Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

hame to the shearing, and he would not call them out before the victual was got in for all the Cramfeezers in Christendom, let alane the Mearns, for that it would prejudice the country. And in the meanwhile ye'll no hinder Gilliewhackit to take the small-pox. There was not the doctor in Perth or Stirling would look near the poor lad; and I cannot blame them, for Donald had been misguggled by ane of these doctors about Paris, and he swore he would fling the first into the loch that he catched beyond the pass. However some cailliachs (that is, old women) that were about Donald's hand nursed Gilliewhackit sae weel that, between the free open air in the cove and the fresh whey, deil an he did not recover maybe as weel as if he had been closed in a glazed chamber and a bed with curtains, and fed with red wine and white meat. And Donald was sae vexed about it that, when he was stout and weel, he even sent him free hame, and said he would be pleased with onything they would like to gie him for the plague and trouble which he had about Gilliewhackit to an unkenn'd degree. And I cannot tell you precisely how they sorted; but they agreed sae right that Donald was invited to dance at the wedding in his Highland trews, and they said that there was never sae meikle siller clinked in his purse either before or since. And to the boot of all that, Gilliewhackit said that, be the evidence what it liked, if he had the luck to be on Donald's inquest, he would bring him in guilty of nothing whatever, unless it were wilful arson or murder under trust.'

With such bald and disjointed chat Evan went on illustrating the existing state of the Highlands, more perhaps to the amusement of Waverley than that of our readers. At length, after having marched over bank and brae, moss and heather, Edward, though not unacquainted with the Scottish liberality in computing distance, began to think that Evan's five miles were nearly doubled. His observation on the large measure which the Scottish allowed of their land, in comparison to the computation of their money, was readily answered by Evan with the old jest, “The deil take them wha have the least pint stoup.'

And now the report of a gun was heard, and a sportsman was seen, with his dogs and attendant, at the upper end of the glen. 'Shough,' said Dugald Mahony, 'tat's ta Chief.'

" It is not,' said Evan, imperiously. “Do you think he would * The Scotch are liberal in computing their land and liquor; the Scottish pint corresponds to two English quarts. As for their coin, every one knows the couplet

How can the rogues pretend to sense?
Their pound is only twenty pence.

*

come to meet a Sassenach duinhé - wassel in such a way as that?'

But as they approached a little nearer, he said, with an appearance of mortification, 'And it is even he, sure enough; and he has not his tail on after all; there is no living creature with him but Callum Beg.'

In fact, Fergus Mac-Ivor, of whom a Frenchman might have said as truly as of any man in the Highlands, "Qu'il connoit bien ses gens,' had no idea of raising himself in the eyes of an English young man of fortune by appearing with a retinue of idle Highlanders disproportioned to the occasion. He was well aware that such an unnecessary attendance would seem to Edward rather ludicrous than respectable; and, while few men were more attached to ideas of chieftainship and feudal power, he was, for that very reason, cautious of exhibiting external marks of dignity, unless at the time and in the manner when they were most likely to produce an imposing effect. Therefore, although, had he been to receive a brother chieftain, he would probably have been attended by all that retinue which Evan described with so much unction, he judged it more respectable to advance to meet Waverley with a single attendant, a very handsome Highland boy, who carried his master's shootingpouch and his broadsword, without which he seldom went abroad.

When Fergus and Waverley met, the latter was struck with the peculiar grace and dignity of the Chieftain's figure. Above the middle size and finely proportioned, the Highland dress, which he wore in its simplest mode, set off his person to great advantage. He wore the trews, or close trowsers, made of tartan, chequered scarlet and white; in other particulars his dress strictly resembled Evan's, excepting that he had no weapon save a dirk, very richly mounted with silver. His page, as we have said, carried his claymore; and the fowling-piece, which he held in his hand, seemed only designed for sport. He had shot in the course of his walk some young wild-ducks, as, though close time was then unknown, the broods of grouse were yet too young for the sportsman. His countenance was decidedly Scottish, with all the peculiarities of the northern physiognomy, but yet had so little of its harshness and exaggeration that it would have been pronounced in any country extremely handsome. The martial air of the bonnet, with a single eagle's feather as a distinction, added much to the manly appearance of his head, which was besides ornamented with a far more natural and

1

graceful cluster of close black curls than ever were exposed to sale in Bond Street.

An air of openness and affability increased the favourable impression derived from this handsome and dignified exterior. Yet a skilful physiognomist would have been less satisfied with the countenance on the second than on the first view. The eye-brow and upper lip bespoke something of the habit of peremptory command and decisive superiority. Even his courtesy, though open, frank, and unconstrained, seemed to indicate a sense of personal importance; and, upon any check or accidental excitation, a sudden, though transient lour of the eye showed a hasty, haughty, and vindictive temper, not less to be dreaded because it seemed much under its owner's command. In short, the countenance of the Chieftain resembled a smiling summer's day, in which, notwithstanding, we are made sensible by certain, though slight signs that it may thunder and lighten before the close of evening.

