the name of M'Donnell or Cameron, whatever be the event."
"It is gallantly said, my noble friend," said Montrose, grasping his
hand, "and I were worse than a coward did I not do justice to such
followers, by entertaining the most indubitable hopes of success. We
will turn back on this M'Callum More, who follows us like a raven to
devour the relics of our army, should we meet braver men who may be able
to break its strength! Let the Chiefs and leaders be called together as
quickly as possible; and you, who have brought us the first news of this
joyful event,--for such it shall be,--you, M'Ilduy, shall bring it to
a joyful issue, by guiding us the best and nearest road against our
"That will I willingly do," said M'Ilduy; "if I have shown you paths by
which to retreat through these dusky wilds, with far more readiness will
I teach you how to advance against your foe."
A general bustle now prevailed, and the leaders were everywhere startled
from the rude couches on which they had sought temporary repose.
"I never thought," said Major Dalgetty, when summoned up from a handful
of rugged heather roots, "to have parted from a bed as hard as a
stable-broom with such bad will; but, indubitably, having but one man
of military experience in his army, his Excellency the Marquis may be
vindicated in putting him upon hard duty."
So saying, he repaired to the council, where, notwithstanding his
pedantry, Montrose seemed always to listen to him with considerable
attention; partly because the Major really possessed military knowledge
and experience, and often made suggestions which were found of
advantage, and partly because it relieved the General from the necessity
of deferring entirely to the opinion of the Highland Chiefs, and gave
him additional ground for disputing it when it was not agreeable to
his own. On the present occasion, Dalgetty joyfully acquiesced in the
proposal of marching back and confronting Argyle, which he compared to
the valiant resolution of the great Gustavus, who moved against the
Duke of Bavaria, and enriched his troops by the plunder of that fertile
country, although menaced from the northward by the large army which
Wallenstein had assembled in Bohemia.
The Chiefs of Glengarry, Keppoch, and Lochiel, whose clans, equal
in courage and military fame to any in the Highlands, lay within the
neighbourhood of the scene of action, dispatched the fiery cross through
their vassals, to summon every one who could bear arms to meet the
King's lieutenant, and to join the standards of their respective Chiefs,
as they marched towards Inverlochy. As the order was emphatically given,
it was speedily and willingly obeyed. Their natural love of war, their
zeal for the royal cause,--for they viewed the King in the light of
a chief whom his clansmen had deserted,--as well as their implicit
obedience to their own patriarch, drew in to Montrose's army not only
all in the neighbourhood who were able to bear arms, but some who, in
age at least, might have been esteemed past the use of them. During the
next day's march, which, being directed straight through the mountains
of Lochaber, was unsuspected by the enemy, his forces were augmented by
handfuls of men issuing from each glen, and ranging themselves under
the banners of their respective Chiefs. This was a circumstance highly
inspiriting to the rest of the army, who, by the time they approached
the enemy, found their strength increased considerably more than
one-fourth, as had been prophesied by the valiant leader of the
While Montrose executed this counter-march, Argyle had, at the head of
his gallant army, advanced up the southern side of Loch-Eil, and reached
the river Lochy, which combines that lake with Loch-Lochy. The ancient
Castle of Inverlochy, once, as it is said, a royal fortress, and still,
although dismantled, a place of some strength and consideration, offered
convenient head-quarters, and there was ample room for Argyle's army to
encamp around him in the valley, where the Lochy joins Loch-Eil. Several
barges had attended, loaded with provisions, so that they were in every
respect as well accommodated as such an army wished or expected to be.
Argyle, in council with Auchenbreck and Ardenvohr, expressed his full
confidence that Montrose was now on the brink of destruction; that his
troops must gradually diminish as he moved eastward through such uncouth
paths; that if he went westward, he must encounter Urrie and Baillie;
if northward, fall into the hands of Seaforth; or should he choose any
halting-place, he would expose himself to be attacked by three armies at
"I cannot rejoice in the prospect, my lord," said Auchebreck, "that
James Grahame will be crushed with little assistance of ours. He has
left a heavy account in Argyleshire against him, and I long to reckon
with him drop of blood for drop of blood. I love not the payment of such
debts by third hands."
"You are too scrupulous," said Argyle; "what signifies it by whose
hands the blood of the Grahames is spilt? It is time that of the sons of
Diarmid should cease to flow.--What say you, Ardenvohr?"
"I say, my lord," replied Sir Duncan, "that I think Auchenbreck will
be gratified, and will himself have a personal opportunity of settling
accounts with Montrose for his depredations. Reports have reached our
outposts that the Camerons are assembling their full strength on the
skirts of Ben-Nevis; this must be to join the advance of Montrose, and
not to cover his retreat."
"It must be some scheme of harassing and depredation," said Argyle,
"devised by the inveterate malignity of M'Ilduy, which he terms
loyalty. They can intend no more than an attack on our outposts, or some
annoyance to to-morrow's march."
"I have sent out scouts," said Sir Duncan, "in every direction, to
procure intelligence; and we must soon hear whether they really do
assemble any force, upon what point, or with what purpose."
It was late ere any tidings were received; but when the moon had arisen,
a considerable bustle in the camp, and a noise immediately after heard
in the castle, announced the arrival of important intelligence. Of the
scouts first dispersed by Ardenvohr, some had returned without being
able to collect anything, save uncertain rumours concerning movements
in the country of the Camerons. It seemed as if the skirts of Ben-Nevis
were sending forth those unaccountable and portentous sounds with which
they sometimes announce the near approach of a storm. Others, whose zeal
carried them farther upon their mission, were entrapped and slain, or
made prisoners, by the inhabitants of the fastnesses into which they
endeavoured to penetrate. At length, on the rapid advance of Montrose's
army, his advanced guard and the outposts of Argyle became aware of each
other's presence, and after exchanging a few musket-shots and arrows,
fell back to their respective main bodies, to convey intelligence and
Sir Duncan Campbell, and Auchenbreck, instantly threw themselves on
horseback, in order to visit the state of the outposts; and Argyle
maintained his character of commander-in-chief with reputation, by
making a respectable arrangement of his forces in the plain, as it was
evident that they might now expect a night alarm, or an attack in the
morning at farthest. Montrose had kept his forces so cautiously within
the defiles of the mountain, that no effort which Auchenbreck or
Ardenvohr thought it prudent to attempt, could ascertain his probable
strength. They were aware, however, that, at the utmost computation, it
must be inferior to their own, and they returned to Argyle to inform
him of the amount of their observations; but that nobleman refused to
believe that Montrose could be in presence himself. He said, "It was
a madness, of which even James Grahame, in his height of presumptuous
frenzy, was incapable; and he doubted not that their march was only
impeded by their ancient enemies, Glencoe, Keppoch, and Glengarry; and
perhaps M'Vourigh, with his M'Phersons, might have assembled a force,
which he knew must be greatly inferior in numbers to his own, and
whom, therefore, he doubted not to disperse by force, or by terms of
The spirit of Argyle's followers was high, breathing vengeance for the
disasters which their country had so lately undergone; and the
night passed in anxious hopes that the morning might dawn upon their
vengeance. The outposts of either army kept a careful watch, and the
soldiers of Argyle slept in the order of battle which they were next day
A pale dawn had scarce begun to tinge the tops of these immense
mountains, when the leaders of both armies prepared for the business of
the day. It was the second of February, 1645-6. The clansmen of Argyle
were arranged in two lines, not far from the angle between the river
and the lake, and made an appearance equally resolute and formidable.
Auchenbreck would willingly have commenced the battle by an attack
on the outposts of the enemy, but Argyle, with more cautious policy,
preferred receiving to making the onset. Signals were soon heard,
that they would not long wait for it in vain. The Campbells could
distinguish, in the gorge of the mountains, the war-tunes of various
clans as they advanced to the onset. That of the Camerons, which bears
the ominous words, addressed to the wolves and ravens, "Come to me, and
I will give you flesh," was loudly re-echoed from their native glens. In
the language of the Highland bards, the war voice of Glengarry was
not silent; and the gathering tunes of other tribes could be plainly
distinguished, as they successively came up to the extremity of the
passes from which they were to descend into the plain.
"You see," said Argyle to his kinsmen, "it is as I said, we have only to
deal with our neighbours; James Grahame has not ventured to show us his
At this moment there resounded from the gorge of the pass a lively
flourish of trumpets, in that note with which it was the ancient
Scottish fashion to salute the royal standard.
"You may hear, my lord, from yonder signal," said Sir Duncan Campbell,
"that he who pretends to be the King's Lieutenant, must be in person
among these men."
"And has probably horse with him," said Auchenbreck, "which I could not
have anticipated. But shall we look pale for that, my lord, when we have
foes to fight, and wrongs to revenge?"
Argyle was silent, and looked upon his arm, which hung in a sash, owing
to a fall which he had sustained in a preceding march.
"It is true," interrupted Ardenvohr, eagerly, "my Lord of Argyle, you
are disabled from using either sword or pistol; you must retire on board
the galleys--your life is precious to us as a head--your hand cannot be
useful to us as a soldier."
"No," said Argyle, pride contending with irresolution, "it shall never
be said that I fled before Montrose; if I cannot fight, I will at least
die in the midst of my children."
Several other principal Chiefs of the Campbells, with one voice,
conjured and obtested their Chieftain to leave them for that day to the
leading of Ardenvohr and Auchenbreck, and to behold the conflict from a
distance and in safety.--We dare not stigmatize Argyle with poltroonery;
for, though his life was marked by no action of bravery, yet he behaved
with so much composure and dignity in the final and closing scene, that
his conduct upon the present and similar occasions, should be rather
imputed to indecision than to want of courage. But when the small still
voice within a man's own breast, which tells him that his life is of
consequence to himself, is seconded by that of numbers around him, who
assure him that it is of equal advantage to the public, history affords
many examples of men more habitually daring than Argyle, who have
consulted self-preservation when the temptations to it were so
"See him on board, if you will, Sir Duncan," said Auchenbreck to his
kinsman; "It must be my duty to prevent this spirit from spreading
farther among us."
So saying, he threw himself among the ranks, entreating, commanding, and
conjuring the soldiers, to remember their ancient fame and their present
superiority; the wrongs they had to revenge, if successful, and the fate
they had to dread, if vanquished; and imparting to every bosom a portion
of the fire which glowed in his own. Slowly, meanwhile, and apparently
with reluctance, Argyle suffered himself to be forced by his officious
kinsmen to the verge of the lake, and was transported on board of a
galley, from the deck of which he surveyed with more safety than credit
the scene which ensued.
Sir Duncan Campbell of Ardenvohr, notwithstanding the urgency of
the occasion, stood with his eyes riveted on the boat which bore his
Chieftain from the field of battle. There were feelings in his bosom
which could not be expressed; for the character of a Chief was that of
a father, and the heart of a clansman durst not dwell upon his failings
with critical severity as upon those of other men. Argyle, too, harsh
and severe to others, was generous and liberal among his kinsmen, and
the noble heart of, Ardenvohr was wrung with bitter anguish, when he
reflected to what interpretation his present conduct might subject him.
"It is better it should be so," said he to himself, devouring his own
emotion; "but--of his line of a hundred sires, I know not one who would
have retired while the banner of Diarmid waved in the wind, in the face
of its most inveterate foes!"
A loud shout now compelled him to turn, and to hasten with all dispatch
to his post, which was on the right flank of Argyle's little army.
The retreat of Argyle had not passed unobserved by his watchful enemy,
who, occupying the superior ground, could mark every circumstance which
passed below. The movement of three or four horsemen to the rear showed
that those who retreated were men of rank.
