« AnteriorContinuar »
“You have a quick observation, Captain Waverley, which in this instance has not deceived you. The Gaelic language, being uncommonly vocalic, is well adapted for sudden and extemporaneous poetry; and a bard seldom fails to augment the effects of a premeditated song, by throwing in any stanzas which may be suggested by the circumstances attending the recitation."
6. I would give my best horse to know what the Highland bard could find to say of such an unworthy Soulhron as myself.”
" It shall not even cost you a lock of his mane. -Una, Mavourneen! (She spoke a few words to one of the young girls in allendance, who instantly curlsied, and tripped out of the room.)--I have sent Una lo learn from the bard the expressions he used, and you shall command my skill as dragoman.
Una relurned in a few minutes and repeated to her mistress a few lines in Gaelic. Flora seemed to think for a moment, and then , slightly colouring, she turned to Waverley—“It is impossible to gratify your curiosily, Captain Waverley, without exposing my own presumption. If you will give me a few moments for consideralion, I will endeavour to engrast the meaning of these lines upon a rude English translation, which I have altempted, of a part of the original. The duties of the tea-lable seem to be concluded, and, as the evening is delightful. Una will show you the way to one of my favourite haunts, and Cathleen and I will join you there."
Una, having received instructions in her native language, conducted Waverley out by a passage different from that through which he had entered the apartment. At a distance he heard the hall of the Chief still resounding with the clang of bagpipes and the high applause of his guests. Having gained the open air by a postern door, they walked a little way up the wild, bleak, and narrow valley in which the house was situaled, following the course of the stream that winded through it. In a spot, about a quarter of a mile from the castle, iwo brooks, which formed the little river, had their junction. The larger of the two came down the long bare valley, which extended, apparently without any change or elevation of character, as far as the hills which formed ils boundary permitted the eye lo reach. But the other stream, which had its source among the mountains on the left hand of the strath, seemed to issue from a very narrow and dark opening betwixt two large rocks. These streams were different also in character. The larger was placid, and even sullen in its course, wheeling in deep eddies, or sleeping in dark blue pools; but the motions of the lesser brook were rapid and furious, issuing from belween precipices, like a maniac from his confinement, all foam and uproar.
It was up the course of this last stream that Waverley, like a knight of romance, was conducted by the fair Highland damsel, his silent guide. A small path, which had been rendered easy in
many places for Flora's accommodation, led him through scenery of a very different description from that which he had just quitted. Around the castle, all was cold, bare, and desolate, yet tame even in desolation ; but this narrow glen, at so short a distance, seemed to open into the land of romance. The rocks assumed a thousand peculiar and varied forms. In one place, a crag of huge size presented its gigantic bulk, as if to forbid the passenger's farther progress; and it was not until he approached its very base, that Waverley discerned the sudden and acute turn by which the pathway wheeled its course around this formidable obstacle. In another spot, the projecting rocks from the opposite sides of the chasm bad approached so near to each other, that two pine-trees, laid across and covered with turf, formed a rustic bridge at the height of at least one hundred and fifty feet. It had no ledges, and was barely three feet in breadth.
While gazing at this pass of peril, which crossed, like a single 1
black line, the small portion of blue sky not intercepted by the projecting rocks on either side, it was with a sensation of horror that Waverley beheld Flora and her attendant appear, like inhabitants of another region, propped, as it were, in mid air, upon this trembling structure. She stopped upon observing him below, and, with an air of graceful ease, which made him shudder, waved her handkerchief to him by way of signal. He was unable, from
the sense of dizziness which her situation conveyed, to return the | salute; and was never more relieved than when the fair apparition passed on from the precarious eminence which she seemed to occupy with so much indifference, and disappeared on the other side.
Advancing a few yards, and passing under the bridge which he had viewed with so much terror, the path ascended rapidly from the edge of the brook, and the glen widened into a sylvan amphitheatre, waving with birch, young oaks, and hazels, with here and there a scattered yew-tree. The rocks now receded, but still showed their grey and shaggy cresls rising among the copse-wood. Still higher, rose eminences and peaks, some bare, some clothed with wood, some round and purple with heath, and others splintered into rocks and crags. At a short turning, the path, which had for some furlongs lost sight of the brook, suddenly placed Waverley in front of a romantic waterfall. It was not so remarkable either for great height or quantity of water, as for the beautiful accompaniments which made the spot interesting. After a broken cataract of about twenty feet, the stream was received in a large natural basin filled to the brim with water, which, where the bubbles of the fall subsided, was so exquisitely clear, that although it was of great depth, the eye could discern each pebble at the bottom. Eddying round this reservoir, thc brook found its way as if over a broken part of the ledge, and formed a second fall, which seemed to seek
the very abyss; then, wheeling out beneath from among the smooth dark rocks, which it had polished for ages, it wandered murmuring down the glen, forming the stream up which Waverley had just ascended'. The borders of this romantic reservoir corresponded in beauty; but it was beauty of a stern and commanding cast, as if in the act of expanding into grandeur. Mossy banks of turf were broken and interrupted by huge fragments of rock, and decorated with trees and shrubs, some of which had been planted under the direction of Flora, but so cautiously, that they added to the grace, without diminishing the romantic wildness of the scene.