It was not, however, upon their first meeting that Edward had an opportunity of making these less favourable remarks. The Chief received him as a friend of the Baron of Bradwardine, with the utmost expression of kindness and obligation for the visit; upbraided him gently with choosing so rude an abode as he had done the night before; and entered into a lively conversation with him about Donald Bean's housekeeping, but without the least hint as to his predatory habits, or the immediate occasion of Waverley's visit, a topic which, as the Chief did not introduce it, our hero also avoided. While

they walked merrily on towards the house of Glennaquoich, Evan, who now fell respectfully into the rear, followed with Callum Beg and Dugald Mahony.

We shall take the opportunity to introduce the reader to some particulars of Fergus Mac-İvor's character and history, which were not completely known to Waverley till after a connection which, though arising from a circumstance so casual, had for a length of time the deepest influence upon his character, actions, and prospects. But this, being an important subject, must form the commencement of a new chapter.

[ocr errors][merged small]

CHAPTER XIX

THE CHIEF AND HIS MANSION

The ingenious licentiate Francisco de Ubeda, when he commenced his history of La Picara Justina Diez,—which, by the way, is one of the most rare books of Spanish literature,— complained of his pen having caught up a hair, and forthwith begins, with more eloquence than common sense, an affectionate expostulation with that useful implement, upbraiding it with being the quill of a goose,

-a bird inconstant by nature, as frequenting the three elements of water, earth, and air indifferently, and being, of course, "to one thing constant never.' Now I protest to thee, gentle reader, that I entirely dissent from Francisco de Ubeda in this matter, and hold it the most useful quality of my pen, that it can speedily change from grave to gay, and from description and dialogue to narrative and character. So that if my quill display no other properties of its mother-goose than her mutability, truly I shall be well pleased; and I conceive that you, my worthy friend, will have no occasion for discontent. From the jargon, therefore, of the Highland gillies I pass to the character of their Chief. It is an important examination, and therefore, like Dogberry, we must spare no wisdom.

The ancestor of Fergus Mac-Ivor, about three centuries before, had set up a claim to be recognised as chief of the numerous and powerful clan to which he belonged, the name of which it is unnecessary to mention. Being defeated by an opponent who had more justice, or at least more force, on his side, he moved southwards, with those who adhered to him, in quest of new settlements, like a second Æneas. The state of the Perthshire Highlands favoured his purpose. A great baron in that country had lately become traitor to the crown; Ian, which was the name of our adventurer, united himself with those who were commissioned by the king to chastise him, and did such good service that he obtained a grant of the property, upon which he and his posterity afterwards resided. He followed the king also in war to the fertile regions of England, where he employed his leisure hours so actively in raising subsidies among the boors of Northumberland and Durham, that upon his return he was enabled to erect a stone tower, or fortalice, so much admired by his dependants and neighbours that he, who had hitherto been called Ian Mac-Ivor, or John the son of Ivor, was thereafter distinguished, both in song and genealogy, by the high title of Ian nan Chaistel, or John of the Tower. The descendants of this worthy were so proud of him that the reigning chief always bore the patronymic title of Vich Ian Vohr, i.e. the son of John the Great; while the clan at large, to distinguish them from that from which they had seceded, were denominated Sliochd nan Ivor, the race of Ivor.

The father of Fergus, the tenth in direct descent from John of the Tower, engaged heart and hand in the insurrection of 1715, and was forced to fly to France, after the attempt of that year in favour of the Stuarts had proved unsuccessful. More fortunate than other fugitives, he obtained employment in the French service, and married a lady of rank in that kingdom, by whom he had two children, Fergus and his sister Flora. The Scottish estate had been forfeited and exposed to sale, but was repurchased for a small price in the name of the young proprietor, who in consequence came to reside upon his native domains. *

It was soon perceived that he possessed a character of uncommon acuteness, fire, and ambition, which, as he became acquainted with the state of the country, gradually assumed a mixed and peculiar tone, that could only have been acquired Sixty Years since.

Had Fergus Mac-Ivor lived Sixty Years sooner than he did, he would in all probability have wanted the polished manner and knowledge of the world which he now possessed ; and had he lived Sixty Years later, his ambition and love of rule would have lacked the fuel which his situation now afforded. indeed, within his little circle, as perfect a politician as Castruccio Castracani himself. He applied himself with great earnestness to appease all the feuds and dissensions which often arose among other clans in his neighbourhood, so that he became a frequent umpire in their quarrels. His own patriarchal power he strengthened at every expense which his fortune

[ocr errors]

* See Forfeited Estates. Note 19.

He was

« AnteriorContinuar »