"They are going," said Dalgetty, "to put their horses out of danger,
like prudent cavaliers. Yonder goes Sir Duncan Campbell, riding a brown
bay gelding, which I had marked for my own second charger."
"You are wrong, Major," said Montrose, with a bitter smile, "they are
saving their precious Chief--Give the signal for assault instantly--send
the word through the ranks.--Gentlemen, noble Chiefs, Glengarry,
Keppoch, M'Vourigh, upon them instantly!--Ride to M'Ilduy, Major
Dalgetty, and tell him to charge as he loves Lochaber--return and bring
our handful of horse to my standard. They shall be placed with the Irish
as a reserve."
As meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Lochlin.
The trumpets and bagpipes, those clamorous harbingers of blood and
death, at once united in the signal for onset, which was replied to
by the cry of more than two thousand warriors, and the echoes of the
mountain glens behind them. Divided into three bodies, or columns,
the Highland followers of Montrose poured from the defiles which had
hitherto concealed them from their enemies, and rushed with the utmost
determination upon the Campbells, who waited their charge with the
greatest firmness. Behind these charging columns marched in line the
Irish, under Colkitto, intended to form the reserve. With them was the
royal standard, and Montrose himself; and on the flanks were about fifty
horse, under Dalgetty, which by wonderful exertions had been kept in
some sort fit for service.
The right column of Royalists was led by Glengarry, the left by Lochiel,
and the centre by the Earl of Menteith, who preferred fighting on foot
in a Highland dress to remaining with the cavalry.
The Highlanders poured on with the proverbial fury of their country,
firing their guns, and discharging their arrows, at a little distance
from the enemy, who received the assault with the most determined
gallantry. Better provided with musketry than their enemies, stationary
also, and therefore taking the more decisive aim, the fire of Argyle's
followers was more destructive than that which they sustained. The royal
clans, perceiving this, rushed to close quarters, and succeeded on two
points in throwing their enemies into disorder. With regular troops
this must have achieved a victory; but here Highlanders were opposed to
Highlanders, and the nature of the weapons, as well as the agility of
those who wielded them, was equal on both sides.
Their strife was accordingly desperate; and the clash of the swords
and axes, as they encountered each other, or rung upon the targets, was
mingled with the short, wild, animating shrieks with which Highlanders
accompany the battle, the dance, or indeed violent exertion of any kind.
Many of the foes opposed were personally acquainted, and sought to match
themselves with each other from motives of hatred, or a more generous
emulation of valour. Neither party would retreat an inch, while the
place of those who fell (and they fell fast on both sides) was eagerly
supplied by others, who thronged to the front of danger. A steam, like
that which arises from a seething cauldron, rose into the thin, cold,
frosty air, and hovered above the combatants.
So stood the fight on the right and the centre, with no immediate
consequence, except mutual wounds and death.
On the right of the Campbells, the Knight of Ardenvohr obtained some
advantage, through his military skill and by strength of numbers. He had
moved forward obliquely the extreme flank of his line at the instant the
Royalists were about to close, so that they sustained a fire at once
on front and in flank, and, despite the utmost efforts of their leader,
were thrown into some confusion. At this instant, Sir Duncan Campbell
gave the word to charge, and thus unexpectedly made the attack at
the very moment he seemed about to receive it. Such a change of
circumstances is always discouraging, and often fatal. But the disorder
was remedied by the advance of the Irish reserve, whose heavy and
sustained fire compelled the Knight of Ardenvohr to forego his
advantage, and content himself with repulsing the enemy. The Marquis
of Montrose, in the meanwhile, availing himself of some scattered birch
trees, as well as of the smoke produced by the close fire of the Irish
musketry, which concealed the operation, called upon Dalgetty to follow
him with the horse, and wheeling round so as to gain the right flank and
even the rear of the enemy, he commanded his six trumpets to sound
the charge. The clang of the cavalry trumpets, and the noise of the
galloping of the horse, produced an effect upon Argyle's right wing
which no other sounds could have impressed them with. The mountaineers
of that period had a superstitious dread of the war-horse, like that
entertained by the Peruvians, and had many strange ideas respecting the
manner in which that animal was trained to combat. When, therefore, they
found their ranks unexpectedly broken, and that the objects of their
greatest terror were suddenly in the midst of them, the panic, in spite
of Sir Duncan's attempts to stop it, became universal. Indeed, the
figure of Major Dalgetty alone, sheathed in impenetrable armour, and
making his horse caracole and bound, so as to give weight to every
blow which he struck, would have been a novelty in itself sufficient to
terrify those who had never seen anything more nearly resembling such
a cavalier, than a SHELTY waddling under a Highlander far bigger than
itself. The repulsed Royalists returned to the charge; the Irish,
keeping their ranks, maintained a fire equally close and destructive.
There was no sustaining the fight longer. Argyle's followers began
to break and fly, most towards the lake, the remainder in different
directions. The defeat of the right wing, of itself decisive, was
rendered irreparable by the death of Auchenbreck, who fell while
endeavouring to restore order.
The Knight of Ardenvohr, with two or three hundred men, all gentlemen of
descent and distinguished gallantry,--for the Campbells are supposed to
have had more gentlemen in their ranks than any of the Highland clans,
endeavoured, with unavailing heroism, to cover the tumultuary retreat
of the common file. Their resolution only proved fatal to themselves,
as they were charged again and again by fresh adversaries, and forced to
separate from each other, until at length their aim seemed only to be to
purchase an honourable death by resisting to the very last.
"Good quarter, Sir Duncan," called out Major Dalgetty, when he
discovered his late host, with one or two others, defending himself
against several Highlanders; and, to enforce his offer, he rode up to
him with his sword uplifted. Sir Duncan's reply was the discharge of a
reserved pistol, which took effect not on the person of the rider, but
on that of his gallant horse, which, shot through the heart, fell dead
under him. Ranald MacEagh, who was one of those who had been pressing
Sir Duncan hard, took the opportunity to cut him down with his
broadsword, as he turned from him in the act of firing the pistol.
Allan M'Aulay came up at this moment. They were, excepting Ranald,
followers of his brother who were engaged on that part of the field,
"Villains!" he said, "which of you has dared to do this, when it was my
positive order that the Knight of Ardenvohr should be taken alive?"
Half-a-dozen of busy hands, which were emulously employed in plundering
the fallen knight, whose arms and accoutrements were of a magnificence
befitting his quality, instantly forbore the occupation, and half the
number of voices exculpated themselves, by laying the blame on the
Skyeman, as they called Ranald MacEagh.
"Dog of an Islander!" said Allan, forgetting, in his wrath, their
prophetic brotherhood, "follow the chase, and harm him no farther,
unless you mean to die by my hand." They were at this moment left almost
alone; for Allan's threats had forced his own clan from the spot, and
all around had pressed onwards toward the lake, carrying before them
noise, terror, and confusion, and leaving behind only the dead and
dying. The moment was tempting to MacEagh's vengeful spirit.--"That I
should die by your hand, red as it is with the blood of my kindred,"
said he, answering the threat of Allan in a tone as menacing as his own,
"is not more likely than that you should fall by mine." With that, he
struck at M'Aulay with such unexpected readiness, that he had scarce
time to intercept the blow with his target.
"Villain!" said Allan, in astonishment, "what means this?"
"I am Ranald of the Mist!" answered the Islesman, repeating the blow;
and with that word, they engaged in close and furious conflict. It
seemed to be decreed, that in Allan M'Aulay had arisen the avenger of
his mother's wrongs upon this wild tribe, as was proved by the issue of
the present, as well as of former combats. After exchanging a few blows,
Ranald MacEagh was prostrated by a deep wound on the skull; and M'Aulay,
setting his foot on him, was about to pass the broadsword through his
body, when the point of the weapon was struck up by a third party,
who suddenly interposed. This was no other than Major Dalgetty, who,
stunned by the fall, and encumbered by the dead body of his horse, had
now recovered his legs and his understanding. "Hold up your sword," said
he to M'Aulay, "and prejudice this person no farther, in respect that
he is here in my safeconduct, and in his Excellency's service; and in
regard that no honourable cavalier is at liberty, by the law martial, to
avenge his own private injuries, FLAGRANTE BELLO, MULTO MAJUS FLAGRANTE
"Fool!" said Allan, "stand aside, and dare not to come between the tiger
and his prey!"
But, far from quitting his point, Dalgetty stept across the fallen body
of MacEagh, and gave Allan to understand, that if he called himself
a tiger, he was likely, at present, to find a lion in his path. There
required no more than the gesture and tone of defiance to turn the whole
rage of the military Seer against the person who was opposing the course
of his vengeance, and blows were instantly exchanged without farther
The strife betwixt Allan and MacEagh had been unnoticed by the
stragglers around, for the person of the latter was known to few of
Montrose's followers; but the scuffle betwixt Dalgetty and him, both so
well known, attracted instant attention; and fortunately, among others,
that of Montrose himself, who had come for the purpose of gathering
together his small body of horse, and following the pursuit down
Loch-Eil. Aware of the fatal consequences of dissension in his little
army, he pushed his horse up to the spot, and seeing MacEagh on the
ground, and Dalgetty in the attitude of protecting him against M'Aulay,
his quick apprehension instantly caught the cause of quarrel, and as
instantly devised means to stop it. "For shame," he said, "gentlemen
cavaliers, brawling together in so glorious a field of victory!--Are you
mad? Or are you intoxicated with the glory which you have both this day
"It is not my fault, so please your Excellency," said Dalgetty. "I
have been known a BONUS SOCIUS, A BON CAMARADO, in all the services of
Europe; but he that touches a man under my safeguard--"
"And he," said Allan, speaking at the same time, "who dares to bar the
course of my just vengeance--"
"For shame, gentlemen!" again repeated Montrose; "I have other business
for you both,--business of deeper importance than any private quarrel,
which you may easily find a more fitting time to settle. For you, Major
Dalgetty, kneel down."
"Kneel!" said Dalgetty; "I have not learned to obey that word of
command, saving when it is given from the pulpit. In the Swedish
discipline, the front rank do indeed kneel, but only when the regiment
is drawn up six file deep."
"Nevertheless," repeated Montrose,--"kneel down, in the name of King
Charles and of his representative."
When Dalgetty reluctantly obeyed, Montrose struck him lightly on the
neck with the flat of his sword, saying,--"In reward of the gallant
service of this day, and in the name and authority of our Sovereign,
King Charles, I dub thee knight; be brave, loyal, and fortunate. And
now, Sir Dugald Dalgetty, to your duty. Collect what horsemen you can,
and pursue such of the enemy as are flying down the side of the lake. Do
not disperse your force, nor venture too far; but take heed to prevent
their rallying, which very little exertion may do. Mount, then, Sir
Dugald, and do your duty."
"But what shall I mount?" said the new-made chevalier. "Poor Gustavus
sleeps in the bed of honour, like his immortal namesake! and I am made a
knight, a rider, as the High Dutch have it, just when I have not a horse
left to ride upon." [In German, as in Latin, the original meaning of the
word Ritter, corresponding to Eques, is merely a horseman.]
"That shall not be said," answered Montrose, dismounting; "I make you a
present of my own, which has been thought a good one; only, I pray you,
resume the duty you discharge so well."
With many acknowledgments, Sir Dugald mounted the steed so liberally
bestowed upon him; and only beseeching his Excellency to remember that
MacEagh was under his safe-conduct, immediately began to execute the
orders assigned to him, with great zeal and alacrity.
