« AnteriorContinuar »
dee; and without the slightest fear them in the garb of the forester, than that any of the numerous points of in the more fantastic fashion of the that interesting but incomprehensible minstrel. Be theirs the lot of Ryno, public document, which Mr. Joseph the hunter, not the darkened destiny of Hume proposes to condense, shall be the bard. unduly obtruded on our notice, we Do, therefore, what you please with shall at once exchange our London the first volume-pack it up in your dwelling for the more pleasant bothy portmanteau, or place it on the shelf, of the hills.
beside Chambers' History and the As for a companion, we shall seek collections of good old Bishop Forbes; none better—for we could not find but if you profess to be a deer-stalker one-than this last publication of the though we fear your profession to Stuarts. And here, once for all, let be false—or if you are but an aspiring us draw a line of distinction betwixt neophyte, and hankering after that the poetry and the prose of these very proud position-or if you merely remarkable brothers. We have not bound your aspirations towards the the remotest intention of sitting in compassing of the death of a roebuck judgment on the “ Lays," or of test -or if simply you have a keen and a ing the poetical merits of John So- kindly eye for nature, and are a lover bieski and Charles Edward, either of the sylvan solitudes—in one by the canons of Longinus, or by other, or all of these characters, we that superior code of literary laws pray you to deal more leisurely with which Maga has promulgated to the the other tome, which is the Hunter's world. The poems which occupy Vade. Mecum, the best guide ever yet exclusively the first of these volumes published to the haunts of the antlered are, with one exception, fugitive in monarch. their nature, and appear to have been We are fond of Mr. Scrope, and penned rather from occasional impulse, we have an excessive partiality for ihan from any deliberate intention of St. John. Two finer fellows never publication. Accordingly, we find that shouldered a rifle; and our conscience most of them relate to topics personal does not accuse us of having used too to the authors themselves,—and with superlative an epithet in their praise. these we do not meddle. In others, This was the more creditable on our there are flashes of the deep national part, because we knew them both to spirit wbich still survives—though our be Southrons; and while freely ad. rulers do not seem to mark it-in mitting the sportsman-like qualities Scotland :-indignation at the neglect of the one, and the strong picturesque with which too many of our national style and spirit of the other, we felt a institutions have been treated, and slight, passing, but pardonable pang mournful lamentings over the misfor- of jealousy, that they should have tunes of a former age. But the im- stepped in, and pre-occupied the pulse which leads to the composition native field. Where, thought we, are of poetry does not always imply our Scottish deer-stalkers ? Can the its accomplishment. Poetry, as an lads not handle a pen as well as art in wbich excellence can only be touch a trigger ? Will none of them, obtained by a combination of the sim- who have been trained to the hills ple and the sublime, requires a study since they were striplings, stand far more intense and serious than the forth for the honour of Albyn, and mere critic is apt to allow. In a for- try a match with these fustian-coated mer Number we devoted an article to circumventers of the stag?
By the an exposition of those principles, which shade of Domhnull Mac-Fhionnlaidh are absolutely invariable in iheir appli- nan Dan, we blush for the literary cation, and which must be thoroughly reputation of our country, and almost understood, if they are not intuitive to wish that we were young enough, the poet; and, being in no mood for ourselves, to take the hill against the repetition, we shall simply say that we invading Sassenach! Al length-and ad here to our recorded doctrines. The we are delighted to see it--the reStuarts, it must be confessed, are proach has been swept away. Two more successful with the rifle than stalwart champions of the forest have the lyre. We would far rather meet risen, in the persons of the Stuarts ;
they have encountered the Englishmen Purdie which decorates the shoulder with their own weapons, and, in our of the former—though the hound that opinion, beaten them hollow.
