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LEGEND OF THE SECRET CHAMBER.
The Castle now again behold,
To hunt the wild boar of the forest, as well as the red deer of the hill, was the great and favourite pastime of the grim cavaliers and warriors of old. The far-famed, richly-wooded, and romantic “Hunter Hill ”rears its umbrageous, lofty head immediately to the south of the village of Glamis, and within a short distance of the hoary old Castle. It is sometimes not very easy satisfactorily to trace the etymology of places which have become historically famous. There can be little doubt, however, but that the name of this hill, in some way or other, refers to the chase, which from a very remote period, was the national amusement of Scotland. In such high estimation was this favourite pastime held by the nobility and gentry, that, by the forest laws of Canute the Great,
no person under the rank of a gentleman was allowed to keep a greyhound.” This hill, therefore, being of very considerable extent, and abounding in game, might on this account have been selected as the favourite arena of the chase, and been distinguished by the pre-eminent title of the “ Hunter Hill."
The“ meet” at Glamis on the morning of the hunt presented
one of the most stirring and picturesque scenes, therefore, that could either by painter or poet be imagined. On a grey, crisp morning in early spring there congregated on the undulating greensward in front of the Castle as gay and brilliant a throng as had ever heretofore assembled in martial array for the chase. Here, the stalwart swarthy mountaineers, attended by their grim and faithful henchmen, rode majestically along in the rear, and under the guidance of the doughty, steel-clad chieftains of each Highland clan, all cheered by the stirring sounds of the pibroch they loved so well. There, the flower of Lowland chivalry, with nodding plume and glancing spear, bestrode their fiery and impatient steeds in all the lordly state of cavaliers of high degree. Yonder, more intensely interesting and beautiful than all besides, on richly caparisoned palfreys, rode sweet lovely groups of ladyes fair, attended and adored by their obsequious courtiers, whose chief delight and duty it was to gratify and obey.
The bugle sounds! To join the hunt they hie away, fast as their gallant steeds can carry them, to the Hunter Hill and Glen of Ogilvy, the favourite resort of the wild boar, the red deer, and the buck. Like arrows shot from the bent bow of the archer, they dart on their several ways—some scouring the pine-clad lofty hills, and some the heath-covered, bleak, uncultivated plains; each by some valiant, chivalrous deed, striving unceasingly to win the coveted trophies of the slain as practical proofs of their daring prowess in the hunt, as well as in the battlefield ; these trophies to be presented, as their wont, to the ladyes fair and gay, who in the one case accompanied them in their Kendal livery of green, and in the other, who either in bower or hall awaited anxiously and lovingly their long-looked for return.
As the result of this unceasing activity, many a noble deer lay dead upon the hill, and many a grizly boar dyed with his heart's blood the rivers of the plain. The day drew near its close, and the sturdy ghillies having collected together the spoils of the chase, and slung them on the horses appointed for the purpose, the wearied and exhausted huntsmen with their fair attendants returned, 'midst the sounds of martial music and the low whispered roundelays of the ladyes, victorious to the Castle.
Then, at the high behest of Glamis, was rudely yet richly spread in the old baronial dining-hall the sumptuous and savoury feast. Venison and reeking game, rich smoked ham and savoury roe, flanked by the wild boar's head, and viands and pasties without name, blent profusely on the hospitable board, while jewelled and capacious goblets, filled with ruby wine, were lavishly handed round to the admiring guests.
The banquet over, the minstrel strung his ancient harp, and charmed the company with his martial songs. And then they tripped it lightly on the oaken floar till the rafters rang with the merry sounds of their midnight revelry.
At break of day exhausted languor crept unconsciously over the numerous guests, and chieftains grim and ladyes gay retired to their several chambers to seek repose ; and silence reigned over the vast old feudal pile, erewhile so full of mirthful revelry.
For three days and nights the hunt and the feast continued, varied with tilt and tournament on the lawn in front of the Castle. The third day of the revelries drew at last to a close, and cavaliers and retainers again retired to seek repose. The waning lights waxed faint and dim. Yet still four dark
. chieftains remained in an inner chamber of the Castle, and sang and drank, and shouted right merrilie. The day broke, yet louder rang the wassail roar; the goblets were over and over again replenished, and the terrible oaths and ribald songs continued, and the dice rattled, and the revelry became louder still, till the massy walls of the old Castle shook and reverberated with the awful sounds of debauchery, blasphemy, and crime.
At length their wild, ungovernable frenzy reached its climax. They had drunk until their eyes had grown dim, and their hands could scarcely throw the hellish dice, when driven
by expiring fury, with fiendish glee they defiantly gnashed their teeth and cursed the God of heaven! Then, with returning strength, and exhausting its last and fitful energies in still louder imprecations and more fearful yells, they deliberately, and with unanimous voice, consigned their guilty souls to the nethermost hell !
Fatal words! In a bright, broad sheet of lurid and sulphurous flame the Prince of Darkness appeared in their midst, and struck—not the shaft of death, but the vitality of eternal life —and there to this day in that dreaded room they sit, transfixed in all their hideous expression of ghastly terror and dismay—the cups of wine spread o'er their bacchanalian shrine, and the dice clattering and rattling as of yore-terribly, yet justly, doomed to drink the wine-cup and throw the dice till the dawning of the GREAT JUDGMENT DAY !
This legend is founded on an incident which is said to have occurred during one of the carousals of the Earl of Crawford, otherwise styled “ Earl Beardie," or the “ Tiger Earl,” in what is now called the “ Secret Room” of the Castle. This room has often been sought for, and while every other part of the Castle has been satisfactorily explored, the search for this celebrated and historic chamber has been in vain. It is said that this room is only known to two, or at most three, individuals at the same time, who are bound not to reveal it unless to their successors in the secret.
LEGEND OF THE GROVE.
We cannot pass this shady grove,
The Hunter Hill of Glamis, as has already been noted, is one of the most beautifully romantic and historically interesting spots in Scotland. It is of vast extent and great height. The wood of Thornton, in which the bloody tragedy recorded in the legend of the murder of Malcolm II. took place, is in reality part of the Hunter Hill, and not a distinct and separate wood as is generally supposed. In this hill and the Castle, therefore, centre nearly all the tales of chivalry and legends of romance which appertain to the district.
The Castle in all its unique grandeur and feudal magnificence I have already attempted to describe. The visits of the tourist and traveller to Glamis embrace often little else than the old hoary pile and its interesting and beautiful surroundings. They, therefore, know comparatively little of the general character of the far-stretching scenery beyond, vieing as it does in bold and rugged outline and quiet nestling