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A Stag-hunt and its Consequences. SHALL this be a long or a short chapter ?--This is a question in which you, gentle reader, have no vote, however much you may be interested in the consequences; just as you may (like myself) probably have nothing to do with the imposing a new tax, excepting the trifling circumstance of being obliged to pay it. More happy surely in the present case, since, though it lies within my arbitrary power to extend my materials as I think proper, I cannot call you into Exchequer if you do not think proper to read my narrative. Let me therefore consider. It is true, that the annals and documents in my hands say but little of this Highland chase; but then I can find copious materials for description elsewhere. There is old Lindsay of Pitscottie ready at my elbow, with his Athole hunting, and his “ lofted and joisted palace of green timber; with all kind of drink to be had in burgh and land, as ale, beer, wine, muscadel, malvaise, hippocras, and aquavitæ ; with wheat-bread, main-bread, ginge-bread, beef, mutton, lamb, veal, venison, goose, grice, capon, coney, crane, swan, partridge, plover, duck, drake, brissel-cock, pawnies, black-cock, muir-fowl, and capercailzies;” not forgetting the costly bedding, vaiselle, and napery," and least of all the “excelling stewards, cunning baxters, excellent cooks, and pottingars, with confections and drugs for the desserts." Besides the particulars which may be thence gleaned for this Highland feast, (the splendour of which induced the Pope's legate to dissent from an opinion which he had hitherto held, that Scotland, namely, was the - the - the latter end of the world) besides these, might I not illuminate my pages with Taylor the Water Poet's hunting in the braes of Mar, where,
“Through heather, mosse, 'mong frogs, and bogs, and fogs,
'Mongst craggy cliffs and thunder-batter'd hills,
Where two hours' hunting fourscore fat deer kills,
The Highland games and minds are high and great." But without farther tyranny over my readers, or display of the extent of my own reading, I shall content myself with borrowing a single incident from the memorable hunting at Lude, commemorated in the ingenious Mr Gunn's Essay on the Caledonian Harp, and so proceed in my story with all the brevity that my natural style of composition, partaking of what scholars call the periphrastic and ambagitory, and the vulgar the circumbendibus, will permit me.
The solemn hunting was delayed, from various causes, for about three weeks. The interval was spent by Waverley with great satisfaction at Glennaquoich; for the impression which Flora had made on his mind at their first meeting grew daily stronger. She was precisely the character to fascinate a youth of romantic imagination. TIer manners, her language, her talents for poetry and music, gave additional and varied influence to ber eminent personal charms. Even
in her hours of gaiety, she was in his fancy exalted above the ordinary daughters of Eve, and seemed only to stoop for an instant to those topics of amusement and gallantry which others appear to live for. In the neighbourhood of this enchantress, while sport consumed the morning, and music and the dance led on the hours of evening, Waverley became daily more delighted with his hospitable landlord, and more enamoured of his bewitching sister.
At length, the period fixed for the grand hunting arrived, and Waverley and the Chieftain departed for the place of rendezvous, which was a day's journey to the northward of Glennaquoich. Fergus was attended on this occasion by about three hundred of his clan, well armed, and accoutred in their best fashion. Waverley complied so far with the custom of the country as to adopt the trews, (hie could not be reconciled to the kilt,) brogues, and bonnet, as the fittest dress for the exercise in which he was to be engaged, and which least exposed him to be stared at as a stranger when they should reach the place of rendezvous. They found, on the spot appointed, several powerful Chiefs, to all of whom Waverley was formally presented, and by all cordially received. Their vassals and clansmen, a part of whose feudal duty it was to attend on these parties, appeared in such numbers as amounted to a small army. These active assistants spread through the country, far and near, forming a circle, technically called the tinchel, which, gradually closing, drove the deer in herds together towards the
glen where the Chiefs and principal sportsmen lay in wait for them. In the meanwhile, these distinguished personages bivouacked among the flowery heath, wrapped up in their plaids ; a mode of passing a summer's night which Waverley found by no means unpleasant.
