And what of the old, grey ivy-mantled castles which stud the lovely glens, and perch, like the eyry of the eagle, on the rugged slopes of the rocky hills, or on the surf-beaten lofty cliffs by the ever-surging sea ? What of the mouldering ruins--still beautiful in their premature decay-of the abbeys, the monasteries, the ancient houses of God, which throw around their holy shrines a rainbow instructive radiance of the never-to-be-forgotten past? What of the still existing magnificent cathedrals, with their noble proportions of transept, nave, and pillared aisle; their delicate tracery of sculptured choir and frescoed dome; their internal garniture of matchless splendour, and their external surroundings of majestic tower and lofty spire ?

Each hath its intensely interesting associations; each hath its authentic, undying history. From the weird old castles, hoary with age—from the depths of their donjon keeps, from the heights of their battlemented towers—still come the rolling peals of martial music, the fitful strains of the minstrel harp, and the loud wassail roar of the midnight revel, all softly blent with the low-whispered roundelay issuing sweetly from the boudoirs of ladyes fair in the witching twilight of summer

From the mouldering abbeys, as well as from the existent cathedrals, arise alike the thunder-notes of the organ, and the softly-chanted songs of the white-robed choir. The aromatic incense still fragrantly perfumes the morning air, and the rolling anthems re-echo back, as of old, from the distant sky.

The associations ? They remain for ever! Gold will not buy them; time cannot destroy them; new places cannot bribe them. From the old they never can be separated.

Ye Goths and Vandals, do your worst? Uproot each sacred vestige to faithful memory's eye most dear; raze, raze the well-remembered walls ; waft, scatter rude to merciless, devastating blasts each palace hall and hospitable roof! Associations mock, defy your power; the heart's affections laugh your wrath to scorn! Ye cannot still the echoes of the



past-gag, silence memory's hallowed voice-rude hush the heavenly music of these holy, cherished songs !

In accompanying me, therefore, through the classical and traditional region of Strathmore, I wish the reader not to be too exacting in regard to places and dates, nor too rigidly examine into, and prosaically compare the startling legendary incidents narrated with the pretended revelations of unauthenticated history.

It is essential ever to bear in mind, while descanting on events so remote, that the earlier period of the history of Scotland is involved in great obscurity; that the first historical chronicles were compiled by the unlettered monks, chiefly from oral tradition; and that the oldest history of Scotland extant is of a comparatively recent date. John Fordoun, a canon of Aberdeen, who flourished in the fourteenth century, was the writer of the first history of Scotland and, although Hailes and Chalmers have somewhat dispelled the darkness which had so long overhung the early period of Scottish history, their discoveries must necessarily be still received with extreme caution, if not with pardonable doubt.

It may be assumed, therefore, that I have no sympathy with those who would obscure the golden radiance of our legendary lore, or sacrilegiously attempt to obliterate the landmarks of poetry and song. In the hurry and excitement of this tumultuous and practically progressive age, let us admire and reverence the more the sacred impositions of genius, and cling with the greater fondness and tenacity to the loved and hallowed associations of the past. Premonitions are not awanting that the termination of the waning era of romance too assuredly draweth nigh. Let us not unfeelingly hasten prematurely the—bitter end.

Although record shows that the present Castle of Glamis was not begun to be built until the time of the first Earl of Kinghorn in 1578, yet for ages before the existence of written records, and claiming remote antiquity, there was a castle and royal residence of considerable extent within the


[ocr errors]

parish. It is quite certain there was a hill fort upon an isolated rocky eminence in the Glen of Denoon, in the Sidlaw district of the parish. This glen, altogether, is a very lovely and romantic spot, reposing calmly among the bleak and barren hills, and forming a pleasant contrast to the gorgeous luxuriance of the “Great Valley."

A sunny nook of Highland glen
Peeps out behind yon mossy den.
Lone spot ! enshrined ’mong heather hills,
And watered fresh by mountain rills,
In modest loveliness afar,
Thou shinest bright, like distant star,
The rosy morning glad to greet,

In all thy loneliness—how sweet ! The Hill of Denoon is steep, and of considerable height, one side of the rock being nearly perpendicular, while the other sides are of tolerably easy ascent. A stone wall, eight or nine feet in thickness, is carried obliquely round the Hill, encircling a space of 340 or 350 yards in circumference. Within this semi-circular and extensive rampart, there are scattered vestiges of the foundations of an immense castellated edifice, with traces of several entrances in the external walls. It is to this Castle, therefore, the following short legend refers.