"And you, Allan M'Aulay," said Montrose, addressing the Highlander, who,
leaning his sword-point on the ground, had regarded the ceremony of his
antagonist's knighthood with a sneer of sullen scorn,--"you, who are
superior to the ordinary men led by the paltry motives of plunder, and
pay, and personal distinction,--you, whose deep knowledge renders you so
valuable a counsellor,--is it YOU whom I find striving with a man like
Dalgetty, for the privilege of trampling the remains of life out of so
contemptible an enemy as lies there? Come, my friend, I have other work
for you. This victory, skilfully improved, shall win Seaforth to our
party. It is not disloyalty, but despair of the good cause, that has
induced him to take arms against us. These arms, in this moment of
better augury, he may be brought to unite with ours. I shall send my
gallant friend, Colonel Hay, to him, from this very field of battle,
but he must be united in commission with a Highland gentleman of rank,
befitting that of Seaforth, and of talents and of influence such as
may make an impression upon him. You are not only in every respect
the fittest for this most important mission, but, having no immediate
command, your presence may be more easily spared than that of a Chief
whose following is in the field. You know every pass and glen in
the Highlands, as well as the manners and customs of every tribe. Go
therefore to Hay, on the right wing; he has instructions, and expects
you. You will find him with Glenmorrison's men; be his guide, his
interpreter, and his colleague."
Allan M'Aulay bent on the Marquis a dark and penetrating glance, as
if to ascertain whether this sudden mission was not conferred for some
latent and unexplained purpose. But Montrose, skilful in searching
the motives of others, was an equal adept in concealing his own. He
considered it as of the last consequence, in this moment of enthusiasm
and exalted passion, to remove Allan from the camp for a few days, that
he might provide, as his honour required, for the safety of those
who had acted as his guides, when he trusted the Seer's quarrel with
Dalgetty might be easily made up. Allan, at parting, only recommended
to the Marquis the care of Sir Duncan Campbell, whom Montrose instantly
directed to be conveyed to a place of safety. He took the same
precaution for MacEagh, committing the latter, however, to a party of
the Irish, with directions that he should be taken care of, but that no
Highlander, of any clan, should have access to him.
The Marquis then mounted a led horse, which was held by one of his
attendants, and rode on to view the scene of his victory, which was more
decisive than even his ardent hopes had anticipated. Of Argyle's gallant
army of three thousand men, fully one-half fell in the battle, or in the
flight. They had been chiefly driven back upon that part of the plain
where the river forms an angle with the lake, so that there was no free
opening either for retreat or escape. Several hundreds were forced
into the lake and drowned. Of the survivors, about one-half escaped by
swimming the river, or by an early flight along the left bank of the
lake. The remainder threw themselves into the old Castle of Inverlochy;
but being without either provisions or hopes of relief, they were
obliged to surrender, on condition of being suffered to return to their
homes in peace. Arms, ammunition, standards, and baggage, all became the
prey of the conquerors.
This was the greatest disaster that ever befell the race of Diarmid, as
the Campbells were called in the Highlands; it being generally remarked
that they were as fortunate in the issue of their undertakings, as they
were sagacious in planning, and courageous in executing them. Of the
number slain, nearly five hundred were dunniwassels, or gentlemen
claiming descent from known and respected houses. And, in the opinion
of many of the clan, even this heavy loss was exceeded by the disgrace
arising from the inglorious conduct of their Chief, whose galley weighed
anchor when the day was lost, and sailed down the lake with all the
speed to which sails and oars could impel her.
Faint the din of battle bray'd,
Distant down the hollow wind;
War and terror fled before,
Wounds and death remain'd behind.--PENROSE.
Montrose's splendid success over his powerful rival was not attained
without some loss, though not amounting to the tenth of what he
inflicted. The obstinate valour of the Campbells cost the lives of many
brave men of the opposite party; and more were wounded, the Chief of
whom was the brave young Earl of Menteith, who had commanded the centre.
He was but slightly touched, however, and made rather a graceful than
a terrible appearance when he presented to his general the standard of
Argyle, which he had taken from the standard-bearer with his own hand,
and slain him in single combat. Montrose dearly loved his noble kinsman,
in whom there was conspicuous a flash of the generous, romantic,
disinterested chivalry of the old heroic times, entirely different from
the sordid, calculating, and selfish character, which the practice of
entertaining mercenary troops had introduced into most parts of Europe,
and of which degeneracy Scotland, which furnished soldiers of fortune
for the service of almost every nation, had been contaminated with a
more than usual share. Montrose, whose native spirit was congenial,
although experience had taught him how to avail himself of the motives
of others, used to Menteith neither the language of praise nor of
promise, but clasped him to his bosom as he exclaimed, "My gallant
kinsman!" And by this burst of heartfelt applause was Menteith thrilled
with a warmer glow of delight, than if his praises had been recorded in
a report of the action sent directly to the throne of his sovereign.
"Nothing," he said, "my lord, now seems to remain in which I can render
any assistance; permit me to look after a duty of humanity--the Knight
of Ardenvohr, as I am told, is our prisoner, and severely wounded."
"And well he deserves to be so," said Sir Dugald Dalgetty, who came
up to them at that moment with a prodigious addition of acquired
importance, "since he shot my good horse at the time that I was offering
him honourable quarter, which, I must needs say, was done more like an
ignorant Highland cateran, who has not sense enough to erect a sconce
for the protection of his old hurley-house of a castle, than like a
soldier of worth and quality."
"Are we to condole with you then," said Lord Menteith, "upon the loss of
the famed Gustavus?"
"Even so, my lord," answered the soldier, with a deep sigh, "DIEM
CLAUSIT SUPREMUM, as we said at the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen.
Better so than be smothered like a cadger's pony in some flow-moss,
or snow-wreath, which was like to be his fate if this winter campaign
lasted longer. But it has pleased his Excellency" (making an inclination
to Montrose) "to supply his place by the gift of a noble steed, whom
I have taken the freedom to name 'LOYALTY'S REWARD,' in memory of this
"I hope," said the Marquis, "you'll find Loyalty's Reward, since you
call him so, practised in all the duties of the field,--but I must just
hint to you, that at this time, in Scotland, loyalty is more frequently
rewarded with a halter than with a horse."
"Ahem! your Excellency is pleased to be facetious. Loyalty's Reward is
as perfect as Gustavus in all his exercises, and of a far finer figure.
Marry! his social qualities are less cultivated, in respect he has kept
till now inferior company."
"Not meaning his Excellency the General, I hope," said Lord Menteith.
"For shame, Sir Dugald!"
"My lord," answered the knight gravely, "I am incapable to mean anything
so utterly unbecoming. What I asseverate is, that his Excellency, having
the same intercourse with his horse during his exercise, that he hath
with his soldiers when training them, may form and break either to every
feat of war which he chooses to practise, and accordingly that this
noble charger is admirably managed. But as it is the intercourse of
private life that formeth the social character, so I do not apprehend
that of the single soldier to be much polished by the conversation of
the corporal or the sergeant, or that of Loyalty's Reward to have been
much dulcified, or ameliorated, by the society of his Excellency's
grooms, who bestow more oaths, and kicks, and thumps, than kindness or
caresses, upon the animals intrusted to their charge; whereby many a
generous quadruped, rendered as it were misanthropic, manifests during
the rest of his life a greater desire to kick and bite his master, than
to love and to honour him."
"Spoken like an oracle," said Montrose. "Were there an academy for the
education of horses to be annexed to the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen,
Sir Dugald Dalgetty alone should fill the chair."
"Because, being an ass," said Menteith, aside to the General, "there
would be some distant relation between the professor and the students."
"And now, with your Excellency's permission," said the new-made knight,
"I am going to pay my last visit to the remains of my old companion in
"Not with the purpose of going through the ceremonial of interment?"
said the Marquis, who did not know how far Sir Dugald's enthusiasm might
lead him; "consider our brave fellows themselves will have but a hasty
"Your Excellency will pardon me," said Dalgetty; "my purpose is less
romantic. I go to divide poor Gustavus's legacy with the fowls of
heaven, leaving the flesh to them, and reserving to myself his hide;
which, in token of affectionate remembrance, I purpose to form into
a cassock and trowsers, after the Tartar fashion, to be worn under my
armour, in respect my nether garments are at present shamefully the
worse of the wear.--Alas! poor Gustavus, why didst thou not live at
least one hour more, to have borne the honoured weight of knighthood
upon thy loins!"
He was now turning away, when the Marquis called after him,--"As you
are not likely to be anticipated in this act of kindness, Sir Dugald,
to your old friend and companion, I trust," said the Marquis, "you will
first assist me, and our principal friends, to discuss some of Argyle's
good cheer, of which we have found abundance in the Castle."
"Most willingly, please your Excellency," said Sir Dugald; "as meat
and mass never hinder work. Nor, indeed, am I afraid that the wolves or
eagles will begin an onslaught on Gustavus to-night, in regard there is
so much better cheer lying all around. But," added he, "as I am to meet
two honourable knights of England, with others of the knightly degree in
your lordship's army, I pray it may be explained to them, that now, and
in future, I claim precedence over them all, in respect of my rank as a
Banneret, dubbed in a field of stricken battle."
"The devil confound him!" said Montrose, speaking aside; "he has
contrived to set the kiln on fire as fast as I put it out.--'This is
a point, Sir Dugald," said he, gravely addressing him, "which I shall
reserve for his Majesty's express consideration; in my camp, all must
be upon equality, like the Knights of the Round Table; and take their
places as soldiers should, upon the principle of,--first come, first
"Then I shall take care," said Menteith, apart to the Marquis, "that Don
Dugald is not first in place to-day.--Sir Dugald," added he, raising his
voice, "as you say your wardrobe is out of repair, had you not better go
to the enemy's baggage yonder, over which there is a guard placed? I saw
them take out an excellent buff suit, embroidered in front in silk and
"VOTO A DIOS! as the Spaniard says," exclaimed the Major, "and some
beggarly gilly may get it while I stand prating here!"
The prospect of booty having at once driven out of his head both
Gustavus and the provant, he set spurs to Loyalty's Reward, and rode off
through the field of battle.
"There goes the hound," said Menteith, "breaking the face, and trampling
on the body, of many a better man than himself; and as eager on his
sordid spoil as a vulture that stoops upon carrion. Yet this man the
world calls a soldier--and you, my lord, select him as worthy of the
honours of chivalry, if such they can at this day be termed. You have
made the collar of knighthood the decoration of a mere bloodhound."
"What could I do?" said Montrose. "I had no half-picked bones to give
him, and bribed in some manner he must be,--I cannot follow the chase
alone. Besides, the dog has good qualities."
"If nature has given him such," said Menteith, "habit has converted them
into feelings of intense selfishness. He may be punctilious concerning
his reputation, and brave in the execution of his duty, but it is only
because without these qualities he cannot rise in the service;--nay, his
very benevolence is selfish; he may defend his companion while he can
keep his feet, but the instant he is down, Sir Dugald will be as ready
to ease him of his purse, as he is to convert the skin of Gustavus into
a buff jerkin."
"And yet, if all this were true, cousin," answered Montrose, "there is
something convenient in commanding a soldier, upon whose motives and
springs of action you can calculate to a mathematical certainty. A fine
spirit like yours, my cousin, alive to a thousand sensations to which
this man's is as impervious as his corslet,--it is for such that thy
friend must feel, while he gives his advice." Then, suddenly changing
his tone, he asked Menteith when he had seen Annot Lyle.
The young Earl coloured deeply, and answered, "Not since last
evening,--excepting," he added, with hesitation, "for one moment, about
half an hour before the battle began."
