Part 4 out of 7
Yet, once again, forgive my feeble sway,
And little reck I of the censure sharp
May idly cavil at an idle lay.
Much have I owed thy strains on life's long way,
Through secret woes the world has never known,
When on the weary night dawned wearier day,
And bitterer was the grief devoured alone.--
That I o'erlive such woes, Enchantress! is shine own.
Hark! as my lingering footsteps slow retire,
Some Spirit of the Air has waked thy string!
'Tis now a seraph bold, with touch of fire,
'Tis now the brush of Fairy's frolic wing.
Receding now, the dying numbers ring
Fainter and fainter down the rugged dell;
And now the mountain breezes scarcely bring
A wandering witch-note of the distant spell--
And now, 'tis silent all!--Enchantress, fare thee well!
Abbreviations Used In The Notes.
Cf. (confer), compare.
F.Q., Spenser's Faerie Queene.
Id. (idem), the same.
Lockhart, J. G. Lockhart's edition of Scott's poems (various
P.L., Milton's Paradise Lost.
Taylor, R. W. Taylor's edition of The Lady of the Lake (London,
Wb., Webster's Dictionary (revised quarto edition of 1879).
Worc., Worcester's Dictionary (quarto edition).
The abbreviations of the names of Shakespeare's plays will be
readily understood. The line-numbers are those of the "Globe"
The references to Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel are to canto
and line; those to Marmion and other poems to canto and stanza.
The Lady of the Lake was first published in 1810, when Scott was
thirty-nine, and it was dedicated to "the most noble John James,
Marquis of Abercorn." Eight thousand copies were sold between
June 2d and September 22d, 1810, and repeated editions were
subsequently called for. In 1830, the following "Introduction"
was prefixed to the poem by the author:--
After the success of Marmion, I felt inclined to exclaim with
Ulysses in the Odyssey:
"One venturous game my hand has won to-day--
Another, gallants, yet remains to play."
The ancient manners, the habits and customs of the aboriginal
race by whom the Highlands of Scotland were inhabited, had always
appeared to me peculiarly adapted to poetry. The change in their
manners, too, had taken place almost within my own time, or at
least I had learned many particulars concerning the ancient state
of the Highlands from the old men of the last generation. I had
always thought the old Scottish Gael highly adapted for poetical
composition. The feuds and political dissensions which, half a
century earlier, would have rendered the richer and wealthier
part of the kingdom indisposed to countenance a poem, the scene
of which was laid in the Highlands, were now sunk in the generous
compassion which the English, more than any other nation, feel
for the misfortunes of an honourable foe. The Poems of Ossian
had by their popularity sufficiently shown that, if writings on
Highland subjects were qualified to interest the reader, mere
national prejudices were, in the present day, very unlikely to
interfere with their success.
I had also read a great deal, seen much, and heard more, of that
romantic country where I was in the habit of spending some time
every autumn; and the scenery of Lock Katrine was connected with
the recollection of many a dear friend and merry expedition of
former days. This poem, the action of which lay among scenes so
beautiful and so deeply imprinted on my recollections, was a
labour of love, and it was no less so to recall the manners and
incidents introduced. The frequent custom of James IV., and
particularly of James V., to walk through their kingdom in
disguise, afforded me the hint of an incident which never fails
to be interesting if managed with the slightest address or
I may now confess, however, that the employment, though attended
with great pleasure, was not without its doubts and anxieties. A
lady, to whom I was nearly related, and with whom I lived, during
her whole life, on the most brotherly terms of affection, was
residing with me at the time when the work was in progress, and
used to ask me, what I could possibly do to rise so early in the
morning (that happening to be the most convenient to me for
composition). At last I told her the subject of my meditations;
and I can never forget the anxiety and affection expressed in her
reply. "Do not be so rash," she said, "my dearest cousin.[FN#2]
You are already popular,--more so, perhaps, than you yourself
will believe, or than even I, or other partial friends, can
fairly allow to your merit. You stand high,--do not rashly
attempt to climb higher, and incur the risk of a fall; for,
depend upon it, a favourite will not be permitted even to stumble
with impunity." I replied to this affectionate expostulation in
the words of Montrose,--
"'He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who dares not put it to the touch
To gain or lose it all.'
"If I fail," I said, for the dialogue is strong in my
recollection, "it is a sign that I ought never to have succeeded,
and I will write prose for life: you shall see no change in my
temper, nor will I eat a single meal the worse. But if I
'Up with the bonnie blue bonnet,
The dirk, and the feather, and a'!'"
Afterwards I showed my affectionate and anxious critic the first
canto of the poem, which reconciled her to my imprudence.
Nevertheless, although I answered thus confidently, with the
obstinacy often said to be proper to those who bear my surname, I
acknowledge that my confidence was considerably shaken by the
warning of her excellent taste and unbiased friendship. Nor was
I much comforted by her retraction of the unfavourable judgment,
when I recollected how likely a natural partiality was to effect
that change of opinion. In such cases, affection rises like a
light on the canvas, improves any favourable tints which it
formerly exhibited, and throws its defects into the shade.
I remember that about the same time a friend started in to "heeze
up my hope," like the "sportsman with his cutty gun," in the old
song. He was bred a farmer, but a man of powerful understanding,
natural good taste, and warm poetical feeling, perfectly
competent to supply the wants of an imperfect or irregular
education. He was a passionate admirer of field-sports, which we
often pursued together.
As this friend happened to dine with me at Ashestiel one day, I
took the opportunity of reading to him the first canto of The
Lady of the Lake, in order to ascertain the effect the poem was
likely to produce upon a person who was but too favourable a
representative of readers at large. It is of course to be
supposed that I determined rather to guide my opinion by what my
friend might appear to feel, than by what he might think fit to
say. His reception of my recitation, or prelection, was rather
singular. He placed his hand across his brow, and listened with
great attention through the whole account of the stag-hunt, till
the dogs threw themselves into the lake to follow their master,
who embarks with Ellen Douglas. He then started up with a sudden
exclamation, struck his hand on the table, and declared, in a
voice of censure calculated for the occasion, that the dogs must
have been totally ruined by being permitted to take the water
after such a severe chase. I own I was much encouraged by the
species of revery which had possessed so zealous a follower of
the sports of the ancient Nimrod, who had been completely
surprised out of all doubts of the reality of the tale. Another
of his remarks gave me less pleasure. He detected the identity
of the King with the wandering knight, Fitz-James, when he winds
his bugle to summon his attendants. He was probably thinking of
the lively, but somewhat licentious, old ballad, in which the
denouement of a royal intrigue takes place as follows:
"He took a bugle frae his side,
He blew both loud and shrill,
And four and twenty belted knights
Came skipping over the hill;
Then he took out a little knife,
Let a' his duddies fa',
And he was the brawest gentleman
That was amang them a'.
And we'll go no more a roving," etc.
This discovery, as Mr. Pepys says of the rent in his camlet
cloak, was but a trifle, yet it troubled me; and I was at a good
deal of pains to efface any marks by which I thought my secret
could be traced before the conclusion, when I relied on it with
the same hope of producing effect, with which the Irish post-boy
is said to reserve a "trot for the avenue."
I took uncommon pains to verify the accuracy of the local
circumstances of this story. I recollect, in particular, that to
ascertain whether I was telling a probable tale, I went into
Perthshire, to see whether King James could actually have ridden
from the banks of Loch Vennachar to Stirling Castle within the
time supposed in the poem, and had the pleasure to satisfy myself
that it was quite practicable.
After a considerable delay, The Lady of the Lake appeared in
June, 1810; and its success was certainly so extraordinary as to
induce me for the moment to conclude that I had at last fixed a
nail in the proverbially inconstant wheel of Fortune, whose
stability in behalf of an individual who had so boldly courted
her favours for three successive times had not as yet been
shaken. I had attained, perhaps, that degree of reputation at
which prudence, or certainly timidity, would have made a halt,
and discontinued efforts by which I was far more likely to
diminish my fame than to increase it. But, as the celebrated
John Wilkes is said to have explained to his late Majesty, that
he himself, amid his full tide of popularity, was never a
Wilkite, so I can, with honest truth, exculpate myself from
having been at any time a partisan of my own poetry, even when it
was in the highest fashion with the million. It must not be
supposed that I was either so ungrateful, or so superabundantly
candid, as to despise or scorn the value of those whose voice had
elevated me so much higher than my own opinion told me I
deserved. I felt, on the contrary, the more grateful to the
public, as receiving that from partiality to me, which I could
not have claimed from merit; and I endeavoured to deserve the
partiality, by continuing such exertions as I was capable of for
It may be that I did not, in this continued course of scribbling,
consult either the interest of the public or my own. But the
former had effectual means of defending themselves, and could, by
their coldness, sufficiently check any approach to intrusion; and
for myself, I had now for several years dedicated my hours so
much to literary labour that I should have felt difficulty in
employing myself otherwise; and so, like Dogberry, I generously
bestowed all my tediousness on the public, comforting myself with
the reflection that, if posterity should think me undeserving of
the favour with which I was regarded by my contemporaries, "they
could not but say I had the crown," and had enjoyed for a time
that popularity which is so much coveted.
