« AnteriorContinuar »
The Secretary, being by this unintelligible mode of reasoning thus exposed to the whole severity of the storm, and overwhelmed at the same time by the King's displeasure, on account of the Darien affair, was deprived of his office, and obliged to retire from public affairs. General indignation banished him so entirely from public life, that, having about this period succeeded to his father's title of Earl of Stair, he dared not take his seat in Parliament as such, on accourt of the threat of the Lord Justice Clerk, that if he did so, he would move that the address and report upon the Glencoe massacre should be produced and inquired into. It was the year 1700 before the Earl of Stair found the affair so much forgotten, that he ventured to assume the place in Parliament to which his rank entitled him -, and he died in 1707, on the very day when the treaty of Union was signed, not without suspicion of suicide.
Of the direct agents in the massacre, Hamilton absconded, and afterwards joined King William's army in Flanders, where Glenlyon, and the officers and soldiers connected with the murder, were then serving. The King, availing himself of the option left to him in the address of the Scottish Pai liament, did not order them home for trial; nor does it appear that any of them were dismissed the service, or punished for their crime, otherwise than by the general hatred of the age in which they lived, and the universal execration of posterity.
Although it is here a little misplaced, I cannot refrain from telling you an anecdote connected with the preceding events, which befell so late as the year 1745-6, during the romantic attempt of Charles Edward, grandson of James II., to regain the throne of his fathers. He marched through the Low Countries, at the head of an army consisting of the Highland clans, and obtained for a time considerable advantages. Amongst other Highlanders, the descendant of the murdered Maclan of Glencoe joined his standard with a hundred and fifty men. The route of the Highland army brought them near to a beautiful seat built by the Earl of Stair, and the principal mansion of his family. An alarm arose in the councils of Prince Charles, lest the Macdonalds of Glencoe should seize this opportunity of marking their recollection of the injustice done to their ancestors, by burning or plundering the house of the descendant of their persecutor; and, as such an act of violence might have done the Prince great prejudice in the eyes of the people of the Low Country, it was agreed that a guard should be posted to protect the house of Lord Stair. Macdonald of Glencoe heard the resolution, and deemed his honour and that of his clan concerned. He demanded an audience of Charles Edward, and admitting the propriety of placing a guard on a house so obnoxious to the feelings of the Highland army, and to those of in. 2 1
his own clan in particular, he demanded, as a matter of right rather than a favour, that the protecting guard should be supplied by the Macdonalds of Glencoe. If this request was not granted, he announced his purpose to return home with his people, and prosecute the enterprise no further. "The Macdonalds of Glencoe," he said, "would be dishonoured by remaining in a service where others than their own men were employed to restrain them, under whatsoever circumstances of provocation, within the line of their military duty." The royal Adventurer granted the request of the highspirited chieftain, and the Macdonalds of Glencoe guarded from the slightest injury the house of the cruel and crafty statesman who had devised and directed the massacre of their ancestors. Considering how natural the thirst of vengeance becomes to men in a primitive state of society, and how much it was interwoven with the character of the Scottish Highlander, Glencoe's conduct on this occasion is a noble instance of a high and heroic preference of duty to passion.
Seest thou yon ocean of stupendous cliff',
Heaving their snowy bosoms to the sky,
The form of nature here is grim and gaunt,
The eagle is the sole inhabitant,
Where rise the hills, as if they long'd to kiss
And join each other in a rude embrace, Like savage lovers in the wilderness,
There sport the desert's fair and chainless race; Far from the hunter's aim, the blood-hound's chase,
The red deer wanders, and the stately stag Bounds gallantly along the mountain's face
While the gray fox seems in the glen to lag;
And see upon the stream of Cona, stand
A few gray stones, the monuments of blood: They show the lowly dwellings of the band
Who cheer'd their murderers in courteous mood; They were not conquer'd by those villains rude,
But in night's solitude, when all was still, When sleep each manly spirit had subdued,
They felt the brand of murder through them thrill,
Then death's long hollow groan rung widely o'er each hill!