"My dear Menteith," said Montrose, very kindly, "were you one of the gay
cavaliers of Whitehall, who are, in their way, as great self-seekers
as our friend Dalgetty, should I need to plague you with enquiring into
such an amourette as this? it would be an intrigue only to be laughed
at. But this is the land of enchantment, where nets strong as steel are
wrought out of ladies' tresses, and you are exactly the destined knight
to be so fettered. This poor girl is exquisitely beautiful, and has
talents formed to captivate your romantic temper. You cannot think of
injuring her--you cannot think of marrying her?"
"My lord," replied Menteith, "you have repeatedly urged this jest, for
so I trust it is meant, somewhat beyond bounds. Annot Lyle is of unknown
birth,--a captive,--the daughter, probably, of some obscure outlaw; a
dependant on the hospitality of the M'Aulays."
"Do not be angry, Menteith," said the Marquis, interrupting him; "you
love the classics, though not educated at Mareschal-College; and you may
remember how many gallant hearts captive beauty has subdued:--
Movit Ajacem, Telamone natum,
Forma captivae dominum Tecmessae.
In a word, I am seriously anxious about this--I should not have time,
perhaps," he added very gravely, "to trouble you with my lectures on the
subject, were your feelings, and those of Annot, alone interested; but
you have a dangerous rival in Allan M'Aulay; and there is no knowing to
what extent he may carry his resentment. It is my duty to tell you that
the King's service may be much prejudiced by dissensions betwixt you."
"My lord," said Menteith, "I know what you mean is kind and friendly; I
hope you will be satisfied when I assure you, that Allan M'Aulay and I
have discussed this circumstance; and that I have explained to him, that
it is utterly remote from my character to entertain dishonourable views
concerning this unprotected female; so, on the other hand, the obscurity
of her birth prevents my thinking of her upon other terms. I will
not disguise from your lordship, what I have not disguised from
M'Aulay,--that if Annot Lyle were born a lady, she should share my name
and rank; as matters stand, it is impossible. This explanation, I
trust, will satisfy your lordship, as it has satisfied a less reasonable
Montrose shrugged his shoulders. "And, like true champions in romance,"
he said, "you have agreed, that you are both to worship the same
mistress, as idolaters do the same image, and that neither shall extend
his pretensions farther?"
"I did not go so far, my lord," answered Menteith--"I only said in
the present circumstances--and there is no prospect of their being
changed,--I could, in duty to myself and family, stand in no relation
to Annot Lyle, but as that of friend or brother--But your lordship must
excuse me; I have," said he, looking at his arm, round which he had tied
his handkerchief, "a slight hurt to attend to."
"A wound?" said Montrose, anxiously; "let me see it.--Alas!" he said, "I
should have heard nothing of this, had I not ventured to tent and sound
another more secret and more rankling one, Menteith; I am sorry for
you--I too have known--But what avails it to awake sorrows which have
So saying, he shook hands with his noble kinsman, and walked into the
Annot Lyle, as was not unusual for females in the Highlands, was
possessed of a slight degree of medical and even surgical skill. It may
readily be believed, that the profession of surgery, or medicine, as a
separate art, was unknown; and the few rude rules which they observed
were intrusted to women, or to the aged, whom constant casualties
afforded too much opportunity of acquiring experience. The care and
attention, accordingly, of Annot Lyle, her attendants, and others acting
under her direction, had made her services extremely useful during this
wild campaign. And most readily had these services been rendered to
friend and foe, wherever they could be most useful. She was now in an
apartment of the castle, anxiously superintending the preparation of
vulnerary herbs, to be applied to the wounded; receiving reports from
different females respecting those under their separate charge, and
distributing what means she had for their relief, when Allan M'Aulay
suddenly entered the apartment. She started, for she had heard that he
had left the camp upon a distant mission; and, however accustomed she
was to the gloom of his countenance, it seemed at present to have even
a darker shade than usual. He stood before her perfectly silent, and she
felt the necessity of being the first to speak.
"I thought," she said, with some effort, "you had already set out."
"My companion awaits me," said Allan; "I go instantly." Yet still he
stood before her, and held her by the arm, with a pressure which, though
insufficient to give her pain, made her sensible of his great personal
strength, his hand closing on her like the gripe of a manacle.
"Shall I take the harp?" she said, in a timid voice; "is--is the shadow
falling upon you?"
Instead of replying, he led her to the window of the apartment, which
commanded a view of the field of the slain, with all its horrors. It was
thick spread with dead and wounded, and the spoilers were busy tearing
the clothes from the victims of war and feudal ambition, with as much
indifference as if they had not been of the same species, and themselves
exposed, perhaps to-morrow, to the same fate.
"Does the sight please you?" said M'Aulay.
"It is hideous!" said Annot, covering her eyes with her hands; "how can
you bid me look upon it?"
"You must be inured to it," said he, "if you remain with this destined
host--you will soon have to search such a field for my brother's
corpse--for Menteith's--for mine---but that will be a more indifferent
task--You do not love me!"
"This is the first time you have taxed me with unkindness," said Annot,
weeping. "You are my brother--my preserver--my protector--and can I then
BUT love you?--But your hour of darkness is approaching, let me fetch my
"Remain," said Allan, still holding her fast; "be my visions from heaven
or hell, or from the middle sphere of disembodied spirits--or be they,
as the Saxons hold, but the delusions of an over-heated fancy, they
do not now influence me; I speak the language of the natural, of the
visible world.--You love not me, Annot--you love Menteith--by him you
are beloved again, and Allan is no more to you than one of the corpses
which encumber yonder heath."
It cannot be supposed that this strange speech conveyed any new
information to her who was thus addressed. No woman ever lived who could
not, in the same circumstances, have discerned long since the state of
her lover's mind. But by thus suddenly tearing off the veil, thin as it
was, Allan prepared her to expect consequences violent in proportion to
the enthusiasm of his character. She made an effort to repel the charge
he had stated.
"You forget," she said, "your own worth and nobleness when you insult so
very helpless a being, and one whom fate has thrown so totally into
your power. You know who and what I am, and how impossible it is that
Menteith or you can use language of affection to me, beyond that of
friendship. You know from what unhappy race I have too probably derived
"I will not believe it," said Allan, impetuously; "never flowed crystal
drop from a polluted spring."
"Yet the very doubt," pleaded Annot, "should make you forbear to use
this language to me."
"I know," said M'Aulay, "it places a bar between us--but I know also
that it divides you not so inseparably from Menteith.--Hear me, my
beloved Annot!--leave this scene of terrors and danger--go with me to
Kintail--I will place you in the house of the noble Lady of Seaforth--or
you shall be removed in safety to Icolmkill, where some women yet devote
themselves to the worship of God, after the custom of our ancestors."
"You consider not what you ask of me," replied Annot; "to undertake such
a journey under your sole guardianship, were to show me less scrupulous
than maiden ought. I will remain here, Allan--here under the protection
of the noble Montrose; and when his motions next approach the Lowlands,
I will contrive some proper means to relieve you of one, who has, she
knows not how, become an object of dislike to you."
Allan stood as if uncertain whether to give way to sympathy with her
distress, or to anger at her resistance.
"Annot," he said, "you know too well how little your words apply to
my feelings towards you--but you avail yourself of your power, and you
rejoice in my departure, as removing a spy upon your intercourse with
Menteith. But beware both of you," he added, in a stern tone; "for when
was it ever heard that an injury was offered to Allan M'Aulay, for which
he exacted not tenfold vengeance?"
So saying, he pressed her arm forcibly, pulled the bonnet over his
brows, and strode out of the apartment.
--After you're gone,
I grew acquainted with my heart, and search'd,
What stirr'd it so.--Alas! I found it love.
Yet far from lust, for could I but have lived
In presence of you, I had had my end.--PHILASTER.
Annot Lyle had now to contemplate the terrible gulf which Allan
M'Aulay's declaration of love and jealousy had made to open around her.
It seemed as if she was tottering on the very brink of destruction, and
was at once deprived of every refuge, and of all human assistance. She
had long been conscious that she loved Menteith dearer than a brother;
indeed, how could it be otherwise, considering their early intimacy, the
personal merit of the young nobleman, his assiduous attentions,--and his
infinite superiority in gentleness of disposition, and grace of manners,
over the race of rude warriors with whom she lived? But her affection
was of that quiet, timid, meditative character, which sought rather a
reflected share in the happiness of the beloved object, than formed
more presumptuous or daring hopes. A little Gaelic song, in which she
expressed her feelings, has been translated by the ingenious and unhappy
Andrew M'Donald; and we willingly transcribe the lines:--
Wert thou, like me, in life's low vale,
With thee how blest, that lot I'd share;
With thee I'd fly wherever gale
Could waft, or bounding galley bear.
But parted by severe decree,
Far different must our fortunes prove;
May thine be joy--enough for me
To weep and pray for him I love.
The pangs this foolish heart must feel,
When hope shall be forever flown,
No sullen murmur shall reveal,
No selfish murmurs ever own.
Nor will I through life's weary years,
Like a pale drooping mourner move,
While I can think my secret tears
May wound the heart of him I love.
The furious declaration of Allan had destroyed the romantic plan which
she had formed, of nursing in secret her pensive tenderness, without
seeking any other requital. Long before this, she had dreaded Allan, as
much as gratitude, and a sense that he softened towards her a temper so
haughty and so violent, could permit her to do; but now she regarded him
with unalloyed terror, which a perfect knowledge of his disposition, and
of his preceding history, too well authorised her to entertain. Whatever
was in other respects the nobleness of his disposition, he had never
been known to resist the wilfulness of passion,--he walked in the house,
and in the country of his fathers, like a tamed lion, whom no one dared
to contradict, lest they should awaken his natural vehemence of passion.
So many years had elapsed since he had experienced contradiction, or
even expostulation, that probably nothing but the strong good sense,
which, on all points, his mysticism excepted, formed the ground of his
character, prevented his proving an annoyance and terror to the whole
neighbourhood. But Annot had no time to dwell upon her fears, being
interrupted by the entrance of Sir Dugald Dalgetty.
It may well be supposed, that the scenes in which this person had passed
his former life, had not much qualified him to shine in female society.
He himself felt a sort of consciousness that the language of the
barrack, guard-room, and parade, was not proper to entertain ladies.
The only peaceful part of his life had been spent at Mareschal-College,
Aberdeen; and he had forgot the little he had learned there, except the
arts of darning his own hose, and dispatching his commons with unusual
celerity, both which had since been kept in good exercise by the
necessity of frequent practice. Still it was from an imperfect
recollection of what he had acquired during this pacific period, that
he drew his sources of conversation when in company with women; in other
words, his language became pedantic when it ceased to be military.
"Mistress Annot Lyle," said he, upon the present occasion, "I am just
now like the half-pike, or spontoon of Achilles, one end of which could
wound and the other cure--a property belonging neither to Spanish pike,
brown-bill, partizan, halberd, Lochaber-axe, or indeed any other modern
staff-weapon whatever." This compliment he repeated twice; but as Annot
scarce heard him the first time, and did not comprehend him the second,
he was obliged to explain.
"I mean," he said, "Mistress Annot Lyle, that having been the means
of an honourable knight receiving a severe wound in this day's
conflict,--he having pistolled, somewhat against the law of arms, my
horse, which was named after the immortal King of Sweden,--I am desirous
of procuring him such solacement as you, madam, can supply, you being
like the heathen god Esculapius" (meaning possibly Apollo), "skilful
not only in song and in music, but in the more noble art of
chirurgery-OPIFERQUE PER ORBEM DICOR."
"If you would have the goodness to explain," said Annot, too sick at
heart to be amused by Sir Dugald's airs of pedantic gallantry.
