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the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills, While the still Morn went out with sandals
A Thunder-storm, among the Highlands of Scotland.—Wilson.
An enormous thunder-cloud had lain all day over BenNevis, shrouding its summit in thick darkness, blackening its sides and base, wherever they were beheld from the surrounding country, with masses of deep shadow, and especially flinging down a weight of gloom upon that magnificent glen that bears the same name with the mountain, till now the afternoon was like twilight, and the voice of all the streams was distinct in the breathlessness of the vast solitary hollow. The inhabitants of all the straths, vales, glens, and dells, round and about the monarch of Scottish mountains, had, during each successive hour, been expecting the roar of thunder and the deluge of rain; but the huge conglomeration of lowering clouds would not rend asunder, although it was certain that a calm, blue sky could not be restored till all that dreadful assemblage had melted away into torrents, or been driven off by a strong wind from the sea.
All the cattle on the hills, and in the hollows, stood still or lay down in their fear—the wild deer sought in herds the shelter of the pine-covered cliffs—the raven hushed his hoarse croak in some grim cavern, and the eagle left the dreadful silence of the upper heavens. Now and then the shepherds looked from their huts, while the shadow of the thunder-clouds deepened the hues of their plaids and tartans ; and at every creaking of the heavy branches of the pines, or wide-armed oaks, in the solitude of their inaccessible birth-place, the hearts of the lonely dwellers quaked, and they lifted up their eyes to see the first wide flash—the disparting of the masses of darkness—and paused to hear the long, loud rattle of heaven's artillery, shaking the foundations of the everlasting mountains. But all was yet silent.
The peal came at last, and it seemed as if an earthquake had smote the silence. Noi a tree—not a blade of grasi moved, but the blow stunned, as it were, the heart of the solid globe. Then was there a low, wild, whispering, wailing voice, as of many spirits all joining together from every point of heaven-it died away—and then the rushing of rain was heard through the darkness; and, in a few minutes, down came all the mountain torrents in their power, and the sides of all the steeps were suddenly sheeted, far and wide, with waterfalls. The element of water was let loose to run its rejoicing race--and that of fire lent it illumination, whether sweeping in floods along the great open straths, or tumbling in cataracts from cliffs overhanging the eagle's eyrie.
Great rivers were suddenly flooded—and the little mountain rivulets, a few minutes before only silver threads, and in whose fāiry basins the minnow played, were now scarcely fordable to shepherds' feet. It was time for the strongest to take shelter, and none now would have liked to issue from it; for a while there was real dānger to life and limb in the many raging torrents, and in the lightning's flash, the imagination and the soul themselves were touched with awe in the long resounding glens, and beneath the savage scowl of the angry sky. It was such a storm as becomes an era among the mountains; and it was felt that before next morning there would be a loss of lives--not only among the beasts that perish, but among human beings overtaken by the wrath of that irresistible tempest.
Death of old Lewis Cameron.-WILSON. The music ceased, and Hamish Fraser, on coming back into the Shealing,t said, “I see two men on horseback coming up the glen-one is on a white horse.” “Ay-blessed be God, that is the good priest—now will I die in peace. My last earthly thoughts are gone by—he will show me the salvation of Christ-the road that leadeth to eternal life. My dear son-good Mr. Gordon—I felt happy in your prayers and exhortations. But the minister of my own holy religion is at hand—and it is pleasant to die in the faith of one's forefathers. When he comes—you will leave us by ourselves -even my little Flora will go with you into the air for a little. The rain-is it not over and gone ?
* Ey, in the first syllable of this word, has the same sound as in they. + Shealing--a shed, or hut.
And I hear no wind-only the voice of streams.
The sound of horses' feet was now on the turf before the door of the Shealing-and Mr. Macdonald came in with a friend. The dying man looked towards his priest with a happy countenance, and blessed him in the name of God of Christ-and of his blessed mother. He then uttered a few indistinct words addressed to the person who accompanied him—and there was silence in the Shealing. “I was from home when the messenger came to my
house -but he found me at the house of Mr. Christie, the clergyman of the English church at Fort-William, and he would not suffer me to come up the glen alone—so you now see him along with me, Lewis.” The dying man said, “ This indeed is Christian charity. Here, in a lonely Shealing, by the death-bed of a poor old man, are standing three ministers of God—each of a different persuasion—a Catholic—an Episcopal—and a Presbyter. All of you have been kind to me for several years—and now you are all anxious for the salvation of my soul. God has indeed been merciful to me a sinner.”
