« ElőzőTovább »
the North Highlands—although it could not distinguish entirely the transmitted spirit of revenge, at least kept it within safe bounds; and the feud of M.Pherson and Grant, threatened, in the course of another generation, to die entirely away, or at least to exist only in some vexatious lawsuit, fostered by the petty jealousies of two men of hostile tempers and contiguous property.
It was not, however, without some ebullitions of ancient fierceness, that the flame which had burned for so many centuries seemed about to expire. Once, at a meeting of the country gentlemen, on a question of privilege arising, Bendearg took occasion to throw out some taunts aimed at his hereditary foe, which the fiery Grant immediately received as the signal of defiance, and a challenge was the consequence. The sheriff of the county, however, having got intimation of the affair, put both parties under arrest ; till at length, by the persuasions of their friends—not friends by blood—and the representations of the magistrate, they shook hands, and each pledged his honour to forget—at least never again to remember in speech or action the ancient feud of his family.--This occurrence, at the time, was the object of much in. terest in the country side ; the rather that it seemed to give the lie to the prophecies of which every Highland family has an ample stock in its traditionary chronicles, and which expressly predicted that the enmity of Cairn and Bendearg should not be quenched but in blood ; and on this seemingly cross-grained circumstance, some of the young men who had begun already to be tainted with the heresies of the lowlands, were seen to shake their heads as they reflected on the tales and the faith of their ancestors : but the grey-headed seers shook theirs still more wisely, and answered with the motto of a noble house, 4 I bide
There is a narrow pass between the mountains in the neighbourhood of Bendearg, well known to the traveller who adventures into these wilds in quest of the savage sublimities of nature. little distance it has the appearance of an immense artificial bridge thrown over a tremendous chasm ; but on nearer approach is seen to be a wall of nature's own masonry, formed of vast and rugged bodies of solid rock, piled on each other as if in the giant sport of the archi
Its sides are in some places covered with trees of a considerable size ; and the passenger who has a head steady enough to look down the precipice, may see the eyries of birds of prey beneath his feet. The path across is so narrow that it cannot admit of two persons passing along side ; and indeed none but natives accustomed to the scene from infancy, would attempt the dangerous route at all, though it saves a circuit of three miles. Yet it sometimes happens that two travellers meet in the middle, owing to the curve formed by the pass preventing a view across from either side ; and when this is the case, one is obliged to lie down, while the other crawls over his body.
One day, shortly after the incident we have mentioned, a Highlander was walking fearlessly along the pass ; sometimes bending over to watch the flight of the wild birds that built below, and sometimes detaching a fragment from the top, to see it dashed against the uneven sides, and bounding from rock to rock, its sound echoing the while like
a human voice, and dying in faint and hollow murmurs at the bottom. When he had gained the highest part of the arch, he observed another coming leisurely up on the opposite side: and being himself of the patrician order, called out to him to halt and lie down; the person, however, disregarded the command, and the Highlanders met face to face on the summit. They were Cairn and Bendearg! The two heredi. tary enemies, who would have gloried and rejoiced in mortal strife with each other on a hill side, turned deadly pale at this fatal rencounter. " I was first at the top," said Bendearg, " and called out first-lie down, that I may pass over in peace.”
66 When the Grant prostrates himself before M Pherson,” answered the other, “ it must be with a sword driven through his body.” “ Turn back, then,” said Bendearg, " and repass as you came." 6 Go back yourself, if you like it,” replied Grant, “ I will not be the first of my name to turn before the M«Pherson.” This was their short conference, and the result exactly as each had anticipated.