I conceived, however, that I held the distinguished situation I
had obtained, however unworthily, rather like the champion of
pugilism,[FN#3] on the condition of being always ready to show
proofs of my skill, than in the manner of the champion of
chivalry, who performs his duties only on rare and solemn
occasions. I was in any case conscious that I could not long
hold a situation which the caprice, rather than the judgment, of
the public, had bestowed upon me, and preferred being deprived of
my precedence by some more worthy rival, to sinking into contempt
for my indolence, and losing my reputation by what Scottish
lawyers call the negative prescription. Accordingly, those who
choose to look at the Introduction to Rokeby, will be able to
trace the steps by which I declined as a poet to figure as a
novelist; as the ballad says, Queen Eleanor sunk at Charing Cross
to rise again at Queenhithe.
It only remains for me to say that, during my short pre-eminence
of popularity, I faithfully observed the rules of moderation
which I had resolved to follow before I began my course as a man
of letters. If a man is determined to make a noise in the world,
he is as sure to encounter abuse and ridicule, as he who gallops
furiously through a village must reckon on being followed by the
curs in full cry. Experienced persons know that in stretching to
flog the latter, the rider is very apt to catch a bad fall; nor
is an attempt to chastise a malignant critic attended with less
danger to the author. On this principle, I let parody, burlesque,
and squibs find their own level; and while the latter hissed most
fiercely, I was cautious never to catch them up, as schoolboys
do, to throw them back against the naughty boy who fired them
off, wisely remembering that they are in such cases apt to
explode in the handling. Let me add, that my reign[FN#4] (since
Byron has so called it) was marked by some instances of good-
nature as well as patience. I never refused a literary person of
merit such services in smoothing his way to the public as were in
my power; and I had the advantage, rather an uncommon one with
our irritable race, to enjoy general favour without incurring
permanent ill-will, so far as is known to me, among any of my
Abbotsford, April, 1830.
Our limits do not permit us to add any extended selections from
the many critical notices of the poem. The verdict of Jeffrey,
in the Edinburgh Review, on its first appearance, has been
"Upon the whole, we are inclined to think more highly of The Lady
of the Lake than of either of its author's former publications
[the Lay and Marmion]. We are more sure, however, that it has
fewer faults than that it has greater beauties; and as its
beauties bear a strong resemblance to those with which the public
has been already made familiar in these celebrated works, we
should not be surprised if its popularity were less splendid and
remarkable. For our own parts, however, we are of opinion that
it will be oftener read hereafter than either of them; and that,
if it had appeared first in the series, their reception would
have been less favourable than that which it has experienced. It
is more polished in its diction, and more regular in its
versification; the story is constructed with infinitely more
skill and address; there is a greater proportion of pleasing and
tender passages, with much less antiquarian detail; and, upon the
whole, a larger variety of characters, more artfully and
judiciously contrasted. There is nothing so fine, perhaps, as
the battle in Marmion, or so picturesque as some of the scattered
sketches in the Lay; but there is a richness and a spirit in the
whole piece which does not pervade either of those poems, --a
profusion of incident and a shifting brilliancy of colouring that
reminds us of the witchery of Ariosto, and a constant elasticity
and occasional energy which seem to belong more peculiarly to the
author now before us."
Each canto is introduced by one or more Spenserian stanzas,[FN#5]
forming a kind of prelude to it. Those prefixed to the first
canto serve as an introduction to the whole poem, which is
"inspired by the spirit of the old Scottish minstrelsy."
2. Witch-elm. The broad-leaved or wych elm (Ulmus montana),
indigenous to Scotland. Forked branches of the tree were used in
the olden time as divining-rods, and riding switches from it were
supposed to insure good luck on a journey. In the closing
stanzas of the poem (vi. 846) it is called the "wizard elm."
Tennyson (In Memoriam, 89) refers to
"Witch-elms that counterchange the floor
Of this flat lawn with dusk and bright."
Saint Fillan was a Scotch abbot of the seventh century who became
famous as a saint. He had two springs, which appear to be
confounded by some editors of the poem. One was at the eastern
end of Loch Earn, where the pretty modern village of St. Fillans
now stands, under the shadow of Dun Fillan, or St. Fillan's
Hills, six hundred feet high, on the top of which the saint used
to say his prayers, as the marks of his knees in the rock still
testify to the credulous. The other spring is at another village
called St. Fillans, nearly thirty miles to the westward, just
outside the limits of our map, on the road to Tyndrum. In this
Holy Pool, as it is called, insane folk were dipped with certain
ceremonies, and then left bound all night in the open air. If
they were found loose the next morning, they were supposed to
have been cured. This treatment was practised as late as 1790,
according to Pennant, who adds that the patients were generally
found in the morning relieved of their troubles--by death.
Another writer, in 1843, says that the pool is still visited, not
by people of the vicinity, who have no faith in its virtue, but
by those from distant places. Scott alludes to this spring in
Marmion, i. 29:
"Thence to Saint Fillan's blessed well,
Whose springs can frenzied dreams dispel,
And the crazed brain restore."
3. And down the fitful breeze, etc. The original MS. reads:
"And on the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy, with her verdant ring,
Mantled and muffled each melodious string,--
O Wizard Harp, still must thine accents sleep?"
10. Caledon. Caledonia, the Roman name of Scotland.
14. Each according pause. That is, each pause in the singing.
In Marmion, ii. 11, according is used of music that fills the
intervals of other music:
"Soon as they neared his turrets strong,
The maidens raised Saint Hilda's song,
And with the sea-wave and the wind
Their voices, sweetly shrill, combined,
And made harmonious close;
Then, answering from the sandy shore,
Half-drowned amid the breakers' roar,
According chorus rose."
The MS. reads here:
"At each according pause thou spokest aloud
Thine ardent sympathy sublime and high."
28. The stag at eve had drunk his fill. The metre of the poem
proper is iambic, that is, with the accent on the even syllables,
and octosyllabic, or eight syllables to the line.
29. Monan's rill. St. Monan was a Scotch martyr of the fourth
century. We can find no mention of any rill named for him.
31. Glenartney. A valley to the north-east of Callander, with
Benvoirlich (which rises to the height of 3180 feet) on the
north, and Uam-Var (see 53 below) on the south, separating it
from the valley of the Teith. It takes its name from the Artney,
the stream flowing through it.
32. His beacon red. The figure is an appropriate one in
describing this region, where fires on the hill-tops were so
often used as signals in the olden time. Cf. the Lay, iii. 379:
"And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen,
Each with warlike tidings fraught;
Each from each the signal caught," etc.
34. Deep-mouthed. Cf. Shakespeare, 1 Hen. VI. ii. 4. 12:
"Between two dogs, which hath the deeper mouth;" and T. of S.
ind. 1. 18: "the deep-mouthed brach" (that is, hound).
The MS. reads:
"The bloodhound's notes of heavy bass
Resounded hoarsely up the pass."
35. Resounded ... rocky. The poet often avails himself of "apt
alliteration's artful aid," as here, and in the next two lines;
most frequently in pairs of words.
38. As Chief, etc. Note here, as often, the simile put BEFORE
that which it illustrates,--an effective rhetorical, though not
the logical, arrangement.
45. Beamed frontlet. Antlered forehead.
46. Adown. An instance of a purely poetical word, not
admissible in prose.
49. Chase. Here put for those engaged in the chase; as in 101
and 171, below. One of its regular meanings is the OBJECT of the
chase, or the animal pursued.
53. Uam-Var. "Ua-Var, as the name is pronounced, or more
properly Uaigh-mor, is a mountain to the north-east of the
village of Callander, in Menteith, deriving its name, which
signifies the great den, or cavern, from a sort of retreat among
the rocks on the south side, said, by tradition, to have been the
abode of a giant. In latter times, it was the refuge of robbers
and banditti, who have been only extirpated within these forty or
fifty years. Strictly speaking, this stronghold is not a cave, as
the name would imply, but a sort of small enclosure, or recess,
surrounded with large rocks and open above head. It may have
been originally designed as a toil for deer, who might get in
from the outside, but would find it difficult to return. This
opinion prevails among the old sportsmen and deer-stalkers in the
54. Yelled. Note the emphatic force of the inversion, as in 59
below. Cf. 38 above.
Opening. That is, barking on view or scent of the game; a
hunting term. Cf. Shakespeare, M. W. iv. 2. 209: "If I bark out
thus upon no trail never trust me when I open again."