sometimes attends him, though oftener Mr. Scrope had the merit of produc- he is alone, never slept a single night ing the earliest work in wbich deer- in a kennel, and is the ruggedest spestalking was treated as a distinct and cimen of bis kind-still he is in ihe peculiar branch of the art venatory. enjoyment of advantages incomparaWe speak of it now from recollection, bly superior, for the development of for our copy, somewhat frayed and all his faculties, and the sharpening of worn by the fingers of ambitious every sense. The triumph of the sportsmen, is in the snug corner of a sportsman does not lie so much in the library, some hundred miles to the killing as in the finding of his game. northward. But we remember well Were it otherwise, the pigeon-slayer the Waltonian character of the book of Battersea, or the Red-house, would the professional style in which the have just claims to the honours of Sir elder practitioner enforced his precepts Tristram, and the annihilator of upon the dawning intellect of his poultry to rank with the Nimrods companion ; and the adventures, of the world. Our young friend, the neither few nor feeble, which were Squire, shoots well--that is to say, he depicted in the heart of the Atholl can kill with reasonable precision ; forest. Taken as the production of but, after all, what is he, save an inan English sportsman, Mr. Scrope's strument ? Take Ponto away from book is highly creditable : considered him, tie up Juno, send a bullet through as the manual of a deer-stalker, it is, the brain of Basta, and a pretty beg. at the best, indifferent. Nor, indeed, garly account you will have of it in could it well be otherwise. Not until the evening, when we come to the middle age, if we are informed rightly, empiying of the bags. Or lead him did Mr. Scrope first send a ball into down to the sea-shore, and show him the ample shoulder of a hart: his a whaup, which in the English tongue young blood never beat tumultuously is denominated a curlew; request him in his veins, at the sight of the mighty to use all his possible skill to compass creature rolling over upon the heather, possession of the bird; but do not set and its antlers buried in the moss. your heart on having it, else, as sure His boyish enthusiasm, we sear, was as fate, you are doomed to disappointexpended upon game of less mark and ment. Whaup is quite alive to his likelihood-partridges, perchance, as own interest, and by no means unthey whirred from the turnips, or suspicious of the Saxon, who advances possibly he was “entered” with ibe straight towards him, with a hypocrihare. Wordsworth's maxim, that the tical air of unconcern. Had the hoy is the father of the man, is pecu. Highland lad been there, what a difliarly applicable in sporting matters. ference! He would have dropped, like Upon the character of the country in a stone, behind that rock, wriggled which the latent spirit of the hunter like a serpent over the sand, kept the is earliest developed, depends, in a bird between himself and the sea, great degree, his future success, and taken advantage of every inequality certainly his accomplishment as an in the ground, discerned from the Orion. The young squire, who has attitude of his quarry whether its been brought up in the faith of Sykes, suspicions were aroused or not, and who never stirs abroad without a in ien minutes, a puff of white smoke, keeper, and who is accustomed to see and a report, would have announced his delicate pointers execute their its extermination. As it is, the curlew manæuvres, with almost mathematical remains apparently unconcerned, until precision, on the flat stubbles of Nor- the Lord of the Manor has reduced folk, labours under a huge disadvan- the intermediate distance to a hundred tage in the higher branches of his and twenty yards, and then, with a science, compared with the Highland shrill whistle, takes flight along the boy who has received his education margin of the tide. Or set him to on the hill. What though the single stalk a blackcock, perched high, of an barrel of the latter be a clumsy imple. Autumn morning, on a dyke. How ment, indeed, in competition with the clumsily he sets about it! how miser
able is his stoop ! how wretchedly he should be left behind a stone, or in calculates his distance ! That wide- some covert, before the stalker comawake hat, which, for the sake of mences his approach; not from any symmetry, he has been pleased to recognition of the false approach made surmouni with a feather, is as conspi- against the guides by Mr. Scrope, but
because there is no occasion for an assiscuous to the country, for miles round, tant, and the action of one has more and of course to the blackcock, as celerity, independence, and security from was the white plume of Murat in the discovery, than when a greater number field of battle, and as potent to effect are in motion. The charge made by the a clearance, of which we presently author of "The Art of Deer-stalking, have ocular demonstration.
that the forester is often in the way, and We contend, therefore, that it is ex- sometimes obstructs the shot, is not true, tremely difficult for the man, be he ever unless in instances of inexperienced and so addicted to field-sports, who has been awkward individuals. who are not to be educated in a cultivated country, to whom the guest of the Atholl Forest pro
found among that class of foresters of disembarrass himself of the artificial
poses his remarks. With a MacKenzie, babits which he is tolerably sure to ac
or a MacDonald, a Catanach, and a Macquire. His trolling may be excellent— Hardie, the asserted inconvenience must indeed, English gentlemen are, gene. proceed from the ignorance, or malrally speaking, first-rate shots—but he adroitness of the gray worm which crawls will be deficient in the science of the na. at his back, and who often does not know turalist, and in that singular acuteness what he is doing, or where he is going, of perception which can hardly be with his ideas égaré on his sensitive gained save by an early intimacy with of what he ought to do and nervous for
