When the first salutations had passed, Fergus said to his sister,
'My dear Flora, before I return to the barbarous ritual of our
forefathers, I must tell you that Captain Waverley is a worshipper
of the Celtic muse, not the less so perhaps that he does not
understand a word of her language. I have told him you are eminent
as a translator of Highland poetry, and that Mac-Murrough admires
your version of his songs upon the same principle that Captain
Waverley admires the original,—because he does not comprehend
them. Will you have the goodness to read or recite to our guest in
English the extraordinary string of names which Mac-Murrough has
tacked together in Gaelic? My life to a moor-fowl's feather, you
are provided with a version; for I know you are in all the bard's
councils, and acquainted with his songs long before he rehearses
them in the hall.'
'How can you say so, Fergus? You know how little these verses can
possibly interest an English stranger, even if I could translate
them as you pretend.'
'Not less than they interest me, lady fair. To-day your joint
composition, for I insist you had a share in it, has cost me the
last silver cup in the castle, and I suppose will cost me
something else next time I hold cour pleniere, if the muse
descends on Mac-Murrough; for you know our proverb,—"When the
hand of the chief ceases to bestow, the breath of the bard is
frozen in the utterance."—Well, I would it were even so: there
are three things that are useless to a modern Highlander,—a
sword which he must not draw, a bard to sing of deeds which he
dare not imitate, and a large goat-skin purse without a louis-d'or
to put into it.'
'Well, brother, since you betray my secrets, you cannot expect me
to keep yours. I assure you, Captain Waverley, that Fergus is too
proud to exchange his broardsword for a marechal's baton, that he
esteems Mac-Murrough a far greater poet than Homer, and would not
give up his goat-skin purse for all the louis-d'or which it could
'Well pronounced, Flora; blow for blow, as Conan [Footnote: See
Note 23.] said to the devil. Now do you two talk of bards and
poetry, if not of purses and claymores, while I return to do the
final honours to the senators of the tribe of Ivor.' So saying, he
left the room.
The conversation continued between Flora and Waverley; for two
well-dressed young women, whose character seemed to hover between
that of companions and dependants, took no share in it. They were
both pretty girls, but served only as foils to the grace and
beauty of their patroness. The discourse followed the turn which
the Chieftain had given it, and Waverley was equally amused and
surprised with the account which the lady gave him of Celtic
'The recitation,' she said, 'of poems recording the feats of
heroes, the complaints of lovers, and the wars of contending
tribes, forms the chief amusement of a winter fire-side in the
Highlands. Some of these are said to be very ancient, and if they
are ever translated into any of the languages of civilised Europe,
cannot fail to produce a deep and general sensation. Others are
more modern, the composition of those family bards whom the
chieftains of more distinguished name and power retain as the
poets and historians of their tribes. These, of course, possess
various degrees of merit; but much of it must evaporate in
translation, or be lost on those who do not sympathise with the
feelings of the poet.'
'And your bard, whose effusions seemed to produce such effect
the company to-day, is he reckoned among the favourite poets of
'That is a trying question. His reputation is high among his
countrymen, and you must not expect me to depreciate it.
[Footnote: The Highland poet almost always was an improvisatore.
Captain Burt met one of them at Lovat's table.]
'But the song, Miss Mac-Ivor, seemed to awaken all those
both young and old.'
'The song is little more than a catalogue of names of the
clans under their distinctive peculiarities, and an exhortation to
them to remember and to emulate the actions of their
'And am I wrong in conjecturing, however extraordinary the guess
appears, that there was some allusion to me in the verses which he
'You have a quick observation, Captain Waverley, which in this
instance has not deceived you. The Gaelic language, being
uncommonly vocalic, is well adapted for sudden and extemporaneous
poetry; and a bard seldom fails to augment the effects of a
premeditated song by throwing in any stanzas which may be
suggested by the circumstances attending the recitation.'
'I would give my best horse to know what the Highland bard could
find to say of such an unworthy Southron as myself.'
'It shall not even cost you a lock of his mane. Una, mavourneen!
(She spoke a few words to one of the young girls in attendance,
who instantly curtsied and tripped out of the room.) I have sent
Una to learn from the bard the expressions he used, and you shall
command my skill as dragoman.'