The description of the echo which follows is very spirited.
66. Cairn. Literally, a heap of stones; here put poetically for
the rocky point which the falcon takes as a look-out.
69. Hurricane. A metaphor for the wild rush of the hunt.
71. Linn. Literally, a deep pool; but often = cataract, as in
Bracklinn, ii. 270 below (cf. vi. 488), and sometimes =
73. On the lone wood. Note the musical variation in the measure
here; the 1st, 3d, and 4th syllables being accented instead of
the 2d and 4th. It is occasionally introduced into iambic metre
with admirable effect. Cf. 85 and 97 below.
76. The cavern, etc. See on 53 above.
80. Perforce. A poetical word. See on 46 above.
84. Shrewdly. Severely, keenly; a sense now obsolete. Shrewd
originally meant evil, mischievous. Cf. Shakespeare, A. Y. L. v.
4. 179, where it is said that those
"That have endur'd shrewd days and nights with us
Shall share the good of our returned fortune."
In Chaucer (Tale of Melibocus) we find, "The prophete saith: Flee
shrewdnesse, and do goodnesse" (referring to Ps. xxxiv. 14).
89. Menteith. The district in the southwestern part of
Perthshire, watered by the Teith.
91. Mountain and meadow, etc. See on 35 above. Moss is used in
the North-of-England sense of a boggy or peaty district, like the
famous Chat Moss between Liverpool and Manchester.
93. Lochard. Loch Ard is a beautiful lakelet, about five miles
south of Loch Katrine. On its eastern side is the scene of Helen
Macgregor's skirmish with the King's troops in Rob Roy; and near
its head, on the northern side, is a waterfall, which is the
original of Flora MacIvor's favorite retreat in Waverley.
Aberfoyle is a village about a mile and a half to the east of the
95. Loch Achray. A lake between Loch Katrine and Loch
Vennachar, lying just beyond the pass of the Trosachs.
97. Benvenue. A mountain, 2386 feet in height, on the southern
side of Loch Katrine.
98. With the hope. The MS. has "with the THOUGHT," and "flying
HOOF" in the next line.
102. 'Twere. It would be. Cf. Shakespeare, Macb. ii. 2. 73:
"To know my deed, 't were best not know myself."
103. Cambusmore. The estate of a family named Buchanan, whom
Scott frequently visited in his younger days. It is about two
miles from Callander, on the wooded banks of the Keltie, a
tributary of the Teith.
105. Benledi. A mountain, 2882 feet high, northwest from
Callander. The name is said to mean "Mountain of God."
106. Bochastle's heath. A moor between the east end of Loch
Vennachar and Callander. See also on v. 298 below.
107. The flooded Teith. The Teith is formed by streams from
Loch Voil and from Loch Katrine (by way of Loch Achray and Loch
Vennachar), which unite at Callander. It joins the Forth near
111. Vennachar. As the map shows, this "Lake of the Fair
Valley" is the most eastern of the three lakes around which the
scenery of the poem lies. It is about five miles long and a mile
and a half wide.
112. The Brigg of Turk. This brig, or bridge (cf. Burns's poem
of The Brigs of Ayr), is over a stream that comes down from
Glenfinlas and flows into the one connecting Lochs Achray and
Vennachar. According to Graham, it is "the scene of the death of
a wild boar famous in Celtic tradition."
114. Unbated. Cf. Shakespeare, M. of V. ii. 6. 11:
"Where is the horse that doth untread again
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first?"
115. Scourge and steel. Whip and spur. Steel is often used for
the sword (as in v. 239 below: "foeman worthy of their steel"),
the figure being of the same sort as here--"the material put for
the thing made of it." Cf. v. 479 below.
117. Embossed. An old hunting term. George Turbervile, in his
Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting (A.D. 1576), says: "When the hart
is foamy at the mouth, we say, that he is emboss'd." Cf.
Shakespeare, T. of S. ind. 1. 17: "Brach Merriman, the poor cur,
is emboss'd;" and A. and C. iv. 13. 3:
"the boar of Thessaly
Was never so emboss'd."
120. Saint Hubert's breed. Scott quotes Turbervile here: "The
hounds which we call Saint Hubert's hounds are commonly all
blacke, yet neuertheless, the race is so mingled at these days,
that we find them of all colours. These are the hounds which the
abbots of St. Hubert haue always kept some of their race or kind,
in honour or remembrance of the saint, which was a hunter with S.
Eustace. Whereupon we may conceiue that (by the grace of God)
all good huntsmen shall follow them into paradise."
127. Quarry. The animal hunted; another technical term.
Shakespeare uses it in the sense of a heap of slaughtered game;
as in Cor. i. 1. 202:
"Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves," etc.
Cf. Longfellow, Hiawatha:
"Seldom stoops the soaring vulture
O'er his quarry in the desert."
130. Stock. Tree-stump. Cf. Job, xiv. 8.
133. Turn to bay. Like stand at bay, etc., a term used when the
stag, driven to extremity, turns round and faces his pursuers.
Cf. Shakespeare, 1. Hen. VI. iv. 2. 52, where it is used
figuratively (as in vi. 525 below):
"Turn on the bloody hounds with heads of steel,
And make the cowards stand aloof at bay;"
and T. of S. v. 2. 56: " 'T is thought your deer does hold you at
a bay," etc.
137. For the death-wound, etc. Scott has the following note
here: "When the stag turned to bay, the ancient hunter had the
perilous task of going in upon, and killing or disabling, the
desperate animal. At certain times of the year this was held
particularly dangerous, a wound received from a stag's horn being
then deemed poisonous, and more dangerous than one from the tusks
of a boar, as the old rhyme testifies:
'If thou be hurt with hart, it bring thee to thy bier,
But barber's hand will boar's hurt heal, therefore thou
need'st not fear.'
At all times, however, the task was dangerous, and to be
adventured upon wisely and warily, either by getting behind the
stag while he was gazing on the hounds, or by watching an
opportunity to gallop roundly in upon him, and kill him with the
sword. See many directions to this purpose in the Booke of
Hunting, chap. 41. Wilson, the historian, has recorded a
providential escape which befell him in the hazardous sport,
while a youth, and follower of the Earl of Essex:
'Sir Peter Lee, of Lime, in Cheshire, invited my lord one summer
to hunt the stagg. And having a great stagg in chase, and many
gentlemen in the pursuit, the stag took soyle. And divers,
whereof I was one, alighted, and stood with swords drawne, to
have a cut at him, at his coming out of the water. The staggs
there being wonderfully fierce and dangerous, made us youths more
eager to be at him. But he escaped us all. And it was my
misfortune to be hindered of my coming nere him, the way being
sliperie, by a falle; which gave occasion to some, who did not
know mee, to speak as if I had falne for feare. Which being told
mee, I left the stagg, and followed the gentleman who [first]
spake it. But I found him of that cold temper, that it seems his
words made an escape from him; as by his denial and repentance it
appeared. But this made mee more violent in the pursuit of the
stagg, to recover my reputation. And I happened to be the only
horseman in, when the dogs sett him up at bay; and approaching
near him on horsebacke, he broke through the dogs, and run at
mee, and tore my horse's side with his hornes, close by my thigh.
Then I quitted my horse, and grew more cunning (for the dogs had
sette him up againe), stealing behind him with my sword, and cut
his hamstrings; and then got upon his back, and cut his throate;
which, as I was doing, the company came in, and blamed my
rashness for running such a hazard' (Peck's Desiderata Curiosa,
138. Whinyard. A short stout sword or knife; the same as the
whinger of the Lay of Last Minstrel, v. 7:
"And whingers, now in friendship bare
The social meal to part and share,
Had found a bloody sheath."
142. Turned him. In Elizabethan, and still more in earlier
English, personal pronouns were often used reflexively; and this,
like many other old constructions, is still used in poetry.
145. Trosachs. "The rough or bristled territory" (Graham); the
wild district between Lochs Katrine and Vennachar. The name is
now especially applied to the pass between Lochs Katrine and
147. Close couched. That is, as he lay close couched, or
hidden. Such ellipses are common in poetry.
150. Amain. With main, or full force. We still say "with might
151. Chiding. Not a mere figurative use of chide as we now
understand it (cf. 287 below), but an example of the old sense of
the word as applied to any oft-repeated noise. Shakespeare uses
it of the barking of dogs in M. N. D. iv. 1. 120:
"never did I hear
Such gallant chiding;"
of the wind, as in A. Y. L. ii. 1. 7: "And churlish chiding of
the winter's wind;" and of the sea, as in 1 Hen. IV. iii. 1. 45:
That chides the banks of England;"
and Hen. VIII. iii. 2. 197: "the chiding flood."