Eight hundred years have rolled away since the erection of the first Castle of Glamis ; yet from the darkness, turmoil, and strife of that early time comes, weird-like, a legend's muffled chime.

The Hill of Denoon was at that remote period accounted sacred or haunted ground. It was the mythical abode of the elfins and fairies, and formerly a fitting haunt for their midnight revelries.

When the silvery moonbeams lovingly slept in dreamy beauty on the green slopes of the enchanted Hill, and the blue bells and the purple heather were wet with the dew of angels' tears, arrayed in gossamer robes of bespangled gold, with wands of dazzling sheen and lances of magical brightness, would the troops of elfins flauntingly dance to the music of the zephyrs, until the shrill cry of the chanticleer put an end for the time to their mystical enchantments.

Suddenly, as in blue clouds of vapour, they noiselessly vanished away, no sound remaining to break the oppressive stillness, save that of the mountain rivulet, as it fretfully leapt from crag 'to crag, as if piteously regretting the mysterious departure of its ethereal visitors.

Having forsworn the presence and companionship of the terrestrial inhabitants of earth, it was a sacred dictum in the code of the fairies that no habitation for human beings should be permitted to be built within the hallowed precincts of the enchanted ground. Unable of themselves to guard against such sacrilegious encroachment, they had recourse to the aid of, and formed a secret compact with the demons, or evil spirits, whose sole avocation consisted in doing mischief, and bringing trouble and misfortune on those under the ban of their displeasure. By this compact these evil spirits became solemnly bound to prevent any human habitation whatever from being erected on the hill, and to blast in the bud any attempts whensoever and by whomsoever made to break this implacable, unalterable decree.

It was about this time the alarm-note was sounded, as the Queen of the Fairies, who, with an eye more observant than the rest of her compeers, observed one evening in the moonlight, certain indications of the commencement of a human habitation. Horror and dismay were instantly pictured on the fair countenances of the masquerading troops of merry dancers as the awful truth was ominously revealed to them by the recent workmanship of human hands.

A council of war was immediately held, when it was determined to summon at once the guardian spirits to their aid and protection.

“By our sacred compact," cried the Queen, “I command the immediate attendance of all the demons and evil spirits of the air, to avenge the insult now offered to the legions of Fairyland, and to punish the sacrilegious usurpers who dare infringe the sanctity of their mystical domains.”

These demons instantly obeyed the haughty summons, and, in the presence of those they had sworn to protect, they in a twinkling demolished the structure, hurling the well-proportioned foundations over the steep rock into the vale beneath !

The builder, doubtless very much surprised and chagrined when he returned to his work in the early dawn of the following morning, was sorely puzzled to account for the entire disappearance of the solid foundations of the great castle he intended to be erected on the Hill. He did not, however, waste much time, or use much philosophic argument on the matter, and gave orders to prepare new foundations of even a more durable character.

The demons, to show their invincible power, and for the sake of more effect, allowed the new foundations to rise a degree higher than the former, before they gave out their fiat of destruction. In an instant, however, they were again demolished, and the builder—this time gravely assigning some fatal shock of Nature as the cause of the catastrophequietly resolved to repair the damage by instantly preparing new and still more solid foundations.

Additional and more highly skilled workmen engaged, and everything for a time went favourably on, the walls of the castle rising grandly to view in all the solidity and beauty of the favourite architecture of the period.

Biding their time, the demons again ruthlessly swept away as with a whirlwind every vestige of the spacious halls, razing the solid massy foundations so effectually that not one stone was


another ! Things were now assuming a rather serious aspect for the poor builder, who, thinking that he had at last hit upon the true cause of these successive disasters, attributed his misfortunes to the influence of evil spirits. A man of courage and a match, as he imagined, for all the evil spirits of Pandemonium, supposing they were let loose at once against


« ElőzőTovább »