For many hours after sun-rise, the mountain ridges and passes retained their ordinary appearance of silence and solitude, and the Chiefs, with their followers, amused themselves with various pastimes, in which the joys of the shell, as Ossian has it, were not forgotten. “ Others apart sate on a hill retired;" probably as deeply engaged in the discussion of politics and news, as Milton's spirits in metaphysical disquisition. At length signals of the approach of the game were descried and heard. Distant shouts resounded from valley to valley, as the various parties of Highlanders, climbing rocks, struggling through copses, wading brooks, and traversing thickets, approached more and more near to each other, and compelled the astonished deer, with the other wild animals that fled before them, into a narrower circuit. Every now and then the report of muskets was heard, repeated by a thousand echoes. The baying of the dogs was soon added to the chorus, which grew ever louder and more loud. At length the advanced parties of the deer began to‘shew themselves; and as the stragglers came bounding down the pass by two or three at a time, the Chiefs shewed their skill by distinguishing the fattest deer, and their dexterity in bringing them down with their guns. Fergus exhibited remarkable address, and Edward was also so fortunate as to attract the notice and applause of the sports
But now the main body of the deer appeared at the head of the
glen, compelled into a very narrow compass, and presenting such a formidable phalanx, that their antlers appeared at a distance, over the ridge of the steep pass, like a leafless grove. Their number was very great, and from a desperate stand which they made, with the tallest of the red deer stags arranged in front, in a sort of battlearray, gazing on the group which barred their passage down the glen, the more experienced sportsmen began to augur danger. The work of destruction, however, now commenced on all sides. Dogs and hunters were at work, and muskets and fusees resounded from every quarter. The deer, driven to desperation, made at length a fearful charge right upon the spot where the more distinguished sportsmen had taken their stand." The word was given in Gaelic to fling themselves upon their faces; but Waverley, on whose English ears the signal was lost, had almost fallen a sacrifice to his ignorance of the ancient language in which it was communicated. Fergus, observing his danger, sprang up and pulled him with violence to the ground, just as the whole herd broke down upon them. The tide being absolutely irresistible, and wounds from a stag's horn highly dangerous, the activity of tlie Chieftain may be considered on this occasion, as having saved his guest's life. He detained him with a firm grasp until the whole herd of deer had fairly run over them. Waverley then attempted to rise, but found that he had suffered several very severe contusions, and, upon a farther examination, discovered that he had sprained his ankle violently.
This checked the mirth of the meeting, although the Highlanders, accustomed to such incidents, and prepared for them, had suffered no harm themselves. A wigwam was erected almost in an instant, where Edward was deposited on a couch of heather. The surgeon, or le who assumed the office, appeared to unite the characters of a leech and a conjuror. He was an old smoke-dried Highlander, wearing a venerable grey beard, and having for his sole garment a tartan frock, the skirts of which descended on the knee, and, being undivided in froni, made the vestment serve at once for doublet and breeches.? He observed great ceremony in approaching Edward; and though our hero was writhing with pain, would not proceed to any operation which might assuage it until he had perambulated his couch three times, moving from east to west, according to the course of the sun. This, which was called making the deasil, both the leech and the assistants seemed to consider as a matter of the last importance to the accomplishment of a cure; and Waverley, whom pain rendered incapable of expostulation, and who indeed saw no chance of its being attended to, submitted in silence.
1 The thrust from the tynes, or branches, of the stag's horns, were accounted far more dangerous than those of the boar's tusk;
If thou be hurt with horn of stag, it brings thee to thy bier,
But barber's hand shall boar's hurt heal; thereof have thou no fear. : 2 This garb, which resembled the dress often put on children in Scotland, called a polonie (i. e. polonaise,) is a very ancient modification of the Highland garb. It was, in fact, the hauberk or shirt of mail, only composed of cloth instead of rings of armour.
3 Old Highlanders will still make the deasil around those whom they wish well to. To go round a person in the opposite direction, or wither-shins (German wider-shins.) is unlucky, and a sort of incantation.