They then threw their bonnets over the precipice, and advanced with a slow and cautious pace closer to each other. They were both unarmed. Stretching their limbs like men preparing for a desperate struggle, they planted their feet firmly on the ground, compressed their lips, knit their dark brows, and fixing fierce and watchful eyes on each other, stood there prepared for the onset. They both grappled at the same moment ; but being of equal strength, were unable for some time to shift each other's position-standing fixed on a rock, with suppressed breath, and muscles strained to the 6 top of their bent,” like statues carved out of the solid stone. At length M-Pherson, suddenly removing his right foot so as to give him greater purchase, stooped his body, and bent his enemy down with him by main strength, till they both leaned over the precipice, looking downward into the terrible abyss. The contest was as yet doubtful, for Grant had placed his foot firmly on an elevation at the brink, and had equal command of his enemy; but at this moment M-Pherson sunk slowly and firmly on his knee, and while Grant suddenly started back, stooping to take the supposed advantage, whirled him over his head into the gulf. M.Pherson himself fell backwards, his body hanging partly over the rock—a fragment gave way beneath him, and he sunk farther, till, catching with a desperate effort at the solid stone above, he regained his footing. There was a pause of death-like stillness, and the bold heart of M‘Pher. son felt sick and faint. At length, as if compelled unwillingly by some mysterious feeling, he looked down over the precipice.--Grant had caught with a death-gripe by the rugged point of a rock-his enemy was yet almost within his reach !_His face was turned upward, and there was in it horror and despair, but he uttered no word or cry. The next moment he loosed his hold and the next, his brains were dashed out before the eyes of his hereditary foe ; the mangled body disappeared among the trees, and its last heavy and hollow sound arose from the bottom. M-Pherson returned home an altered man. He purchased a commission in the army, and fell bravely in the wars of the Peninsula. The Gaelic name of the place where this tragedy was acted, signifies Hell's Bridge.
THE FIRST OF MARCH.
From the “ Nero Monthly Magazine."
THE bud is in the bough, and the leaf is in the bud,
The perfume and the bloom that shall decorate the flower,
The Summer's in her ark, and this sunny-pinion'd day
Thou hast fann'd the sleeping earth till her dreams are all of flowers,
The vivifying spell has been felt beneath the wave,
The cattle lift their voices from the vallies and the hills,
From the 66 Sketch Book.”
The treasures of the deep are not so precious
I HAVE often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which wo. men sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of a man, and prostrate him in the dust, seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidities and elevation to their character, that at times it approaches to sublimity. Nothing can be more touching than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness, while treading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter and supporter of her husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness, the bitterest blasts of adversity.
As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs ; so is it beautifully ordered by Provi. dence, that woman, who is the mere dependant and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity ; winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.
I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family, knit together in the strongest affection. 6 I can wish you no better lot,” said he with enthusiasm, “ than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your prosperity ; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you.” And indeed, I have observed that a married man, falling into misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world, than a single one ; partly because he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him for subsistence; but chiefly because his spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that, though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas a single man is apt to run to waste and self-neglect ; to fancy himself lonely and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted mansion, for want an inhabitant.
These observations call to mind a little domestic story, of which I was once a witness. My intimate friend Leslie, had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune, but that of my friend was ample ; and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit, and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery about the sex.-" Her life," said he, “ shall be like a fairy tale."
The very difference in their characters produced an harmonious combination : he was of a romantic and somewhat serious cast; she was all life and gladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her the delight ; and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him, as if there alone she sought favour and acceptance. When leaning on his arm, her slender form contrasted finely with his tall manly person. The fond confiding air with which she looked up to him, seemed to call forth a flush of triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness, as if he doted on his lovely burthen for its very helplessness. Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage, with a fairer prospect of felicity.
It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his property in large speculations ; and he had not been married many months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters, it was swept from him, and he found himself reduced almost to penury. For a time he kept his situation to himself, and went about with a haggard countenance, and a breaking heart. His life was but a protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable, was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife ; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news. She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not well with him. She marked his altered looks, and stifled sighs, and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness. She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back to happiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched. A little while, thought he, and the smile will vanish from that cheek-the song will die away from those lips--the lustre of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow ; and the happy heart, which now beats lightly in that bosom, will be weighed down like mine, by the cares and miseries of the world.
At length he came to me one day, and related his whole situation in a tone of the deepest despair. When I had heard him through, I enquired, “ Does your wife know all this ?”At the question, he burst into an agony of tears, 6 For God's sake!” cried he, - if you have