knees and varnished Purdie, unconscious nature, on the mountain, the moor, or in what he ought not, flurried with eagerthe glen. No subsequent education or ness and disgusted with his posture, and experience can make up for the nor- who, never seeing a deer except once in mal deficiency, least of all in the pursuit the year, is led up to him like a 'blind of an animal so wary, so instinctive, burraid,' by one whose language he and so peculiar in its habits as the scarcely understands. In general, theredeer. Of course we do not mean to fore, the embarrassments of the creep' deny that there is much which may are those of the superior, who is frebe learned. What a pointer is to quently so ignorant, unpractised, and partridges, some wary and experienced
dependent upon the guidance of the foforester may often be made to the has become the modern forest phrase for
rester, that to be taken up to the deer deer; and if you put yourself under the approach of the sportsman. This conbis tuition, and scrupulously obey his temptible term, and its contemptible pracorders, you may very possibly succeed tice, has only been introduced within the in attaining the object of your desires. last quarter century, since the prevalence Nor indeed can you do beiter, up to a
of stalking gentlemen utterly unacquaintcertain point, notwithstanding the ed with the ground and pursuit of deer. strictures of the Sluarts, who are, we
Of old, the Sealgair uasal nam bèann' think, unnecessarily wroth
was initiated to the hill when yet but a at the
'biorach' of a stalker; and when he system which would call in the aid became a matured hill-man, he should no of any supplementary assistance. We more have suffered himself to be taken hope no gentleman who has rented a
up to his deer by an attendant, than a forest for the ensuing season will be Melton fox-hunter to be trained after the deterred from following the feet of a hounds by a whipper-in with a leading Highland Gamaliel on account of any rein. What should have been the sentiridicule which may be attached to the ments of the old chiefs and Uaislean of fact of bis having been “
the last century-- the Dukes of Atholl to a deer. If he should rashly attempt dar-lain dubh Bhail-a-Chroäin—to hear
and Gordon--Glengarrie-John Aberarstalking at his own hand, without any
a deer-hunter speak of being taken up preliminary instruction, we should be
to his deer ! — Certainly that he was sorry to found our hopes of dinner on a noble “amadan' or 'gille-crùbach,' the chance of his acquisition of a who had not the faculties or the limbs to haunch.
act for himself.--But this is only one of "When advancing upon deer' (say the many instances for which the hills of our authors)—except in strange ground Gael may mourn with the mountains of -the forester, or any other attendant Gilboa.--' Quomodo ceciderunt robusti !"
Far are we from insinuating that nervous about your sanatory condition, Mr. Scrope is at all liable to the re. when subjected to the enormity of marks contained in the foregoing damp sheeis-how would you like to extract. On the contrary, we hold spend a few nights on the misty hill, him to be a man of vigorous mind side, or even in the hut of the hunters ? and acute eye, and anything but a We shall take you if you please to the contemptible foe to the stags, after the latter spot, merely premising that, in measure of his own experience. If he order to reach it, we must cross the is deficient at all, it is in the poetry Findhorn, now roaring down in spate. and higher mysteries of the art, which A terrible stream is that Findhorn, as hardly would be expected from a Mr. St. John well knows; but we stranger, whose initiation was neces- question whether he ever ventured to sarily late. Waverley, though a re- ford it on the rise, as was done by one spectable shot, and a man of literary of the Stuarts. For the information taste, would, we apprehend, have of distant friends, we beg to put our described the driving and disposition imprimatur to the following descrip. of the tainchel less effectively, and tion of this furious Highland flood, certainly far less truly, than Fergus which rolled between the residence of Mólvor; so great a difference is there the hunters
and their favourite betwixt the craft of the master and ground. his pupil. Let Mr. Scrope, therefore, rest content with the laurels he has
" That stream, however, which was so won, and the trophies he has taken calm, and bright, and sunny, when the from the forest. Not unforgotten is otters foated down its current in a still his name in Atholl, nor unloved. Let summer's morning, was a fierce and him be a guide to the Southron, but terrible enemy in its anger; and, for a he must not dream of rivalling the great part of the year, the dread of its Stuarts in woodcraft, or Stoddart in uncertainty and danger was a formidable the science of piscation.
cause for the preservation of that pro
found solitude of the forest which so long Of Mr. St. John's "Wild Sports of the made it the sanctuary of deer, roe, and Highlands,” we have already spoken every kind of wild game. The rapidity in terms of unqualified praise. A with which the river comes down, the more delightful volume was never impassable height 10 which it rises in an adapted for the pocket of the sports- incredibly short tiine, its incertitude and man: a more truthful or observant fury, would render it an object of care work has seldom issued from the pen the peasants of the “laich,' unaccusa
to bold forders and boatmen; but with of the naturalist. His sketches and pictures of deer-stalking we allow to with a mountain torrent, and, excepting
tomed, like the Highlanders, to wrestle be as perfect in their way as the com
in rare instances, unable to swim or positions of Landseer; and having manage a coble, it inspires a dread, al. said so much, we shall not make any most amounting to awe, and none except further call upon that gentleman's ourselves ventured to keep a boat above blushes. Still, even his experience is the fishing station of Slui. Pent within limited, and his knowledge imperfect. a channel of rocks from fifty to a hunHe has given us a brilliant account dred and eighty feet in height the rise of his own exploits upon the hill, but of the water is rapidly exaggerated by he has not lived long enough in the the incapability of diffusion; and the
length of its course sometimes concealing wilder haunts of the deer accurately beyond the horizon the storms by which to understand their habits.