163. The banks of Seine. James visited France in 1536, and sued
for the hand of Magdalen, daughter of Francis I. He married her
the following spring, but she died a few months later. He then
married Mary of Guise, whom he had doubtless seen while in
166. Woe worth the chase. That is, woe be to it. This worth is
from the A. S. weorthan, to become. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. ii. 6.
"Wo worth the man,
That first did teach the cursed steele to bight
In his owne flesh, and make way to the living spright!"
See also Ezek. xxx. 2.
180. And on the hunter, etc. The MS. reads:
"And on the hunter hied his pace,
To meet some comrades of the chase;"
and the 1st ed. retains "pace" and "chase."
184. The western waves, etc. This description of the Trosachs
was written amid the scenery it delineates, in the summer of
1809. The Quarterly Review (May, 1810) says of the poet: "He sees
everything with a painter's eye. Whatever he represents has a
character of individuality, and is drawn with an accuracy and
minuteness of discrimination which we are not accustomed to
expect from mere verbal description. It is because Mr. Scott
usually delineates those objects with which he is perfectly
familiar that his touch is so easy, correct, and animated. The
rocks, the ravines, and the torrents which he exhibits are not
the imperfect sketches of a hurried traveller, but the finished
studies of a resident artist." See also on 278 below.
Ruskin (Modern Painters, iii. 278) refers to "the love of color"
as a leading element in Scott's love of beauty. He might have
quoted the present passage among the illustrations he adds.
195. The native bulwarks, etc. The MS. has "The mimic castles
of the pass."
196. The tower, etc. Cf. Gen. xi. 1-9.
198. The rocky. The 1st ed. has "Their rocky," etc.
204. Nor were, etc. The MS. reads: "Nor were these mighty
208. Dewdrop sheen. Not "dewdrops sheen," or "dewdrops' sheen,"
as sometimes printed. Sheen = shining, bright; as in v. 10
below. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. ii. 1. 10: "So faire and sheene;" Id.
iii. 4. 51: "in top of heaven sheene," etc. See Wb. The MS. has
here: "Bright glistening with the dewdrop sheen."
212. Boon. Bountiful. Cf. Milton, P. L. iv. 242:
"Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice art
In beds and curious knots, but nature boon
Pour'd forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain."
See also P. L. ix. 793: "jocund and boon."
217. Bower. In the old sense of chamber, lodging-place; as in
iv. 413 and vi. 218 below. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. iii. 1. 58:
"Eftesoones long waxen torches weren light
Unto their bowres to guyden every guest."
For clift (= cleft), the reading of the 1st ed. and
unquestionably what Scott wrote, every other edition that we have
seen reads "cliff."
219. Emblems of punishment and pride. See on iii. 19 below.
222, 223. Note the imperfect rhyme in breath and beneath. Cf.
224-25, 256-57, 435-36, 445-46 below. Such instances are
comparatively rare in Scott's poetry. Some rhymes that appear to
be imperfect are to be explained by peculiarities of Scottish
pronunciation. See on 363 below.
227. Shaltered. The MS. has "scathed;" also "rugged arms
athwart the sky" in 229, and "twinkling" for glistening in 231.
The 1st ed. has "scattered" for shattered; corrected in the
231. Streamers. Of ivy or other vines.
238. Affording, etc. The MS. reads:
"Affording scarce such breadth of flood
As served to float the wild-duck's brood."
247. Emerging, etc. The MS. has "Emerging dry-shod from the
254. And now, to issue from the glen, etc. "Until the present
road was made through the romantic pass which I have
presumptuously attempted to describe in the preceding stanzas,
there was no mode of issuing out of the defile called the
Trosachs, excepting by a sort of ladder, composed of the branches
and roots of trees" (Scott).
263. Loch Katrine. In a note to The Fair Maid of Perth, Scott
derives the name from the Catterans, or Highland robbers, that
once infested the shores of the lake. Others make it "the Lake
of the Battle," in memory of some prehistoric conflict.
267. Livelier. Because in motion; like living gold above.
270. Benvenue. See on 97 above.
271. Down to. Most editions misprint "down on."
272. Confusedly. A trisyllable; as in ii. 161 below, and in the
Lay, iii. 337: "And helms and plumes, confusedly tossed."
274. Wildering. Bewildering. Cf. Dryden, Aurungzebe, i. 1:
"wilder'd in the way," etc. See also 434 and v. 22 below.
275. His ruined sides, etc. The MS. reads:
"His ruined sides and fragments hoar,
While on the north to middle air."
277. Ben-an. This mountain, 1800 feet high, is north of the
Trosachs, separating that pass from Glenfinlas.
278. From the steep, etc. The MS. reads:
"From the high promontory gazed
The stranger, awe-struck and amazed."
The Critical Review (Aug. 1820) remarks of this portion of the
poem (184 fol.): "Perhaps the art of landscape-painting in poetry
has never been displayed in higher perfection than in these
stanzas, to which rigid criticism might possibly object that the
picture is somewhat too minute, and that the contemplation of it
detains the traveller somewhat too long from the main purpose of
his pilgrimage, but which it would be an act of the greatest
injustice to break into fragments and present by piecemeal. Not
so the magnificent scene which bursts upon the bewildered hunter
as he emerges at length from the dell, and commands at one view
the beautiful expanse of Loch Katrine."
281. Churchman. In its old sense of one holding high office in
the church. Cf. Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI. i. 3. 72, where Cardinal
Beaufort is called "the imperious churchman," etc.
285. Cloister. Monastery; originally, the covered walk around
the inner court of the building.
287. Chide. Here, figuratively, in the modern sense. See in
290. Should lave. The 1st ed. has "did lave," which is perhaps
to be preferred.
294. While the deep peal's. For the measure, see on 73 above.
300. To friendly feast, etc. The MS. has "To hospitable feast
302. Beshrew. May evil befall (see on shrewdly, 84 above); a
mild imprecation, often used playfully and even tenderly. Cf.
Shakespeare, 2 Hen. IV. ii. 3. 45:
"Beshrew your heart,
Fair daughter, you do draw my spirits from me
With new lamenting ancient oversights!"
305. Some mossy bank, etc. The MS. reads:
"And hollow trunk of some old tree
My chamber for the night must be."
313. Highland plunderers. "The clans who inhabited the romantic
regions in the neighborhood of Loch Katrine were, even until a
late period, much addicted to predatory excursions upon their
Lowland neighbors" (Scott).
317. Fall the worst. If the worst befall that can happen. Cf.
Shakespeare, M. of V. i. 2. 96: "an the worst fall that ever
fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without him."
319. But scarce again, etc. The MS. reads:
"The bugle shrill again he wound,
And lo! forth starting at the sound;"
"A little skiff shot to the bay.
The hunter left his airy stand,
And when the boat had touched the sand,
Concealed he stood amid the brake,
To view this Lady of the Lake."
336. Strain. The 1st ed. has a comma after strain, and a period
after art in 340. The ed. of 1821 points as in the text.
342. Naiad. Water nymph.
343. And ne'er did Grecian chisel, etc. The MS. reads:
"A finer form, a fairer face,
Had never marble Nymph or Grace,
That boasts the Grecian chisel's trace;"
and in 359 below, "a stranger tongue."
353. Measured mood. The formal manner required by court
360. Dear. This is the reading of the 1st ed. and almost every
other that we have seen. We are inclined, however, to believe
that Scott wrote "clear." The facsimiles of his handwriting show
that his d's and cl's might easily be confounded by a compositor.
363. Snood. The fillet or ribbon with which the Scotch maidens
bound their hair. See on iii. 114 below. It is the rich
materials of snood, plaid, and brooch that betray her birth.
The rhyme of plaid with maid and betrayed is not imperfect, the
Scottish pronunciation of plaid being like our played.
385. One only. For the inversion, cf. Shakespeare, J. C. i. 2.
157: "When there is in it but one only man;" Goldsmith, D. V. 39:
"One only master grasps the whole domain," etc.
393. Awhile she paused, etc. The MS. reads:
"A space she paused, no answer came,--
'Alpine, was thine the blast?' the name
Less resolutely uttered fell,
The echoes could not catch the swell.
'Nor foe nor friend,' the stranger said,
Advancing from the hazel shade.
The startled maid, with hasty oar,
Pushed her light shallop from the shore."
and just below:
"So o'er the lake the swan would spring,
Then turn to prune its ruffled wing."
404. Prune. Pick out damaged feathers and arrange the plumage
with the bill. Cf. Shakespeare, Cymb. v. 4. 118:
"his royal bird
Prunes the immortal wing," etc.
408. Wont. Are wont, or accustomed; now used only in the
participle. The form here is the past tense of the obsolete won,
or wone, to dwell. The present is found in Milton, P. L. vii.
"As from his lair the wild beast, where he wons
In forest wild, in thicket, brake, or den."