The Catholic Priest was himself an old man-although thirty years younger
Lewis Cameron-and he was the faithful shepherd of a small flock. He was revered by all who knew him, for the apostolical fervor of his faith, the simplicity of his manners, and the blamelessness of his life. An humble man among the humble, and poor in spirit in the huts of the poor. But he had one character in the Highland glens, where he was known only as a teacher and comforter of the souls of his little flock—and another in the wide world, where his name was not undistinguished among those of men gifted with talent and rich in erudition. He had passed his youth in foreign countries—but had returned to the neighborhood of his birth-place as his life was drawing towards a close, and for several years had resided in that wild region, esteeming his lot, although humble, yet high, if through him a few sinners were made repentant, and résignation brought by his voice to the dying bed.
With this good man had come to the lonely Shealing Mr. Christie, the Episcopalian Clergyman, who had received his education in an English University, and brought to the discharge of his duties in this wild region, a mind cultivated by classical learning, and rich in the literature and philosophy of Greece and Rome. Towards him, a very young person, the heart of the old Priest had warmed on their very first meeting ! and they really loved each other quite like father and son.
The character of Mr. Gordon, although unlike theirs in almost all respects, was yet not uncongenial. His strong native sense,
his generous feelings, his ardent zeal, were ali estimated by them as they deserved ; and while he willingly bowed to their superior talents and acquirements, he maintained an equality with them both, in that devotion to his sācred duties, and Christian care of the souls of his flock, without which a minister can neither be respectable nor happy. In knowledge of the character, customs, modes of thinking and feeling, and the manners of the people, he was greatly superior to both his friends; and his advice, although always given with diffidence, and never but when asked, was most useful to them in the spiritual guidance of their own flocks.
This friendly and truly Christian intercourse having subsisted for several years between these three ministers of religion, the blessed effects of it were visible, and were deeply and widely felt in the hearts of the inhabitants of this district. All causes of jealousy, dislike, and disunion, seemed to vanish into air, between people of these different persuasions, when they saw the true regard which they whom they most honored and revered thus cherished for one another : and when the ordinary unthinking prejudices were laid aside, from which springs so much embitterment of the very blood, an appeal was then made, and seldom in vain, to deeper feelings in the heart, and nobler principles in the understanding, which otherwise would have remained inoperative.
Thus the dwellers in the glens and on the mountains, without ceasing to love and delight in their own mode of worship, and without losing a single hallowed association that clung to the person of the Minister of God, to the walls of the house in which he was worshipped, to the words in which the creature humbly addressed the Creator, or to the ground in which they were all finally to be laid at rest, yet all lived and died in mutual toleration and peace. Nor could there be a more affecting example of this, than what was now seen even in the low and lonely Shealing of poor old
Lewis Cameron. His breath had but a few gasps more to make—but his Shealing was blessed by the presence of those men whose religion, different as it was in many outward things, and often made to be so fatally different in essentials too, was now one and the same, as they stood beside that death-bed, with a thousand torrents sounding through the evening air, and overshadowed in their devotion by the gloom of that stupendous mountain.
All but the gray-haired Priest now left the Shealing, and sat down together in a beautiful circlet of green, enclosed with small rocks most richly ornamented by nature, even in this stormy clime, with many a graceful plant and blooming flower, to which the art of old Lewis and his Flora had added blossoms from the calmer gardens at the Fort. These and the heather perfumed the air—for the rain, though dense and strong, had not shattered a single spray,
every leaf and every bloom lifted itself cheerfully up begemmed with large quivering diamond drops. There sat the silent party—while death was dealing with old Lewis, and the man of God giving comfort to his penitent spirit. They were waiting the event in peace—and even little Flora, elevated by the presence of these holy men, whose office seemed now so especially sacred, and cheered by their fatherly kindness to herself, sat in the middle of the group, and scarcely shed a tear.
In a little while, Mr. Macdonald came out from the Sheal. ing, and beckoned on one of them to approach. They did so, one after the other, and thus singly took their last farewell of the āncient man. His agonies and strong convulsions were all over he was now blind-but he seemed to hear their voices still, and to be quite sensible. Little Flora was the last to go in-and she staid the longest. She came out sobbing, as if her heart would break, for she had kissed his cold lips, from which there was no breath, and his eyelids that fell not down over the dim orbs.
“ He is dead-he is dead !” said the child : and she went and sat down, with her face hidden by her hands, on a stone at some distance from the rest, a little birch tree hanging its limber sprays over her head, and as the breeze touched them, letting down its clear dew-drops on her yellow hair. As she sat there, a few goats, for it was now the hour of evening when they came to be milked from the high cliffy pastures, gathered round her; and her pet lamb, which had been frisking unheeded among the heather, after the hush of the