it is swelled at its source, its floods then our authors, who for years have been descend with unexpected violence. Fredenizens of the mountains, speaking quently when, excepting a low wreath the tongue of the Gael, wearing the upon Beann-Drineachain, the sun is shinnative garb, and following the chase ing in a cloudless sky, and the water with an ardour and enthusiasm un
scarce ripples over the glittering ford, a paralleled in these degenerate days.
deep hollow sound-a dull approaching Gentlemen who complain of the in
roar may be heard in the gorges of the ferior accommodation afforded by some fisherman can gain the shore, a bank of
river; and almost before the wading of the more distant hostelries of Scot- water, loaded with irees, and rocks, and land—who are shocked at the absence wreck, will come down hree-four-of warming-pans, and tremulously five feet abreast-sweeping all before it
in a thunder of foam and ruin. In length became so frequent as to lead ordinary cases, after two days of rain, to the construction of the hut. th stream will rise twenty or thirty feet —it has risen nearly ten fathoms in its “Such continually and unexpectedly rocky gulf; and once upon this occasion
were the ferries of the Findborn, and it mounted fifteen feet in a quarter of an many such escapes we had, in daylight hour. When the dawn broke, it appeared and in darkness. --Twice I have been sweeping through the trees, which the swamped, often nearly upset, and more evening before hung fifty feet above its than once carried off my legs in the fords ; brink-a black roaring tempest loaded and I say it with humility, and always with ruins and debris, from which were under the mercy of heaven—that I owed seen to rise at times the white skeletons rescue either to actual swimming, or to of trees peeled of their bark, beams and the confidence inspired by that power couples of houses--a cart-a door a when struggling with the strong and cradle, burrying and tilting through the terrible enemy. foam and spray, like the scattered 'float
"This continual exposure to battle and some' of a wreck.
disappointment, however, became at " It may be judged how far it was con- length too vexatious an abridgment of venient in winter to hunt a forest sepa- sport and certainty; and as I wouldrated by such a boundary, of which the and often-have made my bed under a nearest certain passage was by a bridge fir tree rather than go ound by the two miles to the west, with frequently bridge of Daltullich, I resolved upon the view of hunting three miles to the another alternative-to build in the forest east. Often we have gone out in a clear a 'bothan an t-sealgair,' or 'hunter's sapphire morning, when there was scarce hut,' where we might lodge for the night a ripple on the pools, and the water on when it was impossible to cross the the ford was not over our 'glunachan,' water. and when we returned at evening, and “ There is a high and beautiful craig at approached through the dark veil of pines the crook of the river near the 'Little which descended the river, have heard Eas,'-a precipice eighty feet in height, a roar as if the world was rolling together and then like a vast stone helmet erowned down the black trough before us, and with a feathery plume of wood, which as we came out on the bank, found a furi- nodded over its brow. From its top you ous tempest of water, tumbling, and might drop a bullet into the pool below, plunging, and leaping, over stock and but on the south side there is an access rock iwenty feet upon the clatach, where sible woody bank, down which, by plantwe had left it whimpering among the ing your heels firmly in the soil and pebbles in the morning; while, in the among the roots of the trees, there is a far,deep, birch-embowered channel, where descent to a deep but smooth and sandy the stream was then so still and placid ford. Upon the summit of the rock there that you could only guess its course by is, or there was—my blessing upon it! the bright glistening eye which here and a thick and beautiful bird-cherry, which there blinked between the trees and hung over the eraig, and whose pendant stones, -now it came yelling, and skirl, branches, taking root on the edge of the ing, and clamouring down the rocks and steep, shot up again like the banana, and falls as if all the air was full of gibbering, formed a natural arbour and close trellis babbling, laughing demons, who were along the margin of the precipice. Bemuttering, and yammering, and prophe- hind its little gallery, there is a mighty sying, and hooting, at what you were go- holly, under which the snow rarely lays ing to do if you attempted to cross.” in winter, or the rain drops in summer.
Beneath the shelter of this tree, and We pray you at your leisure to within the bank at its foot, I dug a little read on, and you will presently see cell, large enough to hold two beds, a what peril our authors underwent at bench, a hearth, a table, and a 'kistie.' the fearful fords of the Findhorn, The sides were lined with deals well Once or twice in our life we have caulked with moss, and the roof was conbeen in similar jeopardy, and we can
structed in the same manner, but covered testify with unction to the singular with a tarpauling, which lying in the slope sensations which beset a man in the of the surrounding bank, carried off any
water which might descend from thaw midst of a roaring river, when the
or rain,and, when the autumn trees shook rapids are shooting away below, and off their leaves, could not be distinguished the boulder-stones rolling beneath from the adjoining bank. Its door was his feet. We pass over some perilous on the brink of the craig, veiled by the instances of adventure, which at thick bird-cherries on the edge of the VOL, LXIV.