"That, madam," replied the Knight, "may not be so easy, as I am out
of the habit of construing--but we shall try. DICOR, supply EGO--I
am called,--OPIFER? OPIFER?--I remember SIGNIFER and FURCIFER--but
I believe OPIFER stands in this place for M.D., that is, Doctor of
"This is a busy day with us all," said Annot; "will you say at once what
you want with me?"
"Merely," replied Sir Dugald, "that you will visit my brother knight,
and let your maiden bring some medicaments for his wound, which
threatens to be what the learned call a DAMNUM FATALE."
Annot Lyle never lingered in the cause of humanity. She informed herself
hastily of the nature of the injury, and interesting herself for the
dignified old Chief whom she had seen at Darnlinvarach, and whose
presence had so much struck her, she hastened to lose the sense of her
own sorrow for a time, in the attempt to be useful to another.
Sir Dugald with great form ushered Annot Lyle to the chamber of her
patient, in which, to her surprise, she found Lord Menteith. She could
not help blushing deeply at the meeting, but, to hide her confusion,
proceeded instantly to examine the wound of the Knight of Ardenvohr, and
easily satisfied herself that it was beyond her skill to cure it. As
for Sir Dugald, he returned to a large outhouse, on the floor of which,
among other wounded men, was deposited the person of Ranald of the Mist.
"Mine old friend," said the Knight, "as I told you before, I would
willingly do anything to pleasure you, in return for the wound you have
received while under my safe-conduct. I have, therefore, according to
your earnest request, sent Mrs. Annot Lyle to attend upon the wound of
the knight of Ardenvohr, though wherein her doing so should benefit you,
I cannot imagine.--I think you once spoke of some blood relationship
between them; but a soldado, in command and charge like me, has other
things to trouble his head with than Highland genealogies."
And indeed, to do the worthy Major justice, he never enquired after,
listened to, or recollected, the business of other people, unless it
either related to the art military, or was somehow or other connected
with his own interest, in either of which cases his memory was very
"And now, my good friend of the Mist," said he, "can you tell me what
has become of your hopeful grandson, as I have not seen him since he
assisted me to disarm after the action, a negligence which deserveth the
"He is not far from hence," said the wounded outlaw--"lift not your hand
upon him, for he is man enough to pay a yard of leathern scourge with a
foot of tempered steel."
"A most improper vaunt," said Sir Dugald; "but I owe you some favours,
Ranald, and therefore shall let it pass."
"And if you think you owe me anything," said the outlaw, "it is in your
power to requite me by granting me a boon."
"Friend Ranald," answered Dalgetty, "I have read of these boons in silly
story-books, whereby simple knights were drawn into engagements to their
great prejudice; wherefore, Ranald, the more prudent knights of this
day never promise anything until they know that they may keep their
word anent the premises, without any displeasure or incommodement to
themselves. It may be, you would have me engage the female chirurgeon
to visit your wound; though you ought to consider, Ranald, that the
uncleanness of the place where you are deposited may somewhat soil the
gaiety of her garments, concerning the preservation of which, you may
have observed, women are apt to be inordinately solicitous. I lost the
favour of the lady of the Grand Pensionary of Amsterdam, by touching
with the sole of my boot the train of her black velvet gown, which
I mistook for a foot-cloth, it being half the room distant from her
"It is not to bring Annot Lyle hither," answered MacEagh, "but to
transport me into the room where she is in attendance upon the Knight of
Ardenvohr. Somewhat I have to say of the last consequence to them both."
"It is something out of the order of due precedence," said Dalgetty, "to
carry a wounded outlaw into the presence of a knight; knighthood having
been of yore, and being, in some respects, still, the highest military
grade, independent always of commissioned officers, who rank according
to their patents; nevertheless, as your boon, as you call it, is so
slight, I shall not deny compliance with the same." So saying, he
ordered three files of men to transport MacEagh on their shoulders
to Sir Duncan Campbell's apartment, and he himself hastened before
to announce the cause of his being brought thither. But such was the
activity of the soldiers employed, that they followed him close at the
heels, and, entering with their ghastly burden, laid MacEagh on the
floor of the apartment. His features, naturally wild, were now distorted
by pain; his hands and scanty garments stained with his own blood, and
those of others, which no kind hand had wiped away, although the wound
in his side had been secured by a bandage.
"Are you," he said, raising his head painfully towards the couch where
lay stretched his late antagonist, "he whom men call the Knight of
"The same," answered Sir Duncan,--"what would you with one whose hours
are now numbered?"
"My hours are reduced to minutes," said the outlaw; "the more grace, if
I bestow them in the service of one, whose hand has ever been against
me, as mine has been raised higher against him."
"Thine higher against me!--Crushed worm!" said the Knight, looking down
on his miserable adversary.
"Yes," answered the outlaw, in a firm voice, "my arm hath been highest.
In the deadly contest betwixt us, the wounds I have dealt have been
deepest, though thine have neither been idle nor unfelt.--I am Ranald
MacEagh--I am Ranald of the Mist--the night that I gave thy castle to
the winds in one huge blaze of fire, is now matched with the day in
which you have fallen under the sword of my fathers.--Remember the
injuries thou hast done our tribe--never were such inflicted, save
by one, beside thee. HE, they say, is fated and secure against our
vengeance--a short time will show."
"My Lord Menteith," said Sir Duncan, raising himself out of his bed,
"this is a proclaimed villain, at once the enemy of King and Parliament,
of God and man--one of the outlawed banditti of the Mist; alike the
enemy of your house, of the M'Aulays, and of mine. I trust you will
not suffer moments, which are perhaps my last, to be embittered by his
"He shall have the treatment he merits," said Menteith; "let him be
Sir Dugald here interposed, and spoke of Ranald's services as a guide,
and his own pledge for his safety; but the high harsh tones of the
outlaw drowned his voice.
"No," said he, "be rack and gibbet the word! let me wither between
heaven and earth, and gorge the hawks and eagles of Ben-Nevis; and so
shall this haughty Knight, and this triumphant Thane, never learn the
secret I alone can impart; a secret which would make Ardenvohr's
heart leap with joy, were he in the death agony, and which the Earl of
Menteith would purchase at the price of his broad earldom.--Come hither,
Annot Lyle," he said, raising himself with unexpected strength; "fear
not the sight of him to whom thou hast clung in infancy. Tell these
proud men, who disdain thee as the issue of mine ancient race, that thou
art no blood of ours,--no daughter of the race of the Mist, but born in
halls as lordly, and cradled on couch as soft, as ever soothed infancy
in their proudest palaces."
"In the name of God," said Menteith, trembling with emotion, "if you
know aught of the birth of this lady, do thy conscience the justice to
disburden it of the secret before departing from this world!"
"And bless my enemies with my dying breath?" said MacEagh, looking at
him malignantly.--"Such are the maxims your priests preach--but when,
or towards whom, do you practise them? Let me know first the worth of my
secret ere I part with it--What would you give, Knight of Ardenvohr, to
know that your superstitious fasts have been vain, and that there still
remains a descendant of your house?--I pause for an answer--without it,
I speak not one word more.
"I could," said Sir Duncan, his voice struggling between the emotions of
doubt, hatred, and anxiety--"I could--but that I know thy race are like
the Great Enemy, liars and murderers from the beginning--but could it be
true thou tellest me, I could almost forgive thee the injuries thou hast
"Hear it!" said Ranald; "he hath wagered deeply for a son of
Diarmid--And you, gentle Thane--the report of the camp says, that you
would purchase with life and lands the tidings that Annot Lyle was no
daughter of proscription, but of a race noble in your estimation as your
own--Well--It is for no love I tell you--The time has been that I would
have exchanged this secret against liberty; I am now bartering it for
what is dearer than liberty or life.--Annot Lyle is the youngest, the
sole surviving child of the Knight of Ardenvohr, who alone was saved
when all in his halls besides was given to blood and ashes."
"Can this man speak truth?" said Annot Lyle, scarce knowing what she
said; "or is this some strange delusion?"
"Maiden," replied Ranald, "hadst thou dwelt longer with us, thou wouldst
have better learnt to know how to distinguish the accents of truth.
To that Saxon lord, and to the Knight of Ardenvohr, I will yield such
proofs of what I have spoken, that incredulity shall stand convinced.
Meantime, withdraw--I loved thine infancy, I hate not thy youth--no eye
hates the rose in its blossom, though it groweth upon a thorn, and for
thee only do I something regret what is soon to follow. But he that
would avenge him of his foe must not reck though the guiltless be
engaged in the ruin."
"He advises well, Annot," said Lord Menteith; "in God's name retire!
if--if there be aught in this, your meeting with Sir Duncan must be more
prepared for both your sakes."
"I will not part from my father, if I have found one!" said Annot--"I
will not part from him under circumstances so terrible."
"And a father you shall ever find in me," murmured Sir Duncan.
"Then," said Menteith, "I will have MacEagh removed into an adjacent
apartment, and will collect the evidence of his tale myself. Sir Dugald
Dalgetty will give me his attendance and assistance."
"With pleasure, my lord," answered Sir Dugald.--"I will be your
confessor, or assessor--either or both. No one can be so fit, for I had
heard the whole story a month ago at Inverary castle--but onslaughts
like that of Ardenvohr confuse each other in my memory, which is besides
occupied with matters of more importance."
Upon hearing this frank declaration, which was made as they left the
apartment with the wounded man, Lord Menteith darted upon Dalgetty a
look of extreme anger and disdain, to which the self-conceit of the
worthy commander rendered him totally insensible.
I am as free as nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began,
When wild in woods the noble savage ran.
--CONQUEST OF GRANADA
The Earl of Menteith, as he had undertaken, so he proceeded to
investigate more closely the story told by Ranald of the Mist, which was
corroborated by the examination of his two followers, who had assisted
in the capacity of guides. These declarations he carefully compared with
such circumstances concerning the destruction of his castle and family
as Sir Duncan Campbell was able to supply; and it may be supposed he had
forgotten nothing relating to an event of such terrific importance. It
was of the last consequence to prove that this was no invention of
the outlaw's, for the purpose of passing an impostor as the child and
heiress of Ardenvohr.
Perhaps Menteith, so much interested in believing the tale, was not
altogether the fittest person to be intrusted with the investigation of
its truth; but the examinations of the Children of the Mist were simple,
accurate, and in all respects consistent with each other. A personal
mark was referred to, which was known to have been borne by the infant
child of Sir Duncan, and which appeared upon the left shoulder of Annot
Lyle. It was also well remembered, that when the miserable relics of the
other children had been collected, those of the infant had nowhere
been found. Other circumstances of evidence, which it is unnecessary to
quote, brought the fullest conviction not only to Menteith, but to the
unprejudiced mind of Montrose, that in Annot Lyle, an humble dependant,
distinguished only by beauty and talent, they were in future to respect
the heiress of Ardenvohr.