Una returned in a few minutes, and repeated to her mistress a few
lines in Gaelic. Flora seemed to think for a moment, and then,
slightly colouring, she turned to Waverley—'It is impossible to
gratify your curiosity, Captain Waverley, without exposing my own
presumption. If you will give me a few moments for consideration,
I will endeavour to engraft the meaning of these lines upon a rude
English translation which I have attempted of a part of the
original. The duties of the tea-table seem to be concluded, and,
as the evening is delightful, Una will show you the way to one of
my favourite haunts, and Cathleen and I will join you there.'
Una, having received instructions in her native language,
conducted Waverley out by a passage different from that through
which he had entered the apartment. At a distance he heard the
hall of the Chief still resounding with the clang of bagpipes and
the high applause of his guests. Having gained the open air by a
postern door, they walked a little way up the wild, bleak, and
narrow valley in which the house was situated, following the
course of the stream that winded through it. In a spot, about a
quarter of a mile from the castle, two brooks, which formed the
little river, had their junction. The larger of the two came down
the long bare valley, which extended, apparently without any
change or elevation of character, as far as the hills which formed
its boundary permitted the eye to reach. But the other stream,
which had its source among the mountains on the left hand of the
strath, seemed to issue from a very narrow and dark opening
betwixt two large rocks. These streams were different also in
character. The larger was placid, and even sullen in its course,
wheeling in deep eddies, or sleeping in dark blue pools; but the
motions of the lesser brook were rapid and furious, issuing from
between precipices, like a maniac from his confinement, all foam
It was up the course of this last stream that Waverley, like a
knight of romance, was conducted by the fair Highland damsel, his
silent guide. A small path, which had been rendered easy in many
places for Flora's accommodation, led him through scenery of a
very different description from that which he had just quitted.
Around the castle all was cold, bare, and desolate, yet tame even
in desolation; but this narrow glen, at so short a distance,
seemed to open into the land of romance. The rocks assumed a
thousand peculiar and varied forms. In one place a crag of huge
size presented its gigantic bulk, as if to forbid the passenger's
farther progress; and it was not until he approached its very base
that Waverley discerned the sudden and acute turn by which the
pathway wheeled its course around this formidable obstacle. In
another spot the projecting rocks from the opposite sides of the
chasm had approached so near to each other that two pine-trees
laid across, and covered with turf, formed a rustic bridge at the
height of at least one hundred and fifty feet. It had no ledges,
and was barely three feet in breadth.
While gazing at this pass of peril, which crossed, like a single
black line, the small portion of blue sky not intercepted by the
projecting rocks on either side, it was with a sensation of horror
that Waverley beheld Flora and her attendant appear, like
inhabitants of another region, propped, as it were, in mid air,
upon this trembling structure. She stopped upon observing him
below, and, with an air of graceful ease which made him shudder,
waved her handkerchief to him by way of signal. He was unable,
from the sense of dizziness which her situation conveyed, to
return the salute; and was never more relieved than when the fair
apparition passed on from the precarious eminence which she seemed
to occupy with so much indifference, and disappeared on the other
Advancing a few yards, and passing under the bridge which he had
viewed with so much terror, the path ascended rapidly from the
edge of the brook, and the glen widened into a sylvan
amphitheatre, waving with birch, young oaks, and hazels, with here
and there a scattered yew-tree. The rocks now receded, but still
showed their grey and shaggy crests rising among the copse-wood.
Still higher rose eminences and peaks, some bare, some clothed
with wood, some round and purple with heath, and others splintered
into rocks and crags. At a short turning the path, which had for
some furlongs lost sight of the brook, suddenly placed Waverley in
front of a romantic waterfall. It was not so remarkable either for
great height or quantity of water as for the beautiful
accompaniments which made the spot interesting. After a broken
cataract of about twenty feet, the stream was received in a large
natural basin filled to the brim with water, which, where the
bubbles of the fall subsided, was so exquisitely clear that,
although it was of great depth, the eye could discern each pebble
at the bottom. Eddying round this reservoir, the brook found its
way as if over a broken part of the ledge, and formed a second
fall, which seemed to seek the very abyss; then, wheeling out
beneath from among the smooth dark rocks which it had polished for
ages, it wandered murmuring down the glen, forming the stream up
which Waverley had just ascended. [Footnote: See Note 24.] The
borders of this romantic reservoir corresponded in beauty; but it
was beauty of a stern and commanding cast, as if in the act of
expanding into grandeur. Mossy banks of turf were broken and
interrupted by huge fragments of rock, and decorated with trees
and shrubs, some of which had been planted under the direction of
Flora, but so cautiously that they added to the grace without
diminishing the romantic wildness of the scene.