Ay, in the hour of slumber and of faith,
When friendship should have come instead of death,
The yell of murder spread from height to height,
Scared by the flames that broke upon her sight;
Oh! for a tongue—an arm to blast the slave
Who did the deed—the heart that gave it birth! May scorn, with her lean finger, point the grave
Where such vile monsters mingle with the earth. Kings are but men ;—yet they, with hellish mirth,
Can sport with hearts more noble than their own; Plant red destruction on the friendly hearth;
Make shackled millions with oppression groan;
Upraise the seeds of peace, which Thou, O God! bast sown.
Cona! though lonely, still thou hast a charm,
Which all thy desolation cannot blight: Within thee Fingal raised his mighty arm,
And Ossian's harp rung to the breeze of night.
That beetles o'er the desolated way,
Floating upon the mountain-storm like spray,
And like a shade he seems of some forgotten day.
But, hark! those echoes stealing o'er the hill, Wild and unearthly ;—are they from his lyre?Ah ! no :—his mountain harp-strings now are still;
Dark nameless time beheld the Bard expire,
When sinks my dust again into the earth,
When all of me has perish'd—that can die; When my free spirit springs to second birth—
O Scotland! may I still thy beauties eye, With feelings strong as those of days gone by,
When the lone stars of heaven have only been Companions in my wanderings. May I fly,
Like spirit of a sound, o'er each loved scene
Thatcharm'd, like thee, Glencoe! my boyhood's hour serene. THE STORM.LIGHTS OF ANZASCA*
A POET'S EPITAPH.
Aat thou a Statesman) in the ran
A Lawyer art thou ?—draw not nigh;
Art thou a Man of purple cheer?
Or art thou One of gallant pride,
Wrapt closely in thy sensual fleece,
—A Moralist perchance appears;
One to whose smooth-rubbed soul can cling
A reasoning, self-sufficing thing,
Shut close the door; press down the latch;
But who is He, with modest looks,
He is retired as noontide dew.
The outward shows of sky and earth.
In common things that round us lie
But he is weak, both Man and Boy,
—Come hither in thy hour of strength;
*" The African, a Tale, and Other Poems. Ey D. Moore," Glasgow, 1S29.
The main road from the Lago Maggiore to the western parts of Switzerland at one time ran through the Valley of Anzasca; and it was once my fortune to be detained all night at a cottage in one of its wildest denies, by a storm which rendered my horses ungovernable. While leaning upon a bench, and looking with drowsy curiosity towards the window—for there was no bed except my host's, of which I did not choose to deprive him—I saw a small, faint light among the rocks in the distance. I at first conceived that it might proceed from a cottage-window; but, remembering that that part of the mountain was wholly uninhabited, and indeed uninhabitable, I roused myself, and calling one of the family, inquired what it meant. While I spoke, the light suddenly vanished; but in about a minute re-appeared in another place, as if the bearei had gone round some intervening rock. The storm at that time raged with a fury which threatened to blow our hut, with its men and horses, over the mountains; and the night was so intensely dark that the edges of the horizon were wholly undistinguishable from the sky.
"There it is again!" said I. "What is that, in the name of God?"
"It is Lelia's lamp!" cried the young man eagerly, who was a son of our host. "Awake, father! Ho, Batista!—Vittorio! Lelia is on the mountains 1" At these cries the whole family sprung up from their lair at once, and, crowding round the window, fixed their eyes upon the light, which continued to appear, although at long intervals, for a considerable part of the night. When interrogated as to the nature of this mystic lamp, the cottagers made no scruple of telling me all they knew, on the sole condition that I should be silent when it appeared, and leave them to mark uninterruptedly the spot where it rested.
To render my story intelligible, it is necessary to say that the minerali and farmers form two distinct classes in the valley of Anzasca. f The occupation of the former, when pursued as a profession, is reckoned disreputable by the other inhabitants, who obtain their living by regular industry; and indeed the manners of the
*From "Travelling Sketches in the North of Italy, the Tyrol, and the Rhine." By Leitch Ritchie.—[Heath's Picturesque Annual for 1832.] t The Valley of Anzasca has been for many centuries known for its gold mines. The minernfi are those whose occupation it is to look fur ore. In stormy nights small lights are to be seen upon the hills, which are supposed to indicate the presence of gold.