While Menteith hastened to communicate the result of these enquiries
to the persons most interested, the outlaw demanded to speak with his
grandchild, whom he usually called his son. "He would be found," he
said, "in the outer apartment, in which he himself had been originally
Accordingly, the young savage, after a close search, was found lurking
in a corner, coiled up among some rotten straw, and brought to his
"Kenneth," said the old outlaw, "hear the last words of the sire of
thy father. A Saxon soldier, and Allan of the Red-hand, left this camp
within these few hours, to travel to the country to Caberfae. Pursue
them as the bloodhound pursues the hurt deer--swim the lake-climb the
mountain--thread the forest--tarry not until you join them;" and then
the countenance of the lad darkened as his grandfather spoke, and he
laid his hand upon a knife which stuck in the thong of leather that
confined his scanty plaid. "No!" said the old man; "it is not by thy
hand he must fall. They will ask the news from the camp--say to them
that Annot Lyle of the Harp is discovered to be the daughter of Duncan
of Ardenvohr; that the Thane of Menteith is to wed her before the
priest; and that you are sent to bid guests to the bridal. Tarry
not their answer, but vanish like the lightning when the black cloud
swallows it.--And now depart, beloved son of my best beloved! I shall
never more see thy face, nor hear the light sound of thy footstep--yet
tarry an instant and hear my last charge. Remember the fate of our race,
and quit not the ancient manners of the Children of the Mist. We are now
a straggling handful, driven from every vale by the sword of every clan,
who rule in the possessions where their forefathers hewed the wood, and
drew the water for ours. But in the thicket of the wilderness, and in
the mist of the mountain, Kenneth, son of Eracht, keep thou unsoiled the
freedom which I leave thee as a birthright. Barter it not neither for
the rich garment, nor for the stone-roof, nor for the covered board, nor
for the couch of down--on the rock or in the valley, in abundance or in
famine--in the leafy summer, and in the days of the iron winter--Son of
the Mist! be free as thy forefathers. Own no lord--receive no law--take
no hire--give no stipend--build no hut--enclose no pasture--sow no
grain;--let the deer of the mountain be thy flocks and herds--if these
fail thee, prey upon the goods of our oppressors--of the Saxons, and of
such Gael as are Saxons in their souls, valuing herds and flocks more
than honour and freedom. Well for us that they do so--it affords the
broader scope for our revenge. Remember those who have done kindness to
our race, and pay their services with thy blood, should the hour require
it. If a MacIan shall come to thee with the head of the king's son
in his hand, shelter him, though the avenging army of the father were
behind him; for in Glencoe and Ardnamurchan, we have dwelt in peace
in the years that have gone by. The sons of Diarmid--the race of
Darnlinvarach--the riders of Menteith--my curse on thy head, Child of
the Mist, if thou spare one of those names, when the time shall offer
for cutting them off! and it will come anon, for their own swords shall
devour each other, and those who are scattered shall fly to the Mist,
and perish by its Children. Once more, begone--shake the dust from thy
feet against the habitations of men, whether banded together for peace
or for war. Farewell, beloved! and mayst thou die like thy
forefathers, ere infirmity, disease, or age, shall break thy
spirit--Begone!--begone!--live free--requite kindness--avenge the
injuries of thy race!"
The young savage stooped, and kissed the brow of his dying parent; but
accustomed from infancy to suppress every exterior sign of emotion,
he parted without tear or adieu, and was soon far beyond the limits of
Sir Dugald Dalgetty, who was present during the latter part of this
scene, was very little edified by the conduct of MacEagh upon the
occasion. "I cannot think, my friend Ranald," said he, "that you are in
the best possible road for a dying man. Storms, onslaughts, massacres,
the burning of suburbs, are indeed a soldier's daily work, and are
justified by the necessity of the case, seeing that they are done in the
course of duty; for burning of suburbs, in particular, it may be said
that they are traitors and cut-throats to all fortified towns. Hence it
is plain, that a soldier is a profession peculiarly favoured by Heaven,
seeing that we may hope for salvation, although we daily commit actions
of so great violence. But then, Ranald, in all services of Europe, it is
the custom of the dying soldier not to vaunt him of such doings, or
to recommend them to his fellows; but, on the contrary, to express
contrition for the same, and to repeat, or have repeated to him, some
comfortable prayer; which, if you please, I will intercede with his
Excellency's chaplain to prefer on your account. It is otherwise no
point of my duty to put you in mind of those things; only it may be for
the ease of your conscience to depart more like a Christian, and less
like a Turk, than you seem to be in a fair way of doing."
The only answer of the dying man--(for as such Ranald MacEagh might now
be considered)--was a request to be raised to such a position that he
might obtain a view from the window of the Castle. The deep frost mist,
which had long settled upon the top of the mountains, was now rolling
down each rugged glen and gully, where the craggy ridges showed their
black and irregular outline, like desert islands rising above the ocean
of vapour. "Spirit of the Mist!" said Ranald MacEagh, "called by our
race our father, and our preserver--receive into thy tabernacle of
clouds, when this pang is over, him whom in life thou hast so often
sheltered." So saying, he sunk back into the arms of those who upheld
him, spoke no further word, but turned his face to the wall for a short
"I believe," said Dalgetty, "my friend Ranald will be found in his heart
to be little better than a heathen." And he renewed his proposal
to procure him the assistance of Dr. Wisheart, Montrose's military
chaplain; "a man," said Sir Dugald, "very clever in his exercise, and
who will do execution on your sins in less time than I could smoke a
pipe of tobacco."
"Saxon," said the dying man, "speak to me no more of thy priest--I die
contented. Hadst thou ever an enemy against whom weapons were of no
avail--whom the ball missed, and against whom the arrow shivered, and
whose bare skin was as impenetrable to sword and dirk as thy steel
garment--Heardst thou ever of such a foe?"
"Very frequently, when I served in Germany," replied Sir Dugald. "There
was such a fellow at Ingolstadt; he was proof both against lead and
steel. The soldiers killed him with the buts of their muskets."
"This impassible foe," said Ranald, without regarding the Major's
interruption, "who has the blood dearest to me upon his hands--to this
man I have now bequeathed agony of mind, jealousy, despair, and sudden
death,--or a life more miserable than death itself. Such shall be the
lot of Allan of the Red-hand, when he learns that Annot weds Menteith
and I ask no more than the certainty that it is so, to sweeten my own
bloody end by his hand."
"If that be the case," said the Major, "there's no more to be said; but
I shall take care as few people see you as possible, for I cannot
think your mode of departure can be at all creditable or exemplary to
a Christian army." So saying, he left the apartment, and the Son of the
Mist soon after breathed his last.
Menteith, in the meanwhile, leaving the new-found relations to their
mutual feelings of mingled emotion, was eagerly discussing with Montrose
the consequences of this discovery. "I should now see," said the
Marquis, "even had I not before observed it, that your interest in
this discovery, my dear Menteith, has no small reference to your own
happiness. You love this new-found lady,--your affection is returned. In
point of birth, no exceptions can be made; in every other respect,
her advantages are equal to those which you yourself possess--think,
however, a moment. Sir Duncan is a fanatic--Presbyterian, at least--in
arms against the King; he is only with us in the quality of a prisoner,
and we are, I fear, but at the commencement of a long civil war. Is this
a time, think you, Menteith, for you to make proposals for his heiress?
Or what chance is there that he will now listen to it?"
Passion, an ingenious, as well as an eloquent advocate, supplied the
young nobleman with a thousand answers to these objections. He reminded
Montrose that the Knight of Ardenvohr was neither a bigot in politics
nor religion. He urged his own known and proved zeal for the royal
cause, and hinted that its influence might be extended and strengthened
by his wedding the heiress of Ardenvohr. He pleaded the dangerous state
of Sir Duncan's wound, the risk which must be run by suffering the young
lady to be carried into the country of the Campbells, where, in case of
her father's death, or continued indisposition, she must necessarily
be placed under the guardianship of Argyle, an event fatal to his
(Menteith's) hopes, unless he could stoop to purchase his favour by
abandoning the King's party.
Montrose allowed the force of these arguments, and owned, although the
matter was attended with difficulty, yet it seemed consistent with the
King's service that it should be concluded as speedily as possible.
"I could wish," said he, "that it were all settled in one way or
another, and that this fair Briseis were removed from our camp before
the return of our Highland Achilles, Allan M'Aulay.--I fear some fatal
feud in that quarter, Menteith--and I believe it would be best that Sir
Duncan be dismissed on his parole, and that you accompany him and his
daughter as his escort. The journey can be made chiefly by water, so
will not greatly incommode his wound--and your own, my friend, will be
an honourable excuse for the absence of some time from my camp."
"Never!" said Menteith. "Were I to forfeit the very hope that has so
lately dawned upon me, never will I leave your Excellency's camp while
the royal standard is displayed. I should deserve that this trifling
scratch should gangrene and consume my sword-arm, were I capable
of holding it as an excuse for absence at this crisis of the King's
"On this, then, you are determined?" said Montrose.
"As fixed as Ben-Nevis," said the young nobleman.
"You must, then," said Montrose, "lose no time in seeking an explanation
with the Knight of Ardenvohr. If this prove favourable, I will talk
myself with the elder M'Aulay, and we will devise means to employ his
brother at a distance from the army until he shall be reconciled to his
present disappointment. Would to God some vision would descend upon his
imagination fair enough to obliterate all traces of Annot Lyle! That
perhaps you think impossible, Menteith?--Well, each to his service; you
to that of Cupid, and I to that of Mars."
They parted, and in pursuance of the scheme arranged, Menteith, early on
the ensuing morning, sought a private interview with the wounded Knight
of Ardenvohr, and communicated to him his suit for the hand of his
daughter. Of their mutual attachment Sir Duncan was aware, but he was
not prepared for so early a declaration on the part of Menteith. He
said, at first, that he had already, perhaps, indulged too much in
feelings of personal happiness, at a time when his clan had sustained
so great a loss and humiliation, and that he was unwilling, therefore,
farther to consider the advancement of his own house at a period so
calamitous. On the more urgent suit of the noble lover, he requested a
few hours to deliberate and consult with his daughter, upon a question
so highly important.
The result of this interview and deliberation was favourable to
Menteith. Sir Duncan Campbell became fully sensible that the happiness
of his new-found daughter depended upon a union with her lover; and
unless such were now formed, he saw that Argyle would throw a thousand
obstacles in the way of a match in every respect acceptable to himself.
Menteith's private character was so excellent, and such was the rank and
consideration due to his fortune and family, that they outbalanced, in
Sir Duncan's opinion, the difference in their political opinions. Nor
could he have resolved, perhaps, had his own opinion of the match been
less favourable, to decline an opportunity of indulging the new-found
child of his hopes. There was, besides, a feeling of pride which
dictated his determination. To produce the Heiress of Ardenvohr to the
world as one who had been educated a poor dependant and musician in the
family of Darnlinvarach, had something in it that was humiliating. To
introduce her as the betrothed bride, or wedded wife, of the Earl of
Menteith, upon an attachment formed during her obscurity, was a warrant
to the world that she had at all times been worthy of the rank to which
she was elevated.
It was under the influence of these considerations that Sir Duncan
Campbell announced to the lovers his consent that they should be married
in the chapel of the Castle, by Montrose's chaplain, and as privately as
possible. But when Montrose should break up from Inverlochy, for which
orders were expected in the course of a very few days, it was agreed
that the young Countess should depart with her father to his Castle, and
remain there until the circumstances of the nation permitted Menteith to
retire with honour from his present military employment. His resolution
being once taken, Sir Duncan Campbell would not permit the maidenly
scruples of his daughter to delay its execution; and it was therefore
resolved that the bridal should take place the next evening, being the
second after the battle.
My maid--my blue-eyed maid, he bore away,
Due to the toils of many a bloody day.--ILLIAD.