Here, like one of those lovely forms which decorate the
of Poussin, Waverley found Flora gazing on the waterfall. Two
paces further back stood Cathleen, holding a small Scottish harp,
the use of which had been taught to Flora by Rory Dall, one of the
last harpers of the Western Highlands. The sun, now stooping in
the west, gave a rich and varied tinge to all the objects which
surrounded Waverley, and seemed to add more than human brilliancy
to the full expressive darkness of Flora's eye, exalted the
richness and purity of her complexion, and enhanced the dignity
and grace of her beautiful form. Edward thought he had never, even
in his wildest dreams, imagined a figure of such exquisite and
interesting loveliness. The wild beauty of the retreat, bursting
upon him as if by magic, augmented the mingled feeling of delight
and awe with which he approached her, like a fair enchantress of
Boiardo or Ariosto, by whose nod the scenery around seemed to have
been created an Eden in the wilderness.
Flora, like every beautiful woman, was conscious of her own
and pleased with its effects, which she could easily discern from
the respectful yet confused address of the young soldier. But, as
she possessed excellent sense, she gave the romance of the scene
and other accidental circumstances full weight in appreciating the
feelings with which Waverley seemed obviously to be impressed;
and, unacquainted with the fanciful and susceptible peculiarities
of his character, considered his homage as the passing tribute
which a woman of even inferior charms might have expected in such
a situation. She therefore quietly led the way to a spot at such a
distance from the cascade that its sound should rather accompany
than interrupt that of her voice and instrument, and, sitting down
upon a mossy fragment of rock, she took the harp from Cathleen.
'I have given you the trouble of walking to this spot, Captain
Waverley, both because I thought the scenery would interest you,
and because a Highland song would suffer still more from my
imperfect translation were I to introduce it without its own wild
and appropriate accompaniments. To speak in the poetical language
of my country, the seat of the Celtic Muse is in the mist of the
secret and solitary hill, and her voice in the murmur of the
mountain stream. He who woos her must love the barren rock more
than the fertile valley, and the solitude of the desert better
than the festivity of the hall.'
Few could have heard this lovely woman make this declaration,
a voice where harmony was exalted by pathos, without exclaiming
that the muse whom she invoked could never find a more appropriate
representative. But Waverley, though the thought rushed on his
mind, found no courage to utter it. Indeed, the wild feeling of
romantic delight with which he heard the few first notes she drew
from her instrument amounted almost to a sense of pain. He would
not for worlds have quitted his place by her side; yet he almost
longed for solitude, that he might decipher and examine at leisure
the complication of emotions which now agitated his bosom.
Flora had exchanged the measured and monotonous recitative of the
bard for a lofty and uncommon Highland air, which had been a
battle-song in former ages. A few irregular strains introduced a
prelude of a wild and peculiar tone, which harmonised well with
the distant waterfall, and the soft sigh of the evening breeze in
the rustling leaves of an aspen, which overhung the seat of the
fair harpress. The following verses convey but little idea of the
feelings with which, so sung and accompanied, they were heard by
There is mist on the mountain, and night on the vale,
But more dark is the sleep of the sons of the Gael.
A stranger commanded—it sunk on the land,
It has frozen each heart, and benumb'd every hand!
The dirk and the target lie sordid with dust,
The bloodless claymore is but redden'd with rust;
On the hill or the glen if a gun should appear,
It is only to war with the heath-cock or deer.
The deeds of our sires if our bards should rehearse,
Let a blush or a blow be the meed of their verse!
Be mute every string, and be hush'd every tone,
That shall bid us remember the fame that is flown.