Cf. Spenser, Virgil's Gnat:
"Of Poets Prince, whether we woon beside
Faire Xanthus sprincled with Chimaeras blood,
Or in the woods of Astery abide;"
and Colin Clouts Come Home Againe:
"I weened sure he was out God alone,
And only woond in fields and forests here."
See also iv. 278 and 298 below.
409. Middle age. As James died at the age of thirty (in 1542),
this is not strictly true, but the portrait in other respects is
quite accurate. He was fond of going about disguised, and some
of his freaks of this kind are pleasantly related in Scott's
Tales of a Grandfather. See on vi. 740 below.
425. Slighting, etc. "Treating lightly his need of food and
432. At length. The 1st ed. has "at last."
433. That Highland halls were, etc. The MS. has "Her father's
hall was," etc.
434. Wildered. See on 274 above.
438. A couch. That is, the heather for it. Cf. 666 below.
441. Mere. Lake; as in Windermere, etc.
443. Rood. Cross, or crucifix. By the rood was a common oath;
so by the holy rood, as in Shakespeare, Rich. III. iii. 2. 77,
iv. 4. 165. Cf. the name of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. See
ii. 221 below.
451. Romantic. The MS. has "enchanting."
457. Yesternight. We have lost this word, though we retain
yesterday. Cf. yester-morn in v. 104 below. As far = as far
460. Was on, etc. The MS. reads: "Is often on the future bent."
"If force of evidence could authorize us to believe facts
inconsistent with the general laws of nature, enough might be
produced in favor of the existence of the second-sight. It is
called in Gaelic Taishitaraugh, from Taish, an unreal or shadowy
appearance; and those possessed of the faculty are called
Taishatrin, which may be aptly translated visionaries. Martin, a
steady believer in the second-sight, gives the following account
'The second-sight is a singular faculty of seeing an otherwise
invisible object without any previous means used by the person
that uses if for that end: the vision makes such a lively
impression upon the seers, that they neither see nor think of any
thing else, except the vision, as long as it continues; and then
they appear pensive or jovial, according to the object that was
represented to them.
'At the sight of a vision, the eyelids of the person are erected,
and the eyes continue staring until the object vanish. This is
obvious to others who are by when the persons happen to see a
vision, and occurred more than once to my own observation, and to
others that were with me. ...
'If a woman is seen standing at a man's left hand, it is a
presage that she will be his wife, whether they be married to
others, or unmarried at the time of the apparition.
'To see a spark of fire fall upon one's arm or breast is a
forerunner of a dead child to be seen in the arms of those
persons; of which there are several fresh instances. ...
'To see a seat empty at the time of one's sitting in it, is a
presage of that person's death soon after' (Martin's Description
of the Western Islands, 1716, 8vo, p. 300, et seq.).
"To these particulars innumerable examples might be added, all
attested by grave and credible authors. But, in despite of
evidence which neither Bacon, Boyle, nor Johnson were able to
resist, the Taish, with all its visionary properties, seems to be
now universally abandoned to the use of poetry. The exquisitely
beautiful poem of Lochiel will at once occur to the recollection
of every reader" (Scott).
462. Birchen. Shaded by birches. Cf. Milton's "cedarn alleys"
in Comus, 990.
464. Lincoln green. A cloth made in Lincoln, much worn by
467. Heron. The early eds. have "heron's."
475. Errant-knight. Knight-errant.
476. Sooth. True. We find soothest in Milton, Comus, 823. The
noun sooth (truth) is more common, and still survives in
soothsayer (teller of hidden truth). Cf. v. 64 below.
478. Emprise. Enterprise. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. ii. 7. 39: "But
give me leave to follow my emprise," etc.
485. His noble hand. The MS. has "This gentle hand;" and in the
next line, "the oars he drew."
490. Frequent. Often; one of the many instances of the
adjective used adverbially in the poem.
492. The rocky isle. It is still known as Ellen's Isle. "It is
rather high, and irregularly pyramidal. It is mostly composed of
dark-gray rocks, mottled with pale and gray lichens, peeping out
here and there amid trees that mantle them,--chiefly light,
graceful birches, intermingled with red-berried mountain ashes
and a few dark-green, spiry pines. The landing is beneath an
aged oak; and, as did the Lady and the Knight, the traveller now
ascends 'a clambering unsuspected road,' by rude steps, to the
small irregular summit of the island. A more poetic, romantic
retreat could hardly be imagined: it is unique. It is completely
hidden, not only by the trees, but also by an undergrowth of
beautiful and abundant ferns and the loveliest of heather"
(Hunnewell's Lands of Scott).
500. Winded. Wound; used for the sake of the measure, as in v.
22 below. We find the participle winded in Much Ado, i. 1. 243;
but it is = blown. The verb in that sense is derived from the
noun wind (air in motion), and has no connection with wind, to
turn. Cf. Wb.
504. Here for retreat, etc. Scott has the following note here:
"The Celtic chieftains, whose lives were continually exposed to
peril, had usually, in the most retired spot of their domains,
some place of retreat for the hour of necessity, which, as
circumstances would admit, was a tower, a cavern, or a rustic
hut, in a strong and secluded situation. One of these last gave
refuge to the unfortunate Charles Edward, in his perilous
wanderings after the battle of Culloden.
'It was situated in the face of a very rough, high, and rocky
mountain, called Letternilichk, still a part of Benalder, full of
great stones and crevices, and some scattered wood interspersed.
The habitation called the Cage, in the face of that mountain, was
within a small thick bush of wood. There were first some rows of
trees laid down, in order to level the floor for a habitation;
and as the place was steep, this raised the lower side to an
equal height with the other: and these trees, in the way of
joists or planks, were levelled with earth and gravel. There
were betwixt the trees, growing naturally on their own roots,
some stakes fixed in the earth, which, with the trees, were
interwoven with ropes, made of heath and birch twigs, up to the
top of the Cage, it being of a round or rather oval shape; and
the whole thatched and covered over with fog. The whole fabric
hung, as it were, by a large tree, which reclined from the one
end, all along the roof, to the other, and which gave it the name
of the Cage; and by chance there happened to be two stones at a
small distance from one another, in the side next the precipice,
resembling the pillars of a chimney, where the fire was placed.
The smoke had its vent out here, all along the fall of the rock,
which was so much of the same color, that one could discover no
difference in the clearest day' (Home's History of the Rebellion,
Lond. 1802, 4to, p. 381)."
525. Idoean vine. Some have taken this to refer to the "red
whortleberry," the botanical name of which is Vaccinium vitis
Idoea; but as that is not a climber, it is more probably that the
common vine is here meant. Idoean is from Ida, a mountain near
ancient Troy (there was another in Crete), famous for its vines.
526. Clematis. The Climatis vitalba, one of the popular English
names of which is virgin-bower.
528. And every favored plant could bear. That is, which could
endure. This ellipsis of the relative was very common in
Elizabethan English. Cf. Shakespeare, M. for M. ii. 2. 23: "I
have a brother is condemned to die;" Rich. II. ii. 2. 128: "The
hate of those love not the king," etc. See also John, iii. 11,
532. On heaven and on thy lady call. This is said gayly, or
sportively, as keeping up the idea of a knight-errant. Cf. 475
542. Careless. See on 490 above.
546. Target. Buckler; the targe of iii. 445, etc. See Scott's
note on v. 380 below.
548. Store. Stored, laid up; an obsolete adjective. Cf. iii. 3
below, and see also on vi. 124.
551. And there the wild-cat's, etc. The MS. reads:
"There hung the wild-cat's brindled hide,
Above the elk's branched brow and skull,
And frontlet of the forest bull."
559. Garnish forth. Cf. furnish forth in 442 above.
566. Brook. Bear, endure; now seldom used except with reference
to what is endured against one's will or inclination. It seems
to be a favorite word with Scott.
573. Ferragus or Ascabart. "These two sons of Anak flourished
in romantic fable. The first is well known to the admirers of
Ariosto by the name of Ferrau. He was an antagonist of Orlando,
and was at length slain by him in single combat. ... Ascapart, or
Ascabart, makes a very material figure in the History of Bevis of
Hampton, by whom he was conquered. His effigies may be seen
guarding one side of the gate at Southampton, while the other is
occupied by Bevis himself" (Scott).
580. To whom, though more than kindred knew. The MS. reads:
"To whom, though more remote her claim,
Young Ellen gave a mother's name."
She was the maternal aunt of Ellen, but was loved as a mother by
her, or more than (such) kindred (usually) knew (in way of
585. Though all unasked, etc. "The Highlanders, who carried
hospitality to a punctilious excess, are said to have considered
it as churlish to ask a stranger his name or lineage before he
had taken refreshment. Feuds were so frequent among them, that a
contrary rule would in many cases have produced the discovery of
some circumstance which might have excluded the guest from the
benefit of the assistance he stood in need of" (Scott).