After this ceremony was duly performed, the old Esculapius let his patient blood with a cupping-glass with great dexterity, and proceeded, muttering all the while to himself in Gaelic, to boil on the fire certain herbs, with which he compounded an embrocation. He then fomented the parts which had sustained injury, never failing to murmur prayers or spells, which of the two Waverley could not distinguish, as his ear only caught the words, Gasper-Melchior-Balthazar-max-prax-fax, and similar gibberish. The fomentation had a speedy effect in alleviating the pain and swelling, which our hero imputed to the virtue of the herbs, or the effect of the chafing, but which was by the by-standers unanimously ascribed to the spells with which the operation had been accompanied. Edward was given to understand, that not one of the ingredients had been gathered except during the full moon, and that the herbalist had, while collecting them, uniformly recited a charm, which, in English, ran thus:
Hail to thee, thou holy herb,
I take thee from the ground, 1 Edward observed, with some surprise, that even Fergus, notwithstanding his knowledge and education, seemed to fall in with the superstitious ideas of his countrymen, either because he deemed it impolitic to affect scepticism on a matter of general belief, or moro probably because, like most men who do not think deeply or accurately on such subjects, he had in his mind a reserve of superstition which balanced the freedom of his expressions and practice upon other occasions. Waverley made no commentary, therefore, on the manner of the treatment, but rewarded the professor of medicino with a liberality beyond the utmost conception of his wildest hopes. He uttered, on the occasion, so many incoherent blessings in Gaelic and English, that Mac-Ivor, rather scandalized at the excess of his acknowledgments, cut them short by exclaiming, Ceud mile mhalloich ort! i.e.“ A hundred thousand curses on you!” and so pushed the helper of men out of the cabin.
After Waverley was left alone, the exhaustion of pain and fatigue --for the whole day's exercise had been severe,—threw him into profound, but yet a feverish sleep, which he chiefly owed to an opiate draught administered by the old Highlander from some decoction of herbs in his pharmacopeia.
Early the next morning, the purpose of their meeting being over, and their sports damped by the untoward accident, in which Fergus and all his friends expressed the greatest sympathy, it became a question how to dispose of the disabled sportsman. This was settled by Mac-Ivor, who had a litter prepared, of “ birch and hazel grey," 1 This metrical spell, or something very like it, is preserved by Reginald Scott, in his
work on Witchcraft.
2 On the morrow they made their bicrs
Of the birch and hazel grey.-Chevy Chase.
which was borne by his people with such caution and dexterity as renders it not improbable that they may have been the ancestors of some of those sturdy Gael, who have now the happiness to transport the belles of Edinburgh, in their sedan-chairs, to ten routs in one evening. When Edward was elevated upon their shoulders, he could not help being gratified with the romantic effect produced by the breaking up of this silvan camp.(24)
The various tribes assembled, each at the pibroch of their native clan, and each headed by their patriarchal ruler. Some, who had already begun to retire, were seen winding up the hills, or descending the passes which led to the scene of action, the sound of their bagpipes dying upon the ear. Others made still a moving picture upon the narrow plain, forming various changeful groups, their feathers and loose plaids waving in the morning breeze, and their arms glittering in the rising sun. Most of the chiefs came to take farewell of Waverley, and to express their anxious hope they might again, and speedily, meet; but the care of Fergus abridged the ceremony of taking leave. At length his own men being completely assembled and mustered, Mac-lvor commenced his march, but not towards the quarter from which they had come. He gave Edward to understand, that the greater part of his followers, now on the field, were bound on a distant expedition, and that when he had deposited him in the house of a gentleman, who he was sure would pay
him every attention, he himself should be under the necessity of accompanying them the greater part of the way, but would lose no time in rejoining his friend.
Waverley was rather surprised that Fergus had not mentioned this ulterior destination when they set out upon the hunting party; but his situation did not admit of many interrogatories. The greater part of the clansmen went forward under the guidance of old Ballenkeiroch, and Evan Dhu Maccombich, apparently in high spirits. A few remained for the purpose of escorting the Chieftain, who walked by the side of Edward's litter, and attended him with the most affectionate assiduity. About noon, after a journey which the nature of the conveyance, the pain of his bruises, and the roughness of the way, rendered inexpressibly painful, Waverley was hospitably received into the house of a gentleman related to l'ergụs, who had prepared for him every accommodation which the simple' habits of fiving then universal in the Highlands, put in his power. In this person, an old man about seventy, Edward admired a relic of primitive simplicity. He wore no dress but what his estate afforded; the cloth was the fleece of his own sheep, woven by his own servants, and stained into tartan by the dyes produced from the herbs and lichens of the hills around him. His linen was spun by his daughters and maid-servants, from his own flax, nor did his table, though plentiful, and varied with game and fish, offer an article but what was of native produce.
Claiming himself no rights of clanship or vassalage, he was fortunate in the alliance and protection of Vich Ian Vohr, and other bold and enierprising chieftains, who protected him in the quiet unambitious life he loved. It is true, the youth born on his grounds were