But the dark hours of night and of slumber are past,
The morn on our mountains is dawning at last;
Glenaladale's peaks are illumined with the rays,
And the streams of Glenfinnan leap bright in the blaze.
[Footnote: The young and daring adventurer, Charles Edward,
landedat Glenaladale, in Moidart, and displayed his standard in the
valley of Glenfinnan, mustering around it the Mac-Donalds, the
Camerons, and other less numerous clans, whom he had prevailed on
to join him. There is a monument erected on the spot, with a Latin
inscription by the late Doctor Gregory.]
O high-minded Moray! the exiled! the dear!
In the blush of the dawning the STANDARD uprear!
Wide, wide on the winds of the north let it fly,
Like the sun's latest flash when the tempest is nigh!
[Footnote: The Marquis of Tullibardine's elder brother, who, long
exiled, returned to Scotland with Charles Edward in 1745.]
Ye sons of the strong, when that dawning shall break,
Need the harp of the aged remind you to wake?
That dawn never beam'd on your forefathers' eye,
But it roused each high chieftain to vanquish or die.
O, sprung from the Kings who in Islay kept state,
Proud chiefs of Clan Ranald, Glengarry, and Sleat!
Combine like three streams from one mountain of snow,
And resistless in union rush down on the foe!
True son of Sir Evan, undaunted Lochiel,
Place thy targe on thy shoulder and burnish thy steel!
Rough Keppoch, give breath to thy bugle's bold swell,
Till far Coryarrick resound to the knell!
Stern son of Lord Kenneth, high chief of Kintail,
Let the stag in thy standard bound wild in the gale!
May the race of Clan Gillean, the fearless and free,
Remember Glenlivat, Harlaw, and Dundee!
Let the clan of grey Fingon, whose offspring has given
Such heroes to earth and such martyrs to heaven,
Unite with the race of renown'd Rorri More,
To launch the long galley and stretch to the oar.
How Mac-Shimei will joy when their chief shall display
The yew-crested bonnet o'er tresses of grey!
How the race of wrong'd Alpine and murder'd Glencoe
Shall shout for revenge when they pour on the foe!
Ye sons of brown Dermid, who slew the wild boar,
Resume the pure faith of the great Callum-More!
Mac-Neil of the islands, and Moy of the Lake,
For honour, for freedom, for vengeance awake!
Here a large greyhound, bounding up the glen, jumped upon Flora
and interrupted her music by his importunate caresses. At a
distant whistle he turned and shot down the path again with the
rapidity of an arrow. 'That is Fergus's faithful attendant,
Captain Waverley, and that was his signal. He likes no poetry but
what is humorous, and comes in good time to interrupt my long
catalogue of the tribes, whom one of your saucy English poets
Our bootless host of high-born beggars,
Mac-Leans, Mac-Kenzies, and Mac-Gregors.'
Waverley expressed his regret at the interruption.
'O you cannot guess how much you have lost! The bard, as in duty
bound, has addressed three long stanzas to Vich Ian Vohr of the
Banners, enumerating all his great properties, and not forgetting
his being a cheerer of the harper and bard—"a giver of bounteous
gifts." Besides, you should have heard a practical admonition to
the fair-haired son of the stranger, who lives in the land where
the grass is always green—the rider on the shining pampered
steed, whose hue is like the raven, and whose neigh is like the
scream of the eagle for battle. This valiant horseman is
affectionately conjured to remember that his ancestors were
distinguished by their loyalty as well as by their courage. All
this you have lost; but, since your curiosity is not satisfied, I
judge, from the distant sound of my brother's whistle, I may have
time to sing the concluding stanzas before he comes to laugh at my
Awake on your hills, on your islands awake,
Brave sons of the mountain, the frith, and the lake!
'T is the bugle—but not for the chase is the call;
'T is the pibroch's shrill summons—but not to the hall.
'T is the summons of heroes for conquest or death,
When the banners are blazing on mountain and heath:
They call to the dirk, the claymore, and the targe,
To the march and the muster, the line and the charge.
Be the brand of each chieftain like Fin's in his ire!
May the blood through his veins flow like currents of fire!
Burst the base foreign yoke as your sires did of yore,
Or die like your sires, and endure it no more!