591. Snowdoun. An old name of Stirling Castle. See vi. 789
592. Lord of a barren heritage. "By the misfortunes of the
earlier Jameses, and the internal feuds of the Scottish chiefs,
the kingly power had become little more than a name. Each chief
was a petty king in his own district, and gave just so much
obedience to the king's authority as suited his convenience"
596. Wot. Knows; the present of the obsolete wit (the
infinitive to wit is still use in legal forms), not of weet, as
generally stated. See Matzner, Eng. Gram. i. 382. Cf.
Shakespeare, Rich. III. ii. 3. 18: "No, no, good friends, God
wot." He also uses wots (as in Hen. V. iv. 1. 299) and a
participle wotting (in W. T. iii. 2. 77).
602. Require. Request, ask; as in Elizanethan English. Cf.
Shakespeare, Hen. VIII. ii. 4. 144: "In humblest manner I require
your highness," etc.
603. The elder lady's mien. The MS. has "the mother's easy
606. Ellen, though more, etc. The MS. reads:
"Ellen, though more her looks betrayed
The simple heart of mountain maid,
In speech and gesture, form and grace,
Showed she was come of gentle race;
'T was strange, in birth so rude, to find
Such face, such manners, and such mind.
Each anxious hint the stranger gave,
The mother heard with silence grave."
616. Weird women we, etc. See on 35 above. Weird here =
skilled in witchcraft; like the "weird sisters" of Macbeth. Down
= hill (the Gaelic dun).
622. A harp unseen. Scott has the following note here: "'"They
[the Highlanders] delight much in musicke, but chiefly in harps
and clairschoes of their own fashion. The strings of the
clairschoes are made of brasse wire, and the strings of the harps
of sinews; which strings they strike either with their nayles,
growing long, or else with an instrument appointed for that use.
They take great pleasure to decke their harps and clairschoes
with silver and precious stones; the poore ones that cannot
attayne hereunto, decke them with christall. They sing verses
prettily compound, contayning (for the most part) prayses of
valiant men. There is not almost any other argument, whereof
their rhymes intreat. They speak the ancient French language,
altered a little."[FN#6]
'The harp and chairschoes are now only heard of in the Highlands
in ancient song. At what period these instruments ceased to be
used, is not on record; and tradition is silent on this head.
But, as Irish harpers occasionally visited the Highlands and
Western Isles till lately, the harp might have been extant so
late as the middle of the present century. Thus far we know,
that from remote times down to the present, harpers were received
as welcome guests, particularly in the Highlands of Scotland; and
so late as the latter end of the sixteenth century, as appears by
the above quotations, the harp was in common use among the
natives of the Western Isles. How it happened that the noisy and
inharmonious bagpipe banished the soft and expressive harp, we
cannot say; but certain it is, that the bagpipe is now the only
instrument that obtains universally in the Highland districts'
(Campbell's Journey through North Britain. London, 1808, 4to, i.
"Mr. Gunn, of Edinburgh, has lately published a curious Essay
upon the Harp and Harp Music of the Highlands of Scotland. That
the instrument was once in common use there, is most certain.
Cleland numbers an acquaintance with it among the few
accomplishments which his satire allows to the Highlanders:--
'In nothing they're accounted sharp,
Except in bagpipe or in harm.'"
624. Soldier, rest! etc. The metre of this song is trochaic;
that is, the accents fall regularly on the odd syllables.
631. In slumber dewing. That is, bedewing. For the metaphor,
cf. Shakespeare, Rich. III. iv. 1. 84: "the golden dew of sleep;"
and J. C. ii. 1. 230: "the honey-heavy dew of slumber."
635. Morn of toil, etc. The MS. has "noon of hunger, night of
waking;" and in the next line, "rouse" for reach.
638. Pibroch. "A Highland air, suited to the particular passion
which the musician would either excite or assuage; generally
applied to those airs that are played on the bagpipe before the
Highlanders when they go out to battle" (Jamieson). Here it is
put for the bagpipe itself. See also on ii. 363 below.
642. And the bittern sound his drum. Goldsmith (D. V. 44) calls
the bird "the hollow-sounding bittern;" and in his Animated
Nature, he says that of all the notes of waterfowl "there is none
so dismally hollow as the booming of the bittern."
648. She paused, etc. The MS. has "She paused--but waked again
655. The MS. reads: "Slumber sweet our spells shall deal ye;"
and in 657:
"Let our slumbrous spells| avail ye
| beguile ye."
657. Reveille. The call to rouse troops or huntsmen in the
669. Forest sports. The MS. has "mountain chase."
672. Not Ellens' spell. That is, not even Ellen's spell. On
the passage, cf. Rokeby, i. 2:
"Sleep came at length, but with a train
Of feelings true and fancies vain,
Mingling, in wild disorder cast,
The expected future with the past."
693. Or is it all a vision now? Lockhart quotes here Thomson's
Castle of Indolence:
"Ye guardian spirits, to whom man is dear,
From these foul demons shield the midnight gloom:
Angels of fancy and love, be near.
And o'er the blank of sleep diffuse a bloom:
Evoke the sacred shades of Greece and Rome,
And let them virtue with a look impart;
But chief, awhile, O! lend us from the tomb
Those long-lost friends for whom in love we smart,
and fill with pious awe and joy-mixt woe the heart.
"Or are you sportive?--bid the morn of youth
Rise to new light, and beam afresh the days
Of innocence, simplicity, and truth;
To cares estranged, and manhood's thorny ways.
What transport, to retrace our boyish plays,
Our easy bliss, when each thing joy supplied;
The woods, the mountains, and the warbling maze
Of the wild books!"
The Critical Review says of the following stanza (xxxiv): "Such a
strange and romantic dream as may be naturally expected to flow
from the extraordinary events of the day. It might, perhaps, be
quoted as one of Mr. Scott's most successful efforts in
descriptive poetry. Some few lines of it are indeed unrivalled
for delicacy and melancholy tenderness."
704. Grisly. Grim, horrible; an obsolete word, much used in old
poetry. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. i. 5. 30: "her darke griesly looke;"
Shakespeare, 1 Hen. VI. i. 4. 47: "My grisly countenance made
others fly," etc. See also iv. 322, etc. below.
723. Played, etc. The MS. reads:
"Played on/ the bosoms of the lake,
/ Lock Katrine's still expanse;
The birch, the wild rose, and the broom
Wasted around their rich perfume ...
The birch-trees wept in balmy dew;
The aspen slept on Benvenue;
Wild were the heart whose passions' power
Defied the influence of the hour."
724. Passion's. The reading of the 1st ed. and that of 1821;
some recent eds. have "passions'."
738. Orisons. The 1st ed. has "orison" both here and in 740
(the ed. of 1821 only in the latter); but the word is almost
invariably plural, both in poetry and prose--always in
Shakespeare and Milton.
7. A minstrel gray. "That Highland chieftains, to a late
period, retained in their service the bard, as a family officer,
admits of very easy proof. The author of the Letters from the
North of Scotland, an officer of engineers, quartered at
Inverness about 1720, who certainly cannot be deemed a favorable
witness, gives the following account of the office, and of a
bard, whom he heard exercise his talent of recitation:--'The bard
is killed in the genealogy of all the Highland families,
sometimes preceptor to the young laird, celebrates in Irish verse
the original of the tribe, the famous warlike actions of the
successive heads, and sings his own lyricks as an opiate to the
chief, when indisposed for sleep; but poets are not equally
esteemed and honored in all countries. I happened to be a witness
of the dishonour done to the muse, at the house of one of the
chiefs, where two of these bards were set at a good distance, at
the lower end of a long table, with a parcel of Highlanders of no
extraordinary appearance, over a cup of ale. Poor inspiration!
They were not asked to drink a glass of wine at our table, though
the whole company consisted only of the great man, one of his
near relations, and myself. After some little time, the chief
ordered one of them to sing me a Highland song. The bard readily
obeyed, and with a hoarse voice, and in a tune of few various
notes, began, as I was told, one of his own lyricks; and when he
had proceeded to the fourth of fifth stanza, I perceived, by the
names of several persons, glens, and mountains, which I had known
or heard of before, that it was an account of some clan battle.
But in his going on, the chief (who piques himself upon his
school-learning) at some particular passage, bid him cease, and
cryed out, "There's nothing like that in Virgil or Homer." I
bowed, and told him I believed so. This you may believe was very
edifying and delightful'" (Scott).
15. Than men, etc. "It is evident that the old bard, with his
second-sight, has a glimmering notion who the stranger is. He
speaks below  of 'courtly spy,' and James's speech had
betrayed a knowledge of the Douglas" (Taylor).
20. Battled. The reading of the 1st ed. and that of 1821;
"battle" in most others. Cf. i. 626 above.
22. Where beauty, etc. The MS. has "At tourneys where the brave
resort." The reference is to the tournaments, "Where," as Milton
says (L'Allegro, 119),
"throngs of knights and barons bold.
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace whom all commend."
Cf. 87 below.
26. Love's. The reading of the 1st ed. and that of 1821; most
eds. have "love."
29. Plaided. The plaid was properly the dress of a Highlander,
though it was worn also in the Lowlands.
51. The Harper on the islet beach. "This picture is touched
with the hand of the true poet" (Jeffrey).
56. As from. As if from. Cf. 64 and 83 below. This ellipsis
was common in Elizabethan English. Cf. Shakespeare, Macb. ii. 2.
"One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other,
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands."
65. In the last sound. For the measure, see on i. 73 above.
69. His fleet. That is, of ducks. Cf. i. 239 above.
80. Would scorn. Who would scorn. See on i. 528 above.
84. Turned him. See on i. 142 above, and cf. 106 below.
86. After. Afterwards; as in Shakespeare, Temp. ii. 2. 10: "And
after bite me," etc. The word is not now used adverbially of
time, though we may say "he followed after," etc. The 1st ed.
reads "that knight."
94. Parts. Departs; as often in poetry and earlier English. Cf.
Goldsmith, D. V. 171: "Beside the bed where parting life was
laid;" Gray, Elegy, 1: "the knell of parting day," etc. On the
other hand, depart was used in the sense of part. In the
Marriage Service "till death us do part" is a corruption of "till
death us depart." Wiclif's Bible, in Matt. xix. 6, has "therfor
a man departe not that thing that God hath ioyned."
103. Another step, etc. The MS. has "The loveliest Lowland fair
to spy;" and the 1st ed. reads "The step of parting fair to spy."
109. The Graeme. Scott has the following note here: "The
ancient and powerful family of Graham (which, for metrical
reasons, is here smelled after the Scottish pronunciation) held
extensive possessions in the counties of Dumbarton and Stirling.
Few families can boast of more historical renown, having claim to
three of the most remarkable characters in the Scottish annals.
Sir John the Graeme, the faithful and undaunted partaker of the
labors and patriotic warfare of Wallace, fell in the unfortunate
field of Falkirk, in 1298. The celebrated Marquis of Montrose,
in whom De Retz saw realized his abstract idea of the heroes of
antiquity, was the second of these worthies. And, not
withstanding the severity of his temper, and the rigor with which
he executed the oppressive mandates of the princes whom he
served, I do not hesitate to name as the third, John Graeme, of
Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee, whose heroic death, in the arms
of victory, may be allowed to cancel the memory of his cruelty to
the non-conformists, during the reigns of Charles II. and James
112. Bower. The word meant a chamber (see on i. 217 above), and
was often used of the ladies' apartments in a house. In hall and
bower = among men and women. The words are often thus
associated. Cf. Spenser, Astrophel, 28: "Merily masking both in
bowre and hall," etc.
115. Arose. The 1st ed. misprints "Across;" not noted in the
126. And the proud march. See on i. 73 above.
131. Saint Modan. A Scotch abbot of the 7th century. Scott
says here: "I am not prepared to show that Saint Modan was a
performer on the harp. It was, however, no unsaintly
accomplishment; for Saint Dunstan certainly did play upon that
instrument, which retaining, as was natural, a portion of the
sanctity attached to its master's character, announced future
events by its spontaneous sound. 'But labouring once in these
mechanic arts for a devout matrone that had sett him on work, his
violl, that hung by him on the wall, of its own accord, without
anie man's helpe, distinctly sounded this anthime: Gaudent in
coelis animae sanctorum qui Christi vestigia sunt secuti; et quia
pro eius amore sanguinem suum fuderunt, ideo cum Christo gaudent
aeternum. Whereat all the companie being much astonished, turned
their eyes from beholding him working, to looke on that strange
accident. ... Not long after, manie of the court that hitherunto
had born a kind of fayned friendship towards him, began now
greatly to envie at his progresse and rising in goodness, using
manie crooked, backbiting meanes to diffame his vertues with the
black markes of hypocrisie. And the better to authorise their
calumnie, they brought in this that happened in the violl,
affirming it to have been done by art magick. What more? this
wicked rumour encreased, dayly, till the king and others of the
nobilitie taking hould thereof, Dunstan grew odious in their
sight. Therefore he resolued to leaue the court, and goe to
Elphegus, surnamed the Bauld, then bishop of Winchester, who was
his cozen. Which his enemies understanding, they layd wayte for
him in the way, and hauing throwne him off his horse, beate him,
and dragged him in the durt in the most miserable manner, meaning
to have slaine him, had not a companie of mastiue dogges, that
came unlookt uppon them, defended and redeemed him from their
crueltie. When with sorrow he was ashamed to see dogges more
humane than they. And giuing thankes to Almightie God, he
sensibly againe perceaued that the tunes of his violl had giuen
him a warning of future accidents' (Flower of the Lives of the
most renowned Sainets of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by the
R. Father Hierome Porter. Doway, 1632 4to. tome i. p. 438).
"The same supernatural circumstance is alluded to by the
anonymous author of Grim, the Collier of Croydon:
'-----[Dunstant's harp sounds on the wall.]
'Forrest. Hark, hark, my lord, the holy abbot's harp
Sounds by itself so hanging on the wall!
'Dunstan. Unhallow'd man, that scorn'st the sacred rede,
Hark, how the testimony of my truth
Sounds heavenly music with an angel's hand,
To testify Dunstan's integrity,
And prove thy active boast of no effect.'"
141. Bothwell's bannered hall. The picturesque ruins of
Bothwell Castle stand on the banks of the Clyde, about nine miles
above Glasgow. Some parts of the walls are 14 feet thick, and 60
feet in height. They are covered with ivy, wild roses, and wall-
"The tufted grass lines Bothwell's ancient hall,
The fox peeps cautious from the creviced wall,
Where once proud Murray, Clydesdale's ancient lord,
A mimic sovereign, held the festal board."
142. Ere Douglases, to ruin driven. Scott says: "The downfall
of the Douglases of the house of Angus, during the reign of James
V., is the event alluded to in the text. The Earl of Angus, it
will be remembered, had married the queen dowager, and availed
himself of the right which he thus acquired, as well as of his
extensive power, to retain the king in a sort of tutelage, which
approached very near to captivity. Several open attempts were
made to rescue James from this thraldom, with which he was well
known to be deeply disgusted; but the valor of the Douglases, and
their allies, gave them the victory in every conflict. At
length, the king, while residing at Falkland, contrived to escape
by night out of his own court and palace, and rode full speed to
Stirling Castle, where the governor, who was of the opposite
faction, joyfully received him. Being thus at liberty, James
speedily summoned around him such peers as he knew to be most
inimical to the domination of Angus, and laid his complaint
before them, says Pitscottie, 'with great lamentations: showing
to them how he was holding in subjection, thir years bygone, by
the Earl of Angus, and his kin and friends, who oppressed the
whole country, and spoiled it, under the pretence of justice and
his authority; and had slain many of his lieges, kinsmen, and
friends, because they would have had it mended at their hands,
and put him at liberty, as he ought to have been, at the counsel
of his whole lords, and not have been subjected and corrected
with no particular men, by the rest of his nobles: Therefore,
said he, I desire, my lords, that I may be satisfied of the said
earl, his kin, and friends; for I avow, that Scotland shall not
hold us both, while [i.e. till] I be revenged on him and his.
'The lords hearing the king's complaint and lamentation, and also
the great rage, fury, and malice, that he bure toward the Earl of
Angus, his kin and friends, they concluded all and thought it
best, that he should be summoned to underly the law; if he fand
not caution, nor yet compear himself, that he should be put to
the horn, with all his kin and friends, so many as were contained
in the letters. And further, the lords ordained, by advice of
his majesty, that his brother and friends should be summoned to
find caution to underly the law within a certain day, or else be
put to the horn. But the earl appeared not, nor none for him; and
so he was put to the horn, with all his kin and friends: so many
as were contained in the summons, that compeared not, were
banished, and holden traitors to the king.'"
159. From Tweed to Spey. From the Tweed, the southern boundary
of Scotland, to the Spey, a river far to the north in Inverness-
shire; that is, from one end of the land to the other.
170. Reave. Tear away. The participle reft is still used, at
least in poetry. Cf. Shakespeare, V. and A. 766: "Or butcher-
sire that reaves his son of life" (that is, bereaves); Spenser,
F. Q. i. 3. 36: "He to him lept, in minde to reave his life;" Id.
ii. 8. 15: "I will him reave of arms," etc.
178. It drinks, etc. The MS. has "No blither dewdrop cheers the
195, 196. To see ... dance. This couplet is not in the MS.
200. The Lady of the Bleeding Heart. The bleeding heart was the
cognizance of the Douglas family. Robert Bruce, on his death-
bed, bequeathed his heart to his friend, the good Lord James, to
be borne in war against the Saracens. "He joined Alphonso, King
of Leon and Castile, then at war with the Moorish chief Osurga,
of Granada, and in a keen contest with the Moslems he flung
before him the casket containing the precious relic, crying out,
'Onward as thou wert wont, thou noble heart, Douglas will follow
thee.' Douglas was slain, but his body was recovered, and also
the precious casket, and in the end Douglas was laid with his
ancestors, and the heart of Bruce deposited in the church of
Melrose Abbey" (Burton's Hist. of Scotland).
201. Fair. The 1st ed. (and probably the MS., though not noted
by Lockhart) has "Gay."
203. Yet is this, etc. The MS. and 1st ed. read:
"This mossy rock, my friend, to me
Is worth gay chair and canopy."
205. Footstep. The reading of the 1st and other early eds.;
"footsteps" in recent ones.
206. Strathspey. A Highland dance, which takes its name from
the strath, or broad valley, of the Spey (159 above).
213. Clan-Alpine's pride. "The Siol Alpine, or race of Alpine,
includes several clans who claimed descent from Kenneth McAlpine,
an ancient king. These are the Macgregors, the Grants, the
Mackies, the Mackinnans, the MacNabs, the MacQuarries, and the
Macaulays. Their common emblem was the pine, which is now
confined to the Macgregors" (Taylor).
214. Loch Lomond. This beautiful lake, "the pride of Scottish
lakes," is about 23 miles in length and 5 miles in its greatest
breadth. At the southern end are many islands, one of which,
Inch-Cailliach (the Island of Women, so called from a nunnery
that was once upon it), was the burial-place of Clan-Alpine. See
iii. 191 below.
216. A Lennox foray. That is, a raid in the lands of the Lennox
family, bordering on the southern end of Loch Lomond. On the
island of Inch-Murrin, the ruins of Lennox Castle, formerly a
residence of the Earls of Lennox, are still to be seen. There
was another of their strongholds on the shore of the lake near
Balloch, where the modern Balloch Castle now stands.
217. Her glee. The 1st ed. misprints "his glee;" not noted in
220. Black Sir Roderick. Roderick Dhu, or the Black, as he was
221. In Holy-Rood a knight he slew. That is, in Holyrood
Palace. "This was by no means an uncommon occurrence in the Court
of Scotland; nay, the presence of the sovereign himself scarcely
restrained the ferocious and inveterate feuds which were the
perpetual source of bloodshed among the Scottish nobility"
223. Courtiers give place, etc. The MS. reads:
"Courtiers give place with heartless stride
Of the retiring homicide."
227. Who else, etc. The MS. has the following couplet before
"Who else dared own the kindred claim
That bound him to thy mother's name?"
229. The Douglas, etc. Scott says here: "The exiled state of
this powerful race is not exaggerated in this and subsequent
passages. The hatred of James against the race of Douglas was so
inveterate, that numerous as their allies were, and disregarded
as the regal authority had usually been in similar cases, their
nearest friends, even in the most remote part of Scotland, durst
not entertain them, unless under the strictest and closest
disguise. James Douglas, son of the banished Earl of Angus,
afterwards well known by the title of Earl of Morton, lurked,
during the exile of his family, in the north of Scotland, under
the assumed name of James Innes, otherwise James the Grieve (i.e.
reve or bailiff). 'And as he bore the name,' says Godscroft, 'so
did he also execute the office of a grieve or overseer of the
lands and rents, the corn and cattle of him with whom he lived.'
From the habits of frugality and observation which he acquired in
his humble situation, the historian traces that intimate
acquaintance with popular character which enabled him to rise so
high in the state, and that honorable economy by which he
repaired and established the shattered estates of Angus and
Morton (History of the House of Douglas, Edinburgh, 1743, vol.
ii. p. 160)."
235. Guerdon. Reward; now rarely used except in poetry. Cf.
Spenser, F. Q. i. 10. 59: "That glory does to them for guerdon
236. Dispensation. As Roderick and Ellen were cousins, they
could not marry without a dispensation from the Pope.
251. Orphan. Referring to child, not to she, as its position
254. Shrouds. Shields, protects. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. i. 1. 6:
"And this faire couple eke to shroud themselves were fain" (that
is, from the rain). So the noun = shelter, protection; as in
Shakespeare, A. and C. iii. 13. 71: "put yourself under his
shroud," etc. See also on 757 below.
260. Maronnan's cell. "The parish of Kilmaronock, at the
eastern extremity of Loch Lomond, derives its name from a cell,
or chapel, dedicated to Saint Maronock, or Marnock, or Maronnan,
about whose sanctity very little is now remembered" (Scott).
Kill = cell; as in Colmekill (Macb. ii. 4. 33), "the cell of
Columba," now known as Icolmkill, or Iona.
270. Bracklinn's thundering wave. This beautiful cascade is on
the Keltie, a mile from Callander. The height of the fall is
about fifty feet. "A few years ago a marriage party of Lowland
peasants met with a tragic end here, two of them having tumbled
into the broken, angry waters, where they had no more chance of
life than if they had dropped into the crater of Hecla" (Black).
271. Save. Unless; here followed by the subjunctive.
274. Claymore. The word means "a large sword" (Gaelic
claidheamh, sword, and more, great).
294. Shadowy plaid and sable plume. Appropriate to Roderick
Dhu. See on 220 above.
303. Woe the while. Woe be to the time, alas the time! Cf.
Shakespeare, J. C. i. 3. 82: "But, woe the while! our fathers'
minds are dead," etc. See also on i. 166 above.
306. Tine-man. "Archibald, the third Earl of Douglas, was so
unfortunate in all his enterprises, that he acquired the epithet
of 'tine-man,' because he tined, or lost, his followers in every
battle which he fought. He was vanquished, as every reader must
remember, in the bloody battle of Homildon-hill, near Wooler,
where he himself lost an eye, and was made prisoner by Hotspur.
He was no less unfortunate when allied with Percy, being wounded
and taken at the battle of Shrewsbury. He was so unsuccessful in
an attempt to beseige Roxburgh Castle, that it was called the
'Foul Raid,' or disgraceful expedition. His ill fortune left him
indeed at the battle of Beauge, in France; but it was only to
return with double emphasis at the subsequent action of Vernoil,
the last and most unlucky of his encounters, in which he fell,
with the flower of the Scottish chivalry, then serving as
auxiliaries in France, and about two thousand common soldiers,
A.D. 1424" (Scott).
307. What time, etc. That is, at the time when Douglas allied
himself with Percy in the rebellion against Henry IV. of England.
See Shakespeare, 1 Hen. IV.
309. Did, self unscabbarded, etc. Scott says here: "The ancient
warriors, whose hope and confidence rested chiefly in their
blades, were accustomed to deduce omens from them, especially
from such as were supposed to have been fabricated by enchanted
skill, of which we have various instances in the romances and
legends of the time. The wonderful sword Skofnung, wielded by the
celebrated Hrolf Kraka, was of this description. It was
deposited in the tomb of the monarch at his death, and taken from
thence by Skeggo, a celebrated pirate, who bestowed it upon his
son-in-law, Kormak, with the following curious directions: '"The
manner of using it will appear strange to you. A small bag is
attached to it, which take heed not to violate. Let not the rays
of the sun touch the upper part of the handle, nor unsheathe it,
unless thou art ready for battle. But when thou comest to the
place of fight, go aside from the rest, grasp and extend the
sword, and breathe upon it. Then a small worm will creep out of
the handle; lower the handle, that he may more easily return into
it." Kormak, after having received the sword, returned home to
his mother. He showed the sword, and attempted to draw it, as
unnecessarily as ineffectually, for he could not pluck it out of
the sheath. His mother, Dalla, exclaimed, "Do not despise the
counsel given to thee, my son." Kormak, however, repeating his
efforts, pressed down the handle with his feet, and tore off the
bag, when Skofung emitted a hollow groan; but still he could not
unsheathe the sword. Kormak then went out with Bessus, whom he
had challenged to fight with him, and drew apart at the place of
combat. He sat down upon the ground, and ungirding the sword,
which he bore above his vestments, did not remember to shield the
hilt from the rays of the sun. In vain he endeavored to draw it,
till he placed his foot against the hilt; then the worm issued
from it. But Kormak did not rightly handle the weapon, in
consequence whereof good fortune deserted it. As he unsheathed
Skofnung, it emitted a hollow murmur' (Bartholini de Causis
Contemptae a Danis adhuc Gentilibus Mortis, Libri Tres. Hafniae,