It was necessary, for many reasons, that Angus M'Aulay, so long the kind
protector of Annot Lyle, should be made acquainted with the change in
the fortunes of his late protege; and Montrose, as he had undertaken,
communicated to him these remarkable events. With the careless and
cheerful indifference of his character, he expressed much more joy than
wonder at Annot's good fortune; had no doubt whatever she would merit
it, and as she had always been bred in loyal principles, would convey
the whole estate of her grim fanatical father to some honest fellow who
loved the king. "I should have no objection that my brother Allan should
try his chance," added he, "notwithstanding that Sir Duncan Campbell was
the only man who ever charged Darnlinvarach with inhospitality. Annot
Lyle could always charm Allan out of the sullens, and who knows whether
matrimony might not make him more a man of this world?" Montrose
hastened to interrupt the progress of his castle-building, by informing
him that the lady was already wooed and won, and, with her father's
approbation, was almost immediately to be wedded to his kinsman, the
Earl of Menteith; and that in testimony of the high respect due to
M'Aulay, so long the lady's protector, he was now to request his
presence at the ceremony. M'Aulay looked very grave at this intimation,
and drew up his person with the air of one who thought that he had been
"He contrived," he said, "that his uniform kind treatment of the young
lady, while so many years under his roof, required something more upon
such an occasion than a bare compliment of ceremony. He might," he
thought, "without arrogance, have expected to have been consulted. He
wished his kinsman of Menteith well, no man could wish him better;
but he must say he thought he had been hasty in this matter. Allan's
sentiments towards the young lady had been pretty well understood, and
he, for one, could not see why the superior pretensions which he
had upon her gratitude should have been set aside, without at least
undergoing some previous discussion."
Montrose, seeing too well where all this pointed, entreated M'Aulay
to be reasonable, and to consider what probability there was that the
Knight of Ardenvohr could be brought to confer the hand of his sole
heiress upon Allan, whose undeniable excellent qualities were mingled
with others, by which they were overclouded in a manner that made all
tremble who approached him.
"My lord," said Angus M'Aulay, "my brother Allan has, as God made us
all, faults as well as merits; but he is the best and bravest man of
your army, be the other who he may, and therefore ill deserved that his
happiness should have been so little consulted by your Excellency--by
his own near kinsman--and by a young person who owes all to him and to
Montrose in vain endeavoured to place the subject in a different view;
this was the point in which Angus was determined to regard it, and he
was a man of that calibre of understanding, who is incapable of being
convinced when he has once adopted a prejudice. Montrose now assumed
a higher tone, and called upon Angus to take care how he nourished
any sentiments which might be prejudicial to his Majesty's service. He
pointed out to him, that he was peculiarly desirous that Allan's efforts
should not be interrupted in the course of his present mission; "a
mission," he said, "highly honourable for himself, and likely to prove
most advantageous to the King's cause. He expected his brother would
hold no communication with him upon other subjects, nor stir up any
cause of dissension, which might divert his mind from a matter of such
Angus answered somewhat sulkily, that "he was no makebate, or stirrer-up
of quarrels; he would rather be a peacemaker. His brother knew as well
as most men how to resent his own quarrels--as for Allan's mode of
receiving information, it was generally believed he had other sources
than those of ordinary couriers. He should not be surprised if they saw
him sooner than they expected."
A promise that he would not interfere, was the farthest to which
Montrose could bring this man, thoroughly good-tempered as he was on all
occasions, save when his pride, interest, or prejudices, were interfered
with. And at this point the Marquis was fain to leave the matter for the
A more willing guest at the bridal ceremony, certainly a more willing
attendant at the marriage feast, was to be expected in Sir Dugald
Dalgetty, whom Montrose resolved to invite, as having been a confidant
to the circumstances which preceded it. But even Sir Dugald hesitated,
looked on the elbows of his doublet, and the knees of his leather
breeches, and mumbled out a sort of reluctant acquiescence in the
invitation, providing he should find it possible, after consulting with
the noble bridegroom. Montrose was somewhat surprised, but scorning to
testify displeasure, he left Sir Dugald to pursue his own course.
This carried him instantly to the chamber of the bride-groom, who,
amidst the scanty wardrobe which his camp-equipage afforded, was
seeking for such articles as might appear to the best advantage upon the
approaching occasion. Sir Dugald entered, and paid his compliments, with
a very grave face, upon his approaching happiness, which, he said, "he
was very sorry he was prevented from witnessing."
"In plain truth," said he, "I should but disgrace the ceremony, seeing
that I lack a bridal garment. Rents, and open seams, and tatters
at elbows in the apparel of the assistants, might presage a similar
solution of continuity in your matrimonial happiness--and to say truth,
my lord, you yourself must partly have the blame of this disappointment,
in respect you sent me upon a fool's errand to get a buff-coat out of
the booty taken by the Camerons, whereas you might as well have sent me
to fetch a pound of fresh butter out of a black dog's throat. I had no
answer, my lord, but brandished dirks and broadswords, and a sort of
growling and jabbering in what they call their language. For my part, I
believe these Highlanders to be no better than absolute pagans, and have
been much scandalized by the manner in which my acquaintance, Ranald
MacEagh, was pleased to beat his final march, a little while since."
In Menteith's state of mind, disposed to be pleased with everything,
and everybody, the grave complaint of Sir Dugald furnished additional
amusement. He requested his acceptance of a very handsome buff-dress
which was lying on the floor. "I had intended it," he said, "for my own
bridal-garment, as being the least formidable of my warlike equipments,
and I have here no peaceful dress."
Sir Dugald made the necessary apologies--would not by any means
deprive--and so forth, until it happily occurred to him that it was much
more according to military rule that the Earl should be married in his
back and breast pieces, which dress he had seen the bridegroom wear at
the union of Prince Leo of Wittlesbach with the youngest daughter of old
George Frederick, of Saxony, under the auspices of the gallant Gustavus
Adolphus, the Lion of the North, and so forth. The good-natured young
Earl laughed, and acquiesced; and thus having secured at least one merry
face at his bridal, he put on a light and ornamented cuirass, concealed
partly by a velvet coat, and partly by a broad blue silk scarf, which
he wore over his shoulder, agreeably to his rank, and the fashion of the
Everything was now arranged; and it had been settled that, according
to the custom of the country, the bride and bridegroom should not again
meet until they were before the altar. The hour had already struck that
summoned the bridegroom thither, and he only waited in a small anteroom
adjacent to the chapel, for the Marquis, who condescended to act as
bride's-man upon the occasion. Business relating to the army having
suddenly required the Marquis's instant attention, Menteith waited his
return, it may be supposed, in some impatience; and when he heard
the door of the apartment open, he said, laughing, "You are late upon
"You will find I am too early," said Allan M'Aulay, who burst into the
apartment. "Draw, Menteith, and defend yourself like a man, or die like
"You are mad, Allan!" answered Menteith, astonished alike at his sudden
appearance, and at the unutterable fury of his demeanour. His cheeks
were livid--his eyes started from their sockets--his lips were covered
with foam, and his gestures were those of a demoniac.
"You lie, traitor!" was his frantic reply--"you lie in that, as you lie
in all you have said to me. Your life is a lie!"
"Did I not speak my thoughts when I called you mad," said Menteith,
indignantly, "your own life were a brief one. In what do you charge me
with deceiving you?"
"You told me," answered M'Aulay, "that you would not marry Annot
Lyle!--False traitor!--she now waits you at the altar."
"It is you who speak false," retorted Menteith. "I told you the
obscurity of her birth was the only bar to our union--that is now
removed; and whom do you think yourself, that I should yield up my
pretensions in your favour?"
"Draw then," said M'Aulay; "we understand each other."
"Not now," said Menteith, "and not here. Allan, you know me well--wait
till to-morrow, and you shall have fighting enough."
"This hour--this instant--or never," answered M'Aulay.
"Your triumph shall not go farther than the hour which is stricken.
Menteith, I entreat you by our relationship--by our joint conflicts and
labours--draw your sword, and defend your life!" As he spoke, he seized
the Earl's hand, and wrung it with such frantic earnestness, that his
grasp forced the blood to start under the nails. Menteith threw him off
with violence, exclaiming, "Begone, madman!"
"Then, be the vision accomplished!" said Allan; and, drawing his dirk,
struck with his whole gigantic force at the Earl's bosom. The temper of
the corslet threw the point of the weapon upwards, but a deep wound
took place between the neck and shoulder; and the force of the blow
prostrated the bridegroom on the floor. Montrose entered at one side of
the anteroom. The bridal company, alarmed at the noise, were in equal
apprehension and surprise; but ere Montrose could almost see what had
happened, Allan M'Aulay had rushed past him, and descended the
castle stairs like lightning. "Guards, shut the gate!" exclaimed
Montrose--"Seize him--kill him, if he resists!--He shall die, if he were
But Allan prostrated, with a second blow of his dagger, a sentinel who
was upon duty---traversed the camp like a mountain-deer, though pursued
by all who caught the alarm--threw himself into the river, and, swimming
to the opposite side, was soon lost among the woods. In the course of
the same evening, his brother Angus and his followers left Montrose's
camp, and, taking the road homeward, never again rejoined him.
Of Allan himself it is said, that, in a wonderfully short space after
the deed was committed, he burst into a room in the Castle of Inverary,
where Argyle was sitting in council, and flung on the table his bloody
"Is it the blood of James Grahame?" said Argyle, a ghastly expression
of hope mixing with the terror which the sudden apparition naturally
"It is the blood of his minion," answered M'Aulay--"It is the blood
which I was predestined to shed, though I would rather have spilt my
Having thus spoken, he turned and left the castle, and from that moment
nothing certain is known of his fate. As the boy Kenneth, with three of
the Children of the Mist, were seen soon afterwards to cross Lochfine,
it is supposed they dogged his course, and that he perished by their
hand in some obscure wilderness. Another opinion maintains, that Allan
M'Aulay went abroad and died a monk of the Carthusian order. But nothing
beyond bare presumption could ever be brought in support of either
His vengeance was much less complete than he probably fancied; for
Menteith, though so severely wounded as to remain long in a dangerous
state, was, by having adopted Major Dalgetty's fortunate recommendation
of a cuirass as a bridal-garment, happily secured from the worst
consequences of the blow. But his services were lost to Montrose; and it
was thought best, that he should be conveyed with his intended
countess, now truly a mourning bride, and should accompany his wounded
father-in-law to the castle of Sir Duncan at Ardenvohr. Dalgetty
followed them to the water's edge, reminding Menteith of the necessity
of erecting a sconce on Drumsnab to cover his lady's newly-acquired
They performed their voyage in safety, and Menteith was in a few weeks
so well in health, as to be united to Annot in the castle of her father.
The Highlanders were somewhat puzzled to reconcile Menteith's recovery
with the visions of the second sight, and the more experienced Seers
were displeased with him for not having died. But others thought the
credit of the vision sufficiently fulfilled, by the wound inflicted by
the hand, and with the weapon, foretold; and all were of opinion, that
the incident of the ring, with the death's head, related to the death
of the bride's father, who did not survive her marriage many months.
The incredulous held, that all this was idle dreaming, and that Allan's
supposed vision was but a consequence of the private suggestions of his
own passion, which, having long seen in Menteith a rival more beloved
than himself, struggled with his better nature, and impressed upon him,
as it were involuntarily, the idea of killing his competitor.
Menteith did not recover sufficiently to join Montrose during his brief
and glorious career; and when that heroic general disbanded his army and
retired from Scotland, Menteith resolved to adopt the life of privacy,
which he led till the Restoration. After that happy event, he occupied
a situation in the land befitting his rank, lived long, happy alike in
public regard and in domestic affection, and died at a good old age.
Our DRAMATIS PERSONAE have been so limited, that, excepting Montrose,
whose exploits and fate are the theme of history, we have only to
mention Sir Dugald Dalgetty. This gentleman continued, with the most
rigorous punctuality, to discharge his duty, and to receive his pay,
until he was made prisoner, among others, upon the field of Philiphaugh.
He was condemned to share the fate of his fellow-officers upon that
occasion, who were doomed to death rather by denunciations from the
pulpit, than the sentence either of civil or military tribunal; their
blood being considered as a sort of sin-offering to take away the guilt
of the land, and the fate imposed upon the Canaanites, under a special
dispensation, being impiously and cruelly applied to them.