Here, like one of those lovely forms which decorate the landscapes of Poussin, Waverley found Flora gazing on the waterfall. (Two paces farther back stood Cathleen, holding a small Scottish harp, the use of which had been taught to Flora by Rory Dall, one of the last harpers of the Western Highlands. The sun, now slooping in the west, gave a rich and varied tinge to all the objects which surrounded Waverley, and seemed to add more than human brilliancy to the full expressive darkness of Flora's eye, exalted the 1 richness and purity of her complexion, and enhanced the dignily and grace of her beautiful form. Edward thought he had never, even in his wildest dreams, imagined a figure of such exquisite and interesting loveliness. The wild beauty of the retreat, bursting upon him as if by magic, augmented the mingled feeling of delight and awe with which he approached her, like a fair enchantress of Boiardo or Ariosto, by whose nod the scenery around seemed to have been created, an Eden in the wilderness.
Flora, like every beautiful woman, was conscious of her own power, and pleased with its effects, which she could easily discern from the respectful, yet confused address of the young soldier. But, as she possessed excellent sense, she gave the romance of the scene, and other accidental circumstances, full weight in appreciating the feelings with which Waverley seemed obviously to be impressed; and, unacquainted with the fanciful and susceptible peculiarities of his character, considered his homage as the passing tribule which a woman of even inferior charms might have expected in such a situalion. She therefore quietly led the way to a spot al such a distance from the cascade, that its sound should rather accompany than interrupt that of her voice and instrument, and, silling down upon a mossy fragment of rock, she took the harp from Cathleen.
'The description of the waterfall mentioned in this chapter is taken from that of Ledeard, at the farm so called on the northern side of Lochard, and near the head of the Lake, four or five miles from Aberfoyle. It is upon a small scale, but otherwise one of the most exquisite cascades it is possible to behold. The appearance of Flora with the harp, as described, has been justly censured as too theatrical and affected for the ladylike simplicity of her character. But something may be allowed to her French education, in which point and striking effect always make a considerable object.
“I have given you the trouble of walking to this spot, Captain Waverley, both because I lhought the scenery would interest you, and because a Highland song would suffer still more from my
imperfect translation, were I to introduce it without its own wild 1
and appropriate accompaniments. To speak in the poetical language of my country, the seat of the Cellic Muse is in the mist of the secret and solitary hill, and her voice in the murmur of the mountain stream. He who woos her must love the barren rock more than the fertile valley, and the solitude of the desert better than the festivity of the hall."
Few could have heard this lovely woman make this declaration, with a voice where harmony was exalted by pathos, without exclaiming that the muse whom she invoked could never find a more appropriate representative. But Waverley, though the thought rushed on his mind, found no courage to utter it. Indeed, the wild
feeling of romantic delight with which he heard the few first notes , i she drew from her instrument, amounted almost to a sense of pain.
He would not for worlds have quilted his place by her side; yet he almost longed for solitude, that he might decipher and examine at leisure the complication of emotions which now agitated his bosom.
Flora had exchanged the measured and monotonous recitative of the bard for a losty and uncommon Highland air, which had been a battle-song in former ages. A few irregular strains introduced a prelude of a wild and peculiar tone, which harmonized well with the distant waterfall, and the soft sigh of the evening breeze in the rustling leaves of an aspen which overhung the seat of the fair harpress. The following verses convey but lille idea of the feelings with which, so sung and accompanied, they were heard by Waverley :
There is mist on the mountain, and night on the vale,
The dirk and the target lie sordid with dust,
The deeds of our sires if our bards should rehearse,
But the dark hours of night and of slumber are past,
Glenaladale's peaks are illumed with the rays,
Ye sons of the strong, when that dawning shall break,
0, sprung from the Kings who in Islay kept state,
True son of Sir Evan, undaunted Lochiel,
Stern son of Lord Kenneth, high chief of Kintail,
Let the clan of grey Fingon, whose offspring has given
How Mac-Shimei will joy when their chief shall display
Ye sons of brown Dermid, who slew the wild boar,
Here a large greyhound, bounding up the glen, jumped upon Flora, and interrupted her music by his importunale caresses. Al a distant whistle, he turned, and shot down the path again with
'The young and daring Adventurer, Charles Edward, landed at Glenaladale, in Moidarl, and displayed his standard in the valley of Glenfinnan, mustering around it the Mac Donalds, the Camerons, and other less numerous clans, whom he had prevailed on to join him. There is a monument erected on the spot, with a latin inscription by the lale Doctor Gregory.
· The Marquis of Tullibardine's elder brother, who, long exiled, returned to Scotland with Charles Edward in 1745.