Several Lowland officers, in the service of the Covenanters, interceded
for Dalgetty on this occasion, representing him as a person whose skill
would be useful in their army, and who would be readily induced to
change his service. But on this point they found Sir Dugald unexpectedly
obstinate. He had engaged with the King for a certain term, and,
till that was expired, his principles would not permit any shadow of
changing. The Covenanters, again, understood no such nice distinction,
and he was in the utmost danger of falling a martyr, not to this or that
political principle, but merely to his own strict ideas of a military
enlistment. Fortunately, his friends discovered, by computation, that
there remained but a fortnight to elapse of the engagement he had
formed, and to which, though certain it was never to be renewed, no
power on earth could make him false. With some difficulty they procured
a reprieve for this short space, after which they found him perfectly
willing to come under any engagements they chose to dictate. He entered
the service of the Estates accordingly, and wrought himself forward to
be Major in Gilbert Ker's corps, commonly called the Kirk's Own Regiment
of Horse. Of his farther history we know nothing, until we find him in
possession of his paternal estate of Drumthwacket, which he acquired,
not by the sword, but by a pacific intermarriage with Hannah Strachan,
a matron somewhat stricken in years, the widow of the Aberdeenshire
Sir Dugald is supposed to have survived the Revolution, as traditions
of no very distant date represent him as cruising about in that country,
very old, very deaf, and very full of interminable stories about the
immortal Gustavus Adolphus, the Lion of the North, and the bulwark of
the Protestant Faith.
READER! THE TALES OF MY LANDLORD ARE NOW FINALLY CLOSED, closed, and
it was my purpose to have addressed thee in the vein of Jedediah
Cleishbotham; but, like Horam the son of Asmar, and all other imaginary
story-tellers, Jedediah has melted into thin air.
Mr. Cleishbotham bore the same resemblance to Ariel, as he at whose
voice he rose doth to the sage Prospero; and yet, so fond are we of the
fictions of our own fancy, that I part with him, and all his imaginary
localities, with idle reluctance. I am aware this is a feeling in which
the reader will little sympathize; but he cannot be more sensible than
I am, that sufficient varieties have now been exhibited of the Scottish
character, to exhaust one individual's powers of observation, and that
to persist would be useless and tedious. I have the vanity to suppose,
that the popularity of these Novels has shown my countrymen, and their
peculiarities, in lights which were new to the Southern reader; and that
many, hitherto indifferent upon the subject, have been induced to read
Scottish history, from the allusions to it in these works of fiction.
I retire from the field, conscious that there remains behind not only a
large harvest, but labourers capable of gathering it in. More than one
writer has of late displayed talents of this description; and if the
present author, himself a phantom, may be permitted to distinguish a
brother, or perhaps a sister shadow, he would mention, in particular,
the author of the very lively work entitled MARRIAGE.
The scarcity of my late friend's poem may be an excuse for adding the
spirited conclusion of Clan Alpin's vow. The Clan Gregor has met in the
ancient church of Balquidder. The head of Drummond-Ernoch is placed on
the altar, covered for a time with the banner of the tribe. The Chief of
the tribe advances to the altar:
And pausing, on the banner gazed;
Then cried in scorn, his finger raised,
"This was the boon of Scotland's king;"
And, with a quick and angry fling,
Tossing the pageant screen away,
The dead man's head before him lay.
Unmoved he scann'd the visage o'er,
The clotted locks were dark with gore,
The features with convulsion grim,
The eyes contorted, sunk, and dim.
But unappall'd, in angry mood,
With lowering brow, unmoved he stood.
Upon the head his bared right hand
He laid, the other grasp'd his brand:
Then kneeling, cried, "To Heaven I swear
This deed of death I own, and share;
As truly, fully mine, as though
This my right hand had dealt the blow:
Come then, our foeman, one, come all;
If to revenge this caitiffs fall
One blade is bared, one bow is drawn,
Mine everlasting peace I pawn,
To claim from them, or claim from him,
In retribution, limb for limb.
In sudden fray, or open strife,
This steel shall render life for life."
He ceased; and at his beckoning nod,
The clansmen to the altar trod;
And not a whisper breathed around,
And nought was heard of mortal sound,
Save from the clanking arms they bore,
That rattled on the marble floor;
And each, as he approach'd in haste,
Upon the scalp his right hand placed;
With livid lip, and gather'd brow,
Each uttered, in his turn, the vow.
Fierce Malcolm watch'd the passing scene,
And search'd them through with glances keen;
Then dash'd a tear-drop from his eye;
Unhid it came--he knew not why.
Exulting high, he towering stood:
"Kinsmen," he cried, "of Alpin's blood,
And worthy of Clan Alpin's name,
Unstain'd by cowardice and shame,
E'en do, spare nocht, in time of ill
Shall be Clan Alpin's legend still!"
It has been disputed whether the Children of the Mist were actual
MacGregors, or whether they were not outlaws named MacDonald, belonging
to Ardnamurchan. The following act of the Privy Council seems to decide
"Edinburgh, 4th February, 1589.
"The same day, the Lords of Secret Council being crediblie informed of
ye cruel and mischievous proceeding of ye wicked Clangrigor, so lang
continueing in blood, slaughters, herships, manifest reifts, and stouths
committed upon his Hieness' peaceable and good subjects; inhabiting ye
countries ewest ye brays of ye Highlands, thir money years bybgone;
but specially heir after ye cruel murder of umqll Jo. Drummond of
Drummoneyryuch, his Majesties proper tennant and ane of his fosters of
Glenartney, committed upon ye day of last bypast, be certain of ye said
clan, be ye council and determination of ye haill, avow and to defend ye
authors yrof qoever wald persew for revenge of ye same, qll ye said Jo.
was occupied in seeking of venison to his Hieness, at command of
Pat. Lord Drummond, stewart of Stratharne, and principal forrester of
Clenartney; the Queen, his Majesties dearest spouse, being yn shortlie
looked for to arrive in this realm. Likeas, after ye murder committed,
ye authors yrof cutted off ye said umqll Jo. Drummond's head, and
carried the same to the Laird of M'Grigor, who, and the haill surname of
M'Grigors, purposely conveined upon the Sunday yrafter, at the Kirk of
Buchquhidder; qr they caused ye said umqll John's head to be pnted to
ym, and yr avowing ye sd murder to have been committed by yr communion,
council, and determination, laid yr hands upon the pow, and in eithnik,
and barbarous manner, swear to defend ye authors of ye sd murder, in
maist proud contempt of our sovrn Lord and his authoritie, and in
evil example to others wicked limmaris to do ye like, give ys sall be
suffered to remain unpunished."
Then follows a commission to the Earls of Huntly, Argyle, Athole,
Montrose, Pat. Lord Drummond, Ja. Commendator of Incheffray, And.
Campbel of Lochinnel, Duncan Campbel of Ardkinglas, Lauchlane M'Intosh
of Dunnauchtane, Sir Jo. Murray of Tullibarden, knt., Geo. Buchanan of
that Ilk, and And. M'Farlane of Ariquocher, to search for and apprehend
Alaster M'Grigor of Glenstre (and a number of others nominatim), "and
all others of the said Clangrigor, or ye assistars, culpable of the said
odious murther, or of thift, reset of thift, herships, and sornings,
qrever they may be apprehended. And if they refuse to be taken, or flees
to strengths and houses, to pursue and assege them with fire and sword;
and this commission to endure for the space of three years."
Such was the system of police in 1589; and such the state of Scotland
nearly thirty years after the Reformation.
Note I.--FIDES ET FIDUCIA SUNT RELATIVA.
The military men of the times agreed upon dependencies of honour, as
they called them, with all the metaphysical argumentation of civilians,
or school divines.
The English officer, to whom Sir James Turner was prisoner after the
rout at Uttoxeter, demanded his parole of honour not to go beyond the
wall of Hull without liberty. "He brought me the message himself,--I
told him I was ready to do so, provided he removed his guards from
me, for FIDES ET FIDUCIA SUNT RELATIVA; and, if he took my word for my
fidelity, he was obliged to trust it, otherwise, it was needless for him
to seek it, either to give trust to my word, which I would not break, or
his own guards, who I supposed would not deceive him. In this manner I
dealt with him, because I knew him to be a scholar."--TURNER'S MEMOIRS,
p. 80. The English officer allowed the strength of the reasoning; but
that concise reasoner, Cromwell, soon put an end to the dilemma: "Sir
James Turner must give his parole, or be laid in irons."
A species of apparition, similar to what the Germans call a
Double-Ganger, was believed in by the Celtic tribes, and is still
considered as an emblem of misfortune or death. Mr. Kirke (See Note to
ROB ROY,), the minister of Aberfoil, who will no doubt be able to tell
us more of the matter should he ever come back from Fairy-land, gives us
"Some men of that exalted sight, either by art or nature, have told me
they have seen at these meetings a double man, or the shape of some man
in two places, that is, a superterranean and a subterranean
inhabitant perfectly resembling one another in all points, whom he,
notwithstanding, could easily distinguish one fro another by some secret
tokens and operations, and so go speak to the man his neighbour and
familiar, passing by the apparition or resemblance of him. They avouch
that every element and different state of being have animals resembling
those of another element, as there be fishes at sea resembling Monks of
late order in all their hoods and dresses, so as the Roman invention
of good and bad daemons and guardian angels particularly assigned, is
called by them ane ignorant mistake, springing only from this originall.
They call this reflex man a Co-Walker, every way like the man, as a
twin-brother and companion haunting him as his shadow, as is that seen
and known among men resembling the originall, both before and after the
originall is dead, and was also often seen of old to enter a hous, by
which the people knew that the person of that liknes was to visit them
within a few days. This copy, echo, or living picture, goes at last to
his own herd. It accompanied that person so long and frequently for ends
best known to its selve, whether to guard him from the secret assaults
of some of its own folks, or only as an sportfull ape to counterfeit all
his actions."--KIRKE'S SECRET COMMOMWEALTH, p. 3.
The two following apparitions, resembling the vision of Allan M'Aulay in
the text, occur in Theophilus Insulanus (Rev. Mr. Fraser's Treatise on
the Second Sight, Relations x. and xvii.):--
"Barbara Macpherson, relict of the deceased Mr. Alexander MacLeod, late
minister of St. Kilda, informed me the natives of that island had a
particular kind of second sight, which is always a forerunner of their
approaching end. Some months before they sicken, they are haunted with
an apparition, resembling themselves in all respects as to their person,
features, or clothing. This image, seemingly animated, walks with them
in the field in broad daylight; and if they are employed in delving,
harrowing, seed-sowing, or any other occupation, they are at the same
time mimicked by this ghostly visitant. My informer added further that
having visited a sick person of the inhabitants, she had the curiosity
to enquire of him, if at any time he had seen any resemblance of himself
as above described; he answered in the affirmative, and told her, that
to make farther trial, as he was going out of his house of a morning, he
put on straw-rope garters instead of those he formerly used, and
having gone to the fields, his other self appeared in such garters. The
conclusion was, the sick man died of that ailment, and she no longer
questioned the truth of those remarkable presages."
"Margaret MacLeod, an honest woman advanced in years, informed me, that
when she was a young woman in the family of Grishornish, a dairy-maid,
who daily used to herd the calves in a park close to the house,
observed, at different times, a woman resembling herself in shape and
attire, walking solitarily at no great distance from her, and being
surprised at the apparition, to make further trial, she put the back
part of her upper garment foremost, and anon the phantom was dressed
in the same manner, which made her uneasy, believing it portended some
fatal consequence to herself. In a short time thereafter she was seized
with a fever, which brought her to her end, and before her sickness and
on her deathbed